Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 10th March, 2020 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 96 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committeemeeting held on14 January 2020, and the minutes of the Extraordinary Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 23 January 2020.

Additional documents:


As the meeting was inquorate, the minutes could not be approved.


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.


The Chair stated that part of the Committee’s remit was to consider business continuity, and asked what business continuity preparations were being put in place to deal with potential disruptions due to Coronavirus. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services replied that Public Health England provided the latest updates on their website every day at 2pm, and currently 373 people had tested positive for the virus, and 6 people with underlying health conditions had passed away. She added that the Portfolio Holder, Directors Board, and Group Leaders were being provided with daily updates of the situation, with all Members receiving weekly updates on a Friday. She added that the Essex Resilience Forum and Thurrock Council had already considered the business continuity plans for a normal flu pandemic, and the impact it could cause for service delivery and the wider workforce. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services explained that due to Coronavirus all services were currently in the process of reviewing their business continuity plans. She added that the Council already ran an agile workforce, with many staff members having the ability to work from home, and a list of critical services had been compiled which may need support from other services during a potential Coronavirus pandemic. She clarified that the Communications team were signposting residents to the government and Public Health England’s websites to ensure they were provided with the most up-to-date information, but the UK were currently in the containment phase. She summarised and stated that the Communications team, Public Health England, and the Emergency Planning team were currently working together to monitor the situation, and were working hard to ensure that business continuity plans were up to date. 

The Chair asked what the process was for reviewing business continuity plans, and asked when they would be complete. He felt particular concern for critical services such as adult social care, as the service helped the most vulnerable residents. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Service replied that most services had business continuity plans and the review would hopefully be finalised by the end of the week. She stated that the adult social care department was a priority for the emergency planning team, and work would be ongoing to minimise the impact of Coronavirus. The Chair asked if Coronavirus was likely to have a disproportionate impact on some frontline services, and asked what plans were in place to ensure these services received the necessary support. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Service responded that if necessary, staff members could be trained to work for other services, or a cross-service working policy could be implemented.

Councillor Ralph questioned the policy that was in place for homeless people if Coronavirus became a pandemic. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Service replied that she did not have the detail, but this would be covered in the housing business continuity plan, but the service would continue to support homeless people throughout a potential pandemic. She stated that as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.


Declaration of Interests


There were no interests declared.


Quarter 3 (Month 9) Corporate Performance Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 705 KB


The Strategy Manager introduced the report and stated that she felt it was positive as 85% of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) were on target, and 60% were better than in 2018/19. She highlighted that some KPIs had not reached their target, but more detail was provided within the report, with a ‘route to green’, which focussed on plans in place to ensure the KPI met its target, and any issues were mitigated. She also highlighted the success of the apprenticeships KPI, and stated that the apprentice levy had now been successfully embedded into the Council’s policy, with the end of year apprenticeship target being met in January. She thanked the Committee for their support on this target, including inviting the HR team to discuss apprenticeships in 2019.

The Chair congratulated the team for the positive KPIs and direction of travel. He felt it was good to see the ‘route to green’ being included, and congratulated the team on the successful apprenticeships KPI, which he felt had been championed by Members of the Committee. He drew the Committee’s attention to page 28 of the agenda and the KPI relating to the percentage of waste recycled, reused and composted, as he felt the 30% outturn was low, compared to target. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services replied that the target had not been met partly due to the ongoing impact of the recent wet weather, as this impacted on the amount of waste being composed, as residents were not out gardening or cutting grass and therefore not putting their brown bins out for collection. She stated that the missed target was also due to issues such as recycling in flats and issues regarding access. She explained that following a pilot scheme, a programme was being launched in May 2020 to tackle recycling in flats, and the Waste Management Working Group were currently consulting residents on their opinions regarding recycling and how to improve it across the borough. She added that there was also detailed analysis and engagement regarding recycling communications, and stated that the message was currently focused on metal recycling, and had previously tackled plastic recycling. She described that the communications team were trying to simplify the message around recycling, as it could be quite a complex topic for residents to understand. She added that the council were also engaging directly with schools to spread the recycling message.

Councillor Ralph stated that he was part of the Waste Management Working Group, and one of their main focusses was education regarding recycling. He added that the team had also worked on a new bin sticker campaign in flats to increase the recycling rate, and help continue to maintain low contamination rates in bins. He added that a public consultation was currently underway, and lots of residents were taking part. Councillor Ralph then questioned the KPI on page 24 regarding the number of young people who reoffend after a previously recorded offence, and stated that the KPI was significantly better than  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.


Verbal Update: Overview and Scrutiny Review


The Democratic Services Officer explained to Members the progress that had been made on the review, since Members had last received an update in 2019. She stated that there had been a few delays in progressing the report, such as purdah at the end of 2019, and delays regarding governance. She added that all research for the review had now been completed, as well as the Scrutiny Symposium event, and the first draft of the review was almost finished. She clarified that three main themes had emerged from Members comments and officer research, which included increasing the impact of scrutiny; improving scrutiny’s policy development role; and improving Member training.

The Democratic Services Officer moved on and asked for the Committee’s comments on the formalisation on the relationship between Cabinet and scrutiny, which would help to finalise the draft Executive-Scrutiny Protocol. The Democratic Services Officer summarised and stated that a meeting between the Leader and the Committee had now been arranged for Tuesday 7 April, which would discuss the relationship between Cabinet and the Executive, and was the final stage in the review process. She clarified that once the comments from this meeting had been included, the review would be signed off by all scrutiny Chairs, as well as the Executive, and would then begin to be implemented.

The Chair thanked the Democratic Services Officer for her hard work on the review, and felt it was positive to see it was nearing completion. He stated that he felt a formal briefing note would be a better way for feedback to get to Cabinet from scrutiny, and asked that comments from Cabinet be reported back to scrutiny, for a circular process. Councillor Ralph added that a verbal update for Cabinet Members might also be necessary as it could open a broader discussion. The Democratic Services Officer clarified that both options could be pursued, and a circular reporting process was being included in the Executive-Scrutiny Protocol.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 354 KB


The Chair stated that as this was the last meeting of the municipal year, there was nothing to add to the Work Programme. He thanked officers and Members for their hard work on the Committee, and wished the Committee luck for the future.