Contact: Democratic Services Email: Democraticservices@chichester.gov.uk
Any apologies for absence will be noted at this point.
To approve the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 21 January 2020.
To receive an update on progress against recommendations made to the Cabinet and the Council.
That the minutes for the meeting held on 21 January 2020 be approved as a correct record.
The Chairman will announce any urgent items that due to special circumstances are to be dealt with under the agenda item below relating to late items.
There were no public questions.
Declarations of Interests
Members and officers are reminded to make any declarations of disclosable pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interests they may have in respect of matters on the agenda for this meeting.
Mrs Apel declared personal interest as a trustee of Stonepillow.
Public Question Time
In accordance with Chichester District Council’s scheme for public question time the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will receive any questions which have been submitted by members of the public in writing by noon two working days before the meeting. Each questioner will be given up to three minutes to ask their question. The total time allocated for public question time is 15 minutes subject to the Chairman’s discretion to extend that period.
Public Questions were asked and answered as follows:
(a) Mr G Hibberd asked the following question:
I put the following question to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee regarding the Covid Recovery Plan meeting on 30th June:
I note that Chichester District council is preparing a Covid-19 recovery plan as outlined in your agenda today. I am extremely worried that the plan has no mention of a Green recovery, no mention of preventing further pandemics and a reversion back to business-as-usual.
Just this week the Climate Change Committee released a report showing that our government is failing on its own embarrassingly unambitious targets of reaching net zero by 2050 and is ignoring the issue of carbon equity whereby we actually need to reach net zero by 2030. They have said that government needs to start preparing for a world where we reach 4 degrees of global heating, which will lead to millions if not billions of human lives lost and irreversible ecological collapse.
I realise that this is the District Council and not the national government, but this recovery plan is equally as embarrassing and utterly out-of-touch as our national plan. We cannot leave everything to national government whilst ignoring our own duties and obligations as a district council to encourage businesses and people to take drastic action to avert the biggest disaster human kind will ever know.
There is no mention of renewable energy, there is no mention of reducing pollution, reducing cars on our roads, reducing air travel, improving renewably powered public transport and walking and cycling routes. There is no mention of a transition to a wholly plant-based, localised and organic agriculture and food system. There is no mention of large-scale retrofitting of boilers and insulation in houses. There is no mention of the ecological crisis and our need to not only reduce biodiversity loss, but actively reverse it.
There is no mention of massively reducing our production and consumption of meat, dairy and eggs to reduce future risks of pandemics. Both the Centre for Disease Control and WHO have warned that our out-of-control consumption of animal products is providing the perfect petri dish for novel zoonotic diseases like Covid-19. We have seen it before with swine flu (from pigs), bird flu (from chickens), mad cow (from cows), MERS, SARS, AIDS and now Covid-19. If we don't actively transition away from animal agriculture, Covid-19 will not be our last pandemic.
There is no hero coming to save us. We need change right now and it needs to start not just at national level, but at personal, family, neighbourhood, town and district level. I urge this District Council to act now.
The District Council is fully aware that “we can use this opportunity to support and move forward the Green Agenda”, as the main report puts it (para 4.7). The Recovery Plan is a short-term, highly focussed plan to avoid and mitigate serious economic impacts that would themselves hinder or delay much needed actions to address the climate ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Co-option - Verbal report
To receive a verbal report from the Monitoring Officer.
Mr Bennett introduced this verbal report concerning the adoption of Mr Johnson to the Committee.
That Council co-opt Cllr Tim Johnson to the Overview and
Scrutiny Committee in a non-voting capacity for the remainder of the 2020/21
The Committee is requested to:
(a) note the serious impact Covid 19 has had on the Council’s finances and takes this into account when considering this report.
(b) that members of Overview and Scrutiny receive the report and make recommendations to Cabinet on:
(i) the Covid 19 Recovery Action Plans for the four thematic areas as set out in appendices 1-4
(ii) the policy options as set out in paragraph 6.4
(iii) the future services framework as set out in appendix 5
(iv) the governance arrangements as set out in appendix 6; and
(c) that progress on the Recovery Action Plans and Future Services Framework be reported to the Committee every 6 months.
Mrs Shepherd introduced this item and outlined the report. The future impact of Covid 19 was uncertain, but there were likely to be long term implications for businesses, the community and for the Council. The report focused on both the Council’s immediate need for recovery, as set out in the four recovery plans and the longer term recovery in the form of a Future Services Framework template, which would determine the types and levels of services to be provided from 2022-23. The Corporate Governance and Audit Committee would consider the financial impact, later in the week, and recommend to Cabinet and Council what it considered was a prudent financial position for the Council to take. How quickly the Council eliminated its budget deficit and the additional amount of resources to be allocated to the recovery process was a decision for members.
Mr Ward addressed the Committee regarding the financial impact of Covid 19 on the Council’s income streams and the proposed use of reserves. The proposals were reasonable and balanced, and protected frontline services as far as possible until the full impact on the Council’s finances was known. Doing nothing to address the situation was not an option, as it would only run down the Council’s finances
Mrs Lintill, Leader of the Council, was invited to address the Committee. She fully supported the proposals put forward by Mrs Shepherd and Mr Ward.
