Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Carole Oliphant Member Services Officer
APOLOGIES AND SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS (0.04.41)
To receive any apologies or substitute members
Apologies were received from Cllrs E J Berry, J M Downes and R L Stanley who were substituted by Cllrs C J Eginton, B Holdman and Mrs F J Colthorpe respectively.
Members to note the Remote Meetings Protocol
The Committee had before it, and NOTED, the *remote meetings protocol.
Note: *protocol previously circulated and attached the minutes
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST UNDER THE CODE OF CONDUCT (0.05.27)
Councillors are reminded of the requirement to declare any interest, including the type of interest, and reason for that interest, either at this stage of the meeting or as soon as they become aware of that interest.
Members were reminded of the need to make declarations of interest when appropriate.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME (0.05.41)
To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Note: A maximum of 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
The Chairman read out a question submitted by a local resident, Nick Quinn:
Concerning Agenda Item 7: Decisions of the Cabinet
I agree with both these Cabinet decisions being called-in for scrutiny.
Though the Monitoring Officer is very much open on the first decision, I also question the basis of the first decision to fix the Post Hill development at 70 Affordable properties of a particular bed/size mix.
There is no evidence in the open report to justify why this particular option was recommended, or should have been accepted. A failure on Openness.
The proportions of the agreed property mix do not reflect the proportions of the Registered Housing Applicants which are listed in the report.
Other property mixes, which would be more in proportion to the registered need, and generate more rental income, should have been considered.
This decision also fails the Proportionality and Options tests.
I also question the second decision, where the meaning is plainly stated: “the delivery of the housing will be through the new company”.
The Cabinet tried to qualify that statement, by saying that the new company should meet certain conditions and “any other material factors”. But, by not being specific on these factors, this decision also fails the Openness test.
The Monitoring Officer states “the Cabinet must, in any decision, consider all relevant and material factors at the time of the decision” – not later!
It is extremely Relevant and Material that, at the time of the decision, the Teckal Company does not exist - and no advice on creating one had been received by Cabinet.
Councils award their Teckal Companies business on a contract basis. By pre-awarding this development contract to a Company, which they hope to create, I believe Cabinet may be in breach of Council Financial Regulations.
My question is:
Please will Scrutiny Committee pass both these decisions back to Cabinet for further consideration?
The Chairman advised that the question would be addressed at item 7 on the agenda.
MEMBER FORUM (0.08.37)
An opportunity for non-Cabinet Members to raise issues.
There were no issues raised under this item.
Members to consider whether to approve the minutes as a correct record of the meeting held on 9th November.
The Committee is reminded that only those members of the Committee present at the previous meeting should vote and, in doing so, should be influenced only by seeking to ensure that the minutes are an accurate record.
The minutes of the last meeting were approved as a correct record
To consider any decisions made by the Cabinet at its last meeting that have been called-in.
The Chairman informed the Committee that two decisions made by the Cabinet at its meeting on 3rd December 2020 (with regard Land at Post Hill) had been *called in for consideration by the Scrutiny Committee in accordance with the Council’s Constitution. The decision had been called in by Cllrs Barnell, Holdman, Clist and White.
Lack of consideration of alternative options;
1. The building of more Social Rented Homes is a key priority of the Corporate Plan recently agreed by Full Council. The development of the Post Hill site presents an important opportunity to build a significant number both of Affordable Rented and of Social Rented Homes in Tiverton and thereby address the local gap in affordability that impacts most on families with a low income .
2. The options presented to and considered by Cabinet included three options:-
a. Option 2-For 50 Social and 20 Affordable Homes
b. Option 3- For 50 Social, 15 Affordable Homes and 5 Self Build Homes
c. Option 4- 70 Affordable Homes
3. The report to cabinet recommended Option 4 on the basis of budgetary
considerations. External and expert financial assessments were appended to the report to explain these issues.
4. Cabinet were asked only to consider options that were posed at opposite ends of a continuum of possible mixes of tenure. It should also have considered other options that may well have presented very different assessment and comparisons of affordability.
5. There were other options that were not presented that would have allowed Cabinet to consider and compare the financial implications of different mixes or proportions of Affordable rented and Social rented housing.
6. Such options might have included, say, a 35/35 split between affordable rented and social rented homes and also a 20/50 split. Either option would still yield a significant addition on the Council’s stock of Social Rented Housing.
7. Finally the report to Cabinet presented only a single set of proposals on the numbers of housing units of a particular size. This proposal did not relate to the analysis of need for particular size of dwelling as presented in the report. No other options were considered even though different options would have a significant impact on costs and forecast returns.
8. We are, therefore asking that Cabinet consider other options for the mix of Social Rented and Affordable Rented Homes and also for the mix of the size of units. This will allow Cabinet to carry out more reasonable analysis and comparisons of both cost and returns.
Pre-determination of a future decision of Full Council
1) A decision to set up a TECKAL compliant company to deliver some or all of the Council’s Housing services is a major step that has yet to be made and that will require a decision of Full Council. This decision will need to be supported by a full business case setting out elements of the Councils services that are to be managed and delivered by the SPV and include an assessment of ... view the full minutes text for item 124.
CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS (1.08.55)
To receive any announcements that the Chairman of Scrutiny Committee may wish to make.
