Venue: Committee Room 1 - City Hall, Bradford. View directions
Contact: Yusuf Patel/Jane Lythgow
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.
(1) Members must consider their interests, and act according to the following:
(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.
In the interest of transparency, the following declarations were made:
(i) In the item relating to West Yorkshire Joint Services Update (Minute 55), Councillors Azam and Mohammed stated that they were aware that test purchases had been carried in their ward following concerns they had raised about a particular premise.
(ii) In the item relating to the Armed Forces Covenant (Minute 58), Councillor Green stated that he worked for Age UK, who had undertaken some work relating to the Covenant.
(iii) In the item relating to the Budget (Minute 56), Councillor Falak Ahmed stated that a close relative worked in the care sector.
To be actioned by: Interim Director of Legal and Governance
That the minutes of the meeting held on XXXXX 2023 be signed as a correct record (previously circulated).
(Yusuf Patel / Jane Lythgow – 07970 411923 / 07970 411623)
That the minutes of the meeting held on 14 December 2023 be signed as a correct record.
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)
There were no appeals submitted by the public to review decisions to restrict documents.
REFERRALS TO THE OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
The Committee will be asked to note any referrals received and decide how it wishes to proceed, for example by incorporating the item into the work programme, requesting that it be subject to more detailed examination, or refer it to an appropriate Working Group/Committee.
There were no referrals made to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The Director of West Yorkshire Joint Services will submit a report.
(Document “X”) which provides details on activities of the West Yorkshire Joint Services both in the Bradford District and generally across the region.
(1) Members note the content of Document “X” and consider any future scrutiny actions that could arise from this item; and
(2) Note the breadth of work undertaken by WYJS in the Bradford District and raise any questions related to these services in the district.
(Andy Robson - Director of WYJS)
The Director of West Yorkshire Joint Services submitted a report.
(Document “X”) which provided details on activities of the West Yorkshire Joint Services, both in the Bradford district and generally across the region.
The Director gave an overview of the activities undertaken by the WYJS during 2023/24 which were detailed in Document “X”. He stressed that WYJS adopted an intelligence led approach based on the number of complaints received, with considerable activity taking place in the area of sales to minors and dealing with the proliferation of illicit tobacco, which in many cases was a front door to organised criminality, such as human trafficking and slavery. Another key area of work was supporting people who had been targeted by unscrupulous gangs by interrupting their operations and encouraging victims to come forward and report such crimes.
The well renowned Archaeology Service and its work was also alluded to.
During the discussion and in response to a question on doorstep scams and whether there were figures on the extent of this problem by ward, area and amounts recovered, the Director stated that he did not have this information to hand and that he will provide this information outside of this meeting, however work had been undertaken in around 19 wards.
In response to a question around customers being overcharged when using contactless payments, it was stated that the number of concerns expressed in this regard had not reached a threshold that warranted further investigations, however where there is a particular issue regarding a particular premise, WYJS would investigate this further.
In response to a question on how priorities and resources were deployed across West Yorkshire, the Director explained that the coverage across the region was not uniform and many investigations and consequent enforcement work was very much on a intelligence led basis, and that resources were deployed accordingly based on achieving the best outcomes.
In response to a question regarding illicit tobacco and individuals getting more adept at evading detection, the Director acknowledged that this was the case and that the use of hidden compartments as well as storing illegal tobacco offsite was now commonplace, so the Service had to be wise to this way of concealment and operation.
A Member raised concerns around the use of cosmetic surgery and the age limits associated with procedures. In response it was explained that this was a difficult area to police as you couldn’t just go and undertake a test purchase, however some initial work had been done in this area.
Underage vaping was another area of concern and the increased use by children. To this end schools were tyring to tackle the problem as well as warning letters being sent to premises, where complaints had been received, however enforcement work was limited given that resources were stretched.
In relation to a question regarding the Archelogy Service, it was stated that metal detectorist reported finds regularly, some of which were worthy of note. In terms of other architectural finds, trenching bids were ... view the full minutes text for item 55.
The Director of Finance will submit a report (Document “AA”) which which sets out the 2024-25 Budget Proposals - Financial Analysis, Initial Financial Outlook and Budget proposals for 2024-25 and beyond.
Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee is being asked to:
(1) Note the report and the recommendations to the Executive.
(2) To feed back any comments on the budget proposals into the consultation process.
(Andrew Cross – 01274 436823)
Note: This report will be considered by Executive on 11 January 2024.
The Director of Finance submitted a report (Document “AA”) which set out the financial analysis, initial financial outlook and Budget proposals for 2024-25 and beyond.
The Director of Finance set out the Budget proposals for 2024/2025 following the Local Government Settlement which were detailed in Document “AA“ and earmarked for consultation with staff, Trade Unions, public and interested parties. The proposals had been developed in an unprecedented level of financial pressure and in the context of a rise in the demand for adult and children social care services. The Council was in close dialogue with Government about our challenges, and that without financial support the Council would not be able to deliver a balanced budget for 2024/2025. Further details of the budget proposals were alluded to, the details of which were set out in Document “AA“ and the related appendices.
The public consultation process was also referred to with the closing date for this consultation ending on 17 February 2024; the final report setting out the details will be presented to the Executive in due course. The consultation process will be expansive and target as many stakeholders as possible, asking for their comments. Equality Impact Assessments had been undertaken on the proposals and the details will also be presented to the Executive.
