Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Philippa Gibbs  020 8461 7638

Items
No. Item

64.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs Yvonne Bear, Mary Cooke and Colin Hitchins.  Cllrs Keith Onslow, Tony Owen and Gary Stevens attended as their respective substitutes. Apologies were also received from Cllr Nicky Dykes.

65.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

Councillor Melanie Stevens declared, in respect of Minute 71(5) – Biggin Hill Airport Noise Action Plan Review – that she was part of the Biggin Hill Consultative Committee.

 

The Chairman clarified that Members of the Council were not required to declare interests that had previously been recorded on their register of interest.

66.

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 Tuesday 29th December 2021.

Minutes:

2 questions for oral reply and 2 questions for written reply were received and are attached at Appendix A.

67.

MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE, RESOURCES AND CONTRACTS PDS COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 18 NOVEMBER 2021 (EXCLUDING EXEMPT ITEMS) pdf icon PDF 633 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 November 2021, were agreed, and signed as a correct record.

 

68.

MATTERS OUTSTANDING AND WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 233 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD22001

 

The report dealt with the Committee’s business management including the proposed work plan for the remainder of the year.

 

The chairman reported that as the Executive Assistant to the Leader had been unable to attend the meeting, the Scrutiny of the Executive Assistant to the Leader item would be deferred to the next meeting.

 

The Committee noted that the following Members would form the Task and Finish Group previously established by the Committee:  Councillors Simon Jeal, Melanie Stevens, Robert Evans, Pauline Tunnicliffe, Nicholas Bennett, Kira Gabbert.  The Task and Finish Group would be meeting in the next few weeks.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

69.

FORWARD PLAN OF KEY DECISIONS pdf icon PDF 162 KB

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Forward Plan of Key Decisions covering the period December 2021 to March 2022. 

 

70.

SCRUTINY OF THE RESOURCES, COMMISSIONING & CONTRACT MANAGEMENT PORTFOLIO HOLDER

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Resources, Commissioning and Contracts Management, Councillor Michael Rutherford, attended the meeting to respond to questions from the Committee.  The Portfolio Holder had previously shared an update with Members of the Committee and therefore responded to questions, making the following comments:

 

The Portfolio Holder for Resources, Commissioning and Contracts Management, Councillor Michael Rutherford, attended the meeting to respond to questions from the Committee. The Portfolio Holder had previously shared an update with Members of the Committee and therefore responded to questions, making the following comments:

 

  • There was an interesting debate to be had around borrowing for capital expenditure.  The Council had gained a lot from being debt free, gaining a return of around £13.7m per year which funds frontline services, rather than other councils who are having to pay to service debt. There was a discussion to be had in the future about how to deliver the housing strategy, debt may be considered if it gained the council an asset greater than the value of the debt, and depending on the cost of servicing that debt. However the council is proud to be debt-free and has gained substantially from this policy.
  • The operational property review was a work in progress and a full update would be provided following the meeting.
  • In respect of the website redesign project, the impact of the elections and the need to publicise certain statutory information had been taken into consideration.  The new website was currently going through the testing process and prior to its launch in late May 2022, Members would be provided with a preview.

 

The Committee thanked Councillor Rutherford for his update.

71.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Members of the Committee are requested to bring their copy of the agenda for the Executive meeting on 12 January 2022.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following reports on the Part 1 agenda for the meeting of the Executive on 12 January 2022:

 

5    

BIGGIN HILL AIRPORT NOISE ACTION PLAN REVIEW

Report HPR2022/001

 

Five years after the signing of the Deed of Variation on their lease with the Council, Biggin Hill Airport Ltd (BHAL) submitted a Noise Action Plan (NAP) review, as required. The Council had obtained independent reports on the review. The BHAL NAP review and comments on the review were presented in the report together with next steps for further improvements. The report also considered BHAL’s overall compliance with the Noise Action Plan.

