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Apologies for Absence and Named Substitutes
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor M. Glass.
Declarations of Interest and Whipping Arrangements
To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.
Both Councillors L. C. R. Mallet and C. A. Hotham declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in respect of Minute No. 92/17 Hospital Charges – Board investigation.
The minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 15th January 2018 were submitted.
It was confirmed that in respect of the information from Worcestershire County Council as referred to in Minute No. 79/17 this had not been received to date.
It was also confirmed that in respect of attendees at the meeting only those Councillors who were invited to attend, participated in the meeting and sat at the table were recorded as being in attendance as observers.
RESOVLED that the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 15th January 2018 be approved as a correct record.
· Medium Term Financial Plan
· Fees and Charges
The Chairman explained that these two items had been considered by the Finance and Budget Working Group who had further questions for discussion, but had unfortunately struggled to set a further date for the Group to meet. It was therefore decided to bring the items back to the full Board in order to give everyone an opportunity to feed into the budget process. It was proposed that these items be time limited and the Chairman asked Members to be succinct in their questioning of officers. The Chairman took the opportunity to thank all officers and Portfolio Holders for attending the meeting.
Medium Term Financial Plan
The Executive Director, Finance and Resources presented the report and in so doing explained that this had been considered at Cabinet on 7th February and would be further considered at a Cabinet meeting on 21st February, with an updated report being presented, prior to full Council. The following areas were highlighted a number of areas, including:
· Local Government Funding Reform to be implemented in 2020/21 and a consultation paper to be published in Spring 2018.
· Business Rates Baseline to be reset in 2020/21.Council Tax could be increase by 3% and this increase had been included in the 2018/19 figures.
· Business Rates Pilots – Worcestershire had not been approved, but from initial feedback it was understood that this was due to the number of applicants and a further bid programme would be forthcoming.
· Consultation to take place in Spring 2018 in relation to the “negative” grant currently £740k in 2019/20.
· Revenue bids and unavoidable pressures were detailed within the appendices (this included £150k for one year in respect of work carried out by Mott McDonald).
· £327k for vehicle replacement had been released from reserves.
· Borrowings for the Investment and Acquisitions Strategy – it was acknowledged that more work needed to be done around this, including details of the anticipated income arising from it.
· It was confirmed that those lines within the table at page 51 of the agenda which were recorded as zero would be removed.
· New Homes Bonus – impact of a reduction in the number of properties delivered, with a 0.4% levy on growth.
· Difficulty in balancing the budget for more than one year due to the uncertainty around a number of areas, as detailed above.
· Available funds in balances if needed.
Following presentation of the report Members raised a number of queries/observations which were responded to by the relevant officers. This included:
· The unavoidables being included in only the first year and nothing in future years. It was highlighted that if they were unavoidable one year it was likely they would be in future years. The Executive director, Finance and Resources explained that this was shown in this way at Members request, but was happy to show it in whichever way Members wanted.
· Car Parking was given as an example as it was shown as a pressure of £100k in the first year, but not in future years and this could ... view the full minutes text for item 89/17
The Technical Services Manager, Worcestershire Regulatory Services (WRS), provided a brief overview of the report, highlighting in particular that the levels being monitored were below the national objective and under DEFRA guidelines if this was the case for the previous 3 years then it was sufficient to trigger revocation of the AQMA and that WRS would continue to monitor the air quality within the area.
Members raised a number of concerns following receipt of the report and in particular discussed the following areas in more detail:
· Concerns that the revocation of the AQMA was not the result of management of the AQMA and that no additional work had been put in place that would impact on the levels.
· The calculations which were used to reach the mean average and whether these gave a true picture of the air quality in the area of the AQMA.
· Whether the monitoring was in the appropriate places and an increase in traffic, with an emerging problem from increased congestion and standing traffic.
· The equipment being used and whether there was more sensitive equipment available, as this would give a more accurate reading and picture of the air quality.
WRS Officers responded to the questions raised and reiterated that the levels recorded and the equipment used was within the guidelines set down by DEFRA and that monitoring would continue following revocation of the AQMA. More sophisticated monitoring could be carried out which would provide real time analysis of air pollution, however it was not seen as being cost effective, nitrogen dioxide monitoring equipment was £60k for one monitor, with a further £20k for nitrogen dioxide, with between £10-15k for on costs and maintenance. If such monitoring was to take place then consideration should be given as to whether it was appropriate in all AQMA locations and how this would be funded.
