Venue: Council Chamber, Bury Town Hall
Contact: Julie Gallagher Democratic Services
SITE VISIT (RADCLIFFE)
The Chair placed on record his thanks to Officers and the Leader for facilitating the visit prior to the meeting.
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 L Smith declared a personal interest in the item: Regeneration Theme – Radcliffe, in member questions as she is a Member of the Radcliffe Market Cooperative.
Minutes of the meeting held on 20th July and 29th July are attached.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 20th and 29th July 2021 be approved as a correct record.
· The Chair will update the Committee following the Cabinet meeting on 1st September and consideration of the Overview and Scrutiny recommendation in relation to the Accelerated Land Sale Phase Two Report.
· Sub Group update
(B) Sub Groups
The Chair reported that he will met with the Leader to discuss the establishment of the Overview and Scrutiny Sub groups.
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.
The Chair reported that two questions were received in advance of the meeting; the members of the public were not present the Chair reported that the responses would therefore be made available on the Council’s website following the meeting.
A period of up to 15 minutes will be allocated for questions and supplementary questions from members of the Council who are not members of the committee. This period may be varied at the discretion of the chair.
The following questions from members of the public were received in advance of the meeting:
Question ONE: The update report on changes to refuse collections stipulates that “there is also a risk that the planned saving of £150k is not achieved in 21/22.” What is the likelihood of the saving being achieved?
Councillor Jack Rydeheard
Councillor Quinn, Cabinet Member, reported that the achievement of the £150k saving in 21/22 is affected by a number of issues that are separate from the stabilisation of the new rounds. This includes unavoidable additional costs throughout the year as a result of already covering for long term sickness, Covid related absence, shortage of HGV drivers and holidays prior to the new rounds being introduced as well as ongoing cover. The budgets will be reported via corporate financial reports to Cabinet. The overall waste management budget is already forecast to overspend. If not achieved in 21/22 the saving will be achieved in 22/23 and ongoing.
Question two: The chaos surrounding missed bin collections is still ongoing. The Cabinet Member responsible, gave assurance at the last full Council in July that he accepted responsibility and would ensure the bin collection system would be back to normal. As this has not happened, would the Cabinet Minister resign and hand responsibility over to someone capable of doing the job properly?
Councillor Jackie Harris
Councillor Quinn, Cabinet Member reported since 21 June the performance had dropped below acceptable standards but performance has improved to near ‘business as usual’ over the past few weeks, however we’ve still more to do to build in resilience. The percentage of missed bins had a peak on 2 successive Fridays at the start of August when 22% of bins were missed because the rounds weren’t working well enough as well as from issues such as holidays, sickness, shortage of HGV drivers, blocked access, and roadworks. At the end of the week beginning 16 August this had significantly reduced to 1.9% missed bins per day.
Question 3 :The Council has aired plans for the development of the basement at Radcliffe Market as part of the regeneration plans. Given that such a conversion would involve considerable sums of money what are the plans around the responsibility of day to day running of this operation.
A Community Benefit Society is by its nature run by enthusiastic unpaid volunteers who are by no means certain to possess the skills required to manage such an operation.
Is a Community Benefit Society the best practice option, given the internal wrangling that has and is taking place at the moment and what options if any are being explored to maintain and expand upon the continued success of the Market. ?
Councillor Mike Smith
The Leader reported that the Radcliffe Market Hall Community Benefit Society manages the market operation within the market hall building which is still owned by the Council. The Council also owns the spaces within the basement and chambers which are included within the Levelling Up proposals.
There is no ... view the full minutes text for item OSC.6
A report from the leader of the Council is attached, also in attendance will be Paul Lakin, Executive Director.
The Leader attended the meeting to provide Members with an update with regards to the work being undertaken to regenerate the Borough in particular Radcliffe. The Leader reported that the regeneration proposals will also support national policy objectives relating to the ‘Levelling Up’ agenda. As signalled by the Levelling Up Fund (LUF), the Government has a significant commitment for regional growth to support ‘levelling up’ across the country. Bury is ranked as a priority 1 category area, while Radcliffe has pockets of severe deprivation.
The Leader outline the key deliverables currently being developed which included:
· Delivery of a new secondary school
· Creation of a new build civic hub that facilitates public services, education and wellness facilities all under one roof
· Refurbishing and repurposing the historic market chambers and Radcliffe Market basement to create commercial retail and F&B space, alongside events space for community use and private functions
· Creation of new employment space, business incubator enterprise centre and coworking space
· A whole town approach to housing – facilitating the comprehensive approach to residential development
· A programme of strategic investment projects to improve and enhance multi- modal transport provision – supporting sustainable future growth and active travel
Prior to the meeting the accompanying documentation was circulated to members the Benefits Realisation Plan for the Radcliffe Hub and the Radcliffe Transport Investment Strategy.
