Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 15th July, 2021 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

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:

Apologies were received from Councillor Parnall and Councillor Whinney. There were no substitutions.

Councillor Blacker and Councillor Turner attended remotely so could not vote.

14.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 235 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Minutes of the last meeting on 17 June 2021 were approved.

15.

Declarations of interest

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest.

16.

Leader's Update

To receive an update from the Leader of the Council, Cllr Mark Brunt.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received an update from the Leader, Councillor Brunt about the ongoing activities and key work ahead for the Council.

The response to COVID-19 was continuing and the third wave was expected to peak in August/September this year. Some social distancing measures still needed to be maintained after 19 July  including in the Town Hall offices for staff. There remained a need to be cautious while virus rates were rising. Council officers had been involved in supporting the recent surge testing in the Borough and the Leader thanked them for their work in this and their continuing work going the extra mile to respond to the pandemic and support residents. The Council continued to maintain its services despite all the challenges. The Leader was keen to make sure staff took some holiday over the summer as there would be further challenges in the autumn and winter months. Vaccination rates were progressing well with slightly lower take up in Redhill and in the north of the Borough. A number of pop-up vaccination centres were proving to be popular.

The Mayor’s Volunteer Awards were focusing on recognising the voluntary work during the pandemic and the winners would be announced in September. The Council was continuing to support local businesses during COVID-19 and beyond with business grants and through the work of the Economic Prosperity team. It had recently run an entrepreneurs’ academy which had attracted a number of candidates. A ‘Dragon’s Den’ type scenario had been organised and the judges were impressed with the quality of ideas from the entrants.

The Leader thanked the work of the Interim Head of Finance, Pat Main, finance team and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance, Councillor Schofield, for their work on the budget last year. The Council had come out in a relatively strong position, despite COVID-19 challenges, with the team working to ensure that all COVID-19 costs (including the recent surge testing) were recovered for the Council from central government.

The local elections had been delivered safely and successfully despite the challenges of COVID-19, social distancing and running three elections simultaneously. It was a credit to the elections team and all those who worked during the elections that the process had run so smoothly.

Ongoing activity included Marketfield Way which was a major development in Redhill. This continued to move forward at a good pace and was due to open in 2022. The development aimed to attract visitors to Redhill, in particular in the evenings. The Leader stressed it was important for the Council to continue to invest and support development in Redhill. The Harlequin had benefited from a £100k culture recovery fund grant from central government and would be reopening in the next week. It was still offering socially distanced seating for those residents who were still concerned about going out and offering socially distanced screenings.

The Leader reported that there was a backlog of housing evictions which was putting additional pressure on the housing team. Effective plans were in place, but it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

Community Centres pdf icon PDF 434 KB

To note the proposals for the three Community Centres in Banstead, Woodhatch and Horley and make any observations for consideration by the Executive.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received a report on the transformation of the three community centres in Banstead, Horley and Woodhatch.

Councillor Ashford, Executive Member and Portfolio Holder for Community Partnerships, gave an introduction and overview to the report which set out progress made and public surveys that had been carried out. It found that the community centres operated in an outdated over-50s club model with the Council’s approach needing to be refreshed. The new multi-use community centres will continue to welcome existing users but plan to offer services for more residents of different age groups. The COVID-19 pandemic had severely curtailed service delivery from the centres, although some services have continued to be delivered. More than 1200 residents had responded to the survey regarding the proposed changes and there was huge interest from people who wanted a place to meet and connect with others. Community development teams could also use the centres to support people. A food club had been set up in Woodhatch and Horley, and a new programme was being developed in Horley to support under-fives. A dementia support group was being set up in Horley.

The plan was to bolster the team and develop leadership and market the changes with a local promotion and engagement campaign. The programme was seeking an additional budget growth proposal of £71k for new staff resource through service and financial planning for 2022/23 onwards to deliver and sustain the planned changes. The programme was also bidding for £15k from the Corporate Plan Delivery Fund Reserve in 2021/22 to deliver re-branding and marketing for the centres.

Councillor Ashford thanked officers, particularly Head of Community Partnerships, Justine Chatfield, and Transformation Manager, Isabel Wootton, for their work and commitment to the project.  Councillor Ashford asked for the Committee to note the proposals and make any observations for the Executive to consider.

Members welcomed the report and update and made the following observations and comments:

Learning and development – Members asked if this was for the staff and volunteers or for the residents themselves? It was confirmed that this was for staff and volunteers and there was an opportunity to increase this learning and development with the Council and other partner organisations.

Future look of the community centres – Members asked what good would look like in regard to the community centres in two years’ time. This would not be a ‘once size fits all’ approach and services would develop differently in the three local community centres, driven by what local people wanted to see. There were opportunities to expand services later in the day and at weekends and to make use of these spaces throughout the week. The plan was to engage with a wider age range of residents and more diverse communities with different activities organised for different groups.

Engaging with local schools – Members wanted to know more about engagement with local schools to find out what services could be provided and extend the care given within schools where families needed additional support. If communities wanted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2022/23 to 2026/27 pdf icon PDF 195 KB

To receive a report and consider the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2022/23 to 2026/27.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received a report and update on the Medium-Term Financial Plan 2022/23 to 2026/27 from Councillor Schofield, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance and Governance.

The report to the Committee set out the background and context for the budget elements of service and financial planning for 2022/23 onwards. It provided an early opportunity for Members to consider the factors that will be taken into account when preparing draft budget estimates that are scheduled to be reported in November. Similar to other local authorities, the Council was facing a challenging financial future with an underlying budget gap. Budget efficiencies had been achieved and Reserves remained buoyant, but the Council was seeking new sustainable income streams and sources of income. The report excluded service growth and savings and the outcome of the fees and charges review as well as any government funding announcements. Councillor Schofield asked for the Committee to note the report and provide any comments which could be taken into account as work on the budget progressed.

