Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny and Overview Committee
Tuesday, 14 August 2018 6.00 p.m.

Venue: Swansley Room A and B - Ground Floor. View directions

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 Brian Milnes (Vice-Chairman), Dr.  Martin Cahn and Gavin Clayton. It was noted that Councillor Steve Hunt was present as a substitute for Councillor Cahn and Councillor Nigel Cathcart was present as a substitute for Councillor Clayton.

 

An apology for late arrival was received from Councillor Ruth Betson.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None.

3.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2018 as a correct record.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 12 July 2018 were agreed as a correct record of the meeting, subject to the amendment of the words Super Intendent to “Superintendent” in the third bullet point of minute no.7.

4.

Public Questions

Minutes:

No public questions had been received.

5.

Implementation of Universal Credit pdf icon PDF 416 KB

Minutes:

The Benefits Manager introduced Dave Winterton and Ana Sivelli from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The Benefits Manager explained that:

·         Universal Credit replaced six different benefits.

·         Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire would go live on 17 October 2018.

·         Universal Credit had already been implemented in other areas, including Peterborough in November 2017, and the Council would learn from their experience.

·         Payments were made in arrears, but advance payments could be made to cover the first five weeks. These would have to be paid back over 12 months.

·         It was estimated that by 31/03/2019 766 residents would no longer be receiving Housing Benefit. That figure was estimated to rise to about 2,000 by March 2020.

·         Recipients would be split approximately 50/50 between those who had retired and those of working age.

·         Information was being communicated to residents through South Cambs Magazine, the Tenants Magazine, leaflets and social media.

·         There would be a briefing for Councillors on 3 September.

 

During discussion, Members of the Committee raised a number of questions and comments.   The Benefits Manager and DWP representatives provided responses and further background information including the following:-

 

(a)  Improving the service

Dave Winterton explained that when Universal Credit had first been introduced, 42% of clients had not received their payments in the first 5 weeks. This was now down to 13% and was usually because the DWP was still waiting for a completed application.

 

(b)  IT

Dave Winterton explained that computers would be free to use in the five job centres that served the District and free Wi-Fi would also be available. Staff would be at the centres to provide assistance, to those who required it. Dedicated e-mails could be set up for clients who required them. Ongoing support would also be provided.

 

(c)  Work coaches

Dave Winterton reported that work coaches, who were front line DWP staff based in Job Centres, would be allocated to clients, if required, and would provide the support necessary with regard to their claim. It was noted that the Cambridge Job Centre had the Citizens Advice Bureau(CAB) located at their centre, which meant that CAB assistance was available to clients five days a week.

 

(d)  Vulnerable People

Dave Winterton explained that officers would carry out home visits if necessary to support clients with claims.  Whilst it was usual for the entire payment to go to one member of the household, split payments could be provided if this was considered to be more appropriate. The DWP was well aware of the implications associated with issues such as domestic violence, alcoholism, drug use and gambling.

 

The Chairman thanked the Benefits Manager, Dave Winterton and Ana Sivelli from the DWP for their presence and informative answers.

 

After the Benefits Manager had left the meeting, Councillor Jose Hales asked whether support on Universal Credit would be available in Community Hubs. It was agreed that this question should be sent to the Benefits Manager for response.

6.

Community Chest Review 2018 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Jose Hales, Chairman of Grants Advisory Committee, presented this report which recommended changes to the criteria for the Community Chest grants scheme.

 

During discussion, the following points were raised:-

 

(a)  Limits of total amounts to wards and parishes

Councillor Hales explained that paragraph 12(l) should be removed as it had been concluded that it was unnecessarily restrictive to set a limit on the annual amount of grants received by the size of ward. He also explained that in the Grants Advisory Committee’s view community chest grants should be paid to small parishes, which could not raise sufficient funds via their precept. Further work was needed around eligibility for small parishes. Larger parish councils should not be eligible to receive  community chest grants, as these should be paid from either their parish precepts or other available funds. It was suggested clarification was needed as to whether paragraph 13 (a) should refer to smaller parish meetings and “parish councils”. The Director of Health and Environmental Services agreed to find out what percentage of grants had been awarded to parish councils in the past. It was noted that for these purposes, the location of the organisation determined which parish it was in, not where the activities took place.

 

(b)  Tackling isolation and loneliness

Concern was expressed at the proposal in paragraph 12 (f) for priority to be given to community projects/activities that had a youth development focus and the importance of making available grants to other groups, such as those which tackled isolation and loneliness was emphasised.  It was suggested that this criterion should be reviewed.

 

(c)  Historic buildings

It was noted that community grants would only be awarded to historic buildings in public ownership, but concern was expressed that there was no longer any funding for historic and listed buildings in private ownership and this was having a detrimental long-term effect on those buildings.

