Hounslow Council


Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Ian Duke, telephone 020 8583 2191, e-mail  ian.duke@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

7.

Apologies for absence, declarations of interest or any other communications from Members

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllrs Chaudhary and Thompson.

It was noted by the Committee this was the first full meeting since September 2016. Since that time Officer Ben Osifo (from the Policy and Scrutiny Team) had left the Council and the Committee wished to pass on their thanks and to wish him well.

Action: The Chair to write to Ben Osifo

8.

Minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2016 pdf icon PDF 154 KB

Minutes:

Page 4 of the minutes stated ‘The Recycle 360 design was made more complicated because of the decision to use kerb side rather than co-mingling back in December 2015’. Clarification was needed here. The Council has long-used kerb side. In effect the decision was to retain this within the new arrangements rather than to use co-mingling which was actively being considered.

With this amendment, the minutes of the meeting of the 22nd September were agreed as an accurate record.

 

9.

Matters arising from the minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2016

Minutes:

The Committee considered each action agreed and an update of progress. Of the actions completed it was noted:

 

·         The letter from Cllr Dennison had been recirculated

·         Guidance on who decides when consultation is required or desirable was circulated at the meeting

·         A response had been received from Andrew Baker regarding additional costs and the loan from London Business Waste & Recycling

·         A review of the urgency decision and process had been completed an clarification provided at November Borough Council

·         Screenshots of the new website had been presented to political group meetings

Where an issue was outstanding, or where it was felt a further response was required, it was agreed that these would be re-actioned, as follows:

 

Action: The Chair to write to Mary Harpley to obtain a copy of the Hounslow Homes ‘lessons learned’ document that had been promised at the July meeting.

 

Action: The Chair to write to Mary Harpley, copying in Cllr Dennison, to request the size and timeframe of the loan from London Business Waste & Recycling.

All other actions were to be addressed within the agenda.

The Committee also raised a matter from an earlier meeting, namely that a response had still to be received from the Cabinet regarding the Review into VCSE Savings. A draft had been developed but after discussions it was agreed that further work would be undertaken. There has been no subsequent update.

 

ACTION: Cllr Chatt to write to Cllr Foote requesting a response within a timeframe to be finalised, potentially within March.

Cllr Bath arrived at 19.30

 

10.

Minutes of the meeting held on 5 December 2016 pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Minutes:

The minutes were agreed as an accurate record.

 

11.

Matters arising from the minutes of the meeting held on 5 December 2016

Minutes:

Cllr Dennison took the Committee through his response addressing each of the action points raised, and this will be published with the minutes. Subsequent issues of note and actions emerging were as follows:

 

·         A full list of contractors employed by the Council was being taken to Cabinet, ideally including amounts.

·         Lampton Investment 360 was currently utilising temporary loan facilities whilst a permanent arrangement was being finalised.

Action: The final structure for the Enforcement Team was still being finalised and once complete would be brought back to the Committee. This update will include further information on how the Out of Hours Service will continue to be provided.

 

Action: The request by this Committee for further information on the Leisure Maintenance Budget had resulted in additional savings of £292,000 to be identified.



12.

Fees and Charges pdf icon PDF 635 KB

Minutes:

The Chair reminded the Committee that an earlier version of the Fees and Charges document had been considered at the 5 December 2016 meeting where it was agreed that the final version would be brought to this meeting. Cllr Dennison reflected that it was difficult to navigate the document and undertook that he would address this next year should he retain responsibility, ensuring that the document makes clear the responsible Lead Member and Department. The committee concurred with this view.

 

Resolved: The Committee supports the view of the Lead Member that the format of the Fees and Charges Schedule should be improved for next year.

The Chair then asked the Committee to consider the schedule on a page by page basis, highlighting areas they wishes to discuss. The key points to emerge were:

 

·         Page 21 states that Housing Services will seek to develop a surplus through its charging policy around Housing Adaptations. Cllr Dennison agreed to look at this again as he would not expect a surplus to be made through this service.

Action: Cllr Dennison to investigate and if appropriate review.

·         It was noted that from page 50 to 72 the revised charge was to be confirmed. This was also true elsewhere in the document. Cllr Dennison explained these are charges decided by contractors within the parameters set out within contractual arrangements, and that they were not agreed at the time of publishing. It was agreed that these should be shared with the Committee.

Action: Outstanding charges to be brought to the next meeting of the Committee

·         Page 56 includes a charge for the digging of a grave of a depth approved by the Council but not exceeding 6 feet. The Committee asked under what circumstances would this be appropriate?

Action: Cllr Dennison to investigate and respond.

·         Page 57 the Committee raised that in previous discussions it had been agreed there should be no child burial charges. Cllr Dennison agreed.

