Venue: Committee Room 2 Town Hall. View directions
Contact: J Bayley Democratic Services Officer
Apologies and named substitutes
Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillors Gemma Monaco and Jennifer Wheeler and it was confirmed that Councillors Julian Grubb and Yvonne Smith were attending as their respective substitutes.
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.
There were no declarations of interest nor of any party whip.
Members noted that during the discussions in respect of sexual health services those representing the services had indicated that they would review the opening hours for the service on Saturdays. This needed to be reflected in the minutes.
subject to the amendment detailed in the preamble above, the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 6th December 2018 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
The Executive Director of Finance and Resources provided Members with an update on the Medium Term Financial Plan 2019/20 – 2022/23. It was confirmed that the Fees and Charges for 2019/20 would be considered by the Budget Scrutiny Working Group at its meeting on 7th January 2019.
The report outlined the issues faced by the Council in achieving a balanced budget and delegated to officers to investigate ways to achieve this. The Executive Director of Finance and Resources drew Members’ attention to a table within the report which demonstrated the changes in the financial projects and budget gap for 2019/20 based on the original estimation of a £475k gap as presented in February 2018. Explanations of the reasons for the changes which resulted in the current gap of £496k were also highlighted, with particular reference being made to the additional costs in respect of the implementation of the National pay agreement in relation to increasing the spinal points attached to the current pay model, which had increased the cost by £160k.
The following areas were also discussed in more detail:
· Unavoidable costs in order to maintain current services. This included funding for an automated transactional process which would allow for the process to become more efficient.
· Savings and income – this included £100k from a contract with Cannock achieved by the Lifeline service.
· The need to ensure that all savings were identified and not to be recorded as “unidentified” as had been the case previously.
· Negative Revenue Support Grant – it was noted that, whilst it had not been confirmed, the projections included the removal of the £331K negative grant payment to Central Government.
· Business Rates baseline, the increase in the Section 31 Grant and the impact of this.
· The officer recommendation to increase Council Tax by 2.99% and the proposed increase at County Council level.
· New Homes Bonus Scheme (NHB) – concerns around the future of the scheme and the impact from the loss of the “new” NHB payments.
· Assumptions that had been made for future years including additional costs of borrowing for the capital programme.
· The current and minimal recommended level of balances.
· Capital bids including fleet replacement.
· Members sought clarification in respect of the £58k additional rental income in respect of savings and additional income. Officers agreed to provide information in respect of the properties this referred to outside of the meeting.
· It was confirmed that the reduction in the Grants budget of £20k had been returned to balances and formed part of the savings.
· The £10k referred to in respect of the new Lottery Scheme was for the licencing fee.
· The additional cost of £28k in respect of Electoral Services and what this referred to – officers agreed to provide the information outside of the meeting.
· Members asked for the capital bid in respect of Terry’s Field to be clarified and it was confirmed that this should read Terry’s Memorial Field and would be highlighted in the report presented to the Executive Committee.
· Offices confirmed ... view the full minutes text for item 73.
The Chair welcomed the Interim Head of the North Worcestershire Economic Development and Regeneration (NWEDR) and invited him to present the report.
The Interim Head of NWEDR explained that the report outlined the initial proposals for the redevelopment of Winyates and Matchborough district centres. These proposals would be considered by the Executive Committee at a meeting on 8th January which would then move the project on to the next stages, to include the establishment of a partnership board to oversee the work.
The following areas were then highlighted in detail:
· The bid for Worcestershire One Public Estate (OPE) funding to support the proposed feasibility study.
· The need to work with Homes England and the Delivery Partner Panel to carry out soft market testing.
· The fact that both centres suffered from dated layout and design, which impacted on trade and income potential. This in turn led to an impact on the overall environment of the centres.
· The need for regeneration and improvement and the options available – the importance of getting this right was highlighted, in order to meet the needs of all concerned and to ensure that the Council was not put at a financial risk.
· The potential high costs of such a project and the work which had been carried out in recent months between NWEDR, the Planning and Regeneration Team and Homes England, together with Worcestershire OPE to explore a partnership approach.
· The funding streams which might be available and how to access these. This included a bid for £200k which was detailed within the report.
· The potential to provide additional housing of up to 400 units and to enhance the sports and leisure facilities.
· The need for the Council to work in partnership with the Arrow Vale RSA Academy and other public sector partners to ensure all related community services were integrated within the planned development.
· The process and advantages of working with Homes England and its Delivery Partner Panel to ensure that any risks to the Council were mitigated.
· The fact that all options would remain open to the Council upon completion of the soft market testing and the authority would not be obliged to commit to any of these options at the end of the process.
· The Interim Head of NWEDR had previous experience of working with a number of members of the Delivery Partner Panel and he advised that they had the expertise in similar projects and would be able to advise on what would be the best options available at the sites.
· The possibility of having one centre between the two areas and the use of all available land in appropriate ways.
· The Strategic Partnership framework and the restrictions which came with this option. It was highlighted that these partnerships were intended to support housing directly and did not have mixed use development experience. Should the Council opt for s Strategic Partnership an early commitment would need to be made to work with the partners on that partnership.
The Interim Head of ... view the full minutes text for item 74.
