Agenda and draft minutes

Finance & Performance Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 30th November, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: the Preston Room, Woodgate Chambers, Woodgate, Loughborough. View directions

Items
No. Item

18.

MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETING pdf icon PDF 233 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 7th September 2021 were confirmed as a correct record and signed.

19.

DISCLOSURES OF PECUNIARY AND PERSONAL INTERESTS

Minutes:

Councillor Taylor declared an interest as the LCC representative on the Town Deal Board.  This was declared when item 9 on the agenda was being considered due to discussion on funding from the Town Deal Board for the Bedford Square, Loughborough scheme.  

20.

DECLARATIONS - THE PARTY WHIP

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

21.

QUESTIONS UNDER SCRUTINY COMMITTEE PROCEDURE 11.16

No questions were submitted.

Minutes:

No questions had been submitted.

22.

COMMUNITY SAFETY PARTNERSHIP pdf icon PDF 279 KB

A report of the Head of Neighbourhood Services to scrutinise the Community Safety Partnership (statutory responsibility at least every 6 months).

Minutes:

Considered, a report of the Head of Neighbourhood Services to scrutinise the Community Safety Partnership, statutory responsibility to do so at least every 6 months (item 6 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

Assisting with consideration of the report: Community Safety Manager, Inspector Oswin (Leicestershire Police), Cabinet Lead Member Community Support and Equalities.

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

 

(i)      Report was presented by Cabinet Lead Member.  She wished for the record to thank the previous Charnwood NPA Commander, Inspector Botte for his contribution.

(ii)     Reference agenda page 12, key locations for crime volume Beats 62 and 65, stated problem with engagement from partners. Reason for?  In response, was CCG and Fire Service.  Action taken to make clear statutory responsibility.   

(iii)    Increase in shoplifting, reason for and where occurring?  In response, was challenge in town centre, targeted via Loughborough Central Delivery Group, focus on key individuals and actions taken outlined.  Noted, increase compared against lockdown period previous year.   

(iv)    Increase in violence with injury, causes? In response, outlined what that included, any injury.  Increase nationally, lockdown/Covid significant factor, domestic violence, pubs re-opening.

(v)     Recent changes to improve recording by Leicestershire Police and reason for that outlined.

(vi)    How were Police beats determined?  Covered wide areas, therefore not known if reported problems were in specific Borough ward or not, could this be indicated to assist?  In response, had tried to align with Borough ward boundaries, but beat may include more that one ward. Focus given to and action taken in respect of key locations for crime volume outlined.  Aimed to make best use of available resources.  Importance of good data to assist that.  Would look to make information more specific to locations where possible, but resource implications noted.

(vii)   Recent news that CCTV camera to be installed in Queen’s Park, not aware of problem in that location?  In response, followed approach from Police and Crime Commissioner via Home Office, funding granted specific to issue of violence against women, locations identified by Police.

(viii)  Overall increase in crime, what driving? Also, position in family group worse.  In response, challenges outlined including significant Police staff changes, work to mentor less experienced officers.  Need for refocus, all partners to engage, improved offender management.  Considerable issue with substance misuse in Borough.

(ix)    Beat 58, increase in burglaries, perpetrators since charged and imprisoned, however need for reassurance of communities during the process.  Suggested Community Safety Partnership might look at how that could be improved, noted. Also, useful if social media campaigns emailed out to councillors to share through local networks.

(x)     Beat 61, useful to know hotspots, anecdotal evidence suggested Syston, could Police presence be looked at?  Confirmed that policing team dedicated to Syston, should be presence there daily.  Brief outline of issues specific to settlements covered by that beat.

(xi)    Why had Drugs Strategy not been effective in recent times? How many referrals made to the Channel, had those all been accepted?  In response, associated funding stream for partners ended but should  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

PERFORMANCE MONITORING pdf icon PDF 700 KB

A report of the Strategic Director; Environmental and Corporate Services providing Quarter 2 performance monitoring information.

Minutes:

Considered, a report of the Strategic Director; Environmental and Corporate Services providing Quarter 2 performance monitoring information (item 7 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

The Chair and Vice-chair had identified the following principal topics/focus for this item:

 

·                % rent loss through void properties (red indicator);

·                Sheltered schemes – where are we on progress?

·                Age criteria for acceptance into certain properties.

