Agenda and minutes

Residents' Services Select Committee - Tuesday, 16th January, 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 5 - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Liz Penny, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Declarations of interest in matters coming before this meeting


There were no declarations of interest.


To receive the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 315 KB


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting dated 29 November 2023 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 in Part I and would be considered in public.


2024/25 Budget Proposals for Services Within the Remit of the Residents' Services Select Committee pdf icon PDF 532 KB


Andy Goodwin, Head of Strategic Finance and Ceri Lamoureux, Head of Finance – Place, presented the budget report to Members to enable them to deliberate and assess the detailed budget proposals within the Committee’s jurisdiction. It was confirmed that the budget report would be presented at the 15 February 2024 Cabinet meeting. Subsequently, the Cabinet would be tasked with advocating the budget proposals at the full Council meeting on 22 February 2024.

Members were informed that, for the fiscal year 2023/2024, services under the purview of the Residents’ Services Select Committee projected an overspend of £2.4 million. This overspend stemmed from three primary sources: Green Spaces savings impacted by external factors such as inflation; Community Safety enforcement influenced by issues at Heathrow, Brexit-related changes and the cessation of Government funding; and income pressures within the Planning service. Notably, there was a target of £12.5 million in savings within these services for the specified fiscal year. Among these savings, £242,000 was flagged as red, indicating concerns about delivery, while £1,642,000 fell under Amber 2, signifying progress initiation with some apprehensions regarding timely completion. A portion of this sum, specifically £839,000, related to fees and charges income, and the remaining £83,000,000 pertained to Green Spaces savings. Additionally, £267,000 was recorded as Amber 1, indicating ongoing progress with the likelihood of full delivery, albeit with potential spillage into the next financial year; this element also related to savings within the Green Spaces service area.

Moving to the Council's budget strategy, the consultation budget, presented to the December Cabinet, had estimated a saving requirement of £51 million by 2028/2029. The identified saving programme amounted to £33.4 million, leaving a residual gap of £17.6 million. Exceptional inflation, contributing £48 million to the budget gap by 2028/2029, remained the foremost factor in this Strategy. Within the Committee's jurisdiction, there were no exceptional inflationary items. However, the Committee's total requirement accounted for £6.5 million of the overall inflationary figure, with the pay award constituting the majority at £5 million and an additional £1.5 million linked mainly to contracts.

In terms of service pressures, Residents’ Services forecasted an additional £24 million, with services under the Committee's remit contributing £8.1 million. Of this, £5.1 million was attributed to waste services due to population growth, and £3 million was driven by increased demand for homelessness support. Corporate items added £14 million to the saving requirement, with £7 million allocated for the Council's borrowing requirement and £5 million related to the TFL concessionary fares levy, both resulting from demand returning to pre-pandemic levels.

Following detailed analysis during the autumn, the consultation budget proposed a saving programme of £33.4 million, with £15.8 million of that set to materialise in 2024/2025. Within this programme, £6.6 million fell under the Committee's jurisdiction. Notable savings within this remit included £2.2 million against fees and charges, primarily linked to Yellow Box Junction charges, and a remaining portion attributed to inflationary uplifts. An additional £1.5 million was earmarked for maximising the use of Section 106 funding, with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.


Potential major review: Homeless Prevention & Customer Journey pdf icon PDF 199 KB


Melissa Blower, Housing Project Manager, and Dan Kennedy, Corporate Director of Central Services, presented the report confirming that, at the previous meeting, the Committee had agreed to undertake a major review of the Council's Housing Advice and Homelessness service. The terms of reference for the review were set out in the agenda pack and the proposed review would focus on the Council's homeless prevention service, resident journey, and effectiveness of the service response in meeting need. Service users’ feedback would be sought as part of the review, and officers would be open to consider what other local authorities were doing to meet the rising demand and need for housing advice and homelessness.

The Housing Project Manager highlighted the local challenges, noting a 27% increase in approaches for housing advice and support over the last year, mainly due to the end of private renter tenancies. The reduction in available affordable private rented accommodation in Hillingdon and across London had led to difficulties in finding suitable housing, resulting in increased local authority financial contributions and benefits paid to support individuals with their housing costs. The rise in the number of people in temporary accommodation was emphasised.

The Chairman informed Members that a prior meeting with officers had taken place several weeks previously. Additional concerns regarding damp and mould had been raised at said meeting and it had been agreed that these matters would be the focus of a future minor review once the proposed major review had been completed. The focus of the major review was to delve deeper into the residents' experience when seeking housing assistance.

Members suggested inviting third-party charities to participate in the review. The discussion emphasised engaging with organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureau and Shelter.

