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.

 

Apologies have been received from Councillor Matt Hartley.

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 41 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:

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 49 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meetings held on 15 March 2018 and 11 June 2018.

 

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 5 March 2018 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 11 June 2018 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Leader's Report

A verbal update to be given by the Leader of the Council.

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Chair introduced this item by advising the Committee that the new Corporate Plan that would outline the Council’s priorities for delivery 2018-2022, was not being taken to Cabinet until October.  He had felt however, that the Committee would still benefit from a verbal update from the Leader on his immediate priorities.

 

The Leader advised that there were eight main strands of work which tied into the Manifesto commitments:

 

·       Anti-poverty – 5,000 free meals had been given out over the summer to school children which was one of the highest rates in London.  Work was now being undertaken on the next steps from this.

·       Safer Greenwich – a Knife Crime Task Force had been set up and a Charter signed.

·       Youth – a summer scheme had been held offering 60 courses ranging from business to vocational courses.  The Youth Service was also being recommissioned.

·       Housing challenges – the Leader had set up a Housing Delivery Board which he chaired.  A target had been set to build 750 new council homes and to aid this a bid had been put in to the Mayor of London’s Building Council Homes for Londoners Fund to access grant funding of £52m.  A report would be taken to Cabinet for approval in the near future.

·       Greener Greenwich – School Street Schemes were being set up with six schools in the first phase.

·       Economic Prosperity – finding jobs for local people; the Leader had set up monthly breakfast meetings, the most recent of which had been with businesses.

·       ‘Great place to be’ – publicising the borough as a great place to live and work; continuing with the Ward Budget Scheme to help local areas.

·       Strong and vibrant borough – new website now up and running and promoting the borough which has had very positive feedback; lots of engagement with the voluntary sector and local businesses.

 

The Leader gave responses to questions as follows:

·       The Leader advised that he was very concerned about the latest cuts to the police and them merging borough commanders across boroughs.  Councils and London Councils’ Leaders’ Committee unfortunately had no say in where the police chose to deploy their officers.  There were however, specific posts and teams that the Council funded and he would be looking into the best way to take this forward.

·       There were concerns about the cruise liner terminal and he had contacted Morgan Stanley for clarification on various issues but they had not yet responded.  He also advised that the Mayor of London had no jurisdiction over the river at all.

·       In response to a statement from a Member about some groups in the borough being left behind, particularly people on council estates, the Leader said that he thought there had been much more engagement with all groups but if anyone in Scrutiny had any further ideas to put forward, he would welcome them.

·       There was currently no update on the Silvertown project.

·       A lot of work was being done on how to help young people in food  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Structure and support arrangements for Scrutiny pdf icon PDF 73 KB

To consider and comment on the curent structure of Scrutiny and the support arrangements for it.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received and considered the report presented by the Head of Corporate Governance and Democratic Services.

 

In addressing the Committee, the Head of Corporate Governance and Democratic Services highlighted the disparity in arrangements for scrutiny functions across Local Authorities in London.  She advised that around half of London councils did not have dedicated support for scrutiny but combined this support with servicing other committees and panels, as was the case in Greenwich.  She also advised that the average number of council officers supporting Scrutiny across London was 3.5 overall, and for the half who did not have dedicated support the average was 4.6 compared with 7.6 in Greenwich.

 

The Head of Corporate Governance and Democratic Services said that no one had come to her and complained about the service offered, nor had anyone said that they had asked for something and been told it could not be done.  She advised that although the reorganisation had taken place in April, there had only been one round of Scrutiny meetings so far and she felt it was a little early to make any decision on the support service.  This report was therefore, brought as an introduction and was on the work programme to be brought back to Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 4th March 2019 for recommendations.

 

In response to comments on the Select Committee report on the effectiveness of local authorities’ Overview and Scrutiny Committees, the Assistant Director Communications and Democratic Services confirmed that the Government’s response to the fourth recommendation was that each council should decide for itself how to resource scrutiny committees.  He added that there would be a review on the workflow of each Panel and encouraged Panel Chairs to utilise their support officer when carrying out work.

 

In addressing the Committee, the Director, Communities and Environment stated that the current scrutiny structure was agreed under the previous administration and the service area was happy to review the support available.  She added that the recommendations presented in the Select Committee report could be presented to Cabinet for comment before the follow-up report was brought back to Overview and Scrutiny Committee in March 2019.

 

Action: Chair O&S /

Head of CG&DS

 

Committee members felt that there should be greater parity of esteem between Scrutiny and the Executive with different staff supporting each function.  They thought that this would enable more in-depth, deep-dive reviews.  The Chair confirmed that he had received assurances from the Director and Head of Service that resources were available to carry out such reviews.  He also stated that he would be happy if more meetings of Scrutiny Panels were held if this was required.

 

Committee members endorsed the recommendation of the Select Committee that Scrutiny should report directly to Full Council and suggested that update reports should be presented by each Panel. 

 

Action: Chair of O&S / Head of CG&DS

 

Given that the public already had a voice in Scrutiny matters, they felt that an increase in public engagement as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Apprenticeships: commitment and spend pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To report on the spend and commitment relating to apprenticeships that are offered at RBG in all directorates.  To summarise RBG’s position regarding the recovery of payments made to the apprenticeship levy.

