Agenda, decisions and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 25th July, 2023 5.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1 - City Hall, Bradford. View directions

Contact: Yusuf Patel/Jane Lythgow 

Items
No. Item

9.

DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

(Members Code of Conduct – Part 4A of the Constitution)

 

To receive disclosures of interests from members and co-opted members on matters to be considered at the meeting. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest.

 

An interest must also be disclosed in the meeting when it becomes apparent to the member during the meeting.

 

Notes:

 

(1)       Members must consider their interests, and act according to the following:

 

Type of Interest

You must:

 

 

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

Disclose the interest; not participate in the discussion or vote; and leave the meeting unless you have a dispensation.

 

 

Other Registrable Interests (Directly Related)

OR

Non-Registrable Interests (Directly Related)

Disclose the interest; speak on the item only if the public are also allowed to speak but otherwise not participate in the discussion or vote; and leave the meeting unless you have a dispensation.

 

 

Other Registrable Interests (Affects)

OR

Non-Registrable Interests (Affects)

Disclose the interest; remain in the meeting, participate and vote unless the matter affects the financial interest or well-being

 

 (a) to a greater extent than it affects the financial interests of a majority of inhabitants of the affected ward, and

 

(b) a reasonable member of the public knowing all the facts would believe that it would affect your view of the wider public interest; in which case speak on the item only if the public are also allowed to speak but otherwise not do not participate in the discussion or vote; and leave the meeting unless you have a dispensation.

 

(2)       Disclosable pecuniary interests relate to the Member concerned or their spouse/partner.

 

(3)       Members in arrears of Council Tax by more than two months must not vote in decisions on, or which might affect, budget calculations, and must disclose at the meeting that this restriction applies to them.  A failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence under section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. 

 

(4)       Officers must disclose interests in accordance with Council Standing Order 44.

Minutes:

No disclosures of interest in matters under consideration were received.

10.

MINUTES

Recommended –

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 June 2023 be signed as a correct record (previously circulated).

 

(Yusuf Patel / Jane Lythgow – 07970 411923 / 07970 411623)

Minutes:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 27 June 2023 be signed as a correct record.

 

11.

INSPECTION OF REPORTS AND BACKGROUND PAPERS

(Access to Information Procedure Rules – Part 3B of the Constitution)

 

Reports and background papers for agenda items may be inspected by contacting the person shown after each agenda item.  Certain reports and background papers may be restricted. 

 

Any request to remove the restriction on a report or background paper should be made to the relevant Strategic Director or Assistant Director whose name is shown on the front page of the report. 

 

If that request is refused, there is a right of appeal to this meeting. 

 

Please contact the officer shown below in advance of the meeting if you wish to appeal. 

 

(Yusuf Patel / Jane Lythgow – 07970 411923 / 07970 411623)

Minutes:

There were no appeals submitted by the public to review decisions to restrict documents.

12.

REFERRALS TO THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

The following referral has been made to this Committee from the meeting of Full Council held on Tuesday 11 Jul y 2023:

 

Motion on Anti-social behaviour (ASB) reduction fund:

 

Resolved –

 

Continue prioritising action against ASB and working with police and partners in measures to combat it.

 

Request a report to Corporate Overview & Scrutiny on the district’s progress in tackling ASB and options for any new approaches and learning from other areas to build on our measures to tackle ASB and its causes.

 

The Council Leader to write to all District MPs asking them to make the case to Government about the detrimental impact of national funding cuts on police resources to tackle ASB and community safety issues.

Minutes:

The following referral had been made to the Committee from the meeting of Full Council held on Tuesday 11 July 2023:

 

Motion on Anti-social behaviour (ASB) reduction fund:

 

Council Resolved –

 

To continue prioritising action against ASB and working with police and partners in measures to combat it.

 

Request a report to Corporate Overview & Scrutiny on the district’s progress in tackling ASB and options for any new approaches and learning from other areas to build on our measures to tackle ASB and its causes.

