Agenda and minutes

Residents' Services Select Committee - Wednesday, 19th October, 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 5 - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Liz Penny  01895 250185 or Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Scott Farley with Cllr Barry Nelson-West substituting.


Declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting




To receive the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 327 KB


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting dated 21 July 2022 be agreed as an accurate record.



To confirm that the items of business marked as Part I will be considered in public and those marked Part II will be considered in private


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


2023/24 Budget Planning Report for Services within the Remit of the Residents' Services Select Committee pdf icon PDF 311 KB


Iain Watters, Director – Strategic and Operational Finance, introduced the budget planning report and highlighted the salient points. It was noted that the report focussed on the broader financial position; the report for consideration in January 2023 would set out more detailed budget proposals following the December Cabinet meeting. Members heard that the Council was currently in a strong position but faced significant challenges, particularly related to Covid 19 legacy costs and current high levels of inflation on energy costs. The next budget cycle would be more challenging and there would be a focus of service transformation to ensure cost effective and efficient service delivery. 


Members observed that, during their site visit to Harlington Road Depot, they had been informed that the introduction of the food waste service had saved the Council approximately £90k. It was confirmed that small changes to services could sometimes yield significant rewards; any money saved would be reinvested into the provision of other services.


Members requested clarification as to which services would be transformed to save money. It was confirmed that demand on services in the Borough was constantly changing and being monitored. Services to be transformed included revenues and benefits. Future automation and self-service would reduce back-office processing work; further information on this would be available in January 2023. It was hard to anticipate demand on services, but officers worked closely with service departments to establish what was happening on the ground.


The Select Committee commented that it was important to plan for contingency costs to allow for unforeseen demands on services e.g. in relation to homelessness. It was also important to focus on ‘value for residents’ not just ‘value for money’.


RESOLVED: That the Committee noted the financial context in which the 2023/24 budget setting process would take place in advance of detailed savings proposals being developed and approved at Cabinet in December 2022.


Select Committee Minor Review - Empty Homes Council Tax Premium pdf icon PDF 240 KB

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Liz Penny, Democratic Services Officer, introduced the minor review into the feasibility of increasing the Empty Homes Council Tax Premium, applicable to non-exempt properties empty for more than two years, from the current 150% to 200%.


Members heard from Tina, a Hillingdon resident, who was living next door to a property which had been empty for 13 years due to an ongoing probate issue. The Committee was informed that the house was in a state of disrepair and no longer habitable. The garden was overgrown and there was a rat infestation. Fly-tipping was also an issue. The condition of the neighbouring property was negatively impacting the value of Tina’s own property and she anticipated that it would be difficult to sell should she wish to move on.


Iain Watters, Director – Strategic and Operational Finance, was in attendance and addressed the Committee confirming that it was anticipated an increase to the premium would act as an additional mechanism to encourage owners to make better use of an empty property.


Maureen Pemberton, Head of Revenues, was also in attendance and advised Members that the Council Tax premium was only chargeable on unfurnished properties. In cases where there were probate issues it was often difficult to establish who was liable to pay Council Tax. Officers monitored all cases and collected the tax due whenever possible; however, this was particularly challenging in cases of family disputes and probate issues and could be resource intensive. The forced sale route was also expensive.


Debby Weller, Housing Policy and Strategy Manager, addressed the Committee and offered her sympathies to the resident. It was acknowledged that this case was very complicated due to probate issues hence legal advice would be sought. In general terms, it was hoped that an increase in the Council Tax premium would bring pressure to bear on owners and encourage them to bring empty properties back into use. At present there was no data available to measure the success of the increased premium across other West London boroughs.


In response to questions from the Committee, it was confirmed that there were currently 144 properties in Hillingdon which attracted the 150% empty homes premium. Each case was different and it was sometimes difficult to establish who was liable to pay the Council Tax - owners could not be traced, a property was still owned by the deceased or the deceased had had no family. In all cases Council Tax could not be charged until six months after probate had been decided.


