Agenda and minutes

Vibrant and Sustainable City Scrutiny Panel - Thursday, 8th December, 2016 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2 - 3rd Floor - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Earl Piggott-Smith  Tel: 01902 551251 or Email:

No. Item




Apologies were received from the following member(s) of the panel:


Cllr John Rowley

Cllr Keith Inston

Cllr Caroline Siarkiewicz 



Apologies were also received from the following people:


Cllr Peter Bilson –Cabinet Member for City Housing and Assets

Andy Jervis





Declarations of interest


There were no declarations of interest reported.


Minutes of the previous meeting (29 September 2016) pdf icon PDF 74 KB

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


That the minutes of the meeting held on 29 September 2016 be approved, and signed by the Chair.


Matters arising

[To consider any matter arising from the minutes]


Housing Services Review


Cllr Angus queried the late withdrawal of the Housing Services Review report that was on the agenda item for the panel meeting on 29.9.16.


Earl Piggott-Smith, Scrutiny Officer, briefed the panel of the outcome of the discussion with Chris Hale. The panel was advised that following discussions with colleagues at the time across the Council it was considered that more work was needed before a report detailing the policy change could be submitted to the panel. A key factor in the decision was a change in the original remit of the housing policy review to provide a more inclusive consideration of operational issues that could be delivered through arrangements with Wolverhampton Homes. The review remit was extended to include consideration of the wider opportunities for other areas of the Council, for example, in the People Directorate, and the delivery of assisted technology solutions.


It was agreed that in these circumstances that the report should be deferred to a future panel meeting to ensure all the relevant information about the implications from the review is included. Unfortunately, it was not possible to present this report at the last meeting due to need for this work to be done. The service is committed to bringing the report to the panel for information at the panel meeting on 23.3.17, with a recommendation that the panel receive a further report on progress at a future panel meeting.



            The panel agreed to add the report to the agenda for the panel meeting on 23 March 2017.


Draft Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2017/18 - 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 87 KB

[Mark Taylor, Assistant Director Finance, to present report on savings, redesign and income generation proposals in 2017/18]


Martin Fox, Finance Business Partner, provided a summary of the budget report and highlighted the key points about the savings proposals detailed in the attached appendixes.


Cllr Steve Evans, Cabinet Member City Environment, introduced the report to the panel. The Cabinet Member City Environment gave apologies for Cllr Bilson Cabinet Member Housing and City Assets and explained that he would cover items within this portfolio, but may need to ask colleagues to respond to any specific questions about this service area.


The panel were invited to comment on the draft budget proposals as part of the formal budget consultation process.


Cllr Ian Angus made a general comment about that the lack of detail in the report about the implications or options being considered to achieve the target figure for budget reduction or income generation proposals. As a result it was difficult to make detailed comments on the proposals. The Cabinet Member explained that more information on specific proposals can be provided if needed. A summary of the panel discussion and comments about the budget reduction and income generation proposals is given below.


Facilities Management


Tim Pritchard, Head of Corporate Landlord, introduced the savings proposal and explained that the aim was to get better value for money through improved efficiency, while trying to mitigate against the effects of the reduction in available resources. The Head of Corporate Landlord commented on the customer led review of services which involve conversations with business owners about their experiences of the services and also explain the impact of proposed changes. The aim is to deliver a better customer experience. The Head of Corporate Landlord was confident that the budget reduction target was realistic and offered to bring forward detailed proposals to a future meeting of the panel.

Commercial Estate Income


The Cabinet Member City Environment commented on the reduction in letting times for void properties - and congratulated staff at Wolverhampton Homes for the work done to reduce the time from 60-70 days in the past, to an average of 15 days now. The improvement has increased the level of income. The same approach will be applied to the letting of commercial buildings with the aim of getting empty properties re-let more quickly. In addition, improvements have been made to the collection of bad debts in order to minimise the loss of income to the Council, for example, agreeing repayment plans with residents and business owners to pay the bad debt.


The Cabinet Member for City Environment commented on the success of Wolverhampton being among the top 20 Councils considered as being attractive to invest in by private sector developers and the interest in the area generated by regeneration work across the city. The Head of Corporate Landlord commented on the work being done to better align systems and processes  using local intelligence and more effective management of the estate - including where necessary the disposal of properties.


Corporate Landlord Review Phase 2


The Cabinet Member City Environment explained the reasons for deleting the vacant  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Waste Management Strategy Consultation pdf icon PDF 84 KB

[Andy Jervis, Head of Public Protection, to present report on waste management strategy consultation]


Additional documents:


Ross Cook, Service Director – City Environment, Place, briefed the panel on the proposed changes to current waste and recycling strategy. The Service Director commented that the service has consulted with a number of groups about the plans and had received a lot of interest and feedback. In total, 200 responses had been received from the public to the online survey.  The Service Director outlined the proposals to achieve the previously agreed savings target detailed in MTFS, and also additional savings target of £1.2 million, which is subject to consultation.


The panel discussed the suitability of increasing the size of non-recyclable waste container from 140 litres and the provision of either same size or larger unit of 240 litre capacity.


Cllr Evans commented that the provision of a garden waste collection is not a statutory service. Cllr Evans, Cabinet Member for City Environment, explained that the collection service is available to 108,000 properties in Wolverhampton, but is not used by 28,000 homes – approximately 65% of homes. The Cabinet Member for City Environment summarised the cost and efficiency services that the alternative service would provide. The panel queried the number of green waste collection bins that would be provided to each household. The Cabinet Member for City Environment explained that additional bins could be provided but the criteria would need to be agreed to avoid possible misuse.


The Service Director explained the reasons for the removal of the food waste collection service, which was proved to be unpopular with and expensive to provide.  The Service Director commented that at the start of programme, 12,000 tonnes was being collected, but this had fallen to 3,000 tonnes and was therefore no longer financially sustainable.


The panel discussed the possible location recycling centre/super site and the possible criteria. The Service Director commented that a feasibility study would be done to identify a suitable location. The panel queried if the introduction of a charge for garden would lead to more complaints about fly tipping.  The Cabinet Member for City Environment commented that evidence that the introduction of a charge would not affect the behaviour of people who currently fly tip, as they would be unlikely to use the current collection service.


The panel discussed concerns about delays in the collection hazardous by specialist team provided by the contractor Amey and there was agreement that changes are needed to better meet the expectations of the public.



1.    The panel welcomed the report and noted the progress towards the development of a new waste recycling strategy for Wolverhampton.

2.    The panel comments on the proposed service changes to be included as part of the Council’s budget consultation exercise.



The meeting closed at 20:15