Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 15th June, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber

Contact: Committee Services 

Items
No. Item

1.

ELECTION OF VICE CHAIRMAN

To elect a Vice-Chairman.

Minutes:

Councillor Smith was elected Vice-Chairman.

2.

MINUTES OF PREVIOUS MEETING pdf icon PDF 251 KB

The minutes of the meeting of 20 April 2021 are attached to be confirmed and signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of 20 April 2021 were confirmed and signed as a correct record. It was noted that in point 134 a request for the Head of Place was made to ‘circulate a summary of the performance statistics on the Development Management Service’ and that this had not yet been received. The Joint Chief Executive agreed to ensure that these were circulated as soon as possible.

3.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

To receive any apologies for absence from Members*.

 

*Note: Members are asked to email Committee Services in advance of the meeting as soon as they become aware they will be absent.

Minutes:

None received.

4.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

To declare disclosable, pecuniary and any other interests*.

 

*Note: Members are asked to email Committee Services in advance of the meeting as soon as they become aware they may have an interest to declare.

Minutes:

Councillor Farmer declared he had a non-pecuniary interest as the Chairman of the Swimming Club based at Hart Leisure Centre and Councillor Forster declared he had a non-pecuniary interest as a Hampshire County Councillor.

5.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION (ITEMS PERTAINING TO THE AGENDA)

Anyone wishing to make a statement to the Committee should contact Committee Services at least two clear working days prior to the meeting. Further information can be found at

https://www.hart.gov.uk/sites/default/files/4_The_Council/Council_meetings/Public%20Participation%20leaflet%202021.pdf

Minutes:

None.

6.

CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS

Minutes:

The Chairman announced that Portfolio Holders were joining the meeting to assist with several agenda points.

7.

FIT & PROPER PERSON TEST PREPARATIONS (F&PPT) pdf icon PDF 759 KB

The Mobile Homes (Requirement for Manager of Site to be Fit and Proper Person) (England) Regulations 2020, require the manager of a site to be assessed as a Fit and Proper Person. Local authorities are accordingly required to introduce a test for mobile home site owners, or the person appointed to manage the site, unless they are eligible for an exemption under the Regulations.

 

The purpose of this report is to outline to Members the requirements of the new responsibility and to seek feedback on the policies drawn up to support this new statutory requirement prior to consideration and adoption by Cabinet.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

It is recommended that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommend to Cabinet, subject to any suggested amendments, the approval of:

 

           the Fit and Proper Person Determination policy.

           the Fit and Proper Person Fees Policy fee

Minutes:

The Head of Service for Community Services gave a summary of the Fit & Proper Person Test (F&PPT) report on the proposed policies.

Councillors discussed the following areas of the report:

           The chasing of incomplete initial applications

           How failed applications are dealt with

           The drafting and wording of the policies in accordance with Government guidance

           Whether fees are charged for renewals and the term ‘initial application fee’

           Circumstances around Council appointed site managers

           Electronic form submissions

           Potential legal challenges

 

DECISION

 

Members supported in principle the report and delegated the confirmation of the final Overview & Scrutiny Committee comments to the Chairman to finalise for the Head of Community Service to address and forward on to Cabinet.

8.

CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT COMMERCIAL PROPERTY INVESTMENT STRATEGY pdf icon PDF 83 KB

This report asks Cabinet to consider a draft revised Commercial Property Investment Strategy.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

That Cabinet agrees the draft Commercial Property Investment Strategy, subject to any amendments.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder and Head of Service for Corporate Services gave a summary of the proposed policy and the updates it gave to current policy to focus on revenue income generating priorities but also to include assessment of the social and economic benefits. Further updates reflected upon the Climate Emergency recently declared by the Council, the project approval process, the lack of future access to Public Works Loans Board financing and the focussing policy to help achieve wider corporate goals.

 

Councillors discussed the following areas of the policy:

         The approval process and project scrutiny

         The drafting and wording of the policy

         Commercial partnerships and co-investment vehicles

         Carbon reduction and the Council’s declared Climate Emergency

         The balance between commercial investment, local and taxpayer benefits

         The area subject to the scope of the acquisition search recognising that the economic benefits gained by investment may benefit residents of Hart even if the acquisition was from outside the administrative area of Hart

         Regeneration, project location and the impact on local businesses

         The level of delegated authority and the speed of decision making

         Commercial sensitivity and the need for confidentiality

         Funding sources, leverage, return targets and risk levels

         Instant return projects and long-term investments

         The scope of the policy and future strategic review

         Projects had been both approved and rejected to date

 

The overall conclusion was that the approach was supported but perhaps could at this time be more simply focused on the immediate priority of secure long term financial revenue until such time as the necessary income generating targets had been met.

 

DECISION

 

That, subject to consideration of adjustments, the draft refreshed Commercial Property Investment Strategy be recommended to Cabinet.

9.

CONSIDERATION OF DRAFT CORPORATE DEBT RECOVERY POLICY pdf icon PDF 538 KB

To consider the draft Corporate Debt Recovery Policy at Appendix 1 which incorporates the Citizens Advice revised collection of Council Tax arrears good practice protocol.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

That Overview and Scrutiny Committee reviews and scrutinises the draft Corporate Debt Recovery Policy recommending any amendments to be considered in advance of the policy being presented to Cabinet in July 2021.

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder and Head of Service for Corporate Services gave a summary of the proposed policy. Updates to the policy reflect the recommendations of an internal audit and seeks to take an approach to debt collection that improves current processes and considers the whole debts that individuals and businesses owe, as opposed to treating them separately.

Councillors discussed the following areas of the policy:

         The drafting and wording of the policy

         Timescales, amounts triggering court action and write-off authority

         Corporate debts and insolvency

 

DECISION

 

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed that the policy be recommended to Cabinet.

