That the Committee review the Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions to enable the identification of appropriate matters for the overview and scrutiny work programme and the overview of specific decisions proposed to be taken over the period of the plan.
Article 6 (Overview and Scrutiny) of the Constitution requires that the Committee review the Executive’s programme of Key Decisions (the Cabinet Forward Plan) at each meeting, to enable the identification of appropriate matters for the overview and scrutiny work programme and to provide an opportunity for the overview of specific decisions proposed to be taken over the period of the plan.
The Constitution (Article 14 (Decision Making)) defines a Key Decision as an executive decision which:
(a) involves expenditure or savings of £250,000 or above which are currently within budget and policy;
(b) involves expenditure or savings of £100,000 or above which are NOT currently within budget and policy;
(c) is likely to be significant in terms of its effect on communities living or working in an area comprising two or more wards;
(d) raises new issues of policy;
(e) increases financial commitments (i.e. revenue and/or capital) in future years over and above existing budgetary approval;
(f) comprises and includes the publication of draft or final schemes which may require, either directly or in relation to objections to, the approval of a Government Minister; or
(g) involves the promotion of local legislation.
Wherever possible, Portfolio Holders will attend the Committee to present forthcoming key decisions, to answer questions on the forward plan and to indicate where appropriate work could be carried out by overview and scrutiny on behalf of the Cabinet.
The Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions is to follow as an Appendix to this report.
Cabinet’s Key Decision List updated to the 17 November 2020 was scrutinised by the Committee and the following points were raised.
There were issues raised with the portfolios of the Leader, Finance and Economic Development, Commercial and Regulatory Services, Customer and Corporate Support Services, and Planning and Sustainability.
(a) Environmental and Technical Services (Councillor N Avey)
Waste and recycling
Councillor S Murray remarked that the review of waste and recycling should involve the fullest of public consultations, as this was the most essential service and the Council did not want to get it wrong. On the transfer of services to Qualis, he would be looking at the business case very carefully as he felt there was a little bit of ideology on this from members. Councillor N Avey replied that the business case was most important, absolutely not ideology, and he assured members he would have to be satisfied with the business case before considering the transfer of a service to Qualis. In respect of the waste contract, there would be lots of details in future on this as it was an exceptionally important contract.
Councillor M Sartin continued that Councillor Murray had asked if there would be consultations of this, would this be a public consultation, or would it also depend on the review? Councillor Avey replied that it would likely depend on the review and lots of waste guidance from the Government was changing how local authorities would have to deal with waste. If there was a chance for a public consultation with residents, the Council would obviously take this opportunity.
Councillor J H Whitehouse asked when would there be another meeting of the Waste Management Task and Finish Panel to review the third wheelie bin? Councillor N Avey replied that he would check with officers as a meeting had not been scheduled but he believed the Council was waiting for recommendations from the Government on the separation of food waste and would let the Councillor know after the meeting. Councillor M Sartin said it was her understanding that the Task and Finish Panel would be reconvened in the future when the Government had progressed/finished its consultations and further guidance was issued.
(Post meeting update: J Warwick (Contracts Service Manager) advised that the Council was waiting for the Government’s waste proposals due sometime next year, so it would make sense to put this on hold. The report C-047-2020/21, Strategic Options for Waste Management Contract, was approved by Cabinet on 3 December 2020 to engage consultants regarding the waste contract review. When the review was completed, if it contained any significant service changes/options, or if the Government announced any changes, members might want to set up the Task and Finish Panel).
(b) Housing and Community (Councillor H Whitbread)
Review of service charges
Councillor J H Whitehouse remarked that the review of fees and charges used to come to scrutiny, would they do so in future? Councillor H Whitbread replied that she would confirm this with officers, but it was up to members to choose what to scrutinise. Any new policies should go through scrutiny.
Councillor S Murray emphasised that any significant charges should be phased in for tenants over a number of years and he would look forward to reading this report, and when would the report on the new policy that outlined how the Council should be disposing of RTB receipts go to Cabinet? Councillor H Whitbread replied that the Council would take the fairest approach on services charges and that a decision on the RTB receipts report would be made by Cabinet in the new year.
(Post meeting update: D Fenton (HRA Project Director) advised that the report on RTB Buying Street Properties would go to Cabinet on 21 January 2021.)
(1) That the Committee reviewed the Executive’s current programme of Key Decisions to enable the identification of appropriate matters for the overview and scrutiny work programme and the overview of specific decisions proposed to be taken over the period of the plan.