Agenda for Overview and Scrutiny Board on Monday 29th October 2018, 6.00 p.m.

Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board - Monday 29th October 2018 6.00 p.m.

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Contact: Amanda Scarce  and Jess Bayley

No. Item


Apologies for Absence and Named Substitutes


Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillors R. J. Laight and S. A. Webb. Members were advised that Councillor R. Dent was attending as substitute for Councillor S. A. Webb and Councillor H. Jones was attending as substitute for Councillor R. J. Laight.



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.


There were no declarations of interest or whipping arrangements.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 178 KB


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 1st October, 2018 be approved as an accurate record.


Council Tax Support Scheme Report - Pre Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Additional documents:


The Revenue Services Manager presented the Council Tax Support Scheme report. The report provided information on the work undertaken by the Customer Access and Financial Support Service and amendments to the Council Tax Support Scheme for implementation by 1st April, 2019 and set out proposals for public consultation.


Members were advised that Cabinet were being asked to give approval to undertake a formal consultation with the major preceptors and the public on the proposed design of a revised scheme. This would commence on 1st November and last for 8 weeks.


The Board was advised that the Council had previously agreed a minimum council tax contribution from working age claimants as 20%. Further to this Members agreed to consider reducing the minimum contribution to 15% with effect from 2019. This change would require formal consultation as it was an amendment to the existing scheme.  Consultation was also required to implement 100% discount for care leavers, subject to consultation, with effect from 1st April, 2019.




Based on the initial financial modelling that had been undertaken, a revised scheme to increase support to maximum of 85%, would result in an estimated cost of £100k. Initial information provided by County Council and cross referenced to Council Tax information indicated that the cost of 100% for care leavers would be approximately £11k.


The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Enabling advised Members that the revised scheme incorporated the comments of the Board made at the previous meeting. He reiterated that the two key elements for consultation were the increase of support to 85% and 100% discount for care leavers.


In response to a Member question, the Revenue Service Manager stated that there were approximately 20 care leavers; although currently the exact figures was not known.


RESOLVED that the Council Tax Support Scheme Report be noted.  


Corporate Peer Challenge Action Plan pdf icon PDF 155 KB

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 The Chief Executive presented the LGA Corporate Peer Challenge Report (CPC). Members were reminded that this report had been received prior to the “purdah” period (forthe Redditch Borough Council elections) and the Leaders of both Councils had agreed that due to this the publication of the report should be delayed.


The report outlined the outcomes and next steps resulting from the CPC visits which had taken place in January and February 2018. This had been followed up with a written report summarising the recommendations for improvement.  The Action Plan set out responses to those recommendations together with relevant timescales for completion.


It was highlighted that in terms of the establishment of a single workforce (which had been recommended), the Corporate Management Team (CMT) had concluded that there was not sufficient benefit in terms of moving to a single organisation at this point in time, for the following reasons:


·         Work was ongoing around the harmonisation of policies and procedures which would address some of the issues raised.

·         Work was ongoing around the harmonisation of the Job Evaluation Schemes and the potential costs associated with this – dependent on this, further consideration would be given to moving to a single employer.

·         Work continued to be undertaken in respect of the culture of the workforce across both authorities.


The Leader confirmed his support in not moving to a single organisation and advised that ongoing discussions were being undertaken between the Leaders at both Councils.


The Chairman reminded Members that the original rationale behind the Peer Challenge, which had followed a debate at Council, had been to carry out a review of the management team in order to generate savings as part of the Efficiency Plan.  It was questioned as to whether this was still the case and whether Cabinet was clear in how it would meet that section of the Efficiency Plan.


Members discussed the level of debate at Council meetings and that as follow up questions were not permissible, this restricted the level of debate. It was therefore suggested that a review of Council procedures and the debating process be carried out. The Leader confirmed that he was happy for this to take place and suggested that the Constitution Review Working Group undertake the review.


RESOLVED that the Corporate Peer Challenge Action Plan be noted.


RECOMMENDEDthat the Constitution Review Working Group carry out a wider review of Council procedures to aid the debating process, with particular focus on supplementary questions.


Transport Planning Report - Verbal Update


The Chairman advised that, as discussed at the previous Board meeting, he, together with Councillors S. Colella, P. Thomas and S. Webb, together with the Strategic Planning Manager, had met with key officers from Worcestershire County Council’s (WCC) Highways Team to discuss the ongoing and historic issues in respective of highways in Bromsgrove.


