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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 15/03/2005
Minutes of the Meeting held on 15th March 2005




MINUTES of the MEETING of
the COMMUNITY OVERVIEW
AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
held on 15th March 2005

(To be read in conjunction with the Agenda for the Meeting)
*
Mrs P M Frost (Chairman)Dr M-G Lane
*
Mr A Rayner (Vice-Chairman)
*
Mr J C S Mackie
*
Mr P Betlem
*
Mrs A E Mansell
*
Mrs E CableDr P M Marriott
Mr M A Clark
*
Mr W M Marshall
*
Mrs P EllisMr J M Savage
*
Mrs M E Foryszewski
*
Mr B G Shelley
*
Mr D R Gallacher
*
Mr R C Terry
Mrs K Hall +Miss P Wright +
*
Mrs J R Keen
* Present
+ Tenants’ Panel Representative

At the commencement of the meeting, the Chairman reported the death the previous week of Councillor Michael Allan, member for Haslemere Critchmere and Shottermill.

68. MINUTES (Agenda Item 1)

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 1st February 2005 were confirmed and signed.

69. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE (Agenda Item 2)

Apologies for absence were received from Dr M-G Lane, Mr J M Savage, Mrs K Hall and Miss P Wright.

Mrs S R Jacobs attended as a substitute.

70. DISCLOSURES OF INTERESTS (Agenda Item 3)

Disclosures of interests were received from the following:

Mrs A E Mansell - Agenda Item 9 - Personal and Prejudicial:- (a) husband is volunteer member of the Guildford and Waverley PCT Arts in Health Group; (b) WBC representative on the Board of First Step Housing (would leave if discussion specifically on these).

Mrs P Ellis - Agenda Item 9 - Personal: WBC representative in respect of Age Concern, Waverley, Age Concern, Cranleigh and District, Relate, West Surrey, Waverley Community Mediation Service, Thames Water Utilities, Cranleigh Parish Councillor.

Mrs E Cable - Agenda Item 9 - Personal: member of club that uses Busbridge Village Hall; Agenda Item 13 - Personal: member of the Joint Campaign Group for Milford Hospital.

Mrs M E Foryszewski - Agenda Item 13 - Personal:- (a) former employee of Guildford and Waverley NHS Trust; (b) general declaration relating to any matters concerning Kilnfields, Haslemere.

Mr A Rayner - Agenda Item 13 - Personal: WBC representative on Surrey County Council’s Health and Scrutiny Committee.

All remained in the Chamber for the debate on these agenda items.

71. EXECUTIVE – FOUR MONTH ROLLING PROGRAMME (Agenda Item 5)

The Committee received and noted the four month rolling programme of major items adopted by the Executive on 1st March 2005.

72. COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME (Agenda Item 6)

The Committee receive and noted its updated work programme. At the same time, it deleted one item from the list, Work and Role of the Waverley Mediation Service, as it had been the subject of a presentation prior to the meeting, and added the following items for consideration in 2005/06:

i) Meals on Wheels – investigate alternative provision.

ii) ‘Supporting People’ – focus specifically on provision of local services where Waverley could make a practical difference.

iii) Housing and Care Needs of Older People in Waverley (an item in relation solely to Cranleigh appears on the current Executive Rolling Programme).

iv) Brightwells Gostrey Centre – officers have already been requested to undertake a feasibility study for the provision of a new day centre. In this connection, the Committee has asked that arrangements be made to visit the existing Day Centre, preferably before a scheduled meeting which would be held at Farnham Council Chamber.

v) Representatives on Outside Bodies – investigate role of the Community based organisations and encourage the Waverley representatives to report back to Committee.

vi) Review of Allocation Policy/Choice Based Lettings – further reports on these linked subjects (Review of Allocation Policy is on the current Executive Rolling Programme and the Committee was to receive a report on Choice Based Lettings later on its agenda – see Minute No 77).

73. WORK OF THE CONSTITUTION REVIEW SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP – PROPOSALS FOR IMPROVING WAVERLEY’S OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINITY PROCESSES (Agenda Item 7)

The Committee noted that this report had been referred to it by the Executive following the work of the Constitution Review Special Interest Group so that it could comment on the SIG’s own suggestions for improving the effectiveness of overview and scrutiny. A preliminary response from the Chairman of the Environment and Leisure Overview and Scrutiny Committee was also circulated to all members of this Committee before the meeting.

Specifically in relation to procedural issues (paragraph 3(b) of the report), the Committee’s views (in italics) were as follows:

(i) setting out corporate objectives on all agendas –

not considered necessary.

(ii) encourage early notice of questions to officers –

this is already done in respect of major issues.

(iii) less formality in meeting settings –

members felt that formality should be maintained at normal Overview and Scrutiny meetings as it produces better conduct and that the present size of the committee was probably about right.

(iv) meeting in workshop mode –

this is already done and where workshop mode is adopted, members felt that there could be greater informality.

(v) involving more members of the public –

this has already been done e.g. the debate on the future of Milford Hospital but would only support the idea where it was felt appropriate.

(vi) declaration of interests –

anything that could be done to streamline the process should be encouraged.

Regarding the annual review of a Committee’s work (paragraph 5-8) there was already provision for this in the Constitution but it had not always been adopted. Members would find this useful but emphasised that where the Committee had made observations to the Executive, it would be helpful to be informed of the Executive’s final conclusions.

RESOLVED that the Committee’s views, as outlined above, be conveyed to the Constitution Review Special Interest Group and thence to the Executive.