 

The Council Leader to write to all District MPs asking them to make the case to Government about the detrimental impact of national funding cuts on police resources to tackle ASB and community safety issues.

 

Resolved –

 

That in noting the referral in relation to the Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) reduction fund, the Committee agreed to include this in the 2023-24 work programme.

 

ACTION:  Overview and Scrutiny Lead

13.

FULL-YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 664 KB

The Chief Executive will submit a report (Document “D”) which provides a summary of the Council’s overall achievements in the financial year 2022-2023. Alongside this is an overview of performance against the Council’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for 2022-23. This overview focuses on measures where there has been new, comparable data since the update report provided at the March 2023 Executive Committee.

 

Recommended –

 

That the performance against the key performance indicators in the 2021/25 Council Plan be noted.

(Ruth Davison – 01274 432111)

Minutes:

The report of the Chief Executive, Document “D” provided a summary of the Council’s overall achievements in the financial year 2022-2023. Alongside this was an overview of performance against the Council’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for 2022-23. The overview focused on measures where there had been new, comparable data since the update report provided at the March 2023 Executive Committee.

 

The background to the report outlined the overall context in which the Council was operating and key achievements provided a summary by outcome area highlighting performance over the whole of the year. 

 

It was reported that, like other local authorities across the UK, the Council faced significant financial and demand pressures as it sought to protect services and support people through the cost of living rises amidst soaring energy fuel and food prices, rising interest rates and increases in the costs of goods and services.

 

 

The Head of Policy, Performance, Partnerships and Research provided anoverview of the significant achievements to date including the successful bid for Bradford to become the City of Culture 2025; the reduction in people killed or seriously injured on the roads; supporting learning disabled people into employment and protecting children from discrimination.

 

The report revealed that 18 of 35 Key Performance Indicators (KPI) were travelling in a positive direction and there was a report against each KPI in terms of national challenge provided. 

 

Some impactful work in localities was reported including improvements made at Hanson School, (Bradford East); staff training around domestic abuse, (Shipley), collaborations with businesses to increase skills and the economy (Keighley); targeting work on recycling (Bradford West) and funding to promote outreach energy events (Bradford South).

 

Following the presentation, a number of questions and queries were discussed including around those KPIs which were not reported positively.

 

The Chair reported that despite hearing similar reports on children, young people and educational attainment for many years the figures for Bradford were the worst in the UK.  He questioned if a change of direction and focus was needed to see progress.  The Head of Policy, Performance, Partnerships and Research explained that focus had begun to consider issues which were not going well and strategic leaders were working together on absenteeism and attainment.  It was also hoped that support could be provided to neuro diverse children at a much early stage.  The Strategic Director, Corporate Services, agreed to discuss the Chair’s concerns with the Strategic Director, Children’s Services, who was not at the meeting at that time, and to provide more information for Members.  A Member commented that the Government’s policy of academies made the role of Councillors more difficult.

 

Whilst acknowledging that six parks in the district had achieved a Green Park award concerns were raised that the budget allocated to those parks could be to the detriment of other parks in the district.  It was felt that consideration should be given to providing better parks across the entire district as opposed to a limited number of Green Flag areas.  The report referred to 35  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13.

14.

FINANCE POSITION STATEMENT FOR 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

The Director of Finance will submit a report (Document “E”) which provides Members with the year-end financial position of the Council for 2022-23.

 

It outlines the revenue and capital budgets and the year-end financial position based on information at the end of March 2023. It states the Council’s current balances and reserves and school balances. 

 

Recommended –

 

That the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee review and comment on the Finance Position Statement for 2022-23.

 

(Andrew Cross - 07870 386523)

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Finance, Document “E” provided Members with the year-end financial position of the Council for 2022-23.

 

It outlined the revenue and capital budgets and the year-end financial position based on information at the end of March 2023. It stated the Council’s current balances and reserves and school balances. 

 

Following a detailed presentation Member questioned why some savings targets had not been achieved and if they would be met in the current year.  In response the impact of Covid was discussed and it was confirmed that some savings were to be undertaken on a four-year programme.  Officers were confident that the remaining savings could be delivered and it was reported that 350 million had been saved over a ten-year period.

