Overview and Scrutiny Commission
Wednesday, 23rd November, 2011 7.00 p.m.
Venue: Meeting Room 2, The Basildon Centre, St Martin's Square, Basildon SS14 1DL
Contact: Samantha Nicholson on 01268 294440, email firstname.lastname@example.org
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST:
To receive any declarations of interest from Members in accordance with Part 2, Paragraph 9 of the Members’ Code of Conduct.
There were no declarations of interest.
Confirmation of the Minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 11 August 2011.
The Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 11 August 2011 were approved as a true record and signed by the Chairman.
Minute 500 - Basildon Renaissance Partnership and Refresh of the Basildon Community Strategy
Report on Health Inequalities
Members were advised that the report on health inequalities to be prepared by the Public Health Improvement and Partnership Manager had not yet been provided to members of the Commission as requested.
That this action remain on the Outstanding Action List and that a copy of this report be circulated to Members as soon as possible.
Junior Warden Scheme – Uniform
An e-mail was sent to Commission Members on 1 September 2011 clarifying the position on this matter.
That this item be removed from the Outstanding Action List
Letter to BRP Board
A letter setting out the key points discussed by the Commission was provided to the BRP Board for their consideration but a copy of that letter had not yet been sent to Commission Members. A Member sought assurance that the BRP Board has taken account of the Commission’s comments when refreshing the Basildon Community Strategy.
(i) That a copy of the letter sent to the BRP Board be supplied to members of the Commission;
(ii) That a check be undertaken to confirm that the Commission’s comments were considered when refreshing the Basildon Community Strategy and that Members be advised accordingly and;
(iii) That this item remain on the Outstanding Action List until completed.
Due to the late circulation of this long and detailed budget report it had been previously agreed with the Chairman and Vice Chairman that a further meeting of the Commission would be held on 14 December 2011 to discuss the report in detail.
In preparation for the discussions at the 14 December meeting the Council’s Manager of Financial and Management Accounting Service explained the report layout; budget headings; the financial assumptions incorporated into the budget figures and outlined risks and uncertainties arising from forthcoming legislative requirements. Members were advised that the proposed Fees and Charges set out in the report had been built into the Draft Budget but that at this stage there had been no general inflationary increase applied across the budget figures unless otherwise stated in the supporting Charging Directory.
Members were advised that the Capital Financing Budget, detailing the Council’s borrowing and investment portfolio, was not included in the report but that it was hoped that it would be substantially complete by the 14 December meeting.
It was also reported that information in respect of the Planning Enforcement budget, currently not included in the report, would hopefully be provided to Members in advance of the 14 December meeting.
A Member asked whether the anticipated savings arising from the transfer of SGCH back to the Council were incorporated into the budget report. The Manager of Financial and Management Accounting Service explained that these savings were not yet reflected in the budget figures as the necessary calculations were still underway but that the Budget presented to the Commission on 7 February 2012 would include this information.
Councillor Geoff Williams pointed out that in respect of the Community Centres Budget heading he understood that the Vange Scout Hut was no longer under the Council’s control and enquired whether Kingswood Play Leadership Building should be included on the list of Community Centres.
It was AGREED:
(1) That the Revised Budget 2011/12 and Draft Budget from 2012/13 to 2015/2016 Including Review of Fees and Charges be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission on 14 December 2011.
(2) That Commission Members be invited to forward any questions in respect of the Revised Budget 2011/12 and Draft Budget from 2012/13 to 2015/2016 Including Review of Fees and Charges to Democratic Service in advance of the 14 December 2011 meeting so that responses can be prepared by the Financial and Management Accounting Service.
(3) That the Manager of Financial and Management Accounting Service check ownership status of the Vange Scout Hut and Kingswood Play Leadership Building and adjust the Community Centres Budget accordingly.
Members received performance and budget information as at the end of the second quarter of 2011/12 ( 30 September 2011) now covering all relevant service areas that had previously been reported to the individual Scrutiny Committees.
Service areas had, as part of the business planning process for 2011/12, reviewed the performance indicators within their area, and from these a ‘basket’ of the most relevant corporate performance indicators had been selected to be reported to the Commission on a quarterly basis.
Members were advised that the Commission would receive quarterly performance information on 29 performance indicators - 25 of these performance indicators are monitored quarterly and the remaining 4 were annual performance indicators. Performance data would be provided to the Commission on all indicators each quarter regardless of whether an indicator was performing above, below or on target.
It was noted that officers were due to liaise with Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Commission in the near future to review the performance indicators that are reported to the Commission.
Members were advised that performance information was now managed on a new system called Covalent that allowed improved interrogation of data and the format of the analysis sheets was explained.
Members challenged performance and sought clarification in respect of the following service areas:-
Amount of Compensation Paid by Housing Landlord Services
Members sought clarification regarding compensation payments. It was explained that the compensation was paid by the contractor when they were at fault and was triggered by missed appointments; inconvenience; lack of amenity, Stage 3 complaints being dealt with under the Council’s complaints procedure and complaints to the Ombudsman that had been upheld.
Processing of Planning Applications - Minor Applications
Members enquired why, despite a 20% reduction in the target from 85% to 65%, performance in this area was still well below the reduced target.
