Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Philippa Gibbs  020 8461 7638

Items
No. Item

90.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Robert Evans and Councillor Melanie Stevens.  Councillor Stevens joined the meeting via conference call.

91.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

There were no additional declarations of interest.

92.

QUESTIONS FROM COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions that are not specific to reports on the agenda must have been received in writing 10 working days before the date of the meeting. 

 

Questions specifically on reports on the agenda should be received within two working days of the normal publication date of the agenda.  Please ensure that questions specifically on reports on the agenda are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on 18 March 2022.

Minutes:

No questions were received.

93.

MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE, RESOURCES AND CONTRACTS PDS COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 7 FEBRUARY 2022 (EXCLUDING EXEMPT ITEMS) pdf icon PDF 503 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS Committee meeting held on 7 February 2022 (excluding exempt information), were agreed and signed as a correct record.

 

94.

MATTERS OUTSTANDING AND WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 261 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD22039

 

The report dealt with the Committee’s business management including the proposed work plan for the 2022/23 municipal year.

 

The Director of Finance agreed to investigate whether an additional Treasury Management Report would be required for 2022/23.

 

Members noted that the Committee’s Task and Finish Group was likely to continue in 2022/23 and Membership would be dependent on the composition of the Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS Committee next year.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

95.

FORWARD PLAN OF KEY DECISIONS pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Forward Plan of Key Decisions covering the period March 2022 to June 2022.  It was noted that Economic Development Strategy listed for decision by the Executive on 30 March 2022 had been deferred.

 

In respect of the Biggin Hill Airport Noise Action Plan, the Chairman confirmed that the intention of the Committee’s previous recommendation was for Biggin Hill Airport to respond by the end of June 2022 with a report being presented to Committee in Autumn 2022.

96.

RESOURCES, COMMISSIONING AND CONTRACTS MANAGEMENT PORTFOLIO - PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY

Portfolio Holder decisions for pre-decision scrutiny.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following report where the Resources, Contracts and Commissioning Portfolio Holder was recommended to take a decision.

96a

NORTH BLOCK SOLAR PV INSTALLATION pdf icon PDF 719 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report ES20172

 

The report set out a proposal for the installation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on the rooftop of North Block building (located at the Civic Centre).  The Council could make use of Section 106 Carbon Offsetting contributions to fund energy/carbon reduction initiatives on its own estate.

 

The Director of Finance highlighted that the report proposed a change to the Capital Programme and as such required a decision from the Executive.

 

In opening the discussion, the Chairman reported that since the publication of the report he had received further information setting out the financial justification for the recommendations which supported the conclusions set out in the report. 

 

The Committee stressed the importance of ensuring that the Council had achieved the maximum reduction in energy consumption prior to the installation of the new system as with further energy savings it may be possible to install a smaller system.  Members requested that following the meeting the Environmental Programme Officer provide an update surrounding any additional energy savings that could be made and whether they could impact on the overall project.  The Environmental Programme Officer was also asked to provide a key to the diagrams and pictures included in the appendices as well as details of the total carbon savings as a percentage.

 

In relation to the timings for the project for the rest of the Civic Centre site, the Environmental Programme Officer explained that the North Block had been treated as a separate project however, given the increases in fuel prices it was acknowledged that it would be beneficial to deliver further savings as soon as possible.

 

In summarising the debate, the Chairman noted that it was an exciting project, contributing to the Council’s net zero carbon ambition. However, details around the risks of excessive scope needed further consideration prior to the Executive taking a decision.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

  1. The report be noted and referred to the meeting of the Executive on 30 March 2022.

 

  1. The Executive be recommended to:

 

(a)  Approve the proposal to initiate and complete the procurement of a solar PV installation at the identified Civic Centre location, at an estimated whole life contract value of £119k, using the Council’s s106 Carbon Offsetting Fund (COF) to finance the project. System design to meet these criteria is stipulated in the contract specification. 

 

(b)  Approve the use of the Fusion21 framework and delegate authority to the Contract Officer to appoint the preferred contractor which is evidenced through the tender evaluation process.

97.

SCRUTINY OF THE LEADER OF THE COUNCIL

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Colin Smith, attended the meeting to respond to questions from the Committee. Councillor Smith gave a brief introduction highlighting the following issues:

 

  • The Leader was proud of the performance of the Council over the past four years.
  • During the course of the last Council, the Borough had gone through unprecedented times.
  • The strength of the residents of the Borough as a whole was remarkable with a number of residents stepping up to fulfil voluntary roles.
  • In addition, departments across the Council had continued to deliver strong performances with a number of initiatives being nationally recognised.

 

The Leader then responded to questions, making the following comments:

 

  • Moving forward there would be increasing pressure on budgets and the role of the voluntary sector would be crucial.  As yet, the impact of commuters returning to central London was unclear, but it was important to maintain the interest in and ethos of supporting the community and it was believed that the steps and measures put in place by the Council would be sufficient.
  • The last two years had delivered learning around agile and flexible working and the view was that some form of split between office-based and agile working was beneficial.  Through the offer of flexible/agile working the Council had been able to attract candidates to positions that had previously been hard to fill.  In addition, it had been possible for the Council to retain more permanent staff and this had provided continuity for services.  Any decisions around agile working would come before Members early in the new 2022-2026 administration.
  • There would be a single point of contact for any Member queries regarding support for Ukrainian Refugees coming to the Borough.  Members would be notified as soon as these arrangements had been confirmed.
  • With respect to supporting refugees arriving from the Ukraine, the Council remained in contact with the Government and as policy was updated the information on the Council’s website would be updated.  The Council would be responsible for undertaking checks on safeguarding arrangements and the accommodation offered by sponsor families. 
  • The funding being provided by the Government will be used to ensure that the infrastructure was in place to facilitate the necessary checks.  Families coming in would be required to register with the Government and provide notification of their destination in the UK.  The Government would then instruct local authorities to carry out the checks.  Members noted that processes needed to be expedited and there was a clear coordinating role for the Council.  This was likely to be labour intensive.  Policies would evolve and improve overtime and all Members would be kept informed of the changes via a weekly email as well as updates to the website.  The Chairman suggested that it may be helpful for a briefing providing answers to frequently asked questions to be circulated to all Members.
  • It was agreed that it would be beneficial to enable incoming refugees to make contact with existing Bromley residents who spoke Russian and Ukrainian  ...  view the full minutes text for item 97.

