Contact: Alison McEwan Democracy Officer
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the previous meeting.
The following three questions put by Councillor Fewings were omitted from the minutes. He asked for written responses;
1. In respect of the natural environment, meadows and hedges have been cut too early in the season against the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act and can this be stopped?
2. In respect of road works on Lower St James Street have the works been analysed in light of COVID and have businesses been spoken to on this?
3. Some residents do not have access to social media and would be unaware of the work of the Hub, can a leaflet explaining what is available from the Council be sent out with the electoral canvass forms?
With the correction detailed above, the minutes of the meeting held on 10th June 2020 were approved as a correct record.
Additional Items of Business
To determine whether there are any additional items of business which, by reason of special circumstances, the Chair decides should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.
There were two additional item of business that the Chair agreed should be taken
1. Q4 performance Report 2019/20 – the reason being to ensure scrutiny had sight of the figures in a timely manner
2. Temporary Accommodation for Homeless Households – to ensure scrutiny had sight of the Executive report before a decision was taken. The reason being to ensure the Council has services developed enough to tackle rough sleeping and have a range of services available to effectively respond to homelessness during the COVID 19 pandemic and to continue to support those households as the Country moves out of lockdown measures.
In accordance with the provisions of Section 100 (B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972 the Chair decided that the items should be considered as items 11 and 12 on the agenda for the reasons stated.
To consider the list of future Key Decisions.
The Chair indicated that the item on temporary accommodation for homeless households would be taken as an additional item of business on the agenda.
The items on single use plastics and Contact Centre dilapidations would come to the September Scrutiny meeting if the reports were available at that time. Councillor Fewings said that due to the current COVID crisis he would understand if the report on single use plastics slipped, however Councillor Pate said that this issue did need to be scheduled in as it had been ongoing for quite some time.
Councillor Townsend expressed concern regarding the lateness of the Revenue, Capital and Treasury Outturn reports and Q1 monitoring report and asked if an emergency budget was being considered. The Executive Member for Resources and Performance Management said that the Executive was putting together options and was awaiting to see if the Government was to release further funds to local authorities before calling for an emergency budget meeting. The Head of Finance and Property said that there were many variables and any further tranches of funding from the Government would be significant on how the economy of Burnley would get through the coming months, the Council needed to be in a position to take a proportionate response at that time. He indicated that the close of the accounts had been delayed by one month due to COVID and the statutory deadline for the accounts was now the end of September.
It was agreed that Scrutiny would receive the finance reports in a timely manner and a revised timetable for scrutiny meetings would be aligned to the Executive reports.
IT WAS AGREED
That the 28 day Notice of Key Decisions and Private Meetings be noted and Officers look at a revised timetable of meetings of Scrutiny to align them with the Executive finance reports.
Scrutiny Review Groups
To continue with the scrutiny of the Council`s response to the COVID 19 pandemic which had been considered at the last meeting and to consider the questions held over from that meeting and responses provided by officers. (to follow)
Also to consider an update on the housing review that had been held over from the 2019/20 cycle. The extract minute from 11th March meeting states
Minute 73 (b)
Following a review group meeting held in February Members received a response from Calico on the process for reporting housing repair issues and received a copy of Calico`s repairs policy and also a copy of the Customer Insight Report for July to September 2019.
Members of the review group did not feel that Calico`s response was what had been agreed at the review group meeting in February and asked that members gather evidence over the coming months to present to a future review group meeting on this issue.
IT WAS AGREED
That the Housing Repairs Scrutiny Review be carried over into the 2020/21 Scrutiny Work Programme.
Housing Repairs Review
The Chair outlined the position of scrutiny reviews as at the end of the 2019/20 municipal year and indicated that there was a carry-over of the housing repairs review that needed to be completed. He asked that an email be sent out to scrutiny members asking for volunteers to join a small working group to complete the review.
Councillor Pate asked whether the timing of the presentation of the Leisure Trust’s Annual Report would be impacted on by COVID. The Chief Operating Officer said that the Council was working with the Leisure Trust and any service realignment would be put to the Executive and that Scrutiny would have sight of this. He indicated that this might form part of an emergency budget should one be called.
IT WAS AGREED
That the housing repairs review group be reconvened and an email be sent to scrutiny members asking for volunteers to join this group.
COVID 19 Questions and Answers
Further to the last meeting on 10th June , members had submitted questions on the COVID presentation for Officer responses.
A questions and answers paper had been submitted and those members who had submitted questions were asked to make any further comments on the responses if required.
1. Councillor Fewings on the selective licensing powers further asked if he could be provided with a list of all powers available for dealing with empty properties including those under selective licensing powers. The Head of Housing and Development Control agreed to supply Councillor Fewings with this information.