The Chairman reported that previously it had been difficult to get the answers from the officers to all the questions raised and it was therefore felt that it was prudent for a small group to be set up to hold a one off private meeting to discuss the issues in more detail.  It was recognised that there were traffic problems in Bromsgrove and that various models that had been considered had not been successful. The Group had discussed potential solutions to resolve the current issues going forward. 


The Senior Democratic Services Officer (Bromsgrove) advised that following discussions with the Chairman, she had spoken to the Strategic Planning Manager and it had been agreed that they would work together to produce a report similar in format to that of a Scrutiny Review, with a number of recommendations being included.  This report would then be presented to the Board on 14th January 2019 and if agreed, would then go on to either Cabinet and/or Council for further consideration


Councillor S. Colella commented that following the meeting he had felt that the officers from WCC continued to not fully appreciate or understand the issues in relation to highways faced throughout the District.  He further stated that he did not feel that the Council’s officers had gathered enough evidence to devise a report that would give a true reflection of the situation.  He proposed that the Council’s current consultation in respect of the Issues and Options (part of the overall review of the Local Plan) be withdrawn, pending further detail from WCC in respect of the future infrastructure plans for Bromsgrove District.


Members discussed previous concerns which had been raised in respect of WCC’s Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4) and that the Council had recommended that it was withdrawn as it was not fit for purpose. However, it had gone ahead despite the reservations of its effectiveness for Bromsgrove.  It was commented that there was a need for more radical actions to be taken in order for Bromsgrove, in particular, to resolve its congestion problems.


Councillor Colella stressed that residents in Bromsgrove were continually experiencing highways issues. Members discussed that there had not been any investment provided for Bromsgrove in order to alleviate these issues and it was clear that a long term strategy was needed to address this.


As an aside, Councillor C. Bloore advised the Board that WCC was currently carrying out a consultation as part of a Bus Service Scrutiny Review.  The Districts had one Member on the review but he encouraged all Members to take part in the consultation.


The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing advised that he had discussed the issues with Worcestershire  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59/18


Task Group - Verbal Update

·         Paperless Committees



The Senior Democratic Services Officer (Bromsgrove) informed the Board as there had been no further interest from Members to sit on the Paperless Meetings Task Group, this would be consider by the Corporate Performance Working Group.


Members were informed that the Senior Democratic Services Officer (Redditch) was undertaking a Leadership Course and as part of that course was carrying a project looking at paperless committees across both Councils.  The Paperless Task Group terms of reference would be incorporated within that project and She would be liaising with the Working Group and work with them to produce a report,  which would be considered at Overview and Scrutiny Board in due course.


Finance and Budget Working Group - Verbal Update


The Chairman provided an update in relation to the Finance and Budget Working Group meeting which had taken place on 16th October 2018. He reported that the agenda covered the following items:


·                Cost recovery – the Head of Community Services had provided information around cost recovery in respect of the CCTV service and had provided information in respect of the recent contract undertaken to provide this service to Cannock Chase Council.

·      Fees and Charges – Head of Environmental Services and the Head of Community Services provided updates to Members.

·      Outturn v Budget for Environmental Services – Head of Environmental Services had provided Members with an update in respect of the outturn figure for 2017/18 compared to those for 2018/19.


The Board was advised that the next meeting of the Group was scheduled to take place on 14th November 2018.


Corporate Performance Working Group - Verbal Update


The Senior Democratic Services Officer (Bromsgrove) provided an update in relation to the Corporate Performance Working Group held on 18th October 2018. The Board was informed that the Head of Environmental Services had attended the meeting and provided an update in relation to the Waste Collection Services.  A number of potential recommendations had been discussed and it was anticipated that the Working Group would bring a brief a report to the December Board meeting for Members consideration.


Members were advised that the next meeting of the Corporate Performance Working Group was scheduled to take place on 7th November 2018.


Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Verbal Update


Councillor C. Bloore informed Members that there had not been a meeting since his last update. The presentation in relation to the Worcestershire County Council funding arrangements in respect of Adult Services had been disseminated to Members as previously agreed.


Cabinet Work Programme - 1 November 2018 to 28 February 2019 pdf icon PDF 72 KB


Members were provided the Cabinet Leader’s Work Programme from 1ST November, 2018 to 28th February, 2019.


RESOLVED that the Cabinet Leader’s Work Programme from 1st November, 2018 to 28th February, 2019 be noted.


