Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 11th June, 2020 7.30 pm

Venue: Remote Meeting

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

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chair

To elect a Chair of the Committee for this Municipal Year 2020/21.

Minutes:

The Committee elected a Chair for this Municipal Year 2020/21. Cllr N. Harrison was proposed by Cllr S. Parnall and seconded by Cllr S. Walsh.

RESOLVED that Cllr N. Harrison be elected Chair of the Committee for this Municipal Year 2020/21.

 

2.

Election of Vice-Chair

To elect a Vice-Chair of the Committee for this Municipal Year 2020/21.

Minutes:

The Committee elected a Vice-Chair for this Committee for the Municipal Year 2020/21. Cllr S. Walsh was proposed by Cllr N. Harrison and seconded by Cllr M. Blacker.

RESOLVED that Cllr S. Walsh be elected Vice-Chair of the Committee for this Municipal Year 2020/21.

 

3.

Apologies for absence and substitutions

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

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 105 KB

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

Minutes:

The Minutes of the previous meeting on 20 February 2020 were approved as a correct record of the meeting.

5.

Declarations of interest

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

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest.

6.

To agree a start time for meetings of Overview and Scrutiny

The Committee is asked to agree its preferred start time for meetings for 2020/21.

Minutes:

The Committee discussed its preferred start time for meetings for 2020/21. It was agreed to keep the start time to 7.30pm as Members who worked would find it difficult to attend meetings that started earlier.

7.

Internal audit 2019/20 - annual report and opinion pdf icon PDF 129 KB

To note the annual report and opinion 2019/20 and make any observations on the report to the Council’s Chief Financial Officer.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members discussed the Internal Audit 2019/20 Annual Report and Opinion. Neil Pitman, Head of Internal Auditors, Southern Internal Audit Partnership (SIAP), gave an overview of the report and work carried out over the year. It was a positive report and reflected favourably on the organisation. The report concluded that Reigate and Banstead Borough Council’s framework of governance, risk management and control was ‘Adequate’ and audit testing had demonstrated controls to be working in practice. This rating was good and one below the top rating of ‘Substantial’. The report gave an overview of the reports across 15 review areas that SIAP undertook during the year. There were no ‘Limited’ or ‘No’ assurance levels.

The impact of Covid-19 on the Council would be fully considered in the 2020/21 Audit Plan. As regards the 2019/20 audit opinion, the only impact on the full delivery of the plan was to defer the audit of information security. This will be picked up in the 2020/21 plan. Work included an audit of the Main Accounting system with a focus on the processing of journals and timeliness of bank reconciliations. The review of programme and project management review acted as an advisory audit, effectively as a consultancy piece of work and focused on the governance arrangements following the establishment of a Programme Management Office (PMO) and development of the Project Management Framework. Annex 1 (Annual Report and Opinion) listed the individual audit reviews undertaken and opinions. Mr Pitman placed on record his appreciation to officers and Members of the Committee to enable the audit plan to be completed. This was the first year that SIAP were RBBC’s Internal Auditors.

Members discussed the report and made the following comments:

·         It was comforting to have no ‘Limited Assurance’ reviews which was unusual compared to other Councils and very positive.

·         It was noted that this report came to this Committee as it had undertaken the responsibilities of the Audit Committee. Next year, a separate Audit Committee had been set up and this would now look at audit matters for the year ahead.

·         Advance questions had been submitted by Members which included a question on why the audit of Programme and Project Management had not been given an assurance level. (This was because this was an advisory audit). Also, had a remediation programme and ongoing monitoring been agreed to update the policies and procedures notes and how many sets of policies and procedures needed to be updated? Officers said they would provide a written answer on the management actions and the timeline to complete these. The Committee asked for this to be added to the Action Tracker to monitor in the future. It would liaise with the Audit Committee on this action.

