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Paper 5A -  6 June 2003 Meeting

Minutes of the Association meeting held at Rushmoor Borough Council on 28 March 2003 at 10.00 am

Present:

Basingstoke and Deane

Councillor B Gurden
Mr G Holdcroft (Acting Chief Executive)
Ms D Luker (Head of Housing)

East Hampshire

Councillor Mrs E Cartwright (Vice-Chairman)
Mr P Burton (Chief Executive)

Eastleigh

Councillor P Wall
Mr C Tapp (Chief Executive)

Fareham

Councillor R Price
Councillor S Woodward
Mr A Davies (Chief Executive)

Gosport

Mr M Crocker (Chief Executive)

Hampshire

Councillor W Wheeler
Councillor M Woodhall
Ian Parker (Head of Estates Practice)
Alison Quant (Director of Environment)
Ms M MacDonald (Early Education and Childcare)

Hart

Councillor S Parker
Councillor L Fullbrook
Ms J Samuels (Chief Executive)

Havant

Councillor T Briggs
Councillor D Gillett
Councillor Mrs J Fulcher
Councillor K Moss
Mr F Campbell (Director of Environment)

Isle of Wight

Councillor Mrs B Lawson

New Forest

Councillor Mrs M Holding
Mr D Yates (Chief Executive)

Portsmouth

Mr B Partridge (Head of Chief Executive’s Department)

Rushmoor

Councillor A Ferrier
Councillor P Moyle
Mr A Lloyd (Chief Executive)

Test Valley

Councillor B Palmer
Mr A Jones (Chief Executive and Hon Secretary of the Association)

Winchester

Councillor S Campbell
Councillor T Evans
Councillor Mrs C Sutton
Mr D Cowan (Chief Executive)

Hampshire Association of Parish and Town Councils

Councillor Mrs J Pittfield

Isle of Wight Association of Parish and Town Councils

Mrs B Lawson

Community Action Hampshire

Mr R Tulloch (Chief Executive)

Hampshire Fire and Rescue

Councillor M Cartwright

Local Government Association

Councillor Mrs M Robinson (New Forest District Council)

Association of Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Authorities

Mr N Goulder (Policy Manager)
Mrs D Allen (PA to Policy Manager)

Also in attendance:

Southampton City Council

Councillor R Williams
Mr B Roynon (Chief Executive)

Rushmoor Borough Council

Councillor M Roberts

Government Office for the South East

Mr C Byrne

South East England Regional Assembly

Mr M Gwilliam (Director of Planning and Transport)

13.03 CHAIRMAN

In the absence of the Chairman, the Vice-Chairman, Councillor Mrs Elizabeth Cartwright, took the chair for the meeting.

14.03 WELCOME

The Mayor of Rushmoor, Councillor Brian Jupp, welcomed all those present to the meeting.

Councillor Richard Williams and Brad Roynon (Southampton) were welcomed to the meeting together with Councillor June Fulcher (Havant); Councillor Cecily Sutton (Winchester); Mike Gwilliam (South East England Regional Assembly); Alison Quant and Ian Parker (Hampshire); and Denise Luker (Basingstoke and Deane).

15.03 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Donnelly (Basingstoke and Deane); Councillor K House (Eastleigh); Councillors S Cully and P Edgar (Gosport); Councillors A Rice and K Thornber (Hampshire); Councillor R Benford (Hart); (Councillors H Rees and S Smart (Isle of Wight); Councillor M Kendal (New Forest); Councillors T Blair, P Shaddock and E Shimbart (Portsmouth); Councillor J Marsh (Rushmoor); Councillor A Jackson (Test Valley)

16.03 MINUTES

The minutes of the meeting held on 31 January were agreed as a correct record.

17.03 MATTERS ARISING

Malcolm Crocker reported on minute 5.03 (Sale of MoD Land) that the Government had provided a welcome response on the need for liaison over disposals. The existing Hampshire arrangements with Defence Estates would be supplemented by a wider consideration about future disposals. However, the Government had not responded to concerns about the Treasury rules guiding disposals.

It was agreed that a further letter should be submitted, also drawing attention to the need to remove Crown Immunity.

Mr Crocker also spoke about the importance of Government consulting local authorities and strategic partnerships on the impact of Government Departmental policy changes on local communities. He hoped to widen the debate with Government on this via his discussions with the Government Office for the South East.