 

It was accepted that Adult Services had small undelivered savings but it was questioned why no explanation was included in the report. Officers explained that services were still recovering and it was difficult to achieve those savings whilst responding to continual demand. 

 

Following discussions about increased costs and underachieved savings it was requested that a report be provided, before the next scheduled quarterly report, on savings targets which were achievable and those which would not be met.

 

The report referred to efforts being made to bolster reserve levels by applying accounting policy changes to the 2021-22 accounts and the potential repatriation of reserves held at a West Yorkshire level.  In response to questions about those policy changes it was explained that an accounting policy change would be adopted on consumption of assets.  An annual method to repay debts at a lower repayment at the start of that debt and higher payments later would provide some savings.  Those plans had received favourable legal advice and could have a significant impact on reserve levels but at the current time were not assured.   It was agreed that a briefing note would be provide to Members explaining the procedure. 

 

The expected amount of repatriated reserves was queried and it was agreed to cover that in a future report in more detail.

 

The level of underspend in some areas such as skills was discussed and concern was raised that this could impact performance.  It was explained that the underspends were constantly reviewed.  The Leader of Council reported that the skills team were proficient at procuring funds from external resources and not totally dependent on Council reserves. 

 

The ratings on the Risk Management Register were discussed with Members requesting assurance that those with yellow, amber or red status were mitigated.  The Director of Finance provided assurances that officers reported to him and that the risks were reviewed on a regular and systemic basis.   A senior leadership meeting including experts from Price Waterhouse, a leading professional services company, had been held to underpin the approach to risk and to raise the profile of managing risks.  The session had been very successful and would improve dialogue between risk holders and managers.

 

Resolved –

 

That having discussed the report, the Committee requests that officers report  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

QTR 1 FINANCE POSITION STATEMENT FOR 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

The Director of Finance of Finance will submit a report (Document “F”) which provides Members with the forecast year-end financial position of the Council for 2023-24.

 

It outlines the revenue and capital budgets and the year-end forecast financial position based on information at the end of May 2023. It states the Council’s current balances and reserves and school balances. 

 

Recommended –

 

That the Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee review and comment on the Qtr 1 Finance Position Statement for 2023-24.

 

(Andrew Cross - 07870 386523)

 

Minutes:

The Director of Finance of Finance presented a report (Document “F”) which provided Members with the forecast year-end financial position of the Council for 2023-24.

 

It outlined the revenue and capital budgets and the year-end forecast financial position based on information at the end of May 2023. It stated the Council’s current balances and reserves and school balances. 

 

The report was the first monitoring report presented to Members on the Council’s 2023-2024 financial position.  It provided the forecast revenue and capital financial position of the Council at 31 March 2024.  The report covered:

 

·         The forecast outturn of the Council’s revenue budget in 2023-24

·         The forecast delivery of budgeted savings in 2023-24

·         A statement on the Council’s reserves

·         An update on the Council Tax and Business Rates collection funds

·         An update on the Capital Investment Plan.

·         Benchmark spend and income comparators.

·         The Council’s Risk Register.

·         An update on the Bradford Children’s & Families Trust

 

Following a very detailed presentation the Chair, whilst acknowledging the challenges faced, raised concern about the identification of a risk of overspend in 2023-2024 made by the Bradford Children’s and Families Trust reported in Document “F”. The Director of Finance reported that he had met with the Trust that morning and discussed his concerns about some of the calculations reported.  It was explained that the numbers of children in expensive care provision and the level of agency staff forecast remained high.  A mitigation plan had been requested as there was a risk to the Council if the Trust exceeded reserve capacity.

 

The Strategic Director, Corporate Services, explained that the Trust needed time to do due diligence to be certain of facts and figures.  Time was needed and if mitigation plans were required the Council would work with the Trust.

 

A Member referred to other Council’s being crippled by costs of children’s services and raised concern about particular areas including the corporate organisation of the Trust and the control that the Council had.  He was unclear as to whether the Council could refuse to fund any overspend and also unsure about what mitigating plans were in place.

