To receive questions from Councillors in accordance with the requirements of Standing Order 23.4(a).
Questions received under Standing Order 23 and their related responses are set out below:
Question 1 from Councillor Davis to Councillor Pike
With the continuous call for more and more housebuilding – can you report how many households in the Borough of Havant pay a “maintenance charge” to maintain their public grass, gardens, play areas, etc?
Response: We do not monitor exactly how many new homes have communal parts and so which pay a “maintenance charge” as we do not monitor the number of new builds that take place in this way. However, there will be a large number of homes which have been in existence for decades which this applies to. It would be impossible to ever be certain over this figure and be resource intensive to investigate the matter.
Question 2 from Councillor Davis to Councillor Pike
What percentage of the whole of the Borough of Havant do these households represent?
Response: This is unknown as the total number of homes is not possible to calculate.
Question 3 from Councillor Davis to Councillor Pike
Do all new building housing estates now have “maintenance fees/charges”?
Response: It is not an absolute necessity. However, for any development with S106 agreements, usually developments of more than 11 new homes, this is standard.
Question 4 from Councillor Davis to Councillor Pike
Can you explain why they pay this “maintenance charge” and pay a full council tax? Should their council tax not be reduced since Norse SE will not be required to maintain their state?
Maintenance charges are common across the country – this is not something specific to Havant Borough. These charges are payable by property owners to help fund the provision of services and carry out repairs and maintenance on the development the property is part of. It will fund the management and maintenance of common parts such as open space, playgrounds, sewers, drainage systems, roads and street lighting.
These charges arise out of obligations under Section 106 agreements and is often the case for new developments. This particularly applies to larger schemes however can apply to smaller schemes with communal areas, such as a communal hallway in a block of flats.
This started to come forward early in the millennium as Local Authority budgets became increasingly stretched and the additional maintenance of infrastructure in new developments would have exacerbated this, particularly if using non-standard materials. However this is not restricted to infrastructure that would be adopted by local authorities, measures such as sewers are often also managed through maintenance charges.
Nonetheless, it is acknowledged that this could create issues for the future. As such, our Pre-Submission Local Plan includes a specific policy on ‘Future Management and Management Plans’ (IN5). This looks for new infrastructure to be adopted by the relevant body in the first instance. If this is not the case, then the management of that should be set up in best practice way, giving new residents of that development a meaningful voice in the management of it and the charges that would be rendered as a result.
Whilst Norse South East are not likely to be maintaining open spaces or play sites, they will be collecting refuse and recycling for example and there are a huge amount of other services which Havant Borough Council and Hampshire County Council provide. Those who choose to live in places where there is a maintenance charge are just as much part of our Borough as anyone else.
Ultimately though, council tax is not calculated on the basis of the level of service that properties get – it is on the rateable value of the property. This is not within the Council’s gift to change.
Question 5 from Councillor Davis to Councillor Pike
Does this council receive any monetary benefit from these maintenance contracts?
Response: We receive a one-off small figure (generally £650) to cover costs in making sure that the management agreement is set up correctly and covers all of the communal parts of the development. However, the Council has had to step in when the system has broken down on occasion. This is one of the issues which has led to the approach proposed in the Pre-Submission Local Plan.
Question 6 from Councillor Francis to Councillor Wilson
Following the lead of most other Councils, could we make a formal statement in the near future regarding the climate emergency and declare the measures we are taking to work towards carbon neutrality? The next Council Meeting might provide the opportunity for this to be worked towards and agreed.
Response: On 22 May 2019, Havant Borough Council made a statement recognising the need for harmful emissions to be addressed.
HBC is already making a difference with the roll-out of Electric Vehicle charging points in council-owned car-parks, and in facilitating domestic retrofit for our residents with an active group of installers. The current HBC Energy Strategy is also due to be refreshed in 2020.
We will be proposing in our Corporate Strategy for the next municipal year that this Council creates an action plan that brings together all the environmental initiatives either underway or being considered. We will look to involve all Councillors who wish to be involved in this work.
Question 7 from Councillor Francis to Councillor Hughes
Is it not time that we followed the lead of other Councils and organised the collection of food waste for anaerobic treatment which could be a source of electric power, removing the carbon waste when food is tipped and providing a source of revenue? Some Councils are providing electricity for new homes from this source. Portsmouth have a trial scheme up and running. We might join with them to reduce start-up costs. I understand that one banana skin can produce the power to recharge two electric phones.
Response; Thank you for the question. Just under 50% of local authorities across England offer a variety of food waste collection services. As the Waste Collection Authority, we do not have the infrastructure to collect food waste, nor does HCC, as the Waste Disposal Authority, to dispose of it. Equally, there is no AD facility in Hampshire that has capacity to process the waste collected in the county. Until the Government Waste Strategy is determined and rolled out and the impact assessed, which could have significant financial implications for this authority, I have no intention in recommending any investment in alternative measures. I would rather focus on increasing the recycling rate across the borough and reduce the contamination by ensuring only the correct plastics which make up 80% of all contamination are placed in recycling bins and will have financial implications for this authority if we don’t do something about it.
In terms of the Portsmouth City Council pilot in Drayton and Milton, food waste that would have previously provided ‘wet waste’, an essential element of energy recovery at the incinerator facility in the city is now being transported by road to an AD plant in Bournemouth. Additional sources of ‘wet waste’ may have to be brought into the city to compensate for this loss should it be rolled out across the city.