Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 8th March, 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Training Room, The Beehive Community Resource Centre, West Street, Grays, RM17 6XP

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

Items
No. Item

32.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 324 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committeemeeting held on 18 January 2022.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 January 2022 were approved as a true and correct record.

Councillor John Kent arrived – 7.02pm

33.

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. To agree any relevant briefing notes submitted to the Committee.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

34.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

35.

Quarter 3 (April-December 2021) Corporate Performance Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 517 KB

Minutes:

The Strategy Manager introduced the report and stated that it outlined the relevant Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for quarter three of 2021/22. She explained that any missed targets were accompanied by a ‘route to green’ narrative, and although it was difficult to predict the future regarding COVID-19, officers hoped that those KPIs which had been impacted would begin to improve with the lifting of restrictions.

Councillor Okunade questioned the KPI regarding litter on page 19 of the agenda and asked how the KPI was measured. The Strategy Manager explained that the KPI regarding litter was measured using a random, independent survey which looked at different areas of Thurrock on a regular basis, including residential areas, town centres and industrial land. She stated that this survey determined whether or not litter levels were at an acceptable level across the borough. She stated that the figures for this KPI tended to be higher during the summer months, but the KPI had been met. The Chair felt it would be interesting to see a breakdown of the litter levels by ward, and the Strategy Manager replied that this could be provided to the Committee outside of the meeting, as well as information as to how the Council was encouraging people not to drop litter.

Councillor Collins highlighted page 20 of the agenda and the KPI relating to social care direct payments. He questioned why this KPI was under-performing. The Strategy Manager replied that this KPI had been significantly affected by COVID, as many private care service providers had to change the way they worked or not been able to work due to the pandemic/illness. The Chair added that some resident’s healthcare situations had also deteriorated during the pandemic, so their care needs had expanded.

Councillor Kent drew the Committee’s attention to page 21 of the report and the KPI relating to new apprenticeships. He questioned what the route to green was for this KPI, and how the Council had been engaging with the Kickstart Scheme. He also queried the KPI regarding the rate of young people re-offending on page 23 of the report and asked how the backlog of court cases was affecting this KPI. He added that the KPI relating payment of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) on page 22 of the agenda showed that only one in four people had paid their FPNs in December. He asked who was responsible for collecting this payment, and how the Council was ensuring residents continued to pay their fines. The Strategy Manager stated that the Council, along with other local authorities across the country, had struggled to meet the KPI regarding apprenticeships due to the impacts of COVID-19. The Director of Strategy, Engagement and Growth added that some services were working with Inspire and the Kickstart Scheme, for example the Cleaner and Greener team were offering work experience placements. The Strategy Manager stated that the number of young people reoffending was a small cohort, which produced larger percentages that appeared biased. She stated that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 35.

36.

Report on Asset Related Savings pdf icon PDF 240 KB

Minutes:

Mr Woodbridge read out his statement as follows:

“Thank you Chair and others for allowing us to make a short statement this evening. We are Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions CIC and Thurrock International Celebration of Culture Ltd.

Firstly, we wanted to thank Officers and Members for the opportunity to try and save the Thameside and keep a place for arts and culture at the heart of Thurrock. All Members have expressed their desire to support this and as Cllr Coxshall stated “if the Thameside complex was transferred to the community, it will not only save the Council money but would improve the arts and cultural offer of the borough. He also stated, “the right financial support would have to be put in place to ensure the success of this project in the long term”.

The Thameside Complex has not yet been saved. As you can imagine it has been quite some journey these past 20 weeks and we are aware that our governance is currently what we would describe as credible, but our plan is to make it incredible. We will need your help with this. Our original outline business plan was well received and we believe the figures you state are ‘about right’ in that this building costs the Council £647,000 per year and our plan will enable us to do this cheaper.

We subsequently have met with other Directors at the Council, as well as Officers, museum staff, library staff, and artists. Indeed, there are 150 children working on their own business plan for the building as we speak. We have invested community money and the final business plan is being worked on tirelessly. As part of this we need you to understand that this is a partnership between community, Officers and Members. We want you to have a role in our governance going forwards, but your democratic mandate is at the fore when supporting us in this endeavour. Our consultation has included as diverse a community as possible, everyone is entitled to a voice and trust me, we have been listening. Our business plan is based on three pillars of governance, transformation and finance – Sounding Boards will ensure the continual engagement with all the cultures within our community.

We know that being born with two ears and one mouth is the correct ratio – we’re still listening – talk to us. The saving of this building for the community of Thurrock is crucial. We have been overwhelmed by Thurrock’s outpouring of love and understanding of the role arts and culture will play as the borough expands and support its citizens. The governance, conversations and actions will continue onwards.

We are very excited to have our business plan ready for you at the end of March, but we wanted to be clear that this will not only be transformational, but also it needs to be sustainable. We think that there are clever ways of using your money to lever in even more money. But the very starting point  ...  view the full minutes text for item 36.

37.

Thames Freeport: Business Rates Policy and Governance Structure pdf icon PDF 569 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Economic Growth and Partnerships introduced the report and stated that it formed part of a wider government policy for increased investments in trade; innovation and regeneration; and levelling up to improve people’s employment prospects and contribute to initiatives aimed at improving health and wellbeing. He stated that the Outline Business Case for the scheme had been submitted to government and was approved in October 2021, with the sites designated alongside other financial aspects in December 2021. He stated that the Full Business Case (FBC) had been submitted in January 2022, and was currently being quality assured by numerous government departments at Whitehall. He added that the partners were hoping to receive formal approval of the FBC by the end of March or early April. He thanked partners at the London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham and Havering for their joint work on the project.

The Assistant Director of Economic Growth and Partnerships stated that the Freeport could provide approximately 21,000 new jobs and would see additional private investment of over £4bn, the majority of which would come into Thurrock. He commented that the Freeport would provide opportunities for businesses both during construction and operation, and Thurrock were hoping to link small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to the Freeport through the supply chain. He added that the Freeport would also present opportunities to upskill the local workforce as Officers were currently looking at how they could target opportunities available and upskill people to be able to apply for these jobs. He stated that targeted pathfinder programme would be available that would help people to access jobs and remove their barriers to employment.

The Assistant Director of Finance added that the business rates scheme for the Freeport had been active since December 2021, but the proposed policy provided clarity for businesses regarding business rate relief. He stated that the process for business rate relief sat within the Council, but business rates would be compensated for by central government. He stated that Thurrock were the lead local authority and accountable body for the Freeport, and that any further funding would go through Thurrock as the accountable body for the other three local authorities.

Councillor Kent queried the different between the new proposed Freeport and the freeports that had existed until 2012 and had been removed in 2014. He also asked if the Thames Freeport would work on the same basis as the other 5000 Freeports worldwide. He questioned what the basis for the business rate retention was and if this was up for negotiation. The Assistant Director of Economic Growth and Partnerships replied that the difference between the Freeports in 2012 and 2022 related to the different policies, additional levers and processes in place. He stated that the new Freeports connected multiple different departments across central government and involved new regeneration policies. He explained that customs arrangements for Freeports remained the same as in 2012 but there were ongoing discussions with HMRC regarding this issue. The Assistant Director of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.

38.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 271 KB

Minutes:

The Committee agreed that an update report regarding the governance surrounding Freeports based on central government guidance would be added to the Work Programme.