 

Assisting with consideration of the report: Strategic Director; Environmental and Corporate Services, Head of Strategic and Private Sector Housing, Organisational Change Officer.

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

 

(i)        Report was presented by Organisational Change Officer. Noted in respect of 2 red actions Corporate Delivery Plan 2021/22, 1 would be closed for Q3 as Outwoods Visitor Centre Café recently opened.  Also, relevant Head of Service now shown for indicators as requested previously by Committee.

(ii)       Agenda page 35, collective switching, look at how increase profile/uptake? Particularly important given increase in energy prices.  In response, current position in energy market had meant that not feasible for offers to be made in last auction.  Continuing in scheme as per Cabinet decision, once change in market/benefit to switching would do more promotion.  Focus currently energy efficiency. 

(iii)      When likely to have contractor kitchens/bathrooms/heating?  Remit of Head of Landlord Services, response could be requested following meeting.

(iv)    Timeline needed for when sheltered schemes review would be completed, had been delayed for some time.  Additional narrative agenda page 51 useful.  Refocus needed. Needed to update properties so that provided what tenants needed, perhaps switch focus of capital spending from purchasing properties to updating properties so could be let.  Income to Council being lost and not housing as many people as could otherwise do.  Funds available in HRA as not spent on repairs over last year.  In response, had been increase rent loss, less voids end of quarter, decrease in terminations, starting this quarter in better position.  Had been increase in re-advertised properties, linked into previous comments made re: sheltered schemes/age designation, had been more offers made.  Longstanding nature of sheltered schemes review outlined, also schemes completed to date, agreed standard, assessment/work undertaken and plans moving forward, in particular timeline for next scheme, Thurmaston and report to Cabinet on that and prioritisation of remaining schemes.  Considerable work had been undertaken. However, progress had been impacted by Covid.  Also, by staff leaving.  Updates on sheltered schemes review was provided to Housing Management Advisory Board.  Recognised that had been delay, apology for that including to affected residents.  Funds from Right to Buy being used to purchase properties could not be used for refurbishment costs.       

(v)     Clarified that void rent loss, review of sheltered schemes, age designation all within remit of Head of Strategic and Private Sector Housing.

(vi)    Regarding age designation, project had commenced, past changes looked at, currently 1,079 45+ properties, approximately 5% void.  Progress on plan affected by available staff resources, work to recruit and position in that respect outlined, had been difficult, also staffing to assist turnaround. Analysis of age designation changes made  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

REVENUE MONITORING POSITION (General Fund and HRA) Period 7 pdf icon PDF 263 KB

A report of the Head of Financial Services setting out the revenue position for the General Fund and HRA at the end of period 7.

Minutes:

Considered, a report of the Head of Financial Services setting out the revenue position for the General Fund and HRA at the end of Period 7 (item 8 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

Assisting with consideration of the report: Strategic Director; Environmental and Corporate Services, Head of Financial Services.

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

 

(i)        Report was presented by Head of Financial Services.  Noted that would know at Period 9 on financial performance of pantomime, some cancellations.

(ii)       Regarding Essential Car User saving, not achieved this year, had it been prudent to include before agreed with staff?  Would it be achieved next year?  In response, had been more complicated than envisaged.  Considerable spend each year by Council, analysis had been that very few staff meeting mileage benchmark (3,500 miles per annum based on tax advice, lease car becoming viable).  As progressed, different management views on how should be applied, had delayed proposals.  Would not be implemented this year, anticipated would be saving next year, approximately £100k.  Included given budget focus of protecting frontline services and jobs as far as possible.  Projected overspend £314k, essential car user and salary award (higher than 0% anticipated, current position outlined, remained uncertain).   

(iii)      Agenda page 54, effect of Bedford Square works on car parking income.  How much longer expecting to subsidise car parks?  In response, not considered that Bedford Square works having significant impact, decisions taken in year to support town centre by offering free parking.  Not known extent to which reduction car park use would be temporary or permanent.  Covid income loss claim made for car parks, several causes of reduced income, across all car parks.     

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

 

Reason

 

The Committee’s remit includes receiving regular financial monitoring reports.

25.

CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT pdf icon PDF 559 KB

A report of the Head of Financial Services setting out the Capital spend position at period 7.

