Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board - Thursday, 1st April, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Claire Johnston - 01202 123663  Email: claire.johnston@bcpcouncil.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

181.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence from Members.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr C Rigby and Cllr M Cox

182.

Substitute Members

To receive information on any changes in the membership of the Committee.

 

Note – When a member of a Committee is unable to attend a meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee, the relevant Political Group Leader (or their nominated representative) may, by notice to the Monitoring Officer (or their nominated representative) prior to the meeting, appoint a substitute member from within the same Political Group. The contact details on the front of this agenda should be used for notifications. 

 

Minutes:

Cllr K Wilson substituted for Cllr C Rigby and Cllr M Brooke substituted for Cllr M Cox

183.

Declarations of Interests

Councillors are requested to declare any interests on items included in this agenda. Please refer to the workflow on the preceding page for guidance.

Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.

Minutes:

Cllr H Allen declared for the purpose of transparency that she had a disclosable pecuniary interest in agenda item 7, Scrutiny of Homes Related Cabinet Reports, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Policy as she worked for Dorset hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, she would be contributing to the presentation of this item

 

Cllr S Bartlett declared for the purpose of transparency in relation to agenda item 7, Scrutiny of Homes Related Cabinet Reports, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Policy that he owned a company which privately let out properties in the BCP area.

 

Cllr J Edwards declared for the purpose of transparency in relation to agenda item 7, Scrutiny of Homes Related Cabinet Reports, Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Policy that she privately let out properties in the BCP area.

 

184.

Public Speaking

To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution, which is available to view at the following link:

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/ieListMeetings.aspx?CommitteeID=151&Info=1&bcr=1

The deadline for the submission of a public question is 4 clear working days before the meeting.

The deadline for the submission of a statement is midday the working day before the meeting.

The deadline for the submission of a petition is 10 working days before the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no public statements, questions or petitions.

185.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 133 KB

To consider and amend the Board’s Forward Plan as appropriate and to consider the published Cabinet Forward Plan.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board considered its existing Forward Plan and the latest published Cabinet Forward Plan. The Chairman outlined the items which were proposed for May as detailed in the Forward Plan. It was noted that the item on Tree Management would now be deferred to a later meeting which was likely to be June. The Chairman also suggested that it would therefore be possible to include a Cabinet Portfolio Holder update and suggested the Community Safety Portfolio Holder may be appropriate. A Member suggested that with the election of the new Police and Crime Commissioner at the beginning of May it may be useful to have this as an item later in the year as this formed one significant aspect of the Portfolio. The Chairman agreed to take this away for further consideration.

 

There was discussion concerning the scheduling of Member briefings versus when these items were considered by scrutiny. Although these were felt to be useful it was noted that sometimes they were scheduled with relatively short notice and it was suggested that documents could be circulated sometimes as an alternative.

 

In response to a query the Chairman confirmed that there were still specific issues with regards to Tree Management and Highways following the Member briefing which it was felt would be best addressed through a specific item coming to the O&S Board.

 

A Councillor commented that there were a number of subjects which were considered by the O&S Board which were of questionable use at times. It was noted that it could be difficult when considering reports for pre-Cabinet decision scrutiny as it wasn’t always clear what would be included within the papers.

 

The Chairman asked Board members to look forward at the Cabinet Forward Plan and if there were any issues they felt should be considered by the Board, to draw these to the attention of the Chairman as soon as possible.

 

The Chairman also discussed the possibility of establishing an environment and related issues Overview and Scrutiny body and advised that discussions on this issue would be taken forward with Democratic Services outside of the meeting.

 

With regards to the suggested item on Poole Quay it was noted that this appeared to be a more general problem across all key tourism sites and there was no mechanism within the Council to maintain sites to certain level of quality of infrastructure. It was suggested that this could be looked into further and added to the Forward Plan for possibly six months’ time.

 

RESOLVED: That the Forward Plan be updated as detailed above.

186.

Scrutiny of Transport and Sustainability Related Cabinet Reports pdf icon PDF 152 KB

To consider the following Transport and Sustainability related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 14 April 2021:

 

·       Highway Asset Management Policy and Strategy

 

The O&S Board is asked to scrutinise the reports and make recommendations to Cabinet as appropriate.

 

Cabinet member invited to attend for this item: Councillor Mike Greene, Portfolio Holder for Transport and Sustainability.

 

The Cabinet report for this item is included with the agenda for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Highways Asset Management Policy - The Portfolio Holder for Transport and Sustainability presented a report, a copy of which was circulated to Board members and which appears as Appendix 'A' to these minutes in the Minute Book. Issues raised in the subsequent discussion included:

 

·       The asset inventory as outlined in the report and whether priority was given to measuring current assets. This information was still being collated from preceding authorities, including outstanding data on footways.

