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Contact: Steve Platt, Democratic Services Officer
Apologies for absence
An apology for absence was received from Councillor Johnson.
To approve the record of the meeting held on 25 January 2022.
The record of the meeting of the Committee held on 25 January 2022 was agreed and signed by the Chairman as correct.
Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances
The Chairman will announce any late items which do not appear on the main agenda but which he/she has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report.
There were none.
Members are invited to disclose any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests in accordance with the Member Code of Conduct. Guidance on this is set out in agenda item 4.
Disclosable pecuniary interests
There were none.
Other significant interests (OSIs)
There were none.
Councillor Opara declared an interest in item 6, Council Plan Performance Monitoring and Risk Register Review, Quarter 3 2021/22, as her business had received business grants.
Councillor Maple also declared an interest in item 6 as he was a member of various organisations that had received covid grants.
This covering report represents a mid-year review of the performance of the Joint Venture from the perspective of the Council client for the 2021/22 financial year. It is accompanied by an update on the Joint Venture’s achievements and financial performance prepared by the Partnership Director at Medway Norse.
This report was considered by Cabinet on 11 January 2022.
The Committee considered a report which represented a mid-year review of the performance of the Joint Venture from the perspective of the Council client for 2021/22 financial year. The report was accompanied by an update on the Joint Venture’s achievements and financial performance prepared by the Partnership Director at Medway Norse.
Members raised the following issues which were discussed:
· Update on the replacement depot at Rochester/Maidstone Road – The Partnership Director confirmed that the provision of a new depot at Rochester/Maidstone Road was on target despite the challenge of limited building supplies. The construction stage was expected to be completed by mid-June with the move from Deangate anticipated for the Autumn.
· Travellers on Luton Recreation Ground – Asked what could be done to prevent future incidents of travellers accessing Luton Recreation Ground, the Partnership Director said that measures had been taken to make sites secure but on occasion travellers had removed posts to gain access. There was a limit to what could be done without restricting public access to open spaces.
· Condition survey – With reference to the situation which had led to the need to demolish the Splashes building, and the need to identify issues at an early stage, the Partnership Director was asked about the frequency of condition surveys. He responded that the surveys were carried out by the Council and the last one had been seven years ago. They were based on the visible condition of buildings externally and this had not picked up the issue with Splashes. Norse was working closely with the Council to consider what intrusive work should be carried out as part of the next surveys. The Chief Operating Officer advised that £750,000 had been provided for condition works in the building maintenance fund.
· Structural condition of walls – Asked if the heritage value and biodiversity value of walls was taken into account in the maintenance of walls, the Partnership Director said that Norse was aware of the ecological considerations and carried out remedial works in a controlled manner. The Chief Operating Officer said that there was a need to survey and risk assess walls and heritage structures and to reflect the results in future iterations of the Capital Strategy.
· Waste arisings from Council buildings – With reference to the audit of waste arisings from Council buildings, the Partnership Director said that his team worked closely with the Council’s climate response team to ensure that climate change was a fundamental consideration of the audits.
· The extended growing season – The Partnership Director was asked if the extended growing season was now the norm. He responded that the year before last had been a slow growing year, but last year had been more challenging. The initial Spring cutting had started early this year which would lead to an improved position in the Summer.
· Ultra-low emissions vehicles for school transport – The Partnership Director advised that all 40 buses had been replaced in the last year by Euro 6 stop-start buses. Charging points would ... view the full minutes text for item 780.
Medway’s Council Plan 2021/22 sets out the Council’s three priorities. This report and appendices summarise how we performed in Q3 2021/22 on the delivery of the programmes and measures which fall under the remit of this Committee which are:
· Priority: Growth (Appendix 1)
· Values: 1: financial resilience, 2: digital enablement, 3: working together to empower communities, 4: creativity and innovation, 5: tackle climate change, and 6: child friendly (Appendix 2).
Given the overarching responsibilities of this Committee to provide guidance and leadership on the development and coordination of the scrutiny function for all overview and scrutiny committees, this report also contains:
· a performance summary of all services (Appendix 3)
· a summary of discussions at the Children and Young People, Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committees (Appendix 5) with the summary from the Regeneration, Culture and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee to follow.
This report also presents the Q3 2021/22 review of strategic risks (Appendix 4).
The Council Plan 2021/22 set out the Council’s three priorities. Members considered a report summarising performance in Quarter 3 2021/22 on the delivery of the programmes and measures which fell under the remit of this Committee and also the Quarter 3 review of strategic risks.
The following issues were raised:
· SR 35 Homelessness – Members were advised that this risk had been added to the strategic risk register at a time when there had not been funding for rough sleeping. The current funding situation meant that the Council was in a much better position, and whilst it was still challenging, it was the right time to remove the risk from the register for monitoring by the directorate.
· Increase in the number of families living in temporary accommodation – Members were advised that this number was increasing nationally and, although it remained low compared to previous years, there had been an increase in the number of families approaching Kingsley House for homelessness support. In addition, it had been decided to keep people in temporary accommodation, and therefore within the Housing Service, for longer than previously, rather than transferring them to Children or Adult Services.