ACTION: Child burial charges to be removed from the Council charges

·         The paper set out an increase of 25% in Trading Licence fees. This was currently out for consultation.

·         The Committee asked about the absence of parking charges from p137-143. Cllr Dennison stated that these were will be the subject of future consultation. Cllr Dennison stated the intension to use differential charges on vehicles depending on emission levels, and additional vehicles. He confirmed to the committee that the Cabinet had not taken legal advice on this matter and that the Council had the ability to do this.  

·         Page 143 it was noted that the charges for waste from academy schools were the same regardless of the size of bin.

Action: Cllr Dennison agreed to revisit.

·         Page 149 Cllr Dennison confirmed that this charge relates to replacement bins and does not apply to the original bin

The Chair thanked Cllr Dennison and Anna Biney for attending the meeting.

 

 

13.

Performance Update pdf icon PDF 158 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Mayne and Victoria Lawson provided a presentation addressing proposals to improve the format of performance report and how performance is managed, plus latest quarterly performance update including progress in customer services.

In relation to the format of the performance reports, in the discussion that followed the following points emerged:

·         The performance report should focus more on exception reporting, in particular areas consistently underperforming over time. The current report prioritised short term trends over more important long term trends. It was noted that performance on some areas was worse than a year ago, but this is not highlighted.

·         The reports were also out of date and there needed to be more real time monitoring and more frequent monitoring, not relying on Cabinet to do this.

·         The report format was difficult to navigate, for everyone but particularly for residents which was bad for transparency and accountability.

·         One issue is that there was too much information including within the report obscuring the information that needed focus

·         There was also concern as to whether that right indicators are being used, and whether the targets set are at the right level. Should we used indicators that we do not directly control?

·         New format should allow performance at lower levels such as ward levels to be linked to Borough level performance.

·         As well as quantitative measures, indicators to ensure quality were needed to ensure quality was not lost.

·         Contractor performance should also be included within the performance framework rather than reported on separately.

Victoria Lawson set out a timetable of next steps and the Committee was asked to nominate representatives to a group that would continue to develop the format of performance reporting, though no decision was taken.

 

Action: The Committee to nominate representatives.

Victoria Lawson set out a summary of the latest quarterly report showing under-performing areas, and also provided an update on the progress of Customer Services. The key points emerging were as follows:

 

·         Most recent data shows Customer Services at green in 8 categories. This would show in quarter 3 performance report rather than quarter 2.

·         Customer Services does not include emergency front door services in Children and Adults Service, so their performance is not included. However the vision for the future is that there will be just one number for all contacts.

Cllr Collins moved to suspend standing orders. This was seconded and agreed.

·         It was expected to take around 5 years to complete the transformation of Customer Services and get to the desired level

·         There is concern about the quality of some contractors from a Customer Service perspective and this would need to be addressed moving forwards

·         The new website had been launched and was receiving positive feedback

·         The Committee was reminded that this was an opportunity to consider if there was an area of performance they would like to look at in more detail.

Resolved:

·         Invite Cllr Kaur to the next meeting to discuss areas of under-performance

·         Continue to monitor Customer Services



14.

Future Shape of Councils pdf icon PDF 230 KB

Minutes:

Ian Duke introduced the paper, which set out agendas and trends within local authorities, and summarised some of the organisational models emerging. The Committee confirmed that they wished to continue to look at this area and requested a more detailed paper looking into the approach and activities of Cooperative Councils and Commercial Councils.

 

Action: Ian Duke to provide a further paper at the next meeting.

 

15.

Feedback from Scrutiny Panels and Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 262 KB

Minutes:

The Panel Chairs present provided a quick update on activity as did Cllr Collins for the JHOSC. Cllr Carey asked about the Domestic Violence Review and Ian Duke stated that a meeting had been arranged with Cllr Atterton with a view of restarting the work after a break.

 

It was agreed that the agenda for the next meeting would include fees and charges, the performance item agreed, pollution and air quality (to cover transport, Heathrow consultation and the Climate Change and Environment strategy), and future councils. The regeneration item on the work programme would be deferred to the final meeting of the year.

 

16.

Forward Plan

A link to the electronic version is listed here:

http://www.hounslow.gov.uk/index/council_and_democracy/forward_plan.htm

An A3 size hard copy will be circulated separately to Members of the Committee

Minutes:

No items were raised.

 

17.

Urgency Decisions

Minutes:

No decisions had been taken under urgency arrangements since the last meeting.

 

18.

Progress Reports from Scrutiny Panels

Minutes:

This was covered under Item 9.

 

19.

Urgent Business

Any business which the Chair agrees to accept on grounds of urgency.

Minutes:

No items had been raised.