The Technical Services Manager highlighted that if the AQMA was not revoked then it would be going against the DEFRA guidelines. His team would also continue to engage with Worcestershire County Council (WCC) Highways team to ensure the best outcomes in the future within the District. There had only been 5 cases of exceedances in a 6 year period and these were not significantly above the accepted level and that the current levels were very low.
Following further discussion Members raised the following points:
· Concerns around the mechanism in place for monitoring in all part of Bromsgrove as it was noted that the traffic within the town centre Worcester Road are had been particularly bad and there was a higher density of buildings around there, but within 2 hours it could be clear of traffic, which would give a false reading in respect of monitoring at certain times.
· The national average which was not to be exceeded with health based and the primary issue of concern. It was confirmed by WRS Officers that the average in the AQMA under discussion was not meeting the hourly average under DEFRA guidelines.
· Whether the monitoring sites were ... view the full minutes text for item 90/17
Measures Dashboard Working Group - Update
Councillor Webb, as Chairman of the Measures Dashboard Working Group confirmed that at the Group’s most recent meeting Councillor Colella had attended, as the Chairman of the Staff Survey Joint Scrutiny Task Group to discuss how best the Working Group could support the recommendations put forward by that Group. The Working Group had discussed its work going forward and whether iPads were conducive to accessing the dashboard. Following discussions the Working Group have invited the Chief Executive to its next meeting, planned for April in order to ascertain how best to take their work forward.
Task Group Updates
· CCTV Short Sharp Review
· Parking Enforcement in the Vicinity of Schools Task Group
· Hospital Car Parking Charges – Board investigation
CCTV Short Sharp Review
Councillor Colella, Chairman of the CCTV Short Sharp Review confirmed that the next meeting of the Group would take place on 1st March 2018.
Parking Enforcement in the Vicinity of Schools Task Group
Councillor Bloore, Chairman of this Task Group confirmed that it had held its first meeting on 5th February and Members had agreed to re-naming it “Road Safety Around Schools” following further discussion in respect of the scope. A number of witnesses had been identified and the next meeting was due to take place shortly.
Hospital Car Parking Charges – Board Investigation
Councillor Bloore, confirmed that he had attended a meeting earlier in the day in respect of this and that a meeting of the Members who had shown an interest in the investigation would be arranged as soon as possible.
Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Update
It was confirmed that Councillor Hotham had stood down as the Council’s representative on the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC) and the Board therefore needed to appoint to this post. Officers advised that it was a requirement of HOSC that any representative was also a member of the Council’s overview and Scrutiny function. Following discussion it was
RESOLVED that Councillor C. J. Bloore be appointed as the Council’s representative on the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee with immediate effect.
Officers highlighted that the Industrial Units Investment item was not now expected to be ready for the March meeting as anticipated, but would remain on the Board’s work Programme.
The Executive Director, Finance and Resources advised Members that the Sports Hall Feasibility Options Appraisal would now be considered at Cabinet on 11th April prior to Council on 25th April. She was happy to present this to the Board at its meeting on 26h March and saw no reason why Cabinet would not release the report for that purpose.
It was confirmed that the Transport Planning Review item referred to the report being prepared by the Strategic Planning and Conservation Manager on behalf of the Board and it was noted that this may slip back dependent on the outcome of the discussions held at the Board’s next meeting.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet Work Programme 1st March to 30th June 2018 be noted.
Officers drew Members attention to a number of items on the Work Programme including the Safeguarding and Early Help presentation from Worcestershire County Council. It was confirmed that this would now be received at the Board’s meeting due to be held on 23rd April 2018.
The Sports Hall Feasibility Options Appraisal, as previously discussed would be received at the Board’s March meeting, together with the Transport Planning Report. Officer explained that the Strategic Housing and Conservation Manager had been due to meet with Worcestershire County Council Officers today to take this item forward and he would attend the March meeting to provide Members with an outline of the areas to be included within his report. This would give Members an opportunity to make an changes before the final report was presented at the Board’s April meeting.
RESOLVED that subject to the pre-amble above the Overview and Scrutiny Board’s Work Programme be noted.