Agenda and draft minutes

Strategic Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 17th November 2022 5.30 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter. View directions

Contact: Sharon Sissons, Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 01392 265115 or email  sharon.sissons@exeter.gov.uk

Note: Entry to the Civic Centre can be gained through the rear entrance, located at the back of the Customer Service Centre, Paris Street. 

Items
No. Item

23.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 678 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the Strategic Scrutiny Committee held on 29 September 2022.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 29 September 2022 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chair as correct.

 

24.

Declaration 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.

 

25.

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 14 November 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.

 

26.

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 reporting to this Scrutiny Committee are:-

 

Councillor Bialyk -       Leader

Councillor Morse -      Portfolio Holder City Development and Planning

Councillor Parkhouse Portfolio Holder Leisure & Physical Activity

Councillor Wood -       Portfolio Holder Climate Change

Councillor Wright -      Portfolio Holder Arts, Culture, and Corporate Services

 

Advance questions from Members relating to the Portfolio Holders above should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support.

 

 

 

Minutes:

No questions from Members were received.

 

27.

Portfolio Holder Report pdf icon PDF 181 KB

Councillor Laura Wright (Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder Arts, Culture, and Corporate Services) to present a report on her Portfolio.

 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Wright reported on the Arts, Culture and Corporate Services areas of her Portfolio and detailed the issues relating to achieving the Council’s published priorities, major ongoing programmes of work, issues impacting delivery, financial performance, budget requirements and potential changes being considered.

 

The Portfolio Holder referred to the following areas:-

 

·      the One Exeter Programme was contributing to the work on identifying the potential savings that were needed working with the Senior Management Board. A Briefing on the budget would be held for all Members in January;

·      Arts Council funding had awarded five of the city’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPO’s) with another three years of funding;

·      the Devon Housing Task force which included the Leaders and Members of the Devon authorities was working strategically on the housing crisis in the south west, and offered an opportunity to lobby Government for more investment in social housing. A copy of the letter written to Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities would be circulated to members of the Scrutiny Committee for information;

·      the investment in more staff in the city’s CCTV Control Room along with the Safety Partnership with the University of Exeter and Devon and Cornwall Police. She had raised an issue about response times to the 999 and the non-emergency 111 line; and

·      the approval of funding to help roll out the preparations for the photo ID, will be needed in the forthcoming May elections.

 

The Portfolio Holder responded to advance questions received from Councillor Read, with the responses in italics:-

 

Can the Portfolio Holder explain more about the in year cuts that are being made?

There were no in year cuts being made. As per the budget monitoring reports, the budget for this year remained balanced. There was a process ongoing in respect of the 2023/24 budget which was looking to address a shortfall caused principally by the pay award, increased energy costs and increased rates with borrowing costs. The budget for the year was balanced, with ongoing work to balance the budget for 2023/24.

 

How many posts remain unfilled or are being made redundant this year? 

It was important to note that no posts had not been identified for redundancy at the moment, but a voluntary redundancy offer was available. Any specific information would relate to individual members of staff.

 

There were currently 170 vacancies on the establishment, (with some covered by agency workers in Cleansing, Parks and Open Spaces). Work was taking place with the One Exeter Programme to establish how many places were vacant, but filled by agency staff.

 

Will One Exeter result in specific services being stopped altogether and which ones?

This was part of the work of the One Exeter Programme and there may be some amalgamation or a change of the emphasis in the way some services were operating. The work was ongoing and Members would be informed at the informal Member’s Briefing in January, before being considered by the Executive and Combined Scrutiny Committee meeting and then at  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

Commercialisation pdf icon PDF 293 KB

To consider the report of the Director Net Zero and City Management.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Service Lead Net Zero and Business presented the report which offered an update on work undertaken within the Net Zero and Business Service under the umbrella of commercialisation for the City Council.  An appendix also set out the wide range of projects the team were currently leading on with a projection of gross overall income that could be achieved. The intention was to provide an update on activity to the Scrutiny Committee every six months.

 

A number of factors had affected the progression of recent activity including a period of furlough during the Pandemic and an extended sickness period of the Commercial Manager, and an adjustment of the activity related to borrowing due primarily to the high level of interest rates. The Commercial Manager has been focusing on winning new contracts with an emphasis on waste and recycling; looking at the delivery of services differently and pursuing new and innovative ways to develop a new income stream for the City Council. He had spent some time negotiating with a number of local companies to win new contracts, but they were not forthcoming, in part due to other competitors in the local market. The report highlighted a number of projects being pursued with a significant emphasis on supporting and scoping new waste and recycling contracts using spare capacity to service the city. The gross values for the contracts were quoted, but following a Member’s request, the net values for waste and recycling would be made available and would better reflect what value would be achieved for the Council.

 

A number of commercial projects were on hold due to officer sickness and the current economic conditions including higher interest rates, and increases in the cost of raw materials. Delivering commercial activity was very challenging, and going forward, meant a change of emphasis for the Commercial Manager on supporting existing services, though efficiencies or winning new contracts.

 

Members made the following comments, and the Service Lead Net Zero and Business gave the following responses to Members’ queries:-

 

·      that despite the Council’s financially challenging position and the tendency to look inwards that commercialisation opportunities were not lost. The current core of commercial activity continued to focus on working on waste and recycling, as the Council offered a good service with the businesses that the Council work with, due in part to being the Waste Authority and disposal of waste within Exeter contributed towards the Council’s Net Zero ambitions in reducing carbon emissions. The inward internal focus remained, but working with the business community without borrowing or winning new contracts remained important.

·      identifying income as a target was not relevant as costs and allocated overheads might exceed income and not make a contribution to the revenue account. A request would be made to the Service Lead for Waste and Recycling to provide net figures showing costs of contract delivery such as staff, fuel, hire of vehicles and maintenance taken into account.

·      were there any restrictions for any profit made on how it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.

29.

Forward Plan of Business pdf icon PDF 220 KB

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 Sharon Sissons in advance of the meeting.

 

 

Minutes:

Members noted the Forward Plan and Scrutiny Plan.