Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 31st October 2022 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services 

Items
No. Item

43.

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.

44.

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.

45.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 143 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 3rd October 2022.

Minutes:

RESOLVED - That the minutes of the meeting held on 3rd October were approved and signed as a correct record by the Chair.

46.

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

 

To ask a question at this meeting, please submit it to democratic.services@gloucester.gov.uk by 12 noon on Wednesday 26th October or telephone (01452) 396203 for support.

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

47.

Petitions and Deputations (15 minutes)

To receive any petitions or deputations provided that no such petition or deputation is in relation 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.

 

To present a petition or deputation at this meeting, please submit it to democratic.services@gloucester.gov.uk by 12 noon on Wednesday 26th October or telephone (01452) 396203 for support.

Minutes:

There were no petitions nor deputations.

48.

Action Points Arising From Previous Meetings pdf icon PDF 126 KB

To note the outcomes of action points arising from previous meetings.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee NOTE the updates.

49.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme and Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 237 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

49.1    The Chair introduced the latest version of the Council Forward Plan and invited suggestions as to any items Members wished to add to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme. It was agreed that the Gloucester City Plan be added to the agenda for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 9th January 2023.

 

          RESOLVED

 

1)    That the Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme be amended to reflect the above and

 

2)    To NOTE the Work Programme.

 

50.

2021-22 Financial Outturn Report pdf icon PDF 212 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources updating Members on the Financial Outturn Report 2021-22.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

50.1   The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources introduced the report and explained that the cyber incident of December 2021 continued to have a significant impact on the work of the Finance team. She paid tribute to the Finance Team and thanked officers for their hard work in finding manual work arounds to enable them to provide the detailed reconciliations set out in the report.

 

50.2   The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources informed Members that the year-end position for the financial year 2021/22 was a decrease to the General Fund Balance of £252k against a budgeted increase of £129k. She explained that the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cyber incident in 2021 had created significant financial challenges for the council. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources referred Members to the figures set out at 4.1 in the report and confirmed that areas in a favourable position were the Communities and Neighbourhoods and Environment and Leader portfolios. She advised that there were pressures in the Performance and Resources portfolio, which had seen an £80k overspend in IT and further noted that the Council had seen a release of £6.1m from the Section 31 Grant Repayment Reserve.

 

50.3   The Chair asked the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources whether the pressures on the council finances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic had exasperated pressures the council was already facing as a result of the difficult financial climate for local government. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources confirmed that throughout 2021, the City Council was still very much facing pressures from Covid-19, through lost income from car parking revenue whilst lockdown restrictions were still in place, lost income from the Arbour whilst there were restrictions on funeral wakes, and a lack of appetite of businesses to take on new commercial leases due to the uncertainty caused by the pandemic. She expressed the view that difficulties in local government finance nationally would not have had a major impact on the council’s budget. The Financial Services Manager further confirmed that Covid-19 restrictions were only relaxed towards the end of the Summer of 2021 which coincided with the end of the financial year.

 

50.4    The Chair asked whether the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources expected the income from parking to fully recover to pre-Covid-19 levels. He also asked whether there was still an appetite for car parking levels to recover fully, noting that there needed to be a balance between generating revenue and meeting the council’s net zero aspirations. The Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources confirmed that parking levels were increasing, and that they were now close to pre-Covid-19 levels. This said, she acknowledged that as a society, more needed to be done to encourage environmentally friendly travel into city centres. She expressed the view that a balancing act was needed, and that the council needed to move at the pace of consumers.

 

50.5    In response to a further question from the Chair regarding whether active travel facilities and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.

51.

Green Travel Plan Progress Report 2021-22 and Update pdf icon PDF 215 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Environment providing an annual update on initiatives in the Green Travel Plan.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

51.1    The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Environment introduced the report and explained that its purpose was to provide Members with oversight of the Gloucester City Council Green Travel Plan. He explained that the plan pertained to Gloucester City Council employees and that section 4 of the report provided an overview of the staff travel survey results. The Leader of the Council highlighted that the conclusions and recommendations were set out in sections 6 and 7 of the report.

 

51.2   The Leader of the Council also referred Members to the Energy Saving Trust’s transport decarbonisation hierarchy at 7.2 in the report which set out what the council’s preferences ought to be when developing policy. He explained that some of the recommendations included maintaining the council’s agile working policy, working with Gloucestershire County Council to map safe, low-pollution walking routes, and improving the shower and changing facilities at council offices to promote active travel.

