Background
Background

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: This meeting will be a virtual meeting and therefore will not take place in a physical location

Contact: Rose Blaney  Tel: 07385 362773

Items
No. Item

OSC170

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Steven Brown (Director of Financial Resources).

OSC171

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.

OSC172

Minutes of the meeting held on 19 February and 22 March 2021 pdf icon PDF 483 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors reviewed the minutes of the two previous meetings.

 

The Scrutiny Officer made members aware that there were some amendments needed within the minutes; to include Sarah Pemberton within the attendees of the 22nd March 2021 meeting and some minor clerical amendments which were needed for clarification, none of which effect the minutes content.

 

Councillor Forster noted that there had yet to be any information on Moss Bay Trust as indicated within the minutes. The Scrutiny Officer confirmed that they would follow up for further information.

 

Resolved - That,

 

a)     With seven votes for and two abstentions the Committee agreed that the minutes of the meeting held on 19th February 2021 were approved as a true and accurate record, subject to the clerical amendments being made.

b)     With seven votes for and two abstentions the Committee agreed that the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd March 2021 were approved as a true and accurate record, subject to the clerical amendments being made and the inclusion of Sarah Pemberton into the attendees list.

c)     The Scrutiny Officer will follow up on the Moss Bay Trust item.

 

OSC173

Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 389 KB

Minutes:

The Committee reviewed the Executive Forward Plan.

Councillor Pollen asked for an update regarding the Constitution. The Democratic Services Manager informed members that there is a Constitution update currently ongoing. It is due to go to the next Standards & Ethics Committee (SEC) meeting which has been delayed until 22nd April 2021. Four chapters will be reviewed at that meeting and will then be going to Full Council meeting on 27th April 2021. Once those chapters have been agreed, we will be in a position to publish the revised Constitution with the aim for this to be completed by the end of this municipal year.

There was discussion around Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) to have a special meeting to review the Constitution changes being proposed. Officers agreed that they would look into arranging a special meeting for OSC to look at proposed Constitution changes.

There was also a discussion around cancellation and postponement of meetings. It was clarified by officers that meetings will come with a recommendation from officers but it is only with agreement from the Chair that a meeting will either be postponed or cancelled. Although, it was noted later on in the meeting, that there are times when there is no information available for the meeting, which is why a meeting must be cancelled/postponed.

[Councillor Eileen Weir joined the meeting 10:20am]

Councillor Pollen asked if there was a specific reason as to why the Audit Committee meeting was postponed. The Democratic Services Officer confirmed that the Director of Financial Resources had confirmed that the meeting had been postponed in order to ensure that the internal audit reports are completed and the annual governance statement is there for members at that meeting. It was confirmed that the meeting was only postponed with permission from the Chair.

The Scrutiny Officer highlighted that, on page 15, there were two reports due to OSC in May 2021 (Annual Outside Bodies Report and Annual Scrutiny Report). However, as there is no OSC meeting in May, this will be amended on the next Forward Plan. Those two reports are due to go to the June OSC meeting.

Resolved: That with a unanimous vote for the Executive Forward Plan was noted.

OSC174

Update from Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee

Minutes:

The Chair updated members that there hadn’t been a meeting of the Committee in a while.

 

At the last meeting that the Chair attended, they were informed that there had been an influx of nurses being brought into Morecambe Trust from abroad to help improve the standards of service.

 

OSC175

Update from the Single Table Trade Union Group (STTUG) representative

Minutes:

Councillor Pollen updated members that there was a Covid update from the HR manager, which included that there were no staff (at that moment in time) in isolation, most were still working at home and there were a number who were going back into the office. Lateral Flow Tests had begun with a good take up from staff, with further encouragement also being sent via email.

 

The road map to unlock was discussed by the Chief Executive at the meeting, highlighting that there will be a lot of caution to not go too fast too soon due to the associated risk. There was a car parking issue raised by the Unions regarding Moresby Park, which was causing some CBC employees to need to park on the industrial estate. Also, there was a Health and Safety update which included; courses, awards, better health at work award, health and wellbeing, health promotion and training. A Union representative from the Parks team came and gave an update regarding training and about a change that was occurring which was positive. Devolution was also discussed, including stress and anxiety of staff, and an update on the process. Another point discussed was recruitment, including vacancies and new starters.

 

Councillor Wilson asked if there was a type of ‘family tree’ for who’s who and what they do available. Councillor Pollen agreed that it was a good point and something that should be looked into, noting that there is currently a disconnect between officers and councillors, except for those who councillors regularly contact, to help deliver a stronger relationship. The Democratic Services Manager committed to circulating an up to date management structure for the organisation to circulate to all members. The Scrutiny Officer highlighted that there is a way to find out similar information within Microsoft Teams and offered to set up a separate meeting to help show members how to use that function until there is a formal document sent out.

 

Councillor Forster asked if there was a figure of leavers and wondered if it was more than usual due to the impeding Local Government Reorganisation (LGR). Councillor Pollen pointed her to the next agenda item which highlighted around £12,000 for redundancies, but the topic wasn’t mentioned in the STUGG meeting. But noted that the question will be asked at the next STUGG meeting.