The Committee enquired about the impact of asylum seekers on the homelessness figures. It was acknowledged that there were a high number of asylum seekers in Hillingdon compared to other boroughs. Members were informed that those who were not eligible for assistance were provided with advice and guidance and referred on to other organisations who may have accommodation and be able to assist them.

Officers outlined plans to address the housing shortage; these included increasing social rented properties, working with Housing Associations, and exploring options to buy properties locally. One option to make accommodation more affordable was for the Council to pay the difference between the benefit rate and the market rate for accommodation and secure that on a two-year tenancy. Financial details were yet to be finalised and were expected to be part of the February budget plan.

Members reiterated their request for a crib sheet regarding Locata. It was agreed that officers would follow up on this matter after the meeting.

It was noted that some residents made their own situations more vulnerable in respect of housing as they did not fully understand the implications of becoming ‘intentionally homeless’. Officers were looking at a number of ways in which information and advice could be provided to help residents  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.


ASBET Update pdf icon PDF 210 KB


Members raised concerns regarding the effectiveness of website content management and incorrect classification. Difficulties in locating the right place on the website to report an ASBET issue were highlighted. The Committee heard that residents had been able to access the system since 2019/2020, and the GOS system, a reporting tool, had gradually incorporated different teams and services. With regard to the department's role in website design and assisting residents in correctly classifying issues, it was explained that a Business Process and Improvement Team had been implemented to work with Corporate Communications, review and improve the current web pages and work with the customer access team for GOSS ensuring clarity for residents and correct redirection to relevant teams.

Councillors raised further concerns regarding residents’ misunderstanding of the current system and the fact that many struggled to understand the definitions. It was acknowledged that there were challenges and that the solution involved both system corrections and a service team to focus on this. It was confirmed that there were ongoing efforts to reorganise information for clarity and ensure proper redirection from the beginning.

The Committee shifted the discussion to communications about potential fines and legal consequences. Current strategies were outlined, including increased fines from 1 April 2024, better management of fly tipping, and utilisation of CCTV footage to identify offenders and hotspots. It was confirmed that residents were appraised of court prosecutions and fines via corporate communications and social media. It was acknowledged that education was also key to ensure residents fully understood the possible legal implications of fly tipping and enforcement action. At the request of Members, it was agreed that a guidance note for Councillors regarding the process would be prepared.

Councillors proposed obtaining a list of HMOs in the Borough to assist in addressing issues related to mattresses being fly tipped in certain areas. Members were informed that ongoing discussions with Waste Services were underway to explore potential enforcement action against landlords or managing agents in cases where there was sufficient evidence to support this.

Members sought further clarification regarding the evidence required for issuing fines, citing discrepancies in processes observed. It was explained that there was a need for sufficient and appropriate evidence, which could include eyewitness accounts, CCTV footage, or documentation found in waste. The importance of satisfying a criminal standard of proof beyond reasonable doubt was emphasised.

Concerns were raised regarding possible discrepancies in the treatment of different cases. Hillingdon's enforcement policy was clarified, which followed a stepped approach, advising and warning residents before escalating to enforcement action. It was noted that many of the residents in question were vulnerable and possibly unaware of their responsibilities in terms of storage and waste.

Members suggested a streamlined approach based on whether the issue was on public or private land. Past misdirection issues were acknowledged, and the current classification system was explained, whereby public land issues without evidence were referred directly to Street Waste Services for clearance. If potential evidence was found, it was redirected to ASBET for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 327 KB

Additional documents:


It was noted that the Forward Plan in the agenda pack was not the latest version. A number of updates were provided by Democratic Services:


Page 41- the Cowley House item would be going to Cabinet in March 2024 and three items had now been approved (Dry Recycling materials, Planning Obligations / CIL monitoring report and CCTV service contract);


The Private Sector Placement Policy, Shared Ownership Policy and ASB Policy were Cabinet Member decisions which were scheduled for February 2024;


Page 42 - the Housing Allocation Policy Consultation Draft item had moved to April Cabinet; and


Page 44 - the Housing Allocation Policy had moved from May to July Cabinet.


RESOLVED: That the Forward Plan and the updates be noted.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 230 KB

Additional documents:


At the request of the Chairman, and with the agreement of the Labour Lead, it was agreed that the date for the Committee’s April meeting would be moved from 10 April to 16 April 2024. The Work Programme would be updated accordingly.


A further site visit to Botwell Leisure Centre was to be arranged. It was anticipated that this would take place one evening in February. The date would be confirmed in the near future.


RESOLVED: That the Work Programme and the revised date for the April 2024 meeting be noted.