Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Committee Room 6 - 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:

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 58 KB

Members are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 1 April 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.

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 1st April 2019 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Structure and Support Arrangements for Scrutiny - Final Report pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Overview and Scrutiny Committee is asked to consider the results of the Scrutiny questionnaire sent to all Members and to decide if any recommendations should be made on the basis of those results (Appendix A).

 

To consider if the six current scrutiny panels are still fit for purpose or should be altered in any way.

 

To note that a report was taken to Cabinet on 20 March 2019 at the request of Overview and Scrutiny Committee at which it was agreed that Scrutiny should report directly to Full Council by presenting update reports from each panel on a rotational basis.

 

To note that the Government was due to publish new guidelines for Scrutiny in November of last year, but this is still awaited.

 

To consider if the publication of the Government’s recommendations in respect of Scrutiny functions should be awaited before proposing any changes to the way that Scrutiny is undertaken in Royal Borough of Greenwich as otherwise this could put the Council at odds with the recommendations made.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Assistant Director of Performance, Communications and Electoral Services gave an introduction to the report.  He notified the Panel of three updates since the item was last brought to Overview and Scrutiny on 17th September 2018.  These included:

 

·          A questionnaire that had been circulated to Members asking for their views on Greenwich’s scrutiny function.

·          Cabinet agreement for Scrutiny to report directly to Full Council.

·          The addition of staff within the Corporate Governance team.

 

Members welcomed the report and the decision for Scrutiny to report directly to Full Council.

 

Members discussed the report.  Concerns were raised about the level of scrutiny support currently provided which was felt to be insufficient.  It was suggested that whilst Corporate Governance Officers were dedicated and committed, they did not have the capacity to support scrutiny work, particularly the in-depth reviews.  It was pointed out that the recommendation of the Commons Select Committee was that scrutiny committees be supported by officers that can operate with independence and provide impartial advice. 

 

It was proposed by Councillor Fahy that the existing research role within Corporate Governance be made permanent. 

 

Responses to questions from the Panel to the Assistant Director of Performance, Communications and Electoral Services, and the Head of Corporate Governance and Democratic Services, included the following points:

 

·          Greenwich was ahead of many other London boroughs in terms of Scrutiny support.  According to a comparison undertaken with other London boroughs, the average number of council officers working with Scrutiny was 3.5 full time equivalents (fte) compared to 9.4 in Greenwich.  

·          The number of Scrutiny Panels in other local authorities varied from two to eight.   

·          The staff budget was overspent by £11,845 to date and for the year would be overspent by £86k if staffing levels did not change.

·          The role of Corporate Development Officer had incorporated additional duties and did not provide stand-alone scrutiny support. 

 

In response to a question from the Panel, the Acting Director of Finance confirmed that each directorate would be undertaking a budget recovery process, three of which were currently underway.  He said there were no other resources to transfer budgets because the directorate as a whole was also overspent.   

 

Resolved –

 

That the final report on the structure and support arrangements for Scrutiny be noted. 

 

Recommendation: - It was agreed that the Chair would recommend Option 2 (paragraph 4.2 of the report) and propose to the Chief Executive that a dedicated research position in Corporate Governance be funded for a period of twelve months.  

6.

Corporate Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel Procurement Review pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Overview and Scrutiny Committee is asked to note the conclusions of the review on procurement undertaken by the Corporate Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel. 

 

It is also asked to agree the recommendations of the Corporate Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel and that they be submitted to the Chief Executive for consideration by the appropriate Chief Officer and Cabinet.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Parker expressed his support of local procurement to reduce the Royal Borough’s carbon footprint.

 

Resolved –

 

To note the conclusion of the review of procurement undertaken by the Corporate Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel.

 

To agree the recommendations of the Corporate Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel and submit these to the Chief Executive for consideration by the appropriate Chief Officer and Cabinet. 

 

 

 

7.

Scrutiny Work Programme 2019 20 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To note the updated Scrutiny Work Programme for 2019-2020 and recommend its agreement at the Annual Meeting of Full Council on 15 May 2019.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair informed the Panel of three additions to the Scrutiny Work Programme since the agenda had been published.  These included:

 

The addition of the Borough Halls to the Work Programme of the Regeneration, Transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel to which Councillor Parker, in his capacity as Chair of this Panel, agreed.

 

Changes to the Work Programme of the Environment and Community Safety Community Panel to which Councillor Khaireh, in his capacity as Chair of this Panel, agreed.

 

The transfer of Hervey Road from the Work Programme of the Corporate Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel to the Work Programme of the Regeneration, Transport and Culture Scrutiny Panel. 

 

An updated Work Programme would be circulated to the Panel.

                                                                                                             

                                                                           Action: Chair of O&S

 

The Chair advised the Panel that the Work Programme would be published on 7 May 2019 so any comments would need to be submitted before this date. 

 

Councillor Cousins was concerned about the lack of meaningful information provided in the equalities section of officer reports.  The Chair said he would ask the Chief Executive to remind officers that the provision of this information was a statutory duty.

 

                                                                           Action: Chair of O&S

 

Resolved –

 

To note the Scrutiny Work Programme for 2019-2020 and recommend its agreement at the Annual Meeting of Full Council on 15 May 2019.

 

 

 

8.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 41 KB

To consider upcoming decisions and determine any items for scrutiny.

 

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that he would speak to the Leader of the Council about the possibility of Members having 10 working days to scrutinise upcoming decisions rather than the current five.  This was in response to a request made by Councillor Fahy at the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel on 1st April 2019. 

 

                                                                           Action: Chair of O&S

 

Resolved –

 

To note the upcoming executive decisions set out in the Forward Plan for the period April 2019 to July 2019 (inclusive), as set out at Appendix 1 of the report, and to determine any items for scrutiny.