Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny - Thursday, 20th October, 2022 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber Town Hall. View directions

Contact: J Bayley  Democratic Services Officer

No. Item


Apologies and named substitutes


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Akbar, Chalk and Hartnett (Chair), with Councillor Baker attending as a named substitute for Councillor Hartnett.


In the absence of the Chair, the Vice-Chair, Councillor Joanna Kane, chaired the meeting.


The Vice-Chair welcomed Councillor Tom Baker-Price as a new member of the committee.


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.


Councillors Baker-Price and Baker declared an Other Disclosable Interest in relation to Minute Items No. 50 (Leisure Strategy – Pre-Decision Scrutiny) and No. 51 (Asset Disposal Strategy – pre-scrutiny) as a school governor at Tudor Grange Academy Redditch and a school governor at an education establishment respectively.



Minutes for the meeting held on 6th October 2022 will be published in an Additional Papers pack.


There were no minutes available to be presented for the Committee’s consideration at today’s meeting.


Public Speaking

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



The Vice-Chair confirmed that there were no registered public speakers on this occasion.


Leisure Strategy - Pre-Decision Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 160 KB

This report will follow in an Additional Papers pack, once the report has been published for consideration of the Executive Committee.

Additional documents:


The Vice-Chair welcomed to the meeting the Head of Planning, Regeneration and Leisure Services together with the Cultural Services and Parks Manager, the Development Services Manager and the Leisure and Culture Strategy Consultant who provided a detailed presentation on the Leisure and Culture Strategy. During the presentation Members’ attention was drawn to the following:


·       At its meeting on 25th October 2022, the Executive Committee would be asked to endorse the Leisure and Culture Strategy 2022-2032 in its current format, as provided to the Overview and Scrutiny at Appendix A.

·       The strategy comprised several different parts, including the main Leisure and Cultural Strategy and two other strategies which underpinned this document, including the Arts and Culture Strategy and the Parks and Open Spaces Strategy. Two further leisure strategies were due to be presented for the consideration of the Executive Committee in 2023 on the subjects of built facilities strategy and playing pitches strategy.

·       As such the Leisure and Culture Strategy covered a wide range of topics including arts, heritage, physical activity and sport, events, parks, open space facilities, venues, sites and services.

·       The Executive Committee was also asked to approve the implementation of a number of priority actions and recommendations across leisure and culture services, as described in Table 4 extract to the main report, to deliver the Leisure and Culture Strategy’s vision.

·       Recommendations 27 to 39 for Built Sports Facilities were in development stage and would be reported for approval at a later date.

·       In developing the Leisure and Culture Strategy, Officers and the consultants had identified a number of actions that could be taken within budget to enhance leisure and cultural service provision in the Borough. These actions were the subject of recommendations detailed in table 4 extract to the main report within the Leisure Strategy. Any actions that would require additional financial expenditure would need to be outlined in business cases and presented for Members’ consideration.


The Leisure and Culture Strategy Consultant summarised the status with regards to the different elements of provision. For country parks and open spaces, the priority remained investment into tree planting and children play areas so that more parks in the Borough could achieve the Green Flag Award.


It was noted that in general there was very little spare playing pitches capacity in the Borough. There was an overall undersupply of 11v11 football pitches, and a small undersupply of rugby union pitches. Meanwhile there was sufficient provision for hockey and a small surplus in cricket and bowls grounds. In addition, there was an undersupply of waterways and an undersupply of publicly available swimming facilities.


Overall, it was noted that in strategic terms the Council would need to move from being a direct supplier to an enabler of leisure and community services.


Following the presentation, Members made a number of observations and asked questions to which the following responses were provided:


·       Some Members put on record their disappointment that papers for some items on the agenda were provided very late which did not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.


Asset Disposal Strategy - pre-scrutiny pdf icon PDF 241 KB

This report will follow in an Additional Papers pack, once the report has been published for consideration of the Executive Committee.

Additional documents:


The Head of Legal, Equalities and Democratic Services presented a report on the proposed implementation of an Asset Disposal Strategy and in doing so had drawn Members’ attention to the following:


·       The Council held substantial non Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Land, Property and Equipment. The 2019/20 Statement of Accounts valued these assets at £52m.

·       The Council possessed a comprehensive asset register which provided a valuation of those assets in monetary and service delivery terms. This was imperative in terms of providing assurance to the external auditors.

