Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 14th January, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, 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

14.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 92 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committeemeeting held on 19 November 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 3 September 2019 were approved as a correct record.

15.

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.

16.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

17.

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

Minutes:

The Chair stated that the agenda would be amended, and this item would be heard first. The Director Strategy, Communications and Customer Services introduced the report and stated that this was the Quarter 2 performance report, which was being heard at this time due to the cancellation of meetings because of purdah. She felt that this was a positive report as 74% of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) had achieved their target, and overall there had been a positive direction of travel. She summarised and added that in line with a suggestion made earlier in the year by the Committee, any indicators that had missed their target included a ‘route to green’, which outlined steps being taken to ensure the KPI met its target in the future.

The Chair opened the debate and highlighted page 25 of the agenda and the improvement in the KPI relating to tenant satisfaction. He felt that this was a positive KPI as it had exceeded its target and hoped this was partly down to focus placed on the KPI by the Committee. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services stated that feedback from tenants had been about the lack of communication between the Council and tenants, rather than specific repair complaints. She highlighted that because of the feedback the Council had started a resident’s newsletter and developed upon engagement with the Tenants Excellence Panel, which kept residents up to date with any necessary information. She felt this was having a direct impact on the KPI, and had therefore increased tenant’s satisfaction.

The Chair then highlighted page 26 of the agenda and the KPI relating to the percentage of bins collected on the correct day and felt it was good to see this KPI had also met its target, and added it was good to see a monthly breakdown. He then commented on page 31 of the agenda, and the percentage of waste recycled, as he felt it was disappointing to see this KPI had missed its target, and had shown a negative direction of travel in the monthly breakdown. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services responded that a Cross-Party Waste Management Working Group had been set-up in relation to recycling and waste management, which was currently consulting to get residents feedback on recycling. She added that pilot schemes had been tested for particular areas of difficulty, such as recycling in flats, to find options that could work across the borough. She also commented that Thurrock were running a social media campaign and regular press releases, which were tied into national media campaigns to increase plastic recycling. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services summarised and mentioned that officers were also going back into schools and visiting assemblies, so that 4000 children would receive additional education regarding recycling.

Councillor Fletcher stated that he was pleased to see that ‘routes to green’ had been added to the report, as he felt it showed a clear statement of how improvement would be achieved. He  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Local Council Tax Scheme pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Minutes:

The Director of Finance, Governance and Property introduced the report and stated that this was an annual report that had to be agreed by Council, even though the scheme had seen no changes. He stated that Thurrock followed the national approach that mirrored benefit regulations, but as central government had slowed the work on Universal Credit, changes could not be made until 2020/21. He added that a more detailed report would be brought before the Committee once regulations had been agreed, which would hopefully be early in the next municipal year and would go to public consultation.

The Chair asked what the proposed review would look like, and what the outcomes of the review would be. The Director of Finance, Governance and Property replied that the report would include any changes to housing benefit regulations, and the report would be brought before Committee to discuss those changes and options. He added that the review would then be signed-off by Cabinet, with consultation being based around comments from both scrutiny and the Executive.

RESOLVED: That:

1. The Committee noted the analysis of the current scheme.

2. The Committee considered the recommendation that no changes are made to the current scheme for 2020/21.

3. The Committee agreed to undertake a full review of the scheme within 2020/21 once the government had confirmed further detail on the future of universal credit.

19.

Briefing on Statutory Guidance on Overview and Scrutiny in Local Authorities pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Officer introduced the report and stated that it summarised the recently published Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government statutory guidance on overview and scrutiny, and discussed how it related to Thurrock. She commented that as it was statutory guidance, local authorities must have regard for it, which is why it was being brought before the Committee. She stated that any comments relating to the guidance could also be included in the ongoing scrutiny review if Members wished.

The Chair felt this was a good report, and felt that the relationship between the Executive and scrutiny would be improved by the introduction of an Executive-Scrutiny Protocol, which would ensure scrutiny could make an impact, work was collaborative, and scrutiny could be a part of the decision-making process. The Chair added that co-opting technical experts onto scrutiny committee’s was also an idea that should be considered as they could provide additional input into the scrutiny process. The Chair summarised and stated that Members could email Democratic Services once they had digested the report and if they had any comments for the ongoing scrutiny review.

RESOLVED: That:

1. The Committee noted the updated MHCLG Statutory Guidance on Overview and Scrutiny in Local Authorities, published in May 2019.

2. The Committee commented on any aspects of the guidance they would like addressed in the ongoing review of the overview and scrutiny function.

20.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Minutes:

The Chair stated that the Communications Strategy was being moved to the first meeting of the municipal year, to allow an LGA Peer Review to take place in February/March that would include residents, Members and local newspaper editors.