Venue: Council Chamber Town Hall. View directions
Contact: J Bayley Democratic Services Officer
Apologies and named substitutes
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of interest and of Party Whip
To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and / or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests, and any Party Whip.
a) Budget Scrutiny Working Group – Chair, Councillor Kane
b) Performance Scrutiny Working Group, Chair, Councillor Kane
There were no members of the public who had registered to speak at this meeting.
[At the discretion of the Chairman, item 5 on the agenda – the Enhanced Air Quality Monitoring Proposal – Pre-Decision Scrutiny – was considered on the before item 4 – Housing Policies – Pre-Decision Scrutiny.]
The Committee was informed that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed that Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS) had been successful in a County wide air quality grant application to cover a significant proportion of costs for enhanced air quality monitoring equipment across Worcestershire. As part of this, WRS had requested grant funding for two enhanced air quality monitors in Redditch, in locations that had yet to be determined.
Members were informed that 10 percent match funding for the installation and operation of the enhanced air quality monitors project would be required from each district council. It was therefore proposed that the Council provide £2,300 match funding, to be funded from Corporate Earmarked Reserves over the life of the project.
Officers explained the different techniques used to monitor levels of nitrogen oxide and other air pollutants. It was explained that the standard technique for monitoring nitrogen oxide emissions was through utilising passive diffusion tube monitoring techniques. However, across the Worcestershire more enhanced techniques had been trialled, including electrochemical gas measuring system, that were able to provide detailed air quality measurements in real-time. Part of this project was to begin investigating and investing in these new solutions.
Following the presentation, Members asked questions to which the following responses were provided:
· There were currently no Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) declared in Redditch, which were areas where the local air quality was unlikely to meet the Government's national air quality objectives.
· There had not been much monitoring of particulate matter in the Borough, and there had been some concern around the air quality at older, terraced-housing streets. It was noted that no routine excess of pollution that would necessitate declaring AQMA had been currently identified in Redditch.
· It was explained that if issues with air quality were identified, there was a requirement on the Council to declare the AQMA in the areas affected.
· It was highlighted that part of the DEFRA project was about influencing behaviour change, for example with regards to such issues as school run traffic which was resulting in poor air quality around schools.
· There were to be 24 air quality monitors across the County providing pollution data in real-time. There was currently real-time air monitoring station data for some locations in the County, for example for Kidderminster-Stourport Road. The real-time data was available on the WRS website, under the air quality tab.
· The two air quality monitors to be installed in Redditch would be the new types of monitors utilising the more enhanced air monitoring techniques. The cost of these monitors (purchase plus operational costs for the project lifetime) would be £23,000, and, if agreed by the Council, Redditch would be required to contribute 10 per cent match funding, which amounted to £2,300.
· Officers assured Members that the air quality project ... view the full minutes text for item 109.
This report will follow in an Additional Papers pack once the report has been published for consideration of the Executive Committee.
The Committee received a detailed presentation on the Housing Policies that related to the management of the Council’s housing stock, both in terms of tenancy and capital/repairs and maintenance management.
Members were informed that the Housing Policies had been reviewed and updated taking in to account the latest legislation and best practice. A review of the Council’s Tenancy Management Policy (Appendix 1) had consequently led to a review of the Tenancy Agreement (Appendix 2). Members were advised that Appendix 3 to the report presented set out a comparison table of the old and new tenancy agreement.
Members were further informed that the Executive Committee had in August 2020 delegated authority to Officers to update and implement those housing policies that were set out in government legislation and guidance and as such were non-discretionary. Those policies that had some discretionary elements to them were now to be considered by the Executive Committee on the 21st March 2023, and if approved, would be subject to a full tenant consultation exercise in accordance with legislative requirements. The policies that had some discretionary element and required Executive Committee endorsement and approval by the Council were as follows:
Officers provided further details on the above Housing Policies.
It was explained that there would be consultations undertaken by writing to tenants regarding their views on the Tenancy Management Policy, and tenants could receive copies and respond online, or by post if a tenant had no internet access. With regards to consultation and comment on the new tenancy, as this was to be a new contractual document, the Council was obliged to send all tenants a physical copy of their new tenancy agreement to comment on.
