Agenda and minutes

Residents, Education and Environmental Services Policy Overview Committee
Tuesday, 15th October, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 5 - Civic Centre, High Street, Uxbridge UB8 1UW. View directions

Contact: Neil Fraser  01895 250692

Link: Watch the LIVE or archived broadcast of this meeting here

Items
No. Item

32.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Allan Kauffman and Mr Tony Little. Councillor Brian Stead was present as Councillor Kauffman’s substitute.

33.

Declaration of Interest in matters coming before this meeting

Minutes:

None.

34.

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.

35.

To agree the Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 159 KB

Minutes:

It was agreed that Cllr Sweeting would forward a list of the actions remaining from previous meetings to the clerk, for review with officers.

 

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 4 September 2019 be approved as a correct record.

36.

Review into Littering and Fly Tipping Within Hillingdon - Second Witness Session pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Minutes:

The witness session was attended by:

 

  • David Brough – Chairman of the Hayes Town Partnership
  • A S Puar – Chairman of the Hayes Town Business Forum
  • Colleen Sullivan – Oak Farm Residents Association
  • Jane Turnbull - Oak Farm Residents Association
  • Claire King – Resident of Barnhill Ward
  • Kiran Soor – Resident of Barnhill Ward

 

The Committee heard evidence from Mr Brough and Mr Puar first, who detailed the work the Hayes Town Partnership and Hayes Town Business Forums had undertaken to address littering and fly tipping within Hayes.

 

The Hayes Town Partnership had been set up by Hillingdon Council to promote the economic regeneration of Hayes. Members of the partnership included the Council, the Police, the Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce, Hayes Town Business Forum, Global Academy, Uxbridge College, Brunel University, major developers and large employers.

 

Hayes Town Business Forum had been set up to be a voice for businesses in Hayes. A branch of Hillingdon Chamber of Commerce, the Forum had over 50 members, mainly small independent traders.

 

Littering and rubbish-dumping in Hayes Town included:

 

  • Dropping of litter
  • Casual depositing of bags of rubbish
  • Dumping of furniture, fridges and other appliances
  • Organised dumping
  • Depositing of food for pigeons

 

Regarding bags of rubbish being left next to litter bins, determining who was responsible was difficult. It was likely that the bags were deposited by both residents and landlords, as well as local shopkeepers. It was noted that the Council was a victim of its own efficiency, as by removing rubbish so quickly (when reported), people were becoming reliant on this as ‘the system’ for disposal of their rubbish.

 

Residents of flats in Hayes Town often left bags of rubbish on the street regardless of whether it was a being/rubbish collection day. Ward Councillors were active in reporting such issues to the Council. CCTV and bag searching were carried out to try to identify the owner of the rubbish, but this was not always successful.

 

Rubbish dumped in rear alleyways in Hayes Town was difficult to have cleared, as the locations were privately owned, but often in multiple ownerships. The Partnership and the Forum had organised community litter picks to deal with accumulated rubbish in the rear alleyway between Botwell Lane and East Avenue. Attendees had included shopkeepers and residents of the flats over the shops, but not in large numbers. On each occasion, support from officers in Residents Services was useful when arranging for the rubbish to be removed for disposal (at no charge.)

 

It was noted that, in general, engagement with shopkeepers was hit and miss. Only a small proportion of shopkeepers used email, social media or the Council website, and so personal engagement and one-to-one meetings were required. However, as the average age of business owners was reducing, the use of email was becoming more common.

 

The Partnership and Forum had undertaken a number of initiatives to address these matters, including:

 

37.

Annual Complaint & Service Monitoring Report for 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 - Including Education Complaints pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Minutes:

Ian Anderson, Business Manager, Complaints and Enquiries, introduced a report detailing corporate complaints for 2018-19.

 

The Committee was advised that the number of complaints had not changed dramatically since the previous year, and remained low when set into context of overall Council services. When comparing to neighbouring authorities, Hillingdon was receiving fewer complaints.  Member Enquires remained high in number, with the topic of waste accounting for over half of all Enquiries.

 

The number of compliments recorded had increased, due to better staff reporting and data capture. It was anticipated that compliments would continue to rise across the next year as further data was captured.

 

Responding to Education and Children’s Services complaints required further improvement the 10 working day target was being missed in a number of complaints. However, complaints Education complaints relating to schools missed the target mainly because it required an input from schools, in  the event that a school was closed (due to holidays, etc.), obtaining that data was difficult, which in turn delayed the response. Meetings were being held with Heads of Service to identify further ways to improve.

 

Overall, the number of complaints upheld by the ombudsman was low. The report referenced a Public Report issued by the Ombudsman which was upheld and related to a Housing Benefit claimant was elaborated on. The Council had subsequently accepted all of the ombudsman’s recommendations, and had learned several lessons relating to the handling of the complaint, the communication with the complainant, and points of contact.