The Manager of Planning Services explained that this target had been reset in recognition of the fact that two Planning Officers had been seconded to the Forward Plans Section to support the preparation of the Local Development Framework. In addition a further Planning Officer had retired and had not yet been replaced. This meant that there were currently three Planning Officers working in Development Control Section and dealing with planning applications. In addition there had been increased pressure upon these staff since the number of planning applications received during 2010 and 2011 had increased slightly, at a time when a decrease was predicted.
Processing of Planning Applications - Major Applications
Members sought an explanation as to why this indicator continued to be below target.
The Manager of Planning Services explained that major planning applications
were generally of a contentious nature involving a high degree of public consultation and very often lengthy negotiations were required to secure a Section 106 planning agreement. Members were advised that in the last quarter there had been 7 major planning applications and three of those had been dealt with by the deadline.
% of English Landscapes Standard Achieved
A Member asked ... view the full minutes text for item 634.
Members of the Commission received a report inviting them to consider:-
(i) Whether any further in-depth reviews should be undertaken in the 2011/12 Municipal Year
(ii) Whether the remit of the scheduled review to establish what provisions for Member/Officer codes of conduct should exist at Basildon post 2011 and the future role of the Standards Committee be expanded to explore other governance issues arising from the Localism Act and specifically whether the Council would wish to change to a Committee structure form of governance or retain existing arrangements
(iii) The scheduled progress reports on outcomes arising from past reviews, due to be submitted to the Commission and Scrutiny Committees
In considering whether any further reviews should be undertaken in the current Municipal Year, Members took the view that due to the short timescale any further review work should take the form of an initial Light Touch investigation to identify the potential for a more detailed review in the 2012/13 Municipal Year. Members considered that it would be beneficial to undertake such a review on Access to GP services in Laindon and Wickford which had been referred to the Council from Essex County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee.
Members supported widening the remit of the Standards review to address other governance issues arising from the Localism Act and specifically the Council’s future committee structure. Members considered that widening the review would deliver cost/resource efficiencies but instructed that initially the review should focus on the Standards aspects since the deadline for implementation was 1 April 2012. With regard to the second part of the review of the Committee structure Members considered that time should be taken to address this topic thoroughly and therefore it was likely that it would not be possible to conclude the review in the Municipal Year, however if this was the case it would be beneficial to submit an interim report to the Annual Council meeting in May 2012.
Finally, Members noted the scheduled progress reports on outcomes arising from past task and finish reviews, due to be considered by the Commission and Scrutiny Committees.
It was AGREED:
(1) That a project mandate for a Light Touch Review of Access to GP services in Laindon and Wickford be submitted to the Commission meeting on 14 December 2011.
(2) That the remit of the scheduled review to establish what provisions for Member/Officer codes of conduct should exist at Basildon post 2011 and the future role of the Standards Committee be expanded to explore other governance issues arising from the Localism Act and specifically whether the Council would wish to change to the Committee structure model of governance or retain existing arrangements; and that the review have a two stage deadline - March 2012 for the Standards aspect and May 2012 (at the earliest) for the Committee structure.
(3) That in future the Enclosure listing the schedule of progress reports on past reviews be expanded to include the progress updates on current reviews.
FORWARD PLAN OF KEY DECISIONS:
To note there is one item on the Council’s most recent Forward Plan of Key Decisions, which falls within this Commission’s area of responsibility.
Meeting the Budget Challenge – Transformation Programme Update
Item Summary: An update on progress towards meeting the budget challenge through the Transformation Programme. This will provide an update on the position reported to Cabinet on 15 June 2011.
Decision Taker: Cabinet
Scheduled Date: 18 December 2011
Members noted that there was one item - Meeting the Budget Challenge - Transformation Programme Update - on the most recent Forward Plan of Key Decisions, which fell within the Commission’s area of responsibility and that it was due to be considered by Cabinet on 18 December 2011. This item would provide an update on progress made towards meeting the budget challenge through the Transformation Programme.
The Chairman expressed concern at the late notice of this item and asked that the Commission be given the opportunity to discuss and comment upon the report that was due to be submitted to the Cabinet.
Members were advised that the Agenda for the 18 December Cabinet meeting was due to be published on the 10 December and so it would be possible for the Commission to discuss this issue at their meeting on 14 December 2011.
It was AGREED:
That a line item ‘Meeting the Budget Challenge - Transformation Programme Update’ be included on the Agenda for the Commission meeting on 14 December 2012 and that relevant officers be invited to attend the meeting to assist Members in their consideration of this issue.
The Commission noted the list of Agenda items scheduled for the remainder of the 2011/12 Municipal Year.
It was AGREED:
(i) That an additional meeting of the Commission be convened on 14 December 2011 to consider the ‘Revised Budget 2011/12 and Draft Budget from 2012/13 to 2015/2016 including Review of Fees and Charges and also a Project Mandate for a Light Touch Review on Access to GP Surgeries in Laindon and Wickford.
(ii) That the meeting of the Commission in January 2012 be rescheduled to a later date in January to enable consideration of the report regarding ‘Overview and Scrutiny’s Role in Contract Management’
(iii) That the report ‘12 Month Progress Report on Task and Finish Review of Hackney Carriage Numbers and Accessibility issues’ be submitted to the 14 March 2012 meeting of the Commission and that the Work Programme be amended accordingly.