Venue: Committee Room 2, East Pallant House. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services on 01243 534674 Email: email@example.com
Note: Please note that item 6 has been withdrawn from the agenda.
Any apologies for absence will be noted at this point.
The Chairman welcomed officers, councillors and members of the public to the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Apologies were received from Mr Tim Johnson and Mr Paul Wagstaff, Director of Education and Skills, West Sussex County Council.
Mr Moss advised that Agenda Item 11 would be moved forward and be taken as Agenda Item 10 in order to allow the presenting officer, Ivan Western, Housing Delivery Manager to attend a separate meeting.
To approve the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 19 November 2019 (copy to follow) and of the Special Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 26 November 2019.
To receive an update on progress against recommendations made to the Cabinet and the Council.
That the minutes of the Special Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 26 November 2019 were approved as a correct record.
In respect of the minutes of the meeting held on 19 November 2019 Mrs Bushby read out the following statement;
Due to matters Mr Bennett has recently outlined to members unfortunately on this occasion it has not been possible for the 19 November 2019 OSC minutes to be included within this meeting’s agenda pack. A shortened version of the minutes will be produced by the team. Members are also referred to the audio recording for the meeting which is available online. The Democratic Services team appreciate members understanding in this matter.
Mrs Sharp advised that there was a spelling error on page 6, item 7, third paragraph, the word ‘roll’, should be changed to ‘role’.
Mrs Sharp enquired what progress had been made on the following items discussed at the last meeting;
· Free parking provision within the City on events days. In addition to free parking could the option of offering a reduce fare on public transport (especially at events where alcohol is consumed) also be considered.
· Site provision for a park and ride scheme.
· Setting up quarterly meetings for the Southern Gateway. Mr Moss informed Mrs Sharp that this would be picked up at a later agenda item.
Mr Moss advised Mrs Sharp to write to Mr Bell, the Cabinet Member for Growth, Place and Regeneration, as a member of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for a direct response on the parking issues she had raised.
Mr Potter informed the Committee that Katy Bourne, Director of the Chichester Festival Theatre had been due to attend a meeting with the Women’s Institute, however she failed to show up for the meeting and has offered no apologies. Mr Moss agreed to meet with Mr Potter outside the meeting to draft a correspondence to Mrs Bourne.
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.
Mr Moss announced that there were no urgent items.
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 Clare Apel declared a personal interest in respect of agenda item 9 as a trustee of Stonepillow.
Mrs Sarah Sharp declared a personal interest in respect of agenda item 6 as a supporter of Rumboldswhyke CE School.
Public Question Time
The procedure for submitting public questions in writing no later than noon 2 working days before the meetingis available upon request from Democratic Services (the contact details for which appear on the front page of this agenda).
The following public questions had been received as follows:
Christina Vitan had submitted the following question in relation to agenda item 6 (Education Provision in the Chichester District)
What methods and assessments has WSCC undertaken to predict the medium-long term, the quality and the popularity of Primary school places in Chichester?
Government's document "Opening and closing maintained schools" (November 2018) states, when considering schools closure : " The decision-maker should take into account the future demand for places in the medium-long term, the overall quality of alternative places in the local area and the popularity of other local schools".
Bill Sharp had submitted the following question in relation to agenda item 6 (Education Provision in the Chichester District)
The County Council is consulting on closure of Rumboldswhyke School. But County has also recently declared a climate emergency, and under statutory guidance is allowed to preserve the school under "exceptional circumstances"; regardless of the school's "inadequate" Ofsted rating last summer.
Could such "exceptional circumstances" include the need to preserve a school with excellent walking and cycling connections, and the need to anticipate substantially increased demand for places in a few years’ time from increased numbers of housing, some of which, like the Gateway development, will be pretty much on the school's doorstep?
Linda Curwen had submitted the following question in relation to agenda item 6 (Education Provision in the Chichester District)
How reliable is WSCC's consultation process on closure of a school when WSCC's own children’s services have been "inadequate" since March 2019?
Mr Moss thanked the members of the public for attending and confirmed that (with the permission from the members of the public) their questions would be forwarded to West Sussex County Council for a direct response.
Following the public questions Mrs Apel suggested that WSCC’s Children’s Services should be added to the OSC work plan given the level of concern surrounding both education and the provision of children’s services within the district. Mr Moss asked that this be discussed under Agenda Item 14 (Work Programme).
Education Provision in the Chichester District
Following the Committee meeting held on 19 November 2019 a representative from West Sussex Education Services to attend the meeting to answer questions on education provision in the District.