 

Members requested that a breakdown of the subject of Member Enquiries be set out in future reports. In addition, it was requested that a separate email address be created to allow Members to submit emails on subjects that did not require an answer, thereby reducing the demands on officer time.

 

Mr Anderson advised that a breakdown could be hard to provide, due to the way in which Enquiries were recorded, though this could be looked into for next year’s report. Similarly, the suggestion for a new email address for Elected Members to use to report items for example to be collected, rubbish to be cleared, etc would be looked into and this would mean that the existing e-mail address would be for enquiries.

 

Members asked how the issue of bias was dealt with. For example, how could a complaint service, run by the Council, investigate complaints against Council-led decisions (such as Planning Committee decisions) impartially?

 

The officer advised that this was a common question. In response, the Committee was advised that officers would respond to complaints based on the data available. If mistakes were identified, then the Council would acknowledge these and put measures in place to ensure they were not repeated. In addition, the Corporate Complaints process had previously been updated to allow all complaints dealt with at Stage 1 (i.e. the majority) to escalate direct to the Ombudsman,if complainants were not satisfied. Whilst the Council process many planning complaints, in many such cases the complaint procedure is not the correct channel  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Quarterly School Places Planning Update pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Minutes:

Dan Kennedy, Director, Housing, Environment, Education, Performance, Health & Wellbeing, and Sarah Philips, School Place Planning Project Manager, introduced the latest quarterly update on school places.

 

Key points of the report were highlighted, with particular reference made to the demand for secondary school places. Pupil numbers in primary schools were high but steady, which in turn would affect demand for secondary places for the next 7 years. Options to address this, (alongside how to deal with the few primary schools who had remaining places), had been submitted to lead Members for consideration, and this information would be brought to the Committee once available.

 

Any decision on the proposals would be made through the Cabinet process. The issues were complex, and required careful consideration of how resources were allocated. Options to address the issues included school expansions, as well as the creation of the DfE approved new free school. Challenges included making sufficient places available to meet demand with options for parents to exercise their preferences without destabilising schools that were not filled by preferences and so reliant on receiving pupils for whom they were a lower or no preference.

 

The Committee sought clarity on how officers factored in intake from other boroughs. Members were advised that the forecast modelling factored in migration between neighbouring boroughs, based on previous trends and general averages. However, high numbers of first preferences for the more popular schools required that each school's  admissions criteria be applied in all cases, and this could result in deviation from the 'average projection' due to factors varying from year to year such as  numbers of siblings.

 

Some Members expressed concerns regarding the available secondary school places in light of the primary population and DfE guidelines for the retention of spare capacity, future demand for these places over forthcoming years, and how parents would continue to be offered meaningful choice over their children’s schools. It was requested that future reports contain more specific information, including the proposed measures to address these concerns, information on pupil movement and trends, which schools would have bulge classes, and the location of the new schools. It was agreed that Councillor Sweeting would forward detail of the requested information to the clerk, for forwarding to report authors.

 

Officers highlighted that all school children had been offered a school place for entry in year 7 in September 2019, despite a significant increase in demand. The  Council was continuing to meet demand through significant investment and expansion measures, and 5% spare capacity was being factored into all forecasts, in line with DfE guidelines. Discussions were ongoing with schools on how to meet future demand, and schools were eager to be part of any solution.

 

In response to a question on families being required to travel by public transport, officers advised that the Council provided support to families who were required to travel by way of clear information, including travel plans and public transport schedules.

 

It was requested that officers provide detail on those schools that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the Cabinet Forward Plan.

 

It was noted that the adoption of the Local Plan was now scheduled to be considered at the Cabinet meeting in December. It was requested that the reason for this rescheduling be looked into, before being fed back to the Committee.

 

RESOLVED: 

 

  1. That the report be noted;
  2. That further detail on the rescheduling of the adoption of the Local Plan be provided.

40.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the Forward Plan.

 

Members were advised that as part of the review into Littering and Fly Tipping, suitable site visits and activities were being reviewed. At the previous meeting, reference had been made to litter picking activities in South Ruislip. These activities were held on the 3rd Saturday of each month, and it was suggested that Members could take part at a future litter pick. In addition, it was suggested that Members may wish to shadow  the street enforcement team as they undertook their role.

 

It was agreed that the clerk, following consultation with the Chairman, forward a suitable date for these activities.

 

Members also requested detail on when Cabinet would be considering the provision of Youth Services item, and whether this would impact on the scheduled information report on the topic that was due to be brought to the Committee meeting in January 2020.

 

RESOLVED: 

 

  1. That the report be noted;
  2. That suitable dates for litter picking activities and site visits be forwarded to the Committee; and
  3. That the clerk liaise with officers regarding the item on youth services before feeding back to the Committee.