It was explained that the Council would consult on the Tenancy Management Policy first; to be followed by the new tenancy consultation. Each consultation period was planned for six weeks, to allow time for feedback and the Council to respond. Once the second consultation on the new tenancy consultation, taking into account any feedback from tenants, a new tenancy agreement would be written and would be implemented, subject to the agreement of Members (by Full Council). It was anticipated this would be in August or September 2023.
Following the Officer presentation, Members commented on the Housing Policies and asked questions to which the following responses were provided:
The Executive Work Programme was submitted for Members’ consideration.
the contents of the Executive Committee’s Work Programme be noted.
The Committee requested an update be brought back in the new municipal year on the outcomes of the consultation process with respect to the Tenancy Management Agreement and Tenancy Management Policy. It was agreed that this would be added as an overview item to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme for the municipal year 2023-24.
the Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme be updated as per pre-amble above.
Task Groups, Short Sharp Reviews and Working Groups - Update Reports
Councillor Kane provided an overview of the work undertaken by the Performance Scrutiny Working Group over the current municipal year and reported that five meetings of the Group took place in 2022-23 at which the following matters were discussed:
· 3rd August 2022 – The Working Group’s Terms of Reference and an update on the new Corporate Performance Dashboard
· 29th September 2022 – Housing update on staffing and repairs helpline including Housing Enquiries, Complaints Procedure and information on turnaround times of abandoned houses (void properties). An update on the timeline of the new corporate dashboard was also provided at this meeting.
· 24th November 2022 – Updates on Skills Development - Local Needs, which related to upskilling strategies and initiatives in the Borough, and Energy and Advice Service Progress Quarterly Report were discussed at this meeting.
· 11th January 2023 – Local Environment (including landscaping and tree services), and the report considered at this meeting highlighted Tree Protection Orders (TPOs) and the Council’s duty to protect trees under these orders, insurance claims in respect of trees, plans for the removal and planting of trees within the Borough, and management of biodiversity. The Working Group queried the response times for tree enquiries and the Group requested to receive bi-monthly updates on the work to tackle the backlog in response to those enquiries.
· 8th March 2023 – The Working Group discussed the Council’s event and the Borough’s arts offers and noted that there were two main events organised by the Council each year, the Green Fair and the Light Event. The Group was also updated on the arts offer and was informed that Reimagine Redditch, which was a partnership of Council and partner organisations, received just under £1m from Arts Council England to deliver projects to enhance creativity in the Borough.
Following the summary of the Performance Scrutiny Working Group’s work in 2022-23, Councillor Kane reported that the Budget Scrutiny Working Group was due to meet for its last meeting of the municipal year on 4th April 2023.
that the Task Groups, Short Sharp Reviews and Working Groups Update Reports be noted.
External Scrutiny Bodies - Update Reports
The Committee was advised that Councillor Chalk’s written report from the most recent meeting of the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) was tabled at this meeting.
Councillor Chalk reported that the most recent meetings of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the HOSC took place on the same time and day (Monday 13th March) and as such a choice was made by Councillor Chalk to attend the meeting of HOSC.
It was reported that there were two more meetings of HOSC scheduled for this municipal year. Members were advised also that minutes of the meetings of WMCA Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be available to consult on the WMCA website in due course.
Councillor Chalk reported that he had not received any invitations to meetings of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) even though Councillor Chalk was the Council’s representative on this body. It was requested that Officers investigate this issue with colleagues at the GBSLEP and that this omission be rectified for the next municipal year.
the External Scrutiny Bodies update be noted.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
“That, under S.100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following matter(s) on the grounds that it/they involve(s) the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the relevant paragraphs (to be specified) of Part 1 of Schedule 12 (A) of the said Act”.
These paragraphs are as follows:
Subject to the “public interest” test, information relating to:
· Para 3 – financial or business affairs;
Under S100 A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following matters on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12 of the said act, as amended.
Minute Item No. 116 – Minutes of the meeting of 2nd February 2023.
Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 2nd February 2023 will be considered at this meeting.
The minutes of the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 2nd February 2023 were considered including the minutes record of the exempt session of that meeting (Minute Item No. 98 – Rubicon Leisure – Finance Overview (Exempt Report)).
the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Meeting held on Thursday 2nd February 2023 be approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chair.
(During the consideration of this item, Members discussed matters that necessitated the disclosure of exempt information. It was therefore agreed to move to exclude the press and public prior to any debate on the grounds that information would be revealed which related to the financial and business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)).