Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 24th August, 2020 10.30 am

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Contact: Mark O'Callaghan  Scrutiny and Engagement Officer

Media

Items
No. Item

OSC13/20

Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors Atwood, Bland, Ms Palmer, Mrs Soyke and Stanyer. Councillor Neve was not present.

OSC14/20

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 56 KB

To receive any declarations of interest by Members in items on the agenda, in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct. For any advice on declarations of interest, please contact the Monitoring Officer before the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no disclosable pecuniary of significant other interests declared at the meeting.

OSC15/20

Notification of Persons Registered to Speak pdf icon PDF 7 KB

To note any Visiting Members or members of the public wishing to speak, of which due notice had been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 18 or 19, and which item(s) they wish to speak on.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no members of the public or visiting members registered to speak.

OSC16/20

Minutes of the meeting dated 27 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 200 KB

To approve the minutes of a previous meeting as a correct record. The only issue relating to the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members reviewed the minutes. No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 27 July 2020 be approved as a correct record.

OSC17/20

Items Called-In pdf icon PDF 58 KB

To consider any items ‘Called-In’ under Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 13, details of which will have been circulated to Members under separate cover.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no items which had been called-in.

OSC18/20

Revenue Management Report: Quarter 1 pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To consider the proposals to Cabinet set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion included the following comments:

·         Appendix I consolidated, in a slightly different way, the information included in the other appendices. For instance, Appendix A showed all the different directorates which are divided in different ways. Appendix I collated the appendices so that they were divided by Portfolio Holder.

·         Staff vacancies were reviewed regularly. For posts that were still needed, recruitment would continue.

·         Posts remained within the establishment. Appendix G showed an explanation against each variance of a post. Each quarter Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny were able to track the progress of the Council’s efforts to fill vacant posts.

·         A request for details of backdated allocated and unallocated reserve amounts was made. There was concern that reserves were used but not replenished. It was agreed that the information would be put together and forwarded after the meeting.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

OSC19/20

Capital Management Report: Quarter 1 pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To consider the proposals to Cabinet set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion included the following comments:

·         A query was raised regarding a discrepancy with a disabled facility grant application completed online. The Council could not comment on individual cases but in any case, Kent County Council were responsible for assessments.

·         The £47k of s106 money had not been returned to Government. The £51k of s106 for this year was being worked on. If the money was not able to be used for its original purpose, the Council had always been successful in writing to the developer to ask them to repurpose the money so that it could be used for something else. Neither amounts had been utilised yet.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

OSC20/20

Treasury and Prudential Indicator Management Report: Quarter 1 pdf icon PDF 197 KB

To consider the proposals to Cabinet set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

Discussions included the following comments:

·         Investing in property was a long term investment decision which also helped diversify the Council’s investments over a greater risk portfolio.

·         The performance of the Property Fund was reviewed regularly and at present the Council was content to hold its current position.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

OSC21/20

Budget Projection and Strategy 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 271 KB

To consider the proposals to Cabinet set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

OSC22/20

The Amelia Scott: Progress and Next Steps pdf icon PDF 334 KB

To consider the proposals to Cabinet set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Paul Taylor, Director of Change and Communities, supported by Mike Lee, Project Manger from Focus Consultants, and Aiden Webb, Technical Manager from Spider Consultants, introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion included the following comments:

·         The estimated cost of the scheme when the details were first put together back in 2015 was in the region of £6m.

·         It wasn’t unusual to see significant cost increases when dealing with listed buildings. Once on site, the challenges become more apparent.

·         The report concentrated on the changes to the budget since 2018/19 which showed an approximate increase of £3m. It was unrealistic to look at figures as far back as 2015 as this was against a very basic outline of the project and certainly before all the elements had been fully investigated.

·         The predicted 500,000 visits and 18,000 learners each year was based on actual footfall to the new centre. These figures did not include any online activity.

·         The Hub was expected to play a key role in the economic recovery of the town. It was hoped it would attract both new and repeat customers that would benefit from the new and enhanced facilities.