·       Surveys – Highways were scanned in a specialised vehicle and pavements were walked. There was a four-year inspection programme during which every footway would be inspected.

·       The outcomes of the climate review and Health and Safety review as outlined in the appendix of the report and the potential positive impact. That the document was extensively proscribed by the Department for Transport.

·       The increasing number of cycleways across BCP.

·       The two types of surveys for footways - serviceability inspections to determine future works and forward plan, and risk-based safety inspections.

·       Reactive and proactive maintenance and how the policy may help reduce reactive maintenance issues. A Board member suggested that there was a mismatch between these issues.

·       Issues were raised regarding CO2 reduction, methods which took account of climate change, flooding, tree planting and gulley cleaning. How actions being taken to address these issues could be reflected within the Policy.

·       Making crossings more intuitive and including more experimental technology and assets which would make life easier for people within the Policy. The Portfolio Holder advised that the prescriptive nature of the policy would mean it needed to include information on the assets being maintained in the most cost-effective way. However, he undertook to look into whether it would be possible to include this within the policy.

·       Whether electric charging points were included within the highway assets structure. The Portfolio Holder undertook to follow up on whether these were included and whether the strategy needed to be updated to include them.

The most intelligent type of crossings were zebra crossings, which were also cost effective. The Portfolio Holder was asked what the policy position was on these and it was noted that this would sit within the realm of health and safety and there was currently lots of consideration about which type of crossings were most appropriate. The Chairman suggested that the Portfolio Holder gave this further consideration and thanked the Portfolio Holder and officers present for their input.

187.

Urgent Business: Scrutiny of Officer Decision to Supply and Fit Electric Barbecues Across the Seafront pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Following a request from a Councillor for scrutiny of this issue to be added to a Board agenda, the Chairman has agreed that this should be received as an urgent item owing to the implementation timetable for the decision.  The Board is asked to consider the matter and make recommendations as appropriate.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that he had agreed that this item had been added to the agenda for this meeting as an urgent item of business, this was at the request of a Board member and as the decision had already been taken scrutiny of the issue needed to take place as soon as possible and it would not be practical to wait for a future scheduled meeting. The Chief Executive introduced the issue concerning the Officer Decision Record a copy of which had been circulated to Board members and which appears as Appendix ‘B’ to these minutes in the Minute Book. The purpose of the decision was to upgrade the offer on the seafront and to help alleviate previous issues which had occurred with disposable barbeques. In the ensuing discussion a number of issues were raised by the Board including:

 

·       Why the funding was not included as part of the capital budget and why the decision was taken under emergency powers. In order to introduce the scheme for summer 2021 this was the only route available.  Different funding streams were considered and whilst it was a judgement call the decision was appropriate on the weight of evidence.

·       That it would not reduce people using disposable barbecues.

·       Officers expressed their confidence that they would be a good edition to the seafront as facilities for local people.

·       Whether the Council had looked at experiences of other Council’s who had installed electric barbecues. It was noted that there was already one installed in Boscombe which was used.

·       There were concerns raised that CIL funding was being used for this project as it was felt not to be a strategic issue or much needed infrastructure. Ongoing costs would not be funded through CIL but would be absorbed within operational expenditure.

·       There were concerns raised as to why this was treated as an urgent decision and why it was not considered earlier.

·       Whilst the Board didn’t suggest that there should be a ban on disposal barbecues, introducing the electric barbecues without restrictions on the use of disposable barbecues on the beach would not help.

·       The Board asked why a smaller test amount was not introduced with the option to increase numbers if successful.

·       The reason the barbecues would be free to use was to help encourage their use and it would not be cost effective.

·       In response to issues concerning theft or vandalism it was explained that there were cameras in place and people would need to go to a significant effort to remove them.

·       That encouraging use of communal barbecues in a Covid environment didn’t appear to be a good idea, especially with expected visitor numbers as the barbecues would encourage people to congregate and cause congestion along the prom.

·       Board members also commented that they thought the barbecues were a good idea.

·       Timing of the installation and that disruption along the seafront should be minimal.

 

A motion was proposed and seconded that:

 

“The O&S Board support the proposal on the basis that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 187.

188.

Scrutiny of Homes Related Cabinet Reports pdf icon PDF 268 KB

To consider the following Homes related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 14 April:

 

   Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy

 

The O&S Board is asked to scrutinise the reports and make recommendations to Cabinet as appropriate.

 

Cabinet member invited to attend for this item: Councillor Bob Lawton, Portfolio Holder for Homes.

 

The Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the Health and Adult Social Care and Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committees are invited to attend the meeting for consideration of this item.

 

The Cabinet report for this item is included with the agenda for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy - The Portfolio Holder for Homes presented a report, a copy of which was circulated to Board members and which appears as Appendix 'C' to these minutes in the Minute Book. The Lead Member for Homelessness was also present to present the report and respond to any questions from the Board. Issues raised in the subsequent discussion on this report included:

 

·     The positives of the strategy and action plan, working towards lower numbers of people rough sleeping and the great work of the Housing team.

