Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday 2nd September 2020 7.30 pm

Venue: via Zoom

Contact: Helen Johnson 

Items
No. Item

9.

SUBSTITUTION OF MEMBERS

To note any substitution of Members made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules.

Minutes:

The following substitution was made in accordance with Council Procedure Rules:

 

Councillor S.Elam for Councillor J.Caliskan.

10.

APOLOGIES

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor J.Caliskan.

11.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 28 July 2020 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 28 July 2020 (previously circulated) were approved as a correct record.

 

 Councillor Hayes had met with the Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) and F.Cantel (Client Support Services Manager) to discuss the Council Tax Support Scheme. From their discussion they were happy with how the Council Tax Support Scheme worked. An issue of the Council Tax Hardship Relief Fund came up, as the Council was putting £25,000 into the fund. Sometimes the funding can fall short and could finish as early as January and this is a long time to wait until April. Councillor Hayes asked if the Task and Finish Panel can look into this further and see if there is anything the Council can do. The Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) agreed that this was a good idea.

 

Councillors L.Chesterman and Wrenn had a discussion with the Head of Community and Housing Strategy about homelessness, in particular the night shelter and if it should be scrutinised or become a Task and Finish Panel. There is so much good practice to learn from this and it will help when we look at homelessness in a wider context. The committee could look at creating a Scrutiny or a Task and Finish Panel in the future for Night Shelters in the Welwyn Hatfield area.

12.

DECLARATION OF INTEREST BY MEMBERS

To note declarations of Members’ disclosable pecuniary interests, non-disclosable pecuniary interests and non-pecuniary interests in respect of items on the Agenda.

Minutes:

Councillors L.Chesterman and P.Zukowskyj both declared a non-pecuniary interest by virtue of them being Hertfordshire County Councillors.

13.

ACTIONS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 79 KB

To note the status of actions identified at previous meeting of the Committee.

Minutes:

The status of actions agreed at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 28 July 2020 in the report of the Corporate Director (Public Protection, Planning and Governance) was noted.

14.

ANTI-SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR (ASB) SCRUTINY UPDATE

To receive an update on the Anti-Social Behaviour Scrutiny, set up by the former Social Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Minutes:

Members received an update on the Anti-Social Behaviour Scrutiny, set up by the former Social Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The recommendations from the previous OSC meeting on Anti-Social Behaviour will be going to Cabinet on the 8 September 2020.

 

Councillor Cowan queried the amount of funds that would be used to refurbish the King George V Skate Park, as the Council had put aside £50,000 of reserves for the refurbishments. The Corporate Director (Resources, Environment and Cultural Services) confirmed that out of the £50,000, £25,000 will be used for the refurbishments.

15.

SCRUTINY TASK AND FINISH PANELS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To note the meeting dates and proposed membership of the new scrutiny on Budget Setting and the Corporate Plan.

Minutes:

Members were asked to note that a Task and Finish Panel (Budget Setting and Corporate Plan) had been set up as discussed at the meeting on the 28 July 2020. The first meeting will be held on the 14 September 2020.

 

RESOLVED:

 

Members noted the update on Scrutiny Task and Finish Panels.

16.

COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME FOR 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 28 KB

The pro-forma sets out a draft of the Committee’s work programme for comment.  The work programme enables forward planning of items to be considered to take place. In addition the Forward Plan and Key Decision List are attached for Members to consider and the Scrutiny Scoring Form to assist in determining the value of any potential scrutiny.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the Committee’s work programme. The work programme enabled forward planning of items to be considered to take place. In addition, the Forward Plan was attached to assist members in considering items for scrutiny.

 

Councillor Fitzsimon asked if Members could add important or urgent items to the work programme and if there is any flexibility for items. The Chairman confirmed that items could be added to the list at a later date.

 

Maintenance of the council's housing stock–

 

Members discussed the motion that was carried at Council in January 2020 which concerned the number of complaints received by Members about the level of maintenance of the council's housing stock. The motion specifically called on the Executive Member to ‘bring forward proposals to council to firstly identify areas of concern, and then to address them’. Members considered whether this should be taken forward as a Task and Finish panel or become a report from Officers. Members thought that a Task and Finish panel may not be the best way forward as this was not a coherent thread. Members had also recieved complaints from residents about housing repairs and work not being completed.

 

Councillor Thusu suggested that Members be selective of what items go to Task and Finish Panel as they are unsure of the timeframe of the Task and Finish process and if the committee will be able to complete the panels during the committee cycle.

 

Councillor L.Chesterman suggested using the Scrutiny Scoring Matrix for the issue of Housing Maintenance Repairs as Members can find out if a Task and Finish panel is the way forward.

 

Councillor Zukowskyj agreed with Councillor Cowan, that a Task and Finish panel might not be the best way forward. There is a systematic issue and as Overview and Scrutiny we need to be looking at the systematic issues we are finding for Housing Maintenance. The relevant Head of Service could explain to Members why they keep seeing these issues and what can be done about it. Residents from different households have complained about issues with windows, double glazing units etc. not being replaced. As an Overview and Scrutiny we should be looking at this and asking what are our policies, why are the Council not delivering in practice? What is wrong with the current process, how can we change the process so that we can fix it for the benefit of the residents.

 

Councillor Fitzsimon had also received complaints from residents about the timescale of repairs being carried out. This is a very important matter and affects all residents and their lives quite seriously.

 

Members completed the Scrutiny Scoring Matrix for Council Housing Maintenance Repairs. The results are shown below:-

 

Public interest

3 - (only affects residents in council houses) – Councillor P.Smith challenged how high it is in public interest as not all residents live in council housing.

Strategic Value

3 – housing is considered the Council’s most substantial asset

Risk to council

2 – This is a key service area and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.