Property Services Committee
7 October 2003
Irvine, 7 October 2003 - At a Meeting of the Property Services Committee of North Ayrshire Council at 2.00 p.m.
John Bell, Ian Clarkson, Margie Currie, Anna Donn, Jane Gorman, Margaret McDougall, Elizabeth McLardy, Margaret Munn, John Reid and Nan Wallace.
B. Devine, Chief Executive, T. Orr, Corporate Director, J. Currie, Head of Cleansing, Grounds Maintenance and Transport, N. Buchan, Head of Roads, J. Paul, Head of Technical Services, P. Livermore, Technical Officer and M. Cashmore, Principal Officer (Property Services); D. Nibloe, Chief Accountant (Expenditure)(Finance); J. Stevenson, Communications Officer, S. Bale and J. Bannatyne, Corporate and Democratic Support Officers (Chief Executive's).
Councillor Bell in the Chair.
Apologies for Absence
Jacqueline Browne, Stewart Dewar, Drew Duncan, David O'Neill, Samuel Taylor and Richard Wilkinson.
The Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 26 August 2003, copies of which had previously been circulated, were confirmed.
2. Property Services Standing Sub Committee
Submitted the annexed report (Appendix PS1) being the Minutes of the Meeting of the Property Services Standing Sub Committee held on 17 September 2003.
The Committee agreed to approve the Minutes.
3. Waste Disposal
3.1 Presentation: Waste Disposal Strategy
The Committee received a presentation by the Head of Cleansing, Grounds Maintenance and Transport on the Council's Waste Disposal Strategy which is designed to reduce the tonnage of domestic and commercial waste currently disposed of through landfill.
The strategy has been introduced to ensure compliance with EC directives requiring a significant reduction in the future use of landfill sites for waste disposal. To this end, the Scottish Executive is making substantial funding available to the Council, subject to it meeting pre-set targets to increase the amount of domestic and commercial waste currently recycled or composted i.e. 18%. The targets set require the Council to recycle 25% of its domestic and commercial waste by 2006, 35% by 2010, 40% by 2013 and 55% by 2020. To achieve these targets source separated collection systems will be introduced in civic amenity sites for wood, green materials, soil, rubble, metal etc. Special treatment centres will be contracted to recycle specific materials and specially adapted kerb-side collection vehicles will be introduced to allow waste separation at source. Landfill tax will be increased and although diversion costs to recycling will increase annually initially, it is anticipated that these costs will be stabilised by 2006/07.
3.2 Strategic Waste Fund
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Property Services) on the successful outcome of an application to the Scottish Executive for Strategic Waste Funding.
The Council has been awarded £19,532,000 from the Strategic Waste Fund to be paid in annual instalments over the financial years 2003/04 to 2019/20. This will enable the Council to achieve the 25% recycling and composting target for 2005/06 set by the Scottish Executive and to achieve future targets. A Management Team will be formed to set up a new operational unit on a phased basis. The Team will also work in partnership with the other Ayrshire Councils and Dumfries & Galloway Council on the development of the Area Waste Plan, in consultation with the Scottish Executive.
The funding which is ringfenced must be used exclusively to reduce the amount of waste currently disposed of through landfill, subject to the specific conditions attached to the grant.
The Committee agreed to approve the proposals for the first phase in the development of the Area Waste Plan, in the terms outlined in the report.
4. Private Sector Housing Grants
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Property Services) on changes affecting the funding and administration of private sector housing grants and the policy implications of these changes.
Under current legislation the Council has a range of statutory powers and duties to make improvement and repairs grants to private sector housing. The Housing (Scotland) Act 2001 widened the scope of works eligible for these grants, which in some instances can be mandatory but are mainly discretionary. The normal maximum grant has been increased by the 2001 Act to £20,000 and applications from owner occupiers, tenants and disabled occupants are subject to new assessment procedures based on the applicant's personal income.
Separate from the provision of the Housing (Scotland) Act 2001, the Scottish Executive have agreed that part of the single General Services Section 94 Allocation to local authorities be converted into specific capital grants to fund local authority expenditure on private sector housing. The new private sector housing grants will come into effect in 2004/05. North Ayrshire Council has been allocated a provisional baseline figure for 2004/05 of £1,248,000 and an indicative bid allocation of £300,000 representing an increase of more than 100% on current expenditure levels.
