Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 15th June 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services 

Link: Click to view live meeting from 6:30pm on 15th of June 2020

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment Of Chair and Vice-Chair

To note the appointments made by Council at the Annual Meeting on 1 June 2020:-

 

·         Chair – Councillor Coole

·         Vice Chair – Councillor Ryall

·         Spokesperson – Councillor Lewis

Minutes:

RESOLVED : - That the appointments of Chair, Vice-Chair and Spokesperson at Annual Council be noted.

2.

Apologies

3.

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.

4.

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.

5.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 463 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on      .

Minutes:

4.0       Councillor Wilson questioned the accuracy of paragraph 6.10 of the minutes of the Special Meeting held on the 10th of March 2020, suggesting that it did not reflect what was said by Councillor James.

 

4.1      Councillor Stephens pointed to the recommendations in paragraph 6.59 of the minutes. He asked whether the recommendations had been accepted by Cabinet and asked for an update on the current status of MGL liquidation proceedings. Responding to the latter, the Managing Director explained that the liquidators were still gathering evidence from potential creditors. In answer to the first query, the Leader of the Council advised that Cabinet would review the recommendations and come back to the Committee with an answer.

 

4.2     Additionally, Councillor Hilton queried whether Cabinet could prepare a short report outlining how the recommendations had been implemented. The Chair reiterated the Leader of the Council ‘s comments stating that Cabinet needed to review the recommendations first. However, they would follow up this request with Officers. Similarly, the liquidator ‘s report would likely be coming for consideration at a future Committee meeting. Lastly, the Chair outlined that it was an evolving situation which

           would be kept under constant review.

 

4.3       RESOLVED that: Paragraph 6.10 of the minutes of the last meeting would be reviewed and amended if necessary*; Cabinet would review and then confirm whether they accepted the recommendations; the Chair would enquire with Officers about the suggested report on the implementation of the recommendations made at the meeting on the 10th of March 2020.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Following this meeting, a recording of the meeting was reviewed and paragraph 6.10 was found to be an accurate depiction of what was said. In light of this, both Councillor Wilson and the Chair agreed that the minutes did not need to be changed

6.

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

 

If you would like to ask a question at this meeting, please contact democratic.services@gloucester.gov.uk as soon as possible and by  Wednesday 10th of June 2020  at the latest.

 

Minutes:

 

6.1      The Democratic and Electoral Services Officer read out a question on behalf of a member of the public who had elected for a written submission. The written submission was read out as follows:

 

“I can see from the agenda that there is no agenda item to review the latest position with the insolvency of Marketing Gloucester Ltd, a company that was 100% owned by Gloucester City Council.  The minutes of the last meeting make several references to the fact that it would have benefitted the meeting if the former CEO and Bookkeeper of Marketing Gloucester had been invited to the meeting.  Why is there no agenda item to discuss Marketing Gloucester and why were the former CEO and Bookkeeper not invited to this meeting?”

 

6.2       In response, the Chair stated that MGL had been discussed by the Committee on several occasions. However, the Committee would continue to pursue any matters of importance alongside any COVID-19 related scrutiny. The Chair added that in relation to MGL, the Leader of the Council had stated that Cabinet would be reviewing the recommendations made at the Special Meeting held on the 10th of March. Similarly, the liquidator ‘s report would likely be coming for consideration at a future Committee meeting. Thus, he would not be ruling out any MGL related scrutiny based on both the recommendations and the liquidator’s report.

 

6.3      A member of the Public read out two questions. He read out his first question as follows:

 

“Item 6.10 in the minutes of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting held on the 10th of March 2020 states the following

 

Councillor Wilson queried whether Councillor James had read the internal audit report in 2017 which followed on from the 2014 whistleblowing allegations. Councillor James advised that it had not been brought to his attention at the time.

 

Please can you explain why an Internal Audit report on Marketing Gloucester Ltd was not shared with the Leader of the City Council at that time who was also Chairman of Marketing Gloucester?  If it was the case that it was not brought to his attention, are there any proposals to review the situation? “

 

6.4      The Chair responded saying that he was mindful of the fact that Councillor James was not present at the meeting. He then opened the floor to any Cabinet Members or Officers who were able to respond to the question.

 

6.5       The Corporate Director and Monitoring Officer advised that being mindful of the potential conflict of interest with Councillor James as both Leader of the Council and Chairman of MGL, the appropriate way to let MGL aware of the report was to bring it to the attention of the then Chief Executive at one of the quarterly review meetings as they had done.

 

6.6       The member of the public asked whether this meant that Councillor James was not aware of the report. The Chief Executive reiterated his point made earlier stating that the then Chief Executive was made aware  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

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 or deputations.