·         A number of surveys were conducted as part of the first phase of the tendering process which while reasonably invasive, because the building was still occupied couldn’t be definitive. Once the site had been emptied more invasive surveys were carried out which identified further issues.

·         The soft strip of the building could only be undertaken once the contractors were able to fully access the site. For example, the problems with additional asbestos was found behind wall panelling which could only be removed at this time.

·         Of the additional £3m needed, the Council would fund £2m. Kent County Council had agreed to provide an additional £900k of funding and this had been confirmed. In November, the Council would submit a bid to Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for additional grant funding of £675k. Whilst this additional funding had not been confirmed, the Council had had several conversations with HLF who were very supportive that the bid would be successful. However, it still needed to be agreed at their Regional meeting in December so there remained a risk.

·         The Council would also look to submit bids for funding to any other schemes that became available. This included the recently announced Capital Kick Starter Funding which was aimed at covering any additional costs incurred by projects due to Covid-19.

·         The Council had also submitted a bid of £1.4m to the Building Fund which whilst not successful at the first stage, the process had not completed and so there might be an opportunity of receiving funding in the future.

·         To date, CounterCulture had not contributed to the scheme.

·         The construction element of the scheme was currently 15 days ahead of schedule. In addition, the scheme’s critical path included a three month float period between the end of construction and the start of the fit out work. The Council was confident that with  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC22/20

OSC23/20

Covid-19 Panel Update pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive a verbal update from the Chairman regarding recent meetings of the Covid-19 Panel.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Woodward introduced the update of the Covid-19 Panel meetings held on 4 and 18 August 2020 which included the following comments:

·         The first tranche of schemes as part of the Emergency Active Travel Fund were now underway and would be completed by 18 September 2020.

·         The Council had submitted a bid to the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, the purpose of which was:

o   To support to develop an action plan for how the local authority may being to safely reopen their local economies;

o   Communication and public information activity to ensure the reopening of local economies, business facing awareness raising activities and temporary public realm changes could be managed successfully and safely.

·         Work had concluded on developing a Kent-wide recovery strategy which had now been signed off by Kent County Council. The districts were expected to continue to work on more bespoke plans.

·         The Council had set up two groups to look at business recovery and community recovery. The Covid-19 Panel would receive updates and maintain oversight of the groups.

OSC24/20

Performance Summary: Quarter 1 pdf icon PDF 128 KB

To consider the proposals to Cabinet set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jane Clarke, Head of Policy and Governance, introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion included the following comments:

·         Following the introduction of the 2018 Homelessness Act, the Council’s approach to Homelessness changed. All approaches by residents to the Council would be treated as potentially homeless. The Council then had 56 days to either alleviate that homelessness or accept someone as homeless and find them suitable provision.

·         Homelessness was much more about prevention and support.

·         New indicators that would show the Council’s workload on housing would be introduced next year.

·         The Council had a small public health team that was funded by Kent County Council which provided healthy living services. This involved talking to clients that had generally been referred by their local GPs, Kent County Council or other similar organisations. The team worked with families or individuals who needed support for a more healthy lifestyle, e.g. stopping smoking and healthy eating.

·         The Council was in a partnership with ‘One You Kent’ (which also included the NHS) with the aim of trying to help people become healthier. This service was funded through the Public Health Grant which was given to Kent County Council.

·         The target for the Healthy Living Services indicator was 106 for the year and was set by Kent County Council. The Council was under target for this quarter but this was due to the pandemic and not being able to see clients. It was expected to get back on target by the end of the next quarter.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

OSC25/20

Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 6 KB

To consider any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent, for the reasons to be stated, in accordance with Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

OSC26/20

Date of the next meeting pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To note that the next scheduled meeting is Monday 21 September 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That agenda items 12, 14 and 15 be deferred to the next meeting.

 

RESOLVED – That the next meeting will be Tuesday 1 September 2020.