Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 14th January, 2021 09:30

Venue: remotely via Microsoft Teams

Contact: Democratic Services 

Media

Items
No. Item

191.

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.

192.

Council Performance against its Commitments at Quarter 2 of 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 299 KB

Invitees:

All Cabinet Members & CMB

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive presented a report that provided the Committee with an overview of the Council’s performance in 2020-21, as at quarter 2. It compared performance against the commitments made to deliver the well-being objectives in the Corporate Plan 2018-22, reviewed for 2020-21.

 

Members asked the following:

 

A Member felt that in relation to point 4.1.5.1 that the target should not be changed as it was accepted that the year had been exceptional.

 

The Chief Executive acknowledged that the pandemic had impacted performance negatively on some indicators.  This was an example where having more people working in an agile way, had a significant positive impact, particular on short term sickness, albeit long-term sickness had sometimes stayed the same or had gone up. In terms of the targets, these were set, for the year, based on marginally below last year’s actual. The Chief Executive was keen to achieve a forward and improved focus, moving downwards and gradually reducing the target year on year to the level wanted.  The target should remain the same this year and it would be bettered, but there was a strong case for reviewing those targets going forward.

 

The Member asked if long-term sickness, underlying illnesses and disabilities contributed towards sickness, noted at point 6. In terms of the Equality Impact Assessment, it said there were no equality implications in the report.

 

In terms of the Equality Impact Assessment, the Chief Executive took the point and said he would be happy to revise it if Members felt those sorts of impacts should be included. This was a regular debate and noted if there were some specific impacts that had been identified, he would be happy to look at those.

 

A Member asked what was the amount of the Covid-19 reserve as indicated on page 8 of the report.

 

The Interim Chief Officer - Finance, Performance and Change explained that the reserve had been put aside at £3m, with £500k put into a specific fund for emergency Covid-19 issues. The Council had been successful in terms of the hardship grant which the Welsh Government (WG) had set aside, but would probably only get 75% - 80% costs back. Council tax was running near to 2% down on income, which gave a shortfall of £2m, and it was not known if this could be recovered by year-end.

 

A Member referred to point WBO1.2.4 on page 8 of the report and explained that it did not sit very well and could it be explained a bit more thoroughly.

 

The Interim Chief Officer - Finance, Performance and Change explained that this was about the bigger package for businesses and kick starting the economy and WG had endeavoured to support businesses with a series of grants. They could also apply for help from the economic resilience fund, but in terms of support and financial support, that was the offer at the moment.

 

The Chief Officer - Legal, HR & Regulatory Services explained, in relation to the foundational economy, there was a plan to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 192.

193.

Corporate Plan 2018-2023 Reviewed for 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 311 KB

Invitees:

All Cabinet Members & CMB

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Chief Officer - Finance, Performance and Change presented a report that provided the Committee with the Council’s Corporate Plan 2018-2023 reviewed for 2021-22 for the Committee to consider.

 

The Chairperson thanked the Interim Chief Officer - Finance, Performance and Change and stated that there were details not yet put into the Corporate Plan and therefore the Committee could only comment on what was available, at the present time, because of the timetabling.

 

Members asked the following:

 

A Member referred to Page 57, the 5 Ways of Working - to focus diminishing resources on communities and individuals with the greatest need but asked how the needs, both of communities and individuals, were assessed and resources allocated.

 

The Chief Executive stated that this was a complex process and it would be different for different services. It was an underlying principle to protect the most vulnerable in society in different ways and resources were directed to those people in most need. He felt this was a good principle and one that most Members would support, but did not think it was a single process, but a whole range of statistics and evidence and processes that would lead to that conclusion. 

 

The Leader explained that local Members knew there were vulnerable individuals and people in need in all communities, whether those communities were described as affluent or disadvantaged.  There were individuals with high levels of need in some of the most affluent communities and individuals with low levels of needs in some of the most disadvantaged communities and those needs were different across the different service areas. It was a complex picture that would vary, whether that was mental health services, education, housing etc., which reflected the complexity of the communities.

 

A Member referred to Page 61, and asked for clarification of the area covered by the Valleys Regional Park.

 

The Leader stated that the Valleys Regional Park covered the whole of the Garw, Ogmore and Lynfi Valleys Gateway area of Bridgend County Borough. Bryngarw Country Park and Parc Slip Nature Reserve were two of the flagship projects.

 

A Member referred to a comment on page 46, paragraph 4.1 where clearly those that were involved in planning the Corporate Plan recognised the current challenging environment and asked how agile and flexible would the plan remain and what opportunity would the Committee have to revisit it, when documented evidence of what impact the pandemic had, became available.

 

The Chief Executive stated that as had been done this year the Corporate Plan could be refreshed and reviewed based on circumstances. This was an important document and a statutory document and consequently if the impact of the pandemic meant it had to be refreshed and reviewed, then it would be done.

 

A Member referred to the success indicators on Page 61 under priority area: improve learner outcomes and asked if the success indicators on educational attainment were dependent on the success of the blended learning schemes, and would there be an opportunity to scrutinise the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 193.

194.

