Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Commission - Wednesday, 20th April, 2022 5.30 p.m.

The Agenda for this meeting will be published 5 clear working days before the scheduled date of the meeting. The Minutes and Decisions for this meeting will normally be published within 9 working days following the date of the meeting.

Note: this does not apply to Scrutiny Working Groups or Scrutiny Commissioners meetings, please contact the relevant Scrutiny Officer for more information on the work programme for these Groups.

Venue: Council Chamber - Council Offices, Narborough

Contact: Sandeep Tiensa  0116 272 7640

Items
No. Item

1.

Disclosures of Interests from Members

To receive disclosures of interests from Members (ie. The existence and the nature of those interests in respect of items on this agenda).

Minutes:

No disclosures were received.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 144 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 9 February 2022 (enclosed).

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 9 February 2022, as circulated, were approved and signed as a correct record.

3.

Scrutiny Commission welcome to Chief Executive

For Scrutiny Commission to welcome the Chief Executive, Julia Smith and to understand forthcoming priorities and plans for the Council and for the District.

 

The Chief Executive will provide a verbal update at the meeting.

Minutes:

The Chairman, Cllr. Geoff Welsh welcomed the Chief Executive, Julia Smith to the meeting.

 

The Chief Executive’s presentation was summarised as follows:

 

·         Day 2 of new role when Huncote Leisure Centre situation arose – support from Members and Officers was greatly appreciated. Saw first-hand professionalism from staff dealing with the situation.

·         Peer Review – was positive for Blaby District Council

·         A new ICT Partnership – as well as rolling out new kit for Members and Officers

·         First Council to issue £150 payments to residents

·         The Council has strong partnerships – Lightbulb, Land Charges, Building Control

·         The ‘Blaby way’ is real and valued by staff and councillors

·         Peer Review said Blaby has a good commitment to Green Agenda and strategic growth planning

·         Fantastic response to Covid and Huncote Leisure Centre

·         Need to refocus on performance and service plans

·         Lots of new people have started work at the Council who need supporting and working from home is embedding

 

Priorities:

·         Transformation Programme  - service delivery, financial challenge, commerciality (are we commercial enough – managing risk)

·         Performance and Service planning – focus on measuring the right things and planning our services for the future

·         Looking after our people – staff development programme and mental health support

·         Review of Blaby District Plan – ensure it is fit for purpose

 

How:

·         Service Delivery – Capacity building, digital transformation, doing things differently e.g. shared services

·         Financial – Identifying savings, income generation, increase appetite for risk in commerciality

·         Our People – The Blaby way, developing our people, ensuring staff are empowered and can make a difference, high performing and communication

·         Service Plan – Know priorities, provide focus

·         Performance – Measuring the right things, add value, outcome focused, new framework

 

Next Steps:

 

·         Peer Review report and develop an action plan

·         Build capacity in the organisation

·         Update the financial plan

·         Develop the transformation approach

·         Create service plans

·         Learning and development

 

The Chairman asked the Chief Executive about the key priority in the Transformation agenda.

 

The Chief Executive responded that although the Transformation project itself was wide, one of the key priorities was digital and ‘enter once’ systems. Systems need to be 24/7, in a more Amazon like approach, but also supporting those vulnerable residents in accessing digital services. Transformation also includes engaging staff to review own services including what could be provided digitally and what is important to the customer. However this needed exploring further and is only at the preliminary stages.

 

The Chairman, Cllr. Geoff Welsh asked what additional improvements the Chief Executive would make?

 

The Chief Executive responded with the following points:

 

·         Performance Monitoring – this was a concerning area, as the Council was unable to monitor how services were being delivered, what is good and where the focus needs to be. 

·         Lack of Service Planning -  and how the plans link to the Blaby District Plan.

·         Financial Gap – but with the Transformation agenda it could be managed and addressed.

 

The Chairman presented his concerns about the MTFS (Medium Term Financial Strategy) and how gaps could be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Changes to Planning Committee Call-in pdf icon PDF 234 KB

To consider the report of the Planning & Strategic Growth Group Manager. (To follow).

Minutes:

The Chairman, Cllr. Geoff Welsh welcomed the Development Services Manager and Cllr. Ben Taylor – Planning Delivery and Enforcement & Corporate Transformation Portfolio Holder.

 

The Development Services Manager presented the report which covered the following points:

 

·         Council’s Constitution sets out which types of planning applications are determined by Planning Committee

·         Under the current scheme the call-in procedure is ambiguous on whether Members can call-in all planning applications, or only those in their own Wards.

 

The Chairman queried whether the current scheme provided the best of both worlds where a resident was able to approach any Councillor?

 

The Portfolio Holder, Cllr. Ben Taylor referred to the original Working Group that reviewed the Terms of Reference for Planning Committee six years ago,  where the Call-in procedure was originally updated, and discussions were held then about whether applications ought to be called in by Members from their own ward only. Cllr. Taylor expressed that Ward Members know their own ward over other Councillors more and it’s a privilege that ought to sit with Ward Members.

 

Cllr. Louise Richardson declared that she was a member of Planning Committee but had not taken part in any of these discussions prior to the meeting. If a Member was to call-in an application then they ought to discuss it with the Ward Member to understand the reasoning and why they had not called it in themselves.

 

Cllr. Mark Jackson queried how many single Member wards the District had and what measures would be put in place if that Member was unable to perform their duties. What support would be available?

 

The Development Services Manager responded that the issue would be escalated to the Planning & Strategic Growth Group Manager to investigate further. The Portfolio Holder, Cllr. Ben Taylor responded that the example provided where a Councillor was unable to respond to resident queries due to poor health, or any other reason was quite rare and assistance would be provided to that Councillor.

 

The Development Services Manager responded that Officers were able to use delegated powers and discretion in specific circumstances where allowed by the Constitution.

 

Cllr. Nick Brown asked for the reasoning behind the amendment and provided an example of where he called in an application for a resident outside of his Ward. The resident needed immediate assistance due to the deadline of calling in the application. Cllr. Nick Brown asked the Portfolio Holder why this was an issue that needed rectifying.

 

The Portfolio Holder, Cllr. Ben Taylor responded that the resident may have approached Cllr Brown through his current role at the Town Council, and as elected Members, the resident ought to be approaching their own Ward Member.

 

Cllr. Nick Brown responded that he was unaware of the reasons why the resident did not approach their own Ward Councillor, but that he did consult the appropriate Ward Members before submitting the call-in.  Cllr. Nick Brown questioned the reasoning behind amending the current procedure.

 

The Chairman, Cllr. Geoff Welsh, in light of the number of questions to be asked,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Arriva Click - Work Scrutiny Working Group Final Report pdf icon PDF 213 KB

To consider the report of the Work Scrutiny Working Group (enclosed)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman, Cllr Geoff Welsh who was also the Chair of the Work Scrutiny Working Group introduced the item to Members.

 

Members were supportive of expanding Arriva Click into other areas in the District, however it appeared  that Officers were reluctant in having discussions with Leicestershire County Council (LCC) on this subject.

 

The Democratic & Scrutiny Services Officer presented the report to Members and commented that the final report would be considered by Cabinet Executive at its next meeting on 9 May 2022.

 

The Portfolio Holder, Cllr. Ben Taylor responded that a formal response would be provided to Scrutiny and that there were not initial objections to the recommendation.  Officers work closely with LCC and will look at encouraging these initiatives where possible.

6.

Consideration of Forward Plan Items (to follow) pdf icon PDF 296 KB

Minutes:

No items were raised for further information or examination.

7.

Further Actions for Scrutiny arising from Meeting

Minutes:

No further actions were identified.