Agenda and minutes

Housing and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday, 17th January, 2024 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Appletree Court, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, SO43 7PA. View directions

Contact: Karen Wardle Tel: 023 8028 5071  Email:


No. Item



There were no apologies for absence.




To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 20 September 2023 as a correct record.






The minutes of the meeting held on 20 September 2023 were confirmed as a correct record.



Declarations of Interest

To note any declarations of interest made by members in connection with an agenda item. The nature of the interest must also be specified.


Members are asked to discuss any possible interests with Democratic Services prior to the meeting.




Cllr Tungate for transparency purposes, declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item 4 as a trustee of the organisation, Helping Older People which had applied for a community grant.  He concluded there was no grounds under common law to prevent him from participating in the agenda item.




Public Participation

To receive any public participation in accordance with the Council’s public participation scheme.




There was no public participation.




Statement from the Chair


The Chairman wished to express his personal thanks to the Housing and Homeless Outreach Team which had been called out to a potentially homeless person in his ward.  He reported that officers had reacted quickly to find the person and encourage them into accommodation on a very cold night. 




Community Grants pdf icon PDF 145 KB

To consider the recommendations for the Community Grant allocation for 2024/25 from the Task and Finish Group and to receive a presentation from Community First in relation to the work carried out as part of the Service Level Agreement with the District Council.


Additional documents:


The Panel received a presentation from Tim Houghton, Chief Executive and Debbie Grace, Voluntary Sector Engagement Manager from Community First Wessex.  The presentation has been attached to these minutes as an Appendix.


Community First Wessex had been awarded two-year Service Level Agreement (SLA) in April 2023 with the District Council to receive grant funding of £35k per annum.  Community First Wessex aimed to support a strong and sustainable voluntary sector across the New Forest. 


The SLA was based on four areas of work, as follows:


1.     Leadership and Advocacy

2.     Partnerships and Collaboration

3.     Capacity Building

4.     Volunteering


Each of the areas of work was explained and examples were provided.  Community First Wessex also provided a healthy walks programme which encouraged people to look after their health and wellbeing.   Nearly 100 walks had been organised over the last year.  Community First added value to the New Forest by for example, delivering Community Transport, supporting young carers and leading the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Social Prescribing Network, etc.


The Panel thanked Community First for attending the meeting and acknowledged the benefits the organisation brought to residents in the New Forest.


Cllr Tungate for transparency purposes, declared a non-pecuniary interest as a trustee of the organisation, Helping Older People which had applied for a community grant.  He concluded there was no grounds under common law to prevent him from participating in the agenda item.


The Panel considered the Community Grants report which set out the recommendations from a member led Task and Finish Group to consider capital and revenue applications for funding from community organisations working in the New Forest.  The quantity of applications exceeded the numbers received in previous years, both in the number of applications and the amounts applied for. The Task and Finish Group had met over five days to consider 43 revenue and 15 capital applications.  The recommendations in the report proposed to award £130k towards revenue applications and just over £96k in capital grants.  Members noted that advice and information had been provided to applicants to further support and signpost them to alternative funding sources.


A review of the community grant process was proposed for the next financial year and this would be considered as part of the priorities in the emerging Corporate Plan. 


The Task and Finish Group had also considered three community transport schemes provided through Hampshire County Council and Community First Wessex and recommended that these be supported for a further year.  Funding for these schemes was being reviewed by Hampshire County Council and the District Council would respond to the consultation for their continuation.


Members expressed their thanks and support to the officers and councillors who had been involved in the Task and Finish Group.


It was recognised that there had been a number of worthwhile organisations which had not been recommended to receive any grant funding.  A member of the Panel questioned whether it would be possible to increase the level of funding available for next year for both community grants  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.


Safer New Forest Partnership - Consideration of Crime and Disorder Figures pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider and review the draft Safer New Forest Strategic Assessment for 2023. 




The Panel considered the Safer New Forest Partnership Strategic Assessment.


The Service Manager Community Safety, CCTV & Community Alarms reported that there was a requirement annually to compile crime and disorder data from the responsible authorities.  The Strategic Assessment 2023 had been collated with data from the financial year 2022/23 and would be used to inform the Safer New Forest Annual Partnership Plan for the next financial year, 2024/25.


The data presented in the assessment showed a decrease in the following key areas:


·        sexual / rape offences

·        theft from persons

·        antisocial behaviour (27% decrease)

·        theft from vehicles, particularly rural car parks

·        public order incidents


It was positive to see any reduction in crime, but it was important to understand the reasons behind the reduction.


