Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview Group - Tuesday, 21st February, 2023 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2022 pdf icon PDF 470 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2022 were approved as a true record and were signed by the Chairman.


Finance and Performance Management Quarter 3 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 329 KB

Report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services


Additional documents:


The Communications and Customer Services Manager presented the Q3 Performance Scorecards.


The Communications and Customer Services Manager noted that there were five performance exceptions on the operational scorecard. He explained that the percentage of householder planning allocations processed within target had been impacted by Christmas office closures and staff shortages but that as the overall number of applications being received was decreasing it was expected that performance would increase. In relation to complaints responded to on time, he said that performance had been impacted by the complexity of complaints and that any delay had a greater statistical impact due to the low number received overall.


In relation to calls answered in 60 seconds, the Communications and Customer Services Manager said that this had been impacted by a high number of calls about the Government’s energy rebate. He confirmed that the Council continued to look at ways to reduce calls and signpost traffic to alternative and online resolutions. In relation to the income generated by parks and playing pitches, he explained that the Council’s new online booking system was in operation and it was expected that this and upcoming marketing would lead to an increase in income generated.


The Chairman referred to customer contact and the need for the Council to adapt to meet future expectations. The Communications and Customer Services Manager confirmed that the Council continued to look at how to best educate residents in using online solutions. He said that Rushcliffe had the eldest demographic in the County which made it important for the Council to provide a balance between contact options.


The Group asked about methods used to educate residents and the Communications and Customer Services Manager said that Council was in the processes of gathering data about how and why residents contacted the Council to explore how to best provide education. It was expected that a combination of in person assistance and telephone conversations would be provided. It was likely that contact needs would change over time with an increasing demand for fast access to services and answers.


The Group asked about usage of sports pitches and the Communications and Customer Services Manager said that they were well used through the year and the Council was hoping to increase this through marketing, particularly with the installation of the 3G pitch at Gresham.


The Finance Business Partner presented the Q3 Financial Report. She said that there was a predicted net revenue budget efficiency of £1.723m, mostly as a result of Business Rates Pool, additional investment income and additional new burdens grants. It was proposed that the efficiency be earmarked for additional cost pressures. She said that there was also a capital budget efficiency expected of £3.758m.


The Finance Business Partner referred to Appendix A of the report which summarised the £1.723m efficiency and proposals for utilisation and also took the Group through the main variations from revenue efficiencies and pressures as set out in Table 1.


In relation the to the Capital Programme, the Group was informed that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.


Feedback from Scrutiny Group Chairmen


The Chairman of Communities Scrutiny Group said that the last meeting had referred to the functionality of the scrutiny matrix to ensure that items coming to Committee were appropriate and sufficient in number to justify holding a meeting, whilst acknowledging that it was difficult to predict how much time an item would require. The Service Manager Corporate Services agreed that this depended on various factors such as the length of presentation, discussion and questions and engagement from the group. She said that two items were usually proposed working on the basis of one hour per item.


The Service Manager Corporate Services said that Councillors could put the matrix forward for scrutiny review and added that it was for Councillors and Officers to look at the Council’s projects and performance and strategies and identify areas that they or where they thought the community would like to know more about and which they would like to be scrutinised.


The Chair highlighted the importance of attending scrutiny training to understand the function and value of the scrutiny process.


The Chairman of the Governance Scrutiny Group said that their next meeting was due to be held in two days’ time and confirmed that the Committee had a very full agenda, including items about internal audit, risk management and the capital and investment strategy. He referred to the Redmond Review on internal audit practice across local authorities and said that independent contribution to the Governance scrutiny process may become a statutory requirement.


The Chairman of the Growth and Development Scrutiny Group said that the last meeting considered two items, one being the Levelling Up agenda regarding investment in the local community through the UK Shared Prosperity and Rural England Prosperity Funds at circa £3.2m over three years, to be by completed by March 2025. He explained that various projects had been agreed to be taken forward, including support for community projects and businesses, police and infrastructure, and that future projects had been approved to be developed further. The second item related to Hedges and Hedgerows with concern about how they could be conserved, how much they could be protected and how that protection could be enforced. The meeting had considered how the quantity and quality of a hedgerow was assessed and the possibility of attracting further rural funding. An update on biodiversity net gain was to be brought to a future meeting.


The Chairman referred to scrutiny Chairs training that had become available and confirmed that he thought it not appropriate to undertake this expenditure until the new scrutiny term commenced.


The Chairman highlighted the importance of scrutiny pre meetings and conversations with Officers to confirm agendas and reports.


