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DECLARATION OF INTERESTS
Councillor Terence Carter declared an Other Registrable Interest in respect of item number JOS/22/9 due to being a Council Tax reduction recipient. However, the item under discussion did not directly relate to the finances or wellbeing of that interest or affect the finances or wellbeing of that interest to a greater extent than the majority of inhabitants. Therefore, Councillor Carter was not prevented from participating in the debate and vote in respect of this item.
Councillor Derek Davis declared an Other Registrable Interest in respect of item number JOS/22/8 due to being a Cabinet Member at the time the strategy was formed. Therefore, Councillor Davis left the room, and was prevented from participating in the debate and vote in respect of this item.
It was RESOLVED: -
That the minutes of the meeting held on the 27 of June 2022 be confirmed as a true record.
TO RECEIVE NOTIFICATION OF PETITIONS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE COUNCIL'S PETITION SCHEME
QUESTIONS BY THE PUBLIC
To consider questions from and provide answers to members of the public on any matter in relation to which the Committee has powers or duties and of which due notice has been given in accordance with the Committee and Sub-Committee Procedures Rules.
QUESTIONS BY COUNCILLORS
To consider questions from and provide answers to Councillors on any matter in relation to which the Committee has powers or duties and of which due notice has been given in accordance with the Committee and Sub-Committee Procedure Rules.
18.1 Councillor Davis left the meeting at 9:40am.
18.2 Councillor Fleming introduced the report to the committee outlining that the strategy was the result of consultation and stakeholder engagement, consultation process included a residents’ survey and roadshows to gather data. The process was supported by 2020 Consultancy which provided national expertise. A Department for Transport traffic forecasting tool was also utilised to predict future traffic needs in the district. This had allowed for a greater understanding of the public, residential, and commercial needs in the districts. The resulting schemes from this data will be assessed for their viability and may involve other organisations such as Suffolk Highways. She thanked the officers involved for their work on the strategy.
18.3 Councillor Ekpenyong questioned whether the predicted growth had been on the usage of existing car parks. The Parking Services Manager responded that this had been based on current usage of the car parks. Councillor Fleming added that the strategy did not rule out the possibility of adding additional car parks.
18.4 Councillor Lindsay queried how the Council’s parking ambitions had been decided, and whether this was linked to the Joint Area Management Plan and the climate goals. The Parking Services Manager responded that the consultants and portfolio holders had decided what the ambitions would be, and these ambitions were linked to the climate emergency declaration.
18.5 Councillor Ayres raised concern that the survey had been done in August 2021 and may not reflect current needs. Councillor Fleming responded that the Council were aware of the effects of Covid-19 when the survey was taking place. The Director – Environment and Commercial Partnerships added that when projects within the strategy were being developed that further evidence would be gathered.
18.6 Councillor Caston questioned how the online survey had been promoted and how was it ensured that the responses were diverse. The Parking Services Manager responded that the survey had been promoted through social media and QR codes at in person events. Virtual and in person workshops were also utilised and a QR code was provided to allow attendees to complete the survey and paper copies were provided to those who could not access the online survey. Local businesses were also provided with QR codes and paper copies of the survey.
18.7 Councillor Ekpenyong questioned who would be creating the implementation plan and what the timeframe for implementation would be. Councillor Fleming responded that the implementation plan would be started once the strategy had been approved at Cabinet. It would be an ongoing plan as there would be long term and shorter-term projects. The Director – Environmental and Commercial Partnerships added that the implementation plan itself would not take very long to put together and a delivery group formed of officers from different services would be involved in delivering the plan.
18.8 Councillor Carter questioned whether the strategy was a living document. Councillor Fleming responded that the strategy itself was not a living document, however the implementation plan would be.
18.9 Councillor Scarff questioned ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
19.1 A short break was taken between 11:22 -11:32am.
19.2 Councillor Davis returned to the meeting at 11:32am.
19.3 The Corporate Manager – Finance Operations introduced the report to the committee outlining that the current scheme allowed for a reduction of up to 95%, the options that had been considered, and that Option 3 for a 100% reduction was the recommended option to go out to consultation.
19.4 The Shared Revenues Partnership Operations Manager presented to the committee that the Council Tax Reduction Scheme was means tested which required Universal Credit customers’ council tax payments to be reviewed on a monthly basis. The introduction of a 100% reduction would allow for this system to be automated and would remove administrative costs from Universal Credit recalculations.
19.5 Councillor Carter questioned whether the scheme only applied to Universal Credit recipients.The Shared Revenues Partnership Operations Manager responded that the intention was to currently look at Universal Credit customers, however the legacy scheme would continue until those customers were also on Universal Credit.
19.6 Councillor Scarff queried what the other members of the Shared Revenues Partnership were doing. The Shared Revenues Partnership Operations Manager responded that Ipswich Borough Council had consulted on Option 3.
19.7 Councillor Davis queried whether all of the options would go out to consultation or just the option agreed by Cabinet.
19.8 Councillor Ekpenyong queried whether the change to a 100% reduction would be a one-off cost or a reoccurring cost.The Shared Revenues Partnership Operations Manager responded that the scheme would be an annual cost and would need reviewing yearly.
