Venue: remotely via Skype for Business
Contact: Democratic Services
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of personal and prejudicial interest (if any) from Members/Officers in accordance with the provisions of the Members Code of Conduct adopted by Council from 1 September 2008.
To receive for approval the minutes of the 16/11/20
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of a meeting of Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committee 3 dated 16 November 2020, be approved as a true and accurate record.
Verbal Update from the Corporate Director - Communities
Janine Nightingale, Corporate Director - Communities
Cllr Richard Young, Cabinet Member Communities
Zak Shell, Head of Operations – Community Services
The Cabinet Member – Communities thanked the Chairperson for the invitation and the opportunity to demonstrate how the Communities Directorate had operated during the pandemic. He was proud of the way the Communities Directorate had responded, interacted with the public, and had done everything possible to keep going, recognising that this was the most visible Directorate across the whole County Borough. He thanked all staff in the Directorate, the Director herself and all Officers for their monumental effort.
The Corporate Director – Communities referred to the strategic response by the Directorate to the Pandemic, acknowledging that it had been an incredibly difficult year for everyone, and that the response from the team had been exemplary, particularly with Welsh Government (WG) requirements changing rapidly. She advised that it should also be recognised that alongside the amount of effort that had gone into responding to the pandemic, staff had also still been progressing business as usual.
The Corporate Director – Communities made a presentation to the Committee on the impact of Covid-19 on the Directorate and the response. Following which the Senior Democratic Officer – Scrutiny circulated the presentation to Members and the Chairperson invited questions from Committee Members.
Members asked the following:
A Member acknowledged that Communities was the most publicly visible of all the Directorates and it had done incredibly well and that this should be relayed back to the whole team. The catch was that the Directorate might be a victim of its own success. The Member advised that in conversations with people in his ward, things like the refuse collection, street cleaning, etc., had been taken for granted as almost as if it had been business as usual, despite the far from business as usual circumstances. He added that perhaps the Communications team could convey what is being done and although it may be perceived as business as usual, the Directorate had needed to adapt whilst also taking on additional functions.
The Head of Operations – Community Services appreciated the Member’s comments. He took the opportunity to describe how the Directorate was continuing to be impacted by Covid-19 and asked Members for their patience and understanding. He explained every department was being impacted, and whilst sickness levels of people working from home, were good, every operational department e.g. highways, waste, etc., had individuals not in work due to Covid-19 so they were struggling with operational numbers and this was a real challenge, as numbers were increasing. He explained that planning was ongoing in the event that actions had to be taken to stop some services and to make sure the critical ones were kept going. He advised that he was really proud of the teams, as their response had been phenomenal, but there were lots of challenges right across the board.
A Member thanked the Corporate Director – Communities for the very comprehensive presentation and added his thanks. He advised that what was being seen was a service, which was showing little signs of deteriorating. The Member ... view the full minutes text for item 114.
The Senior Democratic Officer - Scrutiny presented the report. She advised that Members would recall that the Council had been advised that the Local Government Financial Settlement from WG would be later than expected, and therefore scrutiny of the Medium Term Financial Strategy would be considered by Scrutiny Committees after Cabinet considered the draft proposals on 19th January, instead of the December cycle of meetings, as originally planned.
As set out in the table in paragraph 4.1 of the report, and following approval at November Council the dates for Scrutiny meetings had been moved to:
20 Jan at 10am for the draft MTFS for Education & Family Support and Communities’ Directorate.
21st Jan at 10am for the draft MTFS for Social Services and Wellbeing and the Chief Executive’s Directorate.
The Chairperson asked for clarification that all Members could attend both Combined meetings of Scrutiny Committees in January.
The Senior Democratic Officer – Scrutiny confirmed that Members of all Scrutiny Committees would be invited to both meetings to scrutinise the MTFS and budget proposals across the portfolios allocated to each meeting. She explained that it was a different approach this year due to the lateness of the settlement, to maximise the opportunity for scrutiny in the compressed timescale available, and to provide opportunity to comment on the overall budget. She advised that if Members were not able to attend there was potential once the report was circulated, to email questions and ensure they were put to the invitees, so this did not preclude Members from asking questions.
In terms of the forward work programme, the Senior Democratic Officer – Scrutiny advised that Members may wish to wait until the MTFS to identify particular items that were more pressing than others that Members may wish to explore. She reminded the Committee that at every meeting there was an opportunity to review the forward work programme.
A Member acknowledged that there would be issues that would arise as a result of the MTFS meetings, but following on from the Communities Directorate presentation he felt it would be helpful to have a further update next year as there would be more clarity once the vaccine programme was being delivered, to enable discussion to take place about taking things forward, post pandemic.
The Senior Democratic Officer – Scrutiny also reminded Members that the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny committee would receive a report on Quarter 2 Performance at its meeting on 14th January, arising from which there could be areas of focus that Members wished to add to the Forward Work Pprogramme.
The Chairperson reminded Members that they could respond to the Bridgend Town Centre Master Plan consultation which would close on 1 March 2021. A Member confirmed that he had completed the survey and encouraged all Members to do so.
There were no further items identified for consideration on the Forward Work Programme for the remainder of the municipal calendar of meetings using the agreed form, and this could be revisited in the next meeting. ... view the full minutes text for item 115.
To consider any other item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in accordance with Rule 4 (paragraph 4) of the Council Procedure Rules and which the person presiding at the meeting is of the opinion should by reason of special circumstances be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.