Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board - Monday 10th July 2023 6.00 p.m.

Venue: Parkside Suite - Parkside. View directions

Contact: Joanne Gresham 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence and Named Substitutes


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors B. Kumar and S. Robinson. Councillor J. Robinson was in attendance as named substitue for Councillor S. Robinson.


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 nor of any party whip.


To confirm the accuracy of the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 6th June 2023 pdf icon PDF 238 KB


The minutes of the meeting that took place on 6th June 2023 were submitted for Members’ consideration.


Councillor A. Bailes raised that the date of the first meeting of the Governance Task Group, which was reported as 10th August 2023 within the minutes was incorrect However, during further discussion the Chairman confirmed that this date was indeed correct as he had been consulted on all potential dates for all meetings of the Task Group.


Councillor R. Bailes stated that there was a change made to the membership of the Finance and Budget Working Group following the meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Board on 6th June 2023 with Councillor R. Bailes replacing Councillor A. Bailes.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting that took place on 6th June 2023 be agreed as a true and accurate record.


Governance Systems Review - Presentation from Centre for Governance and Scrutiny

The copy of the presentation for this item is to follow in a Supplementary Papers Pack.



The Representative from the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny (CfGS) delivered a presentation on governance system options available to local authorities and in doing so highlighted that no governance system option was inherently better or worse than others. Instead, the right governance option for a given authority depended on the local area, local circumstances and culture that existed within the authority. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages of each governance system depended on the local circumstances and there was no evidence that changing a governance system would lead to actual changes in terms of ensuring good governance.


The main features of governance system models that were available to local authorities in England were introduced as follows:


·       Leader and cabinet – This was the model currently operated at Bromsgrove District Council. In this model the council appointed a leader who in turn would appoint his/her cabinet. The cabinet was responsible for making decisions within the policy framework (including ‘key decisions’). With this model, there was a requirement for scheme of delegation to officers, which defined decision-making powers delegated to officers. Under this model, there needed to be at least one overview and scrutiny committee to act as a check and balance to cabinet.

·       Directly elected mayor – Almost identical to leader and cabinet, the only difference being that the directly elected mayor appointed his/her cabinet, which was then also the body responsible for decision-making.

·       Committee system – In this model, councillors made decisions through politically balanced committees with no option for decisions to be taken by individual councillors. Scheme of delegation to officers would still need to be in place to define the decision-making powers given to officers. There was no requirement for an overview and scrutiny committee under this option but some authorities operating the committee system still chose to retain scrutiny arrangements through standalone scrutiny committee. Generally, committee systems could be seen as more collaborative because more members would be directly involved in committees when decisions were made, however, under the model it would take longer to make decisions as greater degree of work planning and programming was involved.

·       Hybrid model – This involved modifying one of the above governance models to suit the specific circumstances of a given authority. For example, the leader and cabinet model might be adapted so that scrutiny committees would be carrying out detailed debate on every single cabinet decision. Other adaptations might to the models might be made.

·       Writing to the Secretary of State to request a different governance model of choice – This was an option provided for in legislation but had not been used to date.


Regarding the hybrid models, it was highlighted that councils might decide to modify an existing model to their specific needs. For instance, the full committee system might be modified into a hybrid model so that the overview and scrutiny arrangement would be retained, or the leader and cabinet might be modified to include features of a committee system.


The CfGS Representative explained that all the models  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18/23


Scrutiny Investigation Proposal - Blue Badge Holders Parking on Council Car Parks (Introductory Presentation) pdf icon PDF 207 KB

The copy of the presentation for this item is to follow in a Supplementary Papers Pack.


Additional documents:


A presentation was delivered by the Environmental Services Manager on the scrutiny investigation proposal relating to the Council’s policy regarding parking for Blue Badge holders on council parks.


