Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 23/01/2006
MINUTES of the MEETING of the CORPORATE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
held on 23rd January 2006
(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the meeting)
Mr R J Gates (Chairman)
Dr M-G Lane
Mr M A Clark (Vice-Chairman)
Mr J C S Mackie
Mr M H W Band
Mrs A E Mansell
Dr J F A Blowers
Mr W M Marshall
Captain P G Burden
Mr P J Nicholson
Mrs C Cockburn
Mr C C E Slyfield
Mr B A Ellis
Mr R C Terry
Mrs M V M Hunt
Mr K Webster
Mrs S R Jacobs
Mr L C Bate and Mr B G Shelley attended as substitutes
Mr S D Edge, Miss G B W Ferguson and Mr V K Scrivens were also in attendance
(Agenda Item 2)
The Minutes of the Special Meeting held on 19th December 2005 were confirmed and signed.
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
(Agenda Item 3)
Apologies for absence were received from Captain P G Burden and Mrs M V M Hunt. Mr L C Bate and Mr B G Shelley attended as substitutes.
DISCLOSURE OF INTERESTS
(Agenda Item 4)
Mr R J Gates declared a personal interest as Treasurer of Bramley Age Concern and Mrs A E Mansell as the Waverley representative on the Brightwells Gostrey Centre. Both interests were declared with regard to recommendation 2 of the Sponsored Organisation Scheme report at Appendix C.
EXECUTIVE FOUR-MONTH ROLLING PROGRAMME
(Appendix A; Agenda Item 6)
RESOLVED that the Four-Month Rolling Programme of Executive key decisions be noted.
COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME
(Agenda Item 7)
RESOLVED that the current items on the Committee's Work Programme be noted.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY 2006/2007 – 2008/2009
(Agenda Item 8)
When considering the following budget items, the Committee took into account the recommendations from the Executive meeting on 10th January 2006, set out at Appendix B.1 to the agenda, and the observations made by the Community and Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committees at their meetings on 16th and 17th January respectively, tabled at the meeting.
Draft General Fund Revenue Estimates 2006/2007
The Committee received an update report on the latest position regarding the General Fund budget and gave detailed consideration to proposals for reducing the budget shortfall. The Committee was guided to limit any comments they had to the services within their remit, however observations on the general direction of the budget would be acceptable.
The Committee concentrated initially on the List of Variations set out at Annexe 2 to the report and made the following comments, that:-
i. the £1,250 for Members' meeting expenses/hospitality should not be put forward as members should set an example and contain expenditure in this area within the current allotted budget;
ii. the £2,000 contribution to the LGA Special Interest Group should be put forward as a saving, as suggested also by the Chief Officer Group;
iii. the legal resource for the licensing function was essential given the ever-increasing responsibilities of the service in terms of the Licensing Act 2003 and the forthcoming Gambling Act 2005;
iv. with the continuation of the Civil Contingencies Bill, there was no scope for the £46,000 proposed to be reduced;
v. for IT staff resource and running costs, it was recognised that there would be implications for the provision of the IT service and for many of Waverley's key front-line services if these variations were deleted or reduced;
vi. with regard to the Joint Working Surrey e-partnership, it was reported that a reduction in Waverley's contribution, as suggested by COG, was appropriate since other Surrey boroughs and districts were buying into the scheme at different levels. The Committee agreed that the recommended £21,000 should be a maximum contribution from Waverley and that this could be reduced should Surrey decide that it would be inappropriate to maintain the scheme into the future as part of its own budget setting process.
Annexe 4 to the report set out reductions suggested by COG, and the Committee made the following further comments, that
i. with regard to Corporate Christmas Cards, this reduction was considered agreeable and the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive were encouraged to send combined cards in future;
ii. given the departure of the Partnership Funding Officer, it was appropriate for the post to be offered as a saving.
The Committee supported the objective of setting a reasonable target of a 3% or 3.2% increase to council tax but at the same time felt that the budget for the sponsored organisation scheme should be increased by inflation. It was considered that an inflationary increase would be important to many organisations in the borough which made a beneficial contribution to the community and make very little impact on the council tax.
RESOLVED that the observations on the draft General Fund Revenue Estimates, set out above, be passed to the Executive.
Draft General Fund Capital Programme 2006/2007
The Committee considered a report putting forward revised proposals for the draft 2006/2007 Capital Programme in respect of General Fund Services. Members received clarification from officers about a number of projects within the remit of their Committee, in particular the budget proposed for maintenance/improvements to the Central Offices and a detailed explanation was given as to the numerous tasks that needed to be funded from this allocation.
RESOLVED that the Committee had no particular observations to make to the Executive on the draft Capital Programme for General Fund Services.
SPONSORED ORGANISATION SCHEME – APPLICATIONS FOR REVENUE FUNDING 2006/2007
(Appendix C; Agenda Item 9)
The Committee recognised that there was only one application falling within their remit, namely the Surrey Law Centre. Members were informed by officers that whilst the Council recognised the value of the Centre's services, there is a limited pot with requests significantly exceeding the amount available, including applications from 2 new organisations. The Law Centre's accounts indicated that Waverley's grant is 1% of their income, therefore suggesting that they are less dependent on Waverley funding than other organisations.
