Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Commission
Wednesday, 14 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.

44.

Minutes. pdf icon PDF 154 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 31 October 2018 were taken as read, confirmed and signed.

 

45.

Question Time.

Minutes:

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

 

46.

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).

 

47.

Urgent Items.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items for consideration.

 

48.

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 councils declared a personal interest in the report on proposals for a unitary structure of local government in Leicestershire (minute 51 refers).

 

49.

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

Minutes:

There were no declarations of the party whip.

 

50.

Presentation of Petitions under Standing Order 36.

Minutes:

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

 

51.

The Development of a Unitary Structure for Local Government in Leicestershire. pdf icon PDF 862 KB

A copy of the report submitted to the Cabinet at its meeting on 16 October 2018 is attached. 

 

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee 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.  A copy of the report marked ‘Agenda Item 8’ is filed with these minutes.

 

The Chairman welcomed the Leader and Deputy Leader of the County Council to the meeting.  A particular welcome was extended to the external expert witnesses who had kindly agreed to attend the meeting and talk about their experiences: Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, Leader of Wiltshire Council, Jake Atkinson, Chief Executive of the Leicestershire and Rutland Association of Local Councils (LRALC), Justin Griggs, Head of Policy and Communication at the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), Kevan Liles, Chief Executive of Voluntary Action LeicesterShire (VAL) and Richard Evans, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice LeicesterShire.

 

Mr N J Rushton CC, Leader of the County Council, placed on record his thanks to the Scrutiny Commission and opposition group leaders for their commitment to scrutinising the proposals for a unitary structure of local government in Leicestershire and to Baroness Scott for her assistance to the scrutiny process.

 

The Leader confirmed that he had received a letter from the Leicestershire MPs asking him to stop the process and that the District Council Leaders had also told him that they were no longer considering the matter.  He would seek the views of the County Council’s Conservative Group at a meeting on 4 December.

 

The Chairman advised that the District Leaders had accepted an invitation to attend a meeting of the Commission but were unable to make the dates that had been suggested.  The Commissioners would give consideration to the District Leaders’ request to be accommodated.

 

[It was subsequently confirmed that an additional meeting of the Commission would take place on 6 December at 10.00am.]

 

The Deputy Leader of the County Council, Mr J B Rhodes CC, reminded the Commission that the proposals demonstrated considerable opportunities to improve services.  They would also strengthen the voice of the area, meaning that it would be more likely to be successful when bidding for national funding.  Finally, the proposals presented an opportunity to reduce costs, address the financial pressures which were currently facing the County Council and ensure that quality services would continue to be delivered to the people of Leicestershire.

 

(a)  Presentation from Wiltshire Council

 

The Commission received a presentation from Baroness Scott, outlining Wiltshire’s journey to becoming a unitary authority and the changes that had occurred as a result of structural reform.  A copy of the slides forming the presentation is filed with these minutes.

 

During her presentation, Baroness Scott highlighted the following points:-

 

·       Prior to seeking unitary status, efforts had been made to improve joint working between the county and district councils.  This had had some success but was limited by an unwillingness from individual organisations to cede power.

 

·       The establishment of a unitary authority should not be seen as the County Council taking over district council services, but as an opportunity for a different type of local government, with different councillors, officers and relationship with the public.  In setting up a new organisation, time had been spent developing and embedding a new culture and values.

 

·       A clear and simple vision and business case, focused on better services as well as saving money, had been essential, as had communication and engagement with stakeholders and the public.  Single issue sheets had been developed for areas such as housing and planning, where there was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 51.

52.

Date of next meeting.

The next meeting of the Commission is scheduled to take place on 30 November 2018 at 10.00am.

 

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meeting of the Commission would be held on 30 November 2018 at 10.00am.