Council discussed recommendations arising from meetings of the Executive Committee held on Tuesday 29th October 2019 and Monday 11th November 2019. During consideration of these minutes the following matters were debated in detail:
a) Tenancy Recharge Policy
The Tenancy Recharge Policy had been introduced to provide the Council with an opportunity to recharge tenants and former tenants for damage caused to Council properties. The policy had been introduced to complement the new Tenancy Agreement and Handbook, which had been approved by the Executive Committee in October and which was designed to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the Council, as landlord, and the tenant respectively.
There was general consensus that where a tenant had wilfully caused damage s/he should be charged for any work required to resolve that damage. Concerns were expressed that some tenants might be required to pay for general wear and tear as well as the level of consultation that had been undertaken with tenants and residents. Furthermore, concerns were raised that there was no right to appeal and that some tenants on low incomes would struggle to pay for repair works. On the other hand Members noted that the policy stated that the tenant would be recharged in cases of wilful neglect or malicious damage and where it was the responsibility of the tenant for work to be undertaken.
Reference was made to the financial costs involved in undertaking the work and the impact that this had on the Council’s budget position in the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). Members also noted that it was standard practice for both housing associations and private sector landlords to recharge tenants in cases where the tenant had neglected or caused malicious damage to a property. This policy would ensure Council tenants were treated in a similar way.
b) Redditch Town Centre Regeneration (Community Hub and Railway Quarter)
The proposals in respect of the regeneration of Redditch town centre were debated in some detail. Members noted that originally plans had been brought forward in respect of this matter in March 2018 and had subsequently been amended in August that year. The proposals were at a preparatory stage and a number of options remained available for redevelopment of both the community hub and the railway quarter.
Reference was made to the most appropriate location for the community hub and it was noted that no decision had yet been taken in respect of this matter. There was general consensus that regeneration of Redditch town centre would have a positive impact on the town’s reputation and civic pride.
Members also discussed the funding that would be available to support the regeneration of Redditch town centre. Redditch had been announced as one of 100 towns that would be eligible to receive up to £25 million in funding for regeneration of the town centre. The Council would need to submit an investment plan by the summer of 2020 in order to secure some of this funding.
Concerns were raised about the time that had been taken since the initial proposals for regeneration of the town centre had been published in March 2018. However, it was noted that the work that had been undertaken during this time ensured that there was a lot of useful information available that could be used in the Council’s submission in the Town’s Fund programme. Questions were also raised about the arrangements that had been in place for the state of the area debates referred to in the report, including how these had been advertised, where they had occurred and the number of people who had attended. Council was informed that all Members had been invited to attend the state of the area debates and that further consultation would be taking place in future.
During consideration of this item Members noted that the report had been subject to pre-scrutiny by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Committee had been very supportive of the proposals. However, there had been general consensus that there was a need to learn from previous regeneration exercises, such the redevelopment of Church Hill district centre. In particular, Members had expressed the view that all Councillors needed to be kept informed about the project due to the importance of the town centre to the whole Borough. It was confirmed that all Councillors would be briefed where appropriate.
1) the minutes of the meeting of the Executive Committee held on Tuesday 29th October 2019 be received and all recommendations adopted; and
2) the minutes of the meeting of the Executive Committee held on Monday 11th November 2019 be received and all recommendations adopted, subject to removing the words “consideration be given” from the second resolution in Minute Item No. 67.