Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny - Thursday, 7th July, 2022 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber Town Hall. View directions

Contact: J Bayley  Democratic Services Officer

No. Item


Apologies and named substitutes


No apologies for absence were received.


Apologies were received from Councillor Altaf who was running 10 minutes late.



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.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 408 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 9th June 2022 were submitted for Members’ consideration.




the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 9th June 2022, be approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Chair.


Public Speaking

To invite members of the public who have registered in advance of the meeting to speak to the Committee.



There were no public speakers registered on this occasion.



Asset Rationalisation for Easemore Road - Pre-Decision-Scrutiny (Report to follow) pdf icon PDF 220 KB

This report will be published in an Additional Papers pack once it has been published for the Executive Committee.

Additional documents:


The Head of Legal, Democratic and Property Services presented the report in respect of declaration of land surplus to requirement at Community House, Easemore Road.


Officers reported that following a recent detailed condition survey and report, it was envisioned that over the following 5 years a minimum sum of £340,000 needed to be spent on planned preventative maintenance. Members were informed that the tenants, mainly from Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations, would be displaced and that alternative properties had been located for all the tenants.


Officers also informed members that Where Next, which occupied the site adjacent to the property, had been encroaching substantially on the site. Where Next were aware of this and understood the need to vacate this encroached area. To assist with this, Officers had agreed to work to improve accessibility to their entire site from their main entrance on Wellesbourne Close.


Following the presentation of the report Members queried the following areas.


·             The financial details, which Members suggested could have been improved in the report and members asked for further information about the financial data.

o      Officers confirmed that income for the Community centre was £17,000 in total, which was well below the market rate.  In some cases, this was because tenants had originally taken up a lease as a meanwhile use, or temporary arrangement, that had subsequently been extended over the years.

o      The sum of £350,000 would be for repair work and was not intended for modernising or improving the building.

o      Officers confirmed that the capital receipt from the sale of the land would be far greater than the income for the building.

  • The current tenants and if they had been found alternative accommodation. Officers replied that all tenants were VCS organisations and had all been found alternatives.  The tenants included Talking Newspapers, Blue Whale Community Transport, Gemini Dance Studio and Home-start.
  • The reasons why the building had been allowed to deteriorate to such a level with no intervention sooner. Officers replied that they had only recently undertaken a survey to assess the building.  There was a planned assessment of the whole of the council’s portfolio of buildings to identify which buildings to retain and which to dispose of. This would be to ensure there was a manageable portfolio for maintenance purposes.
  • Reference was made to the climate change implications listed in the report and the energy performance certificate rating. Members enquired if that would be an A rating or a lower rating. Officers clarified that they would attempt to obtain the highest rating, however, until proposals had been made for the site it was unknown what would be possible and practical in terms of the energy rating.
  • How many other properties had received a low level of income for their size. Officers informed members that they were reviewing other assets in the financial year to find other such properties.



Future Use of the Town Hall and Customer Access - Pre-Decision-Scrutiny (Report to follow) pdf icon PDF 741 KB

This report will be published in an Additional Papers pack once it has been published for the Executive Committee.


Additional documents:


The Interim Section 151 Officer presented the report in respect of the future use of the town hall and closure of the cashier service.


Members were informed that in person payments had fallen by 90% since the pandemic and with the introduction of Allpay for the majority of services. A test period of two weeks in March was conducted which resulted in only 202 visitors.


Officers highlighted the different ways to pay mentioned in the report, and highlighted there were 44 possible alternative pay locations for the public to access, including the post office less than 100m away.


Members were informed that there would be a dedicated manned customer service desk opened and the telephone and internet access would be retained. This would allow colleagues to assist the public to access alternative forms of payment after the 3 Month period had elapsed.


Members were informed of the proposal to sublet the cashier area to public sector tenants, which would generate approximately £150,000 in revenue for the council.


Following the presentation of the report, Members queried the following areas.