Mrs Bangert read out the comments of a resident in her Ward.
Mr Hughes read out the comments of four residents, and business owners at St James Industrial Estate in his Ward.
Mr Brown observing the meeting was invited to address the Committee. He raised concerns regarding the relaxation of development control and member oversight of the planning process.
Members of the Committee went through the thematic work streams in turn and during the course of a wide-ranging discussion made a number of comments and officers provided further information as follows:
Community & Housing Recovery
· The Council was looking at the potential to adjust its affordable housing requirement. It was part of the Local Plan review process and the degree to which it could happen needed to be informed by the evidence, which would inform an appropriate outcome for members to determine where priorities lay. Affordable housing within the Council’s control would be looked at as part of the Affordable Housing Task and Finish Group’s role.
· The Council was working closely with Stonepillow to create pathways for rough sleepers, which as could be seen from the action plan, was a priority. Following the publication of the report, the Government had announced additional funding to extend stays for rough sleepers. Further details were awaited.
· Concern was expressed that there was not enough mention about the need to ensure there was external consultation about the process, particularly with community groups.
· Mrs O’Kelly, observing the meeting, was invited to address the Committee concerning the overall approach. The green agenda should be joined up and included throughout the Recovery Action Plan as an ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
The Committee is requested to make the following recommendations:
1. That OSC receive the feedback from the review of the vision work and recommends to Cabinet that the Vision work continues to be supported as set out in section 5.1.
2. That the Cabinet Member for Property, Growth and Regeneration leads the High Street Group for the City as a sub group of the Chichester Vision, engaging and involving partners, the Chichester BID and high street retailers as set out in section 5.1 to promote the recovery and transformation of the High Streets.
3. OSC recommends a member of the OSC committee to sit on the Chichester High Street Group to assist in the delivery of the High Street recovery and transformation.
4. That support for the High Street recovery and transformation in Midhurst, Petworth, Selsey and East wittering and Bracklesham is coordinated through the existing Vision Groups/ Town/Parish Councils.
Mrs Hotchkiss outlined the report. Mrs Murphy and Mrs McKay were also in attendance.
Mr Bell, Cabinet member for Growth, Place and Regeneration was invited to address the Committee in support of the proposal. He advised that he was in agreement to the inclusion of a representative from the Chichester Traders Market to sit on the Chichester High Street Group, as suggested by Mrs Sharp during the discussion of the previous item.
The Committee discussed the visions for Chichester, Midhurst, Petworth, Selsey and East Wittering and Bracklesham in turn and officers responded to members’ questions and comments:
· With regard to student involvement they not specifically referenced but the College and University were represented on the Chichester Vision Steering Group. Mrs Hotchkiss advised that there was no student representation on the High Street Recovery Group, but this was something that could be considered if required.
· The Chairman referred to a paper received from Midhurst Vision concerning ‘Lets shape our future’ previously circulated to members and read out an email he had received since.
· Mrs O’Kelly, observing the meeting was invited to address the Committee. She provided her comments on the report and an update on the Midhurst Vision. Mrs Hotchkiss agreed to let each Vison have details of the names of the partners against their feedback.
· Mr Johnson observing the meeting was invited to address the Committee. He wished to propose an amendment to recommendation 2.4, which the Chairman agreed to table on Mr Johnson’s behalf as follows:
1) That support for the High Street recovery and transformation in Midhurst and Petworth is coordinated through the existing Vision Groups/Town/Parish Councils; and
2) The support for the Peninsula will be coordinated by a group with similar Officer support to Chichester, but lead by a Member without Cabinet or similar responsibilities who can be perceived as having a singular focus. The resident population is nearly the same, but is greatly swollen by tourism. The A27 issues mean that it would be preferable if the four significant shopping areas (East Wittering, Bracklesham, High Street, Selsey & East Beach, Selsey) were used, providing they can collectively provide the vibrancy, appeal and diversity to encourage this.
However, during discussion of the proposal members agreed that the parishes affected should be consulted to seek their views on the proposal before a decision was taken and their response brought back to the Committee at a later stage.
On behalf of the Committee, Mr Potter commended officers on the work undertaken.
Later in the meeting it was confirmed that Mr Palmer would be the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s representative on the Chichester High Street Group.
RECOMMENDED TO CABINET
That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommends:
1) That the Vision work continues to be supported as set out in section 5.1;
2) That the Cabinet Member for Property, Growth and Regeneration leads the High Street Group for the City as a sub group of the Chichester Vision, engaging and involving partners, the Chichester BID and high street retailers ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
The Committee is asked to receive and note information on the Council’s disposals policy and the supporting legislation.
Mrs McKay introduced this item.
Mrs McKay responded to a question concerning how the Council determined the use of land holdings in a commercial fashion. Work on an asset realisation project to provide a detailed analysis of the Council’s current land ownership was currently on hold, but would be resumed once officers had been released from Covid 19 work. The work included analysis of current usage, potential use and whether there were any special opportunities attached.
Mrs Purnell, observing the meeting, was invited to address the Committee. With regard to land that was not commercially viable, she informed the Committee of the “Tiny Forests” carbon capture scheme.
