Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 11th July, 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: New Council Chamber - Town Hall, Reigate. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services (01737 276182)  Email: Democratic@reigate-banstead.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

12.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the previous meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting on 6 June 2019 be approved as a correct record.

13.

Apologies for absence and substitutions

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of any substitute Members in accordance with the Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Committee Members: Councillors S. Parnall, J. King, C. Neame.

Councillor S. Sinden (substituted for by Councillor S. Fenton)

 

 

14.

Declarations of interest

To receive any Declarations of Interest (including the existence and nature of any Party Whip).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor J. Essex declared a non-pecuniary interest as a director of Furnistore during discussion of Item 15 – Leader’s Update.

15.

Leader's Update

To receive an update on the work of the Council and future plans.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received an update on the work of the Council and its future plans from the Leader of the Council,Councillor Mark Brunt.

The Leader gave an overview on policy development across the Council. Items that were discussed included:

·       The Draft Corporate Plan 2020-25 – this would go out for consultation shortly to get more ideas and wider input from partners and the public, including areas that could have been missed. It was identified that the scrutiny role was very important. Councillors were asked to engage residents in the new Corporate Plan consultation. Tackling climate change would be included following a recent Local Government Association motion in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the role of local government in delivering these.

 

·       Housing Delivery Strategy – the Council strategy focused not on planning or how or where houses are built but on homes for people, social rent, homelessness and the growing affordability gap which was pricing people out of accommodation and the role of local government to support residents. It was not just about managing the housing list and allocating housing but how the Council could take an active role in delivering housing and enabling residents to find homes. There would be more consultation, including input from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The strategy was due to be adopted by the end of the year.

·       Climate change – policy work was continuing to support the environmental motion on climate change that was made at Full Council at its 7 February 2019 meeting. It was looking at what resources would be needed to understand the Council’s environmental impact as an organisation. To make a significant impact it would need to invest in skills to enable it to achieve this.

·       Partnership working – including work with Surrey County Council was continuing. It was looking at services that were delivered to residents and who would be in the best place to deliver that service. This could be a number of organisations including the third sector. It had just carried out a review of the voluntary, community and faith sectors.

 

·       Corporate Planperformance measures – work was ongoing. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were being reviewed to make sure Councillors had the right level of information and data when making decisions. This needed to be local performance measures not just government performance measures. Officers would look to work with the Committee so performance measures and information were more meaningful and timely. It was reported that the Council’s recent Internal Audit into its governance arrangements had received a high rating with the internal auditors satisfied with what the Council was doing. This was a credit to the Committee’s work, including its work on the Commercial Governance review. Although the feedback was very positive it was important not to be complacent.

·       External accounts and auditfor 2018/19 – these would be reviewed at the Executive meeting on 18 July 2019. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee would consider the report from External Auditors in September.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Five Year Plan Performance Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To consider the Council’s performance in 2018/19 relative to its five-year plan, discussed at the Executive on 20 June 2019 and to make any observations.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report on the Council’s performance relative to its five-year plan in the 2018-19 municipal year which had been discussed at the Executive on 20 June 2019.

Leader, Councillor Mark Brunt, introduced the report. He highlighted some key facts such as the excellent work of the family support programme which had a positive impact on families it worked with and the work on the refugee programme.

There were a number of questions and comments on the report, relating to the following topics:

·       Investment in businesses – the report noted that the Harlequin theatre was part of the local business sector that was supported by the Council. Members asked how the Council awarded grants to support the role of the local Council and the public sector and did this include voluntary and community services?

The Leader highlighted the work of Councillor Humphreys and the Head of Economic Prosperity and his team. Recent business awards had showcased thriving local businesses who appreciated the support from the borough including the grants programme. This programme has helped start-up businesses to grow and the £1000 grants have made a big difference to small organisations. If voluntary and faith sectors have innovative business ideas then the Council can look to see if they qualify for grants. It was identified that the Council supported businesses not just with money but with a monthly newsletter, lunch and learn sessions once a month that allowed networking. It was described as “a hidden gem” and it was keen to expand the approach and work with other boroughs across Surrey. A key part is working with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The Leader said that he was due to be appointed to the LEP board in October to represent this borough and the nine boroughs and districts around Gatwick.