2. Councillor Townsend on planning applications further asked for an explanation of the performance indicators figures and referred to an outstanding application in his Ward. The Chief Operating Officer explained that the Q4 performance figures for 2019/20 for planning targets had been achieved, however the figures in Q1 of this year had been effected by COVID and there was a backlog of applications to work through. He asked Councillor Townsend to let him know of the specific application he was referring to and he would look into it for him.
3. Councillor Fewings in respect of lobby Government to support industries he further asked that the Council be innovative on supporting low carbon industries. Councillor Gordon Lishman agreed and said that a Burnley based approach was needed rather than being subsumed by into the LEP.
4. Councillor Townsend in respect of the flood defences in Padiham further commented that it was disappointing that the work had slipped to late Summer 2020 despite it being an emergency in 2017. He said that a more pro-active response was required. The Chief Operating Officer said that a more detailed response would be provided, he said that it required a multi-agency approach but that the Council was trying to influence partners as much as possible to complete the works. A more comprehensive report would be available shortly.
5. On the response to Councillor Townsend`s question on infrastructure projects, Councillor Gordon Lishman said that the Council needed to be ready to take advantage of the Government`s job creation and job protection initiative and in respect of retro-fitting older homes under climate change the Council should be in pole position to make bids.
6. Councillor Townsend further commented on his disappointment of Burnley`s response in the Redefining Lancashire plan that had been sent to the Prime Minister which had only referred to Pioneer Place and felt a more ambitious submission could have been made. The Chief Operating Officer responded by saying that there was a short window of opportunity for bids with a strict set of criteria which precluded other projects. Councillor Fewings asked if the cinema and restaurant complex needed to be reconsidered in light of COVID as the Council had a fiduciary duty to ensure money was being used wisely.
7. Councillor Fewings further commented on the transparency and accountability of the LEP and asked who was speaking for Burnley on this board. Councillor Townsend said that the ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
Scorecards: Q4 performance report 2019/20
The Policy and Performance Manager presented the Q4 performance report for 2019/20 and highlighted key areas.
The Council had recorded its lowest staff sickness absences., the economy and growth team had helped in creating 127 jobs and safeguarded 47 through business support programmes, which was ahead of target and the number of vacant properties brought back into use had exceeded the target set.
On the off target indicators he highlighted the performance of Liberata and the calls answered on time which had ended at 73% compared with 80% last year. He said this was in part due to COVID crisis.
Councillor Townsend and Councillor Fewings both congratulated the staff for the sickness absence figures.
In respect of calls answered in time Councillor Fewings said that he wanted a more qualitative analysis and whether clients` queries were being dealt with satisfactorily and not just answered in a certain time frame. The Head of Policy and Engagement said he would provide this in the next set of figures. The COO said that this might have cost implications as it wasn`t in the current contract with Liberata.
IT WAS AGREED
That the report be noted.
To consider the Work Programme for 2020/21.
The work programme was noted.
To consider a late report to the Executive on proposals to expand the provision of accommodation for homeless households and those rough sleeping in Burnley and respond to the motion to full Council.
The Head of Housing and Development Control presented the report that was to be considered by the Executive at its meeting on 7th July.
He highlighted the key points being proposed to prevent and relieve homelessness and rough sleeping in the borough through a comprehensive approach that would focus on providing individuals with accommodation and support to access and sustain settled housing.
Councillor Pate said that the £45k put into the budget was intended to eradicate rough sleeping by the provision of a night shelter, She appreciated that today’s position was different from that of February when the budget was set but that this was additional money that had been put into the housing service and the Government should be asked to reimburse the Council for this amount. She asked that a similar amount be ringfenced for this type of accommodations in future. The Chief Operating Officer said that Council resolution was for £45k to eradicate rough sleeping and not specifically for a night shelter. Councillor Pate accepted this but said that members were clear on how that money should be spent and the type accommodation it should be used for.
Councillor Foster said she had sat on the homelessness working group where it had been agreed that what was needed was a step before Gateway and it be referred to as ` a bed for the night`, where people could go into this accommodation without any restrictions. If in the experience of the housing unit officers felt that people wanted more support it would be offered but not be. a condition of accessing a secure place to sleep for the night.
The Executive Member Councillor Margaret Lishman said this was what was intended and to provide a wrap around service. She said that the homeless group`s work would continue to provide solutions to homelessness issues in the future.
Councillor Pate said it is about having the right accommodation within the borough to prevent people being sent out of the borough.
The Chair said he looked forward to receiving future reports on this issue.
IT WAS AGREED
That the report be put to the Executive.