Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room A, Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS. View directions

Contact: Mark O'Callaghan  Scrutiny and Engagement Officer

Items
No. Item

OSC48/19

Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Hayward.

OSC49/19

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 5 KB

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

Minutes:

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

OSC50/19

Notification of Persons Registered to Speak pdf icon PDF 6 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 and 19, and which item(s) they wish to speak on.

Minutes:

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

OSC51/19

Minutes of the meeting dated 12 August 2019 pdf icon PDF 339 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.

Minutes:

Members reviewed the minutes. No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 12 August 2019 be approved as a correct record.

OSC52/19

Minutes of the meeting dated 07 October 2019 pdf icon PDF 239 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.

Minutes:

Members reviewed the minutes. No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 07 October 2019 be approved as a correct record.

OSC53/19

Minutes of the meeting dated 18 November 2019 pdf icon PDF 264 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.

Minutes:

Members reviewed the minutes. No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 18 November 2019 be approved as a correct record.

OSC54/19

Items Called in under Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 13 pdf icon PDF 6 KB

To consider any item(s) ‘called-in’, details of which will have been circulated to Members under separate cover.

Minutes:

There were no items which had been called-in.

OSC55/19

Portfolio Holder Update - Culture, Leisure and Economic Development pdf icon PDF 99 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor March (Portfolio Holder for Culture , Leisure and Economic Development) introduced the report which included the following comments:

·         The report was shorter than in previous appearances in response to requests from the Committee for more concise information allowing a greater opportunity for questions at the meeting.

·         Royal Tunbridge Wells Together had issued its mid-term report, primarily for the benefit of Business Improvement District members, which was also available for councillors’ information.

 

Discussion included the following matters –

 

Strategy Data:

·         Whilst the presence of the various strategies was reassuring, there was a lack of information on the effectiveness of them. Figures on the take up of Go cards or how many athletes were picking up on the Kent fan scheme, for example, would be helpful for members of the Committee to assess the success, or otherwise, of the strategies. Figures would be provided.

Cultural Strategy:

·         A comprehensive review of the Culture Strategy was expected in 2019. The review had not been completed but the Council had successfully applied for funding of £20k for the Cultural Compact which would be the start of a full review. Further work following to Compact would be on a cross-party basis.

·         The current Five-Year Plan was based on the previous Cultural Strategy. Following the cancellation of the Calverley Square project a new Five-Year Plan would be needed which would be based on the new Cultural Strategy.

·         Work was needed to establish what the residents of Tunbridge Wells really wanted to maintain the cultural status of the town.

·         The Calverley Square business plan projected 400k visitors to the town. It was not possible to say whether this target was still achievable as the projected visitors would be based on the plans there were put in place.

·         In previous years the Council had an economic development budget of approximately £70k, with the Business Improvement District (BID) there was an extra £500k over five years. The potential was very much greater. Plans included place branding, events and improved parking and online marketing.

·         Future marketing of the Assembly Hall would be influenced by the outcomes of the Cultural Strategy, initial indications were expected around October 2020. The Assembly Hall had potential but work on the Strategy had to come first.

Sports Strategy:

·         One of the eight key projects, to provide more sports facilities, was progressing and a number of sites had been included in the Draft Local Plan. One site in Pembury could not progress following objections from Highways England relating to access to the A21. Hawkenbury appeared to be the preferred site of a new hub facility but the Council was constrained by not being able to close pitches until the new ones were completed.

·         The Local Plan consultation would help determine the relative popularity of the proposed sports sites. In the meantime, traffic and ecological pre-work was continuing.

·         The intention of the sports strategy was to increase the overall number of youth pitches, for which there was greatest demand, and to provide the highest standard of 3G  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC55/19

OSC56/19

Verbal Update on the Consultation and Engagement Task and Finish Group pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To note a verbal update.

Minutes:

Councillor Pound (member of the Task and Finish Group (TFG)) provided a verbal update which included the following comments:

·         At the recent TFG meeting, members took on board advice not to rush to a solution before understanding the problem.

·         A series of questions were put to officers:

o   The most recent communication and engagement strategy was issued in 2013/14 and left a lot to be desired, it could be interpreted as a means to justify the actions of the Council rather than as a two-way interaction.

o   The most recent residents’ survey was carried out in 2015 and a number of important messages from a quiet majority were missed.

o   No members’ survey had been undertaken in the past few years, so the Council was not even consulting its own members on engagement.

o   Parish Chair’s were meeting quarterly and this appeared to be a mechanism which was working.

o   The online consultation portal was withdrawn in 2018 on the grounds that it was costly, it was not actively used, and it was not effective in capturing views and opinions.

o   Local Magazine was a cost effective and popular method of communication. 46 per cent of people recalled seeing a copy, 18 per cent said it was their preferred method of communication.

o   37 per cent of people said the website was their preferred method of communication. A lot of work was ongoing to improve the website.

o   Ward Walks stopped in 2013. They were popular with residents and many people said the Council should be more visible in that way.

o   The ‘corporate compass’ had become the ‘corporate priorities’ and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee could have a greater role in holding the Cabinet to account on its performance against its priorities.