Minutes:

Considered, a report of the Head of Financial Services setting out capital spend position at Period 7 (item 9 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

Assisting with consideration of the report: Strategic Director; Environmental and Corporate Services, Head of Financial Services.

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

 

(i)        Report was presented by Head of Financial Services. 

(ii)       Considerable slippage in respect of DFG, the scheme helped people live in their homes better, was slippage caused by Covid, difficulty securing contractors? Unlikely that applications not being received?  The Council’s Head of Strategic and Private Sector Housing was in attendance for an earlier item on the agenda.  As the issue of DFG had been raised, she outlined how the scheme operated (Lightbulb Programme) and the current position with it.  Was a waiting list, plan to request additional resources to assist with reducing that and spending funds.  High slippage affected by receipt of two additional DFG amounts, approximately £400k.  Also, increase in DFG allocation each year outlined, so larger budget than ever had.  Had been affected by Covid, unable to visit and some residents didn’t wish to be visited, had tried to maintain service as far as possible. View expressed that important to spend money, residents needed to access.   

(iii)    What was overspend on Bedford Square scheme? In response, Period 7, profile issue at that time, since then delegated decision to approve revised budget, see agenda page 63, budget reflected receiving some Town Deal funding, external funding, capital receipts.  Confirmed that funding from Town Deal secured.  How funding of the scheme had progressed as spending had meant more funding was available was outlined. £3.869m was current size of scheme.         

(iv)    Reference to considerable slippage re: carbon neutral project, understood carbon neutral plan been amended, delayed spending.  When anticipated it would be spent?  What would be priority projects?  Remit of Strategic Director; Commercial Development, Assets and Leisure?  Response could be requested following meeting.  Noted that physical assets key factor, decision on Council offices. Additional budgets for energy efficiency improvements.      

 

RESOLVED

 

1.         that the capital monitoring summary position for Period 7, 31st October 2021 for the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account be noted as per Table 1 in the report, the detailed Capital Monitoring Report was in included in Appendix 1;

 

2.         that a response of the Strategic Director; Commercial Development, Assets and Leisure be sent to members of the Committee in respect of paragraph (iv) above.

 

Reasons

 

1.         To enable the information to be used when considering the future 3-year Capital Plan and the future Capital Strategy.

 

2.         The question could not be answered at this meeting.

26.

Theme Identified for This Meeting - Community Safety

To enable open discussion on the theme identifed for this meeting: Community Safety.

Minutes:

To enable open discussion on theme identified for this meeting: Community Safety.  No further discussion following consideration of item 6 on the agenda earlier in the meeting.

27.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 167 KB

A report of the Strategic Director; Environmental and Corporate Services.

Minutes:

Considered, a report of the Strategic Director; Corporate and Environmental Services to assist the Committee in determining its work programme (item 11 on the agenda filed with these minutes).

 

 Assisting with consideration of the report: Strategic Director; Environmental and Corporate Services.

 

Summary, key points of discussion:

 

(i)        Reference to discussion under item 9 on the agenda regarding carbon neutral.  View expressed that useful if Strategic Director; Commercial Development, Assets and Leisure attended March 2022 meeting to discuss position with that.  Also, other areas of his remit.  Noted that Climate Change Strategy monitoring programmed for September 2022 meeting.  Could ask for attendance in respect of delivery of his elements of capital plan at next meeting, in particular carbon neutral plan spending.

(ii)       Reference to scrutiny of Community Safety Partnership, whether more appropriate for Scrutiny Commission to undertake?  Had been raised at previous Scrutiny Commission meeting.  Advised that scrutiny remits set out in Council’s Constitution, not a matter for decision by this committee. Perhaps could be suggested as part of annual review of Council’s Constitution process.  View expressed that appropriately allocated to this Committee, performance matter.

 

RESOLVED

 

1.         that the Committee’s scrutiny work programme, as set out in the report and with any amendments made at this meeting, be agreed;

 

2.         that the Strategic Director; Commercial Development, Assets and Leisure be invited to attend the Committee’s meeting in March 2022 in respect of the Capital Monitoring report, in particular carbon neutral project position.

 

Reasons

 

1.         To enable the Council’s scrutiny arrangements to operate efficiently and effectively.

 

2.         To ensure that questions from the Committee on areas within the remit of the Director can be provided at the meeting.