8.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme and Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 375 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

8.1      The Chair informed Members of a Special Committee Meeting which had been scheduled for the 29th of June 2020. The meeting was being held to consider the options available to the Council as a consequence of the current contract for the delivery of Waste, Street scene and Grounds Maintenance Services coming to an end in March 2022 and the accompanying report.

 

8.2     Committee members discussed how to best structure the Gloucester Recovery Plan workstreams into upcoming Overview & Scrutiny Committee meetings with input from the Cabinet Member for Communities & Neighbourhoods and the Corporate Director.

 

8.3   The Chair also noted that the Disposal of HKP and Progress on 66/67 London Road reports had carried forward from the last civic year. He undertook to follow up on the status of these reports outside the meeting. 

 

8.4       RESOLVED: - that the Chair would discuss the different options for how to structure the work programme with the Vice-Chair and Spokesperson and feedback to the Committee as soon as possible.

9.

Covid-19 Gloucester City Recovery Plan pdf icon PDF 545 KB

To consider the report of the Corporate Director which seeks to introduce the Council’s approach to recovery planning as a consequence of the Covid-19 Pandemic, agree a process for further scrutiny of the recovery planning process and make any recommendations to Cabinet.

 

 

Minutes:

9.1       The Corporate Director introduced the report and highlighted key elements. He brought Members’ attention to the eight workstreams which were bring developed and implemented as part of the Council ‘s approach to recovery planning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lastly, he outlined the four Rs around which recovery planning would be based: Return, Retain, Resist, Reimagine.

 

9.2      The Chair thanked the Corporate Director noting that it was good to have an overview of the plans. The Chair then invited questions from Committee Members.

 

9.3      Councillor Stephens stated that he welcomed the report which he believed was comprehensive, and set out a feasible way forward. He then emphasised the need for a cross-party approach in the recovery planning work across the different streams. He noted that there was already cross-party work taking place in relation to Economic Recovery & Growth through the Economic Recovery & Growth Task Force, and through the Recovery Board in relation to the Visitors and Cultural Recovery. Furthermore, he also noted that there would be cross-party work taking place in relation to Housing Recovery, and hoped this could be replicated across the other workstreams. He added that the way people lived had been fundamentally changed as a result of COVID-19, and it was likely that some business would not survive. This would need a reimagining of what the City Centre retail offer looks like. Moreover, Councillor Stephens was keen to see a change in social housing provision and was pleased to see that there were plans for individual transition plans for people currently in temporary accommodation. However, he stated that it would be important to look at the supply side of the debate and increase the amount of temporary housing and houses available for social rent. Finally, he outlined that although the pandemic had been a disaster for the country, it also provided an opportunity to do things differently, for example, with regard to the economy, the delivery of services and the environment.

 

9.4      Councillor Wilson noted that Aspire Trust would be on the Recovery Board for the Visitor and Culture Recovery, and sought confirmation that the Aspire Trust, and more generally, sports and wellbeing would all be key considerations in recovery planning. The Corporate Director reassured him that Aspire Trust and Active Gloucestershire would be an important part of recovery planning.

 

9.5      Councillor Haigh was of the view that whilst the report covered a great deal, it would benefit from having statements on what vision of the City the plan would implement. The Leader of the Councillor advised that the Council Plan which was being considered at this meeting should cover any blanks. Through the City Plan, Officers and Cabinet had identified areas where the vision of the City could be implemented. Moreover, the proposed City Centre Commission would help with developing the vision going forward.

 

9.6      Councillor Ryall stated that she welcomed the report and the idea of approach recovery planning around the “four Rs”. Nevertheless, she also suggested that Resilience could be added  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Covid-19 Gloucester City Recovery Planning (Economic Recovery and Growth)

To receive a verbal briefing from the Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Recovery on the Economic Growth and Recovery workstream.

Minutes:

10.1    The Chair introduced Councillor Melvin and congratulated her for her recent appointment to the Cabinet Member for Economic Recovery & Growth post, adding that they looked forward to working with her in this capacity.

 

10.2    Councillor Melvin thanked the Chair and the Committee. She then provided a verbal briefing on the work which had been taken thus far within the Economic Recovery & Growth workstream of the Gloucester City Recovery Plan.

 

10.3    She highlighted that these were apolitical times, and that collaborative working was vital during the recovery planning. She outlined that within her post she had focused on three key strands. Firstly, the development of a clear and concise action plan to shape the response to the COVID-19 situation. Secondly, the identification of key organisations and individuals who could work with Gloucester City Council to deliver this plan. Thirdly, immediate actions which would have a direct impact on the economic recovery and growth of the City.

