Agenda and minutes

Residents, Education and Environmental Services Policy Overview Committee
Tuesday, 26th February, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 6 - Civic Centre, High Street, Uxbridge UB8 1UW. View directions

Contact: Neil Fraser  01895 250692

Items
No. Item

55.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Kauffman. Councillor Stead was present as his substitute.

56.

Declaration of Interest in matters coming before this meeting

Minutes:

None.

57.

To confirm that all items marked Part 1 will be considered in Public and that any items marked Part 2 will be considered in Private

Minutes:

It was confirmed that all items were marked as Part I and would therefore be considered in public.

58.

To agree the Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 165 KB

Minutes:

Regarding Minute 52: Standards and Quality in Education 2017-18, it was suggested that the statement of “strong” academic performance within Hillingdon be amended to “improving”. This was agreed, and it was:

 

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 22 January 2019 be approved as a correct record, subject to the amendment as outlined above.

59.

Building Control in Hillingdon pdf icon PDF 53 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Anthony Oloyede – Building Control Manager, introduced a report detailing Building Control within Hillingdon. Anthony was supported by James Rodger – Head of Planning and Enforcement.

 

Members were shown a slide presentation, which set out the Building Control regulations and process within Hillingdon. It was confirmed that Hillingdon was a part of several groups, including the London District Surveyor’s Association (LDSA), who regularly met to discuss issues.

 

Hillingdon provided a quality service to residents, which included site visits, review of site plans, provision of approved documentation, and advice, for which it had won several awards.

 

Building regulations were currently being reviewed post-Grenfell, and Dame Judith Hackett had been commissioned to undertake a review of these regulations, which was ongoing now.

 

Members asked a number of questions, including:

 

What was the criteria for site visits? Was it only large developments?

 

Hillingdon’s market share was 60%, with the remaining 40% being dealt with by private inspectors. Of that 60%, most enquiries related to housing extensions. Larger scale developments were more likely to be covered within the private sector.

 

Was there any link between the Building Control teams and the Planning teams for enforcement action, in an instance when construction deviated from approved plans?

 

Building Control had limited powers to take enforcement action, in most cases only when there was a dangerous structures issue. Building Control did not do compliance checks of plans approved by Planning to check there were no planning breaches. Nonetheless, serious breaches of planning control did get notified to the Planning Enforcement team.

 

What was the Council doing to help keep the public safe from poor quality private inspectors?

 

Some residents were choosing to use private inspectors to avoid alerting the Council to any breaches. However, when things went wrong, the Council often had to intervene. As confirmed, a review of current building regulations was underway, and the Council was marketing itself as an alternative to the private inspectors in an effort to increase use of the service. It was worth highlighting that all new school building projects were being conducted through Hillingdon Building Control.

 

What were the advantages to using Hillingdon’s service over private inspectors?

 

The advantages were many. For example, private inspectors did not carry out site visits, so there was no oversight of the project. Hillingdon provided a text service, which had proved very popular with residents. In addition, Hillingdon checked plans and issued comments and advice where required.

 

Were there any plans to increase market share?

 

Hillingdon was always looking to increase market share. However, this was challenging as fees were often undercut by private inspectors. Residents were being sign-posted to use Hillingdon’s service via the Communications team and the Hillingdon website, while all decision notices included a ‘pitch’ for further services. The use of social media could be increased moving forward.

 

Were all LBH commissioned building work undertaken by Hillingdon’s Building Control?

 

As far as was known. Further information on this could be requested outside of the meeting.

 

How did Hillingdon Building Control compare  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.

60.

Quarterly School Places Planning Update pdf icon PDF 496 KB

Minutes:

Dan Kennedy - Deputy Director, Housing, Environment, Education, Health & Wellbeing, and Sarah Phillips – School Place Planning Project Manager, updated the Committee on the Council’s School Places Planning.

 

The Committee was informed that following approximately ten years of growth in demand for school places within the Borough, recent years had shown a reduction in demand, which in turn had led to an increase in surplus places. These surplus places were more common in less popular schools, as parents exercised their right of preference for school places. To address this, conversations were ongoing between the Council and Head Teachers, and actions being considered included reducing the Planned Admission Numbers (PANs) at some schools.

 

This reduction in demand had a number of possible causes, including increased migration out of London, a change in exchange rate following the EU referendum (where UK earnings are in part sent elsewhere in the EU), and a slowing of the housing market. It was understood that surplus places could in some cases result in increased unit costs for schools, and so officers were working quickly to collect views from schools with the aim of recommending actions to Cabinet.

 

National Offer Day for places at secondary schools was 1 March 2019, and demand for these places had been seen to have increased. Officers were confident that all pupils would be offered a place for September 2019, and to accommodate this, several schools including Vyners and Ruislip High had increased their forms of entry. Therefore, very few surplus places were expected in Year 7 in September 2019, though a true picture would not be available until places were accepted and late applications were dealt with.

 

Members asked a number of questions, including:

 

Feedback from some primary school Head Teachers was that the Council was making too many places available at their schools, which were not being filled. Was this the case?

 

Places had been increased based on the information available at the time, two years ahead of the new pupil entry. Expansion had been seen at several primary schools, with quick completion. Forecasts had been seen to be mostly correct, though had been affected by the greater migration out of London, as well as the housing market changes and a lower ‘yield’ of children per household. Following discussions with Head Teachers, it had become apparent that the previously seen turnover within communities was no longer taking place to the same extent, house sales were down and new families not moving in as households remained for longer. Officers needed to plan carefully before any actions to avoid reducing PANs resulting in a shortage of places.

 

The report listed a 2.5% overestimate for reception intake in 2018. Was anything being done to correct this for future years?

 

Every year, officers undertake a review which assesses all actual intake vs. the forecasted intake, as well as ‘soft’ intelligence from meetings with the schools. This review results in refinements or tweaks for future modelling. The Department for Education (DfE) had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.

61.

Review into Payment Modernisation Across Key Resident Services: Discussion on Findings pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Minutes:

The clerk tabled initial draft recommendations which were based on the information received during the Committee’s review.

 

Members discussed the recommendations, and were particularly pleased that the recommendations specified a need to retain a cash payment option for residents. Members agreed that the draft recommendations were appropriate to take forward as part of the final report to Cabinet.

62.

Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the Cabinet Forward Plan be noted.

63.

Multi-Year Work Programme pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members discussed the forthcoming information items on Flooding and Highways Maintenance, to be brought to the Meeting on 16 April 2019. Members suggested topics to be addressed within the reports, which included:

 

Highways Maintenance:

 

·         Dropped kerb enforcement

·         Pavements, and how the Council determined which pavements were to be repaired

·         Parking on roads with grass verges

·         Traffic calming signage

·         Pedestrian accessibility on roads/pavements

·         Potholes

 

Flooding:

 

·         Drainage in the event of flooding

·         3rd parties engaged by the Council, and what actions they take when reacting to flooding incidents

·         Council learnings following previous instances of flooding

 

In addition, it was suggested that further information on Year 7 school placements be provided to the Committee.