Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny and Overview Committee - Thursday, 21 June 2018 6.00 p.m.

Venue: Swansley Room, Ground Floor

Contact: Victoria Wallace  03450 450 500 Email:

No. Item



To receive apologies for absence from committee members. 


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Anna Bradnam. Councillor Steve Hunt was present as a substitute for Councillor Bradnam.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 213 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 6 March 2018 as a correct record.


The minutes of the meeting held on 6 March 2018 were agreed as a correct record.


Public Questions


No public questions had been received.


Changing approach to Scrutiny and Overview


The committee would be moving to pre-decision scrutiny. The Chairman referred to the training the committee had undertaken earlier that day, which had given some insight into this. The committee needed to identify a work plan going forward and areas for scrutiny would need to be prioritised. The Chairman was keen for the committee to remain non-political. The Chairman suggested the committee look at the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment to look at how this related to South Cambridgeshire and its services. The committee was informed that the Council was looking at recruitment of a Scrutiny Officer.


A group working agreement would be developed, which would be added to the agenda for the next meeting for discussion.



2017-18 Year End Position Statement on Finance, Performance and Risk pdf icon PDF 192 KB

Additional documents:


The Policy and Performance Manager presented the report which provided an update on the Council’s financial position and performance for the 2017-2018 year end. He explained that the Strategic Risk Register was under review.


The Deputy Leader of the Council was present and informed the committee that the new administration would be reviewing the Corporate Plan and the measures against which the Council’s performance was measured.


The Committee discussed the report:

·         Concern was raised regarding the tone of the report which focussed on successes rather than problems. More in depth analysis of areas of concern was requested, focussing on actions to improve performance.

·         Information was requested regarding whether the new housing and homelessness officers referred to in the report had been appointed and what the Council had been doing to help ensure a smooth implementation of Universal Credit. Information about the skill mix of these staff was also requested. The committee was informed that the Council was very aware of the risk of the implementation of Universal Credit, which was due to be implemented in October 2018.

·         With reference to the number of unfilled vacancies and sickness levels, concern was raised that economic savings were being made by the Council at the expense of staff, staffing levels and the performance of the Council. In response to this the committee was informed that the Council had struggled to recruit to a number of service areas, such as Planning. Despite this the Council had continued to deliver a service. The skills shortage in Planning was a nationwide issue. The committee was assured that the Council did not have a policy to not fill vacancies in order to make financial savings and that staff sickness levels were not worsening.

·         In response to a query regarding the reasons for being unable to recruit planning officers, the committee was informed that the high cost of living in South Cambridgeshire was a contributing factor, as was the general shortage of planning officers across the country. The Council was continuing to find ways to recruit planning officers.

·         The committee was informed that all staff leaving the organisation were given the opportunity for an exit interview.

·         It was suggested that the committee could look at recruitment challenges as part of its work programme.

·         The scoring of risks in the Strategic Risk Register was discussed. Concern was raised that the net score of risks could be masking significant problems, with some risks rated as amber when there was clearly a problem. In response to this the committee was informed that the net score took into account the actions taken to mitigate the risk. The committee was assured that the amber rating reflected that the risk was significant.

·         Regarding mitigations in relation to recruitment and retention, the committee was informed that all mitigating factors had either been implemented or were in the process of being implemented, but the Council was still struggling to recruit.

·         The committee was informed that staff turnover was at a healthy level; around 10%. Turnover did  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Minerals and Waste Local Plan - Preliminary Draft Consultation Response pdf icon PDF 321 KB


The Deputy Leader of the Council presented the report which sought agreement to submit a response to the Minerals and Waste Local Plan: Preliminary Draft Consultation, in accordance with the points set out in the report. This would be a joint consultation response with Cambridge City Council, the deadline for which was 26 June 2018. The Planning Policy Manager presented the key issues.


In response to a query, the Director of Health and Environmental Services clarified that South Cambridgeshire District Council collected waste and the County Council disposed of this. Based on what the District Council collected, the recycling rate was 49%.

