Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Glenfield
Contact: Mrs J Twomey (Tel: 0116 305 2583) Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mrs D. Taylor CC
Mr L. Breckon CC
Mr P. Bedford CC
The minutes of the meeting held on 9th June 2021 were taken as read, confirmed and signed subject to the amendment of recommendation (b) of Minute 12 (Annual Report on the Commercial Strategy) to read:
“That details of the income generated across all Leicestershire Traded Services for the 2020/21 financial year be circulated to Commission Members after the meeting (this to be broken down across geographical areas in respect of school food) and that such information be included in all future annual reports, subject to any commercial sensitivity;”
The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 34.
Questions asked by members under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5)
The Chief Executive reported that no questions had been received under Standing Order 7(3) and 7(5).
There were no urgent items for consideration.
Declarations of interest
The Chairman invited members who wished to do so to declare any interest in respect of items on the agenda for the meeting.
The following declarations were made:
Mr J. Poland CC declared a personal interest in agenda item 8 (Update on Police and Crime Panel Activity) as his wife was employed by Leicestershire Police.
Mr T. Richardson CC and Mr J. Morgan CC declared a personal interest in agenda item 11 (Leicester and Leicestershire Economic Growth Strategy) as they were both Directors on the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Board.
All Members of the Commission who were also members of a district council declared an interest in agenda item 11.
Declarations of the Party Whip in accordance with Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 16
There were no declarations of the party whip.
Presentation of Petitions under Standing Order 35
The Chief Executive reported that no petitions had been received under Standing Order 35.
The County Council’s representative on the Police and Crime Panel, Mrs D. Taylor CC, has been invited to attend for this item. Mrs Taylor will provide a presentation at the meeting and a copy of the slides are attached to this agenda.
The Commission considered a presentation from the Chair of the Police and Crime Panel, Mrs D. Taylor CC, which provided details of the activity undertaken by the Panel during 2020/21. A copy of the presentation marked ‘Agenda Item 8’ is filed with these minutes.
The Chairman welcomed Mrs D. Taylor CC to the meeting.
Arising from discussion the following points were raised:
The Scrutiny Commission as the County Council’s
statutory designated Crime and Disorder Committee had power to review and
scrutinise the delivery and effectiveness of measures aimed at reducing crime
and disorder. The PCP which represented
the wider area of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, had the same aim but
with the specific remit of scrutinising and challenging the Police and Crime
Commissioner (PCC). To avoid duplication
of effort and resources in scrutinising the PCC, it was noted that the
Commission received an annual update from the County Council’s representative
on the Panel to enable them to listen to the concerns of the Commission and
feed these back into the work of the Panel.
The Chief Executive advised that when the Panel had been formed, a protocol
had been produced to define the different but similar roles of the two bodies
and clarify how they might work and interact to ensure duplication was
avoided. The Chief Executive undertook
to review and circulate this outside the meeting for information;
Members noted that a national review of PCPs was
being undertaken to understand if they were serving the purpose intended and
that the PCP for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland had fed into that
review. The outcome was awaited but
would be publicised;
The PCC had established a cross party working
group to look at proposals for the new Police and Crime Plan which would set
out the new PCC’s priorities for the coming year. It was understood this would go out to public
consultation in the Autumn and would be put in place towards the end of the
year. The Chair of the PCP confirmed
that she was on the working group and would feedback any comments the
Commission might have through that group or directly to the Panel as
There was a need for key performance indicators
to be included in the PCC’s new Plan to ensure these could be measured and
monitored over time. Members asked the
Chair of the PCP to feed back this suggestion;
A member raised concerns about the recent PCC
budget and the previous year overspend and questioned to what extent the PCP
had challenged this. Members noted that
the Panel had held a lengthy debate on the budget and heard directly from the
then PCC who had answered a number of questions. The key focus of the Panel had been on the
need to increase policing numbers on the ground. It was agreed that the increased precept
would add pressure on residents during an already difficult time and it would
be important to closely monitor and scrutinise financial performance over the
coming year to ensure commitments made were delivered;
A member highlighted that rural areas often felt
left-out and it would be important to communicate how the additional precept
would be spent for their benefit as well as for those living in the City and
wider County areas;
(vii) A member raised concerns about recent media headlines that the new PCC had refused to communicate with Black Lives Matter groups which he suggested could affect trust between the Police and local black and other ethnic minority groups. It was highlighted that the Police and the officer of the ... view the full minutes text for item 21.
The Commission considered a report of the Director of Corporate Resources which set out the provisional revenue and capital outturn for 2020/21. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 9’ is filed with these minutes.
The Chairman welcomed Mr L. Breckon CC, Lead Member for Resources, who attending for this item.
