Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 30 September 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

See above

 

2.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting on 23 July 2020 were agreed as a correct record.

 

In response to a question on the appointment of Equality Member champions it was explained that the names of group representatives were being sought and a first meeting would be organised.  

 

3.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

No additional declarations were made.

 

4.

Work Plan

Forthcoming Executive Decision List

https://glostext.gloucestershire.gov.uk/mgDelegatedDecisions.

aspx?&RP=0K=0&DM=0&HD=0&DS=1&Next=true&H=1&META=mgforthcomingdecisions&V=1

 

 

Council Strategy

https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/media/2083042/councilstrategy-2019-3.pdf

Minutes:

Members noted the Forthcoming Executive Decision List and the Council Strategy when considering items for the work plan.

 

5.

Annual Overview of Need and Council Performance in Gloucestershire pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Minutes:

5.1      Rob Ayliffe provided an overview of demand and performance outlining key issues and trends emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic. He introduced the presentation detailing the impacts of Covid-19 in relation to changing patterns of demand for key services; the requirement to adapt service delivery for social distancing, new duties, powers and responsibilities; loss of income and disruption of saving plans alongside the instability of key markets; and the impact on staff wellbeing and resilience. He also emphasised the impact on performance and loss of income in addition to impact on savings plans.

 

5.2      Members understood that the overall number of deaths amongst the Gloucestershire population had been 5% higher than the previous 5 year average (Jan-Aug).  The rate had returned to move normal levels in recent months. The Committee heard about the pressures on care homes and a significant drop in admissions to care homes creating a risk to the stability of providers. Consideration needed to be given on the long-term impact of delayed health interventions and the impact of isolation on those with mental health problems. Despite these challenges, there had been a large community response and a great deal of resilience demonstrated over the period; the long term positive impact of this was unknown.

 

5.3      With regards to Public Health and Wellbeing, it was explained that the pandemic had significantly increased the scope and overall volume of the team’s work. Specific concern was raised about the impact of Covid-19 on inequalities both immediately and in the medium and long term. Members recognised the reliance on the voluntary and community sector and the need to make sure those groups could continue their work.

 

5.4      There was an expectation that there would be an Autumn peak in referrals into Children’s Social Care as a result of ‘latent demand’ and unidentified risk. Members recognised the long-term psychological and educational impacts of children and the potential impact of lockdown. Social distancing created additional pressure for schools and on home to school transport. Lockdown had resulted in a backlog in family court activity.

 

5.5      Members noted the significant changes to the operating model for Libraries, Archives, HRCs and Adult Education and the clearing of backlog of demand for registration and citizenship ceremonies which was now being cleared. It was noted that digital reliance could create new inequalities.

 

5.6      The Committee recognised that there had been a modal shift in people’s travel habits and preferences over the period with more individuals working from home, choosing to cycle and reducing their use of public transport. Members also noted potential delays to some major schemes.

 

5.7      There was a backlog in relation to Community safety activity such as Safe and Well visits, Fire Safety audits and Coroners Inquests. GFRS cultural improvement journey had been slightly delayed over the period as the emergency took priority.

 

5.8      It was not yet clear what the longer-term impact would be on the Council or wider public sector finances. Members noted the move to virtual and hybrid meetings and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Motion 866 - Rainbow flag crossings pdf icon PDF 1 MB

This Council notes that the public realm can be used by local authorities to promote inclusivity and community cohesion and to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do

not.

Council further notes that long lasting and colourful road crossings can also enhance the design of the public realm and provide interesting and safer places to cross the road.

 

This Council resolves to call on the Cabinet to create an inclusive rainbow flag crossing in Gloucester City centre in time for Pride month 2021 and to enter into discussions with other districts about suitable locations for crossings to be located over the next 2 years. This will support Pride in Gloucestershire’s bid for Europride 2026 to be held in the county.

 

Minutes:

6.1      Kathryn Haworth introduced a report that provided members with some context and improved awareness of the issues and considerations around introducing rainbow crossings. The item was on the Committee agenda having been referred across from Full Council on 9 September 2020. The original motion was:

 

 

This Council notes that the public realm can be used by local authorities to promote inclusivity and community cohesion and to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between those who share a protected characteristic and those who do

not.

 

Council further notes that long lasting and colourful road crossings can also enhance the design of the public realm and provide interesting and safer places to cross the road.

 

This Council resolves to call on the Cabinet to create an inclusive rainbow flag crossing in Gloucester City centre in time for Pride month 2021 and to enter into discussions with other districts about suitable locations for crossings to be located over the next 2 years. This will support Pride in Gloucestershire’s bid for Europride 2026 to be held in the county.

 

6.2      The Committee noted that a number of trials had been carried out in London under Transport for London since 2015.  They had provided the opportunity to collaborate with artists and to celebrate culture. Many had also been introduced using more standard designs such as the LGBT+ rainbow flag colours.

 

6.3      Members noted a recent report from Brent Council and the examples that could be taken from there.

 

6.4      All road markings and signs on the highway had to comply with the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions.Advice had been sought from the DfT about the use of coloured or rainbow crossings on the highway. In summary, they advised that anything striped or resembling a zebra crossing should be avoided, as it was likely to cause confusion about the level of priority that pedestrians had. They also made the point about maintenance of coloured surfaces. In respect of authorisation they placed the onus on Local Authorities to comply with the regulations, not change the purpose or meaning of the legal markings, and to carry out risk assessments in relation to the impact on different user groups.

