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DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
Members are invited to disclose any interest in any of the items on the agenda at this point of the meeting.
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4. CALL-IN OF A CABINET DECISION RELATING TO CHAFFORD SPORTS COMPLEX.
Councillor Viddy Persaud, Prejudicial, Requisitioned Cabinet decision relates to Member's portfolio.
5. CALL-IN OF A CABINET DECISION RELATING TO LONDON COUNTER FRAUD HUB.
Councillor Roger Ramsey, Prejudicial, Requisitioned Cabinet decision relates to Member's portfolio.
6. CALL-IN OF A CABINET DECISION RELATING TO LAND AT HALL LANE PITCH AND PUTT COURSE, UPMINSTER.
Councillor Roger Ramsey, Prejudicial, Requisitioned Cabinet decision relates to Member's portfolio.
The report before Members detailed the call-in of a Cabinet decision relating Chafford Sports Complex. A requisition signed by Councillors Durant and Morgon had called-in the Cabinet decision. The grounds for the call-in were as follows:
I wish to call in the Chafford closure decision, because the gross disparity of funding in the leisure contract towards the south of the borough and the closure of Chafford will adversely impact on the users contrary to the statutory duty within the 2010 Equality Act. Also because the claimed “unaffordable subsidy” is a false claim as the money is available, which I have identified, see message below, which will be the basis for my call for the decision to be reversed.
“Unaffordable” £232,284 cost becomes £9,430 saving
The Conservative Cabinet decision to close Chafford Sports Complex and evict the many and varied people using the centre due to an allegedly “unaffordable £232,284 subsidy” despite spending £28.8m upfront on a new Romford Leisure Centre and £millions more on new centres and facilities in Hornchurch and Harold Hill. Except its not unaffordable, they just want to close Chafford and use Rainham’s £2m+ contribution to subsidies the ‘borough-wide’ leisure contract and boost figures at Sapphire.
According to the Chafford Sports Complex consultation document the average swim and gym attendance figures at Sapphire are less than Hornchurch and far less than Central Park.
Chafford Sports Complex
The March 13th Cabinet approved closing Chafford Sports Complex (item 6) due to the “unaffordable subsidy”! Even if we ignore the gross disparity of funding in the ‘borough-wide leisure contract’, the unaffordable figure is wrong and the money has been found!
The Cabinet report says £50,000 has been set aside if required for a feasibility study into building a new centre in the south of the borough, £38,714 will still need to be paid for an additional 2 months to closing date on May 31st and I understand about £4,000 (x2) will be paid to two primary schools to help them relocate to Sapphire. This means once the “unaffordable £232,284” is reduced by (£50,000+£38,714+£8,000) it becomes an “unaffordable £135,570 subsidy”
London Counter Fraud Hub
The conservative policy of making Havering part of a Greater London involves promoting mergers and joining pan-London bodies irrespective of the need to do so.
This was illustrated by the March 13th Cabinet (item 9) decision to join a “London Counter Fraud Hub” to deal with housing fraud. The report offered the option of waiting to gauge the success of the scheme first, but the Cabinet, ignoring lessons from the Tri-borough Policing, agreed to join and pay a £75,000 joining fee and annual subscriptions of £70,000. The scheme offered forecast savings, but Havering has already conducted an extensive audit of council properties and PSL, so has little immediate need for the new anti-fraud “Hub”. This matters because delaying joining frees up £145,000 for other things.
Namely if joining the “Hub” is delayed it means the £145,000 can be used to ... view the full minutes text for item 31.
The report before Members detailed the call-in of a cabinet decision relating to London Counter Fraud Hub.
A requisition signed by Councillors David Durant and Ron Ower had called-in the Cabinet decision.
The reasons for the call-in were as follows:
I wish to call in Cabinet decision item 9 LCFH, because the scheme offers forecast savings, but Havering has already conducted an extensive audit of council properties and PSL, so has little immediate need for the new anti-fraud “Hub”. This matters because delaying joining frees up £145,000 for other things.
