Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board - Monday 16th October 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 Councillor J. D. Stanley.


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 any whipping arrangements.


To confirm the accuracy of the minutes of the meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 10th July 2023 and 11th September 2023 pdf icon PDF 276 KB

Additional documents:


The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meetings held on 10th July 2023 and 11th September 2023 were considered.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meetings held on 10th July 2023 and 11th September 2023 be agreed as a true and correct record.



Agile Working Presentation pdf icon PDF 267 KB

The presentation for this item will be published in a Supplementary Papers Pack



The Interim Chief Executive introduced a presentation about the Council’s Agile Working policy alongside the project team of officers who had supported its development and launch.


The Agile Policy was part of the Workforce Strategy which aimed to have the right people in the organisation with the right skills to support the Council effectively. In implementing the policy there was a focus on managing performance and achieving the Council’s priorities.


The policy was launched in June 2023 and applied to all permanent and fixed term contracted employees of the Council.  There were clear parameters within the policy and at service levels there were service objectives including ensuring appropriate staff cover.  Depending on the nature of any specific job, the policy may not apply as ensuring customer service outside the office-based environment was a key requirement.  Several pilots had been run to assess the impact of the policy before broader implementation. 


All new starters received a face-to-face induction and regular one-to-ones and appraisals continued across the Council. 


Three key areas had been covered since the launch of the policy – customers, staff, and infrastructure. The project team were working with service managers to ensure that the policy was adopted and working.  Fourth tier managers were being surveyed currently and that would be followed up with meetings to explore operational models, policies and procedures, staff training and development, communication, infrastructure, and service measures.  The Council remained committed to supporting staff health and wellbeing whilst working in a different way.


The Interim Chief Executive emphasised that customers remained at the heart of how the Council’s services operated whilst officers were developing and implementing the agile working policy.  Recruitment and retention continued to be a challenge for the public sector, but in terms of making the Council an employer of choice, the policy supported this approach.


During consideration of this item the following issues were discussed:


·       Details of how the policy was being implemented and whether new employees were expected to be office based until they were familiar with the team and the work expected.  The Interim Chief Executive responded that the Council did not employ home workers; the needs of the service dictated when employees should be in the office or indeed out in the field.  All managers would let new recruits know what the expectations of the role would be and how the agile working principles were employed to their role specifically.

·       In terms of service measures and whether they were ‘SMART’, these were managed by outcome and not by attendance. An example was given of a contracted service which could demonstrate that all members of staff were meeting their contractual requirements. Managers were required to be clear about what they were required to deliver and how that could be demonstrated.  

·       Whether a cost benefit review had been undertaken.  It was noted that officers were using this approach consistently.  An example was given that the agile working approach had led to the reduction in occupation of office space which had in turn  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39/23


Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Update


[At the discretion of the Chairman, item 9 on the agenda – Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Update – was considered earlier in the meeting as item 5]


The Council’s Representative on the Worcestershire Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), Councillor Kumar, updated the Board on the matters discussed by the HOSC at its recent meeting on 11th October 2023 as follows:


·       Hillcrest Mental Health Ward. It was noted that the Ward was recently given a ‘poor’ rating by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) due to issues such as lack of recordkeeping. At the HOSC meeting Members asked for clarification as to what was happening to rectify the worrying situation with the Ward. Among other things, it was reported that there were plans to transfer the Ward to the Worcestershire Royal Hospital (part of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust).

·       Children’s Hearing Services (paediatric audiology). It was reported that in October 2022, some inconsistencies with the accuracy of children’s hearing tests delivered were identified. To date, the review, identified the need for 115 children to have their hearing retested due to inconsistencies with testing. This number was likely to increase as the review continued. It was noted that the incorrect test results led to children being given attention deficit disorder diagnosis. Due to this, 7 cases of moderate harm and 16 cases of greater harm had been identified resulting from the incorrect diagnosis. In all cases the families involved had been given a full explanation and apology as part of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WHAT) Duty of Candour.

·       Health Services Winter Planning. The use of jargon and acronyms was raised by Members in relation to this item. It was said that this impeded understanding of the health system by members of the public and patients. For example, a term such as ‘virtual wards’, denoting the health oversight and monitoring of a patient after the patient had left hospital was a jargon term that was not easy to understand for people not working in the health system. As part of this report, the Representative to HOSC noted that problems were identified with the launch of the ‘Home for Lunch’ campaign, which was a plan to discharge patients from hospitals before lunch time.

·       The Council’s Representative reported that at the meeting he raised the issue of poor level of service in GP surgeries across Bromsgrove District.


