Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board
Monday, 9th September, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: HMS Phoebe, Town Hall, Bournemouth BH2 6DY. View directions

Contact: Claire Johnston - 01202 454627  Email: claire.johnston@bcpcouncil.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

21.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence from members of the Board.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs N Brookes, L Fear, R Maidment and P Miles.

22.

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:

Notification was received from the appropriate group leaders or their nominated representative of the following substitutes Cllr P Hilliard substituted for Cllr N Brookes, Cllr L Evans substituted for Councillor P Miles and Cllr B Dove substituted for Cllr L Fear.

 

23.

Declarations of Interests

Councillors are required to comply with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011 regarding disclosable pecuniary interests. Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.

Minutes:

Councillors declared the following issues for the purpose of transparency. All remined in the room and participated in the debate and voting for each item:

Cllr M Greene and Cllr N Greene declared, in relation to the Project Admiral Leasehold Considerations and Acquisition Proposals report, that they and their spouse had an interest in property in Poole town centre.

Cllr L Evans declared, in relation to the Project Admiral Leasehold Considerations and Acquisition Proposals report, that she had an interest in property in Poole town centre.

Cllr M Brooke declared in relation to the reports on planning issues, that he was the Chairman of the Broadstone Neighbourhood Forum and involved with developing neighbourhood plans.

Cllr M Anderson declared in relation to the reports on planning issues that he was involved in the Queen’s Park Neighbourhood Forum.

Cllr M Haines declared in relation to the reports on planning issues that she was involved with the Sandbanks Neighbourhood Forum.

Cllr P Hilliard declared in relation to the report on BCP Council investment that he was a BCP nominated Governor at Bournemouth Hospital.

 

24.

Confirmation of Minutes pdf icon PDF 175 KB

To confirm and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 8 July 2019.

 

Minutes:

RESOVLED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 July 2019 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

25.

Action Sheet pdf icon PDF 216 KB

To note and comment on the attached action sheet which tracks decisions, actions and outcomes arising from previous Board meetings.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the action sheet be noted.

26.

Public Speaking

To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution. Further information on the requirements for submitting these is available to view at the following link:-

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/documents/s2305/Public%20Items%20-%20Meeting%20Procedure%20Rules.pdf 

The deadline for the submission of public questions is Monday 2 September 2019.

The deadline for the submission of a statement is 12.00 noon, Friday 6 September 2019.

The deadline for the submission of a petition is 12.00 noon, Friday 6 September 2019.

Minutes:

The following question was submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Board from local resident David Brown:

“Given what Dr Sharon Goldberg, professor and doctor of internal medicine, states: “Wireless radiation has biological effects... This is no longer a subject for debate when you look at PubMed and the peer-review literature. These effects are seen in all life forms... evidence of cancer... of DNA damage, cardiomyopathy, which is the precursor of congestive heart failure, neuropsychiatric effects… 5G is an untested application of a technology that we know is harmful... In academics, this is called human subjects research,” will the council follow the precautionary principle and halt the roll out of 5g in BCP?”

MR Brown was unable to attend the meeting and the following response from the Chairman was provided:

“We are hoping to have a call-for evidence around the 5G issue on 23 September meeting so we have also invited him along to that meeting to submit his evidence there and to take part in that process as well and we will discuss this issue further when we come to the Forward Plan item.”

 

 

27.

Scrutiny of Planning Related Cabinet Reports

To consider the following planning related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 11 September:

·         Statement of Community Involvement

·         Local Development Scheme

·         Regulation 18 Local Plan Issues and call for sites

·         Boscombe and Pokesdown Neighbourhood Plan

 

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 Margaret Phipps, Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning.

 

The Cabinet reports will be published on Tuesday 3 September 2019 and available to view at the following link:

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=285&MId=3721&Ver=4

Minutes:

Statement of Community Involvement

The Chairman introduced the item. He reminded the Board that it was focussing on risked base policy decision making and therefore questions should be directed to the Cabinet Members. He explained that the Overview and Scrutiny Board had chosen to look at four forthcoming Cabinet reports in relation to Planning issues and invited the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Strategic Planning to introduce each of the reports:

Statement of Community Involvement (SCI):  The Cabinet Portfolio Holder explained that the SCI was a statutory requirement that set out how a local planning authority engaged with its residents when preparing local plans and through the planning application process. In respect of planning applications, different options for notification had been assessed and Cabinet would be asked to approve the recommendation for Option 3 and the SCI proposals for public consultation. The Chairman invited questions from the Board, the following issues were raised:

·      A Councillor commented that only 1 in 10 notification letters for planning applications received a response. Therefore why was option 1, which was for site notices only and presented a significant cost saving and reduced environmental impact, not being pursued? The Board was advised that the three preceding authorities had different systems in place at transition and removing letter notifications would come as a shock to residents in Poole and Christchurch and an open and engaging system was needed. Option 3 would allow time for a transition towards more digital communications and was recommended by officers. It was also noted was that it was hoped to reduce the estimated cost of letters – possibly by just reproducing site notices and hand posting to immediate neighbours when site notices were posted.