The committee was informed that there were ambitions to have significant development including commercial, employment and residential, on the Cambridge water recycling centre site at Milton, which was allocated as a major brownfield site. A site for the relocation of the water recycling plant would need to be identified. Once this was done, the relocation of the site also presented development opportunities for the surrounding area, which would no longer be impacted by odour issues from the water recycling centre.


A concern was raised that the site assessment did not raise the issue of sustainability and it was suggested that more information needed to be included to make sure plans were ecologically sustainable as well as economically sustainable. In response to this the Planning Policy Manager clarified that Draft Policy 1 as referred to in the report, addressed sustainability. The committee requested that this Policy be sent to Councillor de Lacey to read.


Subject to discussions between Councillor de Lacey and the Planning Policy Manager, the Scrutiny and Overview Committee ENDORSED the report.


Task and Finish Group

To consider how the Council can facilitate SME businesses to procure work on its behalf in a cost effective, reasonable and proportional manner. What are the barriers to SMEs procuring Council contracts?


The Chairman informed the committee that the Leader of the Council had requested a task and finish group be set up to consider how the Council could facilitate SME businesses to procure work on its behalf in a cost effective, reasonable and proportional manner and what the barriers were to SMEs procuring Council contracts. The Democratic Services Team Leader referring to the Council’s Constitution informed the committee that members of the Executive could only participate on a Scrutiny task and finish group in an advisory capacity. Councillors Grenville Chamberlain, Sarah Cheung Johnson and Brian Milnes would form this group. It was anticipated that one or two meetings taking place in September, would be sufficient to investigate this issue. 


Appointment of Scrutiny Monitors pdf icon PDF 10 KB

For the Committee to appoint monitors to each Cabinet Portfolio, which are attached for information. Monitors are invited to report to the Committee regarding meetings attended and specifically raise any issues challenged and the result, and/or issues where the Committee could add further value.


The Scrutiny and Overview Committee appointed the following Scrutiny Monitors to Portfolios:


Scrutiny Monitor


Grenville Chamberlain

Deputy Leader

Cllr Graham Cone


Cllr Claire Daunton

Environmental Services & Licensing

Cllr Sarah Cheung Johnson


Cllr Brian Milnes

Customer Service & Business Improvement

Cllr Peter McDonald


Cllr Bill Handley (provisional, to be confirmed)


Guidance on the role of Scrutiny Monitors was requested. The Chairman suggested this be discussed at the committee’s next meeting alongside the work programme. The Chairman asked members to consider topics they would like the committee to consider so that these could be prioritised.


It was queried how opposition spokespeople for a Portfolio could find out what was happening and what decisions were to be taken. The Deputy Leader explained that it was anticipated that the majority of decision making would be through the Executive via the Scrutiny and Overview Committee, however the Executive was in the process of finalising the decision making process. The Chairman welcomed decisions being presented to the Scrutiny and Overview Committee before they were taken by the Executive. The committee’s attention was drawn to the Council’s Notice of Key and Non-Key Decisions, which was published on the Council’s website each month. He suggested the committee keep informed of upcoming decisions through this and by talking to officers and the Portfolio Holders.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 184 KB

For the committee to discuss its future work programme. The Council’s Forward Plan of future Key and Non Key Decisions is attached for information.



The Chairman referred the committee to the Council’s Notice of Key and Non Key Decisions. The Chairman and Vice Chairman would draft a work programme which would be brought to the committee’s July 2018 meeting. Members indicated their agreement with this approach.


The issue of rural crime was raised, which members would welcome the Police and Crime Commissioner attending to discuss this with the committee.


To Note the Dates of Future Meetings

Meeting dates for the 2018/19 Municipal Year are:

·         Thursday 12 July 2018 at 6pm

·         Tuesday 14 August 2018 at 6pm

·         Tuesday 18 September 2018 at 6pm

·         Thursday 18 October 2018 at 6pm

·         Thursday 22 November 2018 at 6pm

·         Tuesday 18 December 2018 at 6pm

·         Thursday 29 January 2019 at 6pm

·         Wednesday 20 February 2019 at 6pm

·         Thursday 21 March 2019 at 6pm

·         Tuesday 16 April 2019 at 6pm


The committee agreed the next meeting would take place on Thursday 12 July 2018 at 6pm. Subsequent meeting dates and times would be discussed at this meeting.