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Head of Human Resources along the lines of the report. She highlighted that the cost of the Apprenticeship Levy that had been taken from the RBG budget was £1.1m split fairly evenly in relation to RBG staff and maintained schools’ payrolls.  The levy could be used to meet the cost of apprenticeship training for an approved apprenticeship framework delivered by an approved training provider, and assessment for both existing employees and new starters but not for any other costs, including staffing costs. 

 

Local authorities had been set a target of 2.3% of the workforce to be enrolled onto apprenticeships which equated to approximately 172 new or re-designated posts each year in RBG.

 

In August 2018, RBG had begun to offer apprenticeships in three ways, all of them as direct employees as per section 4 of the report.  There were currently ten apprentices working in Waste Services as a pilot scheme with the next cohort expected in November.  As of 5th September 2018, RBG was offering apprenticeship opportunities to 70 apprentices through the various programmes.  The Council was also introducing Greenwich Direct apprentices which were entry level opportunities.  The apprentices would be employed on fixed term contracts aligned with the length of the apprenticeship qualification training and would be paid at London Living Wage - there were currently 109 expressions of interest from directorates.  The challenge was that the creation of these apprenticeships had to be contained within existing staffing budgets.

 

The Chair commented on the shortage of planning officers in the Authority and the fact that the target for DRES was only 8 apprentices.  The Head of Human Resources confirmed that this was only the minimum target and directorates were encouraged to exceed it, but that each department had to also balance their budget and continue to deliver an effective service.  The Chair then asked if there were any apprentices in DRES and was directed to the table in Appendix 1. The Assistant Director, Employment and Skills, also pointed out that new standards replacing the frameworks had been slow to develop but new ones were now being approved.

 

In response to a question, the Head of HR advised that as per the table in paragraph 7, a leadership and management pilot programme was in the process of being commissioned.  This was because this had come out strongly in the staff questionnaire as something needed to enhance careers and it also maximised recovery of the Levy.  The training would be offered at lower and middle levels of the organisation.

A Committee Member said that 2.3% was a very low target but no department was able to hit it.  The Head of HR reiterated that this was due to the delay in the frameworks being developed and that although more apprenticeship frameworks and standards were being developed, there was still a lack of these in some of the hard to recruit areas.  She confirmed that the borough would not recover the Levy in full  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Headline Equalities Measures pdf icon PDF 164 KB

The Overview and Scrutiny Committee is requested to note progress made on the Council’s annual Headline Equality Measures for 2017/18.

 

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This was presented by the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Third Sector and the Director of Communities & Environment along the lines of the report.

 

In response to a question about the age breakdown of employees, the Head of HR advised that the average age of RBG staff had reduced slightly.  There had been initiatives undertaken to achieve this including apprenticeships and career-graded posts.  In response to a question about what action was being taken to provide work experience opportunities the Head of HR confirmed that there was a team in DRES responsible for linking with schools.

 

The Chair then asked about Measure 13 about Hate Crime which seemed to have large increases in all except one area but was being taken to the Hate Crime Panel less frequently than in previous years.  It was explained that instances of Hate Crime were only taken to the Panel if they were very complex or significant and that most were investigated by the police and not taken to the Panel.

 

In response to a question the Cabinet Member advised that the Voluntary Sector was not consulted about this report as it was a statistical report but that the figures had been shared with them.

 

In response to a question about staff networks, the Head of HR advised that each network had a GMT champion and that she also met with the Chairs on a quarterly basis.  The networks were consulted about new policies.

 

The Head of HR also spoke about HEM 12: the number of discriminatory incidents recorded by the Council – a Committee member said that it seemed a very low figure for a large organisation.  The Head of HR said that there were other more informal options available to staff as well as formal grievances.  On being asked if there was any available data on this, she advised that she would check if there was data on grievances being settled at an informal stage but thought that HR would not hold this information as they would only become aware of a grievance when it entered the formal stage.  However, she would check and if so, would send this information out after the meeting.

 

                                                                      Action: Head of HR

 

The Assistant Director, Employment & Skills was then asked about HEM 7 and the action to support out of work residents into employment by GLLaB.  She confirmed that some may not be on the London Living Wage and could be on zero hours contracts but that GLLaB was about helping people become employable and that the training provided meant people could move into better paid, London Living Wage jobs.

 

The Chair responded that actually the Council was a considerable player in the market who gave GLLaB a significant amount of funding and employers who did not share the Council’s standards should not be benefitting from employees we sent their way.  He felt that some policies should be looked at again to prevent this happening.

 

Resolved -

 

1.     That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee noted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 46 KB

To consider upcoming decisions and determine any items for scrutiny.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members raised concerns about some of the decisions on the Forward Plan and the fact that they did not have any information about them.  They said that having to resort to call-ins was not ideal and that there should be a process for pre-scrutiny.

 

The Chair asked Members to send him a list of any decisions they were particularly concerned about and he would get back to them by the end of the week with a suggested way forward.

 

Action: All; Chair of O&S / Head of CG&DS

 

Resolved –

 

1.     That the upcoming executive decisions in the Forward Plan for the period September 2018 – December 2018 (inclusive), as set out at Appendix 1 be noted.

 

 

 

 

 

10.

Commissioning Future Reports pdf icon PDF 39 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 5 November 2018.

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

1.     That the Committee noted the work items that were scheduled be presented to the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 5 November 2018.

 

2.     That the Committee considered the scope of forthcoming reports and did not specify any detailed requirements.