It was identified that it was a difficult time for businesses. Canon had announced that due to consolidation of its offices it was sadly closing in Reigate. However, Fidelity conversely was looking to expand. How could the Council support and encourage those larger businesses as well as smaller businesses? Continued engagement with businesses, highlighting what makes the Borough a great place to work was important. The area has a vibrant economy but it is shrinking as businesses are changing. For example, less office space was needed as people worked from home two or three days a week. The Council needs to adapt to this, look through the changing ways of work and have supportive services and policies in place.

·       Money Support Team – it was identified that the Council had supported families but little was known about the work done by the team and the services offered. Members asked for more information about this service.

 

·       Temporary emergency accommodation – it was noted that the provision of council-owned temporary emergency accommodation in Horley had been very successful and had saved the Council money as well as improved support to residents. Could this be expanded to the north of the borough  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

Annual Governance Statement pdf icon PDF 144 KB

To consider the Annual Governance Statement for 2018/19 and the accompanying report as considered by the Executive on 20 June 2019, and to make any observations.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the Annual Governance Statement (AGS) for 2018/19 and the accompanying report that were discussed by the Executive at its meeting on 20 June 2019. This was the annual statement on the Council’s internal control and governance framework which would be published in the Statement of Accounts 2018/19. The Chair noted that he had asked for the AGS to come to the Committee in July, rather than wait until September as in previous years. 

Councillor Tony Schofield, Portfolio Holder for Finance, introduced the item and said the 2019/20 AGS was coming to the Committee earlier so any feedback could be incorporated into the final version before it is signed.

It was noted that the outgoing External Auditors (KPMG) had provided their annual opinion on the overall adequacy and effectiveness of the organisation’s risk management, control and governance processes. They had concluded that the organisation had an adequate and effective framework but further enhancements were identified. Work was continuing to make improvements on these matters. 

It was noted that the Committee had also discussed the Internal Auditors’ report from outgoing Internal Auditors RSM and its positive result at its meeting on 6 June 2019.

Members discussed the item and raised the following questions:

·       Organisational Development strategy – what were the targets and deadlines for this strategy?  Members were advised that this work is being led by the head of Organisational Development and HR but will involve all of the management team and Members of the Employment Committee. It includes a variety of components such as how the Council recruits and retains staff, how it manages their performance and development so they are engaged in and delivering the Corporate Plan effectively.

 

The Council’s biggest resource was staffing. It aimed to be an employer of choice but was facing challenges such as retaining key skills. The Organisational Development strategy would be discussed at the Employment Committee’s meeting on 29 July 2019.

·       One Member asked for more clarification on the statement in the effective financial planning and management section about expenditure and the underspend which was equivalent to 9 per cent of the budget.

 

RESOLVED – the Annual Governance Statement for 2018/19 and the accompanying report was noted.

 

18.

Medium Term Financial Plan Update pdf icon PDF 176 KB

To consider the latest Medium Term Financial Plan (2020/21 to 2024/25) and Budget forecast for 2020/21.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the latest Medium Term Financial Plan update (2020/21 to 2024/25) and Budget forecast for 2020/21.

Councillor Tony Schofield, Portfolio Holder for Finance, introduced this item. He said that local government continues to face a very challenging financial situation. Government funding is set to reduce further so the Council is continually challenged to find new ways to make more efficient use of existing resources while at the same time seeking new sustainable income streams.

The timing for many of the proposed funding changes was unclear – there was speculation that there may be a delay, but the Council needed to plan for implementation next year until formal announcements were made.

