Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 13th July, 2020 14:00

Venue: Remote meeting via Skype

Contact: Democratic Services 

Media

Items
No. Item

170.

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 (including whipping declarations)

Minutes:

None.

171.

Approval of Minutes pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To receive for approval the minutes of 20/1/2020, 4/2/2020 and 13/2/2020.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of 20/01/2020, 04/02/2020 and 13/02/2020 be approved as a true and accurate record.

172.

Establishment of a Cross-Party Recovery Panel - Covid-19 Pandemic pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Invitees

 

Mark Shephard – Chief Executive

Councillor HJ David – Leader

 

Minutes:

The Chief Executive provided a summary of the report. He explained that the purpose of the report is to establish a Cross-Party Recovery Panel with the aim of shaping, informing and advising Cabinet on the Council’s recovery planning, recognising the huge challenges we face post Covid-19 as we begin to ease the lockdown and move out of that phase. As far as the Council is concerned, change has been very significant. No Council staff had been furloughed. Understandably, a lot of the Council’s services had been run differently including homeworking, agile working and the redeployment of staff with the focus being very much on the delivery of essential services with the aim of protecting the most vulnerable within the county borough and playing our part in stopping the spread of the virus. An unfortunate consequence of this had been emergency governance procedures, which, to some extent, has meant some Members’ involvement through the normal processes of Scrutiny being suspended. He had set out in his report to Cabinet of 30 June 2020 the endeavours to keep all Members informed and involved as much as possible through weekly Group Leader meetings, Scrutiny Chair meetings and an enhanced programme of communications on a daily basis to keep people informed, including the circulation of formal decisions made under these emergency arrangements. That report set out a planning framework for the restart, recovery and renewal of the Council’s services. A key part of the recovery element is the establishment of a Cross-Party Panel, recognising that equal elective Members of all parties is crucial in order to establish a credible plan on a one-Council basis. He outlined some of the key priorities and considerations that the Council needs to deal with as part of its recovery. Those priorities and considerations fall in different timelines, i.e. some are fairly immediate while others will take longer. One of the challenges will be that recovery is not about everything happening at the same time but a programme of work that may take 12-18 months. Immediately, there is the challenge of reopening schools in September (details of which had been issued to Members and schools by the Corporate Director – Education and Family Support). He stated that  the response to the economic crisis is ongoing, and Cabinet had discussed the formation of an Economic Task Force, predominantly comprising people from local businesses and industry to help formulate what the Council needs to do and how  best to invest on that basis. The significance of some of the challenges includes homelessness (there is an expectation from Welsh Government that  solutions are continued to be found to finding places for people to live, which is challenging both conceptually and financially) and continuing to form better relationships with some of its  partners, particularly BAVO. The challenge will be how to nurture these relationships moving forward and how this plays a part in the recovery, recognising the benefits of this to communities and financially in order that the Council does not revert to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 172.

173.

Forward Work Programme Update pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager advised that the purpose of the report, was to provide Members of the Committee with a list of potential Forward Work Programme items for formal prioritisation. He referred to paragraph 4.1, that the  Committee has a responsibility for setting and prioritising the overall Forward Work Programme for the Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committees. He outlined the items/topics that had been prioritised and agreed by this Committee, which had been compiled from suggested items at previous meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees and included information proposed from Corporate Directors.

 

The Chairperson asked Members if they wished to add anything to the list of topics.

 

A Member asked for homelessness to be included given that there had been a role for Scrutiny in the past when looking at, e.g., housing and empty homes. However, he did not wish for Scrutiny to duplicate any other work undertaken on the topic. In response, the Chairperson stated that Welsh Government would be instrumental in how the Authority can address the issue and that it will be dependent upon resources, but agreed that Scrutiny should play a role in homelessness.

 

A Member felt that putting Homelessness on the Scrutiny Forward Work Programme would be duplication as it was something that was already being addressed. The Authority had already looked into claiming some of the £20M provided by Welsh Government for the temporary accommodation provided to the homeless and is awaiting a reply. The Authority must be able to rehouse those people who have been placed into temporary accommodation across the borough to avoid returning to living on the streets. The Chairperson agreed that we need to look at how successful we have been in solving the problem of homelessness in the future.

 

A Member asked if the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee could look at the PSB in September to coincide with the expected completion of the Community Impact Assessment. This will have a greater bearing on what the Panel wishes to tackle. In response, the Chairperson advised that the Panel would be meeting with the PSB Team shortly. The Member further explained that a Community Impact Assessment will identify what has been done well and the things it needed to do longer term to manage further pandemic spikes. For example, in relation to schools, opening to all pupils on 14 September with a 2-week delay to put all necessary measures into place. Thus by the middle of September there could be problems with schools and there are many other issues that need to be looked at. She argued that homelessness is a long-term issue and Welsh Government should have funded it a long time ago and that Local government needs to be vocal about the lack of funding available and it is something the Panel needs to consider going forward.

 

A Member asked if Scrutiny could have a part in the role of governors and how governors are appointed, organised and trained. She felt that schools, now more than ever,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 173.

174.

Urgent Items

To consider any item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in

accordance with Part 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.

 

 

Minutes:

None.