Agenda item

Public Question Time (15 Minutes)

To receive any questions from members of the public which have been submitted in advance of the meeting in accordance with the cabinet procedure rules. The deadline for the receipt of a public question is midnight Wednesday 11 September 2019.


1.  Public Question from Jerry Flynn


The council agreed with the Local Government Ombudsman in 2016 that there be an annual audit into compliance with conditions for provision of social housing through S106 agreements.


As the Ombudsman decision was delivered three years ago, can the leader say when the results of these audits will be published?


Response by Councillor Johnson Situ, Cabinet Member for Growth, Development and Planning


Southwark Council is committed to responding to the housing crisis and we are working to deliver as much genuinely affordable housing as possible.


An audit was carried out in 2016 where the council wrote to all the Registered Providers (RPs) requesting details of units held. There are 11,999 units managed by RPs in Southwark and there have been 4,320 affordable units secured by S106 legal agreements since 2001. The audit can be found at:


The audit contains planning permissions since 2001 and shows the Registered Provider/Registered Social Landlord for each social rent and intermediate unit identified. In some cases the Registered Provider/Registered Social Landlord is yet to be confirmed. It must be noted that this is not a complete list and should be used as guidance only.

We are the leading borough on the work of recording accurately where our affordable units are located both social and intermediate. We recognise this is an area that needs to be worked on and so we are the first borough to create a dedicated digital tool to accurately monitor delivery of affordable housing. More information on the affordable housing monitoring project can be found


2.  Public Question from Charlie Murphy (South Dock Marina Berthholders Association


How will the process and proposed resetting of future SDM (South Dock Marina) fees and charges be made more transparent, aligned with both the Localism Act 2011 and Local Government Act 2003 and reconfigured to avoid 'Abuse of a Dominant position’?”  


Response by Councillor Richard Livingstone, Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport and the Climate Emergency


Concerns have been raised about berth holder fees in 2019-20 and as a result this was the subject of discussion at scrutiny committee. The committee recommended that:


·  the council should strengthen its communication with the berth holders by establishing a standing forum to work through all matters relating to the management of the marina, including the equalities assessment of fee increases and

·  a clear and transparent formula for fee increases should be drawn up. 


The council has committed to working with berth holders this year to address future fee setting. As such a meeting with berth holders took place in early September and fee setting was discussed. Berth holders are currently considering how they would like to be engaged in the process and a further meeting will be set up specifically to discuss future fee setting.


It is our intention that at the next meeting the timetable and decision making process for fee setting will be clearly communicated with berth holders and they will have an opportunity to discuss this with officers before proposals for next year’s fees are submitted. We will continue to work with berth holders to develop a process and framework that can be applied in future years.


Both the Localism Act and the Local Government Act 2003 enable the authority to charge for discretionary services provided that it does so on a cost recovery basis. The total income from the Marina consists of various income streams – some of the income comes from services but a large part from licenses. Taking one financial year with another, the income from charges made from a service should not exceed the cost of the provision of the service, but we are able to take into account the totality of the  income streams and the total costs of the service provision in calculating this. Furthermore we are able to look at the costs and income over a combined number of years in order to make this calculation. 


Regarding the ‘abuse of a dominant position’, this is a reference to competition law. Where any price increases are objectively  justifiable and are generally equivalent to or even cheaper other comparative providers this will not be an issue.  Regular benchmarking exercises will enable the authority to have clear evidence that supports this position.


Supplemental question


Charlie Murphy asked a supplemental question about the status of berthholders in the fee setting process, including having a transparent view of the accounts in order to see how the fees are set.


Councillor Livingstone confirmed that the ongoing process will include working with stakeholders including berthholders to ensure the process is clear.  He also committed to meeting with the berthholders whenever would be helpful.