·       The Council had a duty to ensure that its fixed assets were reviewed on a continual basis to ensure they remained fit for their strategic purpose, complied with legislative and regulatory requirements, and did not lose value. A comprehensive affordable repairs and maintenance programme was required to fulfil these requirements.

·       Appendix C to the main report contained an update letter from Savills on the high level assessment they undertook of all assets owned by the Council. In the Savills report sites were identified which had a high development potential and/or were deemed surplus to requirements.


Following the presentation, Members asked a number of questions to which the following responses were provided:


·       Members queried if the extract from stratification of fixed assets from the latest Statement of Accounts (2019/20), as included in paragraph 9.2 of appendix A to the report, contained figures for sales of assets in the previous financial reporting period.

·       It was clarified that appendix B to the report contained details of EPC ratings given to Council-owned commercial properties as of August 2022. 

·       Officers undertook to provide Members with a list of assets that had been declared surplus to requirements by the Council.

·       Officers also undertook to provide a list of all non-domestic Council owned property assets which were currently below the minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of ‘E’.

·       It was requested that for future meetings copies of agenda be produced in a format suitable for colour-blind people.


It was proposed by Councillor Baker that a recommendation be made to the effect that all future reports regarding asset disposal be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee prior to consideration by the Executive and/or the Council. It was noted in response that all asset disposals above the key decision threshold of £50,000 were required to be on the Executive Forward Plan and it was within the existing remit of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to pre-scrutinise any item on that Forward Plan. Therefore, it was noted that the recommendation was unnecessary. Councillor Baker agreed to withdraw the proposed motion.


Councillor Clayton then proposed that the recommendation as contained in the report be agreed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


On being put to the vote this recommendation was carried.


RECOMMENDED to the Executive:


that the Asset Disposal Strategy be approved for implementation.


Climate Change/Carbon Reduction Strategy and Action Plan- pre-scrutiny pdf icon PDF 145 KB

This report will follow in an Additional Papers pack, once the report has been published for consideration of the Executive Committee.

Additional documents:


The Vice-Chair welcomed the Net Zero Projects Manager from the Midlands Net Zero Hub to the meeting who provided a detailed presentation regarding the Redditch Borough Council’s Carbon Reduction Strategy and Action Plan. During the presentation Members’ attention was drawn to the following:


·       Redditch Borough Council’s Carbon Reduction Strategy and Action Plan covered exclusively the carbon dioxide emissions of the Council (including direct emissions from the activities of the Council and the emissions that the Council had influence over).

·       The Strategy and Action Plan would need to be reviewed annually and progress against targets monitored twice a year.

·       The Council’s carbon reduction targets were set in line with the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) target of 50% carbon reduction by 2030 and the ambition of becoming net zero by 2040.

·       To reach an interim target of 50% carbon emissions reduction by 2030, the Council would need to reduce its emissions by approximately 110 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year. To achieve net zero in the remaining 10 years to 2040 a target of approximately 87 tonnes of emission savings per year was needed.

·       Even though the Council’s own emissions were only a small part of the borough’s total, it was in a strong position to exert influence on the wider geographical area.

·       For the purposes of carbon reduction strategies, carbon dioxide emissions were categorised as coming from three sources – direct use of fuel (such as transport, gas heating), use of electricity, and indirect emissions (such as via the supply chain).

·       A climate change officer would be appointed (a shared post between Redditch and Bromsgrove) and there would be further resource requirement as the Strategy was implemented. This would be accounted for in the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).

·       There had been significant investment planned for the Town Hall such as putting heat pumps and new glazing.


Following the presentation, a question was asked regarding how many times the Council’s Climate Change Steering Group met since the Council declared a climate emergency in 2019. The Portfolio Holder for Climate Change stated that the group met on average four times a year since 2019, and three times in the municipal year 2021/22 which included having speakers from various stakeholder groups coming to the Steering Group meetings. Some Members considered this insufficient and stated that the Council must be bolder in tackling climate change.


Members asked about how the Council could encourage developers to build carbon neutral homes and asked whether planning policy powers were available to the Council in this area. Officers responded that the only way to require new builds to be carbon neutral standard was to make this a requirement in the Borough of Redditch Local Plan that acted as the Borough’s statutory development plan. Such a requirement would be, however, far in excess of any current national Building Regulation standards and could be challenged by developers on legal grounds. This issue would therefore need to be carefully considered before any commitment be made. There was also the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.