10.

PROVISIONAL 2020/21 REVENUE AND CAPITAL OUTTURN POSITION pdf icon PDF 383 KB

This report presents the provisional revenue outturn for the year ended 31 March 2021 and compares it with the latest approved budget providing explanations of the significant variances.  The report also contains the capital outturn for the year ended 31 March 2021.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

1.    The provisional outturn position of an overspend of £784K after Covid-19 compensation is noted (shown at Table 4.4). This is before accounting adjustments and transfers.

 

2.    The capital outturn position at 31st March is 2021 is noted.

 

3.    That unspent capital budget is carried forward into the Capital programme for 2021-22.

 

4.    That Overview and Scrutiny committee recommends to Cabinet, the contributions to earmarked reserves as detailed in Table 6.1 be approved.

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder and Head of Corporate Services gave a summary of the report. Attention was drawn to the projected outturn position after auditor adjustment, the charges related to withdrawing from the 5 Councils agreement, revenue and spending fluctuations due to the COVID pandemic and related grant income. Variance analysis was still pending but would be presented to Cabinet.

Councillors discussed the following areas of the report:

         The underspend in COVID grants and current commitments on these

         Accountancy adjustments to the outturn figure

         The adding of a COVID impact figure to the report

         Ending the 5 Councils contract and resulting unexpected costs

         The internal and auditor timetables for completion

         Court recovery and hard debt collection

 

DECISION

 

A.       The provisional outturn position of an overspend of £784K after Covid-19 compensation (before accounting adjustments and transfers) was noted.

B.       The capital outturn position as at 31 March 2021 was noted.

C.       That unspent capital budget was to be carried forward into the Capital programme for 2021-22.

D.       That Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommends to Cabinet the contributions to earmarked reserves as detailed in Table 6.1 be approved.

11.

NEXT STEPS IN COVID-19 RECOVERY pdf icon PDF 250 KB

This is the fourth report to Members providing an update on the work undertaken by the Council in response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Previous reports have been considered by Cabinet in July 2020, October 2020 and January 2021.

 

Whilst work progresses at pace on vaccinating the population, it is important to note that the situation remains live, with restrictions still in place.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

 

That Overview and Scrutiny:

    Notes the updates on the Recovery Plan as outlined in Appendix 1.

    Notes the final decisions taken by the Joint Chief Executive under emergency provisions within the Constitution.

Minutes:

The Joint Chief Executive gave a summary of the report, which was the fourth report to Members providing an update on the work undertaken in response to the COVID pandemic. Members discussed the cycling provision between Fleet Railway Station and Fleet Town Centre.

 

DECISION

 

1.       The updates on the Recovery Plan as outlined in Appendix 1 were noted.

2.       The final decisions taken by the Joint Chief Executive under emergency provisions within the Constitution were noted.

12.

OUTSIDE BODIES pdf icon PDF 168 KB

To inform Overview and Scrutiny of the Members work during 2020/2021 as representatives on outside bodies.

 

A summary of reports from the Council’s representatives on external bodies for 2020/2021 is attached for consideration at Appendix 2.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

The Committee is

      Asked to note the report and Appendix 2

      Consider the level of representation on key strategic partnerships,

      The effectiveness of engagement with current partnerships and external representation in meeting the Council’s priorities,

      To make recommendation to Cabinet where appropriate

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members discussed the summary of Members work as representatives on outside bodies in 2020-21, with particular focus on Blackbushe Metals and the Hampshire Partnership. The allocation of representative roles based upon skills and Ward location were highlighted as areas to be considered, along with the current reporting systems. Members were also asked to consider further Outside Bodies for inclusion in future.

 

DECISION

 

A.       The report and appendix 2 were noted.

B.       That continuing representation on different Outside Bodies are best decided upon by the Members attending.

C.       The Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommended that Cabinet consider the allocation of representatives based on skills and Ward location and consider current reporting systems.

13.

RECOVERY FOR RE-ENGAGEMENT OF MEMBERS

To discuss how to encourage and re-engage Members.

Minutes:

Members discussed the re-engagement of Members with the Council and Officers in the following areas:

         Communication methods and the difficulties in contacting specific Officers, and the clarification of protocols around this process

         Councillor Enquiries with reference to its effectiveness, difficulties with complex issues, frequently asked questions, and the future of this method of contact

         Automated response systems

         Officer workloads due to the pandemic and resulting contact difficulties

         Ward surgeries

         The use of TEAMS and Councillor mentoring

         The sharing of recorded training materials with Parishes

         Keeping the best of what happened before and after the pandemic

 

The setting up of a group to discuss was suggested by the Joint Chief Executive and interested members were asked to contact him if they wished to participate.

14.

SERVICE PLANS AND PERFORMANCE MONITORING

To consider the most effective way of member engagement in the monitoring of service plans and service performance.

Minutes:

Members discussed the monitoring of service plans and service performance in the following areas:

         KPI’s and their effectiveness, and the use of SMART targets

         The role of Overview and Scrutiny in service level performance and monitoring, and the purpose of monitoring

         The need for reviews to be public facing, and the expectation of the public that services should be appropriately scrutinised

         The format of reports, and the merits of Service Panels

         The attendance of Members at previous Service Panels and the benefit virtual meetings would bring

 

It was decided that Members comments would be summarised by the Chairman and Joint Chief Executive in a briefing note and circulated.

15.

CABINET WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 164 KB

The Cabinet Work Programme is attached for information.

Minutes:

The Cabinet work programme was noted.

16.

OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 229 KB

The Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme is attached for consideration and amendment.

Minutes:

The Overview and Scrutiny workplan was noted. An extract from the AGM report by the Chairman on items proposed to be included in the workplan will be circulated for comments.