Venue: To be held remotely via video conferencing facilities (Microsoft TeamsLive)
Contact: Christine Brain: Democratic Services Officer (Scrutiny) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Any Member who is substituting for another Member should so indicate, together with the name of the relevant absent Member.
No substitutions were declared.
Apologies for Absence
No apologies for absence were received.
Councillor Michael Anderson was unable to attend the meeting.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 12 March 2020 (copy attached).
The minutes of the meeting held on 12 March 2020 were confirmed as a correct record.
Announcements from the Chair Regarding Responses from the Cabinet to Reports of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee
The Chair informed members he attended Cabinet on 26 May 2020 and presented the Committee’s report from its meeting held on 12 March 2020. As per the minutes above, the Chair updated Cabinet on the presentation from Havebury Housing and their ongoing strategy development and the Cabinet joined him in thanking Councillor David Nettleton for his work over the past year.
Councillor David Nettleton had since resigned from the Committee but the Chair was pleased to formally welcome Councillor Margaret Marks on to the Committee.
Members of the public who live or work in the District are welcome to speak and may ask one question or make a statement of not more than three minutes duration relating to items to be discussed in Part 1 of the agenda only. If a question is asked and answered within three minutes, the person who asked the question may ask a supplementary question that arises from the reply.
A person who wishes to speak must register by 9am the day before the Committee (Wednesday 8 July 2020) to enable the Council to ensure that there is time to brief them on now they can speak at the meeting.
There is an overall limit of 15 minutes for public speaking, which may be extended at the Chair’s discretion.
There were no members of the public in attendance on this occasion.
Council Response to Covid-19
On 11 June 2020, the Committee held an informal meeting to discuss the development of its future work programme.
At that meeting it agreed to invite the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive to give an update from their perspective on how Covid-19 is impacting the Council and its communities, in order to inform the future work programme of the Committee. The Committee indicated the following matters as topics for discussion:
- the Chief Executive’s and Leader’s current priorities in their respective roles on Covid-19 and what they needed to do operationally and politically to achieve those;
- the early thinking on the council’s own recovery plan;
- the impact on projects and what the council was committed to delivering financially;
- what are the effects of Covid-19 on the Council and its partners, focusing on financial impacts and service delivery (including the impact on the working environment);
- what the council has changed to adapt to the impact of Covid-19;
- the impact Covid-19 is having on West Suffolk communities, and in particular the social impacts in areas such as homelessness, social care, mental health and domestic abuse;
- what the council has learnt from Covid-19;
- reviewing local communities responses and their preparedness for responding to emergencies and major incidents;
- reviewing how the Council is supporting/encouraging localism through the use of local resources and shops;
- where the Overview and Scrutiny Committee could add value by exploring issues in detail.
[Councillor Simon Brown joined the meeting at 5.07pm]
In June 2020, the Committee met informally to talk about its future work programme, and the general feeling was that the impact of Covid-19 would feature strongly. As a Committee, it recognised that it needed to gain further insight from the Leader and Chief Executive about the Council’s response, and how the crisis was impacting on the Council, businesses and our communities so that it could understand where it could add value by looking in depth at specific areas. It was therefore agreed to invite the Leader and the Chief Executive to its next scheduled meeting to discuss the Council and community response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The Chair opened the meeting by welcoming Councillor John Griffiths, Leader of the Council, Ian Gallin, Chief Executive, Jill Korwin, Director and Alex Wilson, Director to the meeting.
The Leader and the Chief Executive thanked the Committee for being given the opportunity to address the Committee on their perspective on how Covid-19 was impacting the Council and its communities and in doing so, covered the 10 core topics identified by the Committee, as set out on the Agenda.
The Leader explained that in many ways the Council was still dealing with an emergency. The Council was starting to think about recovery and was working through the budget and the Governments wider support in dealing with direct covid-19 costs. The Committee was reassured that the Council would be able to balance the budget for 2020-2021 from its own reserves. The families and communities work had been extremely successful through-out the pandemic including its partners and local communities and had proved to be the right model for the Council in delivering initiatives such as safer places, home but not alone and homelessness provision in responding to getting people off the streets.