18.03 AFFORDABLE HOUSING

The Chairman introduced Mike Gwilliam, Director of Planning and Transport, South East England Regional Assembly, to the meeting.

Mr Gwilliam’s presentation focussed on:

ˇ The scale of the problem of affordable housing
ˇ
Overall housing completions to date, completions by structure plan area in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and completions by sector
ˇ
Key barriers
ˇ
Past investment in social housing
ˇ
Regional responses to the problem and actions taken
ˇ
The barriers with regard to overall housing supply
ˇ
The steps to be taken by the Task Group Mark II and priority actions
ˇ
Building sustainable communities for the future

His analysis demonstrated a worrying reduction in housing completions, despite a modest recent upturn. The situation varied across the area with the Isle of Wight faring relatively well. Overall we were barely providing half the new housing supply sought by the Government. The regional target was 11,500-12,000 new affordable houses each year, but the region was only achieving about 50% of this.

He talked about the role and membership of the Regional Housing Board which would produce the first interim Regional Strategy by July 2003. He acknowledged that the arrangements were not ideal but confirmed that, for the first time, locally elected councillors would have a role in regional housing strategy.

The Chairman also introduced Denise Luker, Head of Housing at Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

Miss Luker spoke about the joint work of the housing authorities through the Strategic Housing Officers’ Group. The Group were preparing sub-regional input to the Regional Housing Strategy and had formulated the Association’s protest at the abolition of Social Housing Grant and the lack of transitional arrangements. She gave details such as the fact that 40% of the places in the direct access hostel in Basingstoke were taken by homeless from outside the South East, and London assistance for people to move into the South East.

On the positive side, Miss Luker said that under the new regime local authorities have more discretion and there were encouraging signs that private finance could be brought in to help with affordable housing. Local authorities can own affordable housing stock as a capital asset and decide the housing mix. There were new opportunities to explore shared ownership and alternative funding.

Following the presentations, questions and concerns were addressed by Mr Gwilliam and Miss Luker. These included the amount of money available from Government to fund affordable housing and how it would be allocated; the importance of engaging the private sector; the replacement of Local Authority Social Housing Grant which could stop the supply of new social housing in some areas; persuading the financial sector to contribute; making provision for affordable housing in the proposed New Forest and South Downs National Park areas. The fact that the Government was now taking the issue seriously was welcomed.

Hampshire County Council suggested that a seminar on Affordable Housing should be held for all authorities and partners in housing in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Mr Gwilliam agreed to take the concerns expressed back to the Regional Assembly.

RESOLVED

To consider the matter further at a conference.

The Chairman thanked Mr Gwilliam and Miss Luker for their presentations and thanked members of the Strategic Housing Group for their work.

19.03 COMMUNITIES PLAN

The Policy Manager introduced his report which gave details of the Government’s proposals for a Communities Plan. The Plan made a number of proposals which included changes to the planning system and tackling housing shortages in the south. It set out many objectives which had been at the heart of local government concern for many years.

The report highlighted some of the concerns regarding planning and housing allocation issues.

It was stressed that changes to the planning system would make it more necessary than ever for member authorities to work together to look after the interests of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in this field.

Concern was expressed that the issue of compulsory purchase was missing from the proposals. GOSE reported that a circular regarding this issue had been circulated in February and further changes were included in the Bill.

RESOLVED

That the report be noted.

20.03 PLANNING AND COMPULSORY PURCHASE BILL: NEW DEVELOPMENT PLANS FRAMEWORK - IMPLICATIONS FOR HAMPSHIRE

The Chairman introduced Alison Quant, Director of Environment at Hampshire County Council.

Ms Quant updated the meeting on her report which outlined the Government’s proposals with regard to the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Bill and its implications for Hampshire. The report set out the County Council Network’s lobbying to change the Bill, the response from Hampshire and the Isle Wight and transitional arrangements.

The Bill was waiting for a third reading in the House of Commons before being considered by the House of Lords.

Ms Quant explained that local transport plans and housing were joined in with the Regional Spatial Strategy. She gave ideas on how joint working could be implemented and explained the recommendations in the report. The Regional Planning Board would define the sub-regional approach and they could cross county boundaries. It was important for the Association to speak for the area on this. There were a number of models to consider for joint working. The target timetable for the Draft Regional Spatial Strategy was the end of 2004.