In view of the statutory designation of new types of works eligible for the grant and the funding available, the Council will require to review its current policies for the disbursement of the available grant funding. A number of factors will require to be taken into account, including issues emerging from the development of the Local Housing and Fuel Poverty Strategies, the development of a Regeneration Strategy and the final details of the Scottish Social Housing Standard. There is also a need to obtain up to date statistical information on the condition of the housing stock in North Ayrshire. Since a number of these factors are still at a transitional stage it would be premature to carry out a comprehensible policy review at this time. In the meantime several measures are proposed being the undertaking of a private sector housing conditions survey, expansion of the criteria for the Council's care and repair scheme and the reintroduction of repairs grants for owners of former Council owned houses participating in HRA funded programmes of work commencing in 2004/05.
In response to concerns expressed over the limited availability of the new grants, the Corporate Director (Property Services) suggested that it may be advantageous to enter into discussions with the local housing associations on the implications of the new grant proposals and their role in relation to these.
The Committee agreed (a) that a bid be submitted under the PSHG for the cost of commissioning a Local House Condition survey of the private housing stock in North Ayrshire; (b) that, subject to the agreement of the North Ayrshire Care and Repair Partnership, the eligibility criteria for grant assistance to Care and Repair clients be expanded with details to be reported back to the Committee in due course for approval; (c) that repairs grants be reintroduced for the owners of former Council owned houses affected by Housing Revenue Account (HRA) funded programmes of capital investment, the eligible works to be agreed following final publication of the Scottish Social Housing Standard; (d) that a report be submitted to the Committee in due course with further recommendations in the light of national policy objectives to be announced by the Scottish Executive, relevant provisions of the Local Housing Strategy, target outcomes to be agreed with the Scottish Executive and Communities Scotland and the outcome of the bidding process for supplementary PHSG funding; and (e) that discussion be undertaken with Housing Associations on the implications of the new arrangements for grant funding through the PSHG and their role in relation to this.
5. Winter Maintenance 2003/2004
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Property Services) on measures in place to deal with winter conditions on North Ayrshire adopted roads, full details of which are contained within the Council's "Winter Maintenance Procedures and Resources 2003/04" document.
The report outlined the current priorities for carriageway, footway/footpath treatment and the arrangements currently in place. The salt barn at Goldcraigs Depot, Kilwinning is fully operational. All snowploughs have been fully serviced and a trial run of all winter equipment will be carried out on 26 October 2003. A new vehicle tracking system, which had been installed in a number of vehicles on a trial basis, will be extended to all vehicles. Regular discussions are held with the Met Office regarding the adverse weather reporting system to ensure more reliable predictions and responses. There will be ongoing liaison with Strathclyde Police, the neighbouring local authorities and with Amey Highways regarding interfaces with trunk roads.
Members questioned whether the Priority 3 status of steep hills in housing developments and in the vicinity of old people's homes required to be examined to determine if it should be given a higher priority. The Head of Roads agreed to examine this and take appropriate action as necessary.
The Committee agreed to approve the proposed Winter Maintenance Procedures.
6. Irvine Multi-Storey Flats: New Central Heating
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Property Services) on tenders for the provision of new central heating within the multi-storey flats in Irvine.
Installation of new central heating is required in all 5 blocks of the Irvine multi-storey flats. Since the major works involved have the potential to cause greater disruption than in other types of housing, due to the integrated nature of the flats, tenders have been invited from suitable contractors initially for the Afton Court block only. Contracts for the remaining blocks will be awarded based on the price of the tender for the initial block, adjusted to take into account quarterly changes in the relevant construction industry indices, and subject to satisfactory standards of work.
The Committee agreed to accept the lowest tender submitted by Campbell Construction Group, Glasgow, amounting to £126,448.05 for the block at Afton Court, on the basis that contracts for the remaining blocks will be issued on a block by block basis, subject to satisfactory progress, failing which the outstanding work will be awarded to the company submitting the second lowest tender, again on a block by block basis, subject to satisfactory progress.
7. Council Directive 1999/31/EC on the Landfill of Wastes: Brodick Landfill Site at Market Road, Isle of Arran
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Property Services) on Notices served on the Council by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency in respect of the future use of the landfill site at Market Road, Brodick.