In considering the reports circulated, the Leader’s statement and the site visit that took place before the meeting, Member raised the following issues:
Responding to a question from Councillor Birchmore in relation to Radcliffe Library, the Leader reported that once the Council are informed of the outcome of the levelling up bid, there will be greater financial security, Once confirmed this will form the basis of the consultation in regards to the future of the library service as well as the swimming pool and the leisure centre. The Leader reported that there was a short timeframe to submit the bid and acknowledged that more engagement and consultation will be required with residents going forward.
The Leader reported that one such proposal being developed is a business skills and innovation hub, this is at the early stage of development, it is envisaged that by working with Barclays this could be a space for residents and small start up Companies.
In response to a question from Councillor Peel, the Leader reported that traffic infrastructure and the transport strategy will be integral to the plans for Radcliffe. The Council will continue to engage with TfGM to access additional monies to support sustainable modes of public transport and also improve and change how people move as well as looking at under utilised assets including the river/canal.
With regards to affordable housing the Leader reported that the Council’s approach will be to intervene more directly in housing development, by driving development with housing providers, Homes England and Housing Associations.
Such interventions can ensure that new homes are of a high standards while still being affordable as well as offering properties that are affordable ... view the full minutes text for item OSC.7
A report from the Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth is attached.
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, the Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Finance and Growth, presented the report which outlined the forecast financial position of the Council at the end of 2021/22 based on the information known at the end of the first quarter, 30 June 2021. The report set out the position for both revenue and capital and provided an analysis of the variances, both under and overspending. An accompanying Covid spend briefing report and the Treasury Management Outturn report were circulated to Members prior to the meeting.
In considering the reports circulated, Member raised the following issues:
With regards to the £10.25 million not spent in the last financial year, the Leader reported that this money was received late in the financial year and was set aside for ongoing response to Covid including the containment outbreak management fund and Business grants support for business recovery.
The Leader reported that the Council received £79,946,000 to support business in the Borough, to date £76 million has been spent. ARG phase 3 will target those business where recovery has been most uneven, for example, the events industry.
The Leader confirmed the statement of accounts are expected to be signed off at the end of November, the information was submitted by the Council on time but the delay is as a result of capacity issues with the external auditors Mazars.
With regards to the £82,400 set aside to approve customer response, the Leader reported that this will be utilised for staffing and additional software/improved technology. This is currently a non-recurring cost, addressing a short term need, if successful, Officer would be encouraged to develop a invest to save/invest to grow business case.
With regards to the Collection Fund the Leader reported that a Central Government rule change now allows, Councils to retain 66% rather than 100% of the business rates. The Q3 financial monitoring report will provide further information with regards to business rates including the impact of the changes.
With regards to the increase in reserves from £51.06m to £74.84m the Leader reported that this was a result of; an increase payment by the CCG into the pooled budget, a review of the collection fund received more than predicated lump and headroom of £5.8m for the transformation reserve.
Going forward it is expected that the reserves will reduce because of pressure on the revenue budget and there still remains a significant gaps in the Council finance thus placing greater demands on the reserve budget.
It was agreed:
The content of the report be noted and Councillor O’Brien be thanked for his attendance.
A Covid monies update report will be considered at a future meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
A report from Cabinet Member Councillor Quinn, is attached.
Councillor Quinn, Cabinet Member Environment Climate Change and Operations attended the meeting, following discussions at the last meeting to inform Members of the Committee of the progress made to the waste collections since the last meeting. An accompanying report had been circulated to Members prior to the meeting which provided details of:
The Cabinet Member reported that the review of new rounds was designed to even out the workload and rebalance the distribution of several thousand new homes that have been built in the borough; achieve a £150k Council saving (reduction of 1 vehicle and crew); optimise the rounds to ensure 2 weekly brown bin collections are more efficient and allow for changes in the tonnages of each waste stream presented for collection.
In considering the reports circulated, Member raised the following issues:
The Cabinet Member reported that the Council had undertaken a vehicle replacement programme there had been delays in some of the new vehicles arriving from Germany, these vehicles will be additional vehicles and would provide cover and replace existing vehicles. The Cabinet Member reported that he would want to ensure that the staff working in waste management are employed by Bury Council and the service is not reliant on agency staff.
The Cabinet member reported that the current rate of missed bin collections is now 95%. Extra staffing capacity has been made available at cost of £28,000.
Responding to a Member’s questions the Cabinet Member reported that he could review whether the Council could create an online form for reporting missed bin collections.
The Executive Director reported that the advert for the post of Head of Waste Management, on the 14th September 2021. Changes to the waste management rounds were expected to generate £150k savings; it is now envisaged that the department will achieve a partial saving this year and all of the identified saving next year.
The Cabinet Member reported that he is talking to colleagues in Greater Manchester as to how to address the shortage of HGV drivers.
It was agreed:
Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee forward for consideration at the next meeting of the Democratic Arrangements Forum that the Employment Appointments Panel should appoint to the Head of Waste Management thus amending the constitution.