Members requested a further breakdown of the 144 empty homes. It was confirmed that in approximately 60% of these cases, the empty homes premium was charged to a company or public organisation. The remaining 40% were privately owned. It was acknowledged that it was far easier to collect on commercial properties; the private cases were resource intensive and the costs of debt recovery could at times outweigh the financial benefit of recovering the Council Tax. Enforced sales were not a straightforward option for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.


Statement of Gambling Policy Consultation pdf icon PDF 223 KB

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Daniel Ferrer, Licensing Team Manager, introduced the report. Members heard that the Council was required to review the Statement of Gambling Policy every three years. A draft policy had been produced which now needed to be consulted upon, prior to final consideration by Cabinet or adoption by full Council. The draft policy had already been presented to the Licensing Committee and no major issues raised. All relevant parties including residents’ associations etc had been consulted and the consultation period was due to end on 24 October 2022. The Select Committee was advised that the proposed changes to the policy were set out at Appendix A to the report. There had been no major changes in the Gambling Act or in the relevant guidance; the majority of the proposed changes to the policy related to remote gambling which did not directly affect the local authority. Members were informed that the revised policy was a more well-rounded document. The fees had remained unchanged.


Members were pleased to see that equality and human rights had been included in the new policy and felt it was a good piece of work. It was confirmed that the Chairman of the Licensing Committee had requested further data in relation to age verification and self-exclusion. No further concerns were raised by the Select Committee Members.  


RESOLVED: That the Committee considered the revisions to the Statement of Gambling Policy and raised no concerns in relation to the proposed changes.


Safer Hillingdon Partnership Development pdf icon PDF 575 KB


Ian Billham, Interim Director – Community Safety and Enforcement, introduced the report which outlined the changes to the Safer Hillingdon Partnership (SHP) structure, governance and delivery to ensure compliance with its statutory functions under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. It was confirmed that the SHP was the statutory Community Safety Partnership (CSP) in Hillingdon. Members heard that a number of new responsibilities were being allocated to CSPs including the upcoming Serious Violence Duty, Combatting Drugs Strategy (Harm to Hope Guidance) and domestic abuse. The report outlined the responsible authority core membership. Priorities and performance measures to come before the Select Committee would be agreed with a focus on that which could be influenced and changed, particularly across the new areas of responsibility.


A new governance and tiered structure had been proposed as set out in the report. This entailed three overarching priorities underpinning themes. Member heard that the reason for this approach was that it was likely strategic headlines would not change over a three-year period whilst the underpinning priorities would. This was a practice seen nationally. The importance of having the right membership across the structure was highlighted.


Members requested clarification as to which departments would be involved in the Community Safety Partnership Membership. It was confirmed that the report set out the core function of the Board only. Education would be included throughout the rest of the structure; possibly on the Business Support Group, Domestic abuse forum, Prevent forums and Combatting drugs forum – this was yet to be confirmed. At strategic level, the inclusion of the local education authority was also under consideration.


With regard to the Strategic Intelligence Assessment referenced in the report, Members enquired who would be doing the actual assessment. It was confirmed that this had been completed by Edge Consultancy on this occasion; their results would be compared with in house data. The Assessment was an annual undertaking - how this annual assessment would be carried out in the future had yet to be confirmed.


Members noted the importance of consistent annual reviews of the CSP going forward - strategic priorities would change year on year therefore needed to be monitored. It was confirmed that a core function of the CSP was to review itself on an annual basis.


In response to further questions from the Committee, it was confirmed that ways in which links with the Hillingdon Safer Neighbourhood Board could be improved were still under consideration.


Councillors requested further details regarding the benefit to residents. It was confirmed that locality-based hubs were under consideration to facilitate better engagement with residents at a local level. Residents’ associations would be involved and local residents would be consulted to ensure the structure met their needs. The aim was to build resilience in the community with a preventative rather than a reactive approach. Members welcomed this preventative approach.


