Background
Background

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Bainbridge Room, The Copeland Centre, Catherine Street, Whitehaven. CA28 7SJ

Contact: Rose Blaney  Tel: 07385 362773

Items
No. Item

OSC25

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors John Kane, James Date, Sam Meteer and Charles Maudling. Also, Sarah Pemberton and Stephanie Shaw.

 

OSC26

Declarations of Interests in Agenda Items:

 

To receive declarations by Members and/ or co-optees of interests in respect of items on this Agenda.

 

Members are reminded that, in accordance with the revised Code of Conduct, they are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests or other registrable interests which have not already been declared in the Council’s Register of Interests. (It is a criminal offence not to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest either in the Register or at the meeting).

 

Members are advised however, in the interests of clarity and transparency, to declare at this point in the meeting, any such disclosable pecuniary interests which they have already declared in the Register, as well as any other interests.

 

Members are reminded that they may not, by law, participate or vote in any discussion in a meeting on a matter in which they have a disclosable pecuniary interest

 

Members are advised that they should leave the room during consideration of any items of business in which they have a disclosable pecuniary interest.

Minutes:

No Declarations of Interest were made.

 

OSC27

Minutes of the meeting held on 8 July 2021 pdf icon PDF 498 KB

Minutes:

Councillors reviewed the minutes of the previous Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) meeting.

 

Resolved – That, with a unanimous vote, the Committee agreed that the minutes of the meeting held on 8 July 2021 were approved as a true and accurate record.

 

OSC28

Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 391 KB

Minutes:

The Committee reviewed the Executive Forward Plan.

Councillor Pollen asked for further information on the Fleet Renewal going to the Executive on 14th September 2021 and for further information regarding the Business Rates - Discretionary Rate Relief Policy and Moss Bay Enterprise Trust going to the Executive on 12th October 2021.

Councillor Wilson requested that the Portfolio Holder for Commercial Services be invited to the next Overview and Scrutiny Meeting on 7th October 2021 to provide the Committee with an overview and further information regarding the Fleet Renewal.

Councillor Ghayouba proposed that a question be put forward in advance to the Portfolio Holder, to allow time for them to find the answer, asking what the ambition is for Copeland through the Fleet Renewal for Net Zero and possible using hybrid vehicles with the environmental impact being such a key issue.

The Scrutiny Officer agreed to invite the Portfolio Holder for Commercial Services to the next meeting and put Councillor Ghayouba’s question to them beforehand. The Scrutiny also agreed to get some more information on the Business Rates - Discretionary Rate Relief Policy from the Director of Financial Resources to be presented at the next meeting. Then, the Scrutiny Officer informed the Committee that the only information available at the moment was that the Moss Bay Trust Enterprise is currently confidential at this stage but that they will contact the report author to see what information may be shared with the Committee.

Resolved – That,

a)      With a unanimous vote for, the Committee agreed that the Executive Forward Plan be noted.

b)      The Scrutiny Officer will ask for an update on the Moss Bay Enterprise Trust to provide to the Committee

OSC29

2020-21 Finance Report - Q4 pdf icon PDF 782 KB

Minutes:

The Director of Financial Resources was present to answer the Councillors questions and cover the report.

 

Councillor Pollen asked how concerned should councillors be regarding the outstanding accounts and the section 24 sanction received. The Director noted that the section 24 came from the 2017/18 audit reports which was the cyber-attack year. There is a plan in place to get the 2018/19 financial statements up to date through effort and focus. The current timetable has been developed to fit with the External Auditors timetable and enable to council to provide any information the auditors’ request.

 

Councillor Pollen then asked if councillors should be concerned with the reliance on reserves to balance the budget. The Director noted that it is not ideal to be relying on reserves to balance the budget but there are many local authorities having to use reserves to balance their budget. With LGR, the 2022/23 will be the last budget the Council will set.

Councillor Pollen asked for the Director to provide further information on the ‘Exceptional Funding’ the council received. The Director explained that in 2021, with Covid, there were a number of councils seeking Government support to set their budgets. The Government provided emergency financial support throughout the past 18 months and following discussions with Copeland they gave a capitalisation directive of £1.5m in 2021/22 subject to an external review CIPFA is currently undertaking the review and the next stage is for the Secretary of State to approve once the review has been complete.

 

The Chair asked the Director if the council’s finance team, with regard to the tight timeframe to deliver in-depth finances with constraints due to the cyber-attack, have the appropriate resources regarding creating the budget, LGR and shortfalls. The Director noted that the size of the team has increased but is in a state of ebb and flow (due to maternity leave, leavers, and new starters etc.). The Council face pressures due to the locality for talent and the Director noted that it is very hard to keep talented people. Finance is a critical area to the Chief Executive and the Mayor and there are resources available to help the team.

 

Councillor Pollen also asked for it to be noted that any comments and concerned are not directed at officers.

 

Councillor Doug Wilson asked for some context to be given regarding the section 114 (bankruptcy) that have been delivered by other councils and the overall trend of councils running at deficit in relation to Copeland. The Director noted that there has been an increase in numbers for those issuing section 114 notices. With the Fair Funding Review and the Business Rates Review there is uncertainty regarding future funding.

Councillor Ghayouba asked if the financial issues prevent the council from meeting statutory obligations to the public and, with LGR, are the council likely to continue to meet obligations. The Director commented that, to the best of their knowledge, the council is meeting their obligations to deliver statutory services.

 

Resolved – That, with a  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC29

OSC30

Engagement with Schools Verbal Update pdf icon PDF 918 KB

Minutes:

The Social Inclusion and Community Resilience Team Leader gave the Committee a verbal update on the engagement with schools’ projects in relation to the Children’s Charter created as part of the OSC Child Poverty Task & Finish Group. The Team Leader noted that there have been some delays due to Covid, but it has been started up again and large amounts of data have been received but due to time constraints, they have not been able to go through the date yet. The Team Leader also commented that they are happy to work with councillors on projects and funding.