·         Members had also asked how many high priority recommendations were raised in this year’s audits and how many had yet to be implemented and were overdue? It was noted that there were 17 high priority management actions raised during the year which including 10 on Main Accounting. Members were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Quarterly Performance Report Q4 2019/20 and Provisional Budget Outturn Report Q4 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 83 KB

To consider progress in the Council’s performance for the fourth quarter in the year 2019/20, including KPIs and risk management, and make any observations to the Executive.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered progress in the Council’s performance for the fourth quarter in the year 2019/20, including Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and risk management. Cllr V. Lewanski, Portfolio Holder for Corporate Direction and Governance, gave an overview of the report to the Committee. It noted that this was the last quarter 4 performance report based on the current KPIs and next quarter will have the new KPIs. 

Members made the following observations and comments on the following areas:

·         Risk management   strategic risks covered medium to long term impacts on the Council and it was not fully understood in Quarter 4 what impact Covid-19 would impose on the Council as an organisation (due to the timeline surrounding Covid-19). The new strategic risks for 2020-21 have been updated to reflect the impact of Covid-19.

·         Welfare reform and homelessness –Strategic Risk 6 was on welfare reform. Members asked that given the Covid-19 response and the additional resources needed to accommodate homeless people in temporary accommodation, such as temporary units in Donyngs car park, would the Council have a moral responsibility for homeless people and the extra costs incurred? The Leader responded that it was following government guidance. It was a combined effort with the Council and the health authority to not only find accommodation for homeless people but deal with the issues that led to people becoming homeless such as addiction and mental health problems. The Director of People said a written update would be given to the Committee to give more detailed costs.  Since lockdown on 23 March up to 5 June, the Council had placed 66 households in emergency accommodation and 35 directly due to government directives to house people due to Covid-19. Thirty-one of those were as a result of the Homelessness Reduction Act. There were significantly more single people than families with 17 families in total. However, with the courts closed and evictions stopped until August there were fewer families coming to the Council for help. There had been some successes with more difficult cases of rough sleepers. Members asked what the Council was doing to prepare once evictions restarted after 23 August when quite a few families could come to the Council for help. the Council was preparing for this scenario. Massetts Road at the moment was for families only but only at half occupancy to avoid the need of having shared bathrooms. The August extension enabled the Council to get Massetts Road to full occupancy by September and also increase work with local Housing Associations. It was also working with landlords to try and prevent eviction in the first place.

·         Financial sustainability and new commercial revenue – Members had asked via the Advance Questions process to confirm the level of new commercial revenue targets (net of costs) included in the 2020/21 Plan. The Interim Head of Finance said that the 2020/21 Budget that was approved in February this year by Full Council included continuation of rental income from its property portfolio only. There is not forecast to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Constitution of Recovery Scrutiny Panel and Evaluating Overview and Scrutiny Panel pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To receive a report on the constitution of a Recovery Scrutiny Panel and an Evaluating Overview and Scrutiny Panel for the year 2020/21.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report to set up the Recovery Scrutiny Panel and the Evaluating Overview and Scrutiny Panel which included a proposed timeline.

The nominations for the four Conservative Members of each Panel would be given to the Committee at a later date. The opposition Members for the Recovery Scrutiny Panel were as follows: Residents’ Association – Cllr N. Harrison, Green Party – Cllr S. Sinden, Liberal Democrats – Cllr J. Philpott. The opposition Members for the Evaluating Overview and Scrutiny Panel were as follow: Residents’ Association – Cllr R. Feeney, Green Party – Cllr J. Essex and Liberal Democrats – Cllr J. Philpott.

RESOLVED – that the Recovery Scrutiny Panel and the Evaluating Overview and Scrutiny Panel be constituted.

 

 

10.

Covid-19 - Response to Date and Recovery Workstreams pdf icon PDF 636 KB

To receive a verbal update on the Council’s response to the Covid-19 emergency and the Recovery workstreams.

Minutes:

Members received a verbal update on the Council’s response to the Covid-19 emergency and the Recovery workstreams from the Leader, Cllr M. Brunt, and Deputy Leader, Cllr T. Schofield.

The Leader praised the Council’s workforce as all staff had gone above and beyond in response to the pandemic. This was changing the way and residents saw the Council as a more human face. This reflected well for the future. There had also been fantastic support from Members who were working hard in their communities. The Harlequin support centre had been set up and 1550 emergency food packages, 320 prescriptions deliveries and over 3000 hot meals had been cooked and delivered to vulnerable residents. This was despite not providing meals on wheels for 20 plus years. It was supporting local foodbanks and charities and 23,000 items had been distributed to existing foodbanks and charities. It was also supporting Voluntary Action Reigate & Banstead to coordinate the 900 new volunteers.

