Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission
Thursday, 29 January 2015 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Fourth Floor, Easthampstead House, Bracknell

Contact: Amanda Roden  01344 352253

Items
Note No. Item

None

36.

Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 20 November 2014.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 20 November 2014 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

Matters Arising

 

In relation to the actions from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 20 November 2014, Councillor Ms Brown commented that she was presenting concerns regarding car parking at Garth Hill on behalf of residents. Councillor Ms Brown was pleased to see car parking at the site as there were a higher number of pupils than average travelling to the college by car. The Chairman suggested that Councillor Ms Brown raise any further concerns regarding this issue with the report author, Neil Mathews.

None

37.

Declarations of Interest and Party Whip

Members are requested to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interest, including the existence and nature of the Party Whip, in respect of any matter to be considered at this meeting.

 

Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or an affected interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is not entered on the register of Members interests the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs Birch declared an interest as the spouse of the Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing. Councillor Mrs McCracken declared an interest as the spouse of the Executive Member for Culture, Corporate Services and Public Protection.

None

38.

Urgent Items of Business

Any other items which, pursuant to Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Chairman decides are urgent.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items of business.

39.

Public Participation

To receive submissions from members of the public which have been submitted in advance in accordance with the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.

Minutes:

There were no submissions from members of the public in accordance with the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.

40.

The Council's Budget Consultation pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To consider the Council’s draft budget proposals for 2015/16:

a) Corporate Services Department

b) Chief Executive’s Office

c) Feedback from Overview and Scrutiny Panels and overall conclusions.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel considered the Council’s draft budget proposals for 2015/16 in relation to the Corporate Services Department and the Chief Executive’s Office, and received feedback from Overview and Scrutiny Panels and overall conclusions.

 

The Executive agreed the Council’s draft budget proposals for 2015/16 at its meeting on 16 December 2014 as the basis for consultation with the Overview and Scrutiny Commission, Overview and Scrutiny Panels and other interested parties.  The consultation period would run until 27 January 2015, after which the Executive would consider the representations made at its meeting on 10 February 2015, before recommending the budget to Council.

 

Attached to the report were extracts from the 2015/16 Revenue Budget and Capital Programme. The extracts were comprised of Revenue Budget Report, Commitment Budget, Draft Revenue Budget Pressures, Draft Revenue Budget Savings Proposals, Proposed Fees and Charges, Capital Programme Report and Summary and Proposed Capital Schemes.

 

The Borough Treasurer gave an update on changes to the budget since it was published on 10 December 2014. The Government had announced provision of Local Government Finance Settlement which would result in further loss of central government grant of £195,000. Current forecasts on collection funds showed a £100,000 surplus; the take up of the Council Tax Benefit Reduction Scheme had not been as high as anticipated. There had been savings in relation to waste as tonnages sent to landfill had been revised giving a saving of £260,000, and inflation had continued to fall giving a saving of £200,000 in the budget. There had been changes to the capital budget in relation to schools and the town centre.

 

The budget gap had fallen from approximately £4.7 million to approximately £4 million. Risks made forecasting more unpredictable, such as the introduction of the Care Act from April and variations in relation to older people and looked after children. There had been a legal ruling in relation to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards which would pose a cost, and the planned closure of Coral Reef at some point during the year would mean a short term loss of revenue from this site.

 

There had been some minor changes to the capital budget which included uncertainty regarding schools. There was usually an allocation for schools maintenance of approximately £2 million but the Council had not been advised of this allocation yet, so could not include it in the budget at present. The consultation on the budget had been active for six weeks and there had been a limited but positive response so far.

 

In response to Members’ questions, the following points were made:

 

  • There were funding constraints for young people post-16 with high needs and attention was drawn to a Councillor’s concerns in this regard. Proposals had been considered by the Schools Forum regarding how to accommodate young people with high needs. Actions had been considered and it was possible to put more funding into the schools’ budget but the Council had so far chosen to fund at the level of Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG). It was a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Review of Business Rates and Discretionary Relief pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To adopt the report of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission’s Working Group which reviewed Business Rates and discretionary relief.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Commission received a report presenting the review of Business Rates and discretionary relief undertaken by a working group of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.