74. BEST VALUE AND LOCAL PERFORMANCE INDICATORS: REVIEW OF WAVERLEY’S PERFORMANCE FOR THE FIRST NINE MONTHS OF 2004/05 (Agenda Item 8)

The Committee considered a report giving details of Waverley’s performance during the first nine months of the current Council year in respect of the Best Value and Local Performance Indicators which the Committee had agreed to monitor on a regular basis.

In respect of BVPI 164 – Follow CRE’s code of practice in rented housing – it was noted that the target could not be achieved because a policy was not yet in place.

Members noted the position with regard to other indicators and officers replied to members’ questions. In particular, it was agreed that where there is an anomaly or where abnormal circumstances apply, there should be an explanatory note against the BVPI/LOHO number.

In relation to LOHO 7, it was agreed that there be a brief information item on gas safety checks to a future meeting.

RESOLVED that the Executive be advised that it had no specific observations it wished to make other than the one in relation to BVPI 164.

75. COMMUNITY PARTNERSHIPS FUND – APPLICATIONS FOR 2005/06 (Agenda Item 9)

The Committee considered a report on this matter.

The details of the applications that came within the remit of Community Overview and Scrutiny were contained in Annexes 1, 2 and 3 to the report i.e. applications to the Community Partnerships Fund, Community Buildings Grant Scheme, Global Grants Scheme and Active Communities Project.

The Committee concurred with the officers’ recommendations for grant in respect of these applications. It also agreed that the balance of 41,162 should be ring-fenced to fund high priority projects that may emerge in 2005/06 and that any monies remaining at the end of 2005/06 should be used to help support the Community Partnerships scheme in 2006/07.

RESOLVED that the Executive be recommended that the course of action outlined above be endorsed.

76. FUTURE OF A COUNCIL OWNED PROPERTY IN GODALMING (Agenda Item 10)

The Committee was reminded that it had considered a report on this matter early in 2004. This report reiterated the options available to the Council, outlined the planning considerations, advised of the position with regard to the secure tenants and suggested a way forward which was for the Council to make a planning application for redevelopment of the site. Once a planning permission had been obtained, the Council would be in a position to determine the best option to pursue.

RESOLVED that the Executive be advised to pursue the following course of action:

1. approve the proposal to demolish the property known as Oakbraes, Frith Hill Road, Godalming, with the intention to redevelop the site with eight two bedroom flats; and

2. pass a first resolution in accordance with Regulation 3 of the Town and Country Planning (General) Regulations 1992 to enable a planning application to be submitted for the demolition of Oakbraes, Frith Hill Road, Godalming and the redevelopment of the site with eight two bedroom flats.

77. EXPLORING CHOICE BASED LETTINGS (Agenda Item 11)

The Committee considered a report which introduced the subject of Choice Based Lettings and how best the concept could be adopted and implemented in Waverley.

There appeared to be a general consensus that Choice Based Letting was a much more "customer friendly" approach to allocating homes even in areas where there was a high demand and low turn-over of homes, as in the Waverley area. Choice Based Letting in itself did not generate more lettings. However, by publicising vacancies as they arose, customers could see where there were vacancies and how often. This removed the mystery about how many homes were available and where, and also enabled people to make more informed decisions about what chance they had of being housed in the area of their choice.

Experience from Kennet and Poole, for example, was that Choice Based Letting had improved customers’ perception of the lettings service and had significantly reduced complaints.

Members were advised that the Choice Based Letting approach tended to be more expensive to administer than the traditional allocations system and that the Council would need to assess those costs and consider budget implications in due course as part of the wider consideration of introducing Choice Based Lettings.

Some members had taken the opportunity to attend a presentation by Kennet District Council in November 2004 and it was agreed that the officers should arrange another similar presentation, preferably immediately before a normal Committee meeting, so that more members were afforded the opportunity of seeing how the system worked.

RESOLVED that the Executive be commended to endorse the proposal that more detailed work be undertaken to explore introducing a Choice Based Lettings system for Waverley and that further reports be made, initially to the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee, in due course.

78. TOWARDS THE SOUTH-EAST: REGIONAL HOUSING STRATEGY (Agenda Item 12)

The Committee considered a report which set out the main points of the Consultation Draft of the Regional Housing Strategy as they affected Waverley. The report covered the implications for Waverley, the financial implications and the issue of housing need.

It was noted that because the closing date for responses was 16th March 2005, the Executive had already considered the report and come to some conclusions in terms of a formal response. These were set out in paragraph 26 (a-k). The Executive had agreed that the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee be invited to add any comments of its own to the suggested response.

Essentially, the Committee was in full agreement that the amount of money that would be available to local authorities and housing associations in Surrey in 2005-07 potentially represented a significant drop in investment for Waverley Borough Council. It concurred with the Executive’s observations that would inform the Council’s response to the consultation.

RESOLVED that the observations outlined in paragraph 26 of the report form the basis of the Council’s response to the consultation policy on the Regional Housing Strategy to meet the South East Regional Housing Board’s deadline.

79. FUTURE OF MILFORD HOSPITAL – UPDATE (Agenda Item 13)

The Committee received an update report and Briefing Note from the Guildford and Waverley Primary Care Trust (PCT) advising that the PCT was ‘to pause in the consultation process in order to seek the right solution for the future of the services’ currently based at Milford Hospital.

The Committee noted the report but wished to sustain its opposition to the ten orthopaedic beds in Milford being re-provided at the Royal Surrey County Hospital and this would be conveyed by Waverley’s representative on the Surrey County Council’s Health and Scrutiny Committee to the PCT Board meeting in March.


There being no matters needing to be dealt with in exempt, the Chairman declared the meeting closed at 9.46 p.m.



Chairman

comms/o&s2/04-05/096