When the Housing Revenue Account was restored to councils it transformed the housing department and an audit of council housing was progressed. Then after the PSL controversy, an audit of PSL is being undertaken. The housing audit would cover lawful occupancy and the one person discount. There is now small business rate relief across the board and so fraud is diminished as no one need claim. And again there was an audit of those eligible following a previous government grant to be awarded to small businesses. That is the council has made substantial progress on the audits to remove fraud in the areas covered by the proposed LCFH.
That is not to say we never join, it just means there is no immediate need to join this year. The report itself says we could delay to see how the scheme progresses first and says not all councils need join for it to get off the ground. Indeed the main argument in the report for joining this year was just to show solidarity with the rest of London. I.e. for political reasons, in keeping with council policy to make Havering part of a Greater London. However a greater political priority for delaying a year is the saved £145,000 helps keep Chafford Sports Complex open for another year.
Response from officers:
The audit of council properties and PSL was run for three years between 2015 and November 2018. This means that some of our housing stock have not been reviewed for three years so, therefore, the Council does not have up to date data regarding properties that may be allocated inappropriately.
The previous audit was not data led and was based on visiting each of our housing stock, so properties and individuals that pose a greater risk of fraudulent activity were not targeted. The LCFH will allow our data to be matched with third parties and other boroughs, so will allow us to focus on tenancies that appear to be potentially fraudulent, rather than diluting fraud resources on visits to properties which the data does not indicate fraudulent activity.
It should also be noted that the annual costs of the fraud hub are significantly less than the running costs of the tenancy fraud audit.
The fraud hub will also provide data matches for single person discount and business rate fraud, which could lead to significant savings to the Council.
A requisitioner felt that there was no immediate need to join the London ... view the full minutes text for item 32.
A procedural motion that, given the grounds of the requisition only made reference to the decision in respect of Hall Lane Pitch and Putt Course, that the debate and any subsequent vote on the requisition should relate to Hall Lane only. The procedural motion was proposed by Councillor Perry and seconded by Councillor Crowder.
The procedural motion was AGREED by 8 votes to 7.
Councillors Smith, Perry, Patel. Mylod, Misir, Crowder, Holt and C White voted in favour of the procedural motion.
Councillors Lawal, Summers, Williamson, Ford, Hawthorn, O’Sullivan and Mugglestone voted against the procedural motion.
Abstention – Councillor Wise.
That the debate and any subsequent vote on the requisition should relate to Hall Lane only.
The report before Members detailed the call-in of a Cabinet decision relating to land at Hall Lane Pitch and Putt Course, Upminster. A requisition signed by Councillors Ford and Morgon had called-in the Cabinet decision. The grounds for the call-in were as follows:
1. The Local Plan Map and Policy DC18 of the Core Strategy show the Hall Lane Pitch & Putt land being designated under the broad description of 'parks, open spaces, playing fields, allotments'.
2. The site has been excluded from the Playing Pitch Strategy and the 2016 Open Space Assessment. The site specific assessment by LUC (Oct 2016) identifies that there is a need and demand for a publicly accessible park and garden. It clearly states that the development of the site would be contrary to Policy 18 of the emerging Local Plan unless suitable equivalent or better quality provision is made in a suitable location. Why has the site been deliberately omitted and Policy 18 ignored?
3. As the site has not been declassified and the above applies. The land should have undergone a statutory consultation process to be disposed of as part of the draft Local Development Plan submission. Why has this not been undertaken?
4. The miniature pitch and putt site is surrounded by the Hall Lane Policy Area Zone B. Any development would impact on Policy Area Zone B. Why has this not been taken into consideration?
5. There has been no consideration or feasibility study of the retention of the site for public wellbeing. The nearest park is dedicated for sports activities. This site has other health benefits that have not been taken into consideration, for example social prescribing as part of Havering’s strategy towards health prevention. Why?
6. Land disposal requires tree surveys to be undertaken. A tree survey has been undertaken of the site as part of planning application P0.248.19. Why has this survey been ignored as part of the sale, as there is a requirement to consider TPO’s in accordance with the survey’s findings?
7. Policy 18 of the Local Plan sets out (criteria (i)) “that the Council will continue to protect the boroughs designated open spaces from development”. Why is this Policy not being adhered to?
8. No consideration has been given to Policy 30 Nature Conservation section iii ... view the full minutes text for item 33.