The reports of shoplifting had increased by 39% from the previous year, which was a national trend.  Despite this high percentage increase, the number of recorded incidents was relatively low at 177.  It was anticipated that this figure would potentially increase, in part due to the impact of the cost of living crisis, as well as Police not routinely responding to shoplifting reports, and focussing on high harm crime as a higher priority for a number of years.   The Panel noted that Hampshire Constabulary had made a commitment to respond to all shoplifting reports moving forwards.  This commitment was led by Inspector Davies.  Members noted the Strategic Assessment had also identified an increase in reports relating to business burglaries.    


Incidents of possession of weapons, particularly in the Totton, Lyndhurst and the Waterside areas had increased.  The data would be analysed in more detail to understand the reasons for this and the profile of these offences.


The Partnership would review the data within the strategic assessment and develop an action plan of priorities for the next 12 months.  It was expected that the priorities would be centred around the possession of weapons, burglary and shoplifting and inquisitive crime.


A Panel member raised concern regarding the level of shoplifting in Lyndhurst reporting that shop owners had stopped reporting this crime due to a reported lack of action by the police.  It was noted there had been a renewed commitment by the police to follow up all reported incidents but there were questions how this would be communicated to retailers.  The Panel noted that it was expected this would be delivered through the neighbourhood police team, with a Beat Manager who would work directly with the local community.  Members were urged to encourage the reporting of all incidents of crime.  The data would then be used when developing the Partnership Plan with targeted actions and ensure the area was resourced adequately to reflect crime trends.  It was further highlighted that CCTV would be installed in Lyndhurst High Street in two locations identified as crime hot spots.


In response to concern raised about theft in rural areas in sheds and outbuildings, it was noted that funding had been secured from the Home Office to deal with burglaries and provide DNA marker  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.


Serious Violence Duty Needs Assessment & Response Strategy pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider and note the New Forest Serious Violence Strategic Needs Assessment and Response Strategy.




The Panel considered the draft Serious Violence Strategic Needs Assessment and the Response Strategy.


The Service Manager Community Safety, CCTV and Community Alarms reported that a new Serious Violence duty had been introduced on the District Council to develop a Strategic Needs Assessment in order to understand the causes and effects of serious violence.  This was a standalone priority for Community Safety Partnerships and they were required to develop a strategy to tackle serious violence based on local evidence. 


The data used in compiling the Strategic Needs Assessment covered a number of calendar years.  Caution was expressed in relation to the interpretation of the data.  It was recognised that the profile of serious crime in the New Forest was low, particularly when compared to neighbouring authorities.  The New Forest compared more poorly for the average number of young people excluded from education and assessed by the Youth Offending Team.  This indicated that some children and young people might be at higher risk of involvement in serious violence.


It was also noted that the New Forest ranked similar to the Hampshire average for the number of alcohol specific emergency hospital admissions for those under 18.  It was also higher than the England and Hampshire average for hospital admissions for intentional self harm, covering all ages. 


The draft countywide Response Strategy was being consulted upon, which had four Strategic objectives:


1.     Promotion of multi-agency working and systems change

2.     Data sharing to support analysis and insight

3.     Engagement and communication

4.     Evidence bases interventions


The Response Strategy was expected to be launched later in January 2024.


It was questioned whether there was a correlation between young people not in school, and lack of access to mental health support to the alcohol related hospital admissions.  In response, it was noted that further data analysis was required to understand the information and the contributing factors.




That the contents of the draft Serious Violence Strategic Needs Assessment and Response Strategy be noted.



Housing Revenue Account Budget and the Housing Public Sector Capital Expenditure Programme for 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 305 KB

To consider the HRA budget and the housing public sector capital expenditure programme for 2024/25.




The Panel considered the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget and housing public sector capital expenditure programme for 2024/25. 


The Interim Strategic Director of Housing and Community Safety presented the report detailing the approach to raise income for the next financial year and the expenditure levels proposed, particularly in relation to housing maintenance.  This proposed to raise social rents by 7.7% in line with the Government guidelines and to increase garage rents by 15% in recognition that these had not been consistently increased over a number of years.  Shared ownership rents were also proposed to increase in accordance with the Government guidelines.  This affected three properties.


Service charges were proposed to increase. It was noted that the breakdown of service charges did not currently correlate to the cost of the actual fees and that 800 tenants did not currently contribute towards the cost of communal charges and therefore it was proposed introduce a charge for these tenants and provide the full breakdown on transparent charges to all 1,300 tenants receiving communal services.


The maintenance and improvement works budget was proposed to increase to £17.8m in recognition that investment was required, particularly with the aging stock and the requirements of the decarbonisation programme for all Council owned homes to have an EPC rating of C or above by 2030.


