Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 29th June, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL.

Contact: Kenna-Victoria Martin , Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committeemeeting held on 14 March 2017.


The Minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on the 14 March 2017 were approved as a correct record.



Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.


There were no items of urgent business.


Declaration of Interests


Councillor Gerrish, Chair of the Committee declared an interest in Item 7 in that following legal advice from the Monitoring Officer; he was employed by Trinity Mirror plc. However he assured Members that he could keep an open mind and judge the matter on its individual merits and the evidence.


Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 70 KB


The Chair presented the Terms of Reference to the Committee explaining they were for information. He enquired if there were any comments from Members, there were none.




That the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted the Terms of Reference.


End of Year Corporate Performance and Progress Report 2016/17 and Corporate Performance Framework 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 107 KB

Additional documents:


The Strategy & Performance Officer presented the report to Members, highlighting that the End of Year Corporate Performance Report combined the performance against last year’s corporate scorecard presented at Appendix 1 with progress against the related actions/projects as outlined in the Corporate Priority Activity Plan for 2016/17 and was presented at Appendix 2.


It was explained that Appendix 3 highlighted the Corporate Performance Framework 2017/18 which detailed evidence the council would use to monitor the progress and performance against the council’s priorities this year.


Members were advice that Officers from Directors Board were in attendance for any questions within particular directorates.


The Chair of the Committee queried as to the table at 3.1.1 on page 13 of the report and sought clarity that the indicators compared were the full collection of Key Performance Indicators. It was explained to the Committee that there were approximately 50 indicators on the corporate scorecard each year, the makeup of which could change as new indicators were introduced or their descriptions were changed. This meant the year on year comparisons were not comparing exactly the same indicators and also, where new indicators were introduced, these did not have a baseline on which to rate the direction of travel.


It was enquired as to the overall underspend on the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). The Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health, explained to Members that for the year of 2016/17 there had been a number of vacancies within senior management of the Housing Directorate, however such spend was for the 3 current housing developments within the borough. He continued by stating the situation was a ‘one off’ and he had hoped the developments had reached the Planning stage sooner.


Councillor Gerrish, Chair of the Committee, sought the reason for the failed indicator for the percentage of older people who were still at home 91 days after being discharged from hospital into rehabilitation. Members were informed the Council’s previous performance had been good, however they had set themselves a stretch target over the last year and performance was lower due to the issues within the domiciliary care service.  The Corporate Director for Adults, Health and Housing further explained that three of the home care providers used by the Council were brought in-house and therefore the domiciliary care team were managing the discharges from hospital.





During discussion the Committee raised the following:


               Street cleanliness was above its target, Members queried the reasoning for this. The Corporate Director of Environment and Place commented that the KPI was slightly higher than its target of 4% at 4.45% ,lower was better). He explained this was down to the different land types within the borough such as main roads, rural roads and main retail and commercial sites.

               Achievement of Level 2 qualifications at 19 years old was failing. It was sought as to whether the Council was working with other providers to offer support to post 19 year olds. The Strategic Lead, School Improvement and Skills, explained to the Committee that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Call-in to Cabinet Decision 01104421 Communication Strategy pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair of the Committee introduced the report to Members advising them the Call-in was in respect of a Cabinet decision on the Communication Strategy. He explained the three options available to the Committee were listed as the recommendations to the report.


Councillor J.Kent was invited to speak to his call-in and in doing so, commented that he felt the overall strategy was a good piece of work, however felt it was disappointing that that it was not brought back to the Committee before being presented to Cabinet for a final decision. He continued by stating he had a number of concerns with the way the strategy handled the press and felt it was ‘plain wrong’ and not in line with government guidance.


Councillor J.Kent commented that the strategy highlights the Council would only recognise organisations as ‘media’, if they were a member of the Independent Press Standards Association (IPSO). He continued by stating to try and discourage journalism or media was against government guidance on communication, to which he felt this is what the strategy was doing.


Councillor J.Kent continued to address the Committee and made the following points:


               To have the right of reply to articles about the Council was a reasonable aspect, however it should not be demanded.

               The media were local businesses within the borough and by saying should a journalist or media outlet not adhere to the regulators code, in particular to not reflect the councils position accurately, the council would not engage or recognise that organisation. In his opinion was bullying and threatening behaviour.


The alternative proposal from Councillor J.Kent was then put in front of the Committee in that the threat to not recognise all local media be removed and that the council be more open towards hyperlocal reporting and bloggers. He mentioned there was a lot within the strategy which was to be welcomed, however in his opinion the strategy was contrary of the policy framework and against national guidance, therefore requested it be referred to Full Council.


The Chair then invited Councillor Hebb, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Legal to address the Committee.


Councillor Hebb thanked the Chair for inviting him to the meeting and thanked Councillor J.Kent for his call-in.  He continued by stating it was not the intention of the strategy to adjust relationships with any media organisation. It was to codify the processes already in place and to offer clarity on others.


Members were advised at present the Council didn’t have a communication strategy which could offer guidance on principles and how the Council operated in relation to the media.


The Portfolio Holder commented on the policy itself in that it was to enhance relationships with local media and by embedding policy would assist with guidance around social media and supporting residents who had little or no access to IT.  He continued to mention that the policy was also to protect both the Council and members of the media, by outlining the boundaries  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 47 KB


Members discussed the work programme for the current municipal year.




Members agreed the following items be included on the Work Programme:


               Update on the Communications Team and their decision making processes

               Key Performance updates throughout the municipal year

               Update on internal and external apprenticeships