Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Centre, St Luke's Avenue, Harrogate HG1 2AE. This meeting will be livestreamed here: https://bit.ly/HarrogateYouTube (Copy and paste the link in your browser).. View directions
Contact: Claire Wilson - Scrutiny Officer Tel: 01423 500600 ext. 58323 Email: email@example.com
Apologies for absence and notification of substitutes:
28/21 - APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTES: Notification had been received that Councillor Rebecca Burnett was acting as a substitute for Councillor Norman Waller. Apologies were received from Councillor Bernard Bateman.
Declarations of interest:
Members to advise of any declarations of interest.
29/21 - DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST: Commission Members who were also Members of North Yorkshire County Council declared an interest in the item considered at Minute 33/21. Members who declared an interest were Councillor John Mann, Councillor Michael Harrison, Councillor Stuart Martin and Councillor Robert Windass. This was because North Yorkshire County Council was the Local Transport Authority (LTA) and the item concerned providing feedback on bus services. Councillor Rebecca Burnett also declared an interest in Minute 33/21 as she had previously been employed by one of the local bus providers and her spouse was currently employed by the same company. As the item at Minute 33/21 was not a matter for decision, all Members present at the meeting remained in the meeting and participated in the discussions.
Of the meeting of 5 July 2021.
30/21 – MINUTES: The Minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 5 July 2021 were approved unanimously as a correct record.
To determine whether to exclude the press and public during the consideration of any exempt items.
31/21 – EXEMPT INFORMATION: Appendices A – F of the report considered at Minute 35/21 were exempt by virtue of paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 as they contained information relating to the financial affairs of the Council and were considered commercially sensitive. Consideration of the item, however, took place in open session.
Public arrangements- questions:
To consider any questions under Standing Order 27.
32/21 – PUBLIC ARRANGEMENTS – QUESTIONS: There were none.
A report in the name of the Executive Officer Economy and Transport was submitted. The Cabinet Member for Carbon Reduction and Sustainability to be in attendance.
SCRUTINY MATTERS AND REVIEWS UNDERTAKEN BY THE COMMISSION
33/21 – BUS: ENHANCED PARTNERSHIPS AND BUS SERVICE IMPROVEMENT PLAN: The Chair introduced the Cabinet Member for Carbon Reduction and Sustainability (CM CRS) to the meeting and explained that a review of Local Bus Provision had been outstanding on the Overview and Scrutiny work programme for some time.
The CM CRS introduced the report which had been submitted by the Strategic Transport Planner. The CM CRS explained that Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) was not the local transport authority, it was North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) who were the authority responsible for transport matters. HBC’s role was one of lobbying and supporting. One example of joint-working around public transport was the Station Gateway project, which was proposing dedicated bus lanes in Harrogate town centre.
The report outlined HBC’s suggested measures and requests for bus service improvements, to be submitted to NYCC to incorporate as part of its development of an Enhanced Partnership and Bus Service Improvement Plan. Preparation of these could unlock potential funding through the National Bus Strategy.
The purpose of bringing the report to the meeting was to give the Overview and Scrutiny Commission the opportunity to feed into HBC’s submission to NYCC. It was the aim to ensure residents and visitors to the Harrogate District could benefit from improved bus services. The CM CRS summarised the proposed response which included the following areas:
Feedback from the Commission was in relation to:
· The sustainability of any measures should be a major consideration, to ensure long-term delivery and maintenance of any improvements. This would include consideration of the continued funding associated with new developments (residential/commercial) for bus services, after any initial provision had ended. Other examples included long-term maintenance of measures associated with improving passenger experience, real-time information and bus shelter improvements, or any other area where funding may be discontinued.
Improved frequency and coverage of services
· Support from the Commission for a review of routes that had been withdrawn. It was highlighted that this should not be limited to routes that had been withdrawn, but also include routes that had been amended and existing routes that did not enable bus use for school/work commutes.
· Considered an important measure that could help give coverage in areas that could not sustain a regular bus service. Noted that, from a pilot scheme, this type of service was being used by a variety of age groups including young people as well as people eligible for concessions.
Park and Ride
· General agreement to the provision of park and ride for Harrogate town and some discussion around the potential benefits and issues of using the Yorkshire Showground site on Wetherby Road or alternative sites.
Real-time passenger information
· Improved communication when routes were diverted (especially rural areas/with groups unlikely to be using apps). ... view the full minutes text for item 33.
To provide an update on the draft schedule of meetings for 2021/22.
34/21 – OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMISSION DRAFT WORK PROGRAMME 2021/22: The Chair introduced the report submitted by the Scrutiny, Governance and Risk Manager (SGRM). He referred to the table at paragraph 3.4 where the dates and focus of future meetings were listed. Recent updates included:
· Medium Term Financial Strategy would be the focus for the next meeting of the Commission. This would be considered by Cabinet on 18 August 2021
· Confirmation of dates and attendees for ‘special meetings’ held on behalf of the Council (Director of Public Health, North Yorkshire Police Chief Constable and Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner)
· Potential date of 31 January 2022 for the Commission’s work item around criteria for referrals to planning committee
The work programme was kept ‘live’ throughout the year and updates to the draft schedule of meetings would be provided at future meetings.
