Minutes of the South West Scotland Regional Network committee meeting
Wednesday 5 May 2021, via Zoom
Anne Cameron (South Ayrshire, Vice Chair)
Bruce Cuthbertson (East Ayrshire, Secretary)
Margaret Dymond (Renfrewshire, Treasurer)
Mac McKenzie (East Ayrshire)
Mary Logan (Renfrewshire)
Margaret Anderson (South Ayrshire).
Norma Ferguson, North Ayrshire Council.
Carolynne Watson, Scottish Government Tenant Participation Manager.
Heather Cuthbert (East Renfrewshire, Chair)
Helen Westwater (East Renfrewshire).
1. Welcome and apologies
Anne welcomed everyone to the meeting; in particular Norma Ferguson of North Ayrshire Council, who is attending as an observer. Norma noted apologies from Ann Buckley, also of North Ayrshire Council, who was also scheduled to observe today, but is unable to attend.
Apologies were noted from Heather Cuthbert and Helen Westwater, and Carolynne noted she has contacted both Heather and Helen for an update on their current circumstances and emphasise that the committee are keen to welcome them both back when their circumstances allow.
2. Minutes of previous meeting and matters arising
The minutes of the previous meeting were proposed by Margaret Dymond and seconded by Mac McKenzie. There were no matters arising which are not covered by the agenda for today’s meeting.
Margaret Anderson asked that calendar requests be sent for all meetings for the remainder of the year and Carolynne agreed to do this.
AP: Carolynne to send all committee members calendar requests for committee meetings to the end of 2021.
3. Treasurer’s Report
Margaret Dymond noted the current account balance is £1863.21p as at March 2021. A £6.50 charge continues to be deducted from the account each month as no transactions are currently being made due to the pandemic. Margaret noted that Clydesdale Bank, which administered the South West Scotland account, has recently been taken over by Virgin Money.
Margaret raised the issue of a Treasurer’s report for this year’s AGM and this was further discussed under the next agenda item, on planning for the upcoming South West Scotland AGM.
4. Annual General Meeting 2021- Planning
This year’s AGM will take place on Saturday 5 June at 11am, via Zoom. Anne provided an update on the Chair’s report and noted that she is currently working on this at the moment. Once this is complete Anne will circulate it to all committee members as this is very much a report on the work of the full committee since the last AGM and it will be useful to have feedback and input from all committee members.
On the Treasurer’s report, Carolynne will ask Annabel to contact Margaret to discuss the report.
Anne noted that the Chair’s report states the committee will meet immediately after the AGM to elect office bearers, and she asked all committee members to consider ahead of time which positions- if any- they may be interested in putting themselves forward for. Margaret Dymond confirmed that she will be happy to continue as Treasurer if the committee are content. Bruce noted that he will be happy to continue as Secretary however this will be dependent on him receiving access to IT equipment and tech to allow him to carry out the role as he’s currently unable to take notes. Margaret Dymond asked if this would potentially be something the Regional Networks could provide support on, and Carolynne confirmed that it was, however Bruce stated that East Ayrshire Council are currently pursuing this on his behalf and he does not feel at this time he would need support from the Regional Networks. Carolynne emphasised to Bruce that if the TP team can help provide support for him to carry on with the committee and as an office bearer, we will be happy to do this.
Anne noted that she would like to be able to break the committee members into a separate virtual meeting room to carry out the election of office bearers then return to the main AGM to announce the outcomes, and Carolynne agreed to investigate how this could be done with TIS, who are administering the event.
Carolynne noted that Jill at TIS updates weekly on booking forms and so far bookings are going well. Margaret Anderson confirmed she will also be attending and Carolynne agreed to pass her booking details on to Jill. No nominations have been received so far. Carolynne reminded everyone that the deadline for booking and for making nominations to the committee is Friday 21 May.
AP: Carolynne to discuss setting up a break out room for the election of office bearers during the AGM with TIS, and to request Annabel contact Margaret Dymond regarding the Treasurer’s report.
5. Meeting reports
a) Communications working group
Margaret Dymond provided an update on the most recent meeting of the Communications working group. Colin Stewart of Region 1 is very involved with the website and has provided training for each of the Regional reps who will work on communications and the website. Margaret noted she has tried to get access to the site however had some difficulties, and Carolynne noted that Colin has provided extra training to a few of the reps and will almost certainly be able to help Margaret. Bruce asked whether it would be possible to add links from the Regional Networks site to landlord websites/ RTO/ group websites and indeed to the Regional Networks’ site from landlord/RTO websites and Margaret and Carolynne agreed to raise this at the next meeting.