 

OSC176

2020/2021 Finance Report - Quarter 3 pdf icon PDF 726 KB

Minutes:

Due to the Director of Financial Resources submitting their apologies for this meeting, the Scrutiny Officer gave a brief introduction to the report, as well as highlighting some key points which had been provided by the Director. This included: highlighting that the overarching message within the report is that a lot of the pressures were included in the base budget for 21/22 including waste, Revs and Bens, IT and Finance. Copeland also have COVID funding in 21/22 too. In overall terms for 2021, Copeland have received sufficient funding to cover the costs of the COVID, however, we don’t know the long term implications on say parking income; with more people working from home and possible continuing trends on online shopping will be. OSC were also informed that Grant Thornton (the Council’s external auditors) were working on the audit of the 2018/19 Financial Statements. The Director also provided some clarity regarding information in Appendix A;

·        Copeland Community Fund – all income covers the cost, net expenditure, the service doesn’t cost Copeland Borough Council (CBC).

·        Parks & Open Spaces – the income is greater than the expenditure. This is helped by the parks contracts and the Crematorium.

·        Nuclear – there’s no cost to CBC. There is a budget set but it is predominantly funded by Sellafield.

Councillors were invited to ask questions which were to be recorded and sent to the Director for him to answer upon his return to office, unless either the Scrutiny Officer or the Director of Corporate Services and Commercial Strategy could answer the question.

Councillor Pollen asked for confirmation on when the report went to the Executive. The Scrutiny Officer confirmed that the report went to the Executive on 16th March 2021.

Councillor Weir asked a question relating to point 1.4 on page 23 of the agenda with regards to the anticipated lack of funding from government which will impact on the medium-term financial strategy, which is disappointing. She specifically wanted to know; how confident the finance team are to enable them to increase commercial activity by £338K this year and increase by a further £1.350k by 2023/24? And where does the council expect to make additional efficiency savings of £250k in 2020/21 increasing to £500k by 2021/22? Councillor Weir also asked, relating to point 1.10 on pages 25/26, how does the council propose to reinstate the deficit reserve balance from £1,833k to £2,000k to ensure the sustainability of the council? Councillor Weir also commented on the long term loan, as commented on by the auditors, as well as the interest rate highlighted within the report. The Director of Corporate Services and Commercial Strategy highlighted the difference between the savings interest and the investment interest highlighted within the report that Councillor Weir had picked up on.

 

Councillor Pollen asked how it is possible to make savings considering the year that we’ve had. He also pointed out a report on the Gov.uk website regarding exceptional government support for struggling councils with exceptional circumstances, where Copeland were one of  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC176

OSC177

2020/2021 Council Performance Plan - Quarter 3 pdf icon PDF 635 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Corporate Services and Commercial Strategy gave an overview of the 2020/21 Council Performance Plan – Quarter 3 report. This overview included highlighting the mitigating circumstances to contextualise any targets not met, gave a few updates since the report had been published which would be captured in the Quarter 4 report and welcomed any questions.

Councillor Meteer asked for clarification on the notes for KPI 19 on page 38. The Director of Corporate Services and Commercial Strategy elaborated that there is a time lag for when the data is available, especially on non-corporately owned KPI’s such as with KPI 19. Some of which has been impacted by the lockdown. The data sometimes takes four to six weeks to be verified, which wasn’t the case at the time of the report being published.

Councillor Meteer also asked if it could be confirmed that the Green Waste was included in the Recycled Waste tonnage. The Director confirmed that this was correct. Councillor Meteer asked if it was possible to separate the figures of the Green Waste and the Cardboard, Paper, Plastic and Metal. The Director noted that CBC do track all the different tonnage and percentages for all waste streams, and confirmed that they will add those for a further point of granularity in future quarterly Performance reports.

Councillor Pollen highlighted the current Recycling Task and Finish Group but noted his concern that the KPI is showing green as being met, however, there are still numerous issues within recycling. Some of which comes from lack of man power and missed boxes. He wondered whether that is a trend within any other KPI’s. The Director of Corporate Services and Commercial Strategy commented that CBC are doing as well as they can under the circumstances, which is shown within the report as we are meeting the current target. But she also noted that she agreed with Councillor Pollen; that there is more that can be done, that CBC would like to stretch the target and CBC are looking at ways to improve the service through multiple avenues, such as with the Recycling Task and Finish Group.

Councillor Pollen also mentioned the fantastic work done by the Homelessness team, highlighting their good work throughout the pandemic and asked for his comments to be passed on to the team. The Director of Corporate Services and Commercial Strategy confirmed that the comments would be passed on.

Councillor Forster asked if, under KPI 9, CBC take into account jobs for disabled people. The Director of Corporate Services and Commercial Strategy noted that she didn’t have the information to hand and would get back to Councillor Forster before the next meeting.

