The Leader stated that there
was an exempt appendix to the report, and Members should only
discuss this if Cabinet agreed to enter into an exempt session. He
added that Councillor Anderson had also attended the Cabinet
meeting to discuss the outcome from discussions of the report from
the Planning, Transport and Regeneration (PTR) Overview and
Scrutiny Committee that had taken place the previous night.
Councillor Coxshall introduced the report and stated that it was good to see the Chair of PTR had attended the meeting, and felt it was good to see Cabinet being challenged by the scrutiny function. He explained that the report presented good news as the project moved from phase three to phase four, in the eight phase strategy. He described how Cabinet had chosen the design last year, and this had been improved since then as the underpass had been widened, and additional opportunities for shops had been included in the designs. He stated that the Council planned to invest £37m into the scheme, £23m of which had been discussed earlier as capital project investment, and this would help to rejuvenate Grays high street and connect Grays South with Grays North, which had been divided by the railway line almost 100 years ago.
Councillor Anderson explained that the report had been discussed at the previous night’s PTR O&S Committee, and they had debated the three recommendations in great detail. He explained that recommendation 1 had been agreed, but the wording had changed from ‘endorsed project next steps’ to ‘noted project next steps’. He stated that recommendation 2 regarding delegated authority had also been agreed, but Members wanted to see regular briefing notes brought before the Committee. He added that Members had not approved recommendation 3 as they had believed not information had been provided regarding a detailed cost plan. He commented that Members had not expressed dissatisfaction with the project progress, but had felt unable to make a decision due to the lack of information. Councillor Anderson noted that an exempt appendix had been included in the Cabinet papers, and this had not been made available to the Committee. He felt that this appendix might have been useful for the Committee to see.
Councillor Coxshall responded and stated that Cabinet would consider in future allowing access to exempt information for overview and scrutiny committees, or holding private and closed briefing sessions for scrutiny members.
The Leader stated that based on the comments made at PTR Overview and Scrutiny Committee, an addition would be made to recommendation 2 outlining that regular briefing notes would be brought before the Committee.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet:
1. Endorsed the next steps in the programme for the project.
2. Delegated to the Corporate Director of Resources and Place Delivery, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Regeneration, Strategic Planning and External Relationships, the procurement for the next contract stages set out in the programme. Regular briefing notes on project progress would be provided to the relevant overview and scrutiny committee.
3. Approved the latest iteration of the cost plan appended to this report, including paragraphs 3.8 and 3.9, and noted the efforts made to continue to drive cost efficiency.
Reason for decision: as outlined in the report
This decision is subject to call-in