Agenda and minutes
Strategic Overview and Scrutiny
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Cllr Frankie Evans (substitute Cllr Len Lawton) and Sue Pangbourne, Head of Paid Service.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 31 May 2012.
The minutes of the meeting held on 31 May 2012 were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.
The chairman to identify any items of urgent business.
The chairman identified no items of urgent business on this occasion.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any declarations of interest in any matter to be discussed at the meeting. Members and officers are requested to identify the nature of the interest.
No declarations of interest were made.
To consider questions from members of the public in accordance with the published protocol. To submit a question contact Democratic Services on 01594 812625 or email email@example.com. All questions must be submitted in writing at least two working days prior to the meeting.
1. Lydney Town Council
a) Can the Committee confirm – all paperwork /documents show that the decision to implement Car Parking Charges was a Cabinet decision is this correct? Does the Overview & Scrutiny Committee believe the aforementioned decision, (given its likely economic impact on the whole of our District) was taken democratically given it was addressed by a Cabinet consisting of only 5 members?
Response from Cllr Burford, chairman of the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Constitutionally the Car Park Management decision was one which lay solely with the Cabinet. Scrutiny, other groups within the council and the wider public made a series of comments, observations and recommendations that I understand Cabinet carefully considered before reaching their final decision. This process is democratic and in line with the Council’s constitution and statute.
For the avoidance of doubt the democratic process is that the residents of the district elect 48 councillors every four years, those councillors elect a leader and the leader then forms a cabinet who collectively execute the executive functions of the council. If a majority of the councillors don’t agree with what the cabinet is doing in their name the leader can be removed and another one elected in their place. If at the end of the four year term of the council the residents of the district don’t like the way in which the council has been run, or the decisions it has made, they can elect different councillors.
If the decision taken was correct (or indeed if there will be ’an economic impact on the whole of our District’) will only be determined after the new management regime has had an opportunity to settle in and the results properly analysed – scrutiny will consider the evidence as it becomes available.
Mr Pearman, representing Lydney Town Council, asked where and when the council had minuted the decision to implement a charging regime and whether it was an operational decision.
Response from Cllr Burford
Cllr Burford replied that the cabinet had made the decision on 16 December 2011. The minutes were available on the council’s website.
Cllr Burford then explained that the answers to questions b to e would be more appropriately asked at Cabinet. However as the Deputy Leader of the Council was at the meeting and the question pertained to Lydney, he had agreed to give the answers as tabled in a separate document and would accept one supplementary question.
Lydney Town Council questions answered by Cllr Robinson, Deputy Leader of the Council.
b) Lydney Town Council has recently commenced work on a Neighbourhood Development Plan NDP). As part of this process it is the town councils intention to include a study on Car Parking charges as we believe it to be instrumental to the economic sustainability of our community. However we have been advised by FODDCs Monitoring Officer that car parking charges may not form part of any NDP as they are planning documents that seek to control land use and as the ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Election of panel chairmen and vice chairmen
To elect chairmen and vice chairmen to the four panels for the civic year 2012/13.
Cllr Smart proposed and Cllr Brian Edwards seconded the following nominations:
There were no other nominations.
RESOLVED – that the above councillors be panel chairmen and vice chairmen for the civic year 2012 –2013.
The scrutiny plan
The chairman to inform members that the committee meeting planned for Thursday 15 November will now take place on Thursday 29 November 2012.
To consider the scrutiny and panel plans and items for discussion at future meetings, including relevant issues on the Cabinet forward plan.
The scrutiny plan
The committee agreed to move the following items.
Housing investments options was moved to 13 September 2012.
Leader and deputy leader questions and answers, was moved to 10 January 2013
The committee agreed to remove the following item.
Localism Act – implications for scrutiny, since it was being considered by the Governance Options Group
The committee agreed to add the following items.
Leisure Services on 21 March 2013
Single Status update on 13 September 2012
The budget 2013/14 and Medium Term Financial Plan on 10 January 2013.
GO Shared Service inquiry final report on 29 November 2012
The Group Manager for Customer Service clarified that no firm date had been set for committee members to visit leisure centres, as the visit needed to be closer to when the council would be looking at the issue in detail.
The committee agreed to visit the leisure centres during the October 2012 half term week.
The panel plans
The chairman asked the Finance and Internal Affairs Panel to meet twice in October and November/December to inform the committee’s consideration of the matter on 10 January 2013.
There would need to be a further meeting of the Private Sector Housing Renewal Loans Inquiry in mid-August to finalise the report
The cabinet forward plan
Cllr Burford commented that the cabinet would be considering items 1 and 2 for the Leader of the Council before the next scrutiny meeting, so would be called in if needed.
Cllr Robinson informed the committee that the item regarding the traffic management agreement had been removed from the forward plan.
To establish any inquiry and confirm its scope and terms of reference.
The committee considered a scoping document for a possible inquiry into the Five Acres Complex, submitted earlier in the week.
