Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Committee Room 4 - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Veronica Johnson  Email: veronica.johnson@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5004

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Committee.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Matt Hartley.

2.

Urgent Business

The Chair to announce any items of urgent business circulated separately from the main agenda.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 39 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Mark James declared an interest for Item 5 and Item 6 as an employee of TfL.

 

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies be noted.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 62 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 19 February 2019.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 19 February 2019 be deferred for agreement until the following meeting to allow some discussion on an item in the exempt minutes.

5.

Agency & Interim Usage - Q3 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 119 KB

The purpose of this report is to provide an overview of agency, interim and contractor usage for Q3 of financial year 2018/19.

 

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The item was introduced by Councillor Christine Grice, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, and the Head of HR.

 

The Head of HR advised that whilst it was accepted there had been an increase in agency spend since December 2017, some of this was due to factors outside of the Council’s control such as the impact of IR35 regulations and pension auto-enrolment.  Each directorate had also provided an explanation of its spend and this was contained in section 4 of the report.

 

The Head of HR provided an update on agency staff under the category ‘Admin type’ and confirmed this had reduced to 38 from 39.  The Head of HR advised that where appropriate a vacancy is released and filled under the Admin category – this was because this category represented the lowest agency fee.  It was not necessarily an admin role.  Roles in this category included: Asbestos Technical Coordinator, Complaints & Enquiries Officer and Engagement and Tracking Officer. 

 

Responses to questions from the Committee were as follows:

·       Agency workers could apply for internal vacancies but not for secondments or acting up opportunities.

·       There was a market supplement procedure which had to have a business case attached to implement and if agreed would be reviewed every 6 months.

·       There is no set timeframe for an agency assignment.  Each directorate has their own budget for staffing and any agency use is paid for from that.  HR could not turn down a request but every request had to be signed off by the relevant director.  Going forward, finance officers would be contacting directors asking them to identify alternative funds if their staffing budget was overspent.

·       Greenwich’s use of agency workers was low compared to most other London boroughs but officers were looking at how more permanent members of staff could be recruited.

 

Action – future reports to the Committee to include comparative data on other local authorities’ use of agency spend.

 

·       It was acknowledged that the second highest rate of spend was on senior officers, PO8 and above, but that there were legitimate reasons for this.  An activity report would be completed on a quarterly basis, this would be provided to directors and lead Members so that early discussions could take place.

·       There were no particular discussions with the Unions about agency usage, but they were consulted whenever there was a reorganisation.  There had also been a discussion with them about the workforce plan in the MTFS and this had included an aim to reduce agency spend.

·       All agency usage was IR35 compliant and workers were employed through an in-house management system.

·       The figures in the report did not include consultants but could be added for future reports.

 

Action – Officers to send out information to all committee members on the numbers of consultants currently employed.  Figures for these would also be included in future reports.

 

Action – Officers to send out information to all committee members on the numbers of staff in each directorate pre and post the voluntary redundancies in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) pdf icon PDF 449 KB

This report has been prepared to respond to the questions and comments raised by Overview and Scrutiny in relation to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Section 106 agreements.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This report was presented by the Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources; the Director of Regeneration, Enterprise & Skills; and the Performance & Planning Obligations Manager.

 

Members’ attention was drawn to paragraph 2.7 which laid out the likely changes the Government will be making to the CIL regulations which would include removing the section 106 pooling restrictions; and also to paragraph 3.2 which provided a table of the breakdown of CIL contributions.

 

Fifteen percent of the CIL collected by the borough was retained as the neighbourhood portion.  This was made available to local communities through the Greenwich Neighbourhood Growth Fund.  The money from round 1 had been allocated and from round 2 would be released later in the year.

 

Members were advised that RBG had a commitment to contribute £15m to TfL as part of the funding arrangements for the fit-out of the Woolwich Crossrail Station.  This amount would be secured by way of Section 106 roof tax and a fifty percent contribution from the residential CIL receipts.  The amount must be paid in full by 2022/23.

 

Following the agreement by Cabinet to the Capital Strategy, the Transformation Board will have day to day responsibility for governance controls and monitoring of spend against allocations of Section 106 and CIL.  Reports would also be taken to Cabinet twice a year.

