Agenda and minutes
Strategic Overview and Scrutiny
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Cllr Coborn, who was substituted by Cllr Lyn Sterry and Cllr Brian Jones, who was substituted by Cllr Marrilyn Smart OBE.
To confirm the minutes of the joint meeting of the Community and Corporate Scrutiny Committees held on 17 March 2011 (attached).
Cllr Smart made the following change to page 12 paragraph 2 of the minutes.
To replace the words ‘which might not be as much as at present ‘ with ‘which with the additional panels would need to be increased.’
The minutes of the joint meeting of the Community and Corporate Scrutiny Committees held on 17 March 2011 were then confirmed and signed as an accurate record.
The chairman to identify any items of urgent business.
The chairman identified no items of urgent business.
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 and indicate whether it is personal or prejudicial.
No declarations were made, but the committee noted that the cabinet members were present to give evidence, as requested.
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.
There were no public questions.
To consider report LD.356, relating to the form and function of scrutiny for 2011-2012.
Cllr Burford, chairman of the committee, presented report LD.356 and invited questions.
The Solicitor added that the intention was to review the arrangements after one year. She also corrected recommendation c) to read 2011/12 rather than 2010/11.
The committee agreed to add the following recommendation.
f) The 2011/12 scrutiny arrangements be reviewed on 12 April 2012
Cllr Robinson said that he would find it impossible to effectively support all the panels with which he seemed to be identified, but he would try his best.
Cllr Smart welcomed the intention to move scrutiny meetings around the district and asked that the committee consider using town council offices, which might be cost effective.
Cllr Burford replied that the matter was in hand and that he was looking at the possibility of holding one meeting in Lydney and one in Newent during the year. However these intentions were not yet finalised.
Cllr Diana Edwards, Cabinet Member for Strategic Partnerships and Projects, asked how the scrutiny committee itself would be scrutinised.
The Solicitor answered that the committee was accountable through Full Council in its regular reports and formal questions.
Cllr Burford asked for nominations for the positions of chairman and vice chairman of each scrutiny panel.
Cllr Pugh said that the committee had agreed in the chairman’s briefing to present agreed nominations en bloc.
Cllr Pugh proposed and Cllr Bevan seconded the following nominations:
There were no other nominations and the committee was unanimous in its vote on the above.
Cllr Burford asked the chairmen to invite members to join their panels. He suggested that the Democratic Services Officer coordinate the invitation and responses and that he also ask political group leaders for nominations. The committee agreed that responses would be required by Friday 6 August.
Cllr Burford agreed the Solicitor’s suggestion of a report to the committee’s September meeting, detailing panel membership.
Cllr Martin proposed and Cllr Frankie Evans seconded the motion.
RESOLVED – That
a) The Committee agree the approach to its form and functions as set out in this Report;
b) Four scrutiny panels be established with the terms of reference set out in this Report: namely the Performance and Value for Money Panel, the Finance and Internal Affairs Panel, the Community Panel and the Environment Panel;
c) The Chairman and Vice Chairman of each Panel be appointed for the 2011/12 civic year;
d) Each Panel meets at least twice year in public with a published agenda and minutes taken. Panels may meet more frequently on an informal basis to gather evidence, carry out research and to prepare final reports for presentation tithe Overview and Scrutiny Committee;
e) The Scrutiny Rules of Procedure set out in this Report are followed when carrying out the scrutiny function and
f) The 2011/12 scrutiny arrangements be reviewed on ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Questions and answers with the Leader and Cabinet
The committee to put questions relating to specific portfolio responsibilities to:
Councillor Patrick Molyneux - Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Regeneration
Councillor Brian Robinson - Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy
Councillor Diana Edwards - Cabinet Member for Strategic Partnerships and Projects
Councillor Terry Hale - Cabinet Member for Community
Councillor Martin Quaile - Cabinet Member for Environment
Cllr Burford invited Cllr Molyneux, as leader, to introduce the session, followed by the other four cabinet members.
