Venue: Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN
Contact: Kevin Jacob Principal Democratic Services Officer
To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 24 March 2015.
The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 24 March 2015 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The Chairman commented that there were a number of points arising from the minutes that he wished to follow up as follows:
· Minute 62: Had the resolved action under 2) been actioned? Kevin Jacob confirmed that the clerk to the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Chairman had been informed of the Committee’s request that it seek assurance of the level of performance of Indicator 5 Safeguarding;
· Minute 63: Had the resolved actions under 2) and 3) been actioned? Kevin Jacob commented that ways to minimise delays in the performance management reporting schedule would be considered in setting future Committee dates and that ways to circulate performance management information as soon as possible after Executive Briefings had been considered;
· Minute 64: Had the resolved action 2) been actioned? Kevin Jacob confirmed that the Committee’s request that it be consulted on the draft grass cutting contract specification had been passed on to the Executive Member for Environment and Head of Community Services;
· Minute 65: Had the resolved action under 2) been actioned? Kevin Jacob commented that Officers had been informed of the Committee’s request that they provide a further update to the Committee following further stakeholder engagement;
· Minute 66: Had the resolved actions under 4) and 5) been actioned. Kevin Jacob responded that an item on emergency alert mechanisms had been scheduled for the Committee meeting in November 2015, but that he had not yet actioned 5);
· Minute 68: The Chairman commented that he had written to the Leader of the Council to express the Committee’s concerns regarding the cancellation of reports to the Executive concerning the business of Council owned companies and therefore he had been pleased to note that the May Executive Agenda had included a Council companies report.
The Chairman also commented that he had asked Officers in future to produce a list of the actions arising from each meeting.
To receive any apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were submitted from Pauline Helliar-Symons and John Jarvis.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest
A declaration of interest was submitted from Norman Jorgensen on the grounds that his wife Pauline Jorgensen had submitted a scrutiny review suggestion concerning potholes and road maintenance.
Public Question Time
To answer any public questions
A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.
The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of this committee.
Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting. For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions
There were no public questions.
Member Question Time
To answer any member questions
There were no Member questions.
To receive a report regarding changes to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee structure.
The Committee considered a report setting out proposed changes to the Overview and Scrutiny committee structure by the disbanding of the Community Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the transfer of its functions to the Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee. The Chairman had agreed that the item be considered as an urgent item and copies of the report had been circulated to the Committee with a Supplementary Agenda.
The Chairman presented the report and commented that he recognised that the timing of the report had not been ideal, in that the annual Council meeting had recently taken place. However, the consideration of the work programme of the Council’s overview and scrutiny committees for 2015/2016 had provided an appropriate opportunity to consider whether the committee structure should be amended.
At the invitation of the Chairman, Councillors Younis and Jorgensen gave their views as the Chairman of the Community Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Younis commented that he recognised that the whilst the two Committees had been established in 2013 with different Terms of Reference, the workload of the Community Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee had decreased over time and taking account of the expected workload for 2015/2016 it was not the best use of resources to maintain the Committee. Councillor Jorgensen commented that he felt the additional workload could potentially be accommodated by the Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, but this would need to be carefully monitored. He asked Members to take into consideration that members of the Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny would be involved in a review of Commuter Parking.
In discussing the proposal, the following points were made:
· The focus of Community Partnerships had been external partnerships. This was still an important area of work for the Council moving forward and would need to be retained within overview and scrutiny;
· Could the Committee be put into a dormant state? Yes, this could happen, but in those circumstances the Members would remain appointed and the Chairman would continue to be entitled to receive a Special Responsibility Allowance;
· Consideration would need to be given to renaming the Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee to reflect its expanded role. Members were encouraged to submit ideas for a new name to Kevin Jacob.
· The outstanding work of the Community Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee in looking at Outside Bodies should be completed and the its scheduled meeting of 15 June 2015 go ahead.
· Would the number of Members on the Committee be sufficient? It was felt that eight Committee Members would be sufficient.
RESOLVED: That the Committee recommends to Council that the Community Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee be disbanded as of 24 July 2015 and its functions and responsibilities be transferred to the Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
To consider a list of submitted overview and scrutiny review suggestions for the 2015/2016 municipal year in light of the work programmes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees and the Council’s Corporate Vision and Priorities.
The Committee considered a report on Agenda pages 17 to 67 which set out details of the ongoing work programme of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and the Overview and Scrutiny Committees together with a list of new scrutiny suggestions received for the 2015/2016 municipal year. The Committee was reminded that the purpose of the item was to decide whether a suggestion should be progressed to a review or not.
Prior to the discussion of the items, the Chairman outlined the arrangements that would be followed for individuals to introduce their suggestions.
Kevin Jacob advised the Committee in considering the suggestions to take account of the review selection criteria set out on Agenda page 18 which were:
· Whether the issue is of local, and preferably current, concern;
· Whether the undertaking of the review can be linked to the Council’s Vision, priorities and underpinning principles or would help achieve these;
· Whether the topic is already being reviewed elsewhere within the Council;
· Is the topic one that is capable of being influenced by the Committee;
· Is the topic of manageable scope – not too wide-ranging and yet of sufficient size to warrant a scrutiny review;
· Whether sufficient resources are available to support the scrutiny review;
· If a review is warranted, should it have a high, medium or low priority?
· Whether the review should be undertaken by the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee itself, delegated to an Overview and Scrutiny Committee or a Task and Finish Group created to undertake the review?
He also asked the Committee to bear in mind the limited resources available within the Democratic Services Team to support any new review and also drew its attention to the scrutiny reviews that were currently in progress.
Consideration of the individual scrutiny reviews is set out below:
The Potential Impact and Consequences of the New Government’s Right to Buy Scheme – Councillor Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey
Members were referred to the detail of the suggestion form as set out on Agenda pages 51 to 51 which asked for a review to be undertaken into the potential impact of the new Government’s Right to Buy Scheme on the Council’s housing stock, the Borough’s Housing Needs Register, residents in need of housing and overall available housing.
Councillor Prue Bray presented the suggestion on behalf of Councillor Shepherd-DuBey and commented that whilst the detail of the proposals were not yet known, there was the potential for the proposed changes to have a significant impact on the Council, both in financial terms and for people on the housing waiting list. It was important to plan for the impacts and where possible, mitigate against the potential negative impacts of the scheme.
In discussing the suggestion, Members felt that it raised important issues that needed to be explored. It was felt that the changes could potentially affect the Council’s approach to the provision of social housing, including upon the Council’s own housing company. However, it was also noted that until more detail was available on the Government’s proposals ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To consider the current published version of the Executive Forward Programme
The Committee considered an updated version of the Executive Forward Programme which had been circulated to Members separately.
RESOLVED: That the Executive Forward Programme as circulated at the meeting be noted.