·     Definition of homelessness, including access to accommodation abroad.

·     The numbers and gender of those rough sleeping, specific approach to women and younger homeless persons. The Lead member commented that this was a work in progress, and it may be good to look at this when moving forward.

·     Making the concept of dignity more prominent within the document and the use of the term rough sleeping. It was acknowledged that use of language was important, and this would be carefully considered.

·     The policy was flexible and could be adapted to best meet provision. Officers confirmed that the associated actions plan could be updated on an ongoing basis but the strategy itself would not necessarily need to be changed.

·     The information given to rough sleepers from hospitals, a smaller laminated booklet was more likely to be kept by homeless people. Suggested A&E’s should be included as partners. The St Mungo’s night shelter also gave out lots of information.

·     What could be done to help those who didn’t want to be helped. The Council aimed to be flexible and work with partners in assisting people who did not want to move into traditional housing due to complex situations, although the Council were getting better at accommodating people. There was a need to consider wider ideas about what we would consider a home in order to solve the problem.

·     The increase in families with children presenting as homeless. Cases involving children were very difficult. Projects providing temporary housing had to be paused. What the solutions were? There was a focus on upstream liaison with landlords and tenants and addressing issues with rent. There were also schemes to provide additional family hostels as an alternative to temporary B&B accommodation.

·     What was being done about promoting downsizing in order to free up additional housing stock where it is needed and to address empty homes. A full-time empty homes officer was being arranged which would assist with the housing supply. Seascape would also be borrowing to purchase empty homes to provide emergency accommodation for homelessness families. Work was also underway on encouraging people to downsize through the new allocations policy.

·     Homeless Reduction Board – private landlord representative. The Council had been in discussion with the National Residential Landlords Association and will follow up on this issue.

How the Council monitors homelessness and rough sleeping numbers. The Portfolio Holder suggested that in approximately 12 months they could report back on the issue to the Board. The Chairman  ...  view the full minutes text for item 188.

189.

Scrutiny of Transformation and Finance Related Cabinet Reports pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To consider the following Transformation and Finance related Cabinet reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 14 April 2021:

 

·       Futures Fund Governance

The O&S Board is asked to scrutinise the reports and make recommendations to Cabinet as appropriate.

 

Cabinet member invited to attend for this item: Councillor Drew Mellor, Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Transformation and Finance.

 

The Cabinet report for this item is included with the agenda for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.

Minutes:

Futures Fund Governance - The Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Transformation and Finance presented a report, a copy of which was circulated to Board members and which appears as Appendix 'D' to these minutes in the Minute Book. The issues raised in the subsequent discussion on this paper included:

 

  • The criteria for how the Programme Board would decide spending. There would be an opportunity for scrutiny for any spending decisions over the appropriate thresholds. The Section 151 officer advised that the Council had to adhere to the prudential code for borrowing for local authorities. There was ongoing work to look at the appropriate level of debt for a local authority of BCP’s size.
  • The paper included a loose definition of infrastructure and did not seem to relate to previous information provided on the Futures Fund regarding big ticket projects.

·     A Councillor proposed that a quarterly update be published on activity of the Futures Fund in In order to keep everyone updated on the activity of the Board.

·     The Leader noted that issues coming forward would most likely be items over £500k but even lower cost items may be considered by Cabinet or an all member seminar. The Leader wanted to be transparent in this process.

·     The drawdown of £10m – it was confirmed that this would only be drawn down when assuming will not be sat in the bank. The Chief Financial Officer advised that he Fund would only draw down the money only when business case was signed-off. The figure outlined was illustrative to show the potential impact on the MTFP.

·     Clarification on where funding would come from to pay back costs and interest as not all of the items were revenue generating. It was noted that the repayment figures were based on a 50-year period. The interest amounts had been factored into the MTFP. The Leader commented that low interest meant that it was a good time to invest.

·     Criteria for investment. The business case needed to add up – including costs, level of contingency, associated risks, details and achieving external grant, inward investment or income.

The main areas of focus would be regeneration projects with viability issues, public realm enhancements and infrastructure pieces around these issues.

190.

Future Meeting Dates 2021/22

To note the following proposed meeting dates and locations for the 2021/22 municipal year:

·       17 May 2021

·       14 June 2021

·       19 July 2021

·       23 August 2021

·       20 September 2021

·       18 October 2021

·       15 November 2021

·       6 December 2021

·       3 January 2022

·       31 January 2022

·       28 February 2022

·       4 April 2022

 

All meetings will be held via video conferencing until further notice.

Minutes:

The Board noted the dates for future meetings for 2020/21.