Venue: Bury Town Hall
Contact: Andrea Tomlinson Democratic Services
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee are asked to consider whether they have an interest in any matters on the agenda and, if so, to formally declare that interest.
Councillor S Wright declared a personal interest in any items relating to schools as his wife is employed at a Bury School.
Councillor Cummings declared a personal interest two items; Highways Maintenance and Environmental Quality and Fly Tipping as he is Deputy Cabinet Member, Environment.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME
A period of 30 minutes has been set aside for members of the public to ask questions on matters considered at the last meeting and set out in the minutes or on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.
There were no members of the public present to ask questions.
The Minutes of the last Meeting held on 7 September 2017 are attached.
It was agreed:
That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 7 September 2017 be approved as correct records and signed by the Chair.
A report from the Cabinet Member for Finance and Housing is attached.
Appendix A attached
Appendix B attached
Appendix C attached
Councillor O’Brien, Cabinet Member, Finance and Housing and Steve Kenyon, Interim Executive Director of Resources and Regulation presented a report informing Members of the Council’s financial position for the period April 2017 to September 2017.
Members of the Committee were asked for comments and questions;
· Councillor Smith stated that the overspend hadn’t reduced much from the last report received and asked how accurate the financial forecasts were.
Steve explained that the forecasts were made up of actual spend plus committed spend. At the start of the process activity and demand is considered and then new information is added as the year goes on. The forecast also needed to include changes in demand and unknown pressures that may arise.
· Councillor Harris referred to the Better Care Fund and other grants and asked whether the Council was doing as much as possible to utilise the funds available to it.
It was explained that were two different types of grants. The Better Care Fund is one that is received automatically and then there are other ones such as ‘I Will if You Will’ that involve bidding for.
There isn’t a dedicated officer to bid for the grants but every service is encouraged and do look for a bid for grants specific to their service.
· Councillor FitzGerald referred to the new national funding formula and the fact that schools were currently deciding which option to pick in relation to this. Councillor FitzGerald asked what would happen to the overspend in schools and the requirement that they pay it back. Councillor FitzGerald also referred to the 8 options for schools to choose from and whether schools were being advised on which option would be the most suitable for them.
It was explained that this was something that the Council was aware of and work was being done to address the issue.
· Councillor Hankey stated that the deficit usually reduces as the year goes on but the decrease is less this year and asked whether the Council was confident that it will reduce more.
Steve explained that he was confident that work was being done across the Council to address budget issues but there were always the unknowns that you couldn’t anticipate.
· Councillor Hankey referred to service redesigns that were being carried out and asked whether there was enough time for these to be completed.
It was explained that the service redesigns had been scheduled to take place over 3 years but will deliver at different times.
· Councillor Hankey asked whether the Council could afford to keep services such as the civic halls open until the reviews were completed. There had been a number of civic hall reviews and nothing had changed. Should this be dealt with as a matter of urgency.
Councillor O’Brien explained that the Star Chambers looked at all different aspects of services including how to increase capacity.
· Councillor Wright referred to the delays in achieving savings that were set out in the report and stated that there seemed to be a lot ... view the full minutes text for item OSC.262
A report from the Council’s Monitoring Officer is attached
Appendix A attached
Appendix B attached
Jayne Hammond, Assistant Director - Legal and Democratic Services presented a report setting out the findings and recommendations of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
It was explained that the Council receives an Annual Report summarising all complaints dealt with by the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.
The number of complaints received for the last two years was reported as: 2015/2016 – 53, 2016/2017 – 57
These were broken down into services:
Adult Care Services 12 13
Corporate & Other Services 1 1
Education & Children’s 9 11
Environmental 11 13
Highways & Transport 9 5
Planning & Development 5 3
Housing 2 2
Benefits & Tax 8 5
Other 0 0
These were then broken down into decisions:
Investigated – Upheld 6 5
Investigated – Not Upheld 8 10
Advice given 1 1
Closed after initial enquiries 15 12
Incomplete/invalid 1 1
Referred back for local
resolution 29 25
Appended to the report were the Ombudsman’s Annual Review letter 2017 and details of the the upheld decisions and the actions required to remedy these.
Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments and the following points were raised:
It was stated that this was a possibility but the figures would be unknown.
It was explained that the Standards Committee had recommended that councillors be advised of any issues relating to their wards that have been referred back by the ombudsman.
It was agreed:
That contents of the report be noted.
A report from Neil Long/ Peter Stokes attached
Action Plan attached
Councillor Quinn, Cabinet Member for Environment attended the meeting along with Neil Long, Assistant Director (Operations) and Peter Stokes, Group Engineer – Highways Maintenance.
