Agenda and draft minutes

Business Support and Digital Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 20 June 2024 6.00pm

Venue: St George's Centre, Pembroke Road, Chatham Maritime, Chatham ME4 4UH. View directions

Contact: Steve Dickens, Democratic Services Officer 


No. Item


Apologies for absence


An apology for absence was received from Councillor Williams.


Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 271 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 4 April 2024.


The record of the meeting held on 4 April 2024 was agreed and signed by the Chairperson as correct.


Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances

The Chairperson will announce any late items which do not appear on the main agenda but which he has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report.


There were none.


Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests and Whipping pdf icon PDF 471 KB

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 (DPI)


There were none.


Other significant Interests (OSI)


There were none.


Other Interests


There were none.


Medway 2.0 Roadmap pdf icon PDF 234 KB

This paper provides an update to the Committee on the Medway 2.0 transformation programme roadmap and invites the Committee to forward its comments to Cabinet.

Additional documents:




The Chief Information Officer introduced the report, he explained that Medway 2.0 represented a new way of approaching transformation for the Council where Medway 2.0 would be focused on a review of services and processes. From the results the Council would identify potential savings and design and implement new ways of working and new technologies. The process was focused on ensuring a consistent and positive experience for residents rather than new technology or a particular savings target.


Appendix 1 to the report showed the initial processes and services which would be reviewed. The review would find common processes and service patterns which would enable development of a common external process for reporting. As a result, the experience and design of the new processes would be established on the basis of the needs of the resident.


The Chief Information Officer also explained that Medway 2.0 would work alongside change projects already underway such as the Adult Social Care Programme, work with Revenues and benefits, and establishing a corporate data platform.


The following issues were discussed:


Pace of delivery – Members welcomed the report and the approach of Medway 2.0 but some expressed concern at the speed of progress. The Chief Information Officer explained that the review was led by residents and services so that the process worked for users. Residents viewed the Council as a whole so the experience they received needed to be consistent and this process would take time. As new systems were built and implemented, the Council would save resources in future reviews as common design methods could be implemented for other processes.


Review principles – A Member stated he wanted to see core principles outlined within the review, for example, residents should receive a refence number when they made a request which they could then follow through the system and residents should only be required to input data once rather than having to repeatedly put in the same information. The Chief Information Officer said this would be considered for inclusion.


Member User Testing Group – Members welcomed the introduction of the Member User Testing Group.


Current year savings – it was commented that £2m had been identified in savings for the current financial year from the programme and it was asked whether this was achievable in the required timescale, The Chief Finance Officer noted the £2m in savings in the current financial year was a relatively small amount in the context of the Council’s total expected spend, and given the level of senior management engagement and oversight, it was in her view achievable.


Discovery Process – further information was requested how long the discovery process would take, the Chief Information Officer explained that the review was designed to be agile to meet residents and services’ needs, investment had been made in additional business analysts to undertake the necessary work, however it was a crucial part of the process.


Targets – a Member expressed the view that deadlines and targets for completion of work were required so  ...  view the full minutes text for item 97.


Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report and Strategic Risk Summary - Quarter 4 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 139 KB

Medway’s Council Plan 2023/24 sets out the Council’s three priorities and the measures used to monitor performance. This report and appendices summarise how we performed in Q4 2023/24 on the delivery of these priorities and the actions we are taking to improve performance.


This report also presents the Q4 2023/24 review of strategic risks which fall under the remit of this committee (Appendix 2).

Additional documents:




The Head of Council Planning and Programmes introduced the report which summarised the performance of the Council Plan programmes and values that fall under the remit of the committee for Q4 2023/24.


The report also presented the Q4 2023/24 review of strategic risks at Appendix 2. There were no changes to strategic risk scores in the quarter.


The following issues were discussed:


Tree planting - a Member expressed disappointment that performance measures in relation to climate change did not include a target for planting trees. Tree planting was important to supporting the climate and he felt this should be considered by Cabinet.


Hoo Sports Centre – a Member welcomed the investment in replacing outdated gas boiler and solar panels at Hoo Sports centre, he commented that further investment in the centre would be helpful.


CO2 emissions- it was commented that the data for CO2 reduction dated back to 2021-2022 and more recent data was requested. The Head of Council Planning and Programmes undertook to request the information from the relevant service and provide it to the Committee in writing.


Child Friendly Medway – in response to a request to provide additional information about the work of Child Friendly Medway and its benefits to residents, the Community and Engagement Officer, explained the service currently led a wide range of projects and events the majority of which were funded through external grants.


The Community and Engagement Officer added the service prioritised listening to children and young people’s voices. They provided free activities such as reading projects to support the Council’s literacy strategy, ran a wide range of free events for young people including the Mini Youth Games and soft play to promote early years development.


One example of the positive work undertaken by the service was free events at the Strood Sport Centre which were undertaken following instances of anti-social behaviour at the centre. This had reduced reports of anti-social behaviour in the area.


Voice of Young People – it was asked how the team ascertained the views of young people, the Community Engagement Officer informed the Committee that at each Child Friendly Medway event the team provided an opportunity for young people to anonymously provide their views to the Council on a range of issues. This was popular with thousands of views being received in 2022-23 from a wide demographic of young people. In addition, the team sometimes focused on particular topics such as violence against women and young people and had supported events for the Leader of the Council and the Council Chief Executive to hear directly from young people. Responses had revealed common themes, and they were passed on to the relevant teams for review and action.


