Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday 16th March 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea

Contact: Louise Hollingsworth Email:  01424 787815

No. Item



To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 27 January and 26 February 2020 as correct records of proceedings.


The Chairman was authorised to sign the Minutes of the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 27 January and 26 February 2020 as correct records of the proceedings.


Apologies and Substitutes

The Chairman to ask if any Member present is substituting for another Member and, if so, to declare his/her name as substitute Member and the name of the absent Member.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors J. Barnes, J.J. Carroll and G.F. Stevens (substitute).


Annual Report of the Safer Rother Partnership and Anti-Social Behaviour and Community Safety pdf icon PDF 337 KB


Members received the Executive Director’s annual report which provided information on the work of the Rother Community Safety Partnership [known as the Safer Rother Partnership (SRP)] for the Committee to review, scrutinise and make reports or recommendations to the responsible authorities of the SRP, in line with the Council’s statutory responsibilities under the Police and Justice Act 2006.


The Head of Service Environmental Services, Licensing and Community Safety advised Members of the key initiatives delivered during 2019/20 to reduce crime and the impact of crime and Anti-social Behaviour (ASB), which included: providing support for high and medium risk victims of ASB through multi-agency monthly meetings and Community Protection Warning letters; funding for the Safe from Harm Service; provision of safe space after school for young people in Sidley at the Pelham; CCTV coverage outside the Devonshire Square toilets, Bexhill Museum (covering Egerton Park and the public toilets); continued Community Safety Partnership (CSP) funding for the Seaview Outreach Service and partners to identify, engage and support rough sleepers in Rother; White Ribbon and Deer Awareness campaigns, Safety in Action workbooks for school children, support for Community Speedwatch, start up equipment and bedding packs for people leaving a refuge, victim domestic abuse support and tackling modern slavery (project Discovery) and cuckooing across Rother.


The Council had a legal duty to co-operate with East Sussex County Council and the East Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) on matters relating to the safeguarding of adults (and children).  Work of the SAB and that of the Council was directed by legislation under the Care Act 2014 which became law on 1 April 2015 and The Mental Capacity Act 2005.  All councils were required to produce a revised Safeguarding Policy which reflected this legislation and the Competency Framework (The Mental Capacity Act).  The Community Safety Coordinator was working with colleagues across East Sussex to deliver this.  The Policy would also reflect new areas of work such as Modern Slavery, County Lines, and Cuckooing.


The Rother priorities for 2020/21 included: acquisitive crime within retail, rural crime including cross border crime (especially burglary and speciality thefts) and County lines (drug supply and cuckooing in both urban and rural areas of Rother).  The following continued to be prioritised in Rother, with interventions continuing during 2020/21: drug supply and cuckooing, modern slavery and human trafficking (Discovery) and rough sleepers, the street community and delivering interventions to reduce the impact of ASB through multi agency interventions, Council interdepartmental working, use of Public Space Protection Orders (PSPO) and Community Protection Notices.


The Chairman welcomed Inspector Jonathan Hartley to the meeting who advised Members that the 6,112 crimes in Rother reported to Sussex Police during the 12 months to the end of January 2020 was 1,044 more reports on the previous 12 months, the increase (20.6%) being nearly twice that for East Sussex as a whole (10.4%).  As a comparison, Eastbourne had seen the smallest increase at +5.8%.  The reporting of crimes had been very low in 2018/19, thought to be due  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC19/57


Performance Report: Third Quarter 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 340 KB


Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director on the Performance Report of the Third Quarter 2019/20.  Members were given the opportunity to scrutinise progress towards the Council’s stated aims, outcomes and actions in the Corporate Plan and make any necessary recommendations to Cabinet for future service delivery. 


The Head of Service Acquisition, Transformation and Regeneration led Members through a summary of the Council’s performance against the selected indicators across four key areas (Housing and Homelessness, Benefits Performance, Waste and Recycling and Asset Income), giving the position at the end of the third financial quarter (1 October to 31 December 2019) for 2019/20.  There were no significant changes from the previous quarter.            


During discussion the following points were noted:


Housing and Homelessness: During Quarter Three, one measure was slightly off target/forecast (Affordable Homes Built (gross) Supply Target). This was due to the target having been increased since the last quarter; the amended target would be met by the end of the year.  Four did not meet their target (Affordable Homes Built (gross) Local Plan Target, Net Additional Homes Provided Supply Target, Net Additional Homes Provided Local Plan Target, Weeks in Temporary Accommodation (TA) and Homelessness Prevention Cases per 1,000 homes).  The number of weeks spent in TA was often longer due to better quality self-contained units used rather than hostels or hotel rooms, which enabled other services to be accessed at that time.  The Council was looking to split this type of accommodation into ‘emergency’ and ‘interim’.


Benefits Performance: Both of the performance indicators relating to benefits performance had met or exceeded their targets and the service continued to work on improvements in its systems and processes in accordance with the adopted business improvement plan.  Members advised of several cases of possible missing documentation and it was requested and agreed that officers investigate and bring a report back to a future Cabinet meeting.


Waste and Recycling: Two of the indicators had met or exceeded their targets (Re-use, Recycling, Composting: Contractor and Missed Bins per 100,000 homes) and one was slightly off target (Re-use, Recycling, Composting: East Sussex County Council). The figures had decreased over the year, a trend seen nationally, and the Government was looking to address this with legislation.  Increased promotion of recycling and re-use was required and would be addressed through the Environment Strategy and Climate Change Action Plan.  Recycling rejection rates were within tolerance levels, but these could become stricter in time.


