Agenda and draft minutes

Housing, Community Safety and Community Engagement Scrutiny Commission - Tuesday 6 February 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Ground Floor Meeting Room G02A - 160 Tooley Street, London SE1 2QH. View directions

Contact: Amit Alva  Email:

No. Item



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    To receive any apologies for absence.


    Apologies for absence were received from Cris Claridge (co-opted member).

    Apologies for lateness were received from Councillor Ellie Cumbo.


Notification of any items of business which the chair deems urgent

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    In special circumstances, an item of business may be added to an agenda within five clear working days of the meeting.


    There were no items of business which the Chair deemed urgent.


    The Chair informed the commission that Councillor Darren Merrill had stepped down as Cabinet Member for Council Homes and as of 3 February 2024 Councillor Sarah King had taken up the role, Councillor King will be interviewed at today’s meeting as Cabinet Member for Council Homes.


Disclosure of interests and dispensations.

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    Members to declare any interests and dispensations in respect of any item of business to be considered at this meeting.


    Councillor Jane Salmon declared that she was a council leaseholder at an estate with district heating.


    Ina Negoita (co-opted member) declared that she was a leaseholder at Devonshire mansions.





Heating and Hot Water Outages

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    To receive a report from Dave Hodgson, Director of Asset Management, Housing and Modernisation on heating and Hot Water outages. (Report to follow)


    In addition, to hear from Rouel Road residents and service providers (TBC).

    Supporting documents:


    The commission then heard from ward councillors, Councillor Cassandra Brown and Councillor Leo Pollak on heating and hot water outages at Rouel Road


    • Severe heating and hot water outages especially during winter at Rouel Road estate, residents have been let down by the council
    • Community meetings held with Council officers and previous Cabinet Member for Council Homes, actions from that meeting not implemented and has led to current issues
    • Figures provided in the report for Rouel Road not an accurate reflection of residents facing issues and the recorded casework. Surveys and door to door feedback from 15 residents on heating and hot water outages in last week alone.
    • Issues with communications in general and also with customers contacting the call centre, repeated calls and no previous records of calls; contractors not in attendance at this scrutiny meeting and blame culture between contractors and the council; maintenance of plant rooms and pipework’s at this estate.
    • Performance and repairs data collection for contract management; external stakeholders such as Thame Water especially with regards to hardness of the water.


    The commission then asked questions on the following points


    • Action plans implemented and resident experiences; major improvement works planned for heating and hot water at Rouel road.


    Councillor Pollak explained to the commission that periodic actions taken to repair, clean and fix plant room and pipe work don’t prevent the outages over the winter, a more holistic assessment of Rouel Road estate heating and hot water needs to be undertaken. Furthermore, resident complaints are seemingly treated as overemphasized, which is not the case and he is unaware of any major improvement works planned for Rouel road; officers from asset management are not present at this meeting to answer these questions pertaining to Rouel road.


    The commission also noted that in previous years there have been scrutiny recommendations made to Cabinet on heating and hot water outages, and a review of the progress on those recommendations could be considered.


    The commission then heard from residents of Rouel road estate Robert Randles, Wendy, Karen Gregory and Jerry Flynn on the following themes


    • Heating and hot water outages at Rouel increased since the upgrade and in 2020 (April to October) during Covid, there were issues with heating; repairs carried out caused issues of water leakage, out of hours service did not treat it as an emergency; residents often advise to use fan heaters during heating outages which are a safety hazard for children with special needs.
    • During summer, legally temperature settings for heating to turn off is 17C and 15C during the night which is not warm enough; Issues with accountability of OCO and BSW service providers as their responsible for Plant room and pipework issues respectively.
    • Heating distributed at Rouel road is not meeting resident expectations as they operate at legal minimal levels; weekend outages are common at Rouel road and after hours escalations are never fixed overnight and/or over the weekend.
    • Repairs contact centre waiting times of 20- 40 minutes are not acceptable; service charges  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Interview with Cabinet Member for Council Homes

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    To interview the Councillor Sarah King, Cabinet Member for Council Homes, giving a holistic overview of key strategies and projects under the portfolio, with a focus on but not limited to:


    ·  Housing Repairs

    ·  Major works and improvements to service in light of issues at Devonshire Mansion and Canada estate.

    ·  Fire Safety Works

    ·  Tenants and Residents Associations (TRA) in wards






    The commission then heard from Councillor Sarah King and David on the following points


    • Recent appointment to role of Cabinet for Council Homes; keen to hear this commission’s priorities and expectations; volumes of housing repairs casework for councillors have increased; Statistical improvements in areas of resident satisfaction and first attempt resolution of repairs, further work needed in interrogating data of repairs.
    • Meetings planned with Resident Improvement Board on their experiences of repairs and will be fed back into repairs process work carried out by Council; priority is communal repairs and how it affects estates.
    • Performance in repairs has improved in in-home repairs, higher resident satisfaction in in-house repairs and variable satisfaction levels with contractors; residents’ elected Co-Chair for the Resident Improvement Board to decide on priorities for the board and its agenda being set by the Co-Chair and the Cabinet Member for Council Homes.
    • Resident feedback that improvements have been made in the call centre, however lessons to be learned for monitoring performance of contractors, engaging residents in the strategy for repairs important; data on first time repairs against repeated visits have improved running at 85% from 50% less than a year ago, 15% remaining still a challenge and needs attention


    The commission then asked questions on the following topics


    • Timeline for recovering from repairs backlog during Covid, non-emergency communal repairs and procurement of new contracts for repairs; update on long term Council delivery plans on repairs, further details on Resident led Repairs Improvement Board- structure and processes in the future, plans post April 2024 for repairs.
    • Commitment to transparency and accountability and to minimise the gap in repairs between tenants’ & leaseholders’ perception of issues and council officer perceptions in reports; taking into account £3.3m paid in disrepairs (no win no fee cases) by Southwark Council over the past years and Social Housing Regulations.
    • Scrutiny’s role and input in development of policies and strategies in Housing; Changing the residents’ perception of the council with regards to ease of communication; Call Centre and Contact Centre improvements; Repairs Liaison officer on estates for minor repairs.


    Councillor King explained to the commission that Covid backlog has not been a part of the reasoning given by officers during briefings on repairs, however it exists as a part of a broader narrative. It is essential that the Council presents to this commission and its residents a clear path of travel with regards to reducing the backlog in repairs.


    David agreed with the commission that milestones and target dates need to be set to meet resident expectations on repairs. Meetings between officers and trade unions provides oversight into the in-house services and have had some positive feedback. It is hoped that this will help build a fair and reasonable repairs service. Further plans for discussions with Resident Improvement Boards (RIBs) on the future workings of the boards. Tenants and Resident Associations (TRAs) and Tenancy Management Organisations (TMOs) should be encouraged by support from the council to carry out essential work especially on communal spaces. The Forward  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Work Programme 2023-2024