Councillor Wilson asked if there had been a financial penalty awarded due to CBC not responding in a sufficient time scale, noting that there had been a considerable amount of officer time spent on dealing with FOI’s and that the KPI target had not been met.  The Director of Corporate Services and Commercial Strategy highlighted that  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC177

OSC178

Monitoring Officers Report - Verbal Update

Minutes:

The Monitoring Officer gave a verbal update regarding the Monitoring Officers Report, which will be going to Full Council on 27th April 2021, but the report had not been ready in time for this OSC meeting. However, there were statistics given on screen as part of the update. The focus of the update was around virtual meetings from May 2020 to April 2021. Highlights included 69 virtual meetings, 172 hours of member and officer time in attendance of those meeting and a record of 690 members of the public viewing the meetings.

The Chair asked for an update regarding meeting moving forward coming out of lockdown. The Director highlighted that the primary legislation that enabled councils to hold virtual meetings ends on 6th May 2021. That legislation has not been extended beyond 6th May, so meetings following that date will revert back to face to face meetings, with dates, times and locations to be confirmed.

The Director of Corporate Services and Commercial Strategy continued the update to show member attendance, which averaged at 84.3 per cent.

Councillor Meteer asked for clarification on how Licensing Sub-Committee (which only has three members in attendance) effects the attendance statistics.

Councillor Pollen asked if officers could look into further training opportunities for councillors, including mop up sessions, now that members to laptops to do virtual training sessions. Officers agreed to look into this.

Councillor Wilson asked if there was to be a hierarchy of meetings that needed to be conducted face to face and those that could continue to be held virtually. The Director agreed that being able to do virtual meetings has been a good thing in terms of members being able to attend. But noted that in terms of Democratic Services, to be able to facilitate and ‘produce’ the meetings, it has been more work. The Director then confirmed that she, alongside the Solicitor and Democratic Services Manager, were looking into the best way to move forward with meetings, without throwing away any learned or good points from the last twelve months.

Councillor Jones-Bulman asked, regarding those who had been shielding, if CBC would need to hire large venues for the public to be able to attend with Covid measures in place and how would those who need shielding be notified should there be another Lockdown. The Director noted that she was currently looking at venues for face to face meetings, focusing on the Annual General Meeting (AGM) which is due to be held after 6th May when the legislation ends. When looking into returning to face to face meetings, all options are being considered to both include Covid safety measures and take into account all who would need/want to attend taking into account those shielding and other equality and safety measures. The Director also highlighted that a working group has been established to look into this.

 

OSC179

Task and Finish Group Updates pdf icon PDF 334 KB

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer gave an update on the current task and finish groups. There are three currently ongoing; Recycling, Health & Wellbeing North Copeland and Health & Wellbeing South Copeland. The Recycling Task & Finish Group had conducted a meeting since the agenda had been published, as highlighted by both Councillor Pollen and the Director earlier in the meeting, which had been very productive. The latest Health & Wellbeing North Copeland meeting had to be delayed until the following week, where the scope and questions will be agreed. Health & Wellbeing South Copeland have agreed their scope and are now looking at who will be contacted to conduct interviews.

The Housing Task & Finish Group did meet, but it was agreed following a recommendation from the Strategic Housing Manager to delay the main project until 2021 Quarter 3. There are, however, small projects that the group will be working on with the Housing team which will be reported back to OSC. The Social Media Policy Review was also delayed until later in the year to start.

A new Task & Finish Group was added onto the list, “Effective Digital Engagement for Overview and Scrutiny”. The Scrutiny Officer highlighted that this group was created from an Audit Recommendation, which had been delayed for 12 months due to Covid and the redeployment of the previous Scrutiny Officer.

The Scrutiny Officer also highlighted to members of OSC the struggle of getting member involvement and engagement with Task and Finish Groups, and asked that members spread the word and encourage other members outside of OSC, who are able to participate in all Task & Finish Groups, to become involved.

The Scrutiny Officer also noted the establishment of the Budget Monitoring Working Group which is open to all members, the deadline for joining the group is towards the end of May 2021.

A proposal for a new Task & Finish Group, to look at the Model Code of Conduct, was mentioned and it would be something that the Scrutiny Officer would gage member interest on later in the year.

Councillor Pollen asked about when an outcome of the LGR process would be announced as it does effect what councillors are able to produce. The Director informed members that public consultation was currently ongoing, until 19th April 2021, and no date has been provided for the final outcome of the LGR process.

Councillor Hailes asked how many members were a part of the Social Media Policy Review and how many members were required for a Task & Finish Group to go ahead. The Scrutiny Officer replied that there are currently two members signed up to participate in the Social Media Policy Review and that, ideally, there would be at least four members within a group for it to go ahead but that three would acceptable.

 

OSC180

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 368 KB

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer gave an overview of the draft OSC Work Programme, noting that this would remain in a draft format (even with members agreement) as it is subject to change due to the draft calendar not being agreed until the AGM in May 2021.

The Scrutiny Officer also highlighted an amendment to the lead officer for Health and Scrutiny Committee to the Strategic Housing Manager. As well as highlighting that standing items will only appear on the agenda if there is an update, as per the directive from the Committee, to limit agenda items where possible.

Councillor Jones-Bulman asked for her name to be included on the Social Media Policy Review Task & Finish Group.

 

The Chair took the opportunity before the meeting ended to thank officers for their time.

 

 

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