Cllr Bill Evans, who had submitted the scoping document, explained that the matter had been raised informally during a cross-party discussion, which showed that it was apolitical in nature. There was clearly public disquiet that the council seemed not to be paying attention to the issue. He emphasised that the scoping document focused purely on Five Acres and had nothing to do with the Cinderford northern quarter project. An inquiry would give scrutiny the opportunity to invite all the partners involved in the decision-making process for the complex, such as the principal, and chair of governors for Gloucestershire College, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and officers from the council who had been involved. He said that it would be interesting to take evidence of quality to establish the route ahead.
Cllr Brian Edwards believed it to be important and a constructive way forward.
Cllr Winship asked which panel would conduct the review.
Cllr Burford viewed it as touching on all four panels’ remits and suggested that the full committee conduct the inquiry over a series of meetings, inviting panel members to attend. He reminded members that the committee had set a limit of conducting only two simultaneous inquiries. Currently it had one inquiry in progress – GO Shared Service, and one about to begin – Voluntary Sector Funding (VSF). He commented that VSF had two strands, one of which had been raised and was being addressed by the cabinet support group. The second strand, which sought to find out the effects on voluntary sector bodies of cuts was more difficult and would need careful planning. He suggested that the Voluntary Sector Funding Inquiry be postponed.
Cllr Hogan believed that the Five Acres inquiry was urgent, representing a key decision for the governing body of Gloucestershire College to be announced early 2013. If scrutiny sought to influence the decision it would need to report before November 2012. He also advised that the VSF inquiry might inform the 2013/14 budget and should therefore not be left too late.
Cllr Martin said that Cllr Baynham had a clear idea of the direction of the VSF inquiry and she suggested that a planning meeting go ahead to address this important matter of community interest.
Cllr Winship said that it was important for the whole panel to agree the direction of the VSF inquiry to ensure that it produced outcomes that could have an influence.
The committee agreed to undertake a committee inquiry into the Five Acres Site to report by the end of October 2012.
Lydney Leisure Centre
The Group Manager for Customer Service to give an oral update on the leisure strategy as it relates to Lydney.
The Group Manager for Customer Service presented an oral update on the leisure management plan as it affected Lydney. He included the following points.
Cllr Hogan expressed concern at the haste to move the school to academy status and the short consultation period, which he believed ended before the end of July. He asked what guarantees there were regarding the council’s investment in the leisure centre, given that its partner would no longer be another local authority but a private company. He also thought it better to delay the project if there were any risk to the council’s investment.
Cllrs Martin, Bevan and Pugh expressed similar concerns.
Cllr Robinson confirmed that no money had been committed and that the cabinet would make a decision regarding investment later when considering a detailed business plan. He believed that the assets were protected, but would check.
The group manager stated that the council currently had a joint use agreement with the county council, which included clawback clauses. Any change in governance arrangements at the school would not affect that agreement. The council would need to be sure that its investment was protected.
Answering Cllr Winship the group manager said that the preferred option for the fitness centre work would not disrupt its use. Once agreed by the cabinet the work would probably take 12 to 16 weeks.
Cllr Whitburn asked what effect the two private fitness facilities had on the leisure centre fitness centre, particularly the one newly opened.
The group manager replied that with the first opening, the impact had been short-lived and the council’s facility had regained its market. The two now complemented each other. He also believed that the new facility was different again and not a direct competitor to the council’s offer. The council offered packages that included swimming and health ... view the full minutes text for item 8.1
Lydney Area Action Plan
Officers to show the committee examples of its work in the community.
The Forward Plan Manager and Planning Officer showed how the consultation process was taking place regarding the area action plan for Lydney.
The council had undertaken a lot of consultation, where residents were invited to look at the town now and suggest changes using flags on map tiles. Consultations had been held at the local primary schools, the town hall, the town council and views also sought from other bodies including the police, the Environment Agency and the county’s Social Services.
The 500 separate ideas had been categorised into planning issues and other issues. Further comment was now welcome.
Cllr Winship had been involved and believed that the process to date had been thorough and useful.
Cllr Allaway Martin asked if the council had consulted with residents in nursing homes.
The Planning Officer replied that the possibility had been discussed and that the council might have to consult in a different way. She added that many older people had come to the all-day event.
Cllr Brian Edwards added that publicised census information showed that the South West had a growing elderly population.
The Forward Plan Manager commented that the plan was constantly being revised as new information became available. When the full detail of the census was released the council would review the plan. For Cllr O’Neill he said that the council had taken a physical/visual approach by using map tiles, but had considered aerial photographs. He would ensure that the booklet produced in 2011 was available on the council’s website. The expectation for developments in Lydney was for a range of house types and other facilities for people of different ages. He emphasised that now was the time to tell this team if they were getting it wrong.
Cllr Osborne, a district and Lydney town councillor, said that the Area Action Plan (AAP) for Lydney was not yet a statutory planning document and that Lydney Town Council had been empowered under the Localism Act to create Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP). He asked if it would not make sense for the town and district council to work together to amalgamate the two plans into one for the benefit of the community.