Feedback from Lead Officers


There was no feedback to report.


Review of 2019-2023 Strategic Tasks pdf icon PDF 243 KB

Report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services

Additional documents:


The Service Manager Corporate Services explained that the Corporate Strategy was due to expire in September 2023 and it was therefore timely to review what had been delivered over the last four years and to look at what the Council would wish to include in the Strategy going forward.


The Service Manager Corporate Services confirmed that there were seventeen actions in the original 2019-2023 Corporate Strategy which had been reported to the Corporate Overview Group over the last four years and that six additional tasks had been added into the action plan. She referred the Group to Appendix 1. which summarised each of the actions and looked at their impact on the community. She also referred to the insourcing of Streetwise which did not feature in the Corporate Strategy but which had nonetheless presented a substantial task for the Council to deliver. She noted that the Strategy had been delivered against a backdrop of the covid-19 global pandemic, the cost of living crisis and the ongoing war in Ukraine.


The Chairman said that much could change over a four year timeframe, particularly with future projects such as the Freeport ongoing, and suggested that the Strategy be reviewed at the midway point to assess progress and relevancy. He thought it important that all the various strategies linked together to deliver the overarching priorities. The Service Manager Corporate Services said that Officers agreed that reviewing the Strategy at a strategic point would be beneficial and that this would be incorporated into the future Strategy.


The Group asked about the process and decision making for adding additional tasks to the Strategy and how criteria were applied and resources allocated. The Service Manager explained that the current additional items had been identified through the Council’s internal service planning process but said that she would take these comments back to the Officer management group for review.


The Group referred to the challenge faced by the Council in delivering its 13k housing requirement and noted that its housing land supply now stood at around nine years which it hoped gave some leeway against pressures for large site allocations. The Group also referred to the importance of making sure that infrastructures were in place to provide the supporting community facilities.


The Group referred to climate change and the Council’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030 and the need to make sure that it continued to work to achieve this and to look for new ways to save energy and protect the environment.


The Group referred to the Growth Boards and asked if there were any plans to review how they were working with a view to reenergising them and making them action focussed. The Service Manager Corporate Services said that Councillors could put this forward as a scrutiny matrix and said that the Service Manager Economic Growth and Property would be able to support them with this. The Chairman said that he would discuss this with the Service Manager, he was conscious that the new administration  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.


Consideration of Scrutiny Group Work Programme pdf icon PDF 243 KB

Report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services

Additional documents:


The Chairman explained that the Group had agreed to invite Councillors who had put forward a scrutiny matrix to attend the meeting to explain their reasons for putting the item forward for scrutiny.


Councillor Thomas joined the meeting to present her matrix for Council Tax options for empty homes. She explained that the budget briefing session had included a session on reducing the period for applying the empty homes premium from twenty four to twelve months and that discussions had included reference to a variety of factors such as including furnished and unfurnished properties, derelict homes and probate. She said that the proposals had referred to the financial impact but thought that the social impact also needed to be included. She said that there was no data about what the social impact from reducing the time period would be.


Councillor Thomas noted that Officers had suggested reviewing the Empty Homes Strategy but had concern that this would only review what the Council was already doing and not what it was not doing. She said that the Strategy did not include derelict homes or furnished homes that were empty for long periods of time. She wanted to understand the fuller picture, including what was discretionary in terms of premiums and discounts. She referred to section 76 of the Levelling Up Bill about dwellings occupied periodically which included furnished properties which were often empty, such as second homes.


Councillor Thomas supported the scrutiny item as revised by officers but asked that her original lines of enquiry be included in the scope, including the possibilities from section 76 of the Levelling Up Bill, to provide a wider understanding of who paid Council Tax, who could receive a waiver, what discounts and premiums were available and what powers the council had available to it, to examine the data and look at the impact from a social context. She thought that the Council did a good job but relied on empty homes being reported to it.


The Service Manager Corporate Services said that Officers had suggested reviewing the Empty Homes Strategy to provide more information about the range of tools the Council had available to it in terms of empty homes, as Council Tax charging formed only a small part of the process. She added that it was hoped that providing fuller information would put Council Tax charging into context, to help provide a clearer view of how many empty homes there were, their impact on the community and how the Council dealt with specific cases. She said that Environmental Health Officers would be able to attend to explain what they did and what finance could do, to give a more overarching picture.


The Group thought that including the original submission along with the additional information requested by Councillor Thomas and the Empty Homes Strategy in the review would form a reasonable recommendation. The Chairman suggested that the item be titled a Review of Empty Homes Strategy including Council Tax and the Group agreed that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.