(6.11 pm – 6.13 pm)
A report in the name of the Head of Finance was submitted.
MATTERS HOLDING THE EXECUTIVE TO ACCOUNT
35/21 – 2021/22 JULY FINANCIAL AND SERVICE PLAN PERFORMANCE: The Chair welcomed the Head of Finance (HoF) to the meeting, to present the first update report of the 2021/22 financial year. The overall financial forecast for the year-end position was an underspend of £32k. The forecast was mainly based on actual figures to the end of May 2021 as well as best estimates and assumptions made by services around income stream recovery. The actual variance at the end of the year would likely be different, but would be closely reviewed, monitored and reported on as the year progressed.
Key variances in the quarter one update report were summarised in table one of the report, the variances relating to COVID-19 had been separately identified in table two of the report.
Appendices A-F of the report contained information that was considered commercially sensitive and were therefore exempt, these appendices were not referred to in detail at the meeting. The HoF did provide an update about Harrogate Convention Centre, which was forecasting a £626k improvement on the budget.
Some areas where the forecast position was worse than budget were finance, parks and environmental, sport and leisure and the destination management organisation, this was mainly due to shortfalls in income. The HoF reported there was a £118k saving in respect of homelessness, this mainly related to timescales associated with a new young person’s pathway. Costs relating to street lighting (energy and maintenance) were £53k more than budgeted.
Overall additional costs and shortfalls were more than offset by savings of £561k in relation to staff turnover. This was however not due to the recruitment freeze but due to general staff savings including vacancies across services, with £270k relating to sport and leisure. Brimham’s Active, which was the Council’s new wholly owned company set-up to deliver sport and leisure services, was now recruiting to fill these posts. The HoF confirmed that Management Board had agreed that the recruitment freeze would come to an end, however the enhanced vacancy management process would continue. The Commission, who raised concerns about potential detrimental effects due to extra pressure on employees where services were under-resourced, supported this.
(6.26 pm – 6.40 pm)
A report in the name of the Improvement and Development Manager was submitted.
36/21 – 2021/22 JULY CORPORATE PERFORMANCE UPDATE: The Chair welcomed the Improvement and Development Manager (IDM) to the meeting and thanked her for the well-presented, detailed report. The IDM referred to the report explaining that the information included was for quarter one 2021/22 (April – June). It was noted that this period included phased changes within services that were in response to government guidance around COVID-19. In terms of looking at quarter one of the previous year, this period was considered an anomaly due to the effect of the pandemic and lockdowns, so comparison was difficult.
Overall 87% of corporate delivery plan actions were on target with 69% of performance indicators on target. Areas of positive performance highlighted by the IDM were the launch of a new website for Visit Harrogate, the number of households and average length of stay in temporary accommodation as well as delivery of affordable homes across the district. With an area of concern being the economic impact and overall income of Harrogate Convention Centre (HCC). Whilst events at HCC had resumed since it had been used as a NHS Nightingale Hospital, the impact of COVID-19 was ongoing.
Information had been received following the publication of the reports and the following updates were provided:
· Council tax collection was on target
· Percentage of in-year sundry debt collected revised to 94% (from 89%)
· Percentage of in-district parking debt recovered was reported as 0%, however there were no cases referred
Customer complaints were highlighted by Commission Members as an important area to focus on. For quarter one, stage one complaints did not hit their response target of 80%, with 62% of stage one complaints responded to within ten working days, responses to stage two complaints were above target. It was noted that Management Board had endorsed a plan around improving complaints performance. The IDM explained that the Council was recruiting an officer to the Business Intelligence and Performance team with a complaints focus. Overall the approach that would be taken included reviewing the complaints policy, potentially enhancing the complaints webform available to customers and to undertake analysis to enable learning and improvements.
The Director of Economy and Culture who was in attendance at the meeting responded to a question about the scope of the future of town centres item that was listed in the corporate delivery plan. It was confirmed that the review would include all of the towns in the district and the format for Member engagement with this piece of work would be considered as the project progressed.
(6.13 pm – 6.26 pm)
To consider current Forward Plan items.
37/21 – FORWARD PLAN OF KEY DECISIONS: The Chair explained the purpose of the item was to make Members aware of forthcoming decisions on the Forward Plan to enable pre-decision scrutiny. The Forward Plan item informed Members when reports would be published and names the lead officers.
The Scrutiny Officer referred to a Key Decision that was currently in the call-in period, this was the Award of Contract for Business Planning Updates, Economic Impact Assessment and Full Business Case Development for Harrogate Convention Centre Redevelopment Project (Forward Plan Reference 39ED21).
Councillor Pat Marsh referred to the date of decision listed for the Key Decision Appointment of Suppliers for the provision of Asbestos Testing and Removal Services (Forward Plan Reference 040HP19). The date for decision was before 30 June 2020. It was agreed for an update on this to be provided.
(5.44 pm – 5.53 pm)