Members were reminded that this was something which had been raised as a matter of concern at the Overview and Scrutiny work Programme Planning event in June when discussing possible areas for scrutiny. The Head of Environmental Services provided Members with details around waste collection services for Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) in light of the recent licensing changes which had come into force on 1st October 2018. The changes meant that landlords had to provide facilities for storing and disposing of household waste, recycling and garden waste. The changes also extended the description of HMOs to include properties which were less than three stories high.
The Head of Environmental Services provided Members with details around the legal implications of the changes and the impact of failure by the licence holder to comply with the scheme. Background information was also provided in respect of HMOs and the important role that they played within the housing sector. The accommodation was typically cheaper than other private rental options and often housed vulnerable tenants. Historically, this type of accommodation also brought with it problems in respect of waste, as the tenants were often transient and did not take responsibility for their waste. There was a lack of ownership and the quality and cleanliness of items presented as generally poor, with waste often uncontained and deposited direct into bins rather than bagged.
The Head of Environmental Services confirmed that his team were working closely with the Private Sector Housing Team to ensure that all future licenses granted for HMOs included a written statement ensuring waste was sufficiently catered for as part of their conditions. The team also carried out inspections before granting any licence with the specifics of those conditions being reiterated. It was confirmed that waste of this nature was being discussed at a national level and there was an argument being put forward to justify this type of waste as being classified as commercial.
Following the presentation of the report Members discussed a number of areas in more detail, including:
· Whether the licences were renewed on an annual basis – Officers agreed to confirm this with Members outside of the meeting.
· Agreement that if the Government changed the existing regulations then HMOs would be treated as commercial premises for waste purposes.
· Disposal of garden and bulky waste – it was confirmed that these services were available at the appropriate costs.
· Difficulty in navigating the Council’s website – it was agreed that this would be taken up further outside of the meeting.
· Difficulty in being able to establish who was responsible for the waste and how this could potentially be addressed.
· Whether there was the potential for the Committee to further investigate the subject of waste and recycling levels. Following discussion the Committee agreed that this was a subject which had been scrutinised by a Task Group in some detail previously though this had disappointingly not caused an increase in recycling rates. Therefore Members concluded that further investigation of the subject was ... view the full minutes text for item 75.
Task Groups, Short Sharp Reviews and Working Groups - Verbal Updates
a) Budget Scrutiny Working Group – Chair, Councillor Wheeler
b) Performance Scrutiny Working Group – Chair, Councillor Wheeler
Budget Scrutiny Working Group
Officers advised that the Group would meet on 7th January 2019 when it would consider the Housing Revenue Account and the Fees and Charges report for 2019/20. Due to the timing of this meeting it was confirmed that any recommendations would be fed directly through to the Executive Committee meeting on 8th January.
Performance Scrutiny Working Group
Members were advised that the next meeting of this Group would take place on 10th February 2019.
External Scrutiny Bodies - Verbal updates
a) West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Council representative, Councillor Chalk; and
b) Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) – Council representative, Councillor Chalk.
West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Councillor M. Chalk
Councillor Chalk advised that at the most recent meeting of WMCA Overview and Scrutiny Committee there had been a question and answer session with the Mayor, Mr. A. Street. There had been some thirty questions put to him, many of them around available funding and Councillor Chalk explained that he would be happy to provide further details to any Members who would like more detail.
Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) – Councillor M. Chalk
Councillor Chalk informed the Committee that at the previous HOSC meeting one of the areas covered had been plans for coping with winter pressures and he was pleased to report that more beds had been made available at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch.
The Executive Committee's Work Programme will be provided in the additional papers as the next version is due to be published on 2nd January 2019.
Officers advised Members that recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been considered at the Executive Committee meeting on 11th December and it was noted that one remained outstanding and that this would be considered at the Executive Committee meeting on 8th January.
An update in respect of the Executive Committee’s Work Programme was provided, which included a number of additional items being included following its publication. These were:
· The removal of the item in respect of the restructure of Planning Services – Town Centre Co-ordination.
· Unit 17 Broad Ground Road, Redditch – this had now gone back to March.
· Flexible homelessness item – this was included twice in the Work Programme but Officers confirmed that it was only one item.
· Private Sector Housing Report Scheme item would be considered at the 5th February Executive Committee meeting.
· A new item in respect of a change in the operator at Arrow Valley Countryside Centre had been added recently.
a) the minutes of the Executive Committee held on 11th December 2018 be noted; and
b) the Executive Committee’s Work Programme be noted.
Officers provided a number of updates in respect of the Committee’s work programme, this included the following:
· Overview and Scrutiny – Select Committee Findings. Members were advised that the Government’s guidance in respect of Overview and Scrutiny, which was due to be issued in December 2018 following a Select Committee review of the process, had not yet been published. It was therefore likely that this item would need to be postponed.
· Housing Improvement Plan – this should have been included within the February meeting as Members’’ had requested to pre-scrutinise this item, following consideration of the Executive Work Programme.
· Community Lottery item – this should also have been included in the Committee’s work programme for pre-scrutiny at its February meeting.
It was noted that there were a significant number of items to be considered at the meeting in February and after discussion it was agreed that an additional meeting would be arranged, prior to 5th February Executive Committee meeting in order to give the Committee sufficient opportunity to consider all the items.
a) Officers canvass a date for an additional Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting as detailed in the pre-amble above; and
b) the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme be noted.