Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 2nd March 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Civic Suite, North Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester, GL1 2EP

Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services 

Items
No. Item

2.

Declarations of Interest

To receive from Members, declarations of the existence of any disclosable pecuniary, or non-pecuniary, interests and the nature of those interests in relation to any agenda item. Please see Agenda Notes.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Declaration of Party Whipping

To declare if any issues to be covered in the Agenda are under party whip.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of party whipping.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 181 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 3rd of February 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: - That the minutes of the meetings held on the 3rd of February 2020 were approved and signed as a correct record by the Chair.

5.

Public Question Time (15 minutes)

To receive any questions from members of the public provided that a question does not relate to:

 

·         Matters which are the subject of current or pending legal proceedings, or

·         Matters relating to employees or former employees of the Council or comments in respect of individual Council Officers

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

6.

Petitions and Deputations (15 minutes)

To receive any petitions and deputations provided that no such petition or deputation is in relation to:

 

·         Matters relating to individual Council Officers, or

·         Matters relating to current or pending legal proceedings

Minutes:

There were no petitions and deputations.

7.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme and Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 221 KB

To receive the latest version of the Committee’s work programme and the Council’s Forward Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1      The Chair reminded Members that there would be a meeting on the 10th of March 2020 on the topic of Marketing Gloucester Limited (MGL). Following this, the Committee would be in purdah for the Local and PCC elections to be held on the 7th of May 2020.Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings would resume on the 15th of June 2020.

 

7.2.     She asked Committee Members whether they wanted to add any further items to the work programme. Committee Members did not have any further items which they wished to add to the work programme.

 

7.3       RESOLVED that: - that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the Work Programme and Forward Plan.

 

8.

Performance Monitoring Quarter 3 pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources which considers the Council’s performance against key measures in Quarters 3 of 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

8.1       The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, Councillor Norman introduced the report. She highlighted that the report tracked the Council’s performance on 17 key indicators for Quarter 3 of 2019/20. She explained that appendix 1 sets out the performance data including comparative information from 2018/19, where available. Moreover, where a target exists, this had been included along with a narrative to explain the data.

 

8.2      Councillor Norman outlined that performances with an improving trend included the percentage of complaints that progressed to stage 2, number of major planning applications agreed on time, wait time for face to face contact with Customer Services, and footfall at the Museum of Gloucester. Finally, indicators which were declining in the short term include the staff absence rate and recycling collected. She then invited questions from the Committee.

 

8.2      Councillor Stephens opened the discussion. He stated that the average number of households in B&B accommodation as shown in H24 was disappointing. Councillor Norman responded to say that although there were some positive developments such as the opening of Potters Place, this was an area which needed more work. Furthermore, as the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, she would be happy to look at the business case for opening more facilities.

 

8.3    Referring to HR4 (absence rates), Councillor Wilson queried to what extent working from home would be possible for staff in the event that the organisation was affected by Coronavirus. Councillor Norman explained that working from home was something which was already used by Council Officers, and thus self-isolation whilst working from home would be possible. The Head of Policy and Resources added that all members of staff working at Shire Hall had laptops, and thus would be able to work from home. The situation with the outstations and other areas of the Council would require more thought.

 

8.4     Councillor Wilson further questioned whether there were any members of staff on zero-hour contracts, and if so, what steps, if any, would be taken to ensure that they would be remunerated. The Head of Policy and Resources replied to say that there were some members of staff who were on zero-hour contracts. Councillor Norman stated that an option would be for these members of staff to receive Statutory Sick Pay if they were affected by coronavirus. However, this would need to be looked at in more detail as the situation evolves.

 

 

 8.5    Councillor Wilson questioned why Performance Indicator CDG8 did not have a corresponding graph. Councillor Norman stated that she would clarify this with the Performance and Improvement Officer and come back with a response.