Arising from discussion the following points were raised:
All local authorities had had a very difficult
financial year due to Covid. Despite this, Members agreed that the County
Council had responded well and continued to manage its finances
prudently. Members thanked officers and the previous Lead Member for
Resources, Mr Byron Rhodes CC, for their hard work during this unprecedented
The pressures that existed before the pandemic
began, particularly around SEN, continued. In response to questions
raised, the Director confirmed that the budget equalisation fund that had been
established to temporarily deal with pressure on cashflow from the
high needs block, was not sustainable for the longer term. Members
agreed it was disappointing that the Government had not progressed the planned
SEN review to address this issue. The Director and new Lead Member for
Resources, Mr L. Breckon CC, confirmed they would continue to be pursue this
with Government and local MPs;
Members confirmed that the corporate asset
investment fund had performed well and continued to be a great success
providing a healthy income stream for the Council. In response to
questions raised regarding the number of none-performing assets, the Director
confirmed that all assets were performing. However, returns on the
Council’s agricultural estate were lower (though still provided long term
benefit) than those received on its commercial investments. A mix of both
was considered important and ensured the Council held a stable and diverse
portfolio. Where assets were continually not performing, these could and
had been sold or repurposed where possible;
It was suggested that the Council had received
substantial Government funding in light of Covid and that this had helped to
deal with the immediate financial affects that will be borne directly over the
coming year when support, such as the furlough scheme, came to an end.
Members noted, in response to a question raised, that approximately 87 staff
were still furloughed (this being reduced from over 800 at the height of
the pandemic [figure corrected after the meeting]);
(v) Members agreed that a key factor for the County Council was that it continued to be underfunded. It was questioned what progress was being made on the fair funding campaign. The Director and Lead Member confirmed that, whilst the pandemic had put this on hold, discussions with MPs to now drive this forward continued.
That the provisional revenue and capital outturn for 2020/21 be noted.
The Commission received a report of the Director of Corporate Resources on Corporate Complaints and Compliments for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 10’ is filed with these minutes.
Arising from discussion, the following points were made:
A Member questioned whether the Local Government
Ombudsmen (LGO) might restrict workflow and if so, what effect this might have
on residents seeking further redress of their complaints. The Director advised that it was currently
understood the LGO would not restrict workflow but would instead undertake more
lower level assessments at the triage stage of referral. This was to ensure their resources were
targeted at those cases where more in depth assessment was warranted, where a
finding of fault was more likely and where action could be taken to address
this. Assurance was provided that internally
the Councils processes had been changed to include a second review stage. This was not required but intended to make
sure all avenues to resolve a matter internally had been exhausted before referral
to the LGO;
The increased number of complaints relating to
home to school transport were noted, but it was acknowledged that this was exacerbated
by the late issuing of guidance by the Government on how Councils were expected
to deliver this service in a Covid safe way. Members agreed that the Council had done all
it could in the short time available to respond to resident’s needs, including
the secondment of additional staff, but that this had not been possible for all
those affected in time for the start of the academic year;
It was acknowledged that complaints around the
Council’s waste transfer sites were targeted towards the arrangements and implementation
of the new booking system which had been introduced because of Covid. It was highlighted
that this process would not continue once restrictions had been removed;
A question was asked whether an assessment had been
undertaken on whether the temporary restrictions on the use of waste sites had
resulted in an increase in fly-tipping. A
fellow Member confirmed that a correlation exercise had been undertaken by the Environment
and Transport Department last year and this had not identified any link between
the reduced ability to use the Council’s residual household waste facilities
and fly tipping;
Members were pleased that the number of grass
cutting complaints had fallen and suggested that this stemmed from the reprioritisation
of green and environmental issues;
Complaints relating to highway works were focused
on smaller, non-urgent repairs and whilst resources had been increased to begin
to address such issues, there was still a need to better manage residents’
It was accepted that generally people were less
likely to write in to report when they were pleased with a service and it was suggested
that the 255 compliments received were likely only a small fraction of those
who had been at least satisfied with services provided. Members welcomed the Council’s continued approach
to use complaints received as a constructive way of seeking to improve service
(viii) A Member questioned the proportion of complaints raised by a single person. It was noted that inevitably there were some individuals with more than one complaint, but these were each captured separately unless they related to a particular theme and so grouped and managed together.
That the update provided be noted and that the now comments made be submitted to the Cabinet for consideration at its meeting on 20th July 2021.
A copy of a report to be considered by the Cabinet at its meeting on 20th July is attached for the consideration of the Commission.
The Scrutiny Commission considered a report of the Chief Executive to be presented to the Cabinet at its meeting in July 2021 regarding the consultation draft of the Economic Growth Strategy prepared by Cambridge Econometrics on behalf of the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP). A copy of the report and the draft Strategy marked ‘Agenda Item 11’ is filed with these minutes.
The Chairman welcomed Mr P. Bedford CC, Cabinet Lead Member for Covid Recovery and Ways of Working and the County Council’s representative on the LLEP Board, to the meeting.