98.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Members of the Committee are requested to bring their copy of the agenda for the Executive meeting on 30 March 2022.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following reports on the Part 1 agenda for the meeting of the Executive on 30 March 2022:

 

5    

BUDGET MONITORING 2021/22

FSD22032

 

The report provided the second budget monitoring position for 2021/22 based on expenditure and activity levels up to the end of December 2021. The report also highlighted any significant variations which will impact on future years as well as any early warnings that could impact on the final year end position. This report also provides an update on the COVID grant position.

 

The Director of Finance introduced the report and explained that Officers were grateful for the support and sense of urgency from Members in respect of the Ukrainian Refugee Scheme.  On Monday 28 March 2022, a Gold (highest priority) meeting would take place to discuss the situation and the arrangements to be put in place.  Officers would also begin to visit sponsor homes.  The issue of Police checks had been raised with the Home Office and there was an obligation on local authorities to undertake safeguarding checks. In addition, discussions were taking place concerning the long-term impact of the refugee crisis.  It was recognised that a cross-departmental approach was required as refugee families would need support from a range of services.  A review would be undertaken concerning how existing staff could be utilised to support the Council’s response.  As well as looking at accommodation, consideration would need to be given to facilitating community facilities where families would be able to meet.

 

The Committee noted that a further update would be provided to the Executive on 30 March 2022, and this would give an indication of capacity issues.  The Director of Finance highlighted that it was not possible to predict numbers however it was clear that there would be a number of challenges to be overcome and further challenges the longer the crisis continued.  The Committee noted that refugees arriving in the UK would have access to work and full benefits.

 

In response to a question, the Director of Finance confirmed that the £10,500 funding provided by the Government was intended to last for a period of one year and would then be reviewed.  The situation was currently very fluid and there would be a quarterly monitoring process.  The intention of the Council was to manage the costs of the refugee crisis as separate from the wider Council budget.

 

Turning to other issues in the budget, the Chairman noted that the impact on rental income as a result of the Covid pandemic was unsurprising.  The Chairman also requested that the Director of Corporate Services and Governance provide an update on the cost pressures arising from balancing internal legal advice and advice from external Counsel.

 

In relation to ongoing inflationary pressures, the Director of Finance confirmed that the Council had budgeted for 4% inflation which at the time had seemed generous.  In terms of funding, the Council had received inflationary increases of between 2.5% and 3% which was much lower than the current reality.  With  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.

99.

SCRUTINY OF THE EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TO THE LEADER OF THE COUNCIL pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Minutes:

The Executive Assistant to the Leader of the Council, Councillor Aisha Cuthbert, attended the meeting to respond to questions from the Committee.  A written update from the Executive Assistant had been circulated prior to the meeting and Councillor Cuthbert gave a brief introduction highlighting the following issues:

 

  • The Action Plan attached to the Tackling Loneliness Strategy had been considered and endorsed by the Adult Care and Health PDS Committee on Tuesday 22 March 2022.  The Executive Assistant thanked all Members for their overwhelming support in developing and delivering the Tackling Loneliness Strategy.

 

The Executive Assistant then responded to questions, making the following comments:

 

  • No charity or groups had mentioned or expressed concern about additional need due to the increased cost of living although Cllr Cuthbert acknowledged this could happen in the future.  The Community Links Community Hub was being re-launched and it was hoped that this would provide additional opportunities for residents across the borough to engage with others.  The Committee noted that it had been agreed that quarterly updates would be provided to the Adult Care and Health PDS Committee which would enable this to be monitored.
  • It was also recognised that refugee families arriving from the Ukraine could suffer isolation for a number of reasons including language barriers with there being an important role for the voluntary sector and the Council in providing support.  Conversations could also take place around how the Wellbeing Fund managed by Bromley Well could be utilised.
  • In terms of embedding the Loneliness Strategy, Members and Officers were beginning to spontaneously talk about loneliness.  In addition, an internal communications campaign was underway to ensure that messages were being disseminated across all Council departments.

 

The Committee thanked the Executive Assistant for her update.

 

Following the meeting, Cllr Cuthbert expressed and recorded her thanks to the Leader, Councillor Colin Smith, for his support for her in her role as Executive Assistant.

100.

ANNUAL PDS REPORT 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 192 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CSD22021

 

The Committee noted the Annual Policy Development and Scrutiny Report for 2021/22.  Any further comments and amendments would be incorporated by Democratic Services prior to Submission to Full Council on 11th April 2022.

 

The Committee paid tribute to the immense work of Councillor Mary Cooke who had unexpectedly passed away early in the year.  Councillor Cooke had been Chairman of the Adult Care and Health PDS Committee serving the Committee with distinction since 2017 and would be missed.

 

RESOLVED: That the Annual Policy Development and Scrutiny Report be approved for submission to Full Council.

 

101.

EXEMPT MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 7 FEBRUARY 2022

Minutes:

The Part 2 (exempt) minutes of the meeting held on 7 February 2022, were agreed, and signed as a correct record.

 

Original Text: