Agenda and minutes

Growth, Infrastructure and Resources Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 13th February, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Catmose, Oakham

Contact: Joanna Morley  01572 758271

Items
No. Item

532.

APOLOGIES

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Jones, and Councillor Stephenson, Portfolio Holder for Culture and Leisure, Highways, Transportation and Road Safety. Councillor Oxley was in attendance for Councillor Jones.

 

533.

RECORD OF MEETING

To confirm the record of the meetings and special meetings of the Growth, Infrastructure and Resources Scrutiny Committee held on 7 November 2019, 14 November 2019, 19 December 2019 and 16 January 2020 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings held on 7 November 2019, 14 November 2019, 19 December 2019 and 16 January 2020, copies of which had been previously circulated, were confirmed.

534.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

In accordance with the Regulations, Members are invited to declare any personal or prejudicial interests they may have and the nature of those interests in respect of items on this Agenda and/or indicate if Section 106 of the Local Government Act 1992 applies to them.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

535.

PETITIONS, DEPUTATIONS AND QUESTIONS

To receive any petitions, deputations and questions received from Members of the Public in accordance with the provisions of Procedure Rule 216.

 

The total time allowed for this item shall be 30 minutes. Petitions, declarations and questions shall be dealt with in the order in which they are received. Questions may also be submitted at short notice by giving a written copy to the Committee Administrator 15 minutes before the start of the meeting.

 

The total time allowed for questions at short notice is 15 minutes of the total time for 30 minutes. Any petitions, deputations and questions that have been submitted with prior formal notice will take precedence over questions submitted at short notice. Any questions that are not considered within the time limit shall receive a written response after the meeting and be the subject of a report to the next meeting.

Minutes:

No petitions, deputations or questions had been received.

536.

QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE FROM MEMBERS

To consider any questions with notice from Members received in accordance with the provisions of Procedure rule No. 218 and No. 218A.

Minutes:

No questions with notice had been received from Members.

537.

NOTICES OF MOTION FROM MEMBERS

To consider any Notices of Motion from Members submitted in accordance with the provisions of Procedure Rule No. 219.

Minutes:

No notices of motion had been received from Members.

538.

CONSIDERATION OF ANY MATTER REFERRED TO THE PANEL FOR A DECISION IN RELATION TO CALL IN OF A DECISION

To consider any matter referred to the Panel for a decision in relation to call in of a decision in accordance with Procedure Rule 206.

Minutes:

No matter had been referred to the Committee for a decision in relation to a call-in of a decision in accordance with procedure Rule 206.

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In order to accommodate officer and Member time constraints, the Chair and the Committee agreed to hear the agenda items in a different order. Item 9, the Biodiversity Task and Finish Group report was heard first, followed by item 11, the update on MyAccount and Fix My Street.

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The Chair welcomed Penny Sharp, the newly appointed Deputy Director for Places to her first RCC Scrutiny committee meeting.

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539.

PLANNING ENFORCEMENT POLICY pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To receive Report No.31/2020 from the Strategic Director for Places.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report No.31/2020 was received from the Strategic Director for Places.

 

Mr Justin Johnson, Development Manager, introduced the report the purpose of which was to update Members on the proposed changes to the Planning Enforcement Policy which was 6 years old and due for revision.

 

During the discussion the following points were noted:

 

·       Councillor Oxley remarked that many developers exceeded their planning conditions but that there was not a process to pick this up during the build and instead the Council was alerted by residents, often long after the build had finished. Hearing too late on in the process meant that it often cost more money to correct it than it would have done had it been identified earlier on.

·       Councillor G Brown informed Members that the Parish Council Forum had done a piece of work on how to identify when planning conditions had not been observed. Ketton and Barrowden parishes had become particularly concerned and suggested that once the building was underway, the building inspector could make regular visits to check compliance with planning conditions, in addition to building regulations. This suggestion and approach got support from over 9000 local councils and was submitted formally through NALC (National Association of Local Councils) to the Secretary of State. A negative response was received from the then Minister, Kit Malthouse, which resulted in an appeal being lodged. A response from the new Minister for Housing was due soon.