 

The Chairman thanked Councillor Angell for his hard work as the Lead Member of the working group. Councillor Angell asked for the names of the councillors involved in the working group to be added to the Foreword of the report. Excellent work had been identified and there was a 98% collection rate on business rates. The recommendations from the working group would be considered by the Executive if adopted. The aim was to support small business efforts in the borough of 25 people or less. One recommendation would be for a cap amount of funding to be available for small businesses.

 

The scheme would be reviewed annually for a three year period, small businesses were independent and the take up of the scheme was unknown. Croydon had been given £1 million by the Government but there had been little take up in the area, so media was used to promote the scheme. The scheme in Bracknell would be available across the borough and not just in the town centre. A number of people had been spoken to regarding the scheme.

 

Councillor Angell requested that recommendation 5.11 of the report on pages 69 and 91 of the agenda be amended to:

‘The draft discretionary Business Rates relief scheme at Appendix 2, along with further considerations and details at Appendix 3, are put forward for consideration and implementation by the Executive during 2015-16.’

 

In response to Members’ questions, the following points were made:

 

  • The report made reference to avoidance schemes. Avoidance was a national issue but the collection rate in Bracknell was 98% which was considered to be good. Representations had been, and continued to be, made regarding avoidance. MPs were being lobbied regarding this and lobbying was undertaken through the LGA. The scale of avoidance was considered and amounted to approximately £1-2 million per year. The government had recently issued a consultation paper on business rate avoidance. Opportunities to liaise with other local authorities to deal with larger firms would be considered.

 

The Chairman commented on the importance of marketing the scheme and making it part of a package of benefits for small businesses, not promoting it in isolation, but integrated.

 

The Overview and Scrutiny Commission:

 

  • Adopted the attached report of the review of Business Rates and discretionary relief undertaken by a working group of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission, for sending formally to the Leader of the Council.

 

  • Stood down the working group.

42.

Residents' Survey pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To consider the results of the 2014 Residents’ Survey.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Commission received a report on the results of the Residents’ Survey 2014. The survey looked at the impact of the last two to three years on residents and the good results from the survey were encouraging.

 

QA Research had conducted the survey, as they had done for the last survey in 2012. There was a high rate of return and the methodology had been reviewed this time for a representative sample of people in the borough. The 2014 survey was based on the 2012 survey so that comparisons could be made and trends tracked. The Black Minority Ethnic groups were under represented so face to face surveys were undertaken with these groups. The results were detailed in Annex 1 of the report and the differences in responses were analysed. The covering report included the key findings from the survey which showed strong community cohesion. Measures were positively linked with satisfaction in the area.

 

There was a Member Briefing Seminar on Monday 16 March 2015 to discuss the results of the survey.

 

In response to Members’ questions, the following points were made:

 

  • Areas of dissatisfaction related to areas of the Council such as housing and road maintenance. Some issues such as road delays were outside the control of the Council. Further work would need to be undertaken in each service area, such as with focus groups, to identify the specific issues involved. Where planning was concerned, people may not approve of certain planning applications. A cross Council action plan was being prepared.
  • Breakdown of the survey results by Ward would need further analysis to further understand people’s views.
  • In 2012, the Council identified people’s preference for using social media and had moved more services online and increased the use of social media.
  • Low levels of crime were popular in the previous survey and low levels of crime had been achieved in the Thames Valley.
  • A representative sample of young people aged 16 to 24 years was surveyed. There was a separate Children and Young People’s Survey conducted by the Children, Young People and Learning department and the Children’s Society. Youth Services and Children’s Services did ongoing engagement work with the Youth Council.
  • The Residents’ Survey was an overarching survey and each service area did its own engagement. Surveys were undertaken with businesses; there was a draft response to the infrastructure survey and a skills survey would soon be undertaken.

