Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission - Monday, 23rd November, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: virtually - Microsoft Teams Live. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  Email: democratic.services@crawley.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Disclosures of Interest and Whipping Declarations

In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, Councillors of the Council 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.

 

Minutes:

The following disclosures were made:

 

Councillor

Item and Minute

Type and Nature of Disclosure

 

Councillor

R D Burrett

Submission Crawley Local Plan 2021 - 2037

(Minute 4)

Personal Interest –

Member of WSCC

 

 

Councillor

R D Burrett

Budget Strategy 2021/22 –

2025/26

(Minute 5)

Personal Interest –

Deferred member of pension scheme

 

Councillor

R A Lanzer

Budget Strategy 2021/22 –

2025/26

(Minute 5)

Personal Interest –

Member of WSCC

 

 

Councillor

R D Burrett

Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee (HASC)

(Minute 8)

Personal Interest –

Member of WSCC

 

 

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 225 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 2 November 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 2 November 2020 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair. 

 

3.

Public Question Time

To consider any written questions that were submitted in advance and accepted in-line with the Constitution.  These will be read to the Committee and be followed by a response. The questioner will receive an emailed copy of the response given at the meeting. There will be no supplementary questions.

Minutes:

No questions from the public were received.

 

4.

Submission Crawley Local Plan 2021 - 2037 pdf icon PDF 405 KB

To consider report PES/367 of the Head of Economy and Planning.

Minutes:

The Commission considered report PES/367 of the Head of Economy and Planning. The report sought to recommend to Full Council to approve the submission draft Local Plan for Publication consultation, to approve the submission draft Local Plan for Submission to the Secretary of State for Examination by an independent Planning Inspector, (subject to minor amendments deemed necessary following consultation for the purposes of clarity) and the approval of the publication and submission of the supporting documents for the Local Plan.

 

During the discussion with the Cabinet Member for Planning and Economic Development, Forward Planning Manager and the Policy Planning Manager the following comments were made:

 

·       Confirmation that the advice sought through the Planning Inspectorate advisory service had been carried out previously as part of the process with the current adopted Local Plan.  It allows areas of concern to be addressed prior to full inspection.

·       Explanation was provided regarding the removal of S106 contribution requirements towards education which was a new proposal in the previous draft Plan consulted on in January. Instead this would continue to be met through the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to respond to Viability evidence. The viability study assesses the economic viability of development proposed across the area covered by the Crawley Local Plan and the ability of these developments to make contributions to infrastructure through S106 and CIL. The education authority would put forward their projects and obtain their contributions via the CIL rather than S106.

·       Concerns raised over the proposed allocation of the Gatwick Green employment area and whilst there was a need for employment provision within the borough, the location was questionable as the strategic gap between Crawley and Horley would be eroded.  In response it was noted that it was understandable that some residents may be uncomfortable with the proposal within the Crawley Local Plan, however it was recognised that there was a balance of conflicting priorities and the Crawley Local Plan covered the needs of the community in terms of employment as well as safeguarding green space.  The evidence showed that in order to support the creation of new jobs and support the local economy, Crawley needed approximately 24 hectares of employment floor space. The NPPF required the council to meet its development needs for employment purposes where possible.  Due to the safeguarding requirements for a potential future southern runway at Gatwick Airport, it was felt this was the only area capable of accommodating a strategic employment location.  However, the sensitive location had been recognised and the policy allocating the site had been carefully drafted, including many parameters the developer would need to address.  The allocated site was much larger than the anticipated built area of any development scheme, to ensure it can accommodate sufficient infrastructure, landscaping and  open space to provide an appropriate landscape buffer with the countryside and ensure the protection of the amenity of neighbouring properties.  The proposed allocation of the site is one of the main reasons the Regulation 19 consultation was being repeated to give residents and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Budget Strategy 2021/22 – 2025/26 pdf icon PDF 606 KB

To consider report FIN/508 of the Head of Corporate Finance.

Minutes:

The Commission considered report FIN/508 with the Leader of the Council, Head of Corporate Finance and Chief Accountant. The report set out the projected financial position for 2021/22 to 2025/26 for the General Fund, Housing Revenue Account, capital programme and the underlying assumptions.  The report also set the policy framework for the budget process, recognising that there were a range of options for capital investment, income generation, savings and Council Tax levels; none of which were to be considered in isolation.  The overall objective was to work towards a balanced General Fund budget over a four year period, this however may be difficult due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

 

The Commission received clarification on a number of points within the report during the discussion with the Leader of the Council, Head of Corporate Finance and Chief Accountant.

