To consider any decisions made by the Cabinet at its last meeting that have been called-in.
The Chairman informed the Committee that two decisions made by the Cabinet at its meeting on 3rd December 2020 (with regard Land at Post Hill) had been *called in for consideration by the Scrutiny Committee in accordance with the Council’s Constitution. The decision had been called in by Cllrs Barnell, Holdman, Clist and White.
Lack of consideration of alternative options;
1. The building of more Social Rented Homes is a key priority of the Corporate Plan recently agreed by Full Council. The development of the Post Hill site presents an important opportunity to build a significant number both of Affordable Rented and of Social Rented Homes in Tiverton and thereby address the local gap in affordability that impacts most on families with a low income .
2. The options presented to and considered by Cabinet included three options:-
a. Option 2-For 50 Social and 20 Affordable Homes
b. Option 3- For 50 Social, 15 Affordable Homes and 5 Self Build Homes
c. Option 4- 70 Affordable Homes
3. The report to cabinet recommended Option 4 on the basis of budgetary
considerations. External and expert financial assessments were appended to the report to explain these issues.
4. Cabinet were asked only to consider options that were posed at opposite ends of a continuum of possible mixes of tenure. It should also have considered other options that may well have presented very different assessment and comparisons of affordability.
5. There were other options that were not presented that would have allowed Cabinet to consider and compare the financial implications of different mixes or proportions of Affordable rented and Social rented housing.
6. Such options might have included, say, a 35/35 split between affordable rented and social rented homes and also a 20/50 split. Either option would still yield a significant addition on the Council’s stock of Social Rented Housing.
7. Finally the report to Cabinet presented only a single set of proposals on the numbers of housing units of a particular size. This proposal did not relate to the analysis of need for particular size of dwelling as presented in the report. No other options were considered even though different options would have a significant impact on costs and forecast returns.
8. We are, therefore asking that Cabinet consider other options for the mix of Social Rented and Affordable Rented Homes and also for the mix of the size of units. This will allow Cabinet to carry out more reasonable analysis and comparisons of both cost and returns.
Pre-determination of a future decision of Full Council
1) A decision to set up a TECKAL compliant company to deliver some or all of the Council’s Housing services is a major step that has yet to be made and that will require a decision of Full Council. This decision will need to be supported by a full business case setting out elements of the Councils services that are to be managed and delivered by the SPV and include an assessment of the risks and opportunities involved.
2) The range of services that might be transferred to the proposed TECKAL company might include the full range of the Councils Housing services. On the other hand it might be limited to include only the remit to develop new affordable and social rented housing.
3) The Cabinet decision that the delivery of 70 units of affordable rented housing will be through any new TECKAL company clearly pre-empts a future decision of Full Council on the scope of the MDDC services and activities to be transferred to such a Company.
4) This decision is unnecessary and unconstitutional. Cabinet could have decided instead to recommend that the delivery of the Post Hill homes be though a future TECKAL company.
The Lead Member for the call in explained to the Committee that his belief was the options considered by the Cabinet on 3rd December were not based on evidence of need and that the whole Post Hill site being allocated for affordable housing was a failure of evidence. He explained that his evidence was based on studies of affordable housing and was based on household income and gave a split on affordable social housing. He stated that the Council was failing to keep pace with right to buy and that it had been haemorrhaging social housing over a 9 year period. He stated that he felt that the infill sites available were not sufficient.
Another Member, who had also signed the Call in, stated that his concerns were that there was not enough social housing in Devon and that there were too many second home owners. He felt that the Council was not keeping up with social housing needs.
In response to a question asked to the Lead Member for the call in about his previous involvement in deciding the housing mix, he explained that he had been on a previous working group looking at the options. He explained that at that time he was in favour of social housing dependant on the need and affordability.
The Lead member for the call in explained that he felt the Cabinet were very keen to make decisions on a future company which did not yet exist and therefore they had pre-determined the outcome. He felt that this was unconstitutional.
Another Member, who had also signed the Call in, stated that the Cabinet had made an assumption that everything would go to plan and that a Teckal company was going to be formed.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property Services, addressing the concerns raised stated that the design options for the Post Hill site were not binding and were subject to a final design which would explore a mix of housing to be delivered. He stated that a feasibility study and options would be required before a final decision was made. He explained that Officers preparing the report on options, received by the Cabinet, had taken advice from Members, including the previous Cabinets working group, with regard to options presented.
The Group Manager for Property Services and Commercial Assets explained to the Committee that there had been a Working Group set up by the previous Cabinet to considered the housing mix for the Post Hill Development and that it had been decided by that group not to present too many options to Cabinet. It was also agreed to complete further analysis on two Options (2&3) including financial costings that have been provided in supporting Part 2 documentation and based on the housing mix agreed by the previous Working Group, with one additional Option (4)
Consideration was given to:
· The views of the Members who had called in the decision to the Scrutiny Committee
· The advice of the Monitoring Officer
· The views of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Property Services
· The views of the Member of the Public who had submitted questions
It was therefore RECOMMENDED that the Cabinet: reconsiders its decision on the delivery of Post Hill homes by a possible Teckal Company and that it instead substitutes it for a recommendation to Full Council.
(Proposed by Cllr G Barnell and seconded by Cllr L Cruwys)
6 votes for, 6 votes against – Chairman’s casting vote
Reason for the Decision: To allow for the creation of a Teckal Company to be a decision considered by full council
i.) A proposal requesting the Cabinet to consider other options for the mix of social rented and affordable rented homes and also for the mix of the size of units, this will allow Cabinet to carry out more reasonable analysis of the comparisons of both cost and returns was not supported.
ii.) *Report previously circulated, copy attached to minutes