The Chairman reported that the Scrutiny Training for Councillors had been well received. She added that she had attended the East Midlands Councils Networking Group, the last of which concerned the invitation of witnesses to scrutiny meetings. She suggested that Councillors who had submitted a Scrutiny Matrix to the Corporate Overview Group, should be invited to attend the meeting – at the discretion of the Chairman – to present their case. The Chairman of the Communities Scrutiny Group added that such attendance should be to the Corporate Overview Group only as it was this Group that made decisions about the work programmes for all Scrutiny Groups
The Chairman of the Communities Scrutiny Group explained that there had been one substantive item at the last meeting – the Carbon Management Plan which had generated a healthy discussion. Progress had been made against targets (despite the level of officer turnover due to personal circumstances and was not a reflection on the Council), but achievements against target was currently on track although an Action Plan still needed to be developed. He informed the Group that the installation of electric vehicle charging points throughout the Borough was going well, although there had been issues in accessing LAD funding for an EV point at West Bridgford car park due to issues with the electricity supply. Officers were liaising with Western Power to resolve this. The use of EVs for waste collection was not possible in Rushcliffe due to the rurality and size of the Borough. However, the use of bio-oil to power current vehicles had been piloted and there was a desire for this to be rolled-out further in the future. The updating of Leisure Centres, for example Keyworth, would be costly. The potential to purchase land for tree planting to offset emissions had been discussed but there were concerns about the cost of land. He added that the report on the Waste Strategy had been delayed as the White Paper was awaited.
The Chairman of the Growth and Development Scrutiny Group explained that the last meeting had considered only one item – which was planning communications. The Scrutiny Matrix received was very detailed, and the report answered many of the questions raised within it. It was noted that the Planning Team had been under pressure due to staff shortages, reflecting the national position, and long-term illness with the Planning Team. He added that it had been valuable to the scrutiny process for the Councillor who had submitted the Scrutiny Matrix to be involved in the discussion with the Group, and he had also invited the Cabinet Portfolio Holder, although he had been unable to attend, and the Chairman of the Planning Committee as he expected them to have valuable insight into the process. Regarding planning communications, he highlighted that the Council went above and beyond what was expected within the requirements. Although included in the report, conservation areas had not been discussed at length as it would be the subject of a future report to the Group. Following discussion, the Group agreed to add a third recommendation, concerning a further review once the staffing situation was settled.
The Chairman of the Governance Scrutiny Group stated that the agenda for last meeting, held in February, had included internal audit, capital and investment and risk management. He informed the Group that Internal Audit was on track, despite delays due to Covid-19. There had been a discussion around the material impact of ratings and whether they should be medium or substantial. The auditors would consider this along with the Director – Finance. There had been a good discussion about the Capital Investment Strategy and changes that were required to property investments due to the updated requirements in the CIPFA Codes. The Group was comfortable with the assurance received around the levels of investment income and that investment income thresholds had not been reached. The Group had also discussed the Council’s Treasury Management advisors, Link, and the close distinction between advice and decision and the Council’s ability to ensure that such investment decisions were made independently. The Group had also had a deep dive into the risk management process and the Corporate Risk Register.