Mr Moss confirmed that there were no representatives present from West Sussex County Council; Mr Wagstaff had sent apologies and confirmed his attendance at the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 17 March 2020.
In advance of the meeting Mr Moss invited Committee members to raise concerns, issues and questions which could be submitted to Mr Wagstaff ahead of his attendance.
The following issues, questions and concerns were raised by members of the Committee;
· Could a OSC write to Ofsted requesting them to carry out an inspection of the West Sussex Education Department.
· How does WSCC calculate their pupil predictions?
· Could further information be provided on WSCC’s Educational Statement Plan and the provision of special educational needs within the District? How does the system work and what are future provision plans?
· What assistance is given to individuals moving out of the care of Children’s Services and into the care of Adult’s Services. These are some of the most vulnerable individuals within the District and there is great concern that their individual needs are not being addressed.
· What is WSCC doing to educate and ‘skill-up’ residents in response to Climate Emergency?
· What has been the impact of the Free School on schools within the local area?
In summary Mrs Rudziak suggested that a formal letter be sent to Mr Wagstaff, including both the Public questions and the points raised by the Committee. The invitation to attend the meeting could also be extended to Mr Jupp as the relevant Cabinet Member.
Members of the committee asked that the letter be copied to both the Chief Executive and the Leader of WSCC so they are aware of the concerns raised by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
In response to the specific question of writing to Ofsted, Mrs Rudziak confirmed that the OSC are entitled to write to whoever they choose, however, she advised that it would be prudent to seek legal advice before any letter is sent.
Mrs Sharp proposed that (taking into account legal advice) a letter from the OSC be sent to Ofsted asking them to look at WSCC’s Education provision. This was seconded by Mr Hughes. Mrs Apel abstained from the vote, all other members voted in favour.
Cabinet Member for Planning Address
The Cabinet Member for Planning is invited to present her priorities and areas of focus over the coming months and to answer questions from the Committee on progress towards achieving the priorities within her portfolio.
Mr Moss welcomed Mrs Taylor, as the Cabinet Member for Planning to the meeting. He explained that Mrs Taylor had been invited to the meeting to present the Committee with an overview of what is happening within her portfolio. Mr Ayling, Divisional Manager, Planning Policy and Mr Whitty, Divisional Manager, Development Management were also in attendance to answer questions.
Mrs Taylor informed the Committee that the main priority within her portfolio is the successful adoption of the Local Plan Review. She explained that CDC is required to review their Local Plan within five years of adoption of the current local plan, which is July 2020, after this date the current Local Plan will be out of date.
The confirmed housing need for the district has been set at 628 dwellings per annum from July 2020; this is one of the highest figures outside of London and a significant increase on the current housing supply of 435 per annum.
All promoted development sites are assessed to determine their deliverability. Buffer sites are also required to ensure delivery of the plan (as with the current plan).
Mrs Taylor highlighted to the Committee the importance of the Duty to Cooperate; she explained that this refers to how CDC and its adjoining neighbouring authorities work together to consider how any unmet housing need can be met. The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) has requested that CDC incorporate their unmet need of 44 dwellings per annum; as yet no final decision has been made. If CDC fails to comply with the Duty to Cooperate (to consider requests) then the Council risk failure at the first stage of the Local Plan inspection; this happened recently at Wealden Borough Council. Progress on the West Sussex and Greater Brighton Planning Board has been slow; CDC is mitigating this through bilateral discussions with neighbouring authorities and West Sussex County Council. These conversations will be documented in statements of Common Ground.
Mrs Taylor stressed the importance of evidence in the Local Plan Review. The development strategy must be positively prepared and justified, to ensure that planned growth is sustainable particularly when taking into account infrastructure and environmental constraints. Work on the evidence base is ongoing; due to factors such as the recent public consultation; the declaration of a Climate Emergency and nitrates in the Solent. Mrs Taylor referred the Committee to paragraph 11, page 22 of the Cabinet Agenda pack for the meeting on from 3 December 2019, headed ‘Further technical work’, this paragraph lists the areas of further work required to take the Local Plan Review forward.
Although the requirement is for the Local Plan to be submitted in July 2020, it is imperative that the evidence base is sound. Mrs Taylor stressed the risk that if the evidence base is not completed it may cause the Local Plan Review to be found unsound and result in CDC being left without a Local Plan for a substantial period of time.
Infrastructure is one of the greatest challenges for ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is asked to note the latest levels of staff sickness absence.
Mr Mildred, Divisional Manager, Business Support Manager presented the report. Mr Radcliffe, Human Resource Manager was also present.
