Agenda and minutes

Corporate Services, Commerce and Communities Policy Overview Committee - Wednesday, 3rd February, 2021 7.30 pm

Venue: VIRTUAL - Live on the Council's YouTube channel: Hillingdon London. View directions

Contact: Liz Penny  Email: Telephone: 01895 250636

No. Item


Apologies for absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Declarations of Interest


Councillor Scott Farley declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item 6 as he had substituted at the REESPOC meeting at which this matter had been discussed. He remained in the meeting during the discussion of the item.


Minutes of the meeting held on 12 January 2021 pdf icon PDF 158 KB


Councillor Scott Farley noted the omission of Zubin Winter, Partnership Inspector, from the list of attendees. It was agreed that Democratic Services would amend the minutes accordingly.


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting dated 12 January be agreed subject to the addition of Zubin Winter, Partnership Inspector, in the list of attendees.


Exclusion of Press and Public


It was agreed that items 1 – 9 were in Part I and would be considered in public. Item 10 was in Part II and would be considered in private.


Review: Voluntary Sector Response to Covid-19 Pandemic pdf icon PDF 87 KB


Angela Stangoe MBACP - Director and Head of Psychotherapeutic Services, Hillingdon Mind, was in attendance to present information regarding Hillingdon Mind’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Key points highlighted included:-


·       All Hillingdon Mind’s Counselling services had rapidly moved online in March 2020 - about a week before lockdown;

·       The Mental Health Recovery Service had been particularly affected – all social activities and therapeutic group work had moved to telephone / online;

·       A Mental Health Care Calling and Crisis Response Calling Service had been introduced in March 2020 – approximately 160 clients had been identified as high risk so were called regularly;

·       A Food and Medicine Delivery Service had been introduced in March 2020;

·       All staff had been provided with equipment to enable them to work from home;

·       Over the last 9 months, demand for Counselling had increased by 157%, for Mental Health Support and Advice by 346% and requests for psychological support for Carers had increased by 150% - this had put huge pressure on the team which consisted of only 3.5 members of staff (including Angela). Approximately 100 volunteer counsellors had been assisting them;

·       Additional funding had been secured from the CCG to provide 40 additional free counselling spaces for a period of 3 months and from the Big Lottery to provide free Key Worker Counselling for 20 clients.  An application had been made to the Big Lottery and Postcode Lottery to use existing grant funds to address IT poverty, Food Poverty and Emergency funding for vulnerable clients. Members heard that 20 tablets had been purchased for clients and shopping done for those who were struggling to get food bank vouchers;

·       Qualified bank staff had been recruited to run online activities;

·       The current Group Schedule was entirely online with the exception of the Wellbeing Walk – the Committee heard that the online activities were going well and clients had adapted better than expected;

·       The service had seen an increase in first time users for mild to moderate mental health issues. It had also witnessed an increase in suicide ideation within the Severe Mental Illness group and an increase in Safeguarding referrals to Social Services (from 1 or 2 per annum to 3 or 4 per quarter);

·       In terms of future pressures, it was likely that the problems would persist once the pandemic was over. A potential recession would negatively impact mental health and a tsunami of mental health cases was expected. It would be difficult to get clients to re-engage with GPs and encourage them to get vaccinated. It was anticipated that some clients would struggle with reconnection after lockdown. Projects were being considered to assist people with these challenges;

·       Hillingdon Mind was considering a number of avenues to build capacity to meet demand – these included speaking to current funders CCG and LBH, applying to Big Lottery and City Bridge Trust for grants, discussing with CNWL innovative ways to deliver mental health services e.g. the One Stop Shop and developing Webinars to provide mental health advice.


Given  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.


Policy Overview Committee Comments on Cabinet's Budget Proposals for 2021/2022 Financial Year pdf icon PDF 207 KB


RESOLVED That the Committee:


1)    Considered the formal comments on the Cabinet’s budget proposals from the other two Policy Overview Committees;

2)    Agreed its own final comments on the Cabinet’s budget proposals for submission; and

3)    Submitted a combined set of formal Policy Overview Committee comments to Cabinet for consideration.



Hillingdon First Limited pdf icon PDF 175 KB


Iain Watters, Financial Planning Manager, introduced the report. Members heard that Hillingdon First Limited was the Council’s wholly owned subsidiary housing development company. The company had been established in April 2018 to deliver high quality housing and generate a sustainable revenue stream for the Council. The Council was the sole shareholder and Cabinet Members on the Shareholder Committee oversaw operations. Key company decisions such as the commencement of projects and approval of the annual Business Plan were presented to the Shareholder Committee, alongside updates on performance and matters arising as necessary. Hillingdon First Ltd employed no staff directly and operated by buying in relevant support services as required – mainly from the Council.


The Committee was informed that the first project undertaken by Hillingdon First Ltd was underway – the construction for open market sale of 31 flats on the site adjacent to South Ruislip Library on Victoria Road, The project was nearing completion with practical completion having been achieved in January 2021 and reservations in place for 25 of the 31 units. The units were retailing at a higher price than expected. A pre-tax profit of circa £1m was expected.


Members heard that a second smaller development consisting of five houses at St Helen’s Close, Cowley had been worked up within the business plan and a design and build contractor was currently being appointed. The scheme would launch by spring 2022. Surplus Council-owned sites previously used for Council services but no longer required were currently being used for development – 3rd party land was not being purchased. The Committee was advised that, to date, Hillingdon First Ltd had remained focused on safe in-borough residential development schemes as there was a lower level of risk. The Council was not materially reliant on this business to deliver core services – Hillingdon First Ltd was not the largest contributor to Council finances.


Members requested clarification as to the objectives of Hillingdon First. It was confirmed that the aim was to deliver high quality housing for Hillingdon residents and to generate a return to the Council.


Given the lack of housing stock and high rents in the Borough, Members enquired whether social housing would be included in future schemes. The Committee was informed that the South Ruislip units had been sold to local residents at discounted rates. The proposed development at St Helen’s Close was very small therefore fell below the required threshold for affordable units. In future, affordable housing would be delivered on larger developments. It was anticipated that the Council would have first refusal on affordable units.


Members enquired how surplus land for development was determined. It was confirmed that the Strategic Property Governance Group identified redundant sites. Once declared surplus, the company would seek an independent valuation of the land and suggest an offer for the Council to consider. In response to further questions, the Committee heard that, in terms of safety standards, Hillingdon First Ltd drew on the expertise of the Council’s inhouse teams. Relevant professionals oversaw all  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 48 KB

Additional documents:


RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the Forward Plan.


Work Programme 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Additional documents:


In terms of the Local Commerce, Employment, Skills & Job Creation past review delivery update planned for the March meeting, it was agreed that the Chairman would discuss this with Democratic Services in consultation with Nigel Cramb and James Rodger.


In respect of the Performance monitoring item scheduled for the March meeting, it was agreed that Democratic Services would investigate what should be reported on in terms of the performance monitoring of services (national indicators or other).




1)    That the Committee noted the Work Programme 2020/2021;

2)    That the Chairman and Democratic Services liaise with Nigel Cramb and James Rodger re. the Local Commerce, Employment, Skills & Job Creation Past Review delivery update; and

3)    That Democratic Services investigate the performance improvement monitoring of services to establish what should be reported on (national indicators or other).


Safety of Council-Owned Properties and Buildings


The minutes to this item were declared as exempt from publication as they involve the disclosure of information in accordance with paragraph 7 of Part 1 of the Schedule 12(A) to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended) in that the report contains Information relating to any action taken or to be taken in connection with the prevention, investigation or prosecution of crime and that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosing it.