  • Why the two weeks were chosen in March which was a rent-free month and thus would be expected to generate lower numbers. Officers replied that although that was the case there were also a large number of late payments, so it was felt to still be a suitable time period to get an indication of how busy the cashier desk was.
  • Whether there were any redundancies planned. Officers clarified that there would be no redundancies. Everybody who worked on the cash desk would be given employment in other roles within the town hall. The jobs initially intended to be filled were on the customer service desk and manning the telephones, which the cashiers did as part of their current role.
  • The report mentioned a potential income of £150,000, and Members questioned how many square meters this represented. Officers replied that the proposed areas would be the current cash office area and part of the first  floor which amounted to approximately 2000sq meters in total.
  • Whether the prospective tenants were from the public or private sector. Officers clarified that all prospective tenants were public sector organisations. The council would be looking to combine District, County and Health services in one building.
  • What the car parking provision would be for tenants. Officers clarified that tenants would be able to use the car park on Trescott Road. The car park on the town hall site would be retained for its current usage.
  • How the council intended to improve IT literacy for those who currently used the service. Officers outlined the council’s intent to use the following 3 months to educate the general public on payment via other methods, such as by phone, on site computer terminals and their own devices using WiFi or pay points such as the post office.
  • The timing of the report. Officers explained that the discussions had progressed very quickly with prospective tenants, however, before Officers brought the proposal to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 26.


Overview and Scrutiny Training Event June 2022 pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Additional documents:


Officers informed the Committee that the Overview & Scrutiny (O&S) Work Programme Planning Event was well attended and all Non-Executive Members were invited.


Officers reported that during the event a series of items were raised by Members to add to the O&S work programme, Officers then drew Members’ attention to the suggestions, as detailed on page 17 of the main agenda pack.


The Chair highlighted to Members the current staffing challenges within the Democratic Services Team and proposed some of the suggestions be reviewed by the Performance Scrutiny Working Group.


Members expressed concern that any items not selected would be forgotten until the exercise was undertaken again, Therefore, Members agreed that the remainder of the items could be reconsidered later in the municipal year, so that Members could determine whether there were further items Members wished to add to the O&S Work Programme.


In relation to the items identified during the training, Members requested that a report be produced consolidating information on what benefits were available to help the general public with the current cost-of-living crisis. Members also commented that the report would be beneficial to assist the Council in sharpening their services and response.  It was acknowledged that there were a range of organisations helping to address the cost of living crisis and that this was a wide topic to review.  However, Members agreed that an update could be provided as an overview, at a meeting of the Committee, on the existing services provided by the Council to help customers manage the impact of the cost of living crisis. The Committee requested that the communications team also attended the same meeting of the Committee to highlight how they were distributing information about these services to eligible residents.


Finally, Members noted that before the Covid-19 pandemic there was a task group formed to review parking enforcement. As this subject had also been identified during the training, Members asked for the findings of this work group to be circulated for the consideration of the Committee.




a)    housing repairs, landscaping and void housing be reviewed by the Performance Scrutiny Working Group;

b)    the services provided by the Council to assist residents with the cost of living crisis be considered at a forthcoming meeting of the Committee as an overview item;

c)    The items identified during the training to be reconsidered at a future meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee;

d)    the report on Parking Enforcement be circulated for the consideration of Members of the Committee for information.



Executive Committee Minutes and Scrutiny of the Executive Committee's Work Programme - Selecting Items for Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 169 KB

The minutes from the Executive Committee meeting held on 28th June 2022 will be published in an additional papers pack once they have been published online.


The latest version of the Executive Committee Work Programme will be published in an additional papers pack once it has been published online on 1st July 2022.

Additional documents:


The Chair highlighted the extra Overview & Scrutiny (O&S) meeting on 21st July 2022 to consider and pre-scrutinise the draft of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund report.


The Chair commented that the Executive Committee had arranged an extra Committee date for 27th September 2022to consider the Redditch Town Investment Plan Business Case for the library, and proposed an extra meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 22nd September 2022 to pre-scrutinise the report.




an extra Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting be booked to take place on 22nd September 2022.



Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 188 KB


The Chair noted that a report concerning the new cemetery had been due to be considered by the O&S Committee on 25th August 2022.  However, this date was not suitable for Officers and a new date was yet to be decided.




The Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme be noted.



Task Groups, Short Sharp Reviews and Working Groups - Update Reports

a)          Budget Scrutiny Working Group – Chair, Councillor Joanna Kane


b)          Performance Scrutiny Working Group – Chair, Councillor Joanna Kane



Councillor Kane, in her role as Chair of the Budget Scrutiny and Performance Working Groups informed Members that the Budget Scrutiny Working Group would meet on 4th August 2022.




the updates be noted.



External Scrutiny Bodies - Update Reports


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.


Councillor Chalk informed Members that there were no written reports due to there being no meetings since the last Committee meeting. However, the West Midlands Combined Authority Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Worcestershire Heath Overview and Scrutiny Committee were due to meet in July 2022.


It was confirmed that Councillor Chalk would continue to provide written updates to the Committee.