 

8.6       Councillor Pullen reiterated his concerns about the complaints procedure not being prominent enough on the website, an issue which he had raised in a previous Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting.  Furthermore, he was dissatisfied with the response he had previously received from Cabinet Members and Officers on the issue. Moreover, Councillor Patel questioned whether the complaints procedure was not on the ‘Contact Us’ part of the website like  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Financial Monitoring Quarter 3 pdf icon PDF 173 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources which details year-end forecasts and progress made against agreed savings targets for the 3rd  quarter ended 31st of December 2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

9.1       Councillor Norman introduced the report. She explained that the report was the current best estimate of the council ‘s year-end position, and hence the impact on the general fund. Moreover, it was hoped that there would be further positive traction in some service areas before year end. The Quarter 3 report showed a year end position of an increase in the General Fund of £55,000 versus a budgeted position of £91,000 decrease.

 

9.2       Councillor Norman outlined that there were pressures within the report in the Planning and Housing portfolio which at present was forecast to be £527,000 over budget by year end. The reason for this variance, as outlined in 9.2 of the report was the reduction in the current volume of planning applications which were forecast, hence a reduction in income. Similarly, as set out in paragraph 9.3, the department had spent approximately £100,000 in relation to the City Plan and £60,000 for the JCS. Councillor Norman added that whilst this was disappointing, it was worth noting that in the previous year, the Planning and Housing portfolio had outperformed its allocated budget by over £200,000, and had thus helped to balance the overarching Council budget

 

9.3       Additionally, the Environment and Culture and Leisure portfolios were also experiencing small scale pressures within their budgets. Councillor Norman pointed to paragraph 8.4, explaining that report pressures in Culture and Leisure could be attributed to lower than budgeted income at Blackfriars, and reduced income from the Guildhall café. 

 

9.4       On the other hand, the Regeneration and Economy, Communities and Neighbourhoods and Performance and Resources portfolios were currently forecast to be on budget or underspent by year end. Within Performance and Resources, it was anticipated that there would be a £132,000 underspend this year. This portfolio included the Revenues and Benefit Admin line item and Housing Subsidy figures. With a budget of around £42 million, even the slighted shift could have an impact either way as year-end approaches.

 

 

9.5      Finally, Councillor Norman explained that as the present report was for Quarter 3, the costs to the Council as a result of MGL entering insolvency proceedings would not be displayed. However, any costs from this would be shown in the year-end financial position. Additionally, as this report was generated for Quarter 3, the Regeneration and Economy portfolio still had a single cabinet member. She informed the Committee that although the finance team had offered to split the portfolio for the year-end report, she had suggested that this was left in its current structure in order to receive a consistent full year picture. After the local elections which were due to be held in May 2020, decisions on that portfolio and other portfolio structures would be made, and a new report format could be created and used.

 

 

 

9.6       Councillor Hilton questioned whether the demolition of Bruton Way Car Park had an impact on the other car parks in the City. Councillor Norman stated that Bruton Way Car Park had been occupied by NCP, and the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Cultural Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure which provides an update on progress made against the Cultural Strategy for the period October 2019 to March 2020

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

10.1    The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Morgan, introduced the report and highlighted key elements. Firstly, he brought Members’ attention to paragraph 3.3 of the report (strategic preforming group). He noted that a meeting was scheduled for the 12th of March 2020 which he would be chairing. He added that the purpose of this would be to look at options of scoping out and then cascading this to other organisations. He stated that he would update the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on this. Secondly, he referred to paragraph 3.6 and stated that the Council would be moving ahead to enable the Culture Trust to expand what they do, and the results would be worth it. In relation to paragraph 3.7, he stated that the Council was having considerable success in raising funds for the Music Works. Councillor Morgan further highlighted paragraph 3.9 which outlined proposals to submit a bid for the City of Culture 2025. 

 

10.2    Councillor Hilton expressed his discontent with the proposals to place a bid for the City of Culture 2025. He stated that in prior discussions with Councillor Morgan, he had asked Councillor Morgan to withhold the proposals to place a bid for the new administration until after the May 2020 local elections.  Furthermore, he was dissatisfied with the fact that approximately £500,000 would be used towards the bid itself. Moreover, Councillor Hilton stated that he would not support the City of Culture bid at this moment in time. Finally, he asked Councillor Morgan for reassurance that the work being undertaken for the City of Culture bid was merely groundwork for the new administration.