The Director of Housing, Planning and Regeneration and the Airport Monitoring Officer introduced the report explaining that following the variation of the lease five years previously, BHAL were required to undertake a 5-yearly review of the NAP which focused on managing noise levels.  The report before Members considered the review that had been produced and submitted by Biggin Hill Airport and also included the expert reports from RSK Acoustics and CAA based on the review that had been undertaken together with a report produced and submitted by Flightpath Watch.

In opening the discussion, the Chairman made the following introductory remarks.  The Chairman noted that all Members present at the meeting recognised the level of public interest in the item as attested by both the public attendance for the meeting and the volume of email correspondence received by councillors regarding the issue.  The governance of Biggin Hill Airport was a complex topic and, in the view of the Chairman, the decision taken by the Executive to commission the specialist reports and the instruction of legal counsel to address certain legal questions was correct.  The Chairman thanked all members of the public for their correspondence and their input as well as Flightpath Watch for their detailed submission.  In addition, the Chairman thanked BHAL for providing the NAP review.

The Chairman noted that the NAP arose from the decision taken by the Council in 2016 to amend the conditions of the lease and extend the opening hours.  There had been a fundamental change in the Airport’s business model from one dominated by small, light aircraft to a greater preponderance of business jets and helicopters.  The intention of the NAP and the actions contained within was to protect the interests of residents following the change in business model.  The starting point for the Committee’s discussion was the figures for complaints set out within the report before the Committee.  These demonstrated that the figure had slightly more than quadrupled since 2016 when the lease amendment was made.  It was noted that official complaints did not fully describe resident concerns, with local ward councillors, especially those around the flightpath, receiving hundreds of emails on this matter.

The Chairman highlighted that the NAP was not an aspirational document nor a set of desires; it had been incorporated as part of the lease amendment process along with the management information letter.  It was clear that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 71.

72.

BENEFITS SERVICE MONITORING REPORT pdf icon PDF 512 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD22002

 

The report provided information regarding the performance of the Benefits Service provided by Liberata for the period 1 April to 30 November 2021. A letter from Amanda Inwood-Field, Liberata’s London Regional Contract Director, was attached to the report as Appendix 1. This communication provided Liberata’s perspective of performance, together with an update on initiatives to be introduced in the coming months. 

 

In opening the discussion, the Chairman noted that the report mentioned that housing benefit and council tax benefit claims were already in decline from their peak during Covid which was undeniably good news.  The Chairman further noted that in respect of the error rate, Liberata were significantly overachieving for the KPI and questioned whether it would be reasonable to hold them to a lower level of 3%.  Representatives from Liberata confirmed that they would be happy to consider the request to introduce a soft target.

 

In response to a question from the Vice-Chairman concerning the 120% recovery rate for overpayments, representatives from Liberata confirmed that this figure included in-year recovery as well as recovery for the previous year.  The Vice-Chairman suggested that a detailed breakdown per year would be more helpful and requested that this be provided in future reports.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

 

 

73.

REVENUES SERVICE MONITORING REPORT pdf icon PDF 239 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD22003

 

The report provided information regarding the performance of the Revenues Services provided by Liberata for the period 1 April to 30 November 2021. A letter from Amanda Inwood-Field, Liberata’s London Regional Contract Director, provided an update on each of the individual services and was attached to the report at Appendix 1 with statistical data relating to the Revenues Service attached at Appendix 2.  

In respect of cash collections, the Chairman queried whether figures were available for the cost of continuing the service.  In response to the question, the Revenues and Benefits Manager confirmed that there was an individual transaction cost of £2 at the Civic Centre and £17 at Penge.  The Committee noted that a review of cash collections was underway, and a report would be presented to Members in due course.  Members also noted that there had been an increase in cash collections in the last year.

In response to a question, the Revenues and Benefits Manager confirmed the Council was able to put a charge on a property when Council Tax was not paid.