 

The Chairman suggested that further work could be undertaken in the area of dissatisfaction levels in the borough at a relevant point in the future.

None

43.

Corporate Performance Overview Report (CPOR) 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 716 KB

To consider the Chief Executive’s Corporate Performance Overview Report for the second quarter of 2014/15 (July to September).

 

In view of the size of the agenda, the Chairman has asked that any questions arising from the report should be referred to the Assistant Chief Executive in advance and only raised in the meeting if you consider the issue requires wider discussion.

Minutes:

The Commission considered the Chief Executive’s Corporate Performance Overview Report for the second quarter of 2014/15 (July to September).

 

An analysis of the 72 council related Performance Indicators that made up the different national Outcome Frameworks was undertaken for the 16 member authorities of South East Strategic Leaders Group (SESL). Bracknell Forest was third highest overall when comparing performance across the 16 SESL member Councils.

 

In response to a Members’ question, the following point was made:

 

  • Overspend was as predicted and was being managed.

None

44.

Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Forthcoming items on the Executive Forward Plan of a corporate nature are attached for consideration.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel noted the forthcoming Key and Non-Key Decisions of a corporate nature.

45.

Work Programme and Panel Activity Update pdf icon PDF 69 KB

To note the progress against the Overview and Scrutiny work programme for 2014-15, and the reports from Overview and Scrutiny Panel Chairmen on each Panel’s progress against the work programme.

Minutes:

The Panel noted the progress against the Overview and Scrutiny work programme for 2014-15, and the reports from Overview and Scrutiny Panel Chairmen on each Panel’s progress against the work programme.

 

The report of the Adult Social Care and Housing Overview and Scrutiny Panel working group which had reviewed regulated Adult Social Care services had been considered by the Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing and the recommendations from the group had been largely accepted. The Group was pleased with the response from the Executive Member. This Panel was hopeful that there would be a review of homelessness in the future but this would likely be after the Elections in May 2015. This topic was in the forward plan for consideration and all reviews and working groups would be channelled through the Commission.

 

The issue of the current shortage of GPs surgeries was raised and it was mentioned that there was a lack of a strategy to generate new GP practices in the area. Representatives of NHS England and the Bracknell and Ascot Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had presented recently at the Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel and mentioned that there was a need to save 24% of their costs and re-organisation would be undertaken. The report of the inspection of GP surgeries had indicated some required improvement. The Panel had requested that its frustration over the provision of GP capacity to meet the demands of an expanding population in Bracknell Forest be conveyed to NHS England.

 

The Environment, Culture and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel’s progress against its work programme was completed or on course for completion. It was agreed that the Commercial Sponsorship Member Reference Group be reconvened to assess the trial of commercial sponsorship in the Borough. The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission expressed an interest in joining the Group.

 

Representatives from Broadmoor had attended a previous Commission meeting regarding the change of provision in relation to their sirens. A letter was expected confirming that the existing sirens would remain in place until the new hospital was opened in 2019, which would be circulated to Members. Then along with the two other hospitals in the UK it was proposed that the sirens be discontinued. Broadmoor was expected to present a proposal to a future Commission meeting.

None

46.

Overview & Scrutiny Progress Report pdf icon PDF 279 KB

To note the Bi-Annual Progress Report of the Assistant Chief Executive.

Minutes:

The Panel noted the bi-annual Progress Report of the Assistant Chief Executive on Overview and Scrutiny activity over the period June to November 2014 and local and national developments in Overview and Scrutiny.

47.

2015/16 Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 194 KB

To suggest items to be included in the Commission’s Work Programme for 2015/16.

Minutes:

The Panel considered its Work Programme for 2015/16. No suggestions for additions to the Work Programme were made.