Councillor Williams of Southampton City Council gave examples of the Council’s joint working with other bodies on transport. They were producing a "shopping list" for GOSE. He also emphasised the importance of joint working.

Those present welcomed Southampton’s approach.

RESOLVED

That the Association agrees to:

(1) work together on the preparation of Local Development Frameworks and explore options for joint plans;

(2) build on the current sub-regional studies nearing completion and develop them into draft sub-regional strategies for South Hampshire and the Blackwater Valley; and

(3) ask the Planning Officers’ Group (HIPOG) to continue to monitor the new legislation (and associated guidance) as it emerges and to promote/support the development of partnerships to ensure that the new arrangements can be effectively delivered in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

21.03 LOCAL AUTHORITY SOCIAL HOUSING GRANT

Denise Luker updated the meeting on this topic. She drew attention to a letter which had been sent to the Government jointly from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Chief Executives and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Strategic Housing Officers’ Group. She suggested some additions to the letter to be sent from the Association.

RESOLVED

(1) That Members endorse the concerns about changes to local authority social housing grant expressed by the Strategic Housing Officers’ Group; and

(2) That the Association writes to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister re-iterating these concerns.

22.03 MANAGING UNAUTHORISED GYPSY ENCAMPMENTS IN HAMPSHIRE

Ian Parker, Head of Estates Practice at Hampshire County Council introduced a report by the Joint Local Authorities Gypsy and Travellers Panel on this subject.

The report set out the levels of unauthorised encampments in Hampshire. It gave details regarding the provision of short stay/ emergency stopping places and suggestions on how local authorities could plan provision for them.

Mr Parker highlighted key issues including the difficulties in managing encampments on public land and the problems local authorities faced in obtaining evictions. He explained that under the Government proposals for managing unauthorised encampments the police would have increased powers to move gypsies on but only if local authorities could provide alternative sites which was not always possible.

He stressed the time, cost and uncertainty which local authorities would face in identifying, planning and providing such sites and that the level of capital funding was not sufficient. Revenue funding was also needed as there were also problems in running sites and they were difficult to manage.

Annexed to the report was a draft letter to the Government making representations on proposed changes to the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. Several changes to the letter were suggested.

Councillor Mrs Fulcher of Havant Borough Council gave details of the work of the HIOW Gypsy and Travellers Panel of which she was Chairman. She welcomed cross boundary working with other County areas. She pointed out the problems with the influx of Irish travellers and also that gypsies were not made to use sites. Funding was available from the Government to help with the problem. A change in the planning laws was needed.

Councillor Sutton, Vice Chairman of the Panel, had been heartened by the way all local authorities had joined together on this issue.

A debate ensued during which several concerns and points of view were expressed including:

ˇ the fact that small landowners also had problems of securing repossession and faced costs of legal fees and clean-up
ˇ
the costs of clearing and cleaning sites arising from the behaviour of gypsies and travellers, particularly after enforcement action is taken
ˇ
trespass should be made a criminal offence
ˇ
further engagement with the police was needed

Mrs Fulcher explained that the Police were invited to attend Panel meetings. However they felt their hands were tied because of possible infringements of the Race Relations and Human Rights Acts.

Winchester City Council gave details of where a gypsy family had purchased a piece of land which they managed themselves. This had worked well. However concerns were also expressed that planning regulations could be disregarded.

In considering the representations to the Government, Eastleigh pointed out the significance of the legal position elsewhere in Europe, not just in Ireland.

Councillor Mrs Cartwright suggested that the word "ensure" be altered to "endeavour" in recommendation (2) of the report. This was agreed.

RESOLVED

That the Association:

(1) Endorses the work of the Joint Authorities Gypsy and Traveller Panel to date and supports its work to bring forward proposals to set up short stay/emergency gypsy sites in Hampshire;

(2) Endeavours to make appropriate provision in Local Plan Reviews and the forthcoming Local Development Frameworks to enable short stay/emergency stopping places to be provided in order to safeguard the councils` abilities to deal with unauthorised encampments on their land;

(3) Authorises contact with adjoining local authorities through the Government Office for the South East with a view to achieving consistency on at least a sub-regional basis;

(4) Agrees that a letter should be sent on behalf of the Association to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister setting out the Association’s concerns over the impracticalities of proposed changes in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act which will create severe difficulties for Councils in their ability to manage unauthorised encampments on public land as well as creating an additional revenue burden on the local authorities; and

(5) Thanks Councillor Mrs June Fulcher of Havant Borough Council for her contribution to this challenging issue through her chairmanship of the Joint Authorities Gypsy and Traveller Panel.