· Monitoring of HMOs – In response to Members’ questions, officers advised that enforcement action would be considered on receipt of complaints from residents. Such action would not preclude a landlord from holding a HMO licence although banning orders could be issued in specific circumstances.
· Affordable homes – A written answer would be provided breaking down the 166 affordable homes between rented and shared ownership accommodation. As a standard, 60% rented and 40% shared ownership was usually requested of developers though Section 106 agreements.
· Higher than anticipated level of rent arrears – Officers advised that this had risen over the Christmas period but had since reduced to a more usual level. It was recognised that the cost of living challenges would lead to residents requiring a higher level of support and an additional Welfare Reform Officer was being recruited.
· High cost of materials for house building - Asked if this had led to a reduction in build quality, officers would consult with Registered Providers and provide a written reply.
· SR37 Cyber Security - Noting recent cyber security attacks, officers were asked what was being done to prevent these. Members were advised that the risk had been escalated on the risk register and that the ICT Team were constantly guarding against cyber-attacks. Members were reminded to use their Medway email address rather than their personal email address for increased protection. Officers would consider whether Member training on this issue could be provided.
· LGSCO upheld complaint – A written response would be provided.
· Pilot for new kitchens – Asked whether a better product would be provided for residents, officers confirmed that delays had been experienced with the current supplier so the contactor had been encouraged to find a new supplier and, if this represented an improvement in quality, there would be a move to the new supplier.
· Building ... view the full minutes text for item 781.
This report presents the results of the third round of the Council’s capital budget monitoring process for 2021/22.
Members considered a report regarding the results of the third round of the Council’s capital budget monitoring process for 2021/22.
The following issues were discussed:
The Committee agreed to note the results of the third round of capital budget monitoring for 2021/22 and requested sight of the Innovation Park Medway Member Board minutes.
This report presents the result of the third round of the Council’s revenue budget monitoring process for 2021/22. The Council’s summary position is presented at Table 1, with sections 4-7 providing the detail for each service area.
Members considered a report which presented the result of the third round of the Council’s revenue budget monitoring process for 2021/22. In introducing this item, the Chief Operating Officer explained that the £10.7 million improvement in the forecast position between the second and third rounds had been due to a change in the policy for funding SEN placements with a reduced contribution coming from the general fund; an improvement in Regeneration, Culture and Environment income projections as a result of recovery from the pandemic; and an overprovision for the repayment of the Council’s debt which has been transferred into general reserves.
The following issues were discussed:
This report provides an annual review of the Council’s Petitions Scheme.
The Committee considered a report on the annual review of the Council’s petitions scheme.
Clarification was sought on whether the Council would pass petitions on to partner organisations if they were better placed to deal with the subject of a petition and it was confirmed that officers could assist in this way and would always seek to help lead petitioners with their petitions.
The Committee noted the 2021 annual review of the Council’s Petitions Scheme.
This item advises Members of the current work programme and allows the Committee to adjust it in the light of latest priorities, issues and circumstances. It gives Members the opportunity to shape and direct the Committee’s activities over the year.
The Committee considered a request from the Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee to reconsider its decision of 25 January that GP appointments and access to services should be the next Task Group topic and re-instate Physical Activity as the next topic.
Some Members expressed concern about delaying a review of GP appointments and services and highlighted that the shortage of GP’s was one of the main issues local residents contacted them about. It was pointed out that plans to tackle GP shortages by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), soon to be replaced by the Integrated Care Board (ICB), had recently been reported in the local media. Therefore, if the Council delayed its review until later in the year, it may be too late to secure ICB engagement in the review or influence the outcomes of the CCG/ICB work which might be well advanced by that time.
A Member spoke in favour of re-instating Physical Activity as the next Task Group as an implication of lockdowns during the pandemic had been a decline in the amount of physical activity people were taking. He noted that the ICB would not formally be in place until 1 July 2022 and questioned whether the CCG would engage with a Task Group on GP appointments and access to services before then.
Noting that there was currently a shadow Integrated Care Board, the Chairman questioned whether it would be permitted to engage in a review by the Council before it had any legal status or powers, which would not be before 1 July.
It was suggested that, should the Committee decide to re-instate GP appointments and access to services as the next Task Group, officers should write to officers of the CCG and officers designate of the ICB about the review.
a) agreed the Committee’s work programme at Appendix 1 to the report;
b) noted the work programmes of the other overview and scrutiny committees at Appendix 2 to the report;
c) agreed to have regard to the measures set out in paragraph 3.2 of the report in considering the Committee’s work programme, whilst recognising the need for a flexible approach as reflected in paragraph 3.3 of the report, and to keep this matter under review.
i) to re-instate Physical Activity as the next Task Group followed by GP appointments and access to services, and agree the timetable attached at Appendix 3 to the report to enable both the Physical Activity (first) and GP appointments and access to services (second) Task Groups to be completed before the Cabinet meeting of 7 March 2023; and
ii)to instruct officers to engage in correspondence with officers of the CCG and officers designate of its successor bodies in relation to the Task Group on GP appointments and access to services,
upon being put to the vote was lost.
The Committee further agreed to re-affirm its decision of 25 January 2022 that the schedule for the remaining Task Groups ... view the full minutes text for item 785.