RESOLVED to advise the Executive that the Committee supported
1. the officer recommendation not to provide a grant for the Surrey Law Centre in 2006/2007; and
2. the proposal to contribute to the Waverley Voluntary Grants Panel in 2006/2007, at the same level as 2005/2006, £49,455.
SERVICE REVIEW OF ACCOUNTANCY AND EXCHEQUER SERVICES – PROGRESS REPORT
(Appendix D; Agenda Item 10)
The Committee considered the report to be a valuable insight into a service which takes place behind the scenes at Waverley.
RESOLVED that the report be commended to the Executive and recognised as a crucial function of the daily operation of the Council's business.
BEST VALUE AND LOCAL PERFORMANCE INDICATORS: REVIEW OF WAVERLEY'S PERFORMANCE FOR THE SECOND QUARTER OF 2005/2006
(Appendix E; Agenda Item 11)
Members were reminded that it had been agreed by the Executive that a Sub-Committee should be established to look at the performance indicators in greater detail. The Sub-Committee was encouraged to meet at the earliest opportunity to look at how the performance management information could be presented more effectively and to prioritise those indicators which may be of particular interest to the Committee in future.
RESOLVED that no observations be passed to the Executive on the performance indicators at this stage.
STUDY OF WAVERLEY COMPLAINTS PROCEDURE – SCOPING REPORT
(Appendix F; Agenda Item 12)
The Committee received a report setting out the parameters of the in-depth review of Waverley's complaints handling procedures. Officers updated the report orally and stated that instead of members visiting other authorities to establish how their procedures work, officers would be contacting them to collect relevant information for the review.
Members also requested that it would be useful to receive statistics as part of the information gathering process which demonstrated a departmental breakdown of complaints received.
1. the key questions to be addressed as part of the review be agreed;
2. the review be conducted in accordance with the process and outline timetable set out in the report; and
3. officers provide an initial analysis of complaints received per department, as part of the review process.
PROGRESS ON THE REVIEW OF WAVERLEY'S CUSTOMER SERVICES
(Agenda Item 13)
In addition to the progress of the review set out on the agenda, it was reported that a company called QCL had now been appointed to undertake the customer satisfaction survey, and they would be producing a draft of the questionnaire by the end of the week, a copy of which would be cleared with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Committee. The opportunity would also be taken to include a number of questions which would assist with the complaints review, as the two subject areas were felt to be closely linked.
RESOLVED that the update report be noted.
REVIEW OF REPRESENTATION ON OUTSIDE BODIES
(Appendix G; Agenda Item 14)
The Committee received a detailed report examining the current practice relating to the appointment of members to outside bodies and recommending ways in which the process could be improved.
Members were keen that they should be provided with clear information about the roles and responsibilities they would be undertaking when appointed to the various outside bodies, and expressed particular concern about possible personal liability should members act in any capacity greater than as an observer. Officers reported that further work would be undertaken in this area and an additional report would be presented to members in due course.
It was also considered by members to be important that organisations provided justification for a councillor to be appointed as its representative, and that any benefits to Waverley must be demonstrated. Similarly, when members undertook their roles as appointees to outside bodies, it was considered to be important that there was a mechanism in place to provide feedback to fellow members and that regular attendance was maintained as much as practicable.
1. the survey of Outside Bodies be noted;
2. a system of classification against which the Council can select and prioritise organisations to receive formal representation from a Waverley appointed Councillor or representative be established, with particular reference to the benefit to be achieved by the representation for Waverley in each individual case;
3. ward members should be encouraged to maintain links with local Outside Bodies and also encourage representation amongst Town and Parish Councils;
4. a clear role description be developed that could assist both Outside Bodies and Waverley representatives to understand their particular roles and to manage expectations, with particular reference to legal and liability issues;
5. a system of annual reporting by representatives be initiated, firstly a brief pro-forma confirming key information about the Outside Body be completed and returned to ensure the council holds up to date information, as set out at Annexe 4 to the report and secondly, a short annual report on the activity of the representatives activities regarding the outside body to be introduced for publication on the Waverley website, with the process being overseen by Committee Services;
6. appointments to outside bodies be made on a bi-annual rather than an annual basis in order to ensure a level of consistency of representation and reduce the work associated with appointments, such a system to begin in 2007, (and all of the appointments made in 2005 to run to 2007), except for where a member wishes to resign as a Waverley nominee; and
7. the current list of ninety outside bodies be rationalised to meet the new criteria/classification with the objective of minimising Waverley councillor involvement where not providing a benefit for Waverley.
UPDATE ON EQUALITY LEGISLATION AND THE COUNCIL'S RACE EQUALITY SCHEME
(Appendix H; Agenda Item 15)
The Committee received a report advising members of new and pending equality legislation and asking them to consider progress on the Council's Race Equality Scheme. Members were concerned that Waverley may be criticised for not making this matter a priority and wished to recommend to the Executive that they include it on their Rolling Programme as a matter of urgency. The Committee expressed the need for awareness training to be conducted which could focus members' minds on practical measures which could be undertaken to deal with equality issues not currently being addressed. It was reported that whilst having a policy in place represented some progress, it was equally important to identify skills and tasks which could be put into practice by members.
RESOLVED that the report be received and the observations set out above be forwarded to the Executive.
CONTINUATION OF MEETING
During consideration of the above item, at 9.46 p.m., in accordance with Procedure Rule 9, the Committee agreed to continue the meeting until the business on the agenda had been transacted.
The meeting closed at 9.58 p.m.