Agenda item

Members question time under Council Procedure Rule 12

Members question time will last up to 30 minutes, questions will be taken in order of receipt, in rotation from each political group on the Council. The deadline for submission of questions is Tuesday 18 October 2022 at 12 noon. Questions to be submitted to


Questions received can be asked of the following:


a)    The Chairman

b)    A Member of the Executive

c)    The Chairman of any Committee

d)    The Councils representative on any outside body


Questions cannot be asked on the following


a)    A specific planning or licensing application

b)    A specific staffing appointment, appeal or Standards determination


A Member asked the following question: The Queen's green canopy initiative is taking place in Adur District but with the exclusion of land belonging to Adur Homes. I've been informed by Adur Homes that no planting can be carried out as it requires an urban ranger to carry out public consultation, engagement and landscape design. When will Adur Homes be making arrangements to facilitate this?


The Cabinet Member stated that the Council was pleased with contributions to the green canopy across Adur District celebrating the Queen's Platinum. The council believed that it was important that communities were able to have a say in changes that affected their places and had worked with local groups in creating the queen’s green canopy for Adur.  As well as the rest of the organisation, Housing Services was currently going through a process of change which included services delivered to Adur Homes residents. The arrangement with the Council’s Parks and Foreshore Team did not include consultation and engagement with residents and so there had not been an ability to progress as quickly as liked. This would be dealt with as part of the ongoing changes within the Council.


A Member asked the following question: What are the current numbers of Households awaiting social housing by band and the current number of void tenancies? What new housing stock has been agreed and when will this be available?


The Cabinet Member stated that there were currently 842 residents on the Adur Council’s housing register and detailed the exact figures relating to bed Size/Band.


There were about 100 void properties most of which required significant work to ensure they were compliant and in a lettable standard while some were earmarked for temporary decant of residents for the ongoing inner rooms project.


Construction was already at an advanced stage on the Albion Street site which would deliver 49 new homes, the Council had nearly finalised plans to deliver nearly 40 homes through the small sites programme and were working to deliver a new Ashcroft Sheltered Housing. All those units would go to households on the Council’s housing register.


More affordable homes would be delivered through the planning process and the Council’s Local Plan. The Old Civic Centre would deliver over 100 homes and there would be more homes through the New Monks Farm developments. Residents are already successfully bidding for the New Monks Farm homes on the housing register.


A Member asked the following question: Given the cost of living crisis, fuelled by high energy price rises, what is the Council doing to inform, educate and assist homeowners, tenants and businesses about energy saving measures, which will be of direct benefit to households and also address the climate emergency? These include direct financial support, improved retrofit insulation options, alternative heating solutions and finance & grant availability.


The Cabinet Member told the meeting that the Council had a comprehensive range of support for residents affected by the Cost of Living situation which was accessible from the front page of the website. 


In addition the Authorities had produced a CoL advice leaflet (available digitally) which included energy and fuel related signposting, the Councils were working on the longer term CoL communications plan. This plan will see the Councils focus on and direct messages of support on the key areas of impact for our residents and it had been agreed that the next focus would be fuel and energy.


A leaflet was recently sent out to householders as part of the Cost of Living response.  This included advice on energy and bills, including details of the LEAP scheme which offered free home visits, and the Warmer Homes fund, offering grant funding to low income households for replacement low carbon heating and insulation measures. 


The Communications team were developing further elements of the campaign including an “energy tips” leaflet devised by the sustainability team working with local environmental groups which would be accompanied by social media messaging that could be promulgated by members, community groups and the general public.


A Member asked the following question: At July’s JOSC a recommendation was put forward regards Southern Water and investigating more feasible houseboat connection fees, how has this progressed please?


The Cabinet member told the meeting that the Council did not have direct responsibility for the fowl waste disposal of houseboats the Council was facilitating a meeting between the Environment Agency and Southern Water taking place in November. Members were told that houseboat owners had the opportunity to get connected at a reduced rate some years ago as part of the tidal walls scheme.


A Member asked the following question: You are responsible for Highways Liaison. You will be aware that under the Local Cycling & Walking Infrastructure Plan, reconfirmed by this council in July 2022, Upper Shoreham Road is designated as a primary route for cycle path infrastructure. Many members here believe that the County Council is dragging its feet on this issue and failing to make a case, with any ambition, for central government funding for this project. Where do you stand on this?


The Cabinet Member told the meeting that it needed to happen and that Councillors were doing everything they could to move the County into pro-active action. The Cabinet Member wanted to see the Town safer for all users and that encouraging active travel was incredibly important. Any solution should incorporate a number of factors including getting HGVs of Shoreham Road and the High Street.


A Member asked the following question: Since 1st October 2022 landlords are required by law to have installed carbon monoxide detectors in properties which have fixed combustion appliances. We have been told that the majority of customers in Adur have no carbon monoxide detection. I understand you are going out to tender for a contractor to deliver a programme of electrical installation over a period of 3 to 4 years. If a new contract has not been drawn up there will be considerable delay before works even start.


Members were told that there was a likely delay in setting up a new contract and the councils was working hard to speed up the process to ensure that implementation was as fast as possible. In the meantime all tenants without an electric carbon monoxide detector would be provided with a battery operated one initially.


A Member asked the following question: Q1 In the ALP 2017 section 4.92 it states that " A Green Infrastructure SPD will be produced in order to provide a holistic approach to the provision of green infrastructure and to maximise the many benefits that green infrastructure brings".  We are unable to find any evidence of this document. It is necessary for this to be produced before finalising the 2022 revision of the ALP. Can you give us an indication of what stage the Green Infrastructure policy has reached and when it will be presented to this council and the public?


Members were told that it was still intended to produce a Green Infrastructure SPD.  Work on a strategy covering Adur and Worthing was started and mapping of green spaces has been undertaken. The Cabinet Member agreed to set up a new Local Plan Working Group and one of its first tasks would be reviewing outstanding studies as part of the review of the Adur Local Plan. Whilst, the strategy still needed to be pulled together various strands of work had been undertaken across the District including nature restoration projects on Parks and Gardens and work was progressing on the two large sites purchased at Pad Farm and New Salts Farm.


A Member asked the following question: Councillors are all keen that the council reduce the numbers of empty council homes, and improve the void turnaround time. They have asked - and have repeatedly been promised - a regular report on the empty properties. Can the Executive Member now undertake to put that in action before the month is out?


Members were told that Housing had some challenges with their IT System. They were working hard to ensure they could provide monthly reports especially to the JOSC Working Group.


A Member asked the following question: Given that many Adur Homes tenants are struggling to pay their energy bills, and with the government's energy bill support scheme now being rolled back, what remedial work is the council undertaking to improve insulation in properties particularly prone to heat loss?


It was related that the Council was working to ensure its homes were energy efficient. The councils were in the process of commissioning energy performance inspections on all stock to get EPC (Energy Performance Certificate). Though this would be done in stages, it would provide the information needed to target capital investment in these homes. It would also give the information needed to bid for relevant government funding which was needed to improve energy efficiency in the Council’s buildings.


The Council secured £1.3 million from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to improve the energy performance in Shadwell Court and Tonbridge House. Work hasdalready commenced on delivering: Brand new renewable heating systems, including radiators and controls, Solar PV panels Cavity Wall Insulation at Shadwells Court and a Ground Source heat pump at Shadwells.


Capital Investment plans in stock for the next financial year included Roof, Windows and Doors projects which would improve energy efficiency and reduce heat loss.