Capital Strategy 2021-22 to 2030-31 pdf icon PDF 293 KB

Invitees:

Councillor Huw David, Leader

Councillor Hywel Williams, Deputy Leader

Gill Lewis, Interim Head of Finance, Performance and Change

Nigel Smith, Interim Group Manager – Chief Accountant

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Chief Officer - Finance, Performance and Change presented a report, that provided the Committee with the draft Capital Strategy 2021-22 to 2030-31, which included the Prudential Indicators against which the Council measures itself during the financial year.

 

The Interim Chief Officer - Finance, Performance reminded Members the MTFS was a 4-year strategy and Capital Strategy was a 10-year strategy.  Capital was governed heavily by legislation and from 2020, when CPFA published the new addition of the prudential code for capital financing, local authority’s were required to have a Capital Strategy which needed to be approved by full Council. The strategy needed to demonstrate that all investment was sustainable and prudent and also that the prescribed prudential indicators, which were used to monitor this on a 3 year rolling period, made sure that the local authority kept within the limits and adhered to the desire to have prudent and sustainable investment.

 

The overarching principles were set out in paragraph 4.3 with a focus on the delivery of the wellbeing objectives and priorities to ensure that strong governance was in place over decision-making.  The strategy set out a framework and also in detail the following areas:- Capital Expenditure and Investment Plans, the Prudential Indicators, the external debt and treasury management.  She drew Members attention to 3 changes. At paragraph 4.5.1 accounting for leases. As a result of the pandemic, the implementation of that change had been delayed until 2022/23. Quite a significant one at 4.5.2 borrowing for commercial activities. She explained that the local authority was very careful about commercial opportunities and purchasing things perhaps, that some Council’s may have gone into such as hotels and shopping centres, etc., for commercial gain. The Public Works Loans Board (PWLB) had put a moratorium on borrowing for commercial activities.  This was set out very clearly in 3.4 of the strategy and she encouraged Members to look at this because it placed a huge constraint on herself, as the S151 Officer and Members to confirm there was no intention to buy investment and assets, which would be used primarily for yields. At 4.5.3, following an internal audit review of capital expenditure and feasibility studies, the

recommendation was to require a detailed feasibility assessment of capital projects with the need for a post project evaluation to learn from best practice.

 

Members asked the following:

 

A Member referred to Page 99, in respect of the Highways Asset Management Plan (HAMP). He noted that it mentioned that this was a living document, subject to continual review and development. The Member noted that the one on the local authority website was published in September 2007 and asked if there was an updated version.

 

The Interim Chief Officer - Finance, Performance and Change explained that it was one of the things had she had emailed, just this morning about, to make sure that the documents referred to in the report were on the website. She agreed to follow this up with the Interim Group Manager – Chief Accountant.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 194.

195.

Forward Work Programme Update pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Minutes:

The Senior Democratic Services Officer - Scrutiny presented the report, beginning on page 117. She took Members to paragraph 4.6, which set out the next cycle of meetings which was the Combined Meeting of all Scrutiny Committees to look at the draft MTFS for Education & Family Support and Communities on Wednesday 20th and for Social Services & Wellbeing and the Chief Executives Directorate on Thursday 21st January. She stressed that all Members were welcome to attend both meetings, as agreed in the Scrutiny Chair’s meeting.

 

The next meeting of COSC would be held on the 1st February, where the feedback from those two meetings, and the BREP report would be considered before being sent to the Cabinet for consideration.

 

Following that the next cycle of meetings, including COSC on the 3rd March, to consider the Budget Monitoring 2020-21 Q3 Revenue Forecast.

Members would remember that at the December round of Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings, Corporate Directors presented updates to the respective Committees and SOSC1 proposed a report upon blended / hybrid / remote learning to be included in the FWP, for their next meetings after the MTFS, which had been raised in the meeting today.

 

SOSC 2 had decided to wait until the outcome of the MTFS or today’s performance report before nominating for the next item on the work programme and SOSC 3 talked about having a further update from the Corporate Director – Communities, when the vaccine programme was being delivered, with a focus on how things are taken forward post pandemic.  The Committee also agreed that the consideration of the MTFS and todays performance report could pose items to be looked at in the future meeting.

 

The Senior Democratic Services Officer - Scrutiny also reminded Member of the Scrutiny Member Training that had taken place and that copy of the resources would be circulated to all Scrutiny Members.

 

Members proposed  the following items identified for consideration on the Forward Work Programme:

 

  • Stress Related Sickness Absence (COSC)

 

  • Safeguarding (SOSC2)

 

  • Future Waste Contract (SOSC3)

 

  • Town Centre Masterplan (post consultation) COSC

 

  • In the medium-term: the effect of the Pandemic upon the delivery of the Corporate Plan (Cross-Party Recovery Panel /COSC)

 

  • In the long-term: Corporate Tender Contract and Procurement Policies / Procedures when appropriate. (COSC)

 

There were no requests to include specific information in the item for the next meeting.

 

RESOLVED:                      That the Committee confirmed the proposed initial items for the Committee’s Forward Work Programme set out in paragraph 4.6 of the report and the proposed new items above.

 

 

 

196.

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.