Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 21st September, 2020 6.30 pm

Download documents using the MOD.GOV app

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online. View directions

Contact: Mark O'Callaghan  Scrutiny and Engagement Officer


No. Item


Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:


There were no apologies for absence. Councillor Neve was not present.


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:


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


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 has been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 18 or 19, and which item(s) they wish to speak on.

Additional documents:


Councillors Holden, Fairweather, McDermott and Bailey were registered as visiting members in respect of item OSC41/20.


Additionally, Councillors Dawlings, Mackonochie and March were in attendance and presenting the response to the Call-in on behalf of the Cabinet (OSC41/20).


There were no members of the public registered to speak.


Minutes of the meeting dated 24 August 2020 pdf icon PDF 235 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:


Members reviewed the minutes. No amendments were proposed.


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 24 August 2020 be approved as a correct record.


Minutes of the meeting dated 01 September 2020 pdf icon PDF 217 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:


Members reviewed the minutes. No amendments were proposed.


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 01 September 2020 be approved as a correct record.


Items Called-In pdf icon PDF 134 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:


The Chairman explained the Call-In process.


Councillor Hayward presented the Call-In and the points raised included:

·         It was great that the leisure centres were open and acknowledged what an important facility they were for the health and well being of the residents of local communities.

·         The question was asked, had there already been variants to the contract given that it had been advised that the prices were to be fixed at the 2019 rate despite all Members of Cabinet were in receipt of emails from Monson Swimming Club advising of a threatened increase in fees for usage.

·         In their opinion there was no evidence that stakeholders were adequately consulted by Officers, Members or Fusion Management.

·         There was no discussion by Cabinet about the points that came from the Overview & Scrutiny meeting on the 1 September.

·         Concerns was expressed that Fusion had been given the impression that the agreement was already in place with Tunbridge Wells before discussions were held in Cabinet.

·         It was believed that the Cabinet decision was made upon incomplete information for example it was still unknown how many of Fusions contracts were genuinely being supported by other Councils and how they would cope with a second lockdown.

·         Other options such as outsourcing to a private company or transferring/selling assets were not discussed.

·         The possible risks were not discussed by Overview and Scrutiny or Cabinet such as users not returning to the centre, Fusion not following government guidelines resulting in a public health concern.

·         The disregard of legal advice alone was enough to bring the decision back to Cabinet.

·         How residents money was spent must be founded on transparency and democracy.


The Committee were given the opportunity to ask questions following the presentation. Points raised included:

·         It was believed to have been a government led enforcement which forced Fusion to cease their services in March and Councillor Hayward confirmed he did not hold Fusion responsible.


Councillor March presented part of the response to the Call-In for the Cabinet and the points raised included:

·         The Cabinet decision was taken after due consideration of all financial and legal implications.

·         It was considered beneficial to the residents of the Borough to reopen as soon as practically possible with all services in the contract.

·         It was recognised that the COVID-19 lockdown had radically impacted the leisure market and that the need for reduced capacity to comply with COVID secure guidelines significantly affected income.

·         It was accepted that support would be needed to open both swimming pools and facilities at the Weald and Putlands which would otherwise have remained closed for a lengthy period. Other options explored in more detail would be subject to a further report.

·         It was advised that consultation with stakeholders was not necessary to be able to consider the issue of whether to provide support.

·         Correspondence did not get through regarding community groups because of incorrect spelling of Councillor Mackonochie’s name as the lead in email.

·         The issue of alternative options was addressed within the report and these options  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC41/20


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:


The Chairman gave a verbal update on the Covid-19 Panel which included the following comments:

·         At the last update it was mentioned that a County-wide recovery strategy had been completed and focus would move to district-specific plans. At the meeting of the Covid-19 Panel on 1 September we discussed that the Council had set up 3 groups of officers looking at Community Recovery, Economic Recovery and Council Recovery. Each would develop their respective plans and report to the Covid-19 Panel.

·         The first to report was the Community Recovery Group who have divided their plans into separate work streams on Community Hubs, Housing, Health, Community Safety and Voluntary Sector and Parish Councils. The panel would receive detailed updates on each of the various work steams at each meeting. The first update was on Finance.

·         The meeting also received an update on the Emergency Active Travel Fund schemes which were starting to be implemented at the time.

·         For the meeting on 15 September, the panel received an update from the Community Recovery Group again, this time focusing on the Community Safety and Health work streams.

·         The panel also discussed a recent survey of businesses and shoppers on the high street following the introduction of the one-way system there. The survey was conducted by the Town Forum supported by Economic Development team and found that generally people, particularly hospitality business, were in favour of the changes. The main concern was the visual aspect of the barriers but it was noted that these were temporary and more attractive options could be explored if the changes became permanent.

·         The Panel decided that after the scheduled meetings in October, future meetings would be monthly.


There were no questions.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 65 KB

To consider the Committee’s future work programme.

Additional documents:


The Chairman presented the Work Programme and outlined the dates for the forthcoming meetings, the following key points were made:

·         The next meeting on 12 October would likely be the last of the Overview and Scrutiny meetings given over to considering Cabinet business after which the schedule returned to a degree of normality.

·         Members were advised to note however, due to the pandemic, these were rapidly changing times so anything that was decided needed to be predicated on the understanding that circumstances could change. Particularly, for example, if there was a second lockdown this would have significant implications on the council’s resources and ability to respond to issues.

·         The Full Council motion related to social deprivation and social support was discussed and Members were invited to participate in a working group to find out how well the Council was doing in regard to this area. Councillors Pound, Thomson and Woodward expressed an interest in participating.

·         Consideration was given to the Equality Policy Statement and Action Plan and the possibility of a working group around this topic.



1.    Councillor Pound to draft Terms of Reference for a Deprivation Task and Finish Working Group with assistance from Jane Clarke, Head of Policy and Governance and Mark O’Callaghan, Overview and Scrutiny Officer, if necessary.

2.    A new date for April 2021 was to be decided as the current one in place fell on Easter Monday.

3.    The Chairman to approach William Benson, Chief Executive, with regard to the Engagement and Consultation Task and Finish Working Group and discuss whether it would be carried forward.


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:


There was no urgent business.


Date of the next meeting pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To note that the next scheduled meeting is Monday 12 October 2020.

Additional documents:


The date of the next meeting was scheduled for Monday 12 October 2020.