Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Wednesday, 15th January, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Rooms 2 & 3, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL. View directions

Contact: Lucy Tricker, Democratic Services Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

49.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of Cabinet held on 9 October 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 9 October 2019 were approved as a correct record.

50.

Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

51.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

There were no interests declared.

52.

Statements by the Leader

Minutes:

The Leader began his statement by wishing everybody a Happy New Year and discussing a major power outage that had occurred on New Year’s Eve at Collins House, during which all 38 residents had to be temporarily relocated. He stated that all residents had been moved out and back in quickly once the power had been restored. He thanked the residents, families, and staff who had managed the incident, and felt that everybody, particularly residents, had kept their spirits high during the difficult time. He also discussed a second major incident that had occurred on 6 January during which 415,000 litres of sulphuric acid had been spilled. He thanked the emergency services who had attended, and had received minor injuries, and thanked every officer and department who had worked throughout the night to manage the incident. He stated that the gas cloud had dispersed naturally, but schools had been closed quickly to minimise the impact, and again thanked everyone for their management of the situation.

The Leader moved onto discussing two recent inspections that had occurred of Thurrock’s vulnerable people services which had come back positive, as well as the recent OFSTED inspection, during which Thurrock had received a ‘good’ rating. He elaborated that Thurrock had narrowly missed the ‘outstanding’ rating, but this was due to timing. He thanked everyone for the effort they had put in to make the inspection a success, and for their continued hard work throughout the year. He stated that Thurrock’s care homes had also recently had an inspection by the Care Quality Commission, and these services had also been rated ‘good’, which was an improvement on the previous inspection. He clarified that these services were also on the path towards an ‘excellent’ rating, and felt that many people had worked hard for this.

The Leader then mentioned the recent Keep Britain Tidy (KBT) scores that had improved since the last inspection, and mentioned that Thurrock had previously inspected themselves, but had moved this responsibility to Keep Britain Tidy, as they were independent. He felt that although there was still room for improvement, the directorate was moving forward and had numerous plans in place to improve the KBT scores. He highlighted that the Environmental Enforcement team had recently been shortlisted for an award by KBT, and wished officers good luck. He clarified that last year the environment directorate had doubled their street cleaning capacity, installed 600 new bins, 4 new road sweepers, and had improved the old road sweepers, which had made an impact across the borough. He also highlighted that the Civil Enforcement team had received devolved powers from the police, so they could now enforce certain laws such as underage possession of alcohol. He stated that additionally Thurrock had received the powers of injunction to remove illegal encampments, which was already being used where necessary, around the borough.

The Leader then talked about housing and the work Thurrock was doing to tackle rogue landlords and the successes that had been seen  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Briefings on Policy, Budget and Other Issues

Minutes:

Councillor Watkins stated that work was being undertaken to install new air quality monitoring stations around the borough, to provide data for the new Air Quality Strategy, and help to tackle the problem of air pollution. He added that the environment team was working with Public Health on the air quality monitoring, and detailed findings would be reported back to the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee in February, which would outline the proposed changes and upcoming work. He added that as there had been very strong winds over the weekend 11 trees had fallen, but in line with the Tree Strategy, these would be replaced.

54.

Petitions submitted by Members of the Public

Minutes:

No petitions had been received by members of the public.

55.

Questions from Non-Executive Members

Minutes:

The Leader advised that one question had been received from Councillor Piccolo regarding Item 17: Acquisition of Land, and this would be discussed during that item.

56.

Matters Referred to the Cabinet for Consideration by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Minutes:

There were no matters referred to Cabinet for consideration by an overview and scrutiny committee.

57.

Lower Thames Crossing Task Force Update pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Minutes:

The Leader stated that this report was for noting as Councillor Coxshall and Councillor Rice had been unable to attend the meeting. He stated that a number of Task Force meetings had taken place, and Thurrock had requested lots of data from Highways England. He felt that the meeting that had occurred in December discussing cut and cover had been particularly useful.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Noted the work of the Lower Thames Crossing Task Force


Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in

58.

Quarter 2 Financial Report pdf icon PDF 210 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Hebb introduced the report and highlighted the three main points. He stated that the first point was the financial health of Thurrock was strong, as there was currently a surplus. He stated that the second point was Thurrock’s handling of the economy which meant that a modest 1.49% rise in Council Tax was needed to maintain services such as weekly bin collections and the timely fixing of potholes. He commented that the third main point was Thurrock’s commitment to delivering funding for new police officers in town centres and communities across the borough.

