Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Executive held on 08/04/2008
Observations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committees
EXECUTIVE - 8TH APRIL 2008
OBSERVATIONS FROM THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEES
The Overview and Scrutiny Committees met on 31st March, 1st and 2nd April. Their observations on the following agenda items are set out below:-
Review of the Planning Service – Establishment
ELOS endorsed the proposed changes to the structure of the Planning Department, and agreed to pass the following observations to the Executive, that:
the proposed restructuring appears to meet the objectives of the new approach to delivering the planning service.
the mixed workloads should increase job variety and satisfaction for staff.
there were possible problems with the number of part-time posts and identified ‘vacant posts’, and there would be a need to monitor the workload as the new structure was implemented to ensure resource capacity was available.
Proper allowance for training costs needed to be made for staff to help them develop in their new roles.
The planning surgery service and planconsult e-mail service should continue and should not be affected by this implementation.
Review of the Planning Service – Charging for Pre-application Advice
ELOS agreed to make the following observations to the Executive, that:
whilst recognising the Council was not allowed to make a surplus by charging for pre-application advice, there should be full and accurate recovery of costs, and that the level of charges should be reviewed in the light of experience.
the Committee supported the proposed exemptions to pre-application charges.
the charging systems for pre-application advice should be reviewed in no more than 6 months from the date of implementation.
the Committee agreed the charging system should be introduced as soon as reasonably practical, but was concerned that there should be appropriate levels of staffing in place to resource and support the services for which charges were being made.
it was vital that the income from the pre-application charges was retained within the planning department to resource and support the new planning delivery system’s requirements for additional staffing.
there need to be clearly defined statements and specifications of the level of service to be provided in respect of each type of pre-application advice to avoid customer dissatisfaction regarding pre consultation expectation versus reality.
the Committee expressed doubts regarding the proposal for offering a payment facility within the planning reception since this would involve the duplication of payment facilities located on the ground floor of the Council offices.
the Committee also had reservations regarding the pressures that implementation of these services would create on council resources including the planning reception area seating and waiting facilities, car parking spaces and refreshments availability. Consideration should also be given to the potential need for dedicated meeting room space for privacy purposes.
Officers should investigate ways of collecting feedback on the new planning service from customers and ensure that this was available from the date of introduction.
Proposed Planning Infrastructure Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD)
ELOS had no observations to pass on to the Executive.
1APP – Introduction of National Planning Applications Forms and Revised Validation Process
ELOS was generally content with the proposed list of local requirements for the validation of planning applications, but made the following observations to the Executive:
The Committee asked that clear guidance on how to complete the new 1APP forms be provided to planning clients.
The Committee was concerned that if planning applications were submitted through the Planning Portal, as intended under the 1APP system, the cost of printing multiple copies and supporting the consultation process was being passed to the Council.
The Committee asked if the Local Requirements could be reviewed within 12 months in the light of experience.
Corporate Debt Management Policy
Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee commended the draft Corporate Debt Management Policy to the Executive without further comment.
Performance Management Report (Q3) 2007/08
Corporate O and S
The Committee endorsed the observations from the Best Value Performance Indicators Sub-Committee with regard to the Q3 BVPIs.
The Committee considered the suggestion from the BVPI Sub-Committee that performance monitoring might be done more effectively and comprehensively by one joint sub-committee of the three Overview & Scrutiny Committees. The Committee agreed that having three separate Sub-Committees was a questionable use of time and resources, but felt that in the short-term, whilst the new Performance Management Framework was being developed, the current model should continue.
The Committee noted that, although combined Audit and Performance functions did exist in some local authorities, under the current Constitution monitoring performance was outside the scope of the Audit Committee.
The Committee noted and supported the observations of the Environment and Leisure O & S BVPI Sub-Committee, detailed in the minutes of the sub-committee’s meeting on 19th March 2008.
Community O and S
The Committee noted that the new Performance Management Framework being introduced at 1st April 2008 would mean that many of the current BVPIs would no longer exist. New statutory National Indicators (NIs) and a range of local indicators would in future measure the Council’s performance against its key priorities.
The Committee endorsed the observations of the Community Performance Sub-Committee and noted that new indicators for double-glazing and affordable housing had been added to those indicators within its remit. To rationalise the current performance indicators used by Waverley the Corporate Management Team was aligning indicators to the Corporate Plan.
The Committee considered that the current three Overview and Scrutiny Performance Sub-Committees should continue to meet in their current form until the new Performance Management Framework had bedded in, at which time one joint sub-committee would be considered a better use of resources.
The Committee was of the view that indicators would be a useful tool to measure the success of the Corporate Plan. They wished to recommend to the Executive that they use the opportunity offered by the reduction in the number of statutory indicators to ensure that the indicators, which are used by Waverley, reflect the Corporate Plan objectives.