Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Commission
Friday, 30 November 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Sparkenhoe Committee Room, County Hall, Glenfield

Contact: Mrs R Whitelaw (Tel: 0116 305 2583)  Email: rosemary.whitelaw@leics.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

Webcast.

A webcast of the meeting can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWFpwBLs6MnUzG0WjejrQtQ

53.

Minutes. pdf icon PDF 187 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 14 November 2018 were taken as read, confirmed and signed.

 

54.

Question Time.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 35.

 

55.

Questions asked by members under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).

Minutes:

The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).

 

56.

Urgent Items.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items for consideration.

 

57.

Declarations of Interest.

Minutes:

The Chairman invited members who wished to do so to declare any interest in respect of items on the agenda for the meeting.

 

All members of the Commission who were also members of district or parish councils declared a personal interest in the report on proposals for a unitary structure of local government in Leicestershire (minute 60 refers).

 

58.

Declarations of the Party Whip in accordance with Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 16.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of the party whip.

 

59.

Presentation of Petitions under Standing Order 36.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive reported that no petitions had been received under Standing Order 36.

 

60.

The Development of a Unitary Structure for Local Government in Leicestershire. pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Members are asked to bring the previously circulated copy of the Cabinet report from the 16 October.

 

The attached report includes additional information relating to the legal position and the financial options appraisal, as requested by the Commission.

 

External expert witnesses have been invited to address the Commission and there will be an opportunity for local councillors to ask questions and give their views.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Commission considered a report of the Chief Executive which had been submitted to the Cabinet on 16 October in response to the Cabinet resolution of 6 July 2018 to enable the Cabinet to consider outline proposals for the development of a unitary structure for local government in Leicestershire.  This report had also been considered by the Commission at its meeting on 14 November and a copy is filed with the minutes of that meeting.

 

The Chairman welcomed the Leader and Deputy Leader of the County Council to the meeting.  In introducing the report, the Leader of the Council, Mr N J Rushton CC, confirmed that, should the proposal for a unitary structure of local government for Leicestershire be taken forward, there would first be a period of transition, to ensure that all services were incorporated successfully into the new organisation.  This would be followed by a period of transformation to develop services that were fit for the future.  The proposed timetable for delivery of savings would be reconsidered in this light.

 

The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Lead Member for Resources, Mr J B Rhodes CC, confirmed that the evidence given by Baroness Scott, Leader of Wiltshire Council, at the previous meeting of the Scrutiny Commission, had caused the County Council to develop its thinking, particularly with regard to Planning.  The proposals would now include seven Development Management Sub Boards to take into account the fact that there were currently seven Local Plans setting the planning policy for Leicestershire and that it would take several years to transition to a situation where these were replaced by a single Local Plan.

 

(a)  Model Unitary Structure

 

Arising from discussion the following points were raised:-

 

(i)          It was suggested that the Chairmen of some of the existing Parish and Town Councils should be invited to give evidence to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Commission, particularly regarding their appetite for additional devolved responsibilities.  It was acknowledged that an understanding of the views of Parish and Town Councils was useful, particularly to inform the development of the offer to them.  A steering group had been set up for that purpose and it might be more appropriate for the Commission to hear from Parish and Town Councils once that work had completed and the vision and business case had been developed.

 

(ii)         Members suggested that the incentives for Parish Councils to take on additional responsibilities should be economically viable for those Councils.  The Commission was reminded that the proposal was to provide funding where powers and responsibilities were devolved.  Devolution would not be imposed on Parish Councils.  However, for those that wished to, they could take on services which were better provided locally, provided that they were within the unitary council’s policy.

 

(iii)       It was queried whether the expected level of savings to be achieved though Members’ Allowances was deliverable.  It was confirmed that this point would be addressed when the financial model was scrutinised.  The Commission was reminded that the County Council had a good track record in delivering savings and efficiencies.  However, the level of back office savings put forward in the proposals could only be achieved through a unitary structure of local government.

 

(iv)       Some concern was expressed that, although the proposal to retain planning committees at a local level was welcome, the powers available to local authority planning committees were being eroded through the National Planning Policy Framework and the National Infrastructure Committee, which was able to determine matters of national importance.  The Commission was reminded that the national context was the same for all local authorities, regardless of their structure.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.

61.

Date of next meeting.

The next meeting of the Commission is scheduled to take place on 6 December 2018 at 10.00am.

 

 

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Commission would be held on 6 December at 10.00am.