19.9 Councillor Caston questioned whether the change to a 100% reduction would effect Suffolk County Council services as savings in administrative costs would only benefit the district councils. The Shared Revenues Partnership Operations Manager responded that there would be little loss to the County Council as often the 5% did not have the means to pay and debt would be collected as the money had not been generated.
19.10 Councillor Welham queried whether the additional cost calculations took into account the savings in administration. The Shared Revenues Partnership Operations Manager responded that additional costs did not currently take into account admin savings, this was calculated on an annual basis retrospectively and were based on the churn. A reduced churn would reduce the cost on the authorities.
19.11 Councillor Davis thanked officers for their report and Member briefing.
19.12 Councillor Davis proposed that the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommends to Cabinet Option 3 as the preferred option for the Consultation for the Council Tax Reduction (Working Age) Scheme.
19.13 Councillor Lindsay seconded this motion.
By a unanimous vote.
It was RESOLVED: -
That the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommends to Cabinet Option 3 as the preferred option for the Consultation for the Council Tax Reduction (Working Age) Scheme.
The Information Bulletin is a document that is made available to the public with the published agenda papers. It can include update information requested by the Committee as well as information that a service considers should be made known to the Committee.
This Information Bulletin contains updates on the following subjects:
1. Shared Legal Service – Performance Monitoring and Split of New Legal Matters
20.1 Councillor James Caston left the meeting at 12:15pm.
20.2 The Shared Legal Service Business Partner introduced the information bulletin to the committee highlighting that there had been an even split in cases, however it was not possible to split the cases until April 2022. Performance data of the service was monitored on a six-monthly basis and used data from the case management system which provided information on the number of new legal instructions received from each Authority, which legal team the instructions were assigned to, and the percentage of complexity levels.
20.3 Councillor Ekpenyong queried whether with the even split of instructions, if there were there equal cost levels across the authorities. The Shared Legal Service Business Partner responded that the service did not charge for each matter, the only charges to the councils were in regard to employment and ensured that a fair amount was being paid by each authority.
20.4 Councillor Hinton queried the churn in terms of staff. The Shared Legal Service Business Partner responded that all posts within the service were filled and that there were no gaps in the service causing issues, and this was always under review.
20.5 Councillor Welham questioned whether uncomplicated cases could take a lot of time. The Shared Legal Service Business Partner responded that it is a balance, however many complexity 1 matters do not get registered and are dealt with as phone calls before they can be logged.
20.6 Councillor Welham queried the staff time recording system. The Shared Legal Service Business Partner responded that the system had been used since 2017 and gave details on what time had been spent on each case, and what had been done on that matter.
21.1 Councillor Welham introduced the report to the committee outlining that the Task and Finish Group for Rural transport had its first meeting in September 2021, and that it had discovered that there were different needs for each district. Additionally, the group found that community transport across the districts had not been well advertised. With the addition of 2 electric mini buses in Mid Suffolk’s budget it became clear that each Council would need separate recommendations.
21.2 Councillor Lindsay questioned why it had not been suggested that Babergh do a survey of residents. Councillor Welham responded that this had been suggested for Mid Suffolk as they have the electric minibus provision and have the means within their budget to carry out this work.
21.3 Councillor Lindsay proposed for the Babergh Overview and Scrutiny Committee only:
21.4 Councillor Davis seconded this motion.
By a unanimous BDC vote
It was RESOLVED : -
1.1That Babergh Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommend to Babergh Cabinet that an analysis of the unmet demand for community transport in the district be carried out.
1.2That the Babergh Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommend to Cabinet that Suffolk County Council be informed of the apparent lack of publicity of community transport across the district, and to encourage joint working between Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils and Suffolk County Council to promote community transport services.
1.3That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommends to Cabinet that the feasibility of providing an electric bus project throughout the district, similar to that being implemented by Mid Suffolk be investigated.
21.6 Councillor Scarff recommended the recommendations as detailed in the report for Mid Suffolk Members only.
21.7 Councillor Carter seconded this motion.
21.8 The vote was put to the Mid Suffolk Members only:
By a unanimous MSDC vote
It was RESOLVED: -
1.1 That Mid Suffolk Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommend to Mid Suffolk Cabinet that, as part of the development of the electric bus project, local consultations to elicit unmet transport needs should be carried out – one covering an urban area and one covering a rural area.
1.2 That the Mid Suffolk Overview and Scrutiny Committees recommend to Cabinet that Suffolk County Council be informed of the apparent lack of publicity of community transport across the district, and to encourage joint working ... view the full minutes text for item 21.
22.1 Councillor Ekpenyong suggested that a feedback mechanism was needed to see if Overview and Scrutiny recommendations were implemented.
JOS/22/13 FORTHCOMING DECISIONS LIST
To review the Council’s Forthcoming Decisions List and identify any items to be brought before the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Please note the most up to date version can be found via the Website:
The Forthcoming Decisions List was noted.
To agree the Work Plan
The Babergh Overview and Scrutiny Work Plan was noted.
To agree the Work Plan
The Mid Suffolk Overview and Scrutiny Work Plan was noted.