 

Two members of the public were then granted two minutes each by the Chair to speak on this item.  Their points included the following:

 

·       Both members of the public advised that they did not feel the money was being spent in the right areas of the borough. 

·       Not enough money was being spent in Plumstead, Glyndon and Abbey Wood who actually needed it the most.

·       It was felt that Overview and Scrutiny was not being given enough information.

·       Other boroughs publish far more detail than Greenwich.

·       There was a huge pot of money in Area 2 but nothing was coming back to residents and was just being spent on the ‘usual suspects.’

·       Scrutiny was asked to look at the whole process in detail again.

Responses to questions from Members included the following points:

·       On being asked why the level of roof tax shown in the Cabinet papers of December 2017 was £8.4m and this had not changed since that time, officers advised they would need to double check.

 

Action – officers to look at the Cabinet papers from December 2017 and advise Members if any further roof tax had been collected since that date, and if not, the reasons for this.

 

·       The five percent admin fee to the Mayor of London was made up of four percent from RBG and one percent from TfL.  It was not possible for RBG to charge any more.

·       Members asked for a comparison of rates with other boroughs.

 

Action – officers to give Members a comparison of the CIL charging rates in other boroughs.

 

·       More detail was asked for in future reports including a list of all the projects and how much had been raised by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Scrutiny Work Programme 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To note the process and timetable for developing the Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme 2019-20.

 

To note and give comments on the suggestions received for the work plan in Appendix B.

 

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair drew Members’ attention to the timetable at Appendix A showing that this was the preliminary meeting to discuss the work programme and that it would be brought back for final discussion at the Overview and Scrutiny meeting on 30th April 2019.  It would then be taken to the Council Annual Meeting on 15 May 2019 for agreement.

 

Appendix B showed the list of proposals received from Councillors and members of the public along with the standing items for each panel.

 

Councillor David Stanley and Councillor Nigel Fletcher both advised that they wished to speak on this item under standing orders.

 

Councillor Stanley spoke about some of the items he had suggested for the work programme and explained why he thought they were important.  One of these was Safer Neighbourhood Teams which he suggested could be amalgamated with the item on Neighbourhood Watch under the Community Safety and Environment Panel. 

 

He also spoke about the importance of resources for Scrutiny including needing more scrutiny officers in place.  He was aware that an extra person had been employed for six months but felt that the next year would be extremely busy and would require an extra permanent post.  He also advised that when he had been Chair, the Head of Legal Services had agreed to a questionnaire being sent out to all members asking for their views on scrutiny and its support.

 

Action – a questionnaire to be sent out to all Members asking for their views on scrutiny and its support.

 

Councillor Fletcher agreed that how scrutiny was resourced should be looked into.  He advised that he had come to the meeting to particularly endorse some items on the proposed work plan.  The first of these was the one about investment in parks and the second was the suggestion about Greenwich Info.  He reminded everyone of the recent call-in and said that he felt the outcome of it had been discourteous to the scrutiny process.  He also stressed the importance of continuing to monitor CIL and s106 monies and felt that the effectiveness of GLLaB should be measured.

 

The Committee then discussed the proposed items in general.  They felt that some of them were very particular to a street or area and could not really be items for scrutiny.  Some however, might be amalgamated together and the rest would be better served by being sent directly to the relevant Chief Officer for a direct response and action.

 

The item on ‘5G’ was discussed and it was agreed by all present at the meeting that this was not a suitable item for scrutiny.  This was because this was a national policy which the council had no remit over and could not turn down or influence.

 

It was suggested that the Hervey Road issues should be scrutinised and it was agreed that this would be added to the work plan for the Finance and Public Services Panel.

 

It was also agreed to add the Youth Service to the work plan  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 45 KB

To consider upcoming decisions and determine any items for scrutiny.

 

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the upcoming executive decisions set out in the Forward Plan for the period March 2019 – June 2019 (inclusive), as set out at Appendix 1, be noted.

 

 

 

9.

Commissioning Future Reports pdf icon PDF 35 KB

The Committee is asked to note the work items that are scheduled to be presented to the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 1 April 2019.

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the work items that are scheduled to be presented to the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 1st April 2019 be noted.