A Member requested that at the end of the year the Committee be provided with a clear indication of where Bromley sat in relation to other London Boroughs in terms of Council Tax collection and proposals for how Bromley could become number one in London for Council Tax collection.

The Committee noted that the empty homes charge had been due to come into effect in April 2022, but this had been deferred until April 2023.

In response to a question concerning the single person discount, the Committee noted that 5000 accounts for verification had been identified through data matching.

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 


74.

EXCHEQUER SERVICE - CONTRACT PERFORMANCE REPORT pdf icon PDF 916 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD22005

 

The report provided information regarding Liberata’s performance in the provision of Exchequer Services for the period 1stApril 2021 to 30th September 2021 with an updated position as at 30th November 2021. A letter from Amanda Inwood-Field, Liberata’s Contract Director, provided an update on each individual service and was attached to the report at Appendix 1 with statistical data relating to the services shown in subsequent appendices.

 

In opening the discussion, the Chairman welcomed the improvement in accounts receivable and requested that the 100% target for financial assessment and charging be retained as it was achievable.

 

The Committee noted that all write-offs required approval by Bromley Council and where there was a dispute there was a requirement to confirm that the dispute was genuine.  Where a debt was written off a revised statement would be produced.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

75.

CUSTOMER SERVICES CONTRACT MONITORING REPORT pdf icon PDF 281 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CSD22002

 

The report provided information on the performance of the Customer Service Contract provided by Liberata for the period 1st June 2021 to 30th November 2021.  A letter from Amanda Inwood-Field, Contract Director for Liberata, provided an update on each individual element and was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

In opening the debate, the Chairman welcomed the consideration of robotic process automation in line with the Council’s broader transformation agenda.

In response to a question concerning targets for the issuing of blue badges and Freedom Passes, the Committee noted that in some circumstances there was a requirement to make a referral to Occupational Therapy, following this the application had to be completed within 4 weeks.  Some of the complaints that had been received were a result of delays with occupational therapy whilst other complaints had arisen when customers had delayed submitting their applications.

Member noted the low response rate for customer satisfaction surveys and noted that the number of surveys sent out had increased.  A review of how to increase the response rate was underway with customers instantly prompted to provide feedback and it was expected that there would be an increase in the response rate over the next year.

In relation to benchmarking, the Committee noted that the Council did not currently collect benchmarking data as other Council’s had different KPIs and targets.  However, a review of any available benchmarking data could be undertaken and reported back to the Committee.

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

 

76.

COST OF AGENCY STAFF pdf icon PDF 483 KB

Minutes:

The report provided information on the use and cost of agency workers across the Council and the ten highest paid agency workers.  This information is being provided for Members taking into account the Council’s duty of care for affected individuals and the requirements of the DPA/GDPR Regulations 2018.

In opening the discussion, the Chairman noted that it was usual in private companies and other public sector organisations to have agency workers in some roles, especially those that were hard to fill.  It should therefore be down to Officers to consider the appropriate staffing balance.  Members also noted that this issue was regularly considered by the service PDS Committees who monitored spending against budget via the budget monitoring process.

The Chairman proposed that the annual Cost of Agency Staff Report presented to the Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS Committee be discontinued and that other PDS committees decide whether to retain similar reporting for their respective portfolios.  The motion was seconded by Councillor Harmer, put to the vote and CARRIED by majority.

RESOLVED: That

  1. The report be noted.
  2. The annual Cost of Agency Staff Report presented to the Executive, Resources and Contracts PDS Committee be discontinued and that other PDS committees decide whether to retain similar reporting for their respective portfolios.

 

CONGRATULATIONS

The Chairman led the Committee in expressing formal congratulations to the Chief Executive, Mr Ade Adetosoye, on his recent award of a CBE in the New Year’s Honours.

 

The Chairman also congratulated and thanked the Assistant Director of IT and all the staff involved in delivering the trial for hybrid meetings that had been conducted during the meeting.

Appendix A pdf icon PDF 399 KB

 

Original Text: