Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny and Overview Committee
Tuesday, 22 January 2019 5.20 p.m.

Venue: Swansley Room, Ground Floor

Contact: Victoria Wallace  03450 450 500 Email: democratic.services@scambs.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence from committee members. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Ruth Betson and Sarah Cheung Johnson. Councillor Sue Ellington was present as a substitute for Councillor Betson and Councillor Geoff Harvey was present as a substitute for Councillor Cheung Johnson.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

In relation to agenda item 5, Waterbeach New Town Draft SPD, Councillors Judith Rippeth and Anna Bradnam pointed out that they were the local members for Waterbeach.

3.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 18 December 2018 as a correct record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 December 2018 were agreed as a correct record, subject to the addition of Councillor Hazel Smith’s attendance at the meeting.

4.

Public Questions

Minutes:

No  public questions had been received however two members of the public had requested to make statements under agenda item 5, Waterbeach New Town Draft SPD.

5.

Waterbeach New Town Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) pdf icon PDF 199 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Principal Planning Policy Officer presented the report which summarised and responded to the representations made on the draft Waterbeach Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) during the public consultation, which had taken place between 14September 2018 and 26 October 2018. The committee was informed of the following:

·         The consultation, which had received 361 representations, had resulted in a number of amendments to the SPD which would be recommended for adoption by Cabinet.

·         The committee was informed that legal advice on ransom was still awaited and details of this would be included in the report to Cabinet.

·         The main issues raised during the public consultation were outlined.

·         Officers had met with the Environment Agency, Cambridgeshire County Council as the lead local flood authority, cycling and equestrian groups, which had led to a number of proposed changes to the SPD, where appropriate taking on board these groups’ interests.

·         The committee was informed that a whole new section had been included in the SPD regarding flood risk, which reflected the Environment Agency’s concerns regarding residual flood risk. This risk had been known about since 2014.

 

Kate Grant, Chairman of Waterbeach Parish Council’s Planning Committee, was invited to make her statement to the committee. She made the following points:

·         The SPD was not consistent with policy SS/6 regarding its housing capacity of 11,000 homes.

·         There had been a lack of clarity in the consultation process; there was a lack of access to view other documents and comments made by other parties making representations. The consultation website had proven very difficult to use in a proper investigative manner. Following the Waterbeach Neighbourhood Forum meeting, documents did become available online however this did not allow sufficient time to analyse the responses in advance of the deadline to make representation to the Scrutiny and Overview Committee. Waterbeach Parish Council considered this to be undemocratic.

·         Waterbeach Parish Council considered that from its inception, the SPD had been rushed through the planning process in order to justify assumptions made with planning applications that had been submitted to the Council. The Parish Council believed that the submission of such planning applications was premature being before the adoption of the SPD, and that they had influenced the form and content of the SPD.

·         Waterbeach Parish Council was disappointed to learn that matters such as waste water and other infrastructure would be addressed through planning applications.

·         The analysis of representations was not comprehensive.

·         Waterbeach Parish Council believed that the SPD had been rushed through a flawed and undemocratic process and was not compliant with the fundamental aims and parameters of SS6, the policy on which it was explicitly based.

·         There should be a further independent review of the SPD and the representations.

 

Paul Bearpark, Chairman of the Waterbeach Cycling Campaign was invited to make a statement:

·         Waterbeach Cycling Campaign had 120 signed up supporters in the village and worked closely with Camcycle which had 1300 members. The group formed to campaign for better cycling infrastructure in the Waterbeach area, which was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

General Fund and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budgets 2019-2020 pdf icon PDF 162 KB

Appendix 3 (Capital Strategy) and Appendix 4 (Treasury Management) will follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Executive Director (Corporate Services) and Lead Cabinet Member for Finance, presented the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budgets 2019-20. The committee was informed that the £3 million savings target over the life of the Medium Term Financial Strategy was felt to be achievable and lower than most other councils.

 

The committee was informed that:

·         Investment had previously been focussed on Ermine Street Housing. Going forward there was a need to diversify the investment portfolio.

·         Member training on evaluating investment proposals, was being arranged with the East of England Local Government Association.

·         It had been possible to finance additional Ermine Street Housing funding through existing cash reserves.

·         The Council had not needed to borrow money to fund the ice rink.

·         The committee was assured that the Council’s borrowing was not excessive. Any borrowing was for investments and the ownership of assets.

·         The audit of last year’s accounts was in progress.