Members welcomed the report and made the following observations and comments:

Costs and inflation – it was noted that the budget report included an updated forecast for pay cost inflation. Members asked about short and medium-term risks and cost increases and inflation, particularly with uncertainty of cuts from central government. A working assumption in the document was that there would be a similar pay rise to last year. More detail would be known when consultation started between the Council as employer and the unions. The Council recognised that inflation was rising and was keeping a close eye on this. There may be increased costs from suppliers, and, where significant, these would be reflected in the draft budget in the autumn. Cost inflation was recognised as a MTFP key risk in the report.

Borrowing for capital projects – Members welcomed the capital projects that were underway and asked about the borrowing that needed to be paid back as there would be a lag between completing a project and an income stream being established. It was confirmed that financial forecasts for each project were set out in the project business case initially and revenue budget was allocated for interest payments and capital repayments (MRP) costs. There was also a balance to be achieved between purely financial returns and wider social benefits of a project for the community. For example, the Cromwell Road development included different types of housing tenancies for social benefit. The Commercial Ventures Executive Sub-Committee analysed the financial implications of business cases to ensure they deliver value for residents.

Capital programme – the report set out the previously-approved capital programme for 2021/22 to 2025/26. This included the Cromwell Road development as well as Marketfield Way development in Redhill. Members asked if further information about the commercial returns for Marketfield Way and other capital projects and the housing programme could be included in future reports. Councillor Schofield confirmed that MTFP forecasts do not yet include revenue projections for projects not yet completed. Pat  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Capital Investment Strategy 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 186 KB

To receive a report on the Capital Investment Strategy 2022/23.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report and briefing on the Capital Investment Strategy 2022/23 from Councillor Schofield, Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance and Governance.

It reflected further development work in this area over the past year and set out the approach to capital investment plans and priorities and covered the assets that the Council owns and their performance. It confirmed that new capital investment decisions took account of stewardship, value for money, prudence, sustainability, affordability, and risks.

Horley Business Park – Members asked about the Horley Business Park project and how this was captured in this Strategy. The Interim Head of Finance, Pat Main, confirmed that the loan to purchase the site was reported in the Council’s annual statement of accounts with Greensands Holdings Limited owning the land assets.

Council assets – Members noted that Table 3 in the report set out the Council assets and gross yields for 2020/21. This included Crown House, Redhill and Regent House, Redhill. Table 2 included significant assets such as Marketfield Way. Members asked when these properties would be revalued as they had not been valued since 1 March 2020. It was confirmed that updated property valuations would be prepared for the final accounts for 2020/21. Members asked about the Council’s investment in Pathway for Care. It was confirmed that this comprised of preference shares and were therefore excluded from the physical assets list. They also asked for a list of other properties the Council owned but were not listed in Table 2. It was confirmed that the Strategy included a link to where they were reported on the Council’s website as part of the Local Government Transparency Code.

Commercial activity action plan and annual outturn report – Members asked for more information about these reports (refer to pages 176 and 181). A written response would be provided.

Commercial developments and investment – funds have previously been allocated in the Capital Programme for commercial development and commercial investment, but these investments had not yet been made (as set out in Table 6). Members asked for confirmation whether these were commitments to a general investment intention rather than a specific project? Councillor Schofield explained that, as the commercial strategy Part 2 takes form, this would confirm the likely timeline for when these investments would be made. The response to COVID-19 had delayed work on the Strategy but it was now resuming.

Commercial governance framework – Members asked if there were plans to update the commercial governance framework 2019. It was confirmed that this framework was still valid and provided a logical progression for making commercial decisions. It was not out of date although there were other mechanisms that could be used in conjunction with this framework.

RESOLVED that the Committee:

(i)             Noted the report and raised comments for consideration by Executive that are set out in the Minutes.

20.

Constitution of Hybrid Working Panel pdf icon PDF 156 KB

(i)             To constitute O&S Hybrid Working Panel to consider progress on hybrid working proposals following COVID-19 remote working.

(ii)            To agree that the O&S Local Plan Scruitny Panel membership be increased to seven Members (four taken from the Conservative Group and one each from the Green, Liberal Democrats and Residents’ Association groups).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report to constitute a Hybrid Working Scrutiny Panel to consider proposals on post COVID-19 remote working. It considered membership, the draft timetable and the scope and Terms of Reference of the Panel’s work.

It was agreed that Group Leaders would finalise the nomination of members of the panel from each political group.

It was also agreed that a second Panel which had been set up at an earlier meeting – the Local Plan Scrutiny Panel – would be increased from five Members to seven Members.

RESOLVED that the Committee:

(i)    Constituted O&S Hybrid Working Panel to consider proposals on post COVID-19 remote working;

(ii)    Agreed that the O&S Local Plan Scrutiny Panel membership be increased to 7 members from 5 members.

21.

O&S Work Programme Schedule 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 146 KB

To consider and agree any changes to the schedule for Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Forward Work Programme 2021/22 and consider the Action Tracker from the previous meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the future work programme for the Committee as set out in Annex 1 to the report. It was confirmed that representatives from Raven Housing Trust had been invited to speak to the Committee at their next meeting in September as well as the Portfolio Holder for Housing & Support.

The Action Tracker was noted. Members asked for a date on the flats recycling roll-out timeline and updated plan.

RESOLVED that the Committee:

(i)             Noted the proposed future work programme of the Committee and the updated Action Tracker.

22.

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 Procedure Rules.

23.

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 was no urgent business.