Agenda item

Accountability of the Executive and Committee Chairs:

To receive any written or verbal questions from Members under Standing Order 12.

Minutes:

86/20 – ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE EXECUTIVE AND COMMITTEE CHAIRS: The Mayor advised that in accordance with Standing Order 12(9) two written questions had been received and which would, in accordance with the Standing Order, be dealt with as the first questions under this item. He would then invite verbal questions of the Executive Members and Committee Chairs from other Members of the Council.

 

1.    Question to the Cabinet Member for Housing and Safer Communities from Councillor Trevor Chapman

 

In the recent publication of the government social housing white paper it is suggested that a review of the decent home standard is carried out and particularly concentrate on achieving carbon neutrality. Can the Cabinet Member give any early indication as to what steps the council will be taking to achieve this goal?

 

Response:

 

Thank you for the question.  There are currently two reviews on going into the standard of thermal efficiency in homes. These are the review of the Decent Homes Standard and the review of the Housing Health and Safety Rating System. We are contributing to both these reviews in collaboration with the Northern Housing Consortium and Chartered Institute of Public Health.

 

The British Standards Institution, BSI, has recently published PAS 2035: 2019: Retrofitting Dwellings for Improved Energy Efficiency – Specification and Guidance. PAS describes a ‘publicly available specification’. While it is not officially a ‘standard’, it is a document that is likely to have a major effect on the way UK homes are retrofitted. It applies to homes of all ages and types and therefore includes traditional buildings.

 

At Harrogate Borough Council work has begun on a Stock Condition Survey to allow a programme to be brought forward to improve thermal efficiency of existing stock and ensure it is environmentally, economically and energy efficient, whilst at the same time we continue to build and buy new homes that meet the same rigorous standards.

 

2.    Question to the Leader from Councillor Chris Aldred

 

Councillors will be aware that at the start of the Pandemic the Council’s Director of Community resigned from his position and left the employment of this Council as of March 27th last year. Could The Leader inform Council what Management and Reporting procedures have been put in place since then, to ensure effective management of areas formerly under the umbrella leadership of that post? Does the Leader consider these to be adequate and what are the longer term plans relating to the Director of Community role?

 

Response:

 

The management arrangements put in place were those that were emailed to all Councillors, including Councillor Aldred, on the 31st of March 2020.  I found the arrangement satisfactory but the Chief Executive is the Head of Paid Service and so if any Member has any complaints about the arrangements they should address them to him.  In terms of the future of the role then all Councillors including Councillor Aldred were made aware of the recruitment freeze due to COVID-19 in several reports to various Council committees.  That freeze is still in place and normal arrangements for filling vacancies will resume in due course.

 

In response to a request from Councillor Aldred to the Leader that he remind him of the management arrangements the Leader advised that the role had been split between the Director of Corporate Affairs and the Director of Economy and Culture.

 

Cabinet Members then responded verbally to questions from Members of the Council. 

 

Councillor Pat Marsh then asked a question of the Leader and requested that it be recorded.  Recently the Council agreed a provision of cleaning contract supplies to appoint a supplier for cleaning and janitorial materials for the Council’s Housing and Property, Leisure and Tourism and HCC service areas.  The preferred supplier was selected via a direct award. The recommended material supplier was accepted as the most economically and logistically advantageous solution as well as being able to provide supplies that met the required standard as demonstrated by the results of an evaluation process, supplier meetings and product testing sessions.  I understand the Appointment was OJEU compliant but can I ask whether within that contract was there a clause re Green Public Procurement? Which is an important tool to achieve environmental policy goals relating to climate change.  The Leader responded that a written response would be required for such a detailed question.   As a supplementary question Councillor Marsh then asked, if Green Public Procurement is better for environment, if this is not included in HBC Procurement Documents now, when and how can this omission be rectified?  The Cabinet Member for Resources, Enterprise and Economic Development agreed to provide a written response to both questions. 

 

Councillor Philip Broadbank then asked the Cabinet Member for Resources, Enterprise and Economic Development how many single tender contracts have the Council signed up to in the last financial year and how many contracts went through the competitive process, and requested that the question be recorded.  The Cabinet Member agreed to provide a written response.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Matthew Webber, the Cabinet Member for Planning advised that he became aware of the Homes England acquisition of the Bluecoats Park and West Lane sites at the same time as other Members of the Council.  In response to a supplementary question the Cabinet Member agreed to arrange for an update to be provided to Members on the sites. 

 

In response to a question from Councillor Chris Aldred, which he requested be recorded, the Cabinet Member for the Environment, Waste Reduction and Recycling thanked Alan Taylor, the Council’s Parks and Street Cleansing Manager, and Andrew Soper, Parks and Street Cleansing Operations Manager, for their hard work for the Council over many years as both officers were retiring from the Council this week.