Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Management Board - Thursday, 8th December, 2016 1.30 pm

Venue: The Writing Room - City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR

Contact: Allison Taylor  Allison Taylor

Link: Click here for video

Items
No. Item

15.

Welcome, Introductions and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed all members to the meeting and explained the evacuation procedure in the event of an emergency.

 

16.

Apologies for absence.

Minutes:

No apologies received.

 

17.

Declarations of Interest

To note any declarations of interest from the Councillors.  They are asked to indicate the relevant agenda item, the nature of the interest and in particular whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest.

 

Any declarations of interest made at the meeting which is not on the register of interests should be notified to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

At this point, the Chair, with the agreement of the Board, amended the order of the agenda. He also took the opportunity to welcome the recently appointed Section 151 Officer, Denise Murray

18.

Minutes and Action Sheet of the previous meeting. pdf icon PDF 217 KB

To agree the minutes as a correct record and to note the Actions since the last meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

These were approved as a correct record.

 

19.

Urgent Business

Minutes:

The Board considered the following three reports in advance of their consideration at Full Council on 13 December 2016. The following comments were made and were conveyed to Full Council.

 

 

Approval of Council Tax Base 2017/18.

 

This year the Council Tax Base is set at £124,083 which is a significant increase from last year. The unprecedented increase is due to growth in the city but also the reduction in the Council Tax Support Scheme. This is a sound figure based on a number of assumptions detailed in the report. The factual figure was provided by the Valuation Office in October. Estimating the number of students was difficult as they were 100% discounted. Lots of additional student housing was being provided as there’s been an influx of students into the City Centre and Bristol generally, which was significant. 

 

The following points arose from discussion:-

 

1.      A Councillor observed that the Council used to get compensation for students but if that had disappeared it would have  quite an effect on the Council budget;

2.      The surplus and deficit calculations had not been calculated yet as they were not due until early 2017 ;

3.      The issue of students was particularly relevant as a large development of student accommodation had been approved at Temple Meads, which meant less revenue going through. It was important to know the impact of this. He asked that additional information be provided in relation to student Council Tax exemptions and for information comparing previous council tax base forecasts against actuals;

4.      A Councillor who represented the ward with the largest number of students stated that the cost of students was effectively a loss to the Council. Three storey houses in his ward would become HMOs and displace people paying resident rates; The Chair observed that the issue of affordable housing for those who most needed it was a cross- departmental scrutiny issue which should be  considered  by the Cabinet;

5.      The Interim Chief Executive stated that the figure of £9m could not be considered a loss to the Council. Any change to student discounts would require an amendment to government legislation;

6.      The Chair referred to the reduction in benefit claimants and asked whether there was a presumption that there would be a permanent reduction in claimants and if so how was it possible to protect against financial challenges. There was a real contingent risk that if benefit claimants increased one year the Council could find it had a deficit when it had budgeted for a surplus. The Section 151 Officer acknowledged that this area was always volatile. Assumptions were trend informed and a range of scenarios had been modelled to arrive at prudent and robust assumptions.

 

 

 

Capital Receipts Flexibility.

 

This was a Cabinet referral to Full Council detailing the recent change in legislation that allowed Capital Receipts to fund revenue transformational change. This strategy would enable the release of up to £5.3m from revenue reserves that could be used to partly mitigate the 2016/17 budget pressures.

 

The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Chair's Business

To note any announcements from the Chair

Minutes:

None

21.

Public Forum

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item

 

Any member of the public or Councillor may participate in Public Forum.  The detailed arrangements for so doing are set out in the Public Information Sheet at the back of this agenda.  Public Forum items should be emailed to democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk and please note that the following deadlines will apply in relation to this meeting:-

 

Questions - Written questions must be received 3 clear working days prior to the meeting.  For this meeting, this means that your question(s) must be received in this office at the latest by 5 pm on Friday 2 December 2016.

 

Petitions and Statements - Petitions and statements must be received on the working day prior to the meeting.  For this meeting this means that your submission must be received in this office at the latest by 12.00 noon on Wednesday 7 December 2016.

 

Minutes:

None.

22.

Increasing Business Efficiency. pdf icon PDF 143 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Strategic Director – Business Change introduced the report detailing the efficiency savings that are proposed as part of the budget setting process for 2017 – 2022. The information was complimentary to the Draft Corporate Strategy 2017-2022, Business Plan 2017/18 and Medium Term Financial Plan 2017/18 – 2021/22.