Information was provided on the current system for Blue Badge holders parking and the projections for possible loss of income if the Council offered free parking to Blue Badge holders. It was stated that currently Blue Badge holders paid for their car parking but received an additional hour of free parking on the Council’s pay and display car parks. The process was that Blue Badge holders would purchase a ticket from the ticket machine in the usual way and display the ticket alongside their Blue Badge on the dashboard. The parking attendants would then allow an additional hour to the expiry time of the ticket. The same principle applied when parking was purchased via the ‘my permit’ app.


Members were informed that in all council car parks in the District there was a mix of disabled and normal parking bays and in all car parks the Council tried to accommodate at least six per cent of all bays as disabled bays. In total, there were 65 disabled spaces out of 975 parking spaces in Bromsgrove’s off-street car parks, which equated to 6.7 per cent of all spaces.


It was reported that information about the number of Blue Badge holders using the pay and display car parks was limited because the pay and display machines did not record the difference between the blue badge holder and the general user when the parking ticket was being bought. Alternative methods were therefore used to estimate the current income derived from Blue Badge holders’ use of council car parks.


A survey was undertaken for one hour period every day for 616 days, recording the customers parking in the disabled bays and displaying Blue Badge, noting the ticket value per purchase to provide an indication of how long they stayed. An income figure was provided for the vehicles parked in disabled bays during survey times and after extrapolating this data to be based on 8 hour days for 365 days a year an annual income figure of £19,939 per year was derived.


A second method of assessing the income was to look at the number of available display disabled bays expressed as a percentage of the total number of spaces (which was 6.7 per cent of the total bays available) Taking the total budgeted income from all the car parks in Bromsgrove (£1,136,402) and calculating 6.7 per cent of this figure provided a possible income in the region of £76,000 per year from Blue Badge holders. It was highlighted, however, that this was also only an estimate.


It was stated that based on these two estimates to offer free disabled parking could cost Bromsgrove District Council anything between £20,000 and £76,000 per year. For budgeting purposes, a realistic figure was more likely to be between an average of those two figures meaning a potential loss of at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19/23


Corporate Peer Challenge Action Plan - Pre-Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 422 KB

This report will be published in a Supplementary Papers Pack once the report has been published for consideration of the Cabinet.


Additional documents:


The Deputy Chief Executive Officer provided an overview of the report on Corporate Peer Challenge – Action Plan and in doing so explained that the report before the Committee was due to be considered by Cabinet on 12th July 2023 and then be considered by the full Council, and the report and the appendices specifically contained the Local Government Association (LGA) Corporate Peer Review Challenge feedback and six key recommendations, and the Council’s written response to those recommendations.


It was highlighted that the Corporate Peer Challenge Review was not an inspection but provided an opportunity and forward-looking overview to consider and reflect on areas of improvement and for both the shared service authorities, Bromsgrove and Redditch Councils, the background to calling for the peer challenge was as a direct result of the respective Councils being issued with a separate Section 24 notices. The Corporate Peer Challenge was requested by Bromsgrove District Council at its full Council meeting in December 2022, primarily in response to the Section 24 notice.


The review covered five high-level themes which were:


1.     Local priorities and outcomes - Are the council’s priorities clear and informed by the local context? Is the council delivering effectively on its priorities?

2.     Organisational and place leadership - Does the council provide effective local leadership? Are there good relationships with partner organisations and local communities?

3.     Governance and culture - Are there clear and robust governance arrangements? Is there a culture of challenge and scrutiny?

4.     Financial planning and management - Does the council have a grip on its current financial position? Does the council have a strategy and a plan to address its financial challenges?

5.     Capacity for improvement – Is the organisation able to support delivery of local priorities? Does the council have the capacity to improve?


The Bromsgrove District Council’s Peer Challenge Review had a specific focus on corporate governance. It was also highlighted that a separate piece of work was undertaken by the Bromsgrove Audit Standards and Governance Committee (through the Audit Task Group) which concerned learning points from the Section 24 Notice and which was an area the Corporate Peer Challenge Review did not investigate. The Peer Review did consider the issues of clarity, transparency and speed of decision making within the Council’s governance arrangements and this did include the examination of the role and impact of overview and scrutiny.