A Panel member questioned the current cost of the shared ownership property rents, noting the proposed increase of 9.4%.  Concern was expressed that the rise in rent, combined with the cost of living crisis and interest rate rises could have a negative effect on the affordability of these properties for those living in them.  The Interim Strategic Director of Housing and Community Safety reported that the rental amount differed amongst tenants / owners, depending on how much of the property they owned, however the range in weekly rent was between £90-£130 with the annual increase of 9.4% to be applied to this.  The rental increase would be kept under review and last year Shared Ownership tenants received a weekly increase of 7% due to the cost of living crisis, rather than the allowed 13.1%.


Members noted that approximately 75% of social rent tenants were in receipt of either Universal Credit or Housing Benefit and therefore would be protected from the proposed rent increase or any increase in service charges for communal areas for flats / hostels.


It was questioned how much of the maintenance budget would be spent on contractors rather than the work being carried out in house and whether this provided good value for money.  The Interim Strategic Director of Housing and Community Safety reported that a priority within housing services was to review the use of all external contractors and ensure that the works were carried out in the best way to provide value for money.  There was a huge pressure on the HRA and it was essential to maximise income and reduce costs.  External contracts were awarded following a rigorous procurement process and were monitored.  The breakdown of financial  ...  view the full minutes text for item 34.


Greener Housing: Resident feedback following ASHP installations pdf icon PDF 948 KB

To receive a presentation providing details of resident feedback following the installation of Air Source Heat Pumps.




The Panel received a presentation from the Greener Housing Development Manager  providing details of feedback following the installation of 79 ASHP in Council properties.  The Council was required to meet decarbonisation targets to be net carbon zero by 2050 and therefore it was necessary to move away from heating 4,846 homes with gas, oil and LPG.


The ASHPs had been installed in four areas of the forest where there had been a higher number of gas homes and tenants living in fuel poverty.  The majority of properties which had received the ASHPs were houses (47) or bungalows (25).


The tenants in receipt of heat pumps had been contacted by letter, telephone and invited to provide feedback to the Council on their views of the ASHPs.  19 responses had been received to date.


The survey responses were presented to the group.  All respondents reported they would recommend a heat pump and were happy with the installation.  The majority also reported it was easy to heat their home.  The tenants who had responded had not found that the heat pumps were too noisy.


Energy usage was being monitored and it was expected there would be an annual saving on fuel costs.  Remote monitoring would be installed in some properties from April 2024 which would measure carbon dioxide, temperature and humidity. The Council’s new affordable housing development, Penman House in Totton was piloting this.


It was explained that each tenant after the heat pump installation had an inspection one month following completion, after six months and one year.  Customers had support and advice available to them on the use and controls of the heat pump as well as a dedicated Resident Liaison officer.


A Panel member questioned the rating of the heat pumps as a local resident had raised concerns about the quality.  The Greener Housing Manager confirmed that the heat pumps installed were the latest on the market from a leading manufacturer.  Details could be provided on the energy performance for particular properties upon request. 


A member highlighted an example where a local resident had had an oil boiler replaced only a year before getting an ASHP and questioned whether this was a good use of resources.  In response, the Panel noted that the Council approach was to replace all oil boilers due to the poor energy performance within these properties.  Properties which had been fitted with ASHPs, replacing oil boilers had an EPC rating of C or above.


The matter of security and theft of ASHPs was raised by a member of the Panel.  It was noted that a data tagging company had been assisting officers gather information to use in the procurement of a suitable solution to better protect them.  A relatively small number of heat pumps had been installed across the District and therefore, it was currently low risk.  A suitable security measure would be considered moving forwards as the numbers increase.



Tenant Engagement Strategy pdf icon PDF 469 KB

To consider the Tenant Engagement Strategy following consultation.



Additional documents:


The Panel considered the updated proposed Tenant Engagement Strategy following consultation. The consultation exercise took place over a five week period and had been promoted in various ways, including social media, posters, at hubs and online.  Following this the Strategy had been updated and approval would be sought by Cabinet and Council in February.


Members noted that 18 responses had been received to the consultation out of 5,200 Council properties, which a response rate of less than 1% of tenants.  The Tenant Engagement Manager acknowledged that this was low, however, those who had responded had been positive about the strategy.  Feedback had also been received from the Tenant Involvement Group which had been a fundamental part of creating the strategy, and had written in the foreword giving their additional support.  A priority within the Strategy, was to provide more opportunities for tenants to engage with the Council.




That the Council’s updated proposed new draft Tenant Engagement Strategy be supported for approval by Cabinet and Council and that the consultation outcomes be noted.






