Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 27th June, 2022 6.30 pm

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Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS

Contact: Mark O'Callaghan  Scrutiny and Engagement Officer


No. Item


Presiding Member

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In the absence of the Chairman, and without an appointed Vice-Chairman, the Committee elected a member to preside.


Councillor Morton moved, and Councillors Atkins seconded, that Councillor Ellis be appointed to preside at the meeting.


RESOLVED – That Councillor Ellis be appointed to preside at the meeting


Councillor Ellis took the chair for the remainder of the meeting.


Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

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Apologies for apologies were received from Councillors Britcher-Allan, Holden (Chairman) and Rogers.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 65 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.

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


Declarations of a Party Whip pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any declarations by members of instruction given by or on behalf of a political group as to how that member should speak or vote on any items on the agenda. For any advice on declarations of a party whip, please contact the Monitoring Officer before the meeting.

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There were no declarations that any member was subject to a party whip.


Notification of Persons Registered to Speak pdf icon PDF 31 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.

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


Minutes of the meeting dated 04 April 2022 pdf icon PDF 202 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.

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No amendments were proposed.


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 04 April 2022 be approved as a correct record.


Items Called- In pdf icon PDF 67 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.

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There were no items which had been called-in.


Update on Digital pdf icon PDF 164 KB

To receive a presentation from the Head of Digital Services and Communications and to consider any further actions.

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Ian Hirst, Head of Digital Services and Communications with Andy Sturtivant, Digital Team Manager introduced the report set out in the agenda and gave a presentation reviewing the council’s digital services. Key areas covered included:

·         Importance of digital services in delivering information and providing access to services.

·         Facilitating modern ways of working and the particular benefits of this during the Covid pandemic.

·         Simplifying processes to make services more efficient and responsive.

·         Enhancing customer interactions with the provision of real-time information.

·         Next significant development to provide a personal home page (MyTWBC) on the website drawing together information relevant to that individual.

·         Improving inter-connectivity and data sharing.

·         Automation and artificial intelligence systems.


Answers to questions included the following:

·         Funding had been provided from government through the Transformation Challenge Award. A bid had been submitted by the Mid-Kent partnership authorities (Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone and Swale Borough Councils). £569k had been awarded across the partnership for Skype for Business, a digital customer experience platform and business intelligence software.

·         Costs had been reduced by working with Mid-Kent, sourcing external funding and undertaking much of the digital development in-house. Consultancy fees from the implementation of Skype for Business were included within the £569k grant funding.

·         Mobile responsive websites were preferred to standalone mobile apps as the development and maintenance costs were significantly lower and modern websites could provide the same functionality.

·         Residents should be encouraged to sign up to the weekly newsletter.

·         Details of MyTWBC would be announced through the newsletter and other channels in due course.

·         Network infrastructure was managed by Mid-Kent ICT.

·         Digital Services at TWBC was separate and provided the interface between the hardware and users. The team consisted of 1x Manager, 1x Business Analyst, 1x Web Content Designer, 1x Web Developer.

·         MyTWBC had been soft-launched on the website which allowed users to register their interest and participate in testing following which a full launch was planned.

·         Localised reports through MyTWBC would initially only show the nature of the case and whether it was open or closed. In future, following some re-engineering of back-office functions, it should be possible to provide more descriptive status updates.

·         Skype for Business was being replaced by MS Teams as Microsoft was withdrawing support for the former. Software licenses were covered under the Microsoft Enterprise license so there was no additional cost to the Council.

·         There was an option on every webpage for users to rate their satisfaction with the information provided, this was usually used to register dissatisfaction. More could be done to fully understand the customer experience of the website.

·         Customers unable to find the information sought could use the generic email address which would be routed to the customer services team.

·         The majority of enquiries escalated to Councillors could be resolved through the ‘Report It’ function of the website. Greater awareness and prominence of this feature could help reduce the number of unnecessary contacts.

·         Many of the ‘Report It’ type enquiries were escalated from Councillors to Heads of Service whereas greater access  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC8/22


Overview and Scrutiny Committee Annual Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 119 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the associated report.

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Mark O’Callaghan, Scrutiny and Engagement Officer introduced the report set out in the agenda proposing final agreement of the committee’s annual report ahead of its presentation to Full Council.


The report was taken as read.


RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Annual Report 2021-22 be approved and presented to Full Council.


Review of Task and Finish Groups pdf icon PDF 123 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the associated report.

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Mark O’Callaghan, Scrutiny and Engagement Officer introduced the report set out in the agenda confirming the status of the current Task and Finish Groups (TFG) and asking whether the committee wished to continue or make changes.


Discussion included:

·         Work on the Poverty TFG had largely delivered on its original objectives, to continue further impactful work there would need more clearly defined deliverables.

·         Previous champions of the Poverty TFG were now in the Cabinet and best placed to deliver on the proposed objectives.

·         Closing the Poverty TFG would free the opportunity to pursue new priorities.

·         Contracts TFG had not yet reported and could achieve its objectives.

·         The subject of the Contracts TFG would be of high importance as the renewal of the council’s three largest contracts were coming up.

·         The committee could look to outside of the committee for members of the Contracts TFG, representatives from all parties would be desirable.



1.    That the Poverty Task and Finish Group be closed; and

2.    That the Contracts Task and Finish Group be confirmed under the existing Terms of Reference and that Councillors Ellis, Morton and Le Page be appointed (others may be nominated for future approval).


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 44 KB

To consider the Committee’s future work programme.

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A report was requested from the Cabinet Member for Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction at the earliest opportunity, to include:

·         Overview of the recent activities of CEAP.

·         Progress on achieving net-zero carbon by 2030.

·         Plans to increase biodiversity


A report was requested from the Head of Finance on the process of forecasting the revenue budget, to include:

·         Reasons for significant variances between forecasts and actual budgets

·         Differences between commercial and local authority accounting

·         Improving the presentation of financial information to help understanding by residents and councillors


A potential topic was suggested looking at how Code of Conduct complains were determined and resolutions were followed through. Discussion included:

·         The Code of Conduct was within the remit of the Audit and Governance Committee. Advice would be sought from the Monitoring Officer.


The scheduled review of Planning Enforcement was requested to be expedited. Discussion included:

·         Officers should be able to present despite the absence of a Head of Service.

·         Questions and requested statistics should be submitted to the Scrutiny Officer as soon as possible for inclusion in the Officer’s report.



Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 28 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.

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There was no urgent business for consideration.


Date of the next meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To note that the next scheduled meeting is Monday 25 July 2022.

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The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 25 July 2022.