 

51.3   In response to a query from the Chair as to whether City Council employees had ever previously used domestic air travel for work purposes, the Managing Director confirmed that such journeys had taken place in the past.

 

51.4    The Chair asked whether the shower and changing facility improvements would be made to the Eastgate office. The Managing Director confirmed that the shower facilities at the Eastgate office were already operational, and that options for the other City Council office sites were being explored.

 

51.5    The Chair queried whether Gloucestershire County Council had a similar Green Travel Plan and whether the City Council was working with the County Council as the transport authority for Gloucestershire. The Climate Change and Decarbonisation Lead explained that some of the recommendations included in the report were caveated as the City Council would need to work and liaise with the County Council in some areas, particularly those pertaining to roads and cycling infrastructure. He confirmed that initial conversations with County Council colleagues had been positive, but it was likely that some of the recommendations would require additional funding. The Chair expressed further concerns regarding the need for safer cycling infrastructure in the city as he felt residents may be reluctant to travel via bike in the county.

 

51.6    Councillor Hilton raised concerns about the City Council’s agile working policy, commenting that he had experienced difficulties meeting with Officers face to face. He was concerned that the decarbonisation hierarchy might be too prescriptive in that if officers were being discouraged from travelling to work by car, they might be more likely to work from home. Councillor Hilton also expressed the view that where possible, the City Council should make an effort to employ staff living locally, particularly where roles require local knowledge of the city.

 

51.7   The Managing Director acknowledged that with some roles, local knowledge was important, but noted that if the City Council were to limit recruitment of staff to candidates living in Gloucestershire, it would deprive itself of valuable skill sets. In respect of the council’s agile  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51.

52.

Task and Finish Group Report - Engagement with Young People pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To consider the findings and recommendations of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Task and Finish Group on Gloucester City Council’s engagement with young people.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

52.1    Councillor Chambers-Dubus introduced the report and informed Members that as Chair of the Task and Finish Group, she along with Councillors Gravells, Radley, O’Donnell and A. Chambers had met regularly from March until September 2022. She advised that the Task and Finish Group had worked collaboratively with each other and Officers to establish how the City Council currently engaged with young people, and any improvements which could be made to involve young people in the council’s decisions in the future.

 

52.2    Councillor Chambers-Dubus explained that although some service areas did have processes in place to engage with young people, the Task and Finish Group felt that there were certainly ways in which the council could improve to ensure that the voices of young people were heard. She advised Members that the full findings of the Task and Finish Group were outlined in Appendix 1, and the recommendations of the Task and Finish Group were set out on pages 21 and 22 of the report. Councillor Chambers-Dubus paid tribute to the officers who had supported the Task and Finish Group’s enquiry and invited questions from Members.

 

52.3    The Chair thanked the Task and Finish Group for what he felt was an excellent report. He expressed the view that the recommendations were good and illustrated that there was more the authority could do to engage with young people. The Chair was particularly interested in the role of Councillors in communicating and engaging with young people and suggested that more young people should be encouraged to stand in local elections to give a truer representation of society.

 

52.4    Councillor Pullen thanked the Task and Finish Group for their report. He felt that the Group had focused their enquiry on the right service areas and asked whether the Task and Finish Group felt that officers understood that more needed to be done to engage with young people across the council and were open to change. Councillor Pullen noted that the response rate on the public consultation was low with 15 responses in total, and acknowledged that the Group were likely hoping for a higher rate. He also requested further information about the appointment of the Youth Engagement Officer Lead.

 

52.5    Councillor Chambers-Dubus expressed the view that the interactions with Officers across the five service areas had been positive. She confirmed that the recruitment of the Youth Engagement Lead was in the very early stages and that the Community Wellbeing Team had informed the Task and Finish Group of the new role towards the end of their enquiry. She expected that further information would be available in due course.

 

52.6    Councillor Dee referred to the recommendation to produce a child friendly guide on the role and responsibilities of the City Council and queried whether consideration should be given to amending the wording to ‘young person’. Members indicated support for this suggestion.

 

52.7    In response to a query from Councillor Wilson, the Policy and Development Officer explained that there had been challenges with consulting young  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Date of Next Meeting

Monday 28th November 2022.

Minutes:

Monday 28th November 2022.