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


Community Shop Provision in the District - Overview pdf icon PDF 411 KB


A presentation on food bank provision across the District was delivered by the Head of Community and Housing Services. It was noted that this item was originally scheduled on the agenda for the last meeting and was to cover information concerning the Newstarts Community Supermarket only. However, at the Members’ request this presentation was now extended to cover community supermarkets and food bank provision across the District.


The details of the following organisations providing community supermarket and foodbank provision in the District were given:


·       NewStarts Community Supermarket


It was noted that the community supermarket was based on the stand-alone shop system with one member of staff and a number of volunteers providing community supermarket provision. This project was not funded by the Council. This project emerged from discussions at multi-agency Cost of Living (COL) Partnership and, as  NewStarts was an organisation that was used to handling food and had the correct food safety registrations, it offered to pilot the community supermarket project. The standalone cost of initiating the project was £67,000 and it launched operation at the Bromsgrove site from 1st June 2023.


It was explained that the project operated on the environmental principle of preventing food waste by obtaining food that would otherwise be wasted. For example, NewStarts had agreements through a scheme called Neighbourly to collect surplus food from Lidl, Aldi and sometimes Sainsburys. In addition, NewStarts were supplied by an organisation called WasteKnot who obtained fresh fruit and vegetables that would either be ploughed back into the ground or placed in landfill.


Initially, the community supermarket was only running at the Bromsgrove Sherwood Road site since June 2023, but in August 2023 a second space was set up in New Frankley Arden Road. The community supermarket had been operating on a ‘pay what you can afford’ model as no resident was thereby excluded from accessing the provision.


It was highlighted that a number of metrics were used to measure the success of the NewStarts Community Supermarket, and in this regard it was noted that since the launch of the Bromsgrove Sherwood Road site on 1st June 2023, 134 people used the supermarket and an income of £420 had been generated. 750kg of food was also saved from going to waste. For the New Frankley Arden Road site, opened on 2nd August 2023, the respective figures were 82 people who used the supermarket, £208 income, and 150kg of food saved from going to waste.


It was noted that the project thus far operated at a £391 deficit, however, it was hoped that as more people learned about the project and the range of items widened, the income would increase. The project saw positive development in terms of making an impact to people who accessed the Bromsgrove and New Frankley sites. It was highlighted that the community supermarkets were currently opened once a week on Thursdays between 3pm and 6pm to provide continuity of opening times.


·       New Starts Food Bank


In addition to Community Supermarket, food  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41/23


Governance Systems Review - Implementation Progress Update (Verbal Update)


The Head of Legal, Democratic and Property Services provided an update on the progress in implementing the outcomes of the Governance Systems Review and in doing so reported that initial draft proposals on the Memorandum of Understanding (between all political group leaders on maintaining the ‘hybrid Leader and Cabinet’ for at least a four year period from May 2024). would be brought forward before the Overview and Scrutiny Board and Cabinet in November to enable Members to view the wording of the memorandum and propose amendments if necessary. There would be a similar draft with regard to Cabinet Advisory Panels, hoped to be presented before Members in November.


It was hoped that at the November meeting of Overview and Scrutiny a more detailed action plan in relation to other proposed constitutional changes could also be provided.


In terms of monitoring the progress in implementing the changes to governance review, it was noted that there would be a progress update at each meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Board. It was highlighted that changes to governance arrangements and model would come into effect from the start of the next municipal year.


RESOLVED that the Governance Systems Review – Implementation Progress Update be noted.





Notice of Motion - Request to Investigate - Future of Libraries within the District pdf icon PDF 211 KB

Additional documents:


The consideration of this item was deferred to the next meeting of the Board.



Finance and Budget Working Group - Update


The Chairman reported that the next two meetings of Finance and Budget Working Group were due to take place on 17th October and 7th November 2023 respectively.


RESOLVED that the Finance and Budget Working Group Update be noted.


Cabinet Work Programme pdf icon PDF 351 KB


The Cabinet Work Programme was presented for Members’ consideration.


It was highlighted that the next iteration of the Cabinet Work Programme would contain a short paragraph or description next to each item on that Work Programme to assist Members with understanding the context of the particular Cabinet report. This next iteration would be implemented in time for the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board in November.


A query was raised by Members with regards to access by District Councillors to minutes of the Local Strategic Partnership (LSP) – Bromsgrove Partnership. It was responded by the Interim Chief Executive that the request to access the minutes/notes of the LSP meetings would be made on behalf of the Overview and Scrutiny Board. However, as LSP was not a public body, it would be for the LSP Board to decide at its meeting whether to grant this request.




1)    A request be made to the Bromsgrove Partnership (the Local Strategic Partnership for Bromsgrove District) that access to the minutes/notes from its meetings be granted to Bromsgrove District Council Councillors.


2)    The contents of the Cabinet Work Programme be noted.


Overview and Scrutiny Board Work Programme pdf icon PDF 129 KB


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


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