Discussions took place on the extra costs incurred by the Council to meet the statutory requirements set by Government in tackling the pandemic. The overall impact from covid-19 on the Council’s budget for 2020-2021 was £10.2m. The Council had so far spent £2.2m from its general fund reserve directly on Covid-19 and incurred a reduction in its income, currently £8m. However, to date the Government had only provided £1.8m in funding support. On 2 July 2020 the Government had set out how they might cover some of the direct costs. In the meantime, the Suffolk Public Sector Leaders and national local authorities were lobbying the Government to fairly fund councils and to recognise the role they had and would continue to have during the pandemic. The Committee emphasised their support to this important lobbying activity.
In response to a question raised on how prepared was the council if there was a local outbreak, members were informed that a Local Outbreak Engagement Board had been established across the County which was formed of all the leaders in Suffolk, the CCG (East and West) and the CCG covering Waveney near the Norfolk/Suffolk border, Suffolk County Council and the ... view the full minutes text for item 64.
Report No: OAS/WS/20/010
The Committee received Report No: OAS/WS/20/010, which was latest version of the Cabinet Decisions Plan, covering the period 1 July 2020 to 31 May 2021. New decisions which had been included since the Decisions Plan was last published had been highlighted.
Members reviewed the Decisions Plan and asked questions relating to Public Space Protection Orders and the West Suffolk Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Conditions Policy Handbook.
Officers confirmed that due to the need to conclude the review of the Public Space Protection Orders before the end of September 2020, this would now not be subject to a review by the Committee and agreed to update the wording in the current Decisions Plan. However, all members would be able to submit comments as part of the consultation process.
Officers also confirmed that the Licensing and Regulatory Committee had acted as a consultee in the review of the West Suffolk Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Conditions Policy Handbook in October 2019, January 2020 and on 6 July 2020.
There being no decision required, the Committee noted the contents of the 1 July 2020 to 31 May 2021 Decisions Plan.
Report No: OAS/WS/20/011
[Councillor Mike Chester left the meeting at 7.43pm during the consideration of this item, and prior to the vote taking place.
Council Terry Clements left the meeting at 7.47pm during the consideration of this item, and prior to the vote taking place].
The Committee received Report No: OAS/WS/20/011, which set out the current position of its work programme and items currently agreed but had yet to be programmed for 2020-2021 as attached at Appendix 1.
The report also referred to the Committee’s informal scrutiny workshop held on 11 June 2020, where members identified potential new topics of work. In addition to the Covid-19 topics identified (Minute No: 64 above), members had also suggested other topics they might wish to consider over the forthcoming year.
Reflecting on discussions held earlier in the meeting, the Committee agreed with the principle of the Chair and Vice-Chair working with officers to develop proposals on which aspects of the Covid-19 response to consider through the scrutiny process in detail; how they should be reviewed, and when. These would then be subject to consultation with members of the Committee, before inclusion on the formal work programme.
The Committee also agreed to reschedule the Community Safety Monitoring Annual Report for its September 2020 meeting as it was a statutory requirement and many aspects of the Community Safety Partnership’s priorities crossed over with the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on communities including domestic violence and anti-social behaviour.
Members discussed the four topics identified at is informal meeting held in June 2020 and agreed to invite the Anglia Revenues Partnership to a future meeting to discuss Council Tax and Business Rates collections.
Discussions also took place on:
- Parking metres as some members felt that due to Covid-19 there should be minimal contact with payment machines and where possible RingGo should be used as alternative to cash payments. In response, officers agreed to ask for a written response from the Service Manager (Property) on the current use of RingGo in its car parks across West Suffolk.
- Pedestrian Crossing and physical contact with buttons due to Covid-19. In response officers suggested the Council could look at raising this with Suffolk County Council to seek an answer.
At its conclusion, the Committee, noted the current status of topics currently scheduled in its rolling work programme for 2020-2021 (Appendix 1).
Councillor Paul Hopfensperger then moved the revised recommendation, this was duly seconded by Councillor Stephen Frost, and with the vote being unanimous, the Committee:
To agree to develop the work programme based on the principles discussed in the Committee meeting.