·       In the past, the building inspector had been part of the planning team and so often fed in any issues that he spotted in the course of his work. Now, as was the case with most councils, not all building control was handled by the Council and RCC did not have a dedicated officer to check on compliance.

·       Councillor Waller commended officers on the revised policy and felt that it was much more user friendly than the previous one.

·       On the suggestion of Members, Mr Johnson, the Development Manager, would change the recommendation to Cabinet to reflect that although the policy would be reviewed as a matter of course every five years, if any major national changes that needed to be taken into consideration arose then the review would be sooner.

·       The Policy had links to Government pages which had much more guidance on the harm assessment criteria.

·       It was not always possible to be completely black and white on when to take enforcement action and instead a professional planning judgement had to be made.

 

RESOLVED

 

The Growth, Infrastructure and Resources Scrutiny Committee reviewed and made comment on the updated Planning Enforcement Policy before it was presented to Cabinet for approval at their meeting on 17 March 2020.

 

 

540.

DRAFT REPORT OF THE BIODIVERSITY TASK AND FINISH GROUP pdf icon PDF 304 KB

To receive a verbal update from the Chairman of the group on the progress of the Biodiversity Task and Finish Group.

Minutes:

Councillor Fox, Chairman of the Biodiversity Task and Finish Group gave a verbal update on the Group’s work to date.

 

During discussion the following pints were noted:

 

·       The Group had reviewed the LLR Biodiversity Action Plan but had found that it was far too wordy and complex for the average reader.

·       The group’s focus was on producing recommendations under specific headings that would form the basis of a Biodiversity Strategy.

·       Although this ‘draft’ strategy would be supplemented with data from officers and hyperlinks to further information given, the Group envisaged that it would remain a very clear, user friendly document.

·       The Biodiversity Strategy was one element of the overarching Environmental Strategy. Any other task and finish groups to look at different strands of this would need to be proposed by the scrutiny committee and its terms of reference approved by Council.

 

RESOLVED:

That the Biodiversity Task and Finish Group would present the final report detailing the work process and final recommendations of the Group, at the next meeting of the Growth, Infrastructure and Resources Scrutiny Committee on 9 April, before being presented to Cabinet

 

 

541.

CORPORATE PLAN pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive a verbal update on elements of the Corporate Plan that pertain to the Growth, Infrastructure and Resources Scrutiny Committee and to identify areas for future scrutiny input. A copy of the Corporate Plan is attached.

Minutes:

Mr Della Rocca, Strategic Director for Resources and Mrs Sharpe, Deputy Director for Places identified areas of the Corporate Plan for future input by the Growth, Infrastructure and Resources Scrutiny Committee.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

·       A series of principles for the new Customer Services Strategy would be brought before the committee at some point for discussion The website needed to be reviewed as part of wider work on Customer Services.  There was a debate to be had on what the purpose of the website was, how it needed to work and how resources would be organised to deliver it. The Council did not have a centralised website team and with the pages the website already had there was not enough resource to maintain it. 

·       The Council needed to look at the operational model and decide for example whether it was a good use of front line officers (e.g. social workers) time to be driving the contents of their page or was this in fact detrimental to the job in hand.

·       The Executive had agreed with officers that the Council would take a digital first approach.

·       Scrutiny could add real value to the outline scoping work for the Economic Development Plan which would complement the Local Plan and the 50 year vision.

·       The Chair stated that she would have a conversation with Councillor Stephenson, the Portfolio Holder for Culture and Leisure on how scrutiny could input to the discussion on the RCC cultural offer, looking at the commerciality of ventures and projects and whether they could be made to break even or even as loss leaders, they were important to maintain.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.       That a series of principles for the new Customer Services Strategy would be brought before the Committee in June for it to discuss and agree.