 

The committee discussed the report and made the following points:

·         Disappointment was expressed that the pay policy increase would be a percentage increase. Rather than a percentage increase it was suggested that this should be a sum of money paid to all staff, as a percentage increase simply made high paid staff richer and gave those at the bottom of the pay structure a percentage of very little. The committee was informed that this would be taken on board for future negotiations with the unions.

·         Concern was raised that staff were not necessarily trained to manage investment accounts. Assurance was sought that the organisation had this expertise and sufficient staffing. The committee was informed that the council would be looking at setting up an investment board serviced by officers with relevant experience.

 

The committee moved to confidential session to discuss the Ermine Street Housing Business Plan, which contained commercially sensitive information. The committee was informed that as Ermine Street Housing was approaching its purchase target of 500 properties, a thorough review would be undertaken.

 

The Scrutiny and Overview Committee ENDORSED the recommendations to Cabinet, as detailed in the report.  

7.

Business Plan 2019-2024 Consultation Outcomes pdf icon PDF 147 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented the report which provided a summary of the responses to the Business Plan 2019-24 public consultation.

 

The consultation had received a higher rate of response compared to previous years. The main issues raised were:

·         Transport; following the consultation feedback, this would feature far more in the business plan.

·         Economic development; there were strong concerns regarding broadband and the impacts of growth.

·         Housing was a concern. The priority was affordability. People wanted to see more council housing and local amenities built.

·         There needed to be a stronger emphasis on local businesses.

 

The committee discussed the report:

·         There needed to be more emphasis on community development and social interaction. It was pointed out that the lonely, elderly, disabled and mentally ill were very unlikely to complete a consultation questionnaire. The Leader of the Council provided assurance that social interaction and preventing loneliness was a priority for the Council and would be emphasised in the business plan.

·         Customer service was a concern for residents who wanted to be able to speak to and email officers with queries. The customer portal would help with this and this would be promoted when it was launched.

·         The importance of transport, housing and infrastructure was emphasised.

·         The underutilisation of Cambourne business park was raised as a concern. The committee was informed that this and whether there was a role for the Council to intervene in this, was being looked into. 

·         The committee was informed that sustainable economic growth was built into the housing strategy and would be built into the Local Plan.

·         Targets needed to be measurable. The Leader emphasised the importance of measuring progress rather than emphasising targets.

 

The committee was informed that the Council was limited in what it could do regarding public transport. South Cambridgeshire District Council did not have the power to set up a bus company, however it could and had supported community transport initiatives and had subsidised local bus services, such as the X3 service. The Council was looking at community transport in the north of the district. A steer from the Mayor was needed on his vision for the future transport network. A report on bus franchising would be considered by the Combined Authority’s Board.

8.

ICT issues

Minutes:

The Scrutiny and Overview Committee Chairman provided an update on the work of the Scrutiny ICT Working Group:

·         The group had met with the Interim Head of the ICT Shared Service, David Edwards. A new permanent director would be in post from March 2019.

·         The Chairman had written to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chairmen at Huntingdonshire District and Cambridge City Councils to seek their views on the ICT Shared Service; a response was awaited.

·         The working group considered that the testing that had been conducted was insufficient; there had been no overall system test from start-up and no denial of service testing.

·         An external audit had been undertaken in October 2018 and a copy of this report had been requested.

·         The lack of Member engagement on the Shared Service Board was a concern.

·         The working group thought that Cabinet may want to consider commissioning an external audit of the management of the ICT Shared Service.

·         The lack of a 3C ICT security policy was a particular concern.

·         The work of this group was ongoing.

 

The working group had not reached a stage to make formal recommendations however the committee was informed of the following potential emerging recommendations:

·         An external security contractor should be commissioned to assess the ICT service.

·         There should be Member involvement on the Shared Service Management Board.

 

The committee made the following points:

·         Concern was raised regarding the competence of suppliers and enforcement of Service Level Agreements.

·         Members praised ICT staff for bringing the ICT system back online as quickly as they had in November 2018.

 

The Lead Cabinet Member for Customer Services and Business Improvement welcomed the suggestion that there should be Member involvement on the Shared Service Board.

9.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 65 KB

For the committee to consider its work programme. This is attached with the Council’s Notice of Key and Non Key Decisions and the Scrutiny Prioritisation Tool.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The work programme was noted.

10.

Monitoring the Executive

Scrutiny Monitors are invited to report any updates on issues which may be of interest or relevance to the committee.

Minutes:

There were no updates from Scrutiny monitors.

11.

To Note the Dates of Future Meetings

To note that the next meeting will take place on Wednesday 20th February 2019.

Minutes:

The next meeting would take place on Wednesday 20th February 2019 at 5.20pm.