Asset Income: Following the acquisition of the Jempson’s Supermarket and Market Square, Battle as part of the Property Investment Strategy, the net income from investment assets would increase by a further £71,000 / annum. This would add £17,750 to the year’s target to be collected in Quarter Four.  The Council was not likely to acquire any further properties in the current financial year and would not meet its expected target for asset income.  A number of properties were under consideration which were the subject of negotiation and may come  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC19/58


Revenue Budget and Capital Programme Monitoring - Quarter 3 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 241 KB


Members received and considered the report of the Executive Director on the Revenue Budget and Capital Programme Monitoring Quarter 3 2019/20, which had been presented to Cabinet on 9 March 2020.  The report contained details of the significant variations of the Revenue Budget and updated Capital Programme.


Since the last report to Cabinet, there had been one reportable virement following a review of the Council’s capital expenditure financing requirement. 


Overall, the cost of services identified a deficit of £698,000 which represented a decrease of £390,000 from the Quarter 2 forecast reported in November 2019.  The voluntary redundancy programme was likely to cost in the region of £450,000 to £500,000 but would deliver on-going savings in excess of this amount.  If these costs were incurred in the 2019/20 financial year, they would be additional to the £698,000 above.   


The main reasons for the variations since the last forecast report were attributed to additional income from the Community Infrastructure Levy administration, Land Charges and rent income as well as lower than anticipated spend on waste services, homelessness, staff vacancies and Housing Benefit payments recovered from the Department for Work and Pensions. However, these reductions were offset by further spending in respect of legal costs for planning appeals, payroll consultancy costs, the replacement of broken play equipment in Rye and accountancy restructuring costs.


Investment returns were in-line with the budget although the final year end position would depend on treasury management and property investment decisions made between now and finalising the financial year accounts. Reserves would be used to meet £650,000 of capital expenditure, which was a small reduction of £46,000 compared to the last forecast.  Delays in acquiring properties under the Property Investment Strategy had reduced the anticipated level of external borrowing, which in turn reduced the amount required to be set aside for the Minimum Revenue Provision by £428,000.


The council tax part of the Collection Fund was currently forecast to be in surplus by £744,000 at year end and Rother’s share was estimated to be £91,000. This has been reflected in the 2020/21 budget.


Business rates were forecast to be in surplus of £1.8m by year end and Rother’s share was estimated to be £758,000. This had also been reflected in the 2020/21 budget.

Capital spend to the end of December 2019 totalled £13.6m which included the purchase of the freehold of Market Square, Battle, as identified in Appendix A to the report.


Monitoring spend and income would continue in order to mitigate additional costs and its impact on the Council’s reserves.


RESOLVED: That the report be noted.


Corporate Plan and Delivery Programme Consultation Exercise pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Additional documents:


Members received the report of the Executive Director which presented a draft Corporate Plan 2020-2027 for a 12-week period of consultation.  The aim of the consultation was to ensure residents, statutory partners, voluntary partners and interested parties had an opportunity to comment on whether the Council had identified the correct vision for the district and to give a wide audience the opportunity to forward their views on what the priorities for the district should be.


Since the Corporate Plan (2014-21) was agreed there had been a number of changes; political, social and economic, which together, with increasing demand for Council services, had proved challenging and would require a change in priorities.  A State of The District report had been produced which summarised data into the areas of: Population; Health & Wellbeing; the Local Economy; Housing; and the Environment. This report enabled the Council to ensure decisions about what the Corporate Plan priorities should be were based on evidence of need.


The Council met for a series of presentations and workshops in November 2019; discussions from these sessions had been summarised into action plans set out to compliment the Corporate Plan and designed to deliver on the visions and four priority areas identified, namely; Growing People; Growing Prosperity; Growing Places; and Growing Performance.


The new administration had since provided further direction in the form of a set of 10 strategic objectives which had also been included within the draft Corporate Plan.  To ensure these objectives were given a higher priority, they had been included within the action plans as overall ‘priority targets’.


The consultation exercise would last 12 weeks and then a period of analysis of the results would be required to prepare a final draft Plan for Cabinet to consider on 2 November 2020.  External consultation was to consist of an on-line survey (back up postal survey).  Internal consultation would focus on developing the delivery programme. 


Members discussed the four action plans in turn and the following points were noted during the discussion:


Growing People

·       not necessary to use the word ‘continue’ throughout;

·       rented housing had been identified in the actions points as residents using the private rented sector had little choice themselves in how to improve accommodation.  The Council would look to work with landlords;

·       the Anti-Poverty Task and Finish Group would be considering the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.  Members suggested changing priority target 1 to read ‘Enact the agreed outcome from the recommendations of the Anti-Poverty Task and Finish Group concerning the Council Tax Reduction Scheme’; and

·       action point ‘Review the council tax reduction scheme to support the most vulnerable residents’ implied that support was not already being provided through the scheme.  It was suggested and agreed that the wording be changed to ‘Review the council tax reduction scheme to ensure it supports the most vulnerable residents’.


Growing Prosperity

·       the suggested priority target would mean achieving a 16% increase in the average wage by end of 2023.  Members suggested amending the target to ‘…National league table…’ from ‘…East Sussex  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC19/60


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 210 KB

Additional documents:


Consideration was given to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme.


Members were advised that progress of the Anti-Poverty Task and Finish Group’s timetable would be looked into.


RESOLVED: That the Work Programme attached at Appendix A be agreed.