Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Philippa Gibbs  020 8461 7638

Items
No. Item

130.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE FROM THE CALL

Minutes:

Councillor Mellor submitted retrospective apologies.

 

The Chairman thanked all those who had joined the conference call briefing, expressing the hope that other PDS Committee would be able to implement similar arrangement to enable pre-decision scrutiny of decisions during the COVID-19 emergency.

 

It was noted that Councillor Gary Stevens (who had joined the call) was investigating options for conference calls and virtual meetings going forward.  The ability to involve the public in the scrutiny process was central to this work.

131.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

Councillor Fawthrop declared an interest as an employee of British Telecom.

 

In respect of Minute 140 (Item 12), Councillor Benington declared that he was a Trustee of Biggin Hill Memorial Trust.  Councillor Benington left the meeting during discussion of the item.

 

Councillor Rutherford declared a pecuniary interest in Minute 136(7) – Item 7 on the Executive Agenda.  Councillor Rutherford dropped out of the call for the duration of this item.

132.

MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE, RESOURCES AND CONTRACTS PDS COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 5 FEBRUARY 2020 (EXCLUDING EXEMPT ITEMS) pdf icon PDF 223 KB

Minutes:

The Minutes from the meeting held on 5th February 2020, were noted and no concerns were raised.  It was noted that the minutes would need to be approved at the next scheduled meeting.

133.

MATTERS OUTSTANDING AND WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 182 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD20057

 

The report setting out matters outstanding from previous meetings and the proposed work plans for 2019/20 and 2020/21 was noted.

 

134.

FORWARD PLAN OF KEY DECISIONS pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Minutes:

The Forward Plan of Key Decisions covering the period March 2020 to June 2020 was noted.

135.

RESOURCES, COMMISSIONING AND CONTRACTS MANAGEMENT PORTFOLIO - PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY pdf icon PDF 183 KB

Portfolio Holder decisions for pre-decision scrutiny.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members participating in the briefing gave their views on a report entitled

CAPITAL PROGRAMME MONITORING 2019/21 Q.3 where the Resources, Contracts and Commissioning Portfolio Holder was recommended to take a decision and all present  endorsed the Portfolio Holder noting and confirming the changes agreed by the Executive on 12th February 2020.

 

In response to a question the Director of Finance clarified that £15m was being transferred from the Capital Programme to support the Investment Fund.  Whilst housing was a priority not funds had yet been committed.

136.

REVIEW OF EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Members of the Committee are requested to bring their copy of the agenda for the Executive meeting on

Minutes:

Members participating in the briefing gave their views on the following reports seeking decision by the Leader of the Council under the revised decision making arrangements agreed by the Urgency Committee on Thursday 19th March 2020:

 

(1)  BUDGET MONITORING 2019/20

Report FSD20036

 

The report provided the second budget monitoring position for 2019/20 based on expenditure and activity levels up to the end of December 2019.  The report also highlighted any significant variations which would impact on future years as well as any early warnings that could impact on the final year end position.

Members considered the supplementary paper that had been circulated by the Director of Finance earlier in the day.  This set out details of the financial support to local government in response to the COVID-19 emergency.  Introducing the report, the Director of Finance explained that the supplementary report advised Members of some of the changes being implemented as part of the national response to the emergency.  Action was being taken to support the call centre in dealing with enquiries and the website would be updated.  As a result of staff self-isolating there were fewer call centre staff and consequently the Council was increasingly encouraging contact via the website.

Members discussed whether, under the current circumstances, it would be possible for residents to defer the payment of Council Tax so they effectively paid from June 2020 to March 2021.  The Director of Finance confirmed that there would be no financial penalty for those who deferred their Council Tax payments, although it had to be recognised that the requirement to pay Council Tax remained and that these were interim changes and would need to be kept under review.  Those residents who were not financially impacted by the current emergency were being encouraged to continue to make their usual Council Tax payments.

A Member suggested that it would be helpful to remind residents across the Borough that local ward councillors could be contacted for help and support where necessary.  It was also suggested that there should be wider dissemination of the various options available to residents as there were some residents, particularly those who were more vulnerable, who may not have access to the website.

Members participating in the briefing were agreeable that the Leader:

(a)  consider the latest financial position;

(b)  note that a projected net overspend on services of £392k is forecast based on information as at December 2019;

(c)  consider the comments from Chief Officers detailed in Appendix 2;

(d)  note a projected variation of £702k credit from investment income as detailed in sections 3.5 and 3.6;

(e)  note a projected increase to the General Fund balance of £798k as detailed in section 3.3;

(f)  consider the full year cost pressures of £6.6m as detailed in section 3.4;

(g)  note the return of £115k to the 2019/20 Central Contingency relating to additional resources due to a delay in recruitment as detailed in para. 3.2.2;

(h)  agree to the release of £500k debit from the 2019/20 Central Contingency  ...  view the full minutes text for item 136.