Voluntary Bodies Scheme Pre-Decision Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 295 KB

This report will follow in an Additional Papers pack, once the report has been published for consideration of the Executive Committee.

Additional documents:


The Head of Community and Housing Services presented the Voluntary Bodies Scheme report for consideration by the Committee. The following was highlighted for Members’ attention:


·       The report outlined options for the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Grants Scheme for the next three years after the current scheme expired in March 2023.

·       Officers were proposing that the concessionary rents element of the scheme be removed and that there should be a budget of £100,000 from which VCS groups could apply for funding, together with a £50,000 grant for Financial Advice and Problem Solving.

·       Section 6.12 of the report set out the four options for the future operation of the scheme.

·       The feedback received from a consultation exercise undertaken with VCS groups indicated that the second option would be appreciated by most by the sector.

·       This would mean the removal of the concessionary rents scheme, which was expected to deliver savings of £25k per annum.

·       £10k was the maximum grant amount that an individual voluntary or community group would be able to obtain under the proposed options.


Some Members queried whether the average annual profit of approximately £10k generated by the community lottery scheme established by the Council, as referenced in section 6.7 of the report, took account of the set-up and operational costs. Officers explained that the figure quoted did include those costs, but Officers undertook to report back regarding whether this figure also included the officer time costs of the grants officer who managed the local lottery scheme.


Some Members expressed concern that options 1 and 2 as currently presented recommended the removal of the Council’s concessionary rents offer for community and voluntary sector groups. It was argued that this would have a detrimental impact on smaller, locally based community and voluntary groups in Redditch, which were small entities and would be forced to cease operating without the provision of this support. Such entities, it was argued, would not be able to afford the full market rate for renting buildings.


Other Members pointed out, in contrast, that the concessionary rents element was only available to voluntary organisations operating from Redditch Borough Council owned properties. As such options 1 and 2 for the VCS Grants Scheme, as recommended in the report, would create a more merit-based system of allocating grants as no element of the overall scheme would be discriminatory based on whether an organisation was based in a Council-owned property or not.


Officers reminded the Committee that a decision with respect to ending the VCS Concessionary Rents scheme had been taken by the Executive on 29th October 2019, and a transition period had been implemented from April 2020 until 31st March 2022, when the rent concessions were gradually reduced. As such no concessionary rents scheme was currently offered by the Council.


The Leader of the Council commented that a consultation exercise with VCS groups had been undertaken with regards to the future of the voluntary bodies grants scheme and most respondents expressed preference for option 2 to be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.


Executive Committee Minutes and Scrutiny of the Executive Committee's Work Programme - Selecting Items for Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 274 KB

Additional documents:


During consideration of the Executive Work Programme, Members requested that the following items be added to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme:


·       Parking Enforcement Service Level Agreement

·       Review of Governance Arrangements for Rubicon Leisure Limited

·       Worcestershire Housing Strategy 2040.




1)    the Executive Committee Work Programme be noted.


2)    the items from the Executive Work Programme, detailed in the pre-amble above, be added to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme.




Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 193 KB


The Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme was submitted for Members’ consideration.




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 Kane


b)          Performance Scrutiny Working Group – Chair, Councillor Kane



The Vice-Chair, Councillor Kane, provided an update on the Budget Scrutiny and Performance Scrutiny Working Groups in her role as Chair of these Groups. In doing so, Members were informed that a meeting of Performance Scrutiny Working Group took place on 29th September 2022 when matters relating to the Housing Service were discussed, including repairs, voids, and customer response times.


The Vice-Chair reported that positive developments had taken place in terms of reduction in average void turnaround time from the high of 50 days to 17 days by August 2022, which represented a significant cost saving to the Council. It was noted, however, that concern remained around response times to customer calls, and the Performance Scrutiny Working Group wished to revisit this issue at its future meeting.


The Vice-Chair informed the Committee that two meetings of Budget Scrutiny Working Group had taken place since the last update, on 7th September and 19th October 2022 respectively. At the September meeting, the Group discussed issues around the Council’s asset disposal in detail. At the October meeting, the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) 2023-24 to 2025-26 was discussed and the Vice-Chair presented her main observations from that meeting to the Committee.




the Task Groups, Short Sharp Reviews and Working Groups – Update Reports 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.


As Councillor Chalk, the Council’s representative on external scrutiny bodies, had submitted his apologies for this meeting, no update was provided.