Agenda and draft minutes

Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 30th June 2022 5.30 pm

Venue: Civic Centre

Contact: Howard Bassett, Democratic Services Officer  Telephone 01392 265107 or email  howard.bassett@exeter.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

10.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 405 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee held on 31 March 2022.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Customer Focus Scrutiny Committee held on 31 March 2022 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chair as correct.

 

11.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclose the nature of the interest. In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion of the item.  Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.

 

 

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made by Members.

 

12.

Presentation on the role of Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 178 KB

The Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support will attend to make a presentation. The terms of reference for scrutiny are attached.

 

Minutes:

The Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support spoke on the role of scrutiny and its importance within the Council’s democratic process in acting as a critical friend for the Authority. He set out the following three distinct aspects of the scrutiny process:-

 

·         holding Executive to account by analysing and reviewing their decisions such as through the Call-In process, provided this met one of the four criteria set out in the Council’s Constitution. This process was not applicable when the Executive made recommendations to Council as, at that stage, the whole Council was effectively the ultimate scrutinising authority. Members could also question Portfolio Holders on their areas of responsibility and how they were meeting the objectives and priorities of the Council. The Scrutiny Programme Board had agreed a new proforma for this purpose and this process would commence in the September/October cycle of Scrutiny Committees;

·         a more proactive approach with the opportunity to contribute to the policies and procedures of the Council through its Forward Plan, which is published monthly, providing advance notification of matters to be brought forward and which can be considered first by a Scrutiny Committee prior to report to Executive; and

·         a second proactive approach involved the examination of specific matters in greater detail through Task and Finish Groups, a good example being the recent meeting of the Homelessness Task and Finish Group. Such a group typically comprised five to six Members and was able to call witnesses, both internal and external, to assist with its review. An alternative was a Spotlight Review which could comprise a similar number of Members and which, typically, was likely to meet on one occasion only.

The Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support also made the following points:-

 

·         the Scrutiny Programme Board considered requests for further examination and scrutiny of issues with regard to Council priorities and objectives. Members of the Scrutiny Programme Board had developed a proforma for Members seeking to suggest a topic to set out the detail. This profoma was shared with the Strategic Management Board for comment before being presented to the Scrutiny Programme Board for determination and timetabling to ensure both an equal spread of business between the two Scrutiny Committees and to achieve the best use of the resources available;

·         the creation of a portal on the Council’s intranet which included guidance on scrutiny procedures and tips on how to make scrutiny work. It also included relevant forms to bring forward matters for scrutiny as well as links to the Local Government Association, Local Government Information Unit and Centre for Public Scrutiny sites;

·         two recent examples of in depth scrutiny were the detailed questioning of the progress report from Exeter City Futures and the City of Exeter Greenhouse Gas Inventory at the Strategic Scrutiny Committee and the meetings of the Joint Strategic Scrutiny and Customer Focus Scrutiny Committees examining the Exeter City Development Fund;

·         the opportunity, through Standing Order 18, for Members to request a matter being placed on a Scrutiny Committee agenda;

·         a meeting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Questions from the Public under Standing Order No. 19

Details of questions should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support via the committee.services@exeter.gov.uk email by 10.00am at least three working days prior to the meeting. For this meeting any questions must be submitted by 10.00am on Monday 27 June 2022.

 

For details about how to speak at Committee, please click the following link -  https://exeter.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/councillors-and-meetings/public-speaking-at-meetings/overview/

 

 

Minutes:

No questions from members of the public were received.

 

14.

Questions from Members of the Council under Standing Order No 20

To receive questions from Members of the Council to the relevant Portfolio Holders for this Scrutiny Committee. The Portfolio Holders are:-

 

Councillor Denning -   Portfolio Holder for Council Housing Development and Support Services

Councillor Ghusain -   Portfolio Holder for City Management and Environmental Services

Councillor Pearce   -   Portfolio Holder for Communities and Homelessness Prevention

Councillor Williams -   Portfolio Holder for Recycling and Waterways

 

Advance questions from Members relating to the Portfolio Holders should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support via the committee.services@exeter.gov.uk email.

 

Minutes:

In accordance with Standing Order No. 20, the following questions had been submitted by Councillors Bennett, Harvey, M. Mitchell and Sparling and had been circulated in advance to Members of the Committee. The responses of the Portfolio Holders are set out in italics.

 

Questions to the Portfolio Holder for Recycling and Waterways - Councillor Williams

 

Councillor Bennett

 

Please could the Portfolio Holder provide information on the performance of the glass collection service and if the service is expected to run without further interruptions this year?

 

Response

 

The team are working incredibly hard to rectify the performance but there are some issues outside their direct control. The vehicle used is a bespoke collection vehicle. It is over 11 years old with ageing parts that are difficult to source. Due to the nature of the vehicle we are unable to hire one to cover the vehicle while it is fixed. In addition, there is the issue of not being able to successfully recruit for LGV drivers and having to take the driver from this vehicle to bolster the statutory waste and recycling collections. Of course, measures are being explored to re-think the glass collections within the city, but the underpinning issue is that the Government is unclear when glass will be collected from the kerbside. That really isn’t helping the people of Exeter. I can assure you that everything we can control is in place to clear the glass side waste should the vehicle fail.

 

Supplementary question and answer.

 

Will action be progressed to address issues around kerbside collections or will the Government review be awaited first?

 

Answer

 

It is necessary to wait for clarity from the Government as it would be irresponsible to make major decisions and incur unnecessary costs prior to the results of the review being known.