Cllr Molyneux said that one of his key aims was to open up the way in which the cabinet work and improve communications. The cabinet would be working very much as a team, addressing the council vision and priorities to achieve a cohesive approach. The cabinet members were now situated together, close to where other members go in the council offices to be visible and approachable. He invited all members to attend and ask questions at cabinet meetings.
Cllr Diana Edwards, Cabinet Member for Strategic Partnerships and Projects
highlighted the following priorities:
Cllr Diana Edwards confirmed for Cllr Bill Evans that feedback from the seminar held on 13 July would be published.
She confirmed for Cllr O’Neill that racist incidents were recorded and responses collated. Cllr Martin concurred.
She clarified for Cllr Winship that the original European funded RDPE money granted had been re-allocated by central government. Any community project wishing to apply for funding should contact Neil Batt, Programme Manager.
Answering Cllr Martin she said that she was not aware at this stage of any small project funding from the Community Safety Partnership, but that the matter would be discussed at the first formal meeting during the following week.
Cllr Thomson asked if there was a place for member champions in helping to support the activities of delivery groups, as had been recommended by a scrutiny inquiry.
Cllr Molyneux suggested that it would be an excellent way to engage with those groups working directly in the community for any member, particularly as the effects of the Localism Bill become apparent.
Cllr Baynham, as chair of one of the delivery groups and the council’s health champion, fully supported Cllrs Molyneux and Thomson.
Cllr Quaile, Cabinet Member for the Environment, highlighted the following priorities:
To determine issues for inclusion in the plan from the attached list and from the Cabinet’s forward plan, and to set priorities.
Cllr Burford introduced the item, highlighting the scoping template at agenda page 37. He emphasised the need for any suggested topic being accompanied by a completed scoping document before the committee would consider it. This would save considerable time and enable inquiries to begin promptly. If this process were not working after six months or so, it would be reviewed.
Cllr Winship commented that scrutiny recommendations required checking to gauge their effect.
Cllr Burford agreed that scrutiny must make a difference and recommendations had to be checked. Six and 12 month report review points would be built into the scrutiny plan (agenda page 31).
The Democratic Services Officer added the words ‘financial value’ to the reasons section of the guidance notes on the template.
Cllr Thomson asked how the new committee would handle regular updates already established, such as those given by Kevin Stannard regarding the wild boar to the previous Community Scrutiny and Review Committee.
Cllr Burford thought that the Environment Panel might be the first point of contact, but emphasised that the committee needed to learn how to operate the scrutiny plan.
Cllr Pugh stated that scrutiny could be pro-active in considering items well in advance to help inform policy, could react to issues as they arose or generate concerns from the community. He asked which approach the committee would take.
Cllr Burford replied that he hoped that the committee would take all of those approaches, as relevant. He said that the IDeA (now LGID) had advised him that achieving the balance between the four guiding principles was a difficult challenge.
Cllr Winship asked if the committee could consider the cabinet’s forward plan further than four months ahead.
The Solicitor said that the four-month period was a legal requirement. She advised members to open a continuous dialogue with cabinet members at panel level. The Head of Paid Service added that the committee could view on the intranet individual groups’ service plans, which outlined projects for the year.
Cllr Robinson had no problem with the suggested approach. He added a plea for the committee to consider urgently the issue of how to fund private sector housing renewal grant costs, given that central government funding had stopped doing so and it was costing the council £500,000.
Cllr Horne asked that the issue of fuel poverty be added to the list for possible scrutiny inquiry.
Cllr Burford asked for scoping documents to be completed for both items.
Cllr Smart mentioned that IT access was still a problem for some members. Democratic Services and the IT team would take up the matter.
Since the meeting was running out of time, the committee agreed that the committee and panel chairmen set priorities for urgent consideration. The committee would then consider all other items at its meeting on 15 September 2011, as long as they were accompanied by a completed scoping document.
The Democratic Services Officer would arrange a meeting for the scrutiny chairmen and ask all members for completed scoping documents to be ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
To note the attached ‘scoping’ template for councillors to use when raising issues for possible scrutiny enquiries.
The committee noted the ‘scoping’ template for councillors to use when raising issues for possible scrutiny enquiries.
Future meetings 2011-12