·         A lot of engagement activity had stopped around 2013-14 and the Council no longer understood the views and opinions of the residents of the borough.

·         There was little two-way dialogue and no adequate portal for residents to set out what they wanted.

·         The TFG would next be looking at making communication more ward focused, so people could feedback what was important to them.

 

Discussion included the following comments:

·         There were a number of online-based products which could help fill some of the gaps, but these had significant cost implications.

·         The focus on identifying problems, rather than solutions, was welcomed.

·         Councillor Scott, the Portfolio Holder with responsibility for engagement, was keen to share his plans with the TFG as a contributor to the review.

·         Residents were pleasantly surprised to receive a visit when Ward Walks were running and usually involved a variety of people including officers, councillors and local councillors. Whilst popular, they were time intensive and those resources no longer existed.

·         Resources of the Scrutiny function of the Council had significantly changed, previously there had been 3 separate Overview and Scrutiny Committees with a four-strong support team. Each Committee had a specific remit so could consider items in greater detail. The Scrutiny function had changed with the  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC56/19

OSC57/19

Verbal Update on the Parks and Gardens Maintenance Contact Task and Finish Group pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To note a verbal update.

Minutes:

Councillors Morton and Woodward (members of the Task and Finish Group (TFG)) gave a verbal update which included the following comments:

·         The TFG had not met since the previous Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting, however conversations had been had with Gary Stevenson (Head of Housing, Health and Environment) about what input the TFG could have as the pre-tender process came to a close.

·         The TFG was keen to ensure the lessons of the waste management contract were applied for the contract for the parks and gardens maintenance.

 

Discussion included the following comments:

·         The Portfolio Holder had confirmed that the input of the TGF so far had influenced the process to be taken forward in the final stages of preparing the contract procurement. The key messages of ensuring consultation with stakeholders had been taken in to account.

·         If the Committee was inclined to close the TFG, work on procuring the contract in cooperation with the relevant friends groups would continue under the guise of the Cabinet.

·         There was a lack of volunteers to sit on the TFG and the group had run its course.

·         Many of the town’s parks were award winning and there was no major concern for continued success, the borough’s contract managers had tackled problems in specific parks and replaced some of the wardens where necessary.

·         The biggest issue with large contracts, such as parks and gardens maintenance, was sufficient resources to manage the contractors. Contract managers were confident that there were sufficient resources, but the continuation of some problems indicated there was still more to be done.

·         Connected to the discussion earlier in the meeting, to deliver a quality service you needed people to do the work. This was increasingly difficult as budgets were constrained.

·         There was concern that the lessons relating to the procurement process were not being learnt; problems with Urbaser where known two years before they were awarded the contract in Tunbridge Wells. There was too great a reliance on outsourcing and a general lack of resources to procure and manage contracts.

·         The Committee was unable to scrutinise procurement properly due to a lack of understanding of the indices against which contracts were measured.

·         Contracts contained various industry-standard clauses around management and penalties. There was often little opportunity to vary these terms whilst maintaining a viable contract for the contractor.

·         Any contract which relied on penalties for enforcement must be balanced by reward for over-performance, the Council was unlikely to be able to offer the reward to make the potential penalties worth the risk for the contractor.

·         Following the change of membership of the Committee since the TFG was established, the experience and knowledge of the members on the subject had been lost.

·         Members of the committee were not expected to be experts on procurement or ground maintenance but were a common-sense check on whatever the topic of the day was.

·         Time had run out before the Cabinet needed to commence the procurement process, there was little more the TFG could do.

·         The officers  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC57/19

OSC58/19

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To note the Committee’s forward work programme.

Minutes:

Discussion included the following comments:

·         The next Portfolio Holder update would be Communities and Wellbeing. Following on from the discussion earlier in the meeting, details of the portfolio would be circulated to members with a request to narrow down the focus.

·         Portfolio Holder reports should, in future, be more detailed and provided with sufficient notice.

·         Members would not wish to have the previous report of the Portfolio Holder to avoid skewing the committee’s focus, the responsibilities only would be sufficient.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1.    That the work programme be noted.

 

2.    That the responsibilities of the Portfolio Holder of the next update be circulated to members.

OSC59/19

Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 5 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.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

OSC60/19

Date of the next meeting pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To note that the next scheduled meeting is Monday 06 April 2020.

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 06 April 2020.

 

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