Tenant Satisfaction Measures pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive a presentation providing details of the work progressing relation to the Tenant Satisfaction Measures.




The Panel received a presentation from the Interim Strategic Director of Housing and Community Safety on the Tenant Satisfaction Measures, which has been attached to these minutes as an Appendix.


Tenant Satisfaction Measures had been introduced as a result of the Social Housing Regulation Act 2023, which increased the regulation of landlords and introduced new rules for protecting tenants from serious hazards in their homes.


All housing providers were required to collect data on their performance against 22 measures and report this on an annually.  12 measures relate to tenant perception and 10 were on landlord management information.


The satisfaction of tenants against the 12 measures was presented to the panel.  The overall satisfaction rate was 81.8% from 274 respondents, which was viewed as positive.  The measures identified which would require improvements were; TP06 (listen to views and act upon them), TP09 (approach to complaint handling), TP10 (keeping communal areas well maintained), TP11 (making a positive contribution to the neighbourhood) and TP12 (ASB satisfaction).  The Panel saw how the District Council compared to other registers providers.  Members acknowledged that the Council’s handling of complaints based on tenants views, faired less well than other providers. It was widely regarded nationally that respondents were answering in response to the handling of any expression of dissatisfaction, rather than the handling of corporate complaints.  Improvements would need to be considered to increase the satisfaction level by recording dissatisfaction and learning from it.  It was recognised however, that it was not always possible to meet expectations.


Members were also shown the Council’s performance against the landlord management measures at the end of December 2023. The snapshot indicated that the Council was performing well.


A member of the Panel questioned whether it would be possible to track the status of any issues raised by tenants which had been reported to the Council.  The Interim Strategic Director of Housing and Community Safety reported that this would form part of the Transformation Strategy which would consider a full digital review of services.


The Panel acknowledged the positive results against the tenant satisfaction measures and recognised that further work would be carried out to improve the housing service to increase the satisfaction of tenants moving forwards.



Portfolio Holder's Update

An opportunity for the Portfolio Holder’s to provide an update to the Panel on developments within their portfolio.


The Portfolio Holder for Community, Safety and Wellbeing reported he had attended the Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton PIPS Serious Violence reduction event.  It was highlighted that the New Forest District was one of the lowest areas across the county for crime in general, which was positive news. 


The Environment and Regulation team had been working on reducing pollution from domestic burning, in particular from wood burning stoves and bonfires which was a health concern and a significant contribution towards particulate pollution in the UK.  In order to help reduce the pollution the Environmental Protection team had been working with neighbouring authorities on a burn better campaign to promote cleaner burning from wood burners, open fires and bonfires and provide facts on costs and associated pollution.  This project was being delivered using DEFRA grant funding in association with the Environment Centre.  On 24 January the Council would support the first air clean air night delivered by global action plan to share messages around the health and environmental impacts of woodburning.  A free webinar with presentations from leading experts on air quality and details could be shared with members on request.


The licensing service had begun a three month consultation on the draft Taxi Licensing Policy.  A number of changes had been proposed including, restrictions on the age of vehicles, enhanced checks on drivers and the increased frequency of inspections.  These changes would improve public safety and air quality.  Members were urged to review the draft policy and submit any comments.


Work was continuing with national bodies, partners and schools to develop and launch new facilities and sporting opportunities for local communities as well as arts and cultural projects across the District.  Officers would attend a future meeting of the Panel to provide an update on the projects taking place in the District.


The Council had agreed to develop a Cultural Strategy in Summer 2023.  A Cultural Development Board had been set up with partners and the next meeting would take place on 30 January.


80 people had attended the inaugural Community Forum in October 2023.  It has been set up to help to mitigate against the cost of living crisis and to share information.  The feedback from this event had been very positive.  The next Community Forum would take place on 27 March.


The Portfolio Holder for Housing and Homelessness reported that since the last panel meeting, a new Task and Finish group has been set up to explore other forms of affordable housing and to assess the scope for introducing modern methods of construction, as a means of speeding up delivery and reducing costs.


Progress had been made towards the current new affordable housing target and there were more schemes in the pipeline.  It was acknowledged that the costs of construction had increased by 30% over the last 3 years.


The Group had been set up to look at all options with a view to maximising opportunities to continue to deliver additional Council owned accommodation, as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 232 KB

To agree the work programme to guide the Panel’s activities over the coming months.




That the Work Programme be approved.


Dates of meetings 2024/25

To approve the following meeting dates for 2024/25:


18 September 2024

22 January 2025

19 March 2025


These dates will supersede those previously agreed for September 2024 – March 2025.






That the following meeting dates be approved for 2024/25:


18 September 2024

22 January 2025

19 March 2025