Members welcomed the work of Child Friendly Medway. It was suggested the Council may wish to consider opportunities to work with partners such as Medway Norse to promote access to local events through sharing resources.




1.     The Committee considered the Q4 2023/24 performance against the measures used to monitor  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.


Capital and Revenue Outturn and Annual Debt Write Off Report 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 631 KB

This report details the final revenue and capital outturn position for the financial year ended 31 March 2024.These figures will form part of the Council’s Statement of Accounts, which will be presented to the Audit Committee following the completion of the External Audit. The report also presents a summary of debts written off during the 2023/24 financial year in line with the constitutional requirement to submit a report to Cabinet on an annual basis setting out details of all debt written off.




The Chief Finance Officer introduced the report, she informed the Committee the end of year financial position which represented an overspend of £6.7m following declassification of £6.8m in earmarked reserves. General reserves stood at £10.65m at the end of the financial year, just above the minimum level of £10m set by the Chief Operating Officer.


The Chief Finance Officer stated that whilst just over £3m had been written off, this represented less than 1% of the amount of debt raised during the year and related to debts which had been accrued over a number of years.


The following issues were discussed:


Final budget position – Members welcomed the lower than expected overspend. The Chief Finance Officer commented that whilst positive, total spend in the last financial year was £11m above income and as a consequence the budget build for the current year had been very difficult. Medway was in a similar position to other small upper tier authorities, and there may be a structural issue with the distribution of funding. Despite this, the Council had a rigorous One Medway Financial Improvement and Transformation Plan and was investing in services including rightsizing adult social care and strategic support service teams.


Use of earmarked reserves – Further information was requested why £2.5m in earmarked reserves had been used for Housing when the final budget position had been underspent by £1.5m in total. The Chief Finance Officer explained that monies used by the Council included ring fenced grants which had to be used for specific purposes, but the budget was reported by department in totality. Consequently, the department could show an underspend in one area due to the use of ring-fenced grant, which enabled the Council to use un-ring fenced income i.e council tax to fund pressures on other services. In Public Health earmarked reserves had also been used as ring fenced funds were used over a number of years to provide ongoing budgetary income for specific projects and the Council had to ensure that those funds were spent in Public Health.


Further information on ring fenced reserves, including a list of reserves was requested. The Chief Finance Officer informed the Committee that further information on ring fenced grants was provided in the Council’s accounts, however, she undertook to provide additional information to the Committee outside of the meeting.


Potholes - a Member asked why there was a reported £2m underspend in relation to potholes out of total budget of £13m when many roads in Medway were in need of repair. The Chief Finance Officer explained that the budget was underspent in some areas of Front Line Services, such as staff vacancies and reduced spending on energy costs, however, monies spent on actual road repairs were from the capital spending budget, so the budget for repairs was fully spent.

A Member expressed the view that the underspend of £39,000 should have been spent on repairing potholes, the Chief Finance Officer explained that the Housing Infrastructure Fund was an external grant and the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 99.


Annual Review of the Council's Petitions Scheme pdf icon PDF 248 KB

This report provides an annual review of the Council’s Petitions Scheme.

Additional documents:




The Head of Democratic Services introduced the report which outlined the petitions received in the period January 23 – April 24.


The following issues were discussed:


Medway Council e-petition service – it was commented that the Council’s e-petition service did not always work and the system itself was cumbersome to use. The Head of Democratic Services acknowledged that there were sometimes issues with the system, however, many thousands had used the system successfully and where problems were found officers liaised with ICT and the software provider to ensure minimal disruption. He added that officers would liaise with colleagues to consider opportunities for alternative provision of the Council petition e-scheme.


Third party websites – in response to a question whether the Council would consider a change in the requirements for signatories to the petition scheme to enable petitions from third party websites to be accepted, the Head of Democratic Services explained the scheme was part of the Council’s constitution, so it was a matter for Council to amend the scheme.


Whilst it was discussed whether the Council should be asked to consider amending the petition scheme on this matter, there was no support to make a recommendation to full Council at this time.




The Committee noted the annual review of the Council’s Petitions Scheme.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 155 KB

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.

Additional documents:




The Democratic Services Officer introduced the report, he highlighted the changes to the Work Programme as set out in appendix 1 to the report.


The Democratic Services Officer informed the Committee that new statutory guidance on overview and scrutiny for councils and combined authorities had recently been published. The guidance was focused on combined authorities so did not directly affect the Council.


The Active Travel and Air Quality task group had met on a number of occasions and the proposed scope of the group was attached at appendix 3 for approval.


The following issues were discussed:


Work Programme – a Member requested that the Committee review the progress made in relation to the reduction of non-permanent staff which had been considered by the Committee last year, particularly those departments which were not covered by the report last year.


A Member asked for clarification regarding whether all the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s would consider the Local Plan. The Head of Democratic Services explained the work programme was a matter for each Committee, however, all of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees planned to consider the Local Plan during the regulation 18 consultation in August 2024.




1.     The Committee agreed the provisional work programme at Appendix 1 to the report.


2.     The Committee noted the work programmes of the other Overview and Scrutiny Committees at Appendix 2 to the report.


3.     The Committee agreed the scope of the Active Travel and Air Quality Task Group as set out in Appendix 3 to the report.


4.     The Committee agreed that the Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and officers to consider adding a review on the progress of reduction in the use of non-permanent staff to the work programme on a date to be determined.