Mr Mildred informed the Committee that the Absence Management Policy has been reviewed and rewritten. A particular focus has been given to ensuring a consistent application of the policy and managing stress levels is maintained. The latest figures are positive and show that the average number of sick days has reduced; the calculation used to determine the number of average sick days taken is done on a 12 month rolling basis and includes information from people who are no longer at CDC. If the figure was calculated using data provided from existing employees it would be 5.6 days per annum. In addition to the report Mr Mildred informed the Committee that individual cases are monitored on a case by case basis. Mr Mildred, Mr Ward (Director of Corporate Services) and the HR team meet monthly to review these cases and look at patterns within teams.
The Committee asked the following questions;
· How much is stress associated with a lack in staffing numbers? Mr Mildred explained that the root cause of most stress absence was not caused by work, however, it was acknowledged as a contributing factor. Where stress at work has been identified as an issue, work is undertaken to look at what can be done to mitigate the causes.
· This appears to be a tick box exercise with focus being given to completing the form and less focus been given to the individual? Mr Mildred assured the Committee that this is not a tick box exercise, every time a member of staff is off sick then the manager will have a face to face meeting with that member of staff. If an employee has been off for a period of seven days or three individual incidences then there is a welfare interview to identify any problems within the work environment. The next stages of the sickness absence process are the formal stages and a warning may be issued which will go on an employee’s file for up to one year.
· Can discretion be applied in cases of long term sick or would a formal warning still be issued? Mr Radcliffe confirmed that it would be likely a formal warning would be issued, he explained that it was important to manage the sickness absence and the impact it has on service delivery.
· Is there a specific timeframe which triggers the sickness absence process? Mr Mildred confirmed that there was and this was set out in the policy.
· Are there any departments which suffer from a higher occurrence of stress? Mr Mildred informed the Committee that stress is consistent throughout the organisation. Patterns of sickness levels are monitored on a regular basis to identify any occurring trends.
· Was any comparison made with absentee figures from 2008 – 2011 when there were more officers employed at CDC? Mr Mildred informed the Committee that the sickness rates from 2008-11 were comparable with the ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
The Committee is requested to consider the draft Housing strategy and makes any recommendations prior to its presentation to Cabinet and Council.
Mr Ivan Western, Housing Delivery Manager presented the report. Mrs Linda Grange, Divisional Manager for Housing to the Committee was also present to answer questions.
As an overview Mr Western explained that the strategy has been developed in four parts;
· Scene setting
· Overview of the Local Housing Market
· Corporate Plan Objectives – there are three in relation to housing
· The Matrix – this takes the three corporate plan objectives and identifies under each objective a further eight separate strategic housing objectives.
The Committee asked the following questions;
· How is the benchmark for the annual rough sleeper count calculated? Mr Western explained that the figure used was from the annual count conducted in November; this is a verified count with agreed criteria.
· Why has the number of rough sleepers increased? Mrs Grange informed the Committee that the number of rough sleepers varies between 12 and 20. She advised the Committee that a significant amount of action was been taken to address the issue. The aspirations and figures cited in the report are from the Governments National Strategy.
· What can be done to eliminate rough sleeping within the District? Mrs Bushby, Divisional Manager, Communities, explained that unfortunately rough sleeping is not something that can be eliminated, work is been done to reduce the number of rough sleepers to the minimum. However, there are some individuals who choose to live this way and do not engage with the services available.
· During the cold weather how many rough sleepers made use of the accommodation offered? Mrs Grange was unable to give exact figures, but informed the Committee that 10 individuals could be accommodated in an emergency.
· Why has a comparison been made with other counties? Mr Western informed the Committee that the comparison was referring to the number of homes developed through community based organisations. In Chichester a specific target has been identified to support community led housing within the district. Mr Western highlighted that within the UK this type of development is quite radical.
· What work has been done to ensure tenants experience a consistent and adequate level of service from Hyde? Mr Western informed the Committee that work had been undertaken to improve the way members can assist residents experiencing difficulties with Hyde. However, Mr Western highlighted that the purpose of the strategy was not to set out a mandate for how Hyde (and other service providers) maintain their properties.
In addition to Mr Western’s answer, Mr Moss reminded that Committee that Hyde were attending a future Overview and Scrutiny meeting and that the concerns raised could be put directly to them at that meeting.
· Affordable housing within the District is 80% of rent, this is not affordable, is it not possible to deliver more social affordable homes? Mr Western explained that the definition used for Affordable Housing is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Going forward the aspiration is to deliver a greater number of social affordable homes
· How are the issues surrounding welfare reform and universal credits being ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
Budget Review Task and Finish Group Feedback
To receive an oral report on the outcomes of this review from the Budget Review Task and Finish Group to be held on 17 January 2020.