During the discussion Members asked a number of questions on the budget proposals set out in the report, the questions together with the responses are set out below:
A Member questioned that in Section 6.4 of the report, excess spend was in the region of £50m within Children’s Services and he ascertained the reasons behind this. In response the Director of Children's Services stated that Bradford was in a high deprivation area, the 13th most deprived area in the country, which was significant and this placed a great strain in terms of the demand for services, with 39% of the children in the district living in poverty, and therefore the call on statutory care services was significant as well as in those relating to education and disability and costs relating to home to school transport.
The Chief Executive of the Care Trust was also present and stated that keeping children safe was key and that children with high level of needs required specialist provision, albeit to say that efforts were being made to reduce costs in this area and we should see some reductions in due course. Again, in relation to the use of agency staff, efforts were ongoing to stabilise the workforce and have a more permanent workforce.
In reducing cost, our early intervention work was key, of which we were seeing reductions as well as in the numbers of those exiting the system earlier, however this will take time to show in terms of a tangible reduction in cost.
A Member expressed concern that any savings or reductions in early intervention work would impact on the results we were trying to achieve. In response it was stressed that there were no plans to ... view the full minutes text for item 56.
The Strategic Director Place will submit a report (Document “Z”) which provides an update to the committee on how the service is working towards achieving a high performing, customer focused hackney carriage and private hire service. How it analyses information to drive improvements in service delivery to the benefit of trade and employees.
That the Committee consider and comment on the report.
(Carol Stos - 07582 101569)
The Strategic Director Place submitted a report (Document “Z”) which provided an update to the committee on how the service is working towards achieving a high performing, customer focused hackney carriage and private hire service. How it analysed information to drive improvements in service delivery to the benefit of trade and employees.
The Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Manager gave an overview of the Service and improvements to date, details of which were set out in the report.
During the discussion a Member stated that the survey return amongst drivers was poor and it was difficult to gage service provision and what drivers really felt about the Service. In response it was acknowledged that the number of returns was poor, and this was partly due to staffing levels, however the Service was actively looking at other ways of engaging with the taxi trade.
She added that in any case if the Trade was unhappy with any aspects, they would normally contact the Service straight away.
In response to a question regarding enforcement, it was stressed that the Service worked closely with the other West Yorkshire Councils to ensure there was a collaborative approach, as well as close liaison with the Private Hire operators to ensure that drivers adhered to the rules. Training was also provided to drivers around safety and professionalism.
In response to a question on improving driver feedback via the online system, it was noted that when drivers upload details on the system they are also asked for feedback on the Service.
In relation to a question on the compulsory use of dashcams and in car CCTV, it was stated that although useful, the Service can’t enforce the use these devices based on the current legislation.
Members welcomed the report and the huge improvements that had been made by the Service and the good liaison and working relationship that had been established with the Trade, and it was therefore:
That a progress report be presented in 12 months, as members are keen to keep an overview of this service area.
To be actioned by – Strategic Director for Place.
The Assistant Director of Office of the Chief Executive will submit a report (Document “Y”) which provides an update on work undertaken and ongoing to implement the Armed Forces Covenant locally and to meet the Council’s duties under the Armed Forces Covenant Duty contained within the Armed Forces Act 2021.
To note and comment on the contents of the progress report on work to implement the Armed Forces Covenant locally and to meet the Council’s Covenant duties.
(Helen Johnston - 01274 434401)
The Assistant Director of Office of the Chief Executive submitted a report (Document “Y”) which provided an update on work undertaken and ongoing to implement the Armed Forces Covenant locally and to meet the Council’s duties under the Armed Forces Covenant Duty contained within the Armed Forces Act 2021.
A comprehensive overview was given on the implementation of the Covenant, including how support was being officered via Airedale Hospital to assist veterans. The Armed Forces champion was also present to lend her support to the work undertaken to date and raising awareness of the Covenant.
A Member thanked the Armed Forces Champion, Councillor Dodds for her sterling work in supporting veterans and he urged that we also reach out to other veterans, for example those that had served in the Army of India.
A Member commented that the figures around homelessness looked very low, anecdotal evidence suggests that a number of homeless people had previously served in the armed forces. In response, it was acknowledged that further work needed to be done in this area to reach out and work with colleagues and partners to better identify this cohort.
A Member suggested that some training should also be provided to all Members around the Covenant as well as a guide for Councillors which could encompass key information around the Covenant and signposting to support and services available.
That a report on progress be presented to this Committee in 12 months.
To be actioned by – Strategic Director for Corporate Resources
The Chair of the Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee will submit a report (Document “AB”) which includes the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee work programme for 2023/24, which are attached as appendix 1 to Document “AB”.
Also attached as appendix 2, is a list of unscheduled topics for 2023-24.
(1) That the Committee may choose to add to or amend the topics included in the 2023-24 work programme.
(2) That Members consider any detailed scrutiny reviews that they may wish to conduct.
(Mustansir Butt - 01274 432574)
The Chair of the Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee submitted a report (Document “AB”) which included the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee work programme for 2023/24, attached as appendix 1 to Document “AB”. Also attached as appendix 2, was a list of unscheduled topics for 2023-24.
That the Committee discussed and amended the work programme.
To be actioned by: Overview and Scrutiny Lead.