Margaret also noted that Colin has set up a Basecamp facility for each Region, a virtual tool which can be used to share documents, discussions and communicate within a set group of people. Region 1 already use Basecamp extensively and find it helpful, and at the last Communications meeting Colin talked about Basecamp and how it’s used in his region. The committee agreed this was of interest and asked Carolynne to make arrangements for a trial of Basecamp.
Also on the Communications group, Carolynne noted that Annabel will be carrying out a review of the contacts listed in each Region’s Communications plan to ensure these are up to date. The group plans to work on a Newsletter covering all Regions to be produced after the AGM, which will introduce new members and look back at some of the work and achievements of the Regional Networks over the time since the previous AGMs in 2019 as well as plans for the coming year. Carolynne also noted that website updates are still to made for Region 3 to add papers and minutes to the site and she and the team will begin to look at this as soon as time allows.
AP: Margaret and Carolynne to raise points on weblinks at next Communications group meeting, Carolynne to make arrangements for a trial of Basecamp for Region 3, website updates to be made.
b) Scottish Housing Regulator Liaison group
Margaret Dymond and Mac attended the SHR Liaison group pre-meeting as representatives of Region 3, and both will attend the meeting with SHR in a fortnight’s time. Bruce noted that he plans to attend the full meeting also- Leonora Montgomery of Region 1 is Chairing the group temporarily but Bruce hopes to be back to Chairing and co-ordinating the group in the near future.
The pre-meeting group agreed to bring update reports to SHR on the rent focus group and the HRA sub-group and will also present the usual updates on their local areas- Carolynne noted that if anyone has anything they wish to reflect in the update, please let Margaret or Mac know.
At the pre-meeting, Michael Boal of the Tenant Priorities team also gave an update on the upcoming Scottish Social Housing Charter review consultation sessions which will be carried out virtually and are planned for the summer time. The sessions will be administered by TIS and TPAS on behalf of the team, and the TP team will continue to keep the Regional Networks updated on the plans for the virtual events.
c) Chairs & Secretaries
Due to overlap in the subject matter, Anne covered the agenda items on Chairs & Secretaries, the Rents focus group and the HRA working group together.
This quarter’s Chairs & Secretaries meeting was held the previous day, Tuesday 4 May, and was Chaired by Anne on behalf of Region 3. For Norma’s benefit, Anne explained the working groups which Regional Networks are involved with and some of the current work being undertaken.
The Chairs & Secretaries meeting received an update from Hugh McClung, Chair of Region 4, on the recent meeting of reps from the Regional Networks with the Chair of the Accounts Commission on use of local authority Housing Revenue Accounts (HRA) which was attended by several reps from South West Scotland. The consensus view is that this meeting was disappointing, and that many questions remain un-answered in relation to HRA. Ultimately the assurances the Regional Networks are looking for in relation to HRA were not received as a result of the meeting and Hugh was seeking views of C&S on how to proceed further. The C&S group agreed that the HRA sub-group should re-convene as soon as possible to discuss outcomes from the Accounts Commission meeting and next steps, with support from the Tenant Priorities team.
Terry Kirby, Region 2, provided an update on the Rents working group to the C&S meeting. Lesley Baird of TPAS continues to facilitate the group and a guest speaker from Housemark will be attending the next meeting to talk about their affordability tool in more detail. Anne noted that the group will also be looking at lived experience in relation to rents and whole housing costs, including additional household costs such as energy and running costs in their work.
Susan McLellan provided an update to the C&S meeting on planning for this year’s AGMs and on Housing to 2040, noting that more information will follow on ways in which the Regional Networks will be involved with work flowing from Housing to 2040 in time. Annabel Hoatson will circulate minutes of the C&S meeting as soon as these are prepared.
6. AOCB & Date of next meeting
Carolynne noted that the TP team are running a virtual training session for Regional Network members on Freedom of Information focused on tenants and those receiving services from social landlords, with representatives from the Scottish Information Commissioner. The event will be held via Teams on 22 June at 11am. An Eventbrite booking link has been circulated for those interested in attending.
Bruce asked if Region 2 would be agreeable to him attending their virtual AGM on Saturday 8 May as an observer to see how the AGMs will work in practice and Carolynne agreed to ask reps from Region 2 on Bruce’s behalf.
Anne noted that due to family commitments she is unable to attend the next scheduled meeting on Wednesday 30 June, and the committee agreed to re-schedule to the following week, Wednesday 7 July. Carolynne agreed to send out calendar requests for this date and the meeting dates to the end of 2021.
AP: All to book onto FoI session if interested, Carolynne to raise AGM observer with Region 2, Carolynne to issue calendar requests for meetings to the end of 2021.
The next meeting date for South West Scotland is the AGM on Saturday 5 June at 11am, and the next committee meeting will be Wednesday 7 July at 10.30am.