 

(d)  Additional funding

Councillor Hales understood the support from the Committee to tackle isolation and renovate historic building, but he explained that extra funding would be required to satisfy all these demands. He asked that the Executive consider this.

 

(e)  Officer support

Councillor Hales explained that officers assessed each application and asked for an estimate of the total costs of the project, before it was presented to councillors.

 

The Chairman thanked Councillor Hales and the Director of Health and Environmental Services for their attendance and participation in the debate.

7.

Waterbeach New Town Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) pdf icon PDF 187 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In introducing the item, the Chairman explained that the Committee was concerned that given the size and complexity of the Waterbeach New Town SPD document and as it had not been made available to Members until 5 working days before the meeting, it had been given insufficient time to review and make a considered and informed response to Cabinet.  The Committee was therefore minded to recommend Cabinet to defer consideration at its meeting on 5 September 2018.  This would enable Scrutiny and Overview Committee to consider the item at its meeting on 18 September 2018. The Joint Director of Planning and Economic Development explained that if the Committee decided to defer this item, it would mean sending the report a month later to Cabinet and delaying the public consultation on the SPD. He outlined the consequences of delaying the consultation, including the impact on determining two planning applications noting that the Council’s ongoing 5 year housing land supply partly depends upon completions at Waterbeach new town from 2021/2022 onwards.

 

The Chairman accordingly invited the Committee to consider the Draft SPD. Comments raised by Members of on the document  included the following:-

  • The draft document lacked focus and did not drill down into the questions that the Council wished the consultees to respond to.  There was no indication of the ultimate objective of the consultation process.
  • The Foreword to the SPD indicated that there was more than one land owner and site promoter involved in the new town and that it was important that it should be delivered as a single unified development. However there was a concern to understand how the District Council could ensure that the objective of a single unified development was achieved. It was important that Members were clear about how this process would work and how the risk of disagreement between landowners/site promoters would be mitigated.
  • Pages 60 – 61 of the document set out the Strategic Development Objectives, however, there was a concern that these were vague aspirational statements and were not specific targets that could be measured.  For example, it was argued that the reference to “prioritisation of walking and cycling for local journeys” in objective 2 was not specific enough and should perhaps indicate that pedestrians and cyclists would have priority at every junction.  The reference to “high quality, innovative and distinctive design” in objective 4 was considered to be similarly vague and did not indicate the standards expected.  There was therefore a need to review the narrative in respect of the Strategic Development Objectives and make it more “hard edged”.
  • The Council needed to take account of the lessons learned from the developer-led approach of the Cambourne development.  Referring to the roles of new town commissions/development corporations in shaping the development of new towns in the past, the need for a masterplan for the new town with appropriate levels of enforceability, was emphasised.
  • It would have been useful for the Committee to have been provided with information on the relevant policy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 25 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman presented this item on the Committee’s Work Programme for 2018/19.

 

Barriers to Council Procurement from SMEs (Small and Medium sized Enterprises) Task and Finish Group

Members noted that it was hoped to arrange the first meeting of this group between 20 and 28 September 2018.

 

Recruitment and Retention Task and Finish Group

Councillors Grenville Chamberlain, Sarah Cheung-Johnson, Douglas de Lacey, Dawn Percival and Eileen Wilson volunteered to serve on this Group.

 

Crime in Rural Areas Task and Finish Group

Councillors Anna Bradnam, Claire Daunton, Bill Handley and Peter McDonald volunteered to serve on this Group. The Director of Health and Environmental Services stated that he would ask Inspector Paul Rogerson to support this Group.

 

It was agreed that the proposed Task and Finish Group on Gypsy and Travellers should be formed at a later date, to ensure that the Committee gave this subject sufficient time and resources.

 

Concerns were expressed regarding the size of the 247 page agenda. It was noted that reports were published five clear working days before the date of the Committee meeting in accordance with statutory requirements. It was explained that it would be difficult  to bring forward publication dates, However officers had taken on board the concerns expressed by the Committee at the need for adequate time to read papers and consideration would be given to whether information could be presented in alternative formats, for example by way of briefings, where appropriate.

9.

Monitoring the Executive

Scrutiny monitors are invited to report to the Committee regarding any Cabinet or other relevant meetings attended since the last Committee meeting, and specifically raise any issues challenged and the result and/or issues where the Committee could add further value.

Minutes:

It was agreed that the role of Scrutiny Monitors should be reviewed at the next meeting of the Committee.

10.

To Note the date of the next meeting

Tuesday 18th September 2018 at 6pm.

Minutes:

The Committee noted that its next meeting would take place on Tuesday 18September 2018 at 6pm.