He stated that this report looked back at the financial health of Thurrock since the last budget had been agreed in February 2019, and there were currently pressures within some services, although the budget as a whole was forecast to be balanced. He stated that one of the main directorates that was experiencing financial pressure was adult social care, as pressures were external and outside of the councils control. He commented that this was due to a few high-need, high-cost placements, which could push the budget envelope. He added that this was the first time in many years that the service would experience overspend, and the budget was being handled well despite external pressures, and the fragility of the domiciliary care market. He felt that the most important factor for adult social care was that good quality care was provided, and the financial budget had to be a secondary concern.

Councillor Hebb then moved onto discussing the pressures within children’s social care, which although was overspending by £900,000 had reduced their overspend compared to previous years. He felt that this directorate was very fluid, as a few high-need placements could again push the cost envelope. He congratulated the team on their ‘good’ OFSTED rating, and felt that the investment in the system highlighted in the report would help to sustain this level of achievement and help to achieve the ‘excellent’ rating in the future. He added that lots of investment had also occurred in the environment directorate, such as for street cleaning and parks, but was still under-budget and thanked the team in the hard work dealing with market pressures. Councillor Hebb added that due to the Homelessness Reduction Act, Thurrock had seen an increase in the number of people presenting as homeless, but Thurrock were working hard to tackle this in line with the central government strategy.

Councillor Hebb stated that Thurrock were predicting a surplus for the next three years, and if this occurred, it would mean a balanced budget for a total of seven years. He elaborated that this was due to reform of services, as well as investment, and this led to the ability for a one-off spend on more policing. He added that corporate projects totalled £112million spending for new infrastructure and projects that were outlined in appendix 2 of the report, and included the regeneration of Purfleet and Grays, A13 east-facing slips, 21st century care homes and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Housing Development Process pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Johnson introduced the report and stated it was important as it ensured the delivery of housing programmes, both internally and through Thurrock Regeneration Limited. He clarified that this report did not discuss specific sites but outlined the proposed process and criteria for choosing sites. He stated that this report had gone to the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee who had approved the recommendations, and wished to see an update report in six months’ time to be able to monitor progress. He explained that this report set out robust criteria for housing development sites, whilst still allowing projects to be delivered at pace. He described how careful consideration would be used for all sites to ensure that no unsuitable sites would be brought forward in the future, and focus would be put on Ward Councillors and residents views. He clarified that if a site was added to the long-list, this did not mean it had received planning endorsement, as the new process meant the site would have to go to scrutiny, then Cabinet, before finally arriving at Planning Committee. He summarised and stated that this would be an annual process, with scrutiny committees and Ward Councillors seeing sites first, for a smoother and more transparent process.

Councillor Halden thanked the Portfolio Holder for his report and thanked him for his support in the Head Start Housing Scheme, which ensured young people leaving care had somewhere suitable to live. The Leader added that he felt it was good to see earlier engagement and consultation with Ward Councillors and residents as it would improve the process for land release, and ensure that sites were worth selling before planning approval was sought.

RESOLVED:
That Cabinet:

1. Approved the proposed process and criteria by which Council owned sites are selected for redevelopment for residential purposes.

Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in

60.

Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2020-2025 pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Johnson introduced the report and stated that it strengthened the strategy, which had last been updated in 2015. He commented that homelessness was a concern across the country, and the new Homelessness Prevention Act put the onus on councils to tackle homelessness within their borough. He stated that the Act had increased the number of households eligible for homelessness assistance, and this had increased the homelessness figures across Thurrock. He stated that this report had been made in consultation with a number of other directorates such as education, and had consulted with residents who had had lived experience of homelessness. He stated that a Homelessness Partnership Board had been put in place to monitor the progress of the strategy, and described how the strategy increased access to services for armed forces veterans and those people who were escaping domestic violence. Councillor Johnson highlighted that the report increased accessibility to temporary accommodation, winter night shelters and council housing for residents faced with homelessness.

The Leader felt this report was very important as many people experienced homelessness through no fault of their own, and felt glad to see the scope of the strategy increasing. He was glad to see that Thurrock would not send homeless people and families to other boroughs unless necessary, as this further disrupted people’s lives, such as their employment or access to schools. The Leader stated he was pleased to see increased access to services for veterans. Councillor Hebb echoed the Leader’s sentiments and supported the strategy as he felt it tried to avoid crises before they appeared.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Approved the implementation of the draft Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2020-25

Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in


61.