Mrs Belenger presented the report. She explained that the Budget TFG had been asked to consider the budget variations for 2020/21.
The proposed budget takes into account the high level assumptions made in the Council’s five year financial model and builds upon those forecasts. Officers set out the main projected variances for the 2020/21 spending plans working from the approved base budget of 2019/20. The variances and their impact were set out in detailed explanations, for example inflationary increases in pay and pensions which affect all service areas. Details were also provided where variances affected individual service areas for example in housing, where there is an expected impact on service demand due to the loss of WSCC funding. Chichester Contract Services have been set trade waste income targets, with a drive to increase income generating opportunities.
The Government’s provisional financial settlement is broadly in line with expectation. Detailed estimates show a budget surplus for the coming financial year of £484,000; Mrs Belenger highlighted that this was subject to receiving the final government settlement. The surplus is lower than what was predicted in the financial forecast which showed a surplus of £759,000, Mrs Belenger explained that this was mainly due to a lower estimate on retained business rates.
Mrs Belenger explained that the Council has a statutory duty to produce a balanced budget, and the surplus proposed for the 2020/21 financial year can only be used on a ‘one-off’ basis as the five year model shows that there deficit budgets for two years from 2021.
In setting the budget Mrs Belenger confirmed that officers were adhering to the Council’s financial principals set out in the Council’s Financial Strategy.
Mr Dignum highlighted the following two variances to the Committee;
· The loss of the recycling credits which has cost CDC a sum £769,000
· The financial increase in replacing WSCC’s supported housing contracts.
That the verbal report from the Budget Task and Finish group be noted.
Mr Dignum left the meeting at 12.30pm.
The Committee is requested to note the terms of reference and scoping outline plan for the Local Housing Delivery Task and Finish Group and agree the membership.
Mr Western introduced the item and explained the purpose of the TFG.
A short discussion ensued on the proposed TFG. Following the discussion Mrs Rudziak noted the following;
· That the definition of what is ‘genuinely affordable’ would be included within the scope of the TFG
· All members of the TFG would be fully briefed on the welfare system
· That interviews with other local authority Councillors would be included as part of the methodology.
· Whilst some items could be delivered in ‘bitesize’ and fed back to OSC at regular intervals, the timescale for the overall piece of work was realistic.
Mr Moss invited members of the Committee to put themselves forward for the TFG. The following members put their names forward; Mrs Clare Apel, Mr Kevin Hughes, Mr Henry Potter, Mrs Sarah Sharp and Mr Alan Sutton.
Mr Moss proposed Mr Kevin Hughes to be the Chairman of the OSC, this was seconded by Mr Chris Page. All members were in agreement.
1. That the Committee note the terms of reference and the scoping plan for the Local Housing Delivery Task and Finish Group
2. That Mrs Clare Apel, Mr Kevin Hughes, Mr Henry Potter, Mrs Sarah Sharp and Mr Alan Sutton, be appointed to the Local Housing Delivery Task and Finish Group.
3. That Mr Kevin Hughes is Chairman of the Local Housing Delivery Task and Finish Group.
The Committee is requested to note the terms of reference and scoping outline plan for the Community Safety Review Task and Finish Group and agree the membership.
Mrs Bushby introduced the item and explained the purpose of the TFG.
Mr Moss sought three nominations.
1. That the Terms of Reference and the scoping outline plan for the Community Safety Task and Finish Group be noted
2. That Ms Tracie Bangert, Mr Adrian Moss and Mr Alan Sutton are appointed to the Community Safety Task and Finish Group.
Members are asked to consider the latest Forward Plan (attached) and to consider whether it wishes to enquire into any of the forthcoming decisions.
The Committee considered the latest Forward Plan.
The Committee is requested to consider the latest Work Programme.
The Committee considered the latest Work Programme.
The following items were added to the Work Programme for further involvement by this Committee;
· The Novium Business Plan
· Education update from WSCC Education Service
· The Economy and the High Street; requested by Mr David Palmer
· The Final Report of the Community Safety Task & Finish Group
· Asset Management Policy Review
· The development of the Barnfield Drive
· Off Street Parking
· Local Housing Delivery Task & Finish group
· Southern Gateway; as progress updates and meetings will need to be established.
· Liberator Place
The following amendment was made to the work programme;
· To invite the Local Chief Inspector instead of the Police Crime Commissioner
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 late items.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
There are no restricted items for consideration.
There was no requirement to exclude the press or public.