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Disclosures of Interest and Whipping Declarations
In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, councillors are reminded that it is a requirement to declare interests where appropriate.
Councillors must also declare if they are subject to their party group whip in relation to any items under consideration.
The following disclosures were made:
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 8 March 2021.
The minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 8 March 2021 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Public Question Time
To answer any questions from the public which are relevant to the items on this agenda. The period will end after 15 minutes.
No questions from the public were asked.
To consider report LDS/166 of the Head of Legal, Governance and HR.
Commission Members considered report LDS/166 of the Head of Legal, Governance and HR. Under the scrutiny procedure rules, Councillor T Belben had requested a report on staff sickness levels with Covid19 and the effects and impacts of working from home.
During the discussion the following points were expressed:
Over the course of the pandemic sickness levels had decreased and this had been the national trend and throughout the rest of West Sussex. This was potentially due to a variety of reasons as a result of people exercising social distancing, improvements to hygiene (hand washing) together with home working. Viral infection data had also seen a reduction in the last quarter.
Recognition and support had been provided throughout the pandemic to employees working from home and to those not able to do so. It was acknowledged that staff were the most valuable asset and flexibility had been applied and work patterns adjusted where appropriate, particularly whilst home-schooling.
Support mechanisms were discussed in detail (Appendix A), some of these included:
· Counselling service. Council participates in partner counselling service and during the pandemic saw an increase in requests to be referred to counselling.
· Mental Health First Aiders – staff trained to be accessible for others to be contactable at ‘mini crisis points’ and also signpost to other support services.
· Able Futures – A Government Initiative to support people with mental health requirements. A self-referral service lasting a period of 9 month accessible for anyone in employment.
· Mindfulness course – self-motivated online course.
· Managers’ sessions – to ensure managers have the skills to support their team working from home.
· Reflective practice – assists in self-care and resilience.
· Staff surveys – 3 surveys issued and completed during the Covid period.
· HR consultants meet with managers on a regular basis to ‘sense-check on employees’ health and wellbeing.
The majority of the initiatives would continue in the future to aid employees’ health and wellbeing, with additional mechanisms being developed. However there was an acknowledgement that further promotional work was required.
Commission Members then raised a number of queries. The issues raised and the key responses included:
· Recognition that the pandemic placed added pressure on staff, all of whom responded quickly to working from home or continuing to work on the front line. The infrastructure had been in place to ensure a transition for home working and it had been important to ensure a fluid support package was maintained. Further demand was placed on staff for those home schooling, if an individual was vulnerable or had a medical condition. In all instances support was provided. Should a further lockdown ensue, staff would adopt an agile approach to be able to ‘flex-back’ to home working.
· Acknowledgement that there was an element that people would be home working when marginally unwell due to the enhanced effort required to travel to the office. However there was a need to ensure that staff were not working when ill. The flexibility with hours and work patterns could support this.
· There was the possibility ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Appointments and Membership of Scrutiny Panels
The Commission is asked to ratify the following appointments, which were discussed at Annual Council on 28 May 2021:
Council-owned Neighbourhood Parades Scrutiny Panel
To confirm the membership of the Scrutiny Panel.
For information, last year’s Scrutiny Panel consisted of the following members: Councillors Ayling, Lanzer, Lunnon, Mwagale and Peck, with Councillor Lanzer as Chair.
West Sussex Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee (HASC)
To confirm the HASC representative.
For information, last year’s representative was Councillor Bob Burgess.
West Sussex Joint Scrutiny Steering Group (JSSG)
To confirm the JSSG representative - Must be the OSC Chair.
That the Commission noted and approved the following memberships and appointments:
Council-Owned Neighbourhood Parades Scrutiny Panel
Councillors Ayling, Lanzer, Lunnon, S Mullins, Mwagale and Peck, with Councillor Lanzer as Chair
Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee (HASC)
It was moved by Councillor Ayling, seconded by Councillor Khan, that Councillor S Mullins be the Council’s representative for HASC. Whilst Councillor Pendlington moved, seconded by Councillor Lanzer that Councillor R G Burgess be the Council appointment.
A vote was taken. Having put it to the vote which resulted in a tie, the Chair used their casting vote.
Councillor R G Burgess was appointed as the representative for the Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee.
West Sussex Joint Scrutiny Steering Group (JSSG)
Councillor T Belben
To discuss arrangements for the OSC Workshop.
A Scrutiny Workshop had been provisionally proposed for Wednesday 16 June. However, instead it was agreed to hold a small training session at this time for all Commission members.
Forthcoming Decision List - and Provisional List of Reports for the Commission's following Meetings
To consider any requests for future items. Those highlighted items have been referred to the Commission.
The Commission confirmed the following reports:
28 June 2021
1. Treasury Management Outturn 2020 – 2021
2. Financial Outturn 2020-2021 (Quarter 4)
3. Leisure Contract - Further Extension of Variation Order
4. Temporary Accommodation Modular Housing Solution
5. Telford Place Development Opportunity (Part B)
6. Crawley Fusion Innovation Centre Scheme (Part B)