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To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 9 July 2020.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 9 July 2020 be approved as a correct record, and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest and Party Whip
Members are asked to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interests and the nature of that 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 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.
Any Member with an Affected Interest in a matter must disclose the interest to the meeting. There is no requirement to withdraw from the meeting when the interest is only an affected interest, but the Monitoring Officer should be notified of the interest, if not previously notified of it, within 28 days of the meeting.
Councillor Tullett declared an affected interest in item 5 in relation to the discretionary grant scheme as he had received support on behalf of his business, Risk and Safety Plus Limited.
There were no indications that members would be participating while under the party whip.
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.
There were no items of urgent business.
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.
No submissions had been made by members of the public under the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.
The Vice-Chairman announced that he intended to work towards improving public participation in the Commission’s activities using digital tools such as Microsoft Teams and email to improve partnership with residents. A press release would be circulated to encourage further engagement for upcoming meetings.
The Commission has asked for further information about the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic:
· Andrew Hunter, Director: Planning, Place and Regeneration will be attending to discuss the Council’s proposed Renewal Strategy; and
· Stuart McKellar, Director of Resources will be attending to discuss the severe pressures and risks on the Council’s budget.
Members of the Commission will be able to provide input into the proposals as well as seek clarification on the measures being taken.
The Commission had asked for further information about the Council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and Councillor Heydon, Executive Member for Transformation and Finance had been invited to attend. Stuart McKellar, Director: Resources attended the meeting to discuss the severe pressures and risks on the Council’s budget. Andrew Hunter, Director: Planning, Place and Regeneration attended to discuss the Council’s proposed Renewal Strategy.
Following the financial presentation it was discussed that:
· there was a high level of uncertainty around the ongoing support being provided by central government
· existing pressures were exacerbated by the pandemic
· Bracknell Forest Council had closely followed central government guidance and support
· planned changes to the local government funding system had been pushed back to 2022
· budget monitoring was a constant process
· although it was a challenging future financial position, this had been predicted and prepared for, over a number of years
· the funding from Government related to income losses was intended to cover 75% of lost income against budget, after a 5% threshold. The detailed arrangements for the calculation were not yet clear
· all costs incurred on the Covid-19 response had to be accounted for and it was expected that any unspent Government funding would need to be returned
· further funding would be available for establishing local test and trace procedures, but it was unclear whether this would cover the whole cost
· there were no voids currently in the Council’s commercial investment properties
· the largest financial impact to date had been within contract services i.e. leisure and car park incomes followed by adult social care, then children’s social care and education
· the work of transforming services was ongoing as the Council recovered and reviewed its priorities and how services were delivered
· a detailed financial report was being finalised for consideration by the Executive on 25 August
· the report would contain answers to many of the details being requested by Overview and Scrutiny Members and they would be able to discuss further at the next Commission meeting on 15 September
Regarding the Renewal Strategy it was discussed that:
· Renewal was the final stage in the Pandemic response and outbreak management would become business as usual in the medium term
· the Council was looking to integrate services, using opportunities form the Covid-19 response, involve community and voluntary services
· a reassignment pool of staff was created to support the Covid-19 response for example diverting staff to the community response, Forest Care and Crematorium and PPE distribution
· as new pressures arose in different areas it may be necessary to redeploy others to cover emerging pressures
· there had been a continual learning process to pick up opportunities and assess performance, resolving and checking throughout. There would be an opportunity to review and understand lessons learnt but generally action to improve responses was taken when identified.
· management teams were identifying transformational opportunities and what new ways of working should continue within their services
· services had quickly identified remote working solutions such as how to undertake site visits remotely
· Partnership working had been enhanced ... view the full minutes text for item 21.