The Council was also supporting homeless people. This would not end when lockdown finishes as the Council has a responsibility for them. This also linked into its commitment to provide affordable housing and do more to deliver our homes ourselves.

The Leader reported that the Council has highest number of shielded residents in the county. It had contacted over 4,600 shielded residents to understand the support they need and made over 100 calls a week to residents to check in with them and provide a friendly ear. The impact had been huge. Volunteers had also been used including support from the YMCA. Members of staff had been making calls from their homes. The Customer Contact Team had been answering and assisting over 1,250 callers each week.

The back-office teams such as ICT and HR also had to adapt quickly as the Council moved 250 people from the office to working in a home environment almost overnight. The Council was also one of the first to get out business rates grants to local businesses and worked with suppliers to pay businesses promptly.

It was noted that there had been a huge amount of additional waste and recycling, described as ‘like Christmas’ every day and this was up by 30 per cent. The garden waste service had been suspended. The key reason was to ensure that the Council could maintain the essential services of refuse collections and recycling. RBBC collects paper and card weekly unlike other Councils who collect this fortnightly. Two crews were taken away from the garden waste service and were reallocated to other rounds. There was also a reduction in staff as some were unwell or self-isolating. The Council did successfully manage to maintain the rounds of waste and recycling without a break. The cleansing team were dealing with a massive increase in fly tipping incidents (275 incidents in the last week alone). A lot of rubbish had been left at our recycling sites including huge amounts of boxes and cardboard.

The Redstone Cemetery team worked hard to ensure they could cope  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Annual Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To approve the Annual Report of the Committee for recommendation to Council, and to make any additional observations to Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members noted the Annual Report of the Committee 2019/20 for recommendation of Council which included membership and attendance for the year.

 

RESOLVED that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee: Annual Report 2019/20 be approved to go to the next Full Council meeting.

 

12.

Local Development Framework Scrutiny Panel: Notes from meeting pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To note the LDF Scrutiny Review Panel review of the public consultation responses of the Draft Supplementary Planning Documents from the Panel meeting in February.

Minutes:

Members reviewed the notes from the LDF Scrutiny Review Panel review of the public consultation responses of the Draft Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs) Panel meeting in February.

Cllr P. Harp, Chair of the Panel, said Members had looked at the public responses to four SPDs which were on Affordable Housing, Barn and Farm Conversions, Historic Park and Gardens and Reigate Shop Front Design. The comments had gone to the Executive for approval at the next meeting.

RESOLVED that the LDF Scrutiny Review Panel review of the public consultation responses of the Draft Supplementary Planning Documents Panel meeting be noted.

 

13.

Future Work Programme pdf icon PDF 127 KB

To consider updates to the Work Programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for 2020/21 and to consider the Action Tracker from the previous meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members discussed the Future Work Programme for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for 2020/21 and considered the Action Tracker from the previous meetings.

It was noted that the audit reports had been taken out of the work programme following the agreement at Full Council to set up a new Audit Committee. As a result, there were fewer Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings during the year. The Evaluating Overview and Scrutiny Panel would look at opportunities to expand the work of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Committee would continue to review the work of the Budget Scrutiny Panel and consider the Companies Performance updates.

Members asked for a progress update on the Trust Funds relating to the Reigate Baths Trust Fund and Commons Trust which had been raised at the Committee meeting in December. The Chair would follow-up with the Head of Legal and Governance.

The House of Commons report into the effectiveness of scrutiny and the follow-up government report was highlighted as a good report for the Evaluating Overview and Scrutiny Panel to review in its work. Reports from the Centre for Public Scrutiny were also highlighted. Work was ongoing to research other neighbouring authorities and their overview and scrutiny work.

RESOLVED that the Future Work Programme for 2020/21 and the observations of the Committee be noted.

 

14.

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.

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.

15.

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.)

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.