Agenda and minutes
Venue: Muriel Matters House, Breeds Place, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 3UY
Contact: Coral Harding on 01424 451764 email: email@example.com
Items No. Item
Apologies for Absence
Apologies received for Councillors Barnett and Battley
Declarations of Interest
Any items where Teaching is discussed (3b, 6)
Any items where Property is discussed (4, 6)
RESOLVED – that the minutes of the meeting held on 24th January 2019 be approved by the Chair as a true record.
RESOLVED – that the minutes of the meeting held on 7th February 2019 be approved by the Chair as a true record.
Councillors asked questions from arising from the previous minutes
Question: Have other authorities been approached to see if they will help share the costs of maintaining the CCTV room?
Answer: Other authorities were approached some time ago; a lot of the system covers Hastings Borough Council properties such as car parks. Previously other authorities were not interested in supporting the costs, but the Director of Operational Services would be happy to ask the question again and see if the response has changed at the next meeting with the chief inspector.
Question: there was talk previously of 319 new Police officers and there was mention of 5 of these being for the Hastings area, is this number correct?
Answer: This is an operational decision for the chief constable so the police commissioner would be unlikely to answer. It takes time to train new officers so we will have to wait to see the results of the recruitment. We can ask the chief inspector at the next meeting that councillor Fitzgerald and the director of operational services have with her on the 24th of June.
Actions: Director of Operational Services to pick up (i) CCTV and (ii) police capacity and report back to Scrutiny on discussions with the Chief Inspector.
Question: what is the council prepared to do about retaining good teachers in the borough?
Answer: Although the connections with the college are not as strong as before there is an officer on the Hastings opportunity area board who can potentially engage with partners on this issue with this board. . Some longer standing more experienced teachers in the borough are feeling forced out of the profession in favour of newer and cheaper replacements in the academies.
Question: Did East Sussex County Council (ESCC) give any money for the licensing that the council is now doing on their behalf?
Answer: As with highways licensing before, ESCC gave it to Hastings Borough Council to fix so shall see where we are in 3 years. The policy made by the licensing manager is very good.
Question: Can we use our soft powers to help improve the image of Hastings to try and attract new teachers to the area and increase the standards of education?
Answer: The deputy leader was happy to give assurance that will attend any meeting to which she is invited to assist where appropriate. ESCC have less power than they used to and Hastings Borough Council have lesser direct influence but will commit to do what we can. Engaging in these conversations is a good thing and we need to keep doing it. Education used to have a strong presence on the LSP but no longer.
Question: Selective licensing is showing a variance in income in advance of licenses yet to be issued and due to a recent court ruling regarding EU directive 2006/123/EC in July 2018 meaning councils may need to prove that licensing fees only cover the costs of administration, would it be wise to put some of the money aside to see if this affects Hastings Borough Council?
Answer: It is a self-financing scheme and is not, nor will it ever be, an income generator. Some people were not paying their invoices once the work had been done so the system was changed to a payment in advance system. This is why it is money in advance. If the license falls through then the money is refunded, but there is a team looking into how the licence is funded to make sure everything is correct if these questions are asked.
Question: How does the council arrive at the fee?
Answer: Cannot answer completely but would be happy to have Peter Grace and Andrew Palmer present a report to you that breaks down the licencing fees.
Action: Director of Operational Services agreed to source a response as suggested prior to the next Q1 (September) meeting.
Question: Regarding HMO’s how do you deal with the situations where there are multiple freeholders? How many of these properties are there? And how do you deal with a situation where someone on benefits cannot afford it?
Answer: The licensing scheme is first and foremost to protect the people who live in these properties. There will be problems and we will always try to be sympathetic in these situations. Cannot give a detailed answer around multiple freeholders but can ask and bring the answer back. It has been an incredibly successful scheme and has brought standards in Hastings up. It is a success story that is ahead of the curve but as we have seen the increase in tenancy, this scheme needs to be rolled out wider. There is confidence that staff are making plans to address the EU ruling.
Councillors commented that the scheme is very good and is important in making residents lives better. They are happy that the funding of the scheme is going to be unpacked following the commitment from the Director of Operational Services to follow this up.
Question: the homelessness spend, is it sustainable? What will the council do if it isn’t? What funding is available to the council?
Answer: It is not sustainable, there is a potential deficit of £2m either the council will overspend or it has to take money from other budgets. Cabinet approved £2.5m to acquire temporary accommodation. There may be a case in the future for more but will require further conversations and if viable, approval of an associated business case.
Question: What is the council doing about the underspend on the rough sleeping initiative?
Answer: we will spend that money, it isn’t an underspend.
Question: there ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
Councillor Paul Barnett submitted a report to set out the context, methods, key findings and recommendations from this review.
Councillors thank Councillor Barnett and his team for their hard work on this report. They commented that it is a very good and challenging report and hope that it will be taken in the spirit as it is intended. They commented that it is a good example of how scrutiny works together and leaves party politics out of their work.
Councillors discussed the poorer boroughs in Hastings and how this report should ensure that they are not being left behind. Area champions and better use of ward councillors will have a positive impact on these problems if feasible. It was commented that BREXIT implications are not directly mentioned in this report but maybe referenced in the management response as impacting on the types of funding available for the council to apply for in the future.
Councillors also spoke about Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG) and how the funding from them in the future is uncertain due to their current financial constraints.
Councillors voted on the recommendations of the report and agreed unanimously.
1. That Overview and Scrutiny approve this report so that a Cabinet and Management response is then sought on the proposed recommendations and associated questions raised.
2. That Overview and Scrutiny thank their review team and those that contributed to this review.
The reason for this decision was:
To arrive at a response to the recommendations made in this report that will (subject to Scrutiny approval) likely inform further associated Scrutiny work.
The Continuous Improvement and Democratic Services Manager presented an update.
Councillor Davies listed the work programme ideas to date:
· Corporate plan
· Gap analysis from regeneration
· Education review (investigate a standing panel)
· Scrutiny charter (how can the committee be embedded, developed and meet the steers)
· The DSO (the council’s new in-house street cleansing service) and lessons learned from the DSO
· Managing the budget deficit
· Planning policy review
· Climate change motion (when cabinet have clarified what will be happening)
Councillors discussed the key difference between a review and a standing panel, they concluded that a review has a set time and ends with sending a report to cabinet where as a standing panel is an ongoing piece of work that monitors an area of concern to scrutiny and reports back and forth to cabinet regularly.
Councillor Turner reminded councillors that he has arranged a visit to West St Leonards Primary School which Brighton Academies Trust look after. It will be on July 8th at 2pm.