It was noted that appendix 2.6 to the report set out the process for the peer review, and it was reiterated that residents, elected members, local partners from public and private sectors, and members of staff all had the opportunity to take part in the Peer Review. There were resident, elected member, and staff focus groups to facilitate participation from these groups. In total, the Peer Review team gathered information and views from around 55 meetings and spoke to over 130 people over the course of the review in Bromsgrove and Redditch.


The Corporate Peer Review team’s formal feedback was enclosed at Appendix A. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20/23


Finance and Budget Working Group - Update


The Chairman reported that the last meeting of Finance and Budget Working Group took place on 7th July 2023. At the meeting, Members discussed the Council’s procurement processes in light of the Government’s New Procurement Bill, which was currently progressing through Parliament, and what the Council needed to do to ensure it complied with the Bill.


The Chairman reported that the main issue in terms of the Council’s compliance was in relation to the production of reports for all key decisions that the Council was taking. The authority’s current key decision threshold was £50,000 and for any procurement above this value a full report needed to be made to Cabinet so that the decision could be made by Cabinet. The Chairman reported that at the current £50,000 threshold level, there was a serious issue whereby a report was not produced for some procurements above the threshold value, which meant that the Council was in breach of its own constitution in those instances.  The Chairman commented that this was a serious issue.


It was noted that this issue occurred in many authorities with low key decision thresholds as there were a large number of procurements that crossed the threshold and not enough resources, for example, in terms of officer time, to ensure that reports were prepared for all procurements above the key decision threshold. It was therefore proposed in the Approval to Spend report going to Cabinet that the key decision threshold be raised to £200,000 as this would ensure the level was compatible with that of most local authorities across the country and would enable the Council to have the necessary resource to ensure that reports were produced for all key decisions.


The Chairman reported that the Finance and Budget Working Group also looked at the Burcot Lane Housing Development. The Working Group came to the conclusion that the sale to a housing company owned by this District Council was the best way forward in relation to the 37 private rented units in the development that would be rented at market value. The specific arrangements associated with the housing company meant that the right to buy would not apply to these units which enabled the Council to retain ownership of these properties through the company in the longer term and thereby fill the gap in the Bromsgrove private rental market.


It was reported that the future plan was to develop additional sites including and add units from these sites to the housing company’s stock once these developments had been completed. It was reported that some of the added units could then be rented at affordable rent because, as noted by the Chairman, the plan in the long-term was to address the imbalance between market and social housing, which was currently at an 8 to 1 level in Bromsgrove.


Members discussed the plans for the housing company and it was commented the the key thing to note from discussions of the Finance and Budget Working Group meeting was that, because of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21/23


Task Group Updates


Members considered scheduling the dates for meetings of the Governance Systems Review Task Group and it was agreed that appointments for weekly evening meetings (over August) would be sent out to Task Group Members and if any of these meetings were no longer necessary the appointments could be cancelled at a later date. Members of the Task Group and Officers would liaise over the next few days to agree precise dates for the meetings.


RESOLVED that the Task Group Updates be noted.



Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Update


It was reported that the Overview and Scrutiny Board had not yet been delegated the authority to appoint a Member to serve on the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC). Therefore, nominations for this outside body appointment were to be considered once the Full Council had delegated this authority to the Board, which was expected for the meeting of the Board on 11th September 2023.


RESOLVED that the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee Update be noted.



Cabinet Work Programme pdf icon PDF 356 KB

The next edition of the Cabinet Work Programme will be published on 3rd July, after the publication of the main agenda pack for this meeting. A copy of the latest Cabinet Work Programme will therefore be included in a Supplementary Papers Pack for this meeting.


The Cabinet Work Programme was presented for Members’ consideration.


RESOLVED that the Cabinet Work Programme be noted.


Overview and Scrutiny Board Work Programme pdf icon PDF 201 KB


The Overview and Scrutiny Board Work Programme was presented for Members’ consideration.


RESOLVED that the Overview and Scrutiny Board Work Programme be noted.