Councillor Schofield said that the Committee had been given the opportunity to consider the key budget and financial information earlier in the financial planning cycle that in previous years. The report gave as much information as possible at this early stage in the service and financial planning process to put the financial challenges and plans into context.

 

Members of the Committee were asked to consider and comment on aspects such as:

  - the scale of commercial investment opportunities to be pursued

  - the types of investment that the commercial strategy should focus on

  - the extent of planned borrowing to purchase income generating assets

  - the extent to which investment should be through joint-ventures

  - the relative balance between commercial and people/place objectives when considering new investment opportunities.

 

Members commented on a number of areas of the MTFP update which included:

·       New Homes Bonus Reserve – this was noted to be quite high with no restrictions on use. It was asked if some of this money be given to provide future affordable housing rather than waiting for the draft housing strategy to be completed. The Portfolio Holder for Finance said that the Council had not previously assumed that the grant would continue therefore it was not being used to support the base budget. And the government had set out its intention to end the New Homes Bonus as part of the Fair Funding Review in 2020. Affordable housing was potentially one area being looked at for use of these funds but there was not a firm plan yet.

 

·       Strategic Property – Capital Programme – Members asked for more detail on the list of properties in the Capital Programme in Appendix 2 of the report. It was confirmed that this was mainly expenditure incurred on purchasing property.

 

·       Towns and Villages initiatives – Members asked what would be included in future budgets to fund Corporate Plan priorities for 2020-25 (p58 of the report) that recognise the need for the Council to support towns and villages in the borough to thrive. This included villages that are in the north of the borough such as Banstead village which provided significant income to the whole borough. This would be considered as part of the budget setting process along with other priorities.

 

·       Economic growth – Members asked if any allowance had been made for potential  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Future Work Programme pdf icon PDF 170 KB

To consider any updates to the Work Programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for 2019/20 and consider the Action Tracker from the previous meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the Future Work Programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee 2019/20 and the Action Tracker from the previous meeting.

The Committee noted that the Local Development Forum Scrutiny Panel would no longer be required following the decision of Full Council on 2 July 2019. The Council is not currently preparing a new plan and so there would be no need for the LDF Scrutiny Panel to convene. The Agenda items on the LDF scrutiny review panel constitution at 12 September 2019 meeting and the LDF scrutiny review panel report at 11 December 2019 meeting would therefore be removed.

Members had one outstanding query on the Action tracker on Capital Programme Outturn 2018/10 – Lee Street Bungalows – and had asked for a further response from the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Benefits.

RESOLVED – that subject to the amendments referred to above, the Future Work Programme for 2019/20 be endorsed and the Action Tracker from the previous meeting be noted.

 

20.

Executive

To consider any items arising from the Executive which might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules set out in the Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was reported that there were no items arising from the Executive that might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Procedure Rules.

21.

Any other urgent business

To consider any item(s) which, in the opinion of the Chairman, should be considered as a matter of urgency - Local Government Act 1972, Section 100B(4)(b).

 

(NOTE: Under the Committee and Sub-Committee Procedure Rules set out in the Constitution, items of urgent business must be submitted in writing but may be supplemented by an oral report.)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

 

 

22.

Exempt Business

RECOMMENDED that members of the Press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that:

(i)  it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act; and

(ii)  the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that members of the Press and public be excluded from the meeting for the consideration of Item 12 of the agenda (Medium Term Financial Plan Update (Exempt)) under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 on the grounds that:

(i) it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act; and

(ii) the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

23.

Medium Term Financial Plan Update (Exempt)

To consider any Exempt information in relation to the Medium Term Financial Plan Update.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered information which had been published via an addendum to the agenda, in relation to the Medium Term Financial Plan Update in the exempt part of the meeting.

 

RESOLVED that the exempt information, published via an addendum to the agenda, in relation to the Medium Term Financial Plan Update (Exempt) be noted.

 

 

The meeting closed at 10.05pm.