The Forward Plan Manager agreed that the two plans sat at the same level, under the Core Strategy and Allocations Development Plan Document. The AAP was a way of expediting change, focusing on local issues and it complemented the NDP. The regulations encouraged cooperation between councils to produce a single document.
The Forward Plan Manager answered a public question, saying that proposals for the area of East Lydney were already clear in the plan, so currently the plan (AAP) looked at possible development in the town and towards the docks. The allocation of land was being looked at but not where there were outstanding permissions as these could be implemented. The Forward Plan Manager emphasised that the plan making process was still at a formative stage and there was not yet an AAP for Lydney, so there was nothing ... view the full minutes text for item 8.2
The final report of the inquiry into private sector housing renewal loans will be presented to the committee at its meeting on 13 September 2012.
Cllr Martin, chairman of the Private Sector Housing Renewal Loans Inquiry confirmed the need for a further meeting to finalise the inquiry’s report.
Cllr Winship, inquiry chairman, to present the six-month review report for the bus links inquiry.
Cllr Winship, chairman of the Bus Links Inquiry presented its six-month review, commenting that all recommendations had been completed as below. She emphasised the need for all members of the public to realise that dial-a-ride was for everyone, not just elderly, infirm or disabled residents.
Progress on recommendation a)
a) Given the crucial importance of transport to the community of the Forest of Dean and its current inadequacies, the panel strongly recommends that the council appoint a transport champion at the earliest opportunity, with the role as defined below.
Full Council appointed Cllr Elsmore as its transport champion on 24 May 2012.
Progress on recommendation b)
Cllr Winship reminded panel members that the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee had changed recommendation b) from the original report to the following:
b) That the Leader of the Council write to the Leader of Gloucestershire County Council, the Leader of Monmouthshire County Council, the relevant minister of the Welsh Assembly and of the government in Westminster urging them to improve the integration of transport provision throughout the district and cross-border
Monmouthshire had responded by inviting the council leader and transport champion to an informal meeting with its relevant portfolio holder.
The panel agreed to feed questions and points about cross-border transport to Cllr Elsmore, who would raise them at the meeting. He agreed that he would raise the issues around buses to and from Monmouth and Chepstow.
Progress on recommendation c)
c) That the Strategic Director write to the responsible officer at the county council asking them to update the transport champion on changes as they happen.
Cllr Elsmore said that Alan Barrett had agreed to meet him on a regular basis.
Progress on recommendation d)
d) That the council ask parish councils to report bus timetable and reliability complaints to the relevant Community Engagement Officer for the transport champion to act on.
The Community Engagement Team had made parish councils aware, but had not received any issues to date. There would be North and South area parish council transport forums in July to achieve a common view.
Progress on recommendation e)
e) That the council write a statement expressing its full support for the Forest of Dean Local Partnership’s lottery bid (Reaching Communities) to fund the coordination and marketing of community transport in the district
The initial expression of interest had been unsuccessful, due to concerns over the sustainability of the intention to have a person employed to coordinate and market community transport. However the county council was helping to put in an imminent revised expression of interest. The panel noted that to submit a full bid would have significant time-resource implications.
Progress on recommendation f)
f) That the council proactively support local people’s transport needs by providing details of community transport to council offices, leisure centres, libraries, local doctors’ surgeries and hospitals within the county
The details had been sent out.
Cllr Elsmore reported that he had talked to Monmouthshire County Council and would seek to do the same with Gloucestershire ... view the full minutes text for item 9.2
Finance and Internal Affairs Panel
The panel will undertake a 12-month review of the Office Public Opening Hours inquiry on Monday 24 September 2012 at 4.30pm
Cllr O’Neill, panel chairman, confirmed that the panel would undertake a 12-month review of the Office Public Opening Hours inquiry on Monday 24 September 2012 at 4.30pm
Performance and Value for Money Panel
Cllr Bill Evans, panel chairman, to present updates on the 4th Quarter Performance Report and the first meeting of the GO Shared Service inquiry.
Cllr Bill Evans reported that the panel had considered the fourth quarter performance report and had raised some questions, which had been answered. The panel notes and answers to points raised are available from Democratic Services.
He highlighted that the Local Action Group was still looking for applications for funding. He was slightly concerned that all members had been offered a one-to one interview regarding their training, but not all had taken up the offer.
All at 6.00pm with a chairman’s briefing for members at 5.30pm
Thursday 13 September 2012 Thursday 18 October 2012
Thursday 29 November 2012* Thursday 10 January 2013
Thursday 21 March 2012
All at 6.00pm with a chairman’s briefing for members at 5.30pm
Thursday 13 September 2012 Thursday 18 October 2012
Thursday 29 November 2012 Thursday 10 January 2013 in Newent
Thursday 21 March 2012
It was also noted that the Committee would be hosting an all member
Scrutiny Conference on the 26 Septemerb 2012