Agenda and minutes
Venue: Scaitcliffe House, Ormerod Street, Accrington. View directions
Contact: Ben Caulfield, Policy and Scrutiny Officer
Apologies for absence, Substitutions, Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
There were apologies from Councillors Patrick McGinley (Chair), Loraine Cox, Carole Haythornthwaite, Terry Hurn, Andrew Clegg and Noordad Aziz.
Councillors June Harrison, Judith Addison, Susan Hayes, Colin McKenzie and Bernard Dawson substituted.
There were also apologies from co-optees Paul Barton and Doug Hayes.
There were no declarations of interest or dispensations.
Minutes of Last Meeting PDF 188 KB
To submit the minutes of the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on Tuesday 20th October 2022 for approval as a correct record.
Recommended - That the minutes be received and approved as a correct record.
The minutes of the last meeting on 20th October 2022 were submitted and approved as a correct record.
Resolved - That the minutes from the Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 20th October 2022 be approved as a correct record.
Overview and Scrutiny Reports - Responses from Cabinet
When Overview and Scrutiny Committees submit reports or recommendations to Cabinet or Council, it is a requirement to report back the responses to the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The Chair invited the Scrutiny and Policy Officer to present this item.
When Overview and Scrutiny Committees submit reports or recommendations to Cabinet or Council, it is a requirement to report back the responses to the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee. At its meeting on 20th October 2022, this committee considered the call-in of the Cabinet decision relating to Leisure Transformation project – consultant appointment. Upon review, the committee released the decision in full for implementation. This was reported back and noted by Cabinet at its meeting on 7th December 2022.
Planning and Transportation Update PDF 101 KB
To advise Scrutiny of the measures being taken to improve performance within the Planning and Transportation service.
Recommended - That performance within the service continues to be monitored and the service improvements are carried out as set out in the report.
The Chair welcomed Simon Prideaux, Chief Planning Officer to the meeting to present the report. Simon indicated that the report intends to advise Scrutiny of the measures being taken to improve performance within the Planning and Transportation service.
Current difficulties in the service are generally linked to staffing and planning application software.
At the end of 2021 / start of 2022 a series of factors combined to have a significant impact on performance within the planning (principally the Development Management section) service. This has resulted in significant delays in the determination of planning applications, delays in the management of enforcement enquiries and other more general delays in responding to emails and general enquiries. The problems stemmed from a number of factors:
· Long term sickness absence of admin support staff and delays / difficulties in recruiting a temporary replacement. This in turn resulted in delays in planning applications being validated and reaching the planning officers.
· Long term sickness absence and passing away of the Council’s Conservation Officer / Senior Planning Officer. An agency planning officer has now taken over this officer’s role and is managing the case-load.
· The departure of the Councils Principle Planning Officer in Development Management that resulted in a number of major planning applications and a public inquiry having to be managed by the Chief Planning Officer. This post has now been filled by a permanent member of staff, but there was a significant gap in time between the departure of the officer and their replacement starting.
· Increase in workloads in 2021/22, and
· Continued issues associated with the on-line planning application software.
· An increase in complaints, which in turn adds to the workloads of officers.
Simon highlighted difficulties with recruitment, which the Committee asked several questions on. The recruitment of planning officers is particularly challenging. Although the Council was fortunate to be able to recruit a Principle Planning Officer for the Development Management (planning applications) service, it has not been possible to recruit to other planning officer posts except a temporary position that was recently recruited to with a graduate. This is a problem for local authorities across the country, with many Lancashire authorities struggling to recruit. The Council is making use of agency staff to cover several roles, which can cost up to 3 times that of an employed officer. This will lead to an overspend in the department’s budget and is not sustainable going forward.
Simon also covered the following in his update:
- Audit of planning applications
- Planning application software
- Office working arrangements
- Current position
Simon gave responses to questions on the following:
- Timeframe for the planning application software upgrade – Simon indicated that this would go live in March 2023. This will resolve current issues of the inability to search against addresses. The cost of the new software is £121,000 over 5 years
- Agency staff and the local plan – Simon told the committee that the 2 officers working on this had left. The Council were unable ... view the full minutes text for item 233.