Councillors made the following comments:

·       It was noted that the pension fund benefits from effective investment and there were advantages to keeping the pension fully funded.  Whilst local government pay was negotiated nationally, should a pay freeze be agreed this would assist in the committed reserves.

·       Confirmation that whilst the town centre would require additional support post-Covid, the newly formed Town Centre BID intended to have a positive impact on the area, to work hard to create a safer Town Centre for shoppers, businesses, their employees and grow the number of visitors.  The Economic Development Team would work with the BID, retail, key partners and stakeholders within the town and continue to provide its services, using various different methods following the pandemic.

·       Confirmation that whilst the overall objective had in the past been to work towards a balanced general fund budget over a three year period, due to the pandemic the recommendation was to work towards balancing this over a four year period.

·       Explanation that the final year for New Homes Bonus for four years was 2019/2020, resulting in 2022/23 for the final legacy payments.  The New Homes Bonus received for the current year was for one year only.

·       Confirmation that the budget gap within the budget projections was a cumulative figure.

·       Acknowledgement that table 4 within section 6.2 should commence with years 2021/2022.

·       Recognition that the report had assumed that all contracts would be fully operational on 1 April 2021 with no financial impact.  Whilst at this stage this was unlikely and a Covid reserve had been established.

·       Confirmation that the government grant for ‘Transparency’ had not been ring-fenced and there were no conditions attributed to the grant.

·       Explanation that the investment properties listed within the Capital Strategy linked to those within the Treasury Management Strategy and were purchased for the sole purpose of achieving a yield. Further properties still achieved a yield but were either already owned or purchased for another reason (Telford Place achieved a yield as a car park, however the primary purchase purpose was affordable housing).  It was queried if the cost of acquisition could be included. However the cost price may not bear relation to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Treasury Management Mid Year Review 2020-2021 pdf icon PDF 612 KB

To consider report FIN/512 of the Head of Corporate Finance.

Minutes:

The Commission considered report FIN/512 with the Leader of the Council, Head of Corporate Finance and Chief Accountant which provided an update on the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy for the first two quarters of 2020/2021.  The Council prioritises its investments as being security of capital, liquidity and yield.

 

Councillors made the following comments:

·       The Commission received clarification on a number of points within the report.  In terms of detailed holdings, it was confirmed that Leeds building society was a covered bond, backed by a secure government bond and thus attributed the AAA rating.

·       Recognition that investing at 0% had taken place where the council had reason to invest for relatively short periods of time.

·       Confirmation that investments with banks offered a higher risk during the pandemic and lower rates at the present time than investments with local authorities.

·       Confirmation that appendix 1 included the overall weighted average for the portfolio of detailed holdings.

·       Queries sought and obtained regarding details within appendix 2.

 

RESOLVED

That the Commission notes the report and requests that the views expressed during the debate, are fed back to the Cabinet through the Commission’s Comment sheet.

 

7.

2020/2021 Budget Monitoring - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 709 KB

To consider report FIN/510 of the Head of Corporate Finance.

Minutes:

The Commission considered report FIN/510 of the Head of Corporate Finance. The report set out a summary of the Council’s actual revenue and capital spending for the quarters to September 2020 together with the main variations from the approved spending levels and impact on future budgets.

 

During the discussion with the Leader of the Council, Head of Corporate Finance and Chief Accountant, the following comments were made:

 

·       Confirmation that the favourable and unfavourable indications within the budget monitoring variations referred to the projected variances against the original budget.

·       Recognition that with reference to the sports, leisure and community facilities, lost Covid income related to the contractual value due to the council. The Covid additional expenditure referred to costs such as maintaining venues open at a reduced capacity.

·       Acknowledgement that staffing resources increased during the first lockdown within the contact centre.  However it was not anticipated that the services would undergo similar demands or pressures in the future.

·       Confirmation that at the start of the pandemic the council was maintaining shorter investments as the impact on income for the rest of the year was unknown.  Longer term investments have tended to result in higher interest rates (although interest rates were continuing to fall).

·       Acknowledgement that in terms of the capital programme there were a few schemes which may slip to next year (for instance the town hall and purchase of properties).

·       It was confirmed that an Unsupervised Play Investment Plan Working Group had been established to investigate the different play area improvements. The Wakehams Green site and investment would be discussed as part of this group.  The various projects receiving S106 contributions indicated balances from previous schemes and had been re-allocated to the new programme.