It was explained that Highways Operations is the in-house team responsible for reactive highway maintenance, highway weed control, road markings, highway drainage, highway safety inspections, highway related customer enquiries, street works inspections and highway enforcement.
The key highway assets maintained by the team were set out:
Roads – 660km
Footways – 1200km
Road Gullies – 42,000 no.
Road Signs – 15,000 no.
Guardrail – 15km
The key statistics relating to highways operations were also set out:
Completed over 13,00m2 of carriageway and footway repairs in 2016/2017.
Completed 5,516km of walked Highway Safety Inspection per annum.
Resolved 7,235 customer enquiries in 2016/2017.
It was reported that all road markings, highway drainage repairs and highway weed control works are carried out by external contractors, this equates to approximately 40% of the highway maintenance revenue budget for works.
It was explained that the Highway Operations revenue budgets for carriageway and footway maintenance have reduced by approximately 66% since 2009.
The total carriageway and footway revenue budget for 2017/2018 was reported as being £493,000 (based on a network length of 660km. The 2016/2017 greater Manchester average carriageway and footway revenue budget was approximately £726,000 for a 660km network length.
It was explained that Highways Operations employ a number of innovative systems and techniques including:
Handheld GPS technology to record inspections, instruct works and record defects/completed works;
CAT planing machines which reduce exposure to hand arm vibration;
Spray injection patching machines, and;
Highway inspection repairs.
It was reported that there remains a disparity between capacity and demand and it was projected that approximately 1500 highway safety repair jobs will not be completed in 2017/2018.
Those present were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments and the following points were raised;
Neil explained that that the remaining £8.5m would be invested long term.
The £1.5 would be drawn down in three tranches of £500k for carriageway patch and footway lengths resurfacing and would focus on meeting reactive targets.
Neil reported that where planned utility work was due to be carried out maintenance would not take place. When companies such as Virgin Media indicate that they are carrying out a schedule of work Highways Operations will wait until that work has been carried out and then inspect.
It was also explained that there was a formula that was used to work out which roads were in most need of repair and this included the state and usage of the road insurance claims and public complaints.
A report from Neil Long is attached
Councillor Quinn, Cabinet Member for Environment attended the meeting along with Neil Long, Assistant Director (Operations) and Lorraine Chamberlin Head of Health and Environmental Protection.
It was explained that there was a small cross departmental group of Council Officers called the Environmental Quality and Fly Tipping Task Group who were working to improve the Council’s response to increasing levels of fly tipping in the borough.
The group have identified hotspots which are targeted by fly-tippers on a sporadic basis. From this work they have been able to identify sites that are targeted more regularly and where a range of interventions such as signage, enforcement, targeted community action and deployment of CCTV may assist with catching offenders and act as a deterrent.
The group had been allocated a one off budget of £100k to tackle problems in the following ways:
Common Management Information System - £5,000
Targeted Neighbourhood Action - £30,000
CCTV Surveillance - £15,000
Replace Damaged and Missing Bins - £35,000
Replace Fly Tipping and Dog Fouling Signage - £5,000
Fly Tipping Clearance in Back Streets and Private Land Hot Spots - £10,000
It was reported that during 2017 there had been 4 prosecutions and 2 simple cautions for fly tipping and duty of care offences and these had been publicised through social media and the press .
It was also reported that the Council had been working with residents and local businesses to encourage the upkeep of unadopted back streets.
Work was ongoing in relation to public rights of way and sometimes attract fly tippers due to their ease of access and not being in view of the public. Barriers had been erected at some sites to prevent vehicular access and the areas which were considered hotspots were being evaluated for signage and CCTV coverage.
It was explained that there had been a recent community tidy up which had been carried out in one area of the borough. It had involved neighbourhood working with the community and had been a successful exercise. The area was being monitored following the tidy up and was staying relatively clear.
Those present were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments and the following points were raised:
It was explained that the pilot that had been carried out would be assessed and it was planned to produce a toolkit which could then be rolled out to all neighbourhoods.
Neil explained that the use of CCTV would be used as a deterrent so would be signed in the areas in which it was installed. Mainly small patches of land that were frequently being used for dumping.
It was agreed:
1. That the contents of the report be noted.
2. That Councillor Quinn, Neil Long and Lorraine Chamberlin be thanked for their ... view the full minutes text for item OSC.265
The report is attached.
The summary of Key Areas is attached
**Please note this report is attached for information. Any questions raised will be forwarded to the responsible officer after the meeting.
The Annual Complaints Report was submitted for information.
Any other business which by reason of special circumstances the Chair agrees may be considered as a matter of urgency.