In June 2003 the Committee was advised of SEPA's intention to require the Council to have the Landfill site at Market Road, Brodick Isle of Arran closed and restored, with appropriate aftercare procedures in place, no later than 31 August 2006. Two notices to this effect have now been served by SEPA under the Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003 (As Amended). There is a right of appeal within 6 months of the date of the Notices. The Council has through CoSLA made representations to SEPA expressing concern over their lack of discussion with the Council on the impact of the closure and the failure to consider action based on an assessment of environmental risks.
The options now available to the Council are (1) to fully engineer the site in accordance with the requirements of the Landfill (Scotland) Regulations 2003; (2) to provide a transfer station at Brodick to transfer waste to suitable vehicles for onward transportation to the mainland; or (3) to lodge an appeal against the Closure Notice on the grounds that the landfill may pose no potential hazard to soil, groundwater or surface water. Even if the appeal is successful, however, SEPA can insist that the Council line the site in accordance with the requirements of current legislation. Consultants have been commissioned to carry out an environmental risk assessment of the site in order that grounds of an appeal may be formulated. A further report will be submitted to the Committee once the consultants have reported.
8. Revenue Budget 2003/04: Budgetary Control
Submitted report by the Assistant Chief Executive (Finance) on the budgetary control position for Property Services at the end of August 2003 and projections for the financial year 2003/04.
9. Term Contract for Re-roofing of Council Houses
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Property Services) on the procurement of re-roofing work to Council houses through a 3 year term contract.
At present major repair and improvement work to Council houses is undertaken on the basis of annual programmes involving a repetitive tendering process and acceptance of the lowest tender in each case. This procurement policy has recently been reviewed, due to a number of factors. These include the Council developing a Stock Retention Strategy and attempting to improve the housing service. This is likely to include higher levels of capital investment in the stock as part of a 30 year Business Plan. This will allow longer term procurement arrangements to be put in place. Furthermore, the construction industry is facing heavy demands which could lead to increased costs and a shortage of contractors. Longer term contracts will help secure good contractors in the current construction market.
In order to trial a longer term contract, tenders were invited for a 3 year term contract for re-roofing work to Council houses over the period 2003/06. It is proposed to issue acceptance of the tendered work to Marley Contract Services and Ridgewood Roofing under two separate contracts based on the same percentage discount against a set of rates. This discounted percentage will remain throughout the 3 years of the contract, although the rates themselves will be adjusted according to the relevant inflation index. The use of two contractors ensures a degree of flexibility with regard to the allocation of work under the contract, allows performance to be compared and provides cover in the event of failure on the part of one of the contractors. It is further proposed that as the next step, tenders be invited for term contracts in respect of the roughcasting and central heating programmes commencing in 2004/05.
The Committee agreed (a) to approve the tenders submitted by Marley Contract Services and Ridgewood Roofing for re-roofing work to Council houses over a 3 year period; and (b) in principle, to the adoption of similar contractual arrangements in respect of future programmes of roughcasting and central heating.
10. Traffic Accidents and Casualties for 2002
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Property Services) on road traffic accidents in North Ayrshire in 2002 and the resultant number of casualties.
One of the findings in the report showed that the number of children under 16 years of age, killed or seriously injured was 18 compared to 9 in 2001.
Members sought clarification on various issues surrounding accidents involving children particularly in the vicinity of schools.
The Committee agreed (a) to note the accident statistics; and (b) that the Corporate Director (Property Services) submit a further report on road accidents involving children.
11. Extension of Term Maintenance Contracts
Submitted report by the Corporate Director (Property Services) on the proposed extension of the current Housing and Non-Housing Term Maintenance Contracts.
The Building Maintenance (Housing) Contract and the Maintenance and Minor Works (Non-Housing) Contract are currently being undertaken by the Council's Building Services which submitted the most economically advantageous tender in each case. The contract period for each contract is three years with the option for a two year extension at the discretion of the Corporate Director (Property Services) as the contract administrator. The Statutory Performance Indicators relating to housing response repairs and also the feedback from customer satisfaction surveys have confirmed that Building Services are providing a satisfactory and improving service. The prices charged through the two term contracts compare favourably with competition and it is proposed that Building Services be granted a two year extension on both contracts.
The Committee agreed to approve the decision of the Corporate Director (Property Services) to extend the Building Maintenance (Housing) Contract and the Maintenance and Minor Works (Non-Housing) Contract for a period of 2 years from the date of expiry.
The meeting ended at 3.25 p.m.