Anti-social behaviour (ASB)
The Head of Barbican Estates advised that the Police Security Committee had set up a Task and Finish Group in respect of ASB, including all relevant City Corporation Departments, with a view to more collaborative working. The Group had welcomed the data and intelligence provided by the Chair of the Barbican Security Committee. The Safer Neighbourhoods Team would produce a historical timeline, and options for consideration in terms of police responses and byelaws; noting that the latter were not being enforced. The future of the Museum site, following its closure, had been discussed at a Task and Finish Group Meeting and an action point noted in respect of the cleaning contract and future use of the bridge.
A resident had written to the BRC Chair requesting a formal review process, with resident representatives, when balancing charges exceed 10% of the quarterly estimates. It was suggested that this would encourage the Estate Office to improve their estimates and help residents with financial planning.
The Revenues Manager explained that this year’s large increases had been due to rising energy and repair costs, compounded by high inflation. Furthermore, they do not generally become apparent until halfway through the year. For example, Mountjoy House suddenly jumped to £60,000, having stayed at around £28,000 for a number of years. Whilst one-off items are likely to create large balancing charges, it would not be appropriate to inflate the cost at the outset. However, if essential works to roofs and windows are not carried out, then this is likely to result in water ingress and more damage and repairs.
The Revenues Manager agreed to present 6-monthly, rather an annual forecasts, covering the main areas of expenditure: i.e. repairs, energy and employees, noting how this year’s pay award came in after the budget setting process. The half-yearly report would also provide a breakdown, similar to that provided to the Leasehold Service Charges Working Party. There was a further request for the summary of repair expenditure to be presented in a simplified format, with percentage levels of increases and a narrative. In addition to the 6-monthly reporting, Members also stressed that early warnings of high balancing charges should be communicated.
Members noted that an independent survey was underway in respect of the most exposed windows across the Estate, which are likely to need urgent replacement. Once the survey is complete, a competitive tendering process would follow. Members noted that social housing projects are generally more likely to receive decarbonisation funding, than leaseholder estates, as projects have to be ready for delivery when grants are applied for. It was suggested that communal areas might be more successful; i.e. - lifts, from a DDA perspective, and the possibility of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding could be explored.
In concluding, the Chair asked if the above points could be presented in a report to the next RCC/BRC meetings, ahead of the revised reporting schedule, and following further engagement with residents.