·      A Board member outlined that other planning authorities used an opt-in method for residents to choose to received digital communications of planning applications of interest to them. The Councillor felt that option 3 was the worst of all options as it would mean an arbitrary number of properties would be notified and raised the point that those in higher density accommodation may have less access to technology.

·      The Board requested information on complaints received by the preceding authorities about the current processes. It was explained that there was the odd complaint received but records were not available at the meeting. There were pros and cons to each system. The effect in Poole and Christchurch of change would be quite large. A Councillor commented that the statistics for complaints would be useful.

·      Another Board member felt that residents in Poole were used to the system currently in place there and to remove it immediately would be a problem. They would be happy to retain letters based on officers’ judgement.

·      The Portfolio Holder was asked if they had reviewed the process which took place in Bournemouth when it stopped sending letters. A Councillor suggested there may be some confusion with the change and that there was a role for ward Councillors to play in promoting planning applications with significant public  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

Scrutiny of Housing Related Cabinet Reports

To consider the following housing related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 11 September:

·         Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Poole – Project Admiral Leasehold Approach and Increase to Acquisitions Budget

 

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

 

Cabinet members invited to attend for this item: Councillor Kieron Wilson, Portfolio Holder for Housing.

 

The Cabinet reports will be published on Tuesday 3 September 2019 and available to view at the following link:

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=285&MId=3721&Ver=4

Minutes:

Project Admiral Leasehold Considerations and Acquisition Proposals

As this item included exempt information the Chairman explained the process for dealing with any issues arising from the exempt section of the report. The Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Housing was invited to introduce the Cabinet report to the Board. The Board was advised that the Cabinet report provided an update on the current position in respect of Project Admiral with particular reference to the need to consider leaseholder representations. The report made recommendations in respect of the position of leaseholders following the consultation. Option 4 of the report offered to re-purchase a number of leaseholder properties.

RESOLVED that under Section 100 (A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 1 and 2 in Part I of Schedule 12A of the Act and that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs such interest in disclosing the information.

The Board members put a number of questions to the Portfolio Holder and the Portfolio Holder and Chief Executive of the Poole Housing Partnership provided responses to a number of these. A number of Councillors raised concerns with the proposed Cabinet recommendation. A number of options for the way forward were outlined and the Board considered various risks associated with these and the Portfolio Holder responded accordingly.

The Board agreed to move back into open session.

Board Members questioned the proposal to buy back properties from leaseholders when the value of the properties would not increase in line with the cost of works and suggested that the burden of this would be borne by the council tax payers. It was noted that whilst the options were being given to everybody there was only sufficient funding for 5 or 6 properties and those who might experience hardship were prioritised. The PHP wanted to find a solution which was fair for all whilst managing disruption and providing for those who were elderly and frail whilst taking into account financial abilities.

Other suggestions included a lease extension to 125 years and members of the Board suggested that this should be looked into. It was noted that legal advice was being sought on this point.

RECOMMENDED that:

 

(a)  Cabinet should carefully consider the recommendations as set out in the report and the options set out in the exempt part of the report.

 

(b)  Cabinet be advised that the Overview and Scrutiny Board do not support Recommendation B on the grounds of fairness to leaseholders due to there only being a small number of properties able to be re-purchased, of fairness to the rest of BCP Council’s tenants and to those on the Council’s Housing Registers due to the way in which it is proposed to use HRA finances to support the recommendations as set out in the report.

Voting: For: 7; Against 5; 2 abstentions

 

29.

Scrutiny of People Related Cabinet Reports

To consider the following people related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 11 September:
           

·         People Strategy

·         Pay & Reward 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 Vikki Slade, Leader of the Council.

 

The Cabinet reports will be published on Tuesday 3 September 2019 and available to view at the following link:

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=285&MId=3721&Ver=4

Minutes:

The Chairman invited the Portfolio Holder and Leader of the Council to introduce the next reports on the agenda.

People Strategy

The Leader advised that the report was being brought to Cabinet to approve the draft BCP Council 2019 – 2023 People Strategy. The strategy had been developed on the basis of staff surveys from the three preceding Councils which provided feedback on how members of staff wished the Council to work. The Leader of the Council was asked a number of questions regarding the strategy including:

In response to a question the Leader explained that the strategy aligned to the values as set out in the Council Plan, but it did not bare a relationship to the priorities outlined therein.

A Board Member questioned whether the strategy was too inward looking as evidenced by ‘customer focused’ was listed as priority seven. It was suggested that his should be moved forward and be a greater focus. The Leader explained that although the priorities within the strategy were outlined in a linear fashion it did not been that some priorities were more important than others and all priorities would be moved forward together. However, the Leader accepted that the priorities could be displayed or configured differently.

