Agenda item

Questions under Standing Order 8

To answer questions asked under Standing Order 8 by Councillors (30 Minutes)


Councillor Wilson to Councillor K Grinsell, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health

“What is the turnaround time for housing maintenance query submitted via the Solihull Community Housing (SCH) ‘Out of Hours’ service?”


The Cabinet Member explained that SCH out of hour’s service was provided by a contact centre called Orbis, for residents who may have issues outside of business hours. The following statistics were provided:

  97% of calls were answered by Orbis

  87% of calls were answered within 30 seconds

  The average wait time was 2 minutes

  The longest wait time was 21 minutes.


At the point of escalation from Orbis to the SCH out of hours Duty Manager, the response time for an out of hours operative to attend a property was two hours. This tended to be dependent on the number of calls the engineer had at that time.


Councillor Wilson flagged an incident at Pembroke House, where a resident suffered a heating failure and was unable to speak to the service for five hours. Councillor Wilson asked what the appropriate waiting time should be for someone in this position.


The Cabinet Member responded that there had been fluctuations in performance for this service as a result of COVID-19 which had impacted on the workforce. However, the mentioned issue should have been flagged and it was not an appropriate time to wait. The contract was to be reviewed annually. Councillor Wilson would share details of the incident with the Cabinet Member outside of the meeting.


Councillor K Thomas to Councillor Mackiewicz, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Planning and Housing

“Like many councils, we have declared a climate emergency and the early working group sessions are indicating the scale of the change required. This level of change will require substantial investment. What national or regional funding is being made available to enable us to deliver the required change and what percentage/actions of our targeted improvement is this expected to deliver?”


In response the Cabinet Member highlighted that the Net Zero Action Plan Green Paper had recently been published, which would flag what activities would be required to achieve net zero. Some funding had been secured for this already from the West Midlands Combined Authority, Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP and the government. The Council would continue to identify and pursue funding opportunities from both private and public sources when they become available.


Councillor Thomas requested further information about future funding streams.


The Cabinet Member explained that there were a number of schemes that the Council would look to access future funding. This would be from a variety of sources. It was flagged that they had already raised £11.1mill in the first year, and more funding would be available moving forward.


Councillor Wilson to Councillor Rolf, Cabinet Member for Stronger and Safer Communities

“Data collected by the Don’t Trash our Future campaign has revealed there is a 37% fall in FPNs issues by Councils nationally. 85% of people see rubbish as the main issue that blights their area, and Solihull is no different. We issued no FPNs in 2020, compared to 78 in 2019. What are the Cabinet Member’s plans to address the littering and fly-tipping epidemic in our Borough, so that we are ready for the eyes of the world to be upon us next year for the Commonwealth Games?”


The Cabinet Member confirmed that a number of approaches had been developed to reduce the impact of litter within Solihull. These included a new litter patrolling and enforcement contract which had been put out to tender and was expected to commence in October. The service would target areas where the demand was greatest through education, support to local initiatives and enforcement. It was recognised that visible patrols was an effective deterrent to littering. Additional anti-dog fouling and litter signage would be purchased for areas of concerns. Officer had worked with community representatives from Knowle to respond to additional litter pressures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officers would continue to monitor this as the Commonwealth Games approached. It was also acknowledged the work that local volunteer litter groups had undertaken to support the Borough.


Councillor Wilson noted that a lot of littering and fly tipping was being reported by residents but not collected. He then asked what the key performance indicators for the removal of fly tipping, and requested whether more preventative measures could be introduced in hotspot areas.


The Cabinet Member stated they would provide Councillor Wilson with the key performance indicators in a written response. They asked Members to continue to report instances of fly tipping and littering, and if they felt it had not been actioned, to directly raise the issue with the Cabinet Member.


Councillor K Thomas to Councillor Mackiewicz, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Planning and Housing

“The current waiting times for a SCH property is minimum 128 weeks for a 2-bed (Band B) and maximum 309 weeks for 4-bed (Band C2). The Council Plan says "increase the supply of housing especially affordable and social housing." How many additional social houses are we planning to deliver in the coming year and in the next 5 years to tackle this unacceptable waiting time?”


The Cabinet Member explained that SCH had a range of indicative waiting times for different housing need priority and the size of a property which would be publically accessible. There were no minimum wait times as the question suggests. It was acknowledged that there was a need to increase the supply of social rented housing in the Borough and the Council was committed to increasing this. For the financial year 2021/22, it was forecast that 80 additional social rented homes would be provided, and for the five year period April 2022 until March 2027, it was forecasted that an additional 687 social rented homes would be provided.


Councillor Thomas asked what the impact of the additional properties would be on the waiting times.


The Cabinet Member clarified that the stock of social rented housing continued to increase and the Local Plan would help to deliver social rented housing as well as shared ownership accommodation.


Councillor Caudwell to Councillor Hawkins, Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways

“In a similar vein to Cllr Wilson’s question, we’ve all been out and about much more recently and a common issue across all seventeen wards I’m picking up on is around litter bin emptying, which doesn’t seem to be happening enough. I’ve heard residents in Knowle are even considering buying and installing their own litter bins, which can’t be right. It’s clear to me we need either more bins, or more frequent collections. Does the Cabinet Member acknowledge this specific issue, and what can be done about it in the short term?”


The Cabinet Member explained that during the COVID-19 pandemic, this issue had become a national issue, as levels of littering had fluctuated throughout the pandemic. This would continue to be monitored, particularly to understand specific problem areas. Resources had been increased to provide more litter picking and litter bin emptying equipment when needed. Further information was requested in relation to the comment about Knowle.


Councillor Caudwell asked whether a neighbourhood which requested additional litter bins would be provided them by the Council. The Cabinet Member responded that there had been additional resources included for the cleansing teams to respond to the pressures, with a focus on hot spot areas. Recent budgets had included additional funds to ensure that the local environment was well maintained.


Councillor Adeyemo to Councillor Hawkins, Cabinet Member for Environment and Highways 

“Bearing in mind the high volume of complaints about traffic congestion and parking around Olton School at pick-up and drop-off times, what is the Cabinet Member doing to resolve the situation for residents around the area, for whom the situation has become intolerable?”


The Cabinet Member highlighted that the number of complaints about traffic congestion at Olton School was similar to many other schools within the Borough. To respond to these complaints, Council Civil Park Enforcement Officers and local neighbourhood policing teams would engage in these localities when resources permit. The current traffic problems around schools were understood to be related to the current COVID-19 situation, and was likely to ease as restrictions were lifted. Also, at Olton School, there were additional parking pressures caused by construction traffic and developments in the area. The Cabinet Member reiterated that they would continue to monitor the situation and would consider additional measures if deemed appropriate. Members were encouraged to liaise with the school.


Councillor Adeyemo queried what long term plan would be implemented to prevent further traffic problems once the Olton primary unit merged with the junior unit at the Chapel Field Site.


The Cabinet Member stated that this would be subject to a future Planning Committee and requested Members raise concerns at that forum. They also suggested that Members work with School Governors to help educate pupils and parents about road safety and safe parking.