 

2.       That an agenda item on the Economic Development Plan be brought to the September meeting of the Committee.

 

 

542.

UPDATE ON DIRECTORATE'S PROJECTS: MYACCOUNT AND FIX MY STREET

To receive verbal updates from the Strategic Director for Resources on MyAccount and Fix My Street.

Minutes:

Mr Della Rocca, Strategic Director for Resources gave verbal updates on the progress of the My Account and Fix My Street projects.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

MyAccount:

 

·       The feedback from the Committee from the discussion on MyAccount that was had at the meeting in November had been invaluable.  One of the key points that officers had taken onboard was about the navigation of the site and numerous changes had now been made to make it much more accessible. Councillor Woodley who had identified some of the initial issues with the system had had a preview of the revised site and was confident that it now worked well and would be the success that the Council wanted it to be.

·       User testing of the site had been done with different user groups but although there had been dialogue with the Rutland Access Group, testers had not been available to provide feedback.

·       Alongside improved navigation, improvements to the site following the scrutiny meeting included the use of more user-friendly language, a change of colour contrasts to make it more accessible, and work on the guest versus user log-in.

·       Officers intended that the MyAccount service would be ready to go live by the end of March.

·       The launch would be a ‘learning launch’ with feedback welcome from the public. Functionality could be improved once further customer needs and wants had been identified.

·       Webchat would be available for people to ask questions and this would also be assessed to help grow functionality of the site.

·       Before MyAccount went live, a video would be released to explain how it worked. Members would have sight of this before the launch in order to advise their residents.

·       MyAccount would be beneficial to residents, as they could access the service in their own time, and beneficial to the Council from a cost perspective.

·       The service would be advertised widely and library staff would be trained on the system. The extent to which existing channels for services would remain open would be a matter for discussion.

 

FixMyStreet

 

·       Members had agreed that the discussion on FixMyStreet would be on the IT element of it and not about how the service was managed.  Performance would be covered at future meetings if required. Customers’ queries logged on FixMyStreet had been reviewed to see how they had been distributed and answered.

·       Work had been ongoing to make sure the initial call got through and updates had been given within the Confirm system.

·       Reports generated from the initial reporting page and the Confirm system were being compared to see where there were anomalies and discrepancies.

·       Ideally, updates that came in for parking issues would be sent directly to the person who provided the call rather than them having to log back into FixMyStreet to check progress.

·       Responses on the system need to be more customer focused and not quite so stark.

·       Councillor Coleman commented that the definitions of ‘open’, ‘fixed’ and ‘closed’ for reports needed to be made clear on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 542.

543.

QUARTER 3 FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT REPORT pdf icon PDF 630 KB

To receive Report No.28/2020 from the Strategic Director for Resources.

 

·         The above report will be presented to Cabinet at their meeting on 18 February 2020.

·         Scrutiny are invited to review and comment on the report before the Cabinet meeting.

Minutes:

Report No.28/2020 was received from the Strategic Director for Resources.

 

The purpose of the report was to inform Cabinet and all Members of the full year forecast position as at Quarter 3 and to highlight issues that might impact on the medium Term Financial Plan to enable them to maintain sound financial management of the Council’s operations.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

·       The report summarised where the Council was at the end of Quarter 3 which broadly speaking was in the same position as of the end of Quarter 2.

·       Spending on Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) transport had increased.

·       Budget carry forwards no longer needed had been released and these had offset the increased spending.

·       The over spend on waste management was due to price fluctuations in the market. The Council had an arrangement with the recycling contractors whereby if the price or cost of recycling went up or down the pain or the gain was shared with them. Councillor G Brown, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Planning, Environment, Property and Finance referred Members to the website https://recycle.com/ which monitored prices, and gave an example of paper prices which last year were £10 a tonne but this year were minus £20 a tonne.

·       The increase in the number of planning applications and the income generated from them meant that there had been an under spend for development control.