Again, a Board member commented that celebrating success was only listed as priority twelve. It was reconfirmed that these were not linear but they were also based on responses to previous surveys with an aim to be employee led and this issue was not ranked as highly as some of the others within the strategy. However, the linear rankings would be reviewed.

A Member asked about priority behaviours and about feeding back on action taken, which was not a specific point contained within. The Leader advised that this would be encompassed by act and based on the specific circumstances this may be included.

It was confirmed that the responses from the most recent staff survey had not yet been fully analysed and therefore there were lots of issues which were currently unknown for BCP. There was an extensive piece of work underway to extrapolate information from past surveys. 

In response to a question the Director for Organisational Development explained that there were a number of ambitions targets within the strategy and these would be reviewed on an annual basis. It was explained that there was a staff engagement group in place and issues and ideas could be sent to the group and information received back as part of a two-way processes. There would be ongoing dialogue with staff on the contents of the plan.

A Councillor commented that the wording int the document, “where good things happen to good people,” seemed at odds with ensuring equity amongst the workforce and made it appear that some jobs may be more valued than others. The Leader did not feel that ensuring equity and rewards was incompatible. However, she would look into the wording in this section and suggested that it may be amended. In response to a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.

30.

Scrutiny of Finance Related Cabinet Reports

To consider the following finance related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 11 September:

·         Budget and Performance Monitoring Report – 2019/20 Quarter 1

·         BCP Council Investment to support the One Dorset Pathology Unity

 

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 David Brown, Portfolio Holder for Finance.

 

The Cabinet reports will be published on Tuesday 3 September 2019 and available to view at the following link:

https://democracy.bcpcouncil.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=285&MId=3721&Ver=4

Minutes:

Quarter One Budget and Performance Monitoring Report 2019/20

The Portfolio Holder for Finance introduced the item explaining that this was the first budget monitoring report for the year and at this point there were often several pressures. However, work was already underway to reduce those pressures. There was detail included within the report on budget pressures within each area. Board Members asked the Portfolio holder a number of questions on the details of the report including:

The Board asked about the increase in the number of cases of Children in Care inherited from the Christchurch area which was higher than previously expected and about the increased number of Education Health and Care Plans inherited and acknowledged that it was difficult to plan for something not anticipated.

A Councillor questioned the increased amount paid to bus companies for concessionary fares. It was noted that this was to harmonise and the rates to bus companies had increased and the bus subsidy renegotiated at the same time. The increase in cost of street lighting was questioned and it was noted that this was down to price inflation. Further information was sought on the cost of staffing pressures at the Two Rivers Meet Leisure Centre and the proportion of the total staffing cost of the pressure. The Councillor requested further information on this.

It was noted that all service areas in which there was a budget pressure would be required to report back on the action which was being taken to manage the budget. The Corporate Management Board was made aware of and addressed budget pressure monthly basis. In response to a question the Board was advised that there was an appreciation by Cabinet Members of the impact of policy decisions on budgets and the budget position was discussed on a weekly basis with Cabinet.

A Board Member explained that there seemed to be a lack of coordination amongst different areas of the Council and suggested that the Board should make a recommendation to Cabinet to request that it practices sustainable budgeting and that whilst reserves could help with long term cost, they should not be used for day to day needs. The move was duly seconded. The Portfolio Holder explained that £2.7million was the base budget contingency decided by the shadow authority. Earmarked reserves were used for a specific purpose but not for ongoing revenue costs. The Chief Financial Officer explained that there was still a huge amount of uncertainty regarding the local government settlement, not helped by current political turbulence. Information may not be received until 5-6 weeks prior to budget setting.

The Chairman commented that the move was in line with the aims of the Board to cement the aspirations of good sustainable decision making with a balanced budget at its heart.

RECOMMENDED that Cabinet should practise sustainable budgeting and avoid using reserves for day to day revenue needs.

 

Voting: For: 11; Against 0; 3 abstentions

 

Cllrs M Anderson, B Dove, N Greene, M Greene and M Haines asked to be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.

31.

Future Meeting Dates

To note the future meeting dates arranged for the Board as follows:

 

23 September 2019 - 4.00pm start - Christchurch Civic Centre

7 October 2019 - start time and venue TBC (Cabinet agenda dependent)

 

The following meetings are planned to begin at 6.00pm, venues tbc:

 

11 November 2019

9 December 2019

13 January 2020

10 February 2020

16 March 2020

20 April 2020

 

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that the next meeting scheduled for 23 September would be a 4.00pm start to accommodate the 5G connectivity call for evidence session. The Chairman also confirmed that the meeting on 7 October was likely to be a daytime meeting.