 

It was explained that the Trust had been developed very quickly and an interim business plan had been developed.  A full business plan would be provided by the end of September 2023.  Previous work undertaken by the Strategic Director to recruit overseas social workers was coming to fruition and it was hoped that the plan provided in September would show that the Trust was running efficiently. Members were assured that there were mechanisms in the commissioned contract with the Trust to challenge costs but it was too early to say if those measures were required. 

 

A Member questioned if it was possible for the Trust to say that to deliver what contracted they would need additional funding and if so would that funding would be from the Council or Government.  It was stressed that the Trust had been in operation for only eight weeks and needed time to settle.

 

The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC

That the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the item relating to the District Heat Network on the grounds that it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if they were present, exempt information within Paragraph 3  (Finance or Business Affairs) of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), would be disclosed and it is considered that, in all the circumstances, the public interest in excluding public access to the relevant part of the proceedings outweighs the interest in publication of the report.

 

It is in the public interest in maintaining these exemptions because it is in the overriding interest of proper administration that Members are made fully aware of the financial implications of any decision.

 

 

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the item relating to the District Heat Network on the grounds that it was likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if they were present, exempt information within Paragraph 3  (Finance or Business Affairs) of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended), would be disclosed and it was considered that, in all the circumstances, the public interest in excluding public access to the relevant part of the proceedings outweighed the interest in publication of the report.

 

It was in the public interest in maintaining these exemptions because it was in the overriding interest of proper administration that Members were made fully aware of the financial implications of any decision.

17.

DISTRICT HEAT NETWORK - UPDATE ON THE PROPOSALS TO MOVE TO PRE-PROCUREMENT FOR HEAT ENERGY FROM A DISTRICT HEAT NETWORK pdf icon PDF 145 KB

The Strategic Director of Corporate Resources will submit a report (Document “G” which includes a Not for Publication Appendix 1) which provides an update on the district heat network for Bradford and the proposal to move to market testing tender process for heat energy from a district heat network. To gain an understanding of the availability, strengths and weaknesses of the market and to develop the specification and best value procurement and contractual approach.

 

Recommended –

 

That the update report and proposed pre-procurement process is noted.

 

(John Sharp - 07971 0947413)

 

 

 

Minutes:

The Strategic Director of Corporate Resources submitted a report (Document “G” which included a Not for Publication Appendix 1) which provided an update on the district heat network for Bradford and the proposal to move to market testing tender process for heat energy from a district heat network. To gain an understanding of the availability, strengths and weaknesses of the market and to develop the specification and best value procurement and contractual approach.

 

Resolved –

 

That the committee request the comments and suggestions raised by members, be considered as part of the District Heat Network procurement exercise.

 

ACTION: Strategic Director, Corporate Resources.

18.

CORPORATE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE - WORK PROGRAMME 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 101 KB

The Chair of the Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee will submit a report (Document “H”) which includes the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee work programme for 2023/24, which are attached as appendix 1 to Document “H”

 

Also attached as appendix 2, is a list of unscheduled topics for 2023-24.

 

Recommended –

 

(1)       That Committee may choose to add to or amend the topics included in the 2023-24 work programme for the committee.

 

(2)       That members consider any detailed scrutiny reviews that they may wish to conduct.

(Mustansir Butt - 01274 432574)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair of the Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee presented a report (Document “H”) which included the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee work programme for 2023/24, which were attached as appendix 1 to Document “H”.

 

Members were advised that Neighbourhood Forums would be utilised for the Anti-Social Behaviour call for action sessions and these were being planned to be held in September. The sessions would be public meetings to allow residents to attend and communicate their concerns.

 

A Member suggested producing an agenda for the meetings to provide structure and a focus for discussions.  The Overview and Scrutiny Lead agreed to produce terms of reference which he would send to Members for comment. 

 

Resolved –

 

That the committee discussed and amended the work programme.

 

ACTION:  Overview and Scrutiny Lead