·       Mr Della Rocca, the Section 151 officer would report back to the Committee on why £50k, funded from CIL monies, was being used to facilitate children being accepted in to an oversubscribed school instead of using the places available in schools that were undersubscribed.

 

RESOLVED:

 

The Committee NOTED the 2019/20 estimated revenue and capital outturn positions as at Quarter 3

544.

QUARTER 3 PERFORMANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 380 KB

To receive Report No.30/2020 from the Chief Executive.

 

·         The above report will be presented to Cabinet at their meeting on 18 February 2020.

·         Scrutiny are invited to review and comment on the report before the Cabinet meeting.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report No.30/2020 was received from the Chief Executive.

 

Mr Della Rocca, Strategic Director for Resources, introduced the report the purpose of which was to provide the Cabinet and all Members with strategic oversight of the Council’s performance for 2019/20 in delivering the Corporate Plan’s aims and objectives. The monitoring information reported on progress and highlighted any key challenges.

 

During discussion the following points were noted:

 

·       Although it was pleasing to see lots of ‘green’ indicators on the chart Councillor Begy asked whether this in fact meant that the targets were not stretching enough.

·       Members commented that they were unable to see a ‘direction of travel’ and it would be useful to see performance over a number of years in order to see if the Council was getting better or worse. The Chair stated that on behalf of the scrutiny committee she would make this recommendation to Cabinet.

·       In response to Members’ queries on why all of the road targets had been exactly met, Mrs Sharp, Deputy Director for Places stated that she would come back to Members with a full response on how they had been measured.

·       Customer service was measured as poor against target but this was subjective as although less calls were being answered this may be because the customers that were being dealt with received an excellent standard of service that required more time.

·       The target date of March 2021 for the development of the St George’s Barracks Business Zone was given a ‘green’ rating as although the service personnel would not have left by then, the business zone sat ‘outside of the wire’ and therefore work on this could begin before then.

·       The target for jobs was 20000 over 20 years. The success of the Kings Centre and its job creation had clearly shown that there was a demand for business space and the discussion to be had going forward was on the type of employment wanted, where it needed to be and whether external funding could be found to develop it rather than solely using Council funds.

 

RESOLVED:

 

The Committee NOTED the overall position in relation to performance so far during 2019/20 and the actions being taken to address areas of underperformance.

 

 

545.

EXCLUSION OF THE PRESS AND PUBLIC

The Committee is recommended to determine whether the public and press be excluded from the meeting in accordance with Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, and in accordance with the Access to Information provisions of Procedure Rule 239, as the following item of business is likely to involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act:

 

Paragraph 3: Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

Minutes:

A vote to determine whether the public and press be excluded from the meeting was taken and unanimously agreed.

 

546.

UPDATE ON STAMFORD NORTH PROPOSAL

To receive a verbal update from Mr G Brown, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Environment, Planning, Property and Finance.

Minutes:

Mr Gordon Brown, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Environment, Planning, Property and Finance gave a verbal update on the Stamford North proposal.

 

The minutes for this item are exempt.

 

 

547.

REVIEW OF FORWARD PLAN AND ANNUAL WORK PLAN

To consider the current Forward Plan and identify any relevant items for inclusion in the Growth, Infrastructure and Resources Scrutiny Committee Annual Work Plan, or to request further information.

 

The Forward Plan is available on the website using the following link:

 

https://rutlandcounty.moderngov.co.uk/mgListPlans.aspx?RPId=133&RD=0

 

Minutes:

Items for the work plan had been discussed under the Corporate Plan agenda item and therefore no further discussion was had.

 

548.

ANY OTHER URGENT BUSINESS

To receive any other items of urgent business which have been previously notified to the person presiding.

Minutes:

No items of urgent business had been previously notified to the Chairman.

549.

DATE AND PREVIEW OF NEXT MEETING

Thursday 9 April 2020 at 7pm.

 

Minutes:

The next meeting of the Growth, Infrastructure and Resources Scrutiny Committee would be held on Thursday 9 April 2020 at 7pm.