Arising from discussion, the following points were made:
The Strategy would be an important document
given the significant impact of the pandemic on businesses in the area.
There was currently no single strategy for the subregion which set out clearly
the sectors priorities or vision for the local economy and members agreed that
the Strategy would help fill that void;
The observations detailed in paragraph 32 of the
report were strongly supported though some felt the Council’s response should
be more robust;
A Member questioned the lack of reference to the
planned Freeport and how this might affect jobs and skills requirements in the
area. It was noted that the establishment of a Freeport was predominantly
being led by the relevant local authorities and private landowners, not the
LEPs, and the Chief Executive confirmed that reference to this could be added
to the Council’s response to the draft Strategy;
A Member raised concern that the impacts of
Brexit and how these might be managed to support local businesses had not been
addressed in the draft Strategy. It was suggested that these could
fundamentally affect trade nationally and locally for some time to come and so
should be referenced;
There was currently a mismatch between the
number of jobs available in Leicestershire and the number of people available
locally who were appropriately skilled to fill those positions. A member
raised concern that this would likely result in an increase in demand for
housing in areas already under pressure. It was agreed that this emphasised
the importance of skills and training and the need to ensure that when
vacancies arose, measures were in place to support local people not in work to
access those positions. It was suggested that the Strategy should demonstrate a
closer alignment to the Leicester/Leicestershire Strategic Growth Plan to 2050;
A member suggested that whilst the Strategy
referred to inclusivity this did not seem to capture businesses in rural areas
which had been significantly affected by Covid. A request was made for
this to be strengthened and, in particular, for reference to be added to the
‘Sustainable’ leg of the Strategy Framework set out in paragraph 28 of the
report which currently only referenced ‘sustainable places, city and town
A particular concern was raised about the
negative affect the City Council’s Transport Strategy and workplace parking
levy proposals (currently the subject of public consultation) might have on
those commuting to work in the City from rural areas of the County and how this
could disproportionally affected young people in lower paid jobs. Members
emphasised the need for the Economic Growth Strategy to take an overarching
view of the wider implications of such local policies to ensure these
dovetailed to support those seeking work across County, City and other regional
boundaries. This was considered necessary to facilitate the growth
planned across the region;
(viii) Concern was raised that the Strategy was too repetitive and backward looking and not sufficiently clear about future plans and the allocation of resources. As ... view the full minutes text for item 24.
The Commission considered a report of the Chief Executive regarding a review of the County Council’s approach to public engagement and formal consultation. The report set out the proposed new Consultation and Engagement Principles which had been developed in response to changes in the Council’s approach to public engagement in light of the pandemic and feedback received from officers, the public and Members during the last 12 months. A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 12’ is filed with these minutes.
Arising from discussion, the following points were made:
Residents often viewed consultations as a
formality rather than a genuine exercise to engage. It was suggested that publicising examples of
where consultation feedback had contributed to the development of, or change
in, proposals would help provide some reassurance on this issue. Members noted plans to develop the Council’s
website to more clearly set out for each piece of work undertaken what key
messages had been received from the public and what the impact of this has
been. The Chief Executive undertook to
consider including examples which it was agreed would provide additional
reassurance to constituents that their input had been heard and valued;
The Charter was very process driven but its
purpose was to guide officers on the best way to go about a consultation or
engagement exercise. This in turn
ensured high quality feedback was obtained that would then help officers
develop better outcomes. A well run
consultation helped ensure higher quality responses were provided;
Whilst it was felt that the County Council ran
very good, targeted, service driven consultations, it was suggested that these
were less effective when carried out in respect of high level, strategic
issues, such as the MTFS. Some Members
felt that the number of responses were sometimes so small that these could not
be regarded as being truly representative and therefore not statistically
relevant. Whilst perhaps providing some
rich and useful information, there was a risk they reflected the views of a
It was recognised that large scale, high level
consultations often failed to grab the attention of the public. It was suggested that framing a consultation
to make it more personal and relatable in the first instance would help ensure
residents understood the direct impact a particular issue might have on them. This in turn would help encourage them to
engage in the process;
A member emphasised the need for clarity on the
purpose of a consultation. Whilst
questions should be sufficiently broad so as not to be framed towards a
preferred outcome, they needed to be clear to ensure the public understood what
was being consulted upon (i.e. what decision was to be made) and sometimes
what, specifically, was not being consulted upon. Members noted that the Council’s business
intelligence team provided expertise and support to departments to help ensure
questions were framed clearly and so as to avoid bias.
the proposed consultation principles and the joining of the Consultation
Institute be supported;
the specific comments now made be reported to the Cabinet at its meeting in
Date of next meeting
The next meeting of the Commission is scheduled to take place on 8th September 2021 at 10.30am.
It was noted that the next meeting of the Commission would be held on 8th September 2021 at 10.00am, possibly for a full day.