 

6.5      The Committee was informed that the cost of installation of a temporary or permanent colours or rainbow crossing was estimated at between £5-£10k per site; the more complex the arrangements, the higher the cost. Members noted the road safety and legal implications as well as understanding that there was no dedicated budget for this type of installation.

 

6.6      The report concluded that while there were positive benefits to the scheme, there were a number of factors that needed to be considered as well as the need to identify funding.

 

6.7      One member spoke positively about the introduction of a scheme. Kimbrose Triangle was an example of an area, which she felt would benefit from this.  She made a recommendation that the Committee ask Cabinet to plan the first of these schemes in Gloucester City  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Information Management pdf icon PDF 218 KB

A commitment was made to report back to the Committee at a future meeting with details on the number of FOIs, including the number of requests granted and the approach being taken.

Minutes:

7.1      The Committee received an overview on the Council’s ‘Requests Management function. The Requests Management Team within in Information Management, was responsible for ensuring the Council met its statutory obligations with regard to request management, but worked with services across the Council to compile responses to requests for information. Members noted that over recent years the council had seen a steady continuation of Freedom of Information (FOI) and Environment Information Regulation (EIR) requests, with an increase in complexity. The Council now received around 1600-1700 FOI/EIR requests per year.

 

7.2      There had also been a rise in the number of subject access requests (SARs) being made under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Many service users requested this right as a tool to better understand decisions made that directly affected them and, on occasion, to hold the council to account. These tended to be much more resource-intensive.

 

7.3      Members were provided with an outline of the request process. The Committee were given examples of how requests often were more complex than they first appeared.

 

7.4      The Council had responded to 72% of all requests within the statutory timescales in the past 12 months, compared with 79% in the previous 12 months. The reasons for this included the increased complexity of requests as well as the capacity, capability and stability of the team and the lack of access to paper records during Covid-19 lockdown.

 

7.5      One of the ways in which the Council aimed to reduce the number of requests was to be proactive in its publication of information on its website.

 

7.6      The Committee was informed of the improvement work that was outlined in the report. This included responding to feedback from customers, other council departments and external regulators and well as filling vacancies and improving the Publication Scheme.

 

7.7      In response to a question it was stated that the core team included 9 members of staff.

 

 

7.8      It was explained that if the FOI request would necessitate work above 18 hours then it would be refused, but that a breakdown had to be provided showing how that time had been estimated in order to apply the exemption. Information held needed to be provided but new information did not need to be created to fulfil requests.

 

7.9      In 2019, 9% of requests were identifiable as from the media. In response to further questions it was explained that other exemptions included personal information already accessible by other means; law enforcement (security of systems); and commercial interests. The Police did not pay for access to information as it formed part of the partnership arrangements. There had been 343 inquiries from the Police which represented around 15% of the overall number in 2019.

 

 

8.

Strategic Performance Management Report 1st Quarter 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 309 KB

It would be helpful if members would email in detailed questions arising

from the performance reports in advance of the meeting. This will enable

officers to have prepared responses and also better support the

committee’s debate on these matters.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

8.1      Rob Ayliffe provided members with an overview of performance at the end of quarter 1 showing 63% of indicators on or ahead of target.

 

8.2      The Committee noted the performance information in Children’s Services around the initial response to risk (such as referral and initial visit), this compared well with statistical neighbours. With regards to ‘repeat work’ this was a more challenging picture and reflected the improvement needed in the quality of social work. For placement stability this was a static position and improvement was needed in both short term and long term placements.

 

8.3      Members were informed that there had been a slight reduction in the permanent admissions (65+) into care within Adult Services.

 

8.4      It was explained that there had been a reduction in the days lost to sickness. One member wished to understand how this was managed when staff were working at home. It was explained that staff were in regular contact with managers and if unwell that would get reported in the usual way through the Council’s SAP system.

 

8.5      Highways performance had showed improvement, with it suggested that this could be due to quieter roads during lockdown allowing work to be completed.

 

8.6      The number of people reported as killed and seriously injured on the County’s roads continued to e higher than historic levels. It was believed that changes to Police recording methodology was a contributing factor Work was going on with the road safety team to see if there are other underlying factors. Additional information would be provided on this data including incidents in relation to cars and cyclists as well as a response to a members’ question on the impact of the removal of the Road Safety Partnership.
ACTION         Colin Chick

 

8.7      In response to a question, it was explained that the risk management information in the papers showed historic trend of risk and this, alongside the information in the next quarter’s report, would demonstrate changing risk in relation to Covid-19.

 

9.

Performance Report - Corporate Resources 1st Quarter 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Minutes:

9.1      Steve Mawson introduced the performance report for the first quarter which showed that overall sickness levels were at the lowest levels for five financial years. Workforce stability was good with staff turnover remaining low.

 

9.2      The Forecast Revenue Outturn percentage variance was 3.3% of the net budget. The current forecast of the year end revenue position was £15.707 million overspend against the revenue budget of £468.183 million. The forecast excluding Covid-19 related spend was a £4.116 million overspend.

 

9.3      It was noted that a high proportion of staff appraisals had not been completed by the end of June which was understandable during the period of change relating to Covid-19, but that performance in this area had picked up and would be prioritised in the coming weeks and months.