Overview and Scrutiny Board Work Programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 251 KB


The Senior Democratic Services Officer (Bromsgrove) presented the Overview and Scrutiny Board’s Work Programme for 2018/19. It was advised that the Transport Review would be considered at the Board in January 2019.


In addition, Councillor C. Bloore expressed an interest in reviewing the work and role in the community of the Bromsgrove Supporting Football Club. As he understood that the club was paying a rental fee to the Council for use of the ground and had invested funds in the ground itself, to support the club’s promotion within the league. He suggested that the Council should consider reducing the lease cost to the club (which was confirmed to be £12k annually) this would help the club to improve the facilities and attract more people to the ground.


Members agreed to launch a Short Sharp Review in respect of Bromsgrove Supporting Football Club to review this together with their role within the community.  The Senior Democratic Services Officer (Bromsgrove) advised Members that terms of reference for this review would be devised and circulated to Members and nominations sought to take part in this review. The Board also agreed to appoint Councillor Bloore as the Chair of this review. 




a)    that the Overview and Scrutiny Board’s Work Programme for 2018/19 be noted; and

b)    the a Short Sharp Review be established to review the Bromsgrove Sporting Football Club.


Development of the Burcot Lane Site pdf icon PDF 626 KB

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The Chairman thanked those Officers in attendance and explained to Members that this item would begin in public session, but it was highlighted that should they wish to discussion the financial implications in detail then the Board would need to consider whether it was appropriate to go into private session.


The Chief Executive presented the report which provided Members with an update of the current position regarding the site and the funding application submitted to Homes England.  The report also set out the conditions attached to the offer and the officers’ suggested preferred option for the site.

The Portfolio Holder for Planning and Strategic Housing advised Members that the report was a live document and that he believed that the proposal set out in option 3 – Housing Company was the best option for the Council as it would help balance out some of the current housing problems in Bromsgrove.


The Strategic Housing Manager provided background information and outlined the key issues whilst reminding Members that at the Cabinet meeting on 6th September 2017 the options available to the Council regarding developing the site at Burcot Lane had been considered. Three options had been proposed with the pros and cons of each being included within the report.  The preferred option was that of establishing a housing company to manage the retained housing stock, subject to the business case for this being brought to Cabinet for approval in due course.  The Strategic Housing Manager also provided Members with details of the indicative plans for the site together with the breakdown of proposed properties.


The Strategic Housing Manager also highlighted the following:


  • A wider development role in the district, together with opportunities for local businesses/constructors
  • Projected ongoing revenue stream
  • The opportunity for the Council to retain the assets 
  • The opportunity to take the first steps in helping to rebalance the local housing market
  • Identifying other local opportunities for development


It was highlighted that the Local Housing Market currently had approximately 39k properties of which 32,000 were private, 4,000 social housing and 3,000 private rented properties. The Strategic Housing Manager also stated that it was important to explore other models to enable the Council to develop rental properties and understand the market. It was further stated that option 3 identified the model which achieved the most properties for rent and kept outright sales down to a minimum.


Members questioned the viability test and if there was any risks attached to the proposed scheme and what confidence the Council had in this test. It was clarified that a considerable amount of work had been undertaken and it was believed that the scheme was viable and would return a surplus to the Council. In response to a Member question, clarity was sought that a right to buy option was not available in the option 3 model.


Members discussed the reintroduction of a Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and the Leader confirmed that this was not a realistic option and that the introduction of a Housing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66/18


In House Management of Bromsgrove Market - Verbal update


Councillor K. May, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Economic Development, the Town Centre and Strategic Partnerships provided an update in respect of the Bromsgrove market. She reminded the Board that in May, 2018 the Council agreed that the management and operation of Bromsgrove Town Centre Outdoor Market to be brought back ‘in-house’.


Councillor May informed Members of the events which had taken place in recent weeks.  She expressed her gratitude to the Head of Leisure and Cultural Services and his team for their hard work and commitment and welcomed the new Market Manager.


The Head of Leisure Cultural Services advised Members that positive feedback had been received from market traders.  He further advised that a business plan would be devised to review the current market provision as the Council was committed to investing in the Town Centre market.

A further update would be provided in January, 2019.


(During consideration of this item Members discussed matters that necessitated the disclosure of exempt information. It was therefore agreed to exclude the press and public prior to any debate on the grounds that information would be revealed relating to financial and business affairs. However, there is nothing exempt in this record of the proceedings.)