School Protocol to Reduce Serious Youth Violence pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Halden introduced the report and felt that young people needed to feel safe in schools to be able to receive the best education. He outlined the changes in the nature of crime over recent years, and felt that gang violence could affect every area of society. He highlighted that gangs tended to prey on vulnerable adults and could use their houses as gang bases, as well as being aware of the legislation regarding curfews and police presence to evade arrest. He described how the Youth Offending Service had been expanded and now included officers with expertise in gang violence, and this had reduced youth reoffending rates to 27%, which was 10% lower than the national average. Councillor Halden also highlighted that young people not in education, employment or training was also only 1.5%, which was half of the national average. He added that Thurrock had granted £1million to Essex Police to help them tackle gangs across the borough, which had led to 24 injunctions and 16 prosecutions of youth gang members.

Councillor Halden then outlined the proposed Protocol and stated that it gave schools the opportunity to designate specific staff members with the powers of stop and search, for both children and adults on school premises. He clarified that the proposed protocol was clear on the policy and its uses, as well as being responsible and robust. He added that the Protocol brought together the Youth Offending Service, as well as pastoral care such as mental health workers, careers advisors and the drug/alcohol teams. He stated that this would tackle the root causes of gangs in the borough. He added that the report would produce a proactive network, which would work both in and out of schools throughout the year to help vulnerable children and young adults, and would provide a wrap-around service. He stated that this report would increase the relationship with schools as it expanded the role of the mental health teams and Youth Offending Service, as well as working to avoid exclusions and expulsions.

Councillor Hebb stated that he felt this was a good initiative as it increased collaboration between teams and would support vulnerable children. He asked if there was a role for the finance team and debt management officers. Councillor Halden replied that the debt management team could be brought into the Protocol, as they could work with young adults on the Life’s Ladder initiative and teach young people how to avoid debt and enter into schemes such as the Help to Buy. He stated that this could provide young people with financial stability and mobility, which would reduce the pull of gang membership. The Leader stated that it was good to see partnerships on projects such as these, as collaboration became standard practice across the council. He stated that this report would provide the appropriate level of action when required, and would not become mass stop and search policies as was seen in some American schools.

RESOLVED
: That Cabinet:

1. Approved  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

CCTV Identification Policy pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the report and stated that this report focussed on the CCTV strategy as a whole, as well as the identification of criminals through their photos on the internet, which many other councils already do. He mentioned that this policy would have numerous benefits as it meant that criminals could be caught quicker, as the police requested Thurrock’s CCTV footage very regularly. He stated that the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, and the London Borough of Havering currently used the same system to catch fly-tippers and had a ‘most wanted’ page on their website. He stated that photographs of criminals would appear both on the council’s website and around the Civic Offices to ensure criminals are successfully caught, and anti-social behaviour could be prevented across the borough. He stated that overview and scrutiny had agreed the recommendations and requested an update report in six months’ time to monitor progress and make comments. He stated that this would become recommendation 1.4 of the Cabinet recommendations.

Councillor Little asked if the policy would be used for both town centres and rural areas, as she felt there was often large fly-tips on the fens. The Leader replied that the policy would be used across the entire borough, and the photos of criminals would be easily accessible on the council’s website. He described how the policy outlined the use of both covert and overt CCTV, and the team were becoming more adept at recognising hotspots when they appeared and catching culprits. Councillor Watkins added that this policy also used inter-departmental working, which he felt was good to see. He outlined changes to the Household Waste and Recycling Centres that would reduce fly tipping across the borough, and asked residents to check waste carrier licences when they used such companies to remove their waste. He also detailed a new zero-tolerance policy on fly-tippers bringing their waste from other boroughs, and stated that signs had been erected at the entrances to the borough outlining this scheme.

RESOLVED
: That Cabinet:

1. Approved the implementation of a Public Identification CCTV policy for enforcement purposes.

2. Approved the use of images in local publications and on the internet including the council’s website.

3. Approved that the Community Safety Partnership monitor the implementation of this policy.

4. Approved the Cleaner, Greener and Safer Overview and Scrutiny Committee receive an update report on the Policy in six months’ time to monitor the progress made.

Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in

63.