23.03 MAPPING THE VOLUNTARY SECTOR IN HAMPSHIRE AND THE ISLE OF WIGHT

Richard Tulloch, Chief Executive of Community Action Hampshire, introduced a report by the Joint Project Steering Group on this subject.

The report updated members on the production of a new database mapping the voluntary sector in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight being developed by a partnership led by Community Action Hampshire and Hampshire County Council.

Mr Tulloch asked District and Unitary Councils to consider funding the project.

RESOLVED

That the report be noted.

24.03 HAMPSHIRE EARLY YEARS STRATEGY 2002/03

A report from Councillor Mike Roberts setting out the work on the Hampshire Early Years Strategy over the past year was noted. A supplementary report from the Early Education and Childcare Unit is annexed to these minutes.

RESOLVED

That the report be noted.

25.03 FUTURE ITEMS AND "FIVE MINUTE SLOT"

(a) HMS Daedelus

Malcolm Crocker updated the meeting on the current situation regarding HMS Daedelus and the Government’s intention to house 400 asylum seekers on the site.

(b) Asylum Seekers

Hampshire suggested that this issue should be discussed at a future meeting of the Association.

26.03 HONORARY SECRETARY

The Chairman reported that this would be Alan Jones’ last meeting as Honorary Secretary of the Association as he was taking up the post of Chief Executive of Somerset County Council. On behalf of the Association, she thanked Alan for all his work and congratulated him on his new appointment.

27.03 NEXT MEETING

The next meeting would be the Annual meeting to be held at Havant Borough Council on 6 June.

 ANNEX

Corporate Unit for Early Education and Childcare, Hampshire County Council
(Supplementary Report)

In Cllr Roberts’s paper he mentions the Hampshire County Council Strategy. In 2001 the County Council, supported by the Early Years Development and Childcare Partnership produced a Strategic Plan for the period until March 2004. Every year the Council and the Partnership produce an Implementation Plan, which is like an annual business plan to work towards the targets in the Strategic Plan. Those targets are set by and given to the County Council by the DfES.

The 2003 Implementation Plan has been approved by the DfES.

The Unit and its Work
The staff in the Early Education and Childcare Unit take forward the work of the Plan. These staff are funded either by Hampshire County Council, or the New Opportunities Fund, the European Social Fund or the Early Years and Childcare Grant from the DfES.

As well as the Unit staff there are 5 area teams. Each area team works closely with the Districts’ and Boroughs’ Childcare Development Workers and Playworkers.

The work involves Early Education, the Foundation Stage for 3-5 year old children, Childcare Development, Out of School childcare, Children’s Information Service, engaging with Family Learning and extended schools all of which is being addressed locally, in the area teams in partnership with the private and voluntary sector.

Cllr Roberts referred to new responsibilities in the future. In November 2002, the government conducted an inter-departmental Childcare Review called Delivering for Children and Families. The review was carried out by the DfES, Department for Work and Pensions, HM Treasury, Women and Equality Unit and Strategy Unit.

This review made the delivery of Early Education and Childcare Services a responsibility of the Local Authority. Council tax payers can now expect Early Education and Childcare services just as they expect a fire service, an education service and social services.

The Chief Executive has been asked to appoint an officer at no less than second tier level to ensure the authorities Early Education and Childcare responsibility is fulfilled. That officer is John Wilkinson, Assistant County Education Officer for Life Long Learning.

Summary of the Conclusions
In conclusion, I think it is noteworthy that Hampshire County Council is ahead of the trend. The Early Education and Childcare Unit is a corporate unit, not a LEA unit. The fact that it is a corporate unit shows the commitment of Hampshire County Council as a whole to this work.

Maggie Macdonald
Head of Unit

 

Last update: 28/05/2003
Author: Nick Goulder, Policy Manager

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