137.

DISCUSSION WITH THE LEADER

Minutes:

[During this item, at 8pm, the Members who had joined the call paused to join with the “#ClapforOurCarers” movement, in recognition of all staff working across the NHS and in other Key Worker positions.]

 

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Colin Smith, joined the call to respond to questions from the Committee.  Councillor Smith gave a brief introduction highlighting that as a result of COVID-19 the nation was experiencing unprecedented and rapid changes and challenges and it was clear that the pandemic in the United kingdom had not yet reached its peak.

 

Where Members had coordinated and submitted questions on behalf of residents, these had been responded to as quickly as possible and in as much detail as possible.  Bromley was in a good position compared to some other local authorities.  Efforts were being made to update the website as often as possible.

 

Options for keeping Members of the Council updated on developments were discussed.  Members of the Committee were conscious that there should not be an additional burden on already stretched staff.  Consequently, Councillor Cooke proposed that the Democratic Services Manager be nominated as the single point of contact for Councillors.  The response to any questions submitted by Councillors could then be co-ordinated and all councillors would be copied in when the reply was sent.  All questions from councillors and the answers provided would be uploaded onto the Councillors Team Site (on SharePoint) for ease of reference.  The proposal was seconded by Councillor Fawthrop and unanimously agreed by the Members taking part in the briefing.

 

In relation to those residents that had put themselves forward as volunteers, the Council had received offers of help from in excess of 3000 people.  The COVID-19 Officer Response Team were currently categorising these volunteers in terms of those who had valid DBS checks, those with driving licenses etc.  Everything was being put in place to drive this initiative forward and any volunteers would be contacted within the next few days.

 

Members discussed the growing issue of bonfires and associated anti-social behaviour.  There were fewer staff within waste services and consequently there had been a reduction in the regularity of garden waste collections.  Colleagues within Environmental Health Services were aware of the reported issues and the situation was being monitored.

 

The Leader recognised that as a result of the enforced changes to waste collections there would be a reduction in levels of recycling however service recovery plans were being put in place.

 

Members discussed the impact of COVID-19 in relation to loss of revenue and the Leader provided assurances that the situation was being closely monitored by Officers and that the Council contingency reserves planning would stand us in good stead financially,

were the situation to deteriorate markedly.

 

In relation to staff affected by the closure of council premises, the Leader reported that most of the Council’s staff were currently working from home via remote connection.  It was noted that at the end of the current COVID-19 emergency there would need to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 137.

138.

ANNUAL SCRUTINY REPORT 2019/20

Minutes:

Report CSD20049

 

The Council’s Constitution required that a report is made each year to Full Council which summarised work carried out by Policy Development and Scrutiny (PDS) Committees. The report presented the latest draft of the 2019/20 report, including contributions from PDS Chairmen summarising work of the Committees.

Members recognised that the report had been compiled prior to the escalation of the COVID-19 emergency and therefore some parts of the report were now out of date.  The Chairman highlighted that the report was a reflection of the whole of the 2019/20 Municipal Year.

It was noted that there was a typing error on page 47 of the report.

A Member highlighted that at the beginning of the 2019/20 Municipal Year the Government had issued statutory guidance relating to overview and scrutiny.  This had been circulated to all councillors.  The Director of Corporate Services confirmed that a review of Bromley’s overview and scrutiny arrangements undertaken at the time the statutory guidance was issued had demonstrated that the arrangements complied with the majority of the recommendations outlined in the guidance.  It was however agreed that it would be helpful to have an agenda item on this issue in the new municipal year.

MEMEBRS EXPRESSED A VIEW THAT

1. The report be noted and the suggested amendments made, and

2. That the Committee be recommended to consider the statutory guidance in relation to Overview and Scrutiny in the new Municipal Year.

139.

PART 2 (Exempt from publication) BIGGIN HILL MEMORIAL MUSEUM

Minutes:

Report HPR20/002

 

(Having declared a pecuniary interest, Councillor Benington left the call and took no further part in the discussion)

 

As requested by the Chairman of the Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS Committee a brief report was presented which provide an update on specific issues outlined in the Part 2 (exempt from publication) report.

Members noted that the Council had been the recipient of all grants in relation to the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum.  Consequently the Council was still making payments from this grant funding on behalf of the Museum and this was likely to continue until July 2021.

Members noted that there had been some very minor cost to the Council as a result of some outstanding liabilities in respect of the building.  However this matter had now been settled.

140.

ANY OTHER BUSINESS

Minutes:

Members noted that Councillor Gary Stevens was working with the Council’s IT department to develop a solution to enable virtual meetings going forward.  It was suggested that it would be helpful to hold a virtual Adult Care and Health Briefing prior to decisions being taken on or after 1st April 2020.

 

The Chairman thanked all participants for dialling into the briefing conference call.

 

Original Text: