Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 8th June, 2021 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Lucy Tricker, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 239 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committeemeeting held on 9 March 2021.

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Minutes:

The minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 9 March 2021 were approved as a correct record.

2.

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.

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Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

3.

Declaration of Interests

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Minutes:

There were no interests declared.

4.

End of Year (Month 12) Corporate Performance Report 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 511 KB

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Minutes:

The Director of Strategy, Engagement and Growth introduced the report and stated that it covered the Council’s corporate performance from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. She stated that 63% of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) had met target, which was 10% lower than in 2019/20 when 74% of KPIs had reached target. She highlighted that this was largely not due to service performance, but due to the impact of COVID-19 and subsequent restrictions. She explained that in Quarter 2 when COVID-19 restrictions had eased, 75% of KPIs had reached their targets, and she hoped to see this again in the figures for Quarter 1 of this municipal year. She described how each KPI that had not hit target had commentary and a ‘route to green’ attached, which explained the reason for the missed target and any action being taken to ensure it hit future targets. She summarised and highlighted point 3.4 of the report which outlined the KPIs that had achieved target.

The Vice-Chair questioned page 26 of the agenda and the KPI regarding the occupancy percentage of council-owned business centres. He queried what marketing and incentives the Council were undertaking. The Director of Strategy, Engagement and Growth replied that although the Council were not providing any direct incentives for council-owned business centres, but they were working hard to ensure the units were marketed and occupancy take up increased.

Councillor Akinbohun arrived 7.05pm.

Councillor Okunade questioned the KPI relating to the turnaround time of re-lets. She queried whether this KPI had been affected by the pandemic, and if the Council had a plan in place to ensure the time to re-let properties was reduced. The Director of Strategy, Growth and Engagement responded that the report highlighted the direction of travel for the KPI, and explained that in Quarter 1 the choice-based lettings programme had been suspended due to COVID-19, so the time to re-let had increased to sixty days. She explained that the re-let time had now decreased to thirty days, and was continuing to travel in the right direction, but had not hit the end of year target. She added that the team were seeing improvement in Quarter 1 this year, which would be shown to the Committee at the meeting in September.

Councillor Kent stated that this had been a tough year for the Council due to COVID-19, and felt that the KPIs reflected this. He thanked officers across the Council for their hard work throughout the pandemic, and felt that they had continued to deliver services during a difficult year. He highlighted page 21 of the agenda, and asked if the Committee could see the raw data for the KPI regarding the completion of treatment in the Young People’s Drug and Alcohol service. He also questioned the KPI regarding the Council’s support of cultural, social, and health and wellbeing events outlined on page 22, and asked if these had taken place virtually during the pandemic. He also asked if the Committee could see more detail on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 249 KB

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Minutes:

Councillor Hebb thanked the Committee for allowing him to attend the meeting, and stated that he was attending due to the scrutiny review, which had been developed by Councillor Gerrish as Chair during the previous municipal year, and had been a welcome piece of work. He explained that he had a suite of ideas to put to the Committee to build the Work Programme, which included:

1. The Fair Debt Summit – a piece of work on the impact of COVID-19 and residents who wanted to pay debts, but simply could not. This could include a deep-dive or a Task and Finish Group into the collections process, the new relationship between Thurrock’s revenue department and the Citizens Advice Bureau, and the compassionate side of collections.
2. Education within the Fair Debt Summit – a piece of work on how to help young people anticipate the signs of household debt. He stated that before COVID-19 a small piece of work had been completed which looked at this issue, but had been stopped due to the pandemic. He hoped the Committee would look into how to rollout the education package to schools, sixth forms, and academy trusts. He felt that the generation who were being raised during COVID-19 would need additional help regarding this issue.
3. Wide-reaching consultation regarding the Local Council Tax Scheme to ensure it was fit for purpose, it met the borough’s needs, and provided good value for money for the people that funded it.
4. Members oversight of investments, which had been suggested by the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee last year. He stated that a Shadow Investment Board had been running since July 2020, but felt that the Committee should have a role in how the Board would be constituted and formed. He explained that although the Council were now no longer pursuing investments, Members still needed to ensure the strategy was fit for purpose, and transparent for residents to understand.

Councillor Okunade thanked Councillor Hebb for his proposals. She questioned the potential timeframes for completing this work. Councillor Hebb replied that the timescales could be determined by the Committee based on outstanding Work Programme commitments. Councillor Kent agreed with the proposals, but felt that the timescales would be quite tight due to the timings of future Committee meetings. He questioned if activities could take place in between formal Committee meetings. The Senior Democratic Services Officer replied that she would speak with senior officers, as well as the Chair and Vice-Chair, to formulate a draft Work Programme and timeline. Councillor Okunade highlighted that some work streams would need to be prioritised over others, due to potential time constraints.