 

The following points arose from discussion:-

 

  1. The Interim Chief Executive stated that the freeze on spending was an unprecedented action and was a consequence of the extreme financial pressure the Council was faced with. Savings had been made with one off contributions but there was a need to protect reserves as departmental spending had not decreased. The Council was now at a point where the ‘easy things’ had been done and members would need to make difficult choices in the context of the legislative framework. Officers would be able to provide a range of options for balancing the budget but members may not be happy with the decisions they had to make. The budget would be balanced through continued savings and through protecting reserves. Spending was not frozen for matters of health and safety and where Managers could demonstrate a pragmatic need to spend;
  2. The Interim Strategic Director – Business Change stated that the Leadership Team had been open and transparent to members regarding the challenges faced and the Transformation Programme proposed, and whilst the programme had not yet been fully documented, all measures taken would satisfy the Council’s external auditors;
  3. A Councillor expressed great concern at the level of savings expected to come from the People budget. He asked that the surplus from parking revenues be kept in the transport field and not redistributed. He noted the proposal to remove the 30 minutes free parking rule and believed this would damage the ongoing process of RPZ as this concession had made the current schemes palatable for a lot of people. He believed the £675,000 proposed savings was based on spaces being occupied all of the time and a parking attendant being there and was not therefore a viable figure. With respect to Housing Services, he suggested that the only way the service could be turned around was to move it into the Private Sector where efficiencies could be achieved. He noted in particular that other, smaller Councils with retained stock had made those efficiencies. The analysis had not made in-roads into landlord Services. In response, he was informed that it was a legal obligation to spend income generated from parking services on transport matters. The Mayor had made a statement on the 30 minute parking rule and this was read out to the Board. The Interim Chief Executive agreed that more work was needed on Housing Services’ efficiencies, particularly the management of facilities. A revamped business plan was proposed for next year;
  4. A Councillor observed that the freezing of wellbeing budgets for Neighbourhood Partnerships would have a huge knock-on effect for small organisations reliant upon grants;
  5. A Councillor was very concerned regarding the freeze and could not see how it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

Democratic Engagement Select Committee Terms of Reference. pdf icon PDF 146 KB

The Overview and Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB) have agreed to look at ways to improve public engagement in democracy as set out in the work programme adopted on 9th September 2016.  This will be a significant work stream for OSMB focussed on increasing voter turnout at the 2020 election, as well as public engagement generally with the City Council’s democratic processes.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report set out the draft Terms of Reference and the legal and resource implications of the proposed Select Committee.

 

 

The following points arose:-

 

1. A Councillor suggested that the Council could put ‘How to’ videos on its website regarding ways to engage ie. Public Forum at Regulatory Committees;

2. Engagement could be daunting for the public and this would make the process easier;

3. Best practice from other democratic organisations should be considered;

4. The frequency of meetings should be considered.

 

RESOLVED –

 

1. That the draft Terms of Reference be amended following the comments from Members;

2. That updates from the Select Committee will be provided to OSMB

24.

Scrutiny Resolution and Full Council Motion Action Tracker pdf icon PDF 140 KB

The tracker has been created at the request of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board (OSMB) to provide a summary of Scrutiny resolutions and Full Council motions, and progress to date. It is complimentary to the Scrutiny Commission actions sheets produced by Democratic Services for each meeting, which record actions and tasks in detail.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was agreed that the tracker be updated to track outcomes on Inquiry Days and Select Committees.

25.

Mayor's Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 136 KB

The report provides the latest version of the Mayor’s Forward Plan.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the Forward Plan be noted.

 

26.

Scrutiny Work Programme - 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 153 KB

This report provides details of the work programme 2016/17 that was unanimously agreed by the Scrutiny Councillors at the work planning workshop on the 9th September 2016. 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 

 

 

It was noted that a Scrutiny Chair’s meeting had recently concluded that scrutiny was not working as effectively as it had previously. It was agreed that policy development was far more constructive and of greater interest to the public than pre decision Scrutiny.  And that a paper of options would be brought to the OSM meeting on 9th February 2017.

 

It was also agreed to establish whether the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Commission had given consideration to the Local Housing Company Business Plan. 

 

 

RESOLVED – that the current Work Programme be noted.

27.

Date of Next Meeting.

Extraordinary OSMB 5 January 2017 @ 2pm.

Minutes:

5 January 2017 at 2pm.

 

The Meeting ended at 4.35 pm.

 

 

CHAIR  __________________

 

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