Mayoralty of the Borough of Hyndburn PDF 201 KB
To provide the Committee with an overview of the Mayoralty of the Borough of Hyndburn.
Recommended - To note that report on the Mayoralty of the Borough of Hyndburn.
Councillor Joyce Plummer and Julien Joinson reported to the Committee. Councillor Plummer provided a brief update, highlighting the following topics:
- The Office of the Mayor and role
- Civic Handbook
- Civic functions and engagements
- Mayor’s Charity
- Mayoral Allowances and car
- Mayor’s Parlour
- Civic attendant
- Civic Services office
- Member Services
Detailed information is provided in the report. Cllr Plummer responded to questions on the following:
- Appointment of a driver – There has been difficulty recruiting to this post but it is anticipated that a new driver will be in post in 2 months-time. There are 2 temporary staff in the interim.
- Inclusion of gift aid in charity donations – The member services manager will look into this
- Deputy Mayors Allowance – there isn’t an allowance for the Deputy Mayor. Some Mayors give a proportion of their allowance to their deputy but this is currently at the discretion of the individual.
The Committee had a thorough discussion on the role and remuneration of the Deputy Mayor. Some felt strongly that more formal arrangements should be made for an allowance, whether this be an individual special responsibility allowance or more formal arrangements between the Mayor and Deputy. The Committee asked the Democratic Services Manager to look into the possible options of remuneration for the Deputy Mayor and report back to the Committee.
Resolved - The Committee requests that the Democratic Services Manager to look into the possible options of remuneration for the Deputy Mayor and report back to the Committee.
Performance Review - Markets PDF 120 KB
To update the Committee on the latest performance review which monitors service area performance against key priorities set out in the Corporate Strategy using a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). This report includes performance information relating to Markets only.
The Scrutiny and Policy Officer provided a brief update for the Committee. This report updates the Committee on the latest performance review which monitors service area performance against key priorities set out in the Corporate Strategy using a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). This report includes performance information relating to Markets only, where information was missing when the Committee received a full performance review at its meeting in September.
Ben highlighted the table titled Market KPIs 2021/22 and invited the Committee to ask questions. There were no questions.
Resolved - The report be noted.
Exclusion of the Public
Recommended - That, in accordance with Regulation 4(2)(b) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012, the public be excluded from the meeting during the following items, when it is likely, in view of the nature of the proceedings that there will otherwise be disclosure of exempt information within the Paragraphs of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 specified at the items.
Resolved - That, in accordance with Section 100A(4) Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting during the following items, when it is likely, in view of the nature of the proceedings that there will otherwise be disclosure of exempt information within the Paragraphs of Schedule 12A of the Act specified at the items
Land and Asset Disposals
To update Overview & Scrutiny on Asset Activity & Disposal from March 2019 to 1st December 2022.
The Chair welcomed Councillor Kath Pratt and Helen McCue-Melling to report to the Committee on this item. This report is to update Overview & Scrutiny on Asset Activity & Disposal from March 2019 to 1st December 2022.
The following was highlighted in the report:
- 26 Completed disposals totalling £3,949,397 between March 2019 and December 2022
- Disposals in progress, including sales and leases
- New cases expected in 2023
- Bowling pavilions
Helen highlighted the link to a previous review carried out by this Overview and Scrutiny Committee who identified numerous assets across the Borough for disposal.
Councillor Pratt and Helen responded to questions on the following:
- Leases to charities and community groups being weighted in the Council’s favour – Helen explained that terms of leases are negotiated between the parties and they are strongly advised to take their own independent advice before signing any lease or licence. Groups often want sole use and full control of an asset and with that comes the responsibility and costs. As some assets are disposed of at below market value, cost savings to the Council for repairs and maintenance can be one element in legitimising such a disposal.
- Links between capital receipts and capital expenditure by area – this information is difficult provide. It should be noted also that spending in one area often benefits residents from other areas. A table was provided showing capital receipts by area against capital programme budget by area. It was highlighted that this was budgeted amounts and actual spend may vary
- Future asset sales – The Council receive several enquiries per week regarding the purchase of land. These are prioritised by the Disposals Cabinet Working Group.
The Committee thanked Councillor Pratt and Helen for the report.
Resolved - That the report be noted.