Venue: Council Chamber, Surrey Heath House, Knoll Road, Camberley, GU15 3HD. View directions
Contact: Katharine Simpson Senior Democratic Services Officer
To receive, and confirm as being a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee held on 17th July 2019.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Performance and Finance Committee held on 17th July 2019 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
To receive an update from Councillor Adrian Page on his work during 2019/20 in his capacity as Portfolio Holder for Planning and People.
Councillor Adrian Page presented an update on the work carried out to date during the 2019/20 municipal year in his capacity as Executive Portfolio Holder for Planning and People.
The portfolio covered a number of areas including: planning policy and conservation, planning enforcement, drainage, land charges, building control and development management. Arising from the subsequent questions and comments the following points were noted:
· Although there had been an overall shortfall in the number of net housing completions against targets, long term projections predicted that the Council was on track to meet the Government targets.
· It was acknowledged that the proposed route for the new Esso pipeline had been a surprise and the Council’s full response to the consultation would be circulated.
· The need for additional Gypsy and Traveller pitches was acknowledged however it was stressed that the Council should take steps to ensure that the Borough’s current provision was fit for purpose.
· As a result of ongoing difficulties experienced in the recruitment of a dedicated Planning Enforcement Officer the Council’s Corporate Enforcement Team had assumed responsibility for conducting initial visits and investigations and specialist external resources were then used to prepare enforcement notices and reports. It was acknowledged that this was not an ideal situation and officers were exploring a range of potential solutions to solve the recruitment problem including the possibility of an apprenticeship route.
· It was clarified that the term District Centre was defined as a group of shops which were supported by a variety of non-retail facilities and services, which are laid out to collectively form a coherent sustainable centre.
· Clarification would be provided on what progress had been made in relation to a question raised about the management charges in private developments at a previous meeting.
· The Committee repeated its request for specific officer contact telephone numbers that could be used in the event of an out of hours emergency occurring. It was agreed that this would be followed up.
The Committee thanked officers in the Planning Policy Team for the considered approach that they were taking with the development of a new Local Plan for the Borough.
The Committee thanked Councillor Page for his update.
To receive an update from Councillor Vivienne Chapman on her work during 2018/19 in her capacity as Portfolio Holder for Environment and Health.
Councillor Vivienne Chapman presented an update on the work carried out to date during the 2019/20 municipal year in her capacity as Executive Portfolio Holder for Environment and Health.
The portfolio covered a number of areas including air quality, community transport, older people’s services, emergency planning, Environmental Health, waste collection and street cleansing and health and wellbeing. Arising from Members’ questions and comments the following points were noted:
· An audit of the Borough’s buildings, following the Grenfell Tower fire, had found that there were no externally clad buildings in the Borough that exceeded the height limits set out by the Government at which action was required.
· New regulations relating to fire control measures would be coming into force imminently and these would be monitored by Building Control.
· Clarification was sought on whether missed bin collections were being mapped to identify if there were any patterns to the missed collections.
· Data relating to the number of fly tipping prosecutions in the past year and how these compared to previous years would be circulated.
· It was noted that a new cross Surrey Fly Tipping Strategy had been developed.
· Details of the training provided to hospital staff on the Home Safe service would be circulated.
· It was clarified that Home Safe care packages were free for two weeks following discharge
· The Surrey Waste Partnership had developed a Single Use Plastic Strategy and the Borough was supporting a number of initiatives including the installation of water refill points in Camberley town centre and giving out reusable water bottles at events.
· It was agreed that concerns raised about the difficulties that a homeless resident had recently experienced when trying to access Community Transport services would be investigated.
· Reports that Amey had refused to collect bins from a prearranged alternative collection points whilst gas mains replacement work was ongoing in Heatherside would be followed up with Amey.
· Information about which materials could and couldn’t be recycled was on the Council’s website and a leaflet was distributed to all households on an annual basis. In addition, an app, developed to enable residents to easily check whether an item could be recycled, was also available.
· The possibility of exploring bio-recycling would be raised with Surrey County Council in its capacity as the waste disposal authority.
The Committee requested that all future Portfolio Holder update reports contained more detailed statistical evidence and performance information so that year on year trends could be analysed and performance monitored effectively.
The Committee thanked Councillor Chapman for her update.
To consider a report summarising the outcomes of complaints received by the Council during the 2018/19 municipal year.
The Committee received a report summarising the outcome of complaints received by the Council at either Stage 2 or Stage 3 of the Council’s complaints policy.
During the 2018/19 municipal year 37 formal complaints had been dealt with at either stage 2 or stage 3. Of these, 27 had been found to be not justified, eight were found to be partly justified and two had been found to be justified. The majority of complaints had been caused, or exacerbated, by the Council’s failure to either respond to a resident in good time or because residents had not been kept informed. This had been followed up with Executive Heads.
Members were reminded that any emails sent to them by residents should be forwarded to the Councillor Enquiry email address soon as practicable to ensure that they were not contributing unwittingly to a delayed response to resident.
During 2017/18, the Local Government Ombudsman had received 15 complaints relating to Surrey Heath Borough Council. Of these five had been closed following initial enquiries, two had been referred back to the Council for local resolution and two were considered to have been invalid or incomplete. Detailed investigations had been held into five complaints and of these four were not upheld and one was upheld. It was noted that the Service concerned had taken the Ombudsman’s recommendations on board and new processes were now in place in order to prevent a repeat situation occurring.
The Committee noted the report.
To consider the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee’s work programme for the remainder of the 2019/20 municipal year.
The Committee considered a report setting out the proposed work programme for the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee for the remainder of the 2019/20 municipal year.
It was agreed that the proposed work programme would be kept under review to ensure that there was sufficient time to fully scrutinise the work of the Council.
The Committee noted the report.
Date of Next Meeting
The next scheduled meeting of the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee will take place on Wednesday 27th November 2019 at 7pm.
It was noted that the next scheduled meeting of the Performance and Finance Scrutiny Committee would take place on Wednesday 27th November 2019 at 7pm.