·       Explanations sought and obtained on the contribution to reserves within the general fund.  Adequate reserves were required throughout the pandemic and to fund the capital programme, both of which were addressed within the Budget Strategy report.  The council’s budget position had been raised with the external auditors who believed the council had good governance, project and risk management where appropriate.    

 

RESOLVED

That the Commission notes the report and requests that the views expressed during the debate, are fed back to the Cabinet through the Commission’s Comment sheet.

 

8.

Health and Adult Social Care Scrutiny Committee (HASC)

To receive a brief update on the Health and Adult Social Care Select Committee (HASC).

Minutes:

An update was provided from the most recent HASC meeting.  Key items of discussion included:

As a result of Covid19 a decision was taken in April to merge the several CCGs in West Sussex into an overall CCG for the county.

 

During the year a variety of surveys were carried out by Healthwatch in Sussex and Sussex NHSCommissioners ‘Accessing Health and Care Services'.  Whilst it was recognised that there were some people and communities not represented and therefore further work would be carried out to establish views and experiences, some key headlines included:

·         A large minority of all respondents chose not to make an appointment during the pandemic despite having a need to access health, social or emotional care.

·         Those with disabilities were more likely todelay appointment making.

 

Whilst not exhaustive, several recommendations emerged:

·         The report emphasised that the message from the NHS was'it isopen forbusiness' andthat thecampaign 'Help us Help you' had merit but needed strengthening especially amongst those more likely to delay appointments.

·         Any communication must be in appropriate forms and should both be received and understood.

·         There needed to be engagement with those who were more likely to delay appointments and encourage them not to delay.

·         Patients should be allowed to choose their preferred method of engagement including face toface.

·         Patients should have the opportunity to choose appointments with their regularGP.

·         Health and care services should provide remote appointments for specific times.

·         The technology skills of some health professionals involved in remote appointments neededimproving.

·         There will need to be significant changes to ways the system operates not least because of the increase in both population and housing need.

·         There were high levels of satisfaction by those who made appointments by phone, video oronline.

·         The preferred way of contact for routine visits was by phone and a large proportion of those with mental health conditions were least satisfied to receive any form of remote appointment as were those with                               disabilities.

·         Older people preferred face to faceappointments with a GP (particularly their regularly GP).

·         Several people chose to delay appointments despite having a need. Comments such as 'felt condition was not serious enough' 'did not want to burden the NHS' 'thought I would wait until pandemic was over' were very common.

 

HASC considered 4 key areas for developing the work.

1. Restoration and Recovery.

Work needed to be done to restore services to pre-Covid 19 levels. This included advertising and social media.  It was important to remember there were many frail and elderly living on their own in their own homes and not in care homes and could be receiving better care.

 

2. Digital Technology.

There needed to be better referrals to reduce workload and the need to avoid any barriers between patient and GP so if a patient provided avoidable times these were maintained.

 

3. Workforce (upskilling).

New roles within GP practices providing more different services.

 

4. Estates (premises).

Work needed to be done with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

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.

 

 

Cabinet 3 Feb 2021               OSC 1 Feb 2021  

 

Item

Date Included

PFD

2021/2022 Budget and Council Tax

25 March 2020

Yes

Treasury Management Strategy 2021-2022

25 March 2020

Yes

2020/2021 Budget Monitoring - Quarter 3

25 March 2020

 

Economic Development Strategy

9 Sept 2020

 

Proposed Article 4 Directions - Change of Use from C3 (dwelling houses) to C4 (houses in multiple occupation)

25 June 2020

 

Climate Change Scrutiny Panel Final Report

12 Nov 2020

 

Forward Programme of Key Procurements (January-June 2021)

16 Oct 2020

 

Irrecoverable Debts 2020/21 (Over £50,000)

25 March 2020

 

 

 

Cabinet 10 March 2021         OSC 8 March 2021 

 

Item

Date Included

PFD

Annual Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Statement

9 Sept 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Commission confirmed the following reports:

 

1 February 2021

·         Proposed Article 4 Directions - Change of Use from C3 (dwelling houses) to C4 (houses in multiple occupation)

·         Economic Development Strategy

·         Climate Change Scrutiny Panel Final Report

·         2021/2022 Budget and Council Tax

·         Treasury Management Strategy 2021-2022

·         2020/2021 Budget Monitoring - Quarter 3

 

Given the number of items on the agenda and to ensure sufficient time to fully scrutinise the items it was agreed this meeting would commence at 6.30pm.