Mid-Year Corporate Performance Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 202 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Huelin introduced the report and stated that 74% of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were now on target, compared to less than 50% under the last administration. She highlighted that 50% of KPIs had also improved since last year, such as the number of apprentices, number of potholes filled in on time, and percentage of bins collected on time. She stated that the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee were particularly happy with the success of the KPI relating to the percentage of tenant satisfaction, and the introduction of the ‘route to green’, which focussed on improvements that needed to be made. Councillor Huelin drew Cabinet’s attention to page 145 of the agenda and felt that there had been a good direction of travel for the majority of KPIs, and felt pleased to see the spreadsheet was mostly green.

Councillor Watkins felt this was a good report, and elaborated on the environment directorates KPIs. He described the KPI relating to bins collected on the correct day as he felt pleased that this target had been met every month, barring February 2019 when the target had been missed by a marginal percentage. He stated that this service had been improved by the introduction of Bartec, which reported bins missed to the contact centre and the relevant collection trucks, so bins could be picked up. He added that the KBT scores had improved and thanked the department for their work on the ‘Think 4 5’ Strategy which set the standard for cleanliness across the borough. Councillor Watkins then moved onto discussing the environment directorates missed KPIs, such as the percentage of waste recycled. He commented that this was a challenging KPI, but lots of work had been done on its improvement, such as the introduction of the Waste Management Working Group who were currently undertaking resident consultation. He stated that a pilot scheme had also recently been completed to improve recycling in flats, which the estates management team had found successful, and had rolled out across their sites earlier than anticipated. He also highlighted a schools outreach programme that was currently underway to teach children about recycling, as well as highlighting changes to the Household Waste and Recycling Centres, which would be introduced in March.

Councillor Little elaborated on social care’s two missed targets, but stated these were out of her control, as they were due to the death of residents. She stated that this report held the council to account and felt that improvements had been made across the directorates. She also felt pleased to see that all children’s social care KPIs had met their target. The Leader outlined which KPIs his directorate had missed, including the non-payment of Fixed Penalty Notices for littering, although he stated that these had started to increase. He mentioned that the new CCTV Identification Policy would help enforcement officers tackle the problem of criminals providing false names and addresses, which would increase the number of Fixed Penalty Notices and prosecutions.

RESOLVED: That Cabinet:

1. Noted and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

Acquisition of Land pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader highlighted that there were two exempt appendices to the report, but felt that as long as these were not directly discussed, the meeting could remain open.

There had been one question submitted by a non-Executive Member. Councillor Piccolo asked the following question to Councillor Coxshall, relating to Item 17 on the agenda: Can the Portfolio Holder outline how his new plans for Stanford le Hope station will benefit residents? As Councillor Coxshall was unable to attend, the Leader replied that the Stanford Le Hope Transport Hub was a significant project to deliver much improved station facilities in Stanford Le Hope for residents, businesses and commuters. He added that the original design of the scheme with a cantilevered deck proved to be an expensive design, requiring complex engineering solutions to be delivered all of which pushed the scheme much beyond the existing budget available. He clarified that consequently the scheme had been under review to identify alternative design and construction options that could deliver a high quality design within the available budget. The Leader stated that the options included identifying additional land that could, if secured, result in much improved public realm outside of the station and a dedicated bus turnaround/waiting area on land in the vicinity as well as much needed additional parking provision.

Councillor Piccolo was invited to ask a supplementary question and asked the following question: since the Labour administration sold Sandpits carpark, Stanford-le-Hope residents have been struggling to park, and there has been a lack of infrastructure links in the town. Can the Leader assure me that the proposed purchase of land will reduce the stranglehold of capital landowners in the town?

The Leader replied that the proposed acquisition of land would increase both commuter parking and parking for residents wishing to access the town centre, as well as a new bus turnaround location. He stated that although the new station car parking would not be as convenient as Sandpits for access to the town centre, it would still provide parking within walking distance. He stated that parking and development of the station was long overdue.

The Leader introduced the report on behalf of Councillor Coxshall and stated that this report was a fantastic opportunity to improve Stanford-le-Hope station, after the loss of Sandpits carpark, the increase of commuters, and the expansion of DP World. He felt that this report would deliver the required improvements to the station at a timelier pace, and would reduce the need for a complicated design. He mentioned that the new design would not require a complicated cantilever bridge, changes to Mucking Creek, and would not encroach as much on resident’s houses. He added that the new design would also provide better bus turnaround facilities, so workers at the port could access the buses more easily, and would increase commuter and town-centre parking. He apologised to the residents of Stanford-le-Hope for the delay in the implementation of the project, but felt that it was better to get the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.