The Chairman wished all Members and Officers Seasons Greetings and thanked them for civilised debates.
To receive an update from the Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration
The Committee had before it, and NOTED, a *report of the Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Regeneration outlining the key area’s within his portfolio.
He explained that the report was long but this was necessary due to the variety of work that his portfolio covered.
Committee Members asked a variety of questions and gave consideration to:
· The increase in unemployment claims from 820 to 2055 between March and September 2020
· Members were hugely impressed with the department’s ability to get on top of new priorities due to the pandemic
· The 1700 business grants that had been issued totalling in excess of £20m
· The business case for the Hydro Mills project was underway
· Advice from the Environment Agency had informed the Tiverton hydro proposal
· The purpose of the Hydro Mills project
· The Tiverton Town Centre Masterplan was due to be brought to Cabinet in March after further consultations with the Town Council, businesses and Ward Members
· What happened to the budget for a Town Centre Manager (the Deputy Chief Executive S151 would provide an update to Members)
· The Cullompton relief road was due to be completed within the next 2-3 years
· A number of large developments which had been granted permission that had not yet been started would be investigated by the Development Delivery Advisory Group (DDAG) to try to understand the reasons for delay
· The introduction of the Self Build Policy should increase interest in the scheme
· The Cabinet Member had investigated the lack of admin support for the Planning Enforcement team and was looking to review the processes used. Members would need to decide if they wanted to an allocated a budget for Planning Enforcement admin support during the budget setting process
· The Council would publish its S106 records of funds received and spent for 2019/2020 by 31st December 2020
· The planning performance targets were set by Government and were reported to the Planning Committee on a quarterly basis
i.) Cllr W Burke left the meeting at 16.01pm
ii.) Cllr G Barnell left the meeting at 16.09pm
iii.) *report previously circulated and attached to the minutes
UPDATE IN THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE WORKING GROUP RECOMMENDATIONS (02.23.14)
To receive a verbal update on the recommendations of the Customer Experience Working Group.
The Group Manager for Business Transformation and Customer Engagement provided Members with a verbal update on the status of the recommendations made by the Customer Experience Working Group as follows:
1. Business Case for CRM – Officers had engaged with the market and a prior interest notification had been issued. This had resulted in a number of demonstrations being received on the various offerings available. Officers, Cabinet Members and the Chairman of the Working Group had been involved in scrutinising these and deciding what kinds of activities were required in the final product. A lot of work was going into the business case as a new CRM system would be a significant investment for the Council
2. Systems work to full capacity – This was on hold until a decision had been taken with regard to a new CRM
3. Customers at the heart of the Council – Officers were planning some workshops in the New Year which would be open to Members to discuss their experience and explore their requirements. Officers would engage with the public via a small group of tenants, residents and businesses
4. Customer Survey – This was in progress but had been limited as there were restrictions on face to face contact. Online and telephone surveys were being carried out and this would run until the end of December 2020
5. Re-establishing a dedicated Planning department phone service – there had been a reduction in staff and this would be re-addressed after the current ongoing recruitment campaign had been completed
6. Phone waiting times – this had improved by 15% but was still below target. The main issues were that some experienced call centre staff had been redeployed to assist other departments cope with an increase in duties due to the pandemic
The Chairman of the Working Group thanked the Officer and explained that what she had seen so far had been promising.
The Officer advised that a further update would be provided in 6 months time.
To provide Members with an update on performance against the corporate plan and local service targets for 2020-2021 as well as providing an update on the key business risks.
The Committee had before it, and NOTED, the *Performance and Risk report presented by the Group Manager for Performance, Governance and Data Security.
She outlined the contents of the report and explained that there was an additional appendix of measures against the new corporate plan which had been agreed by Cabinet.
In answer to a question the Officer explained that the percentage of complaints resolved would be adjusted upwards once the complaints had been closed.
The Committee then discussed issues with regard to anti social behaviour in the Tiverton Multi Storey Car Park and the Officer explained that although the risk was monitored it wasn’t reported to Members unlessl the risk was scored 10 or above.
Note: *Performance and Risk report previously circulated and attached to the minutes
Members are asked to consider any items within the Forward Plan that they may wish to bring forward for discussion at the next meeting.
The Committee had before it, and NOTED, the *Forward Plan.
Note: *Forward Plan previously circulated and attached to the minutes.
SCRUTINY OFFICER UPDATE (02.58.26)
To receive an update from the Scrutiny Officer.
The Member Services Manager on behalf of the Scrutiny Officer provided the following update:
UPDATE ON SCRUTINY RECOMMENDATIONS (02.59.28)
Scrutiny Officer to provide an update on Scrutiny recommendations
The Member Services Manager on behalf of the Scrutiny Officer provided the following update:
· At the November meeting of the Audit Committee this was one of the risks that the Committee discussed, in particular around infrastructure delivery and why the mitigating actions have remained the same for some time. This is now being reviewed by Officers.
IDENTIFICATION OF ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING (03.00.29)
Members are asked to note that the following items are already identified in the work programme for the next meeting:
· Cabinet Member for Working Environment and Support Services
· Draft Budget
· Annual Reports of Complaints and Compliments
· Regulation of Investigatory Powers
· Recommendations from the Menopause Working Group
Note: - this item is limited to 10 minutes. There should be no discussion on items raised.
No additional items were identified.