Medway’s Council Plan 2016/21 sets out the Council’s three priorities. This report and appendices summarises performance in quarter 2 2018/19 on the delivery of these priorities and the actions being taken to improve performance.
Members considered a report is a summary of the performance at quarter 2 2018/19 for the programmes and measures which fell within the remit of this Committee.
The following issues were discussed:
· Number of children in temporary accommodation – a Member asked what plans were in place to minimise the disruption to schooling for those children in temporary accommodation and queried whether the figure in the report of 650 children in temporary accommodation was correct. The Head of Strategic Housing undertook to check the figure and advised that the vast majority of temporary accommodation used by the Council was self-contained flats or houses with very low usage of B&Bs or hostels. Support and advice was given to people in temporary accommodation and all housing staff had received safeguarding training.
· Affordable housing target – a Member asked how many homes would be built per annum under this target and queried whether the target should sit with the Regeneration, Culture and Environment O&S Committee. The Head of Strategic Housing advised the target was 204 per annum and this was expected to be exceeded. Which O&S Committee was responsible for scrutinising the target would be clarified. Referring to the shortage of affordable housing, another Member asked how many people classed as homeless had been so for more than 12 months. The Head of Strategic Housing advised that although he did not have that detail, there had been a national increase in the numbers of people placed in temporary accommodation in recent years. The Council now carried out significantly more preventative work and, in addition, the vast majority of people moved out of temporary accommodation fairly quickly. He would provide a breakdown of the length of time spent in temporary accommodation.
· Measures significantly below target – a Member referred to the large number of these measures which impacted on vulnerable people and asked if this had prompted action to make improvements. The Chief Finance Officer advised that where measures were significantly below target for more than 2 quarters then a deep dive into the issue would be commissioned.
· Chatham Centre Public Realm Improvements – a Member referred to the new business which would be located in the Fire Station arches and highlighted the importance of making it clear from the start that customers would not be able to park outside the property. The Chief Legal Officer advised that the new business would benefit from good public transport links and was on the main walking route from the Railway Station to the High Street.
· Refurbishment of Charles Dickens Chalet – in response to a query whether the bid for Heritage Lottery funding had been successful, Members were advised the Council would find out by the end of the week.
· Chatham Railway Station – a Member expressed disappointment with the proposals both in terms of their timeliness and the poor impression that would be left upon on exiting the station, particularly in view of the £4m that had been invested on improving the walking route from the station to the High Street. He added that the continued lack of a lift in the station was unacceptable.
· Digital take up – a Member commented on the challenge of quantifying this given the inevitable need for some human interaction between learners and tutors would have a negative impact on the way this was measured and suggested the Member Development Advisory Group could look at this issue. The Assistant Director -Transformation welcomed that suggestion and commented that, for funding reasons, there had to be some face to face contact with learners. She was looking at how to measure digital take up in a way which was not skewed by this non-digital contact. In response to comments from a Member about difficulties experienced by some people trying to enrol for adult education courses online, the Assistant Director advised that when the online facility had been launched a small number of courses were not listed but that had since been corrected.
· Children permanently excluded from school – in response to a query, the Chief Finance Officer agreed to request more detail from the Director of People - Children and Adults Services on what provision was made for these children.
The Committee agreed to:
a) note the quarter 2 performance of the measures of success used to monitor progress against the Council’s priorities, and;
b) ask officers to clarify with the Chairmen, Vice-Chairmen and Spokespersons of the Business Support and Regeneration, Culture and Environment O&S Committees where responsibility for scrutinising affordable housing sat.