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To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 22 July 2019 as a correct record of proceedings.
The Chairman was authorised to sign the Minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 22 July 2019 as a correct record of the proceedings.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from Councillor D.B. Oliver Leader of the Council and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Strategic Overview, Finance, Resources and Value for Money, Malcolm Johnston, Executive Director and Dr Anthony Leonard, Executive Director.
Members considered the report of the Executive Director which had been considered by the Planning Committee at its meeting held on 15 August 2019, detailing a number of proposed operational changes to the Planning Committee.
During the discussion the following points were noted:
• a Ward Member’s unique local knowledge was considered to be hugely beneficial to Committee Members;
• a Ward Member who is not a Committee Member would be disadvantaged by their speaking time being limited;
• limiting non-Planning Committee Members addressing the Planning Committee to five minutes per application would give equality to all parties;
• Ward Members need to be able to give an introductory speech, correct any points of discussion if necessary and then speak at the end;
• a more structured approach to non-Committee Members’ speaking rights would give clear guidance to any future Chairman of the Planning Committee;
• it was recommended and agreed to remove the recommendation to limit non-Planning Committee Members addressing the Planning Committee to five minutes per application at the Chairman’s discretion;
• concerns were raised regarding site visits being made compulsory due to the possibility of elected Members having limited mobility;
• it was suggested that there should be an expectation that Members attend site visits, with non-attendance agreed by the Chairman on a case-by-case basis; and
• it was recommended and agreed that ‘at the Chairman’s discretion’ be added to the recommendation concerning compulsory attendance at site visits.
1) the following proposed changes to the operation of the Planning Committee be agreed and recommended to Cabinet for onward recommendation and approval by full Council:
i. the cut off time for any late submissions be 9:00am on the Monday before the Thursday Planning Committee;
ii. all meetings of the Planning Committee be audio recorded in their entirety;
iii. attendance at the formal Planning Committee site visits be compulsory for Planning Committee Members in order to be part of the decision making at the subsequent Planning Committee meeting, at the Chairman’s discretion; and
iv. the Executive Director be authorised to make all consequential amendments to the Council’s Constitution, Council practice and the Statement of Community Involvement.
2) the proposal to limit non-Planning Committee Members addressing Planning Committee to five minutes per application or at the Chairman’s discretion not be supported.
The Chairman welcomed Cheryl Poole, Corporate Programme & Business Improvement Officer and Stephen Marsden, Developments Projects Manager, to the meeting, who provided a detailed presentation on Project Management within the Council. Cheryl Poole presented on programme and project management framework, approach, tools, and methodologies, and Stephen Marsden presented the development flowchart and provided Members with details of a successful project he delivered end-to-end when he worked at Wealden District Council.
During the presentation the following points were noted:
• the timing of involvement of Members and consultation with residents varied from project to project;
• Members felt confident that the Council was deploying the best tools and approach to project management;
• Members felt that the process may benefit from a more formalised approach to how involved they were with projects; and
• projects within the Corporate Plan were updated annually to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet. If reported quarterly, significant progression may be not seen.
RESOLVED: That the presentation be noted.
Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director on the Performance Report of the First Quarter 2019/20. Members were given the opportunity to scrutinise the 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 first financial quarter (1 April to 30 June 2019) for 2019/20.
During discussion the following points were noted:
Housing and Homelessness: During quarter one, two measures met or exceeded their target (Affordable Homes Built (gross) Supply Target and Affordable Homes Built (gross) Local Plan target) and four did not meet their target (Weeks in Temporary Accommodation, Homelessness Prevention Cases per 1,000 homes, New Homes Built (net) Supply Target and New Homes Built (net) Local Plan Target). Members were concerned that there was a 50% increase in the number of weeks spent in temporary accommodation. It was recommended and agreed that Cabinet be requested to consider lobbying Government regarding the introduction of a charge on housing developers for development sites with planning permission that remain unbuilt on for three years or more.
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.
Waste and Recycling: The new contract started in June 2019 therefore most of the quarter represented the performance of the previous contractor. Two of the indicators had met or exceeded their targets (Re-use, Recycling, Composting: Esat Sussex County Council and Re-use, Recycling, Composting: Contractor) and one had not met the target (Missed Bins per 10,000 homes).
Asset Income: Performance in 2019/20 remained strong and included additional rent being collected as a result of the four properties purchased through the Property Investment Strategy in 2018/19. The original income target of £1,520,000 was set prior to the budget setting for 2019/20; the budget was forecast at £1,939,000 including the income from the property investment strategy. Therefore, it was recommended the target in the performance indicator be adjusted accordingly.
The Head of Acquisitions, Transformation and Regeneration advised Members that a report on the activity of the Property Investment Panel (PIP) was presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Audit and Standards Committee annually. In addition, the Assistant Director Resources confirmed that the quarterly Treasury Management Report to the Audit and Standards Committee also included commentary on the PIP. Members thanked officers for their work on the Property Investment Strategy.
Members requested that performance indicators not meeting their targets be reported on with suggestions for improvement from officers.
RESOLVED: That the following recommendations be made to Cabinet:
1) that the Asset Income target be increased to £1,939,000, ... view the full minutes text for item OSC19/23
Members received and considered the report of the Executive Directors on the Revenue Budget and Capital Programme Monitoring Quarter 1 2019/20, which had been considered by Cabinet on 29 July 2019 and been referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Members’ information. 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 two reportable virements. In April, the Council acquired Glovers House, Bexhill, as part of its regeneration agenda, for the sum of £7.8m including costs. This would generate an annual rent of £425,000 rising to £475,000 in December 2020.
Overall the cost of services identified a small deficit of £58,000 which was 0.4% greater than the revised budget. It was too early to predict the year end position as a result of the new waste contract, volatility in planning application income and the delivery of the Property Investment Panel. The main reasons for the variations were attributed to underspends/savings on employment related costs, staff vacancies and recycling credits. The deficit was attributed to election costs, software upgrades, costs associated within the Acquisitions, Transformation and Regeneration service, and resources for the Rother 2020 programme and Property Investment Strategy.
Investment returns were in-line with the budget. The final year end position would depend on treasury management and property investment decisions made between now and March 2020.
The Council Tax collection rate was comparable to previous years and the Business Rates collection performance was slightly lower compared to the same period last year. At this stage, the outturn for both was expected to be broadly in line with the original estimate.
No significant variances were predicted to the Capital Programme 2019/20 estimated spend of £24m, as identified in Appendix A to the report. Appendix B to the report, showed the Capital Programme for the period 2019/20 to 2023/24 which had been updated to take account of any slippage in the 2018/19 financial year.
Overall the Council’s overspend was expected to be £58,000. Officers would be investigating mitigation measures during the financial year.
RESOLVED: That the report be noted.
Consideration was given to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme.
RESOLVED: That the Work Programme attached at Appendix A be agreed.