Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 17th January 2023 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Campus East, Welwyn Garden City, Herts, AL8 6AE. View directions

Contact: Clair Francis 

Media

Items
No. Item

45.

SUBSTITUTION OF MEMBERS

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

Councillor J. Cragg for Councillor C. Juggins.

46.

APOLOGIES

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies of absence were received from Councillor C. Juggins and Councillor R. Trigg. Apologies were also received from Councillor F. Thomson as Executive Member for Housing.

 

47.

MINUTES

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2022 (previously circulated).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 22 November 2022 (previously circulated) were confirmed as a correct record.

48.

DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS 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.

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Minutes:

Councillor S. Thusu declared an interest by virtue of him being a Hertfordshire County Councillor and also being on the garages waiting list.

 

49.

SCRUTINY TASK AND FINISH PANELS (T&Ps) PROGRESS REPORTS AND/OR RECOMMENDATIONS

To receive progress reports and/or recommendations from Scrutiny Task and Finish Panels.

 

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Minutes:

50.

BUDGET SETTING TASK AND FINISH PANEL pdf icon PDF 163 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair of the panel, Councillor J. Broach, thanked officers for working under very fast changing global geopolitical circumstances, with the change in personnel in central government. The Executive Director (Finance and Transformation) echoed Councillor Broach’s comments and thanked the team for pulling the budget together in such difficult circumstances.

 

The group have met three times over the past few months to go through the budget. There haven’t been any changes from the recommendations that came out of Cabinet.

 

Officers clarified that full budget proposals were circulated with the agenda. The £2.125m is the forecast gap for 2024/25, and not for 2023/24.

 

For the Revenue and Benefits transformation, £852k is the upfront investment into the new service. This includes new systems and new back-office processes etc. The £220k is an annual saving, it's a seven-year contract, but there are further savings to be delivered through the contract as well.

 

The budget was fully scrutinised by the panel who received an overview of the savings proposals, the growth proposals, and fees and charges. Some were explored in more detail than others, with a number of questions being raised around different proposals.

 

Officers clarified that there is no formal definition of a frontline service, but these would generally be something that a resident would see as a service that impacts their day-to-day life, and the teams they would directly contact for those services.

 

Members asked that ahead of a meeting such as this it would be helpful to have a meeting with officers to help members make better informed decisions. Officers said we do provide an annual budget seminar, but we can look at this as part of the Member Development Programme.

 

RESOLVED (11 for, 1 abstention)

 

            That the recommendations from the panel are approved.

 

51.

GARAGE MAINTENANCE TASK AND FINISH PANEL

Update from the T&F Panel.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor M. Holloway, thanked Councillors who were on the panel, as well as officers who helped guide them and had a willingness to provide the necessary information.

 

The task and finish group is running alongside a review that's happening into garage services, so any recommendations should be looked at alongside that review. The recommendations will be presented in full to the committee in March, but a series of recommendations that the panel has come up with fall broadly under the headings of; pricing; marketing; systems, processes and technology; land use; and the repairs structure itself.

 

One recommendation was to look at the use of garages and whether or not there is potentially a better use for them.

 

Sales of garages to individuals is something the Housing team used to do if certain criteria were met. This is something that will be reviewed, as maintenance issues come into play when needing to deal with a number of parties just to replace for example a roof.

 

The panel looked at pricing compared to other local authorities as well as commercial offerings. The panel has not set a recommendation for a specific levy for the use of a garage, this has come from the Budget T&F Panel.

 

The Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) passed on thanks from Cllr Fiona Thomson to the panel for their work done to date.

52.

STREETSCENE CONTRACT TASK AND FINISH PANEL

Update from T&F Panel.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor F. Marsh, thanked Councillors and the officers of the panel.

 

The panel have met three times and have come up with the following recommendations:

 

  • That detailed data is provided on collisions quarterly via the Members Information Hub.

 

  • That social media be used to educate residents about fly tipping and its impacts.

 

  • That the report advises OSC of the continued pressures for efficiencies for Urbaser and to report the spillage numbers via the Members Information Hub.

 

It has since been agreed that a fourth meeting will be set up focussing on the operational issues caused by the snow. This provides members with the opportunity to feedback any issues to their panel representative. Any recommendations arising from this can then be included in the report that will come to the next OSC meeting on 14 March.

 

It was confirmed that the panel did meet with Urbaser. The Chair of the panel recognises the fact that Urbaser weren't as efficient as they should have been during the snow period with a number of bins left unattended for some time. This is why a fourth meeting of the panel is being arranged, and Urbaser will again be in attendance.

 

It was noted that the cost of fixing some of the damage caused by collisions, especially to bollards, falls to the County Council to pick up. The chair of the panel said that this will be looked at in the report.

 

Concerns were raised by members about the frequency of collections at local recycling facilities and if more facilities are needed. The panel Chair said this is something that can be discussed again at the fourth meeting.

 

Members suggested that scrutiny of big contracts should take place before contracts are agreed, by the setting up of T&F panels for six months or so before agreeing those contracts.

 

In was confirmed that concerns in regard to spillages is something that was discussed by the panel, and officers have picked this up with Urbaser.

 

Members asked if officers could look at closed litter bins in some areas around the town centres to discourage rats. Officers said street bins are of standard design, but they will look at what other options are out there.

53.

COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME FOR 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 78 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.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

As usual practice, the forward plan and most recent cabinet decisions were included in the agenda pack in case there is anything on there that members wished to raise as potential scrutiny topics. The final meeting of the municipal year will take place on 14 March.

 

A couple of items were raised as potential scrutiny topics for next year:

 

  • Investigating how many developers have provided the full percentage of affordable housing, as too often developers have knocked the numbers down.

 

  • Concern was raised about staff turnover. It would be good to understand the council's approach to recruitment and retention.