 

10.4    Councillor Melvin explained that as far as the action plan was concerned, she envisioned the process being carried out in four phases. The first of these was ‘crisis’ and this covered the period from March to June during which the priority had been the issuing of £20,0000 in government grants to over 1600 businesses. She expressed her gratitude to the Head of Policy & Resources and the Intelligent Client Officer and their teams who had been played a key role in this process, with Gloucester City Council consistently performing being in the top 10 of local authorities in the country in this regard. Councillor Melvin outlined that over 99% of these grants had now been issued, and that the Council had worked closely with colleagues and business organisations such as The Federation of Small Businesses, The Gloucester BID GIFA, GFirst LEP in order to provide accurate and up to date business advise as well as intelligence to Central Government.

 

10.5   Councillor Melvin outlined that the second phase was “Pre-Recovery” which is the period the City was currently in, and would likely run until August. She stated that this phase covered the gradual re-ordering and reopening of the City. This had already started with the proliferation of signs and stickers in City Centre advising on safe distancing. Additionally, Councillor Melvin explained that the third phase, “Recovery” would likely run until the end of 202 and perhaps even into early 2021. This would cover the reopening of the evening economy and a continuing need to support businesses. The fourth phase was “Transformation and Renewal” which would see the emergence of a transformed and renewed City, for example, with new and innovative retail offerings. Councillor Melvin advised that with assistance from Officers, she had established the Economic Recovery & Growth Task Force to act as a consultative body comprised of various individuals and organisations. She added that she was pleased that Councillor Stephens and Councillor Bowkett from the Labour and Liberal Democrats groups respectively, had joined the task force. In addition, she stated that task force would oversee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Council Plan Extension - Priorities and Actions for 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 239 KB

To consider the report of the Leader of the Council which outlines proposed actions and priorities for the one year Council Plan extension in 2020-2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

11.1    The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Environment introduced the report outlining that the Committee was being asked to recommend that the Council Plan extension is approved. This was necessary in light of the fact that a new Council Plan was due to be developed following the local elections in May 2020, however, the elections had been postponed to May 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

11.2    Councillor Haigh questioned whether some of the priorities in the Council Plan were still fit for purpose. Firstly, she suggested that the social housing target in Priority 1.2 could be higher. Secondly, she suggested that Cabinet amends Priority 3.13 to include other community initiatives as follows: “work with partners to improve the health and wellbeing of our population, in particular through the development of the Blackbridge site and other community initiatives”. Lastly, she suggested that the reference to “commercial opportunities” in relation to the Shopmobility Service in Priority 4.16 should be removed. She added this would be prudent as a solution to commercial opportunities had never been found in order to meet this aim.  Rather, her view was that the Council should look to other ways of cross-subsiding.

 

11.3    Councillor Cook responded to Councillor Haigh’s points in turn. Firstly, in relation to social housing, he noted that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, builders were unlikely to be able to deliver the same number of houses as planned before the pandemic. Further, he pointed to some reports which suggested that builders would only be able to deliver 50% of their targets for building houses, for example as a result of social distancing measures amongst other factors. This would also present challenges for social housing. However, the Council would continue to work with builders to aim to deliver as much social housing in the circumstances. Secondly, on the topic of White City, he stated that the Council was in ongoing talks with the team there to help them achieve a successful outcome in relation to another facility which they were planning to build. However, he was not sure that there was anything more the Council could do. He added that the Blackbridge site was mentioned in the original City Plan whereas White City had not been. Lastly, he stated that Cabinet was aware of ongoing issues at Shopmobility, and were looking at how improvements could be made.

 

11.4    Councillor Haigh reiterated that Priority 3.13 could be improved by adding “and other community initiatives”, and stated that this would align with the Asset Based Community Development principle. Councillor Cook responded to say that the wording on Priority 3.13 could be agreed upon  and then taken forward by Cabinet.

 

11.5     Councillor Hilton queried whether the priorities could be achieved whilst the City was still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.  In particular, he pointed to Priorities 1.4 and 1.7. Additionally, Councillor Hilton pointed to the fact that there was not a policy on Households in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) on the Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Annual Report of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 615 KB

To receive the Annual Report of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for 2019-20.

Minutes:

12.1    The Chair presented the report and highlighted key elements. They noted the Committee ‘s achievements in the past year, and the key priorities for the year ahead. Finally, the Chair pointed to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and submitted that the year ahead would be significant for the Committee. They then invited comments from Committee Members.

 

12.2  Councillor Tracey asked if the member attendance record could be amended to reflect the fact that she had attended seven out of eight possible meetings, having been appointed to the Committee later in the civic year.

 

12.3   Councillor Wilson welcomed the report. However, he pointed to the fact that the recommendations of the Special Meeting held on the 10th of March had not yet been approved by Cabinet. He suggested that this should be followed up with Cabinet so that the outcome of the meeting could be recorded in the Annual Report. The Chair advised that they would follow this up.

 

12.4   RESOLVED that: - The Overview & Scrutiny Committee NOTE the report.

 

 

 

 

13.

Date of Next Meeting

Monday 6th of July 2020.

Minutes:

Monday 29th of June 2020.