 

10.3    Councillor Morgan outlined that any money for the bid would only be spent after the election. He informed Members that the Culture Trust had recently received £150,000 from the Arts Council. This would provide further resources to look at the City of Culture bid in further detail.  Similarly, he suggested the fact that the Arts Council had provided the grant to the City was promising.

 

10.4    Councillor Hilton questioned whether the £150,000 grant was specifically for the City of Culture bid. Councillor Morgan advised him that it was a more general fund.  Councillor Hilton reiterated that he did not support the bid for which he felt the money required was too much, and also suggested that the bid itself felt rushed.

 

 

10.5    Councillor Stephens was of the view that the decision to pursue the City of Culture Bid was arrogant on the administration ‘s part. In addition, he stated that the bid did not have cross party support as outlined in a letter sent previously to Councillor Morgan. He stated that the administration should take on board recommendations made by the opposition Groups.

 

10.6    Councillor Morgan highlighted that there was support from the Council ‘s partners to pursue the City of Culture bid based on discussions he had with them. He added that the Council ‘s partners saw considerable advantages to running for the bid.  The money which would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Tackling Climate Change Road Map pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Environment which details the actions the City Council can take to achieve the objectives of the Climate Change Emergency resolution as adopted in July 2019.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

11.1    The Cabinet Member for the Environment, Councillor Cook introduced the report and highlighted key elements. He explained that it was not a detailed strategy at this stage, as it would require a two-stage process.

 

11.2   Councillor Stephens commended the Environment and Ecology forum, and stated that cross-party consensus on the issue at hand was important. He suggested that as a major business, Gloucestershire Airport Limited (GAL) should be included within Gloucester City Council ‘s ‘estate’ for carbon accounting purposes, should carbon accounting be adopted in the strategy. In relation to paragraph 3.15, Councillor Stephens’ standpoint was that to date there had been little communication of the proposals to members of the general public from the Council. Furthermore, he suggested that the proposals on renewable energy could be enhanced by engaging with Gloucester City Homes (GCH) on what they are doing, if anything on this issue.  Additionally, he recommended that any electric car charging should also include Private Hire Vehicles. Lastly, he outlined that he welcomed the social value policy and the report.

 

11.3   Councillor Cook responded to Councillor Morgan as follows. Firstly, he agreed that carbon accounting for GAL was a key consideration, and stated that he would be meeting with Cheltenham Borough Council who were a joint shareholder of the company with Gloucester City Council to discuss the issue. Secondly, on the issue of community action, he stated that part of the reason for having the Environment and Ecology forum was to promote community action and to engage with residents on the issue of climate change. Moreover, there were other initiatives on a County level to promote community action, for example, the Youth Climate Panel.  He also added that a key part of tackling climate change was about individuals taking steps themselves. Thirdly, Councillor Cook stated that Councillor Stephens had made a good point in relation to extending any renewable energy policies to GCH. He added that the Supplementary Planning Documents Scrutiny would help towards this.

 

 

11.4   Councillor Haigh stated that the City Plan was clear on a policy compliant scheme in relation to energy efficiency for new homes. However, she was concerned that developers would not see it as a viable scheme. She queried whether anything would be put in place to prevent a situation where Council Officers could negotiate away the energy efficiency requirement for developers. Councillor Cook explained that this a difficult area which would require direction from Central Government. Whilst energy efficiency was included in the City Plan, it would be for Central Government to decide on viability.  The issue was that if too much of a demand was placed on developers to incorporate energy efficiency, this would raise the costs for them, and potentially, developers would be deterred from building new homes.

 

11.5    Councillor Haigh asked where the balance was in terms of what could be potentially sacrificed in order to incorporate energy efficiency in new homes. Councillor Cook suggested, as an example, that a policy requiring that all homes must be totally  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Date of Next Meeting

Monday the 15th of June 2020.

Minutes:

Monday 15th of June 2020.