Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex, RM17 6SL.
Contact: Kenna-Victoria Martin , Senior Democratic Services Officer Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committeemeeting held on 29 June 2017.
The Minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on the 29 June 2017 were approved as a correct record, subject to the following amendments:
• The additional items listed in the agreed recommendations on page 12 be included within the Work Programme;
• The following sentence “Councillor Maney echoed his thoughts that sending the report to Full Council was unjust.” Be reworded to:
Councillor Maney echoed his thoughts that sending the report to Full Council was unnecessary.
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
There were no interests declared.
The Strategy & Performance Officer introduced the report which provided a progress update in relation to the performance of Key Performance Indicators (KPI), including a focus on some of the specific highlights and challenges. Members were advised that senior Officers were in attendance for any questions within particular directorates.
The Chair enquired as to the in focus item of street cleanliness and whether the reason the KPI was in focus was due to the change in methodology. Officers explained throughout the year the whole borough was inspected in tranches of three wards at a time. This year was the first year Keep Britain Tidy had undertaken the inspection, on behalf of the council. It was commented that a key difference was council officers had local knowledge when completing the tranches, and so knew when land was publicly or privately owned. Keep Britain Tidy did not necessarily realise which pieces of land are privately owned and therefore may score slightly higher.
It was sought as whether the change in direction of travel would be visible before next year. Officers commented that the direction of travel should be visible after each tranche visit. It was further commented that officers were hopeful the KPI would remain stable.
Members remarked the KPI for household waste which was refuse, recycled or composted was disappointing, especially following feedback from residents. The Assistant Director for Environment advised Members the impact of the new route optimisation had been successful. She continued by commenting the relevant Overview and Scrutiny Committee would be discussing any issues at their next meeting.
The Committee was advised it only required one household in a street to contaminate a whole recycling collection as when arriving at the refuse centre the waste would be refused. The Assistant Director for Environment further commented a lot of work was being done with the Communication Team to encourage residents to recycle more. Councillor Gerrish remarked he felt it would be helpful for residents if the reason, should their waste not be collected, were explained to them. Officers explained to Members if they knew of any bin collections which had not been collected to email the Assistant Director for Environment as officers were willing to make site visits and speak to residents.
Councillor Kerin congratulated Officers and Schools on the KPI on the percentage of schools being judged ‘good’ or ‘better; with 37 out of 38 of Thurrock’s schools being judged as good or outstanding by Ofsted.
Councillor Duffin mentioned a graffiti case, where the resident reported the incident via the Report It app, only for it to be closed without any work to clean the graffiti being completed. The Assistant Director for Environment commented with the case in question there was confusion with the address, so the report was closed following an inspection of a different location.
It was raised by Councillor Maney whether a recycled rate per ward was available. Officers advised it was difficult to compile a Ward by Ward breakdown however they were able to provide ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
The Chair of the Committee introduced the report to Members stating that at the last meeting Members had decided to refer the Call-In to Full Council, however following advice from the Monitoring Officer which was detailed within the report this was not completely possible.
He continued to highlight within the report the Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Service had proposed a number of changes in that sections 3.23 and 3.25 of the covering report, which were also included within the Communication Strategy, be removed and replaced with the wording outlined within the report at 3.2 to 3.4.
Councillor Gerrish mentioned that he felt the amendments addressed the concerns raised by the Committee at the previous meeting. He advised Members that they were not to re-discuss the Call-In but to move the report forward. Councillor Gerrish then stated he thought the report should be referred back to Cabinet for reconsideration.
Councillor Duffin remarked that he was still not happy with the amendments noted within the report, as he had seen press releases from the Communication Team which did not follow the strategy.
Councillor Kerin commented he was sympathetic to Councillor Duffin’s comments, however following the advice from the Monitoring Officer, he felt the report should be referred back to Cabinet.
Councillor Maney stated the situation was embarrassing. He continued to comment that he remained of the thought that the report should be referred back to Cabinet and for them to take into consideration the Committee’s concerns.
The Chair then proceeded to take a vote on referring the Call-In back to Cabinet for reconsideration:
Favour: Councillors Gerrish, Gamester, Kerin and Maney (4)
Against: Councillor Duffin (1)
1. That the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee consider the procedural advice received from the Monitoring Officer at paragraphs 4 of the report.
2. That the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee consider the potential revised wording of the relevant section of the Communications Strategy 2017-2020.
3. That the Committee can, following the legal and procedural advice from the Monitoring Officer, either, refer the recommendation (decision: 01104421 Communication Strategy) to Cabinet for reconsideration, setting out in writing the nature of its concerns.
As Chair of the Committee, Councillor Gerrish presented the report to Members commenting he felt there was high scope for Members of the Public to be more involved in the meetings held by the Council. He stated he thought this was a good opportunity to improve public participation at Council meetings.
The Chair further commented that he would like to see the Task and Finish Group investigate early notice of agendas. Councillor Kerin agreed that he would like to see an increase in public participation at meetings.
During discussions, Councillor Duffin suggested that the Mayor and Deputy Mayor be included within the membership of the Task and Finish Group. He mentioned that, as they chair Full Council meetings, he felt it was important they sit on the Group.
The Deputy Monitoring Officer informed the Committee the Task and Finish Group could invite the current Mayor and Deputy Mayor along with any past mayor still serving as a councillor to a question and answer sessions. Completing this would enable Members to receive advice from the people who chair Full Council meetings. It was explained that the Membership of the Task and Finish Group would be sought by Democratic Services emailing Group Leaders for their nominations. The Membership would have to be appointed in accordance with political proportionality.
It was enquired as to the potential timeframe of the Task and Finish Group and whether it was possible to speed up the process. It was stated by Officers that if a Task and Finish Group took 6 to 12 months then it would be taking too long. Members were advised, depending on the topic, a Task and Finish Group should take around 3 months.
Officers further explained the process of setting up a Task and Finish Group. Once agreed by the Parent Committee the clerk would seek nominations from Group Leaders and once confirmed the first meeting could be scheduled. It would be at the first meeting that Members could decide as to what research or site visits they may wish to undertake. Members were advised throughout the whole process the Group would have continuous support from Democratic Services.
Members were notified that there were some actions that could be completed sooner, such as agenda items published on the forward plan. Officers were looking into whether that information was accessible enough to residents.
It was explained that Officers, including the Monitoring Officer, had met with Members of the public and Group Leaders to discuss the concerns held by the public when speaking at Council Meetings.
Councillor Maney enquired if the Task and Finish Group was a Sub-Committee of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee. It was explained this was not the case, as the Task and Finish Group would have any three Elected Members not only Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
During discussions it was raised as to whether it would be better to call a meeting of the Constitution Working Group to complete the review into Public Participation as they ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
Members discussed the Work Programme for the municipal year.
That the following items to 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