That the information on the Council’s disposals policy and the supporting legislation be noted.
Review of Planning Operations and setting up a Task and Finish Group - Verbal report
The Committee is requested to agree how the review of Planning operations will be taken forward.
Mr Dignum introduced this item, identified by members at their meeting in March 2020 as an area the Committee would like to look at.
He advised that before Covid 19 concern was expressed that the planning management function had too much focus on development control; the rigour in which planning contraventions were enforced; and the amount of time it took to complete the compulsory purchase of the Tangmere Strategic Development site. He was pleased to see that a move to development facilitation had been taken on board by Mr Frost and the Development Management Team. He suggested that the matter be kept under review and if members were happy with the change of focus towards facilitating development, as part of the Covid 19 recovery plan that would be a good outcome.
Mr Frost concurred that the suggestions put forward were reasonable. There were a number of measures in the Covid 19 recovery plan that he and Mr Whitty, Development Management Divisional Manager planned to assess and improve on the effectiveness and efficiency of the way each Team in Development Management worked. He agreed to report back to the Committee at its September 2020 meeting.
That the verbal report be noted and a further report be brought back to the Committee for consideration at its meeting on 15 September 2020.
The committee is requested to consider the final report from the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) and to note the following:
1) That the required level of scrutiny of the Community Safety Partnership (CSP) had been achieved; and
2) That the performance of the CSP is good and that evidence of effective partnership working in the district had been demonstrated.
Mr Sutton, Chairman of the Community Safety Task and Finish Group (TFG) presented the report. The TFG was satisfied that the required level of scrutiny had been achieved. The TFG would like to invite Police Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, to attend a future meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. He informed the Committee that the Council was fortunate to have Mrs Bushby as the lead officer for community safety, who was highly regarded by all involved in the Community Safety TFG and by Sussex Police.
The committee made the following comments and received answers to questions, including the following:
· The Chairman thanked the Communities Team for all the additional work they were undertaking to assist the community during the Covid 19 pandemic.
· With regard to the visible presence of the police community support officers (PCSOs), they were no longer allocated to a specific patrol area. Details were given of planned multi agency community action days in the Witterings. The Council would work with the PCSOs, the local Police Sargent, Foreshores, Car Parking Services and Litter to ensure.
· The Chairman said that it was up to members to be proactive and liaise with the PCSOs to show them the problem areas. He encouraged members to provide feedback to Mrs Bushby advising where the challenges in their wards were.
The Committee thanked Mrs Bushby for her work. The Committee also thanked Mr Sutton for his report and wished him all the best in his new role as Cabinet member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events.
1) That the required level of scrutiny of the Community Safety Partnership
(CSP) has been achieved; and
2) That the performance of the CSP is good and that evidence of effective
partnership working in the District had been demonstrated.
Affordable Housing Task and Finish Group Update - Verbal report
The Committee is requested to discuss a plan of how the Affordable Housing Task and Finish Group can be progressed going forward.
Mrs Rudziak introduced this verbal report. Unfortunately it had not been possible to progress the Affordable Housing Task and Finish Group, to look at the viability of setting up a local housing company to deliver affordable housing, as the lead officer, Mr Weston, had been redeployed during the Covid 19 pandemic. However, during this time information was circulated about how the Council dealt with affordable housing in the District and some research information to the TFG. With regard to the financial and legal advice required, this would be undertaken by Mrs Belenger and Mr Bennett respectively, and Mrs Belenger would be the lead officer for the TFG moving forward.
Mr Hughes, Chairman of the Task and Finish Group, considered that it would be useful for the TFG to still have access to Mr Western for his housing knowledge. To assist the TFG external advice would be needed from other council’s that had also set up a local housing company. Mrs Graves would fill the current vacancy on the TFG. He would contact the officers involved to arrange a meeting of the TFG. A follow up on progress would be reported to the next Committee meeting.
The verbal update was noted.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is requested to consider and agree its 2019-2020 Annual Report and the 2020-2021 Work Programme and to recommend them to the Council for noting.
The Chairman introduced the report.
1) That the Committee’s 2018-2019 Annual Report be agreed.
2) That the Committee’s 2019-2020 Work Programme be agreed.
RECOMMENDED TO COUNCIL
That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s 2018-2019 Annual Report be noted.
Members are requested to consider the latest Forward Plan and whether any items should be added to the Committee’s Work Programme.
The Committee considered the Forward Plan for the period 1 July 2020 to 31 October 2020.
It was noted that due to the Covid 19 pandemic the Business Routing Panel would have a second meeting during November 2020.
With regard to the Community Safety Partnership members agreed that the Task and Finish Group would in future meet as an exception, rather than as a standing item, only if the Council had any issues.
Consideration of any late items as follows:
a) Items added to the agenda papers and made available for public inspection.
b) Items which the Chairman has agreed should be taken as matters of urgency by reason of special circumstances reported at the meeting.
There were no urgent items.
The Committee thanked the Chairman for the way he had handled today’s meeting.
The Chairman thanked the members for their curtesy and attention, as well as the officers for all the work they had done in the current difficult circumstances.