Highways & Neighbourhoods Cabinet Member – Minutes – 14 December 2011
44 (43) HIGHWAYS LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN PROGRAMME UPDATE – The Director of Infrastructure Services submitted a report to advise on the progress made in delivering the Local Transport Plan programme.
It was explained that the Capital funding for transport related projects was secured through the Local Transport Plan (LTP) process. The council had to present an LTP submission to the Department for Transport, setting out the transport priorities, and the start of the third generation of these plans. The LTP now covered a 15 year period.
As part of the LTP submission, the council was required to produce a three year delivery plan, which set out a programme of themes and outcomes for achievement over the plan period.
Highway maintenance schemes were prioritised using nationally recognised highway condition assessment criteria within a prioritisation framework. Where appropriate, maintenance schemes also included measures to improve road safety (particularly for vulnerable road users), increase personal security, reduce crime and enhance the street scene.
The LTP was the subject of extensive consultation to identify transport priorities and needs for the period of the LTP and beyond. This was reflected in the three-year delivery plan.
Resolved – That the cabinet member be kept informed of progress on the delivery of the programme on a monthly basis.
45 (44) FUTURE OF CONSUMER DIRECT – The Director of Neighbourhood and Environmental Services submitted a report to advise of the changes to Consumer Direct, the national Consumer Advice Service, which were due to take place from 1 April 2012.
It was explained that prior to August 2004 all consumer advice within North Lincolnshire was provided by North Lincolnshire Council. In August 2004 the government launched the national consumer help line Consumer Direct (CD), under the auspices of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). The one call centre was housed in each region and in normal circumstances, that call centre dealt with all consumer complaint calls originating from within that region.
In October 2010 the government announced that it intended that the operation of the Consumer Direct service be transferred to the Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB). In October 2011 CAB announced that it was awarding the contract for running the new help line in England and Wales to AGILISYS, who would also be providing a new Consumer Complaints database and handle all telephone complaints to CAB.
Resolved – That the content of the report be noted.
46 (45) EMPTY HOMES – The Director of Neighbourhood and Environmental Services submitted a report to inform about the current approach to empty homes in North Lincolnshire and to provide an update on the review taken as part of the development of the Housing Strategy.
In North Lincolnshire in 2010/11 there were 823 homes in the private sector that had been left vacant for more than 6 months. In March 2011 the council adopted a toolkit that set out a measured approach to engaging with owners of empty properties to encourage them to bring them back into use.
It was explained that in August 2011 the council revised the Housing Assistance Policy to include provision to award loans of up to £25,000 towards the costs of bringing properties that had been empty for more than two years back into use. The loans, which were subject to conditions, were repayable over a maximum of five years.
The key points outlined within the report were –
- A plan for tackling empty homes would be produced as part of the Integrated Housing Strategy, to be approved in December 2012
- The empty homes plan would be based on a robust evidence base and extensive consultation with a range of partners, stakeholders and the local community.
- That the council would seek to commission housing associations and other interested bodies to assist in bringing empty homes back into use.
The government had set out its incentives to local authorities to bring empty homes back into use in a document called Laying the Foundations – a Housing Strategy for England.
Resolved – (a) That the development of an empty homes business plan as part of the Integrated Housing Strategy be approved, and (b) that regular update reports on progress towards the development of the Housing Strategy be brought to the Cabinet Member.
47 (46) GOVERNMENT HOUSING STRATEGY FOR ENGLAND – The Director of Neighbourhood and Environmental Services submitted a report to inform about the government’s recently issued Housing Strategy for England.
In it the government set out its ambition to “unlock the housing market, get Britain building again, and give many more people the satisfaction and security that comes from stepping over their own threshold”. The strategy covered a broad range of issues, starting with the case for change and the actions to be taken to “get the housing market moving”.
The actions listed within the report were the main headlines in the government’s strategy, which concluded that unblocking the housing market would provide a much needed boost to employment, whilst offering those locked out of home ownership the opportunity of a home of their own.
Resolved – (a) That the content of the report be noted, and (b) that the government’s Housing Strategy be taken into account during the formulation of the council’s Integrated Housing Strategy.
48 (47) THE ANNUAL HECAMON SURVEY RESULTS – The Director of Neighbourhood and Environmental Services submitted a report to inform the results of the most recent Hecamon survey. The survey provided an annual assessment of energy efficiency improvements in all residential accommodation within North Lincolnshire over the last 12 months by extrapolating the results from a random sample of 400 householders.
The Home Energy Conservation Act (HECA) 1995 came into force on 1 April 1996. It required local authorities to prepare, publish and submit an Energy Conservation Report outlining measures to achieve a 30% improvement in the energy efficiency of all residential accommodation within their areas. The energy efficiency improvements were to be monitored annually for each local authority using the Hecamon (Home Energy Conservation Act monitoring) survey.
The Cabinet Member was advised that the results from the latest survey, received in October, showed an improvement over the last 12 months in energy consumption, in those households that took part in the survey, of 3.44% and an average reduction of 3.21% in notional heating costs.
The success in achieving improvements year on year in energy efficiency in domestic housing was attributed in part due to the advice, assistance and promotional work of the Affordable Warmth Officer and the different schemes, both local and national, that were available to help householders improve their properties.
Resolved – That the results of the latest Hecamon survey and the positive improvements that it shows in relation to total energy consumption over the last 12 months and carbon emissions be noted.
Where there is no report this is because it is exempt, as it contains information which is considered to be of a confidential nature, as detailed in the Local Government (Access to Information) Act.