Agenda and minutes

Our Council Scrutiny Panel
Wednesday, 26th September, 2018 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 3 - Civic Centre

Contact: Earl Piggott-smith  Email: earl.piggott-smith@wolverhampton.gov.uk/01902 551251

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from the following Cllrs:

 

Cllr Udey Singh

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest recorded

3.

Minutes of previous meeting (13.6.18) pdf icon PDF 98 KB

[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record]

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

4.

Matters arising

[To consider any matters arising from the minutes]

Minutes:

7. Smart Working

 

The Scrutiny Officer advised the panel that Human Resources had confirmed that there is a leavers notification procedure which is completed by the line managers to ensure that the relevant services are notified (ICT, Payroll, Agresso Business Support Unit) when an employee leaves. This process is currently being reviewed to ensure that it is effective and efficient and the  panel members comments will be incorporated into this review.

 

5.

Treasury Management - Annual Report 2017-2018 and Activity Monitoring Quarter One 2018-2019 pdf icon PDF 61 KB

[Claire Nye, Director of Finance, to present report]

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Alison Shannon, Chief Accountant, presented the Treasury Management Annual report to the panel. The Chief Accountant gave an update on previous report that was presented to Cabinet in July 2018. The Chief Accountant gave an overview of the main points of the report.

 

The Chief Accountant advised the panel that revised code of practice aimed at supporting effective scrutiny of the Council’s Treasury Management strategy and policies was recently published by CIPFA. The team is currently working through the revised guidance.

 

The Chief Accountant commented that the Council is seeking advice from financial advisers about the possible short-term implications of Brexit on council finances, but the consensus is that is too difficult to predict given the level of uncertainty about the terms on which the UK will leave.

 

The Chief Accountant agreed to provide an update when more information is available about the implications for long term investments.

 

The panel queried the sustainability of the estimates of increased levels of Council borrowing up 2020-21 detailed in section on prudential indicators in the main report. The Director of Finance explained that the figures quoted include a lot of historical debts and commented on the importance of checking that the income stream is sufficient to cover the projected borrowing costs. The main aim of the strategy is to minimise the borrowing demands on the Council budget.

 

The Director of Finance commented on the policy towards the use of Housing Revenue Account and advised the panel that there was an underspend of £731,000.

 

The Director advised the panel that the Council will look at debts will mature – they are profiled over many years and the aim is to minimise the level of exposure to new financial pressures.

 

The panel discussed the content of the report and whether a more user-friendly version could be published alongside the main report to make it more accessible. The Director of Finance commented that there are specific requirements detailed in the prudential code about how information in treasury management reports is presented. 

 

The Director of Finance commented that the issue has been discussed with Councillor Development Group – for example, the use of crib sheets that can help members of the panel to meet their responsibility to ensure effective scrutiny of the Council’s Treasury Management strategy and policies.

 

Resolved:

            The panel agreed to note the report.

6.

Visitors to the Civic Centre - briefing paper pdf icon PDF 1 MB

[Chris East,Head Of Facilities,and Lisa Taylor,Head of Service Improvement, to present breifing paper]

Minutes:

Lisa Taylor advised the panel that a following a review she had taken on the management of the customer services and would be happy to attend a future meeting to brief the panel on the service.

 

Chris East, Head of Facilities, presented a briefing paper on behalf of Andy Moran which gave an update on the management of visitors to the Civic Centre and a response to concerns previously highlighted by the panel about the arrangements.

 

The Head of Facilities briefed the panel about the changes made to the  access arrangements to the building and measures introduced to improve security. The Head of Facilities outlined the signing in process when visitors enter the building and the arrangements for managing public meetings held in either the committee rooms or the Council Chamber.

 

The Head of Facilities stressed the importance of all employees and visitors wearing their ID badges at all times and he had personally challenged employees wanting to access the building without displaying their ID.  The Head of Facilities advised the panel that different colour lanyard is issued to visitors to the building – red – business, contractors – yellow and gold for VIP visitors.

 

The Head of Facilities advised the panel then when public meetings are held out of hours then badges can be pre-printed. The building keepers are responsible for monitoring the use of lanyards when people are in the building.

 

The panel commented on that committee room 5 was not considered to be suitable for public meetings as it was too small. The Head of Facilities agreed to review the arrangements and report back to a future meeting of the panel.

 

The panel commented that difficulties caused by the security arrangements when arranging planning committee meetings - when it possible that 20-30 people may attend depending on the topic. In the past members of the public would not have been required to sign-in. However, following the need to sign in Cllrs are receiving a number of notification emails when people sign in and when they leave the building.  There is also a concern that members of the public may attend a meeting without giving notice.

 

The panel commented that committee room 5 is not suitable for people with a wheelchair and these concerns had been highlighted 18 months ago, when plans for the new working arrangements were first proposed, and it was disappointing that concerns raised at the time had not been heeded.

 

The Head of Facilities advised the panel that keepers can open the side door at the business entrance to allow easier access for people with a wheelchair for evening meetings in Committee Room 5.

 

 

 

The panel commented on separate issue of an incident where members of the people attending citizenship event in Mayors Parlour who were not wearing lanyards could not exit the building because they did not have a security card. As a result, it was necessary to help them to exit the building without be able to check their identity.

 

The panel  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Local election - candidate expenses - briefing paper pdf icon PDF 79 KB

[Laura Noonan, Project Manager, to present breifing paper]

Minutes:

Laura Noonan, Project Manager – Electoral Services, presented a briefing paper to explain the process for completing and returning candidate expenses.

 

The panel agreed to note the paper.

8.

Statutory polling place review - briefing paper pdf icon PDF 74 KB

[Laura Noonan, Project Manager, to present breifing paper]

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Laura Noonan, Project Manager – Electoral Services, presented a briefing paper about the statutory polling station review.

 

The panel agreed to note the report.

9.

Voter registration and democratic engagement update - briefing paper pdf icon PDF 87 KB

[Laura Noonan, Project Manager, to present briefing paper]

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Laura Noonan, Project Manager – Electoral Services, presented a briefing paper on the range of work done in the past few years to increase the numbers of people registered to vote. The Project Manager commented the work done to encourage students to register and the changes made to make the process easier.

 

The Project Manager commented on work done as part be a councillor initiative, which is linked to activities as planned for Democracy Week. The Council is hopeful that there will be increase by 10% in the number of people registered for postal votes.

 

The Project Manager commented on the work done with local schools to encourage pupils to register and the service is happy to arrange visits to any school suggested by Councillors to explain the registration process.

 

The panel welcomed the report and also wanted to formally record their appreciation of the changes introduced and the excellent range of activities delivered by the election service in response to the recommendations from the scrutiny review.

 

Resolved:

            The panel agreed to note the progress made to increase the number of people registered to vote and also to raise awareness about support available from the service.

10.

Confident Capable Council Scrutiny Panel Draft Work Programme - 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

[Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, to present the draft scrutiny panel’s work

programme]

Minutes:

The scrutiny officer presented the draft work programme report for comment. The panel agreed to consider the report on print services at the meeting on 28.11.18

 

Resolved:

            The draft work programme to be updated.