Minutes of ACF Meeting, Kingsfield Close, Southwick
Thursday, 27th January 2011
Present: – Wendy Farmer (Chair), Bruce Andrews, Ruth Andrews, Fred Bathurst, Rose Boden, Bill Bone, Patricia Crowdy, David Guy, Gary Hackett, Paula Kinsella, Elsie Kitson, Sue Lane, Bob McClelland, Alison Morganfield, Tony Morris, Bridget Orman, Sylvia Page and Tania Page.
ADC: – Christine Ryder (Finance Manager) and Barry Maxey.
1. Welcome and introductions
Wendy welcomed everyone to the meeting and handed over to Paula who was acting Chair for the evening.
Apologies were received from Dave Donaldson, William Guy, Richard Letchford and June Moulton.
3. Housing Revenue Account – Christine Ryder (Finance Manager)
Christine presented her report that will be considered by Cabinet on 3rd February. The report recommends an average rent increase of 6.8% from April 2011. This is in line with government recommendations and will bring average rents up to £76.08 per week (an average increase of £4.84).
Rents are calculated according to a formula that aims to bring rents for council tenants in line with those of housing associations by 2015/16. This formula takes account of inflation each year and at the time of calculation the Retail Price Index was 4.6%.
Garage rents are also recommended to increase by 7.0% and service charges are set at a level to cover actual costs.
Christine also explained that the current housing subsidy system is being repealed and will end in April 2012. Under the current system, councils pay money over to the government who distribute it to local authorities around the country. The new system proposes that councils will be able to keep their income from rents but they will have to make a one-off payment to central government. In the case of Adur, this is currently estimated at more than £40 million.
Projections for the Housing Revenue Account for the next financial year indicate that spending will be approximately £200,000 more than income. This shortfall will be taken from reserves.
Christine was thanked for her presentation and left the meeting at this point.
4. Minutes of the last meeting 18th November 2010
The minutes were agreed.
5. Matters arising
• Ruth asked when the housing surgeries were going to start, as it is only then that level of demand will be known and decisions can be taken about whether they are in the right areas.
• It was suggested that a meeting with the new contractors should be arranged for March, as this will have given them three months to sort out any teething problems.
• Paula asked for a meeting of the Management Committee to discuss the Lancing Resource Centre. Tony supported this, saying they need to draw up a blueprint of what they want to use the venue for. He suggested that debt counselling and credit union advice could take place from there. The U3A have also expressed an interest in using the venue and Bruce offered to help people use the internet when looking for job vacancies.
6. Bids for environmental improvement grants
There were no bids.
The bid approved for Marsh House at the last meeting has been put on hold until March when B & Q and Argos will have their range of garden furniture and equipment in stock again.
7. Treasurer’s report
There is £2,164.10 in the bank account.
8. Cabinet reports
Item 6: Housing Revenue Account Budget 2011/12
Following Christine Ryder’s earlier explanation about rent restructuring, it is recognised that there are restrictions on the council and that there is a limit to the amount that can be taken from reserves. Nevertheless, there are concerns that these above inflation rent increases each year will put additional pressure on low-income working families and make it very difficult for them to manage their finances.
Item 7: Adur Homes Decent Homes & Future Works Programme
Agreement on this report was held over from the last Cabinet meeting to give ACF members more time to study it. The main concern that has come up at resident association meetings is how far funding for this programme is guaranteed and whether it would be reduced at short notice in the light of other cutbacks.
On a more specific level, some clarification was asked for about how flexible contractors are when designing tenants’ kitchens. Some of those who have already had the work done reported that they were very accommodating, whereas others had heard scare stories about not allowing room for all of their appliances, such as dishwashers etc.
Ruth asked about levels of loft insulation in blocks of flats and when these were last inspected. She also questioned whether a rolling programme of door entry system replacements is being considered if, as the report says, spare parts are no longer available.
Item 8: Tenant Services Authority
This was the topic of yesterday’s tenant and leaseholder conference and the ACF looks forward to seeing what local offers are developed from this event and the recent survey.
9. Reports of committees
i) Compact Monitoring Group
The last Compact meeting was superseded by a wider meeting with all managers of Adur Homes Services. It is recognised that there is a need to get some momentum going again for this group, so they will get together shortly to decide which area of service they would like to consider next and then set up a meeting with council officers.
ii) The Forum
Feedback from the Christmas edition of the Forum has been excellent and a timetable will be drawn up shortly to start work on the spring edition.
iii) Adur Leaseholders’ Forum (ALF)
Following the closure of the ACF Office in Southwick, ALF is looking for a new permanent venue for their meetings and will hold the next one on 23rd February at Kingsfield Close.
Sue said the full results of the SHARP survey have now been sent to their members and will be discussed at their next meeting on 15th February.
10. Invitations to ACF social events
As the mailing list of the ACF has grown considerable over recent years, it was suggested that some guidance is necessary on who should be invited to social events. After some discussion, it was agreed that invitations will only be sent to ACF and SHARP members who have attended at least one meeting or non-social event in the previous twelve months. A letter will be sent to all members to make sure that all are aware of this.
11. Any other business
• Bridget reported on-going problems with the new communal TV aerial with engineers being regularly called out to adjust it. She said she didn’t know if this was due to work being done on the transmitter prior to the digital changeover or whether it was a fault on the system. Other people reported similar experiences and asked for advice.
• Barry advised that SETUP (a group of local social landlords who provide training for residents) have invited one resident from each organisation to attend their next meeting on 10th February to help set up a training plan for the next year. Bridget and Paula will see if either of them is able to attend and David said he would go along if they couldn’t make it.
• Yesterday’s tenant and leaseholder conference came in for wide praise and Paula thanked all council staff who were involved in organising it.
• As Elsie will be moving shortly and this is the last council meeting she will be attending, she was presented with a card and gift on behalf the ACF. Elsie was thanked for her input over the years to both the ACF and the leaseholders’ group and will be missed by all of her colleagues.
• The evening raffle raised £25.00 for ACF funds.
12. Date of next meeting
The next meeting will be held at 7.00pm on Thursday, 17th March 2011 at Kingsfield Close community room.