Councillors enquired whether Edge Consultancy had taken into consideration how things operated in the Borough on the ground noting that levels of abuse and crime were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Fly-tipping, Flyposting and To-Let Boards pdf icon PDF 332 KB


Joanne Howells, Team Leader – ASB and Environment Team, introduced the report. The Select Committee was advised that new innovative methods to address the issue of fly-tipping were being explored as fly-tipping was prevalent across the Borough. The Team was working with colleagues in the CCTV room and new intelligence packages were being used to identify repeat offenders and take enforcement action. In one recent high-profile case, a prolific offender had been jailed for 24 months which was a good result. It was recognised that education was key to raise residents’ understanding of how to store and handle waste correctly, recycling options etc; enforcement was always the last option.


Members recognised that there was a seasonal fly-tipping problem in Brunel Ward linked to students moving in and out of university accommodation and enquired whether officers worked with the CCTV team to identify offenders. The Committee heard that, since students were transient, any items left behind and subsequently fly-tipped became the landlords’ responsibility who would be liable to enforcement. Officers engaged with landlords in an attempt to address this problem. CCTV and social media were used to assist in identifying offenders; once identified, enforcement action would be taken – a fixed penalty notice would be issued in the first instance and repeat offenders could be taken to Court.


In response to further questions from the Committee, it was confirmed that the 14-day rule applied to all estate agent boards placed on private property in Hillingdon.  At the request of the Committee, it was agreed that officers would confirm how many of the 74 court cases processed by the ASB Team since September 2021 related to non-payment of fines for estate agent boards.


Councillors observed that fly-tipping hot spots seemed to vary depending on the siting of CCTV cameras; additional cameras would be welcomed in Yiewsley to address the antisocial behaviour issues there. It was also noted that industrial sites were disposing of waste into local canals, rivers, parks and streets and this was a matter of concern.


Members enquired how the Council could support private landowners and estates experiencing ASB and fly-tipping problems. It was agreed that this was very challenging; the Council was obliged to charge when clearing fly-tipped waste from private property and identifying the offenders was difficult. It was recognised that fly-tipping was a commercial business for some offenders; boroughwide operations were undertaken in an attempt to identify vehicles used in fly-tipping offences.


In response to further questions from the Committee, it was confirmed that the Environment Enforcement Team proactively took action to locate and remove flyposting. Letters were sent to residents to raise awareness and understanding of what was acceptable. Cameras acted as a deterrent and officers worked in conjunction with the ASB teams in Ealing, Harrow and other neighbouring boroughs. Officers wore body cameras when speaking to offenders and the evidence would be admissible in Court. However, it was noted that identifying offenders was challenging. Innovative ways to tackle the problem were being explored.




1.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 324 KB

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RESOLVED: That the Forward Plan be noted.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 518 KB

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It was noted that Members were welcome to invite residents to attend the Select Committee as witnesses; suggestions for witnesses for the proposed alleygating scheme would also be welcomed.


Members requested a timeline for the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy, clarifying when and how the consultation on this would be carried out. It was agreed that Democratic Services would provide this.  


With regard to the Select Committee recent site visits, Members confirmed that these had been very positive and useful. The high morale and enthusiasm of the officers they had met had been good to see. It was noted that the next site visit to Hillingdon Fire Station was scheduled for 7 December 2022. Members were invited to suggest other ideas for future site visits.


It was agreed that the Committee’s next major review would be on the topic of alleygating in the Borough. The proposed review of the Housing Department would be undertaken at a later stage once the ongoing restructure had been completed.




1.    That the Residents’ Services Select Committee noted the Work Programme;


2.    That the Residents’ Services Select Committee agreed to undertake a major review of alleygating in the Borough; and


3.    That Democratic Services provide Members with a timeline of the Local Flood Management Strategy consultation period.