Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 5th June, 2018 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Lucy Tricker, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committeemeeting held on 23 January 2018.


The Minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 23 January 2018 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


There were no interests declared.


Business Rates Relief pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Additional documents:


            Business Rates Relief


The Director of Finance and IT presented the report and explained that this was an information item. The report informed Members on the business rates support to local, small, and medium sized businesses. It also provided the Committee with details of the range of support and reliefs currently available in respect of business rates; details of award levels for 2017/18; and the financial impact on Thurrock Council. The Director of Finance informed the Committee that he had widened the framework of the report to include the various types of reliefs that businesses can get. He stated that in 2017/18, £16.1 million in business rates were awarded, at a combined cost of £6.8 million to the Council. He also mentioned that more work would be done on this later in the year.


The Chair welcomed the report and asked what major changes have been seen in terms of the development of the scheme with discretionary rates of relief. The Director of Finance and IT specified that the Council had no say over mandatory rates of relief, but that the Council can decide on what discretionary rates of relief can be given to support the voluntary sector, as well as small to medium sized businesses. Councillor Duffin queried how much of the rates the Council retained, and it was confirmed that 49% were retained.


Councillor Churchman queried the definition of a part-occupied building, and how long were the part-occupied buildings not paying rates. The Committee was advised that if a business can prove evidence that they are not using the premises, they will receive business rates, but that the Council will report back to Members on how long they did not have to pay rates for.




1. The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered and commented on the Business Rates Relief Report and the comments made in the above minutes be noted by Officers.



End of Year Corporate Performance Report 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 169 KB

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End of Year Corporate Performance Report 2017/18


The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services presented the report which outlined the corporate performance monitoring for 2017/18. It detailed the information the Council uses to monitor the progress and performance against the Council priorities. This was the outcome of a full and thorough review of key performance indicators (KPIs) in line with recommendations from Corporate Overview and Scrutiny in 2015/16. The Officer advised the Committee that the report provided a final position in relation to the performance of those KPIs, including a focus on some specific highlights and challenges. This report will go on to Cabinet in July.


The Chair drew the Committee’s attention to page 22 of the agenda, point 3.2 which discussed better and worse performing KPIs versus 2016/17. He wanted the Committee to note that it doesn’t include KPIs which have been removed. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services stated that fourteen KPIs had been removed, of which 60% were on target, which is similar to the overall position outlined in the report.


The Chair then moved on to discuss the highlights from the report. One particular item he drew mention to was the success that 97% of schools in the borough achieved a ‘good’ or better rating. The Chair felt this was an impressive move up the scale, considering eight years ago Thurrock was in the bottom quartile. He also drew attention to the number of affordable housing units that had been directly delivered, and how good it was to see this was above ambition. Next he wanted to see ambitions raised so more units could be delivered.


The Chair then highlighted page 24 of the agenda, to the point regarding street cleanliness where three quarters of the data was using a new methodology. He underlined the Council’s poor performance during the fourth quarter, which was 14%, in comparison to the second and third quarter which were 8.5% and 6.5% respectively. He then questioned the Council over the differences in these performance figures during the year. The Officer replied that she was unsure for the reasons in the last quarter and would ask the service for a response.


The Chair then examined the missed target of sickness and absences within the Council. The target was 9 days absence, compared to 10 days absence which was achieved. He also pointed out that the future target was still 9 days absence, and questioned whether this was an achievable figure next year. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services replied that this was an achievable figure as the Council are doing everything they can within best practice to meet this figure. She also asserted that there was a positive direction of travel for absence and sickness leave within the Council.


Page 26 in the agenda was the next point that the Chair wanted to draw everyone’s attention too, which was regarding the percentage of refuse bins that were collected on the correct day. He noted that this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Delivering Our Free School Programme - Land Disposal pdf icon PDF 96 KB

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Delivering Our Free School Programme – Land Disposal


The Director of Children’s Service introduced the report which lays out Thurrock’s plan to build new schools, and to dispose of land to be able to do. The Chair made the point that the Committee was only considering the first recommendation, and informed that the other recommendations for Cabinet, the Committee could only comment on.


The Chair started by asking what the process was in identifying sites as suitable for disposal. The Director of Place answered that the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA) worked with the Council to identify suitable sites, which was difficult as getting planning applications on brownfield land was a challenge. The sites also had to be a certain size and in the right location to meet the needs of schools within the borough. Then the negotiations with the ESFA begun to be able to build the school, during which the ESFA sought pre-planning advice and decided that two of the sites identified (Orsett Heath and Treetops) were satisfactory.


A discussion then began on the current usage of the sites, and it was shown that the site at Orsett Heath is public open space and the site at Treetops is vacant space. The Trustee of Thurrock Rugby Club was invited to speak by the Chair and told the Committee that the site at Orsett Heath is used regularly by Thurrock Rugby Club, and had been since 1978. He stated that 200-300 children use the site for youth rugby and festivals, and as well as Thurrock children it also benefited children from outside the borough who travelled in for tournaments. He went on to state that the public open land is used every Saturday and Sunday during the rugby season for matches, as well as weekdays for academy and training. In addition, the pitches were critical to the survival of the rugby club as without youth rugby and the associated festivals the club could not bring in enough revenue to maintain itself.


The Chair asked Officers if they had consulted with residents on uses of the site. The Assistant Director of Property and Development stated that there were two separate pitches, one which was rugby club land and another which was open public space; and that the Council had no intention to use Thurrock Rugby Club land. He specified that part of negotiations with the ESFA would be regarding out of hours use of pitches for the rugby club, or multi-use pitches. He went on to mention that part of the process would be public consultation, and the result of which would be taken on board before the disposal of the land. Therefore, this was why one of the recommendations would be to delegate the decision to officers and Cabinet members. The Chair asked for clarification regarding the next step in the process for Cabinet, which was explained as the report would be going to Cabinet in June for approval and the decision would then be delegated.


The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 47 KB


Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme 2018/19


            Members discussed the Work Programme for the municipal year.




1.    That the Communications Team Update scheduled for September be widened to an update on the Communication Strategy, and include members of the local press.

2.    Long term investment strategy be added to the Work Programme.

3.    January meeting to include the draft budget before February Council.