 

Councillor Harvey

What arrangements are planned to solve the following problems with the food recycling collection:-

 

Response

 

I am pleased to offer reassurance as the current Portfolio Holder that I have been addressing matters since I started. We are unfortunately playing catch-up on many of these things but I can assure Councillor Harvey that I am the right person to undertake this challenging job. 

 

1)                  Lack of appropriately qualified drivers.

Advertising roles on a rolling advert to recruit LGV drivers, looking at upskilling current employed staff to the appropriate level for the vehicles.

 

2)                  Lack of appropriate vehicles.

We have one full time food vehicle delivery plus a spare. A 1 x 7.5 tonne food vehicle was delivered at the end of June 2022 and another 7.5 tonne food vehicle will be delivered at the end of September this year.

 

3)                  Collection arrangements with the collecting authority.

The other half of the existing round is being rolled out on Thursday 7 July 2022 (the other half of Alphington).

 

4)                  Licensing arrangements with the appropriate authorities regarding the storage and transfer of food waste.

Capacity on site is limited to 15 tonnes per day. The food waste bay on site is a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Homelessness Task and Finish Working Group pdf icon PDF 180 KB

To receive a progress update from the Chair of the Task and Finish Working Group.

Minutes:

The Deputy Chair and Chair of the Homelessness Task and Finish Working Group briefed Members on the first meeting of the Group held on 27 June 2022. He explained that the suggestion for a working group had been triggered by the cuts in Universal Credit and the feared impact this would have on existing homeless numbers.

 

The Chair explained the two stages of the review. Stage I would examine causation and prevention and gather evidence regarding the pattern and causes of homelessness in Exeter, including the impact of issues relating to the Pandemic, cost of living rises and recent Government policy changes and consider early intervention and prevention strategies. Stage II would involve the handling of the process of homelessness, examining how Exeter City Council and other statutory bodies handled homeless cases and the resource implications.

 

It was the intention to ask evidence providers for information and views (statements) in advance, for the Group to determine the questioning approach in order to avoid lengthy presentations and to concentrate on scrutinising the responses and issues. It was also the intention of the Group for its work to be promoted on the City Council website inviting bodies or individuals to submit evidence in person or in writing.

 

The Chair stated that he hoped that the above framework would become a transferable model for use by future working groups.

 

The Chair undertook for the Group to consider a request from a Member for the impact of the banding system to be included in the assessment of causation.

 

The following membership of the Group was noted:-

 

Councillor M. Mitchell (Chair) Councillors Jobson, J. Moore, Oliver, Rees, Sutton  and Wardle.

 

 

16.

The Exeter (Local) Plan - Community Engagement pdf icon PDF 259 KB

To consider the report of the Director of City Development.

 

 

Minutes:

The Assistant Service Lead Local Plan presented the report explaining the community engagement process for preparing the Exeter Plan (the Local Plan). He stated that the process for preparing the Exeter Plan was managed through legislation (the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) (Regulations 2012) which sets the need for consultation at an early stage in the process to define the scope of the Plan and then once the Plan has reached a final draft stage called publication.

 

The Council was committed to going beyond this requirement and was organising three formal consultations on the preparation of the Plan. In addition to the ‘Issues’ consultation which had been held between September and November 2021, consultations would be held on a draft plan and a final publication draft thereafter. If, at the Examination of the Plan, the Inspector required modifications, further consultation would also be held.  The next formal consultation on the Exeter Plan would take place in September of this year.

 

The way in which the Council would consult on the Exeter Plan was set out formally in the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) and that, although not a requirement, the Council had held a consultation on the draft SCI in 2021. New ways of engaging innovatively and interactively were currently being investigated for the next round of the Exeter Plan consultation to be held in the autumn. In addition to the SCI, the engagement activities planned for the Exeter Plan would also accord with the Council’s Consultation Charter.

 

Further informal engagement would be undertaken on specific issues considered by the Exeter Plan. This would enable the Council to make the most of opportunities to explore linkages between projects and also make best use of resources. A key part would be through joint working with Liveable Exeter. The Council was currently working in partnership with the RAMM and Exeter Culture to stage workshops on the ‘Future of the High Street’ while a summer-long exhibition in the RAMM was being held to explain more about Liveable Exeter. These activities would be using Lego models - the Brick by Brick Exhibition - and other interactive activities to engage in a different way. Also in July, the Council was launching a city-wide consultation on the ‘Future Place’ of Exeter, which would be asking local people about a vision for their future neighbourhoods and districts. This work would all feed into the Exeter Plan.

 

The Director City Development and Assistant Service Lead Local Plan responded to Members’ queries:-

 

·         a key consideration of the consultative process was to take on board the views of the public. The SCI sets out how public responses would be used to inform the Plan and the responses received to the ‘Issues’ consultation held between September and November 2021 had been reported through the Committee system;

·         the Exeter Plan would be a strategic land use development document with a  range of policies and would cover all aspects of how the city would grow to 2040. It would be important  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

Forward Plan of Business

Please see for noting a link to the schedule of future business proposed for the Council which can be viewed on the Council’s web site -

https://exeter.gov.uk/council-and-democracy/councillors-and-meetings/forward-plan-of-executive-decisions/

 

Should Members wish to raise issues in respect of future business please notify Howard Bassett in advance of the meeting

 

Minutes:

Members noted the Forward Plan.