 

The Chair asked that the schools within South Copeland be included within this engagement as they had been missed in the initial project. The Team Leader noted that not all schools have been engaged with yet, but that the programme had only been started in May and put on hold for the summer. The Team Leader is working with the Beacon and their school sessions, so not all schools have been involved to date. However, the Team Leader highlighted that they would be willing to travel to South Copeland if they struggled to get to the Beacon to ensure that they were involved.

 

Councillor Everett highlighted that there had been a concern that the Children’s Charter would be just words, so it was good to see some involvement. She then asked how the schools and teachers had reacted to the project. The Team Leader answered that most work well with the team, that there have been some odd issues but that it’s all about creating opportunities. One obstacle is capacity and the time needed to go into schools and have a session, but that the team are working around the school’s timetable.

 

Councillor Ghayouba noted their concern that, as a new councillor, the Children’s Charter did look like just a bunch of words. However, he did note that it was good to hear about the progress made. Councillor Ghayouba wondered if there were any specific targets/metrics that were available to see if the Children’s Charter would be met or if there are any areas of improvement. The Team Leader commented that they are currently undergoing coaching/training to help create a framework for any social inclusion project to be able to measure success. The Team Leader noted that while numbers/data are good to have, social inclusion needs qualitative and case study data, but the team are working on a way to measure success going forward. There is a UCLan report as to why the Children’s Charter was created which will be sent to the Scrutiny Officer for circulation. The Team Leader noted that it is important to invest in young people.

 

Councillor Pollen thanked the Team Leader for their update and asked if there was anything to do to improve the Children’s Charter. He also noted that councillors would be happy to help with this project and go into schools if there is an opportunity. Councillor Pollen also asked if there was an  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC30

OSC31

Footway Lighting Report pdf icon PDF 339 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Open Spaces Manager gave an overview of the report, highlighting the key parts of the report including the effects of costings, working to get all lights under Copeland’s authority ahead of LGR for an easier transition, suppliers, and LED lights. The Committee were then invited to ask questions.

The Chair thanked the Open Spaces Manager for the report, including the involvement from the officer who has since left the council, and noted the cost of officer hours involved to determine who owned what lighting.

Councillor pollen noted commented that all councils within the borough would be supporting this report and developing partnership working. He then noted three concerns: health and safety, anti-social behaviour and the condition of pathways. Also commenting that passing responsibility back to Copeland may cause a loss of control, especially if there is a cut to funding.

Councillor Wilson noted that this report was welcome as the street/footway lighting has been an issue for nearly two years as the asset register was out of date noting that the inventory check carried out will be of a real benefit. He noted that all possible solutions to avoid anyone not recognising their responsibility should be considered. The environmental and efficiency changes through new lighting would be welcome and support was offered should it be needed.

The Chair noted that when some of the rural councils were replaced by the borough council the transition of responsibility for the lighting was not clear and that LGR could make that worse if the work is not done correctly.

Councillor Ghayouba asked, in term of the budget and the shortfalls, will taking on extra lights for a smoother transition through LGR have a negative impact. The Open Spaces Manager noted that there are 1200 lights in the borough and that a cost could be saved by investigation the electricity providers and looking at possible better prices. The inventory of lights has now been implemented on the GIS system, so now instead of going through the County Council to find the light, the teams can now go through the inventory. The Open Spaces Manager also noted that some of the lights throughout the borough are out of date and the cost to replace them would be excessive. Those lights would need to be fixed in the old ways and there are legal implications involved, and costs could reach £15K.

Councillor Ghayouba also commented that upgrading to LED lights would reduce the carbon footprint and forecast a possible saving. The Open Spaces Manager noted that this saving has been looked into and there is a possible double saving as the team can combine the inspection of the lights and the installation of LED lights into one cost.

Councillor Wilson asked if there was a method of identifying lighting on the unit themselves and a method of reporting issues. The Open Spaces Manager noted that the lights have numbers on them which have been recorded on the GIS system and to report issues people can  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC31

OSC32

Scrutiny Officer Updates pdf icon PDF 359 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer gave the Committee updates on the Work Programme and gave updates on the Task & Finish Groups.

The Scrutiny Officer noted that the current work programme is out of date following the training that took place on 18th August 2021. The Committee reviewed the items scheduled for October 2021 and confirmed that the Q1 Finance Report and Performance Plan reports and the Law Centre presentation will be on the agenda, as will the information requested during agenda item four, once agreed by the Executive. The rest of the work programme will be discussed at the next informal meeting and then confirmed at the 7th October meeting with councillors asked to consider possible topics ahead of time.

Clarification was also given as to the reason behind the presentations coming to OSC and ways to move forward including the presentations being member briefings and reports coming to OSC.

Questions were asked by councillors as to what topics would be allowed for OSC to consider for their work programme. The Scrutiny Officer confirmed that any topic can be brought forward for consideration, the Officer will then go away and create a mini scope for each topic for the Committee to then consider and discuss at the informal meetings.

The Scrutiny Officer confirmed the current states of the Task & Finish Groups as detailed within the agenda including highlighting that the final recommendation from the Recycling Task & Finish Group Report being taken back to the Executive for further clarification to gain approval.

 

OSC33

Date and Time of Next Meeting:

The next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be held on Thursday 7th October 2021 at 2:00pm in The Atrium, The Copeland Centre, Catherine Street, Whitehaven.

Minutes:

The Chair informed members that the next Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be held on Thursday 7th October 2021 at 2pm in the Copeland Centre.

 

 

Original text