Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny and Overview Committee - Thursday, 17 December 2020 5.20 p.m.

Venue: Virtual meeting - Online. View directions

Contact: Victoria Wallace  03450 450 500 Email:


No. Item



To receive apologies for absence from committee members. 


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Geoff Harvey and Judith Rippeth. Councillor Ian Sollom was a substitute for Councillor Harvey.


In Councillor Rippeth’s absence, Councillor Jose Hales was appointed as Vice Chair for the meeting.  


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 12 November 2020 as a correct record.


The minutes of the meeting held on 12th November 2020 were agreed as a correct record of the meeting, subject to the following amendments:

·         Councillor Richard Williams to be added to the list of attendees.

·         Regarding the task and finish group looking at equality and diversity issues, this would be changed to ‘looking at anti-racism’.


Public Questions

To answer any questions asked by the public. The Council’s scheme for public speaking at remote meetings may be inspected here:


Public Questions at Remote Meetings guidance



There were no public questions.


Update on Policing matters from Cambridgeshire Constabulary pdf icon PDF 218 KB


The Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, Nick Dean, attended the meeting to update the Scrutiny and Overview Committee on policing matters in South Cambridgeshire and to answer questions from committee members. These questions and answers are included as an appendix to the minutes of the meeting.


The Chair of the Scrutiny and Overview Committee and committee members, thanked the Chief Constable for his attendance at the meeting.


Greater Cambridge Shared Planning Service Delivery Update pdf icon PDF 588 KB


The Lead Cabinet Member for Planning presented the report which provided the Scrutiny and Overview Committee with an update on the delivery of the Shared Planning Service. She highlighted the following to the committee:

·         Weekly planning reports were provided to parishes and members.

·         A new online customer feedback questionnaire had been created.

·         A new onboarding process for new staff had been introduced

·         A new single customer complaints process had been developed for Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire.

·         A new and improved pre-application service had been launched. It was hoped that more applicants would use this service, and that applications would subsequently move through the system more easily.

·         A 24 hour call back service had been introduced for officers to respond to those who had requested updates.

·         A standard planning performance agreement had been introduced.

·         More member development had been introduced, with bitesize training sessions taking place before Planning Committee meetings started.

·         Work was ongoing on a suite of planning conditions.

·         The Planning Advisory Service review had taken place. This had reviewed the Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire Planning Committees. The report would be published in early 2021.


The Assistant Director (Delivery) informed the committee of the following:

·         The major work in merging the two planning services was complete. Work was ongoing on aligning the processes of the services.

·         The ICT upgrade had taken place with the migration to a new system and new server, creating a more robust system. This had taken significant officer time and high volumes of testing work had been carried out

·         The reduction in the number of complaints regarding the service compared to the previous year was highlighted.

·         S106 agreements had been completed for the Wellcome Trust and Land North of Cherry Hinton planning applications.

·         The work of team leaders to improve relationships with parishes was highlighted. There would be a programme of quarterly parish meetings.

·         Work would be carried out in relation to the reliance on extensions of time. The committee was informed that these were used extensively across the country and South Cambridgeshire District Council was consistent with many other local authorities in this regard.

·         The committee was informed that it would be difficult to provide data regarding who had requested extensions of time. The committee was informed that in most cases, the applicant sought an extension of time to amend their application.

·         A single tree application process would be developed.

·         There was further work to to be done on making the application processes as efficient as possible.

·         The way in which appeals were processed would be reviewed.

·         The number of Terraquest staff had been reduced from six in total in Development Management and validation to one full time member of staff working on the processing of applications in Development Management.

·         The committee was informed that many requests from parish councils to refer applications to the Planning Committee were declined. 22% of applications were being referred to the committee and this matter was being kept under review. This would need to be looked at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 110 KB

For the committee to consider its work programme. The work programme is attached with the Council’s Notice of Key and Non Key Decisions. When considering items to add to its work programme, the committee is requested to refer to the attached Scrutiny Prioritisation Tool.

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny and Overview Committee noted its work programme.


Scrutiny Covid-19 Response Task and Finish Group Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 140 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair of the Covid-19 Scrutiny Task and Finish Group updated the Scrutiny and Overview committee on the work of the group to date and presented the group’s draft terms of reference.


It was agreed that point 3 of the scope of the group in the terms of reference, be amended to investigate how residents in South Cambridgeshire could be supported during the Covid-19 pandemic until June 2021, rather than just through the winter months. The Scrutiny and Overview Committee supported the task and finish group’s terms of reference.


It was suggested that another task and finish group could be set up in future to look at longer term support for vulnerable and lonely people in communities.


The task and finish group members thanked officers in the Sustainable Communities team for the support they had provided to them.




To Note the Dates of Future Meetings

The next meeting will take place on Tuesday 19th January 2021 at 5.20pm.


The next meeting would take place on Tuesday 19th January 2021 at 5.20pm.