Venue: The Writing Room - City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR
Contact: Allison Taylor Allison Taylor
Link: Click here for video
The emergency evacuation procedure was noted. The Chair welcomed all present to the meeting.
Apologies for absence.
These were received from Councillors Morris and English. Councillor Kirk will leave at 7.30pm.
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.
There were no declarations of interest.
Minutes of the previous meeting.
Minutes to follow
Minutes not yet available.
To note any announcements from the Chair
Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item
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This report is a cover report with the detailed appendices to follow
The report was presented to Members by the Service Director, Finance.
The report aims to introduce a new approach to strategic direction. It provides a guide to strategic goals and sets a plan for the future.
The plan will look at the current financial position, refresh the budget gap (a £42m gap persists after the identification of £62m savings).
Also included are:
• Evidence available and summarised data, for funding and changes since February.
• Information about economic trends both nationally and locally.
• Risks, opportunities and threats.
• Factors which must be considered to ensure resilience.
• Principles which must guide prudent expenditure, investment and efficiency savings and grow income and transform services.
The officer noted that an uncertain climate continues and that the figures presented in the financial plan do not make allowances for future issues outside the control of the council.
During the discussion which followed the following points were made:
• The plan will be applied to different areas of the budget to ensure the council is spending prudently, and with flexibility in our contracts. The aim will be to maintain a financially balanced position each year, to deliver on the budget that’s been set.
• In relation to investments the council will look at new investments. Prioritisation metrics will be used to determine expenditure; this should drive efficiencies as the council looks at budgets in these new ways.
• It is intended to review peppercorn rents and to provide a suite of options to the Executive. The intention is to give flexibility and transparency to review these rents and provide more clarity about where subsidies are effectively being given to organisations.
• Start-up grants may be changing to start-up loans.
• With regard to capital programme procurement, going forward the council should take account of maintenance when making investments. Frequently capital programme spending and the revenue budget do not align; in the future a whole life cycle approach will be used. This will enable fully informed decisions to be made about the running costs of an asset as well as the capital cost. There are models available to help provide a full picture of the costs of various assets (such as highways, school buildings etc.) and these will be used to provide better information and may in due course change the approach to the management and maintenance of assets. The objective will be to save unnecessary expense to revenue budgets.
• Social value will also be considered through the social value policy which will be incorporated into the financial plan.
• Savings and benefits may accrue to different budget holders. At present the savings and benefits are not aligned to functions in recognition that a whole system approach is necessary. A silo approach is unhelpful. More detailed work will be taking place to ensure an organisation-wide approach is taken.
• Bristol City Council will need a mix of internal skills and external skills to help take forward this new way of working. Support across the ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Report to follow
The agenda item was introduced by the Service Manager – Scrutiny, and the Chair. During this item and throughout the meeting the following key points were made by members.
• The headlines generated by the earlier workshop have now been scoped. Further ideas have been developed.
• OSM lead members for each work area will be discussed and confirmed in the future. Once agreed, they will be shared to all Councillors, to give Councillors the opportunity to contribute where they have a particular interest or expertise in a specific work area.
• There will be monthly OSM meetings. For each work area there might be a formal report or just a verbal report. The list of work areas will continue to be reviewed. The work areas may change in response to legislation or a local requirement. At each OSM and OSM Planning meeting the work list will be reviewed.
• All Scrutiny meetings are captured on webcast. It is proposed that a dedicated webpage for Scrutiny will be developed which will give links to appropriate detailed reports, webcasts and webpages.
• Items for Scrutiny will be brought forward by Members through OSM; OSM will determine whether to use a Task and Finish Group or a Commission. The Group or Commission will always report back via OSM. OSM will co-ordinate the whole Scrutiny programme.
• If there was an urgent Scrutiny matter then OSM would be able pull a working group together quickly if necessary.
• Scrutiny Commissions will remain as an option for the present as they are included in the Constitution.
• A view was expressed that the new ways of working will not work as there will always be items which need to be reviewed as well as new subject areas and that there should be provision for both and that work of Scrutiny is too big to be covered by the members of OSMB without further involvement of many other councillors.
• There was concern from some members that those on Scrutiny committees have lost their roles. The new way of working may be interesting and more effective, but there’s a danger that we have created a group of people who decide what everyone else does.
• The Majority of OSMB members endorsed the view that Task and Finish Groups will be the process for the future (subject to how they work in reality). It was argued that OSMB cannot go back over the agreement made in the past and must commit to making the new method of working successful. It is not sensible to keep defending a change, which evolved out of a lengthy process. The new working groups will help OSM get away from long agendas with short updates from Scrutiny Commissions. There should enable be more detailed Scrutiny and debate.
• The vision is to avoid the conscription of Members and instead have the benefit of willing volunteers with interest in the work area.
• There will be regular communications with members to reflect ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Members asked for an agenda item at Overview and Scrutiny on the current Your Neighbourhood Consultation. Neighbourhood and People Scrutiny have examined the consultation. It is felt that it is important to improve member involvement in the consultation and to assist members with engagement. OSM must decide if it wishes to submit anything to Cabinet and a response to the consultation itself. OSM will take note of the next steps in the consultation which closes on 5 September 2017.
Cllr Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for Communities (Public Health, Public Transport, Libraries, Parks) has been asked to attend this meeting.
During the discussion the following points were made:
• The community links element of the consultation is more acceptable and this model would lead to less concern from OSM members. This will be raised at Cabinet.
• Some ward members have made a lot of effort to involve citizens and encouraged them to make a response to the consultation.
• The way questions are laid out is felt by some members to be prescriptive. If people respond online they have more space to respond. It is possible to make lots of comments or enter “None of the above”, to ensure that a response is not counted as supporting one of the closure options. A view was expressed that this could lead to some residents to vote for options which preserve their library and then it may be claimed that there’s a mandate to close a number of libraries.
• There are a lot of questions regarding the management of neighbourhoods directorate which are not covered by the consultation.
• The Executive instructs citizens to communicate with councillors but the support to councillors has been removed at the same time; this is unhelpful. Budgets are shrinking but councillors are being asked to take on more.
• People may not feel inclined to engage, which is not at all desirable.
• Many people have been attending local meetings with the Mayor and officers regarding the consultation.
• There is a statutory duty to consult (which is separate from any drive for cuts) and there is also real dialogue necessary on a case by case basis, particularly where the library is one of a number of services / users in a particular building. The Executive is trying its best and the consultation is progressing well. Although the written part of the process may not look as good as it should be, the process as a whole is going well.
• There was no reference to the previous libraries consultation. It had a good response, but there is no acknowledgement in the current consultation of the previous one. Many people volunteered to help to keep their library open at that time, and these offers were not followed up at all.
• It was felt by some members that communication has been a problem with this consultation.
• People with learning difficulties are experiencing great difficulty responding to the online questionnaire. This ... view the full minutes text for item 9.