Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2 - Deanes. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services
Link: Video Recording
Apologies for absence and substitutions
Councillor N Pierce was replaced by Councillor P Harvey
Councillor D Taylor was replaced by Councillor N Robinson
Councillor R Tate – Cabinet Member for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement
Declarations of interest
There were no declarations of interest.
To consider any items of business, other than those shown on this agenda and which, by reason of special circumstances to be stated at the meeting, in the opinion of the Chairman, should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.
There were no urgent items.
The Chair will move that the minutes of the meeting be signed as a correct record. The only part of the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.
The minutes of the meetings held on 15th November 2016 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Motions Referred From Council
This Motion is referred from the Council meeting of the 15th December 2016 for the Scrutiny Committee to consider how to progress the item.
Consultancy Dependency Culture
Proposer: Councillor P Harvey
Seconder: Councillor M Westbrook
Since 2010, when the coalition government embarked on its programme of austerity, one profession has turned public sector cuts into a business opportunity: management consultants.
The most recently available analysis of financial information from Hampshire County Council shows that in the last 12 months the County Council is spending £1 million every month with the consultancy firm Deloitte.
Whilst vital services like adult social care, roads, children centres are being slashed, Hampshire County Council are wasting millions of pounds and are creating a consultancy dependency culture.
On behalf of the taxpaying public of Basingstoke & Deane and in the interests of fairness, full council resolves to invite the relevant cabinet member from the County Council to the Scrutiny Committee in order to brief members on this expenditure and to explain why it is so necessary.
The Chair of the Scrutiny Committee introduced the motion on consultancy dependency culture.
1.) That Democratic Services Officers will collate questions from the Scrutiny Committee to be sent on Hampshire County Council.
Contact Officer: Melbourne Barret
This report responds to the Scrutiny Committees request for a review of the events and the lessons learnt.
The Executive Director of Finance and Resources introduced the report which responded to the Scrutiny Committees request for a review of the events which contributed to errors on postal votes in the borough council election for the Brookvale and Kings Furlong ward and a date on poll cards for the EU Referendum.
Committee members questioned the confidentiality of the information included within the private appendix.
The chair invited visiting Councillor M Westbrook to address the committee. His comments and questions included;
· Disappointment that neither the Returning Officer nor Elections staff were present for the discussion of the item.
· That the error had only been identified by a member of the public and asked for a response as to what would have happened had the error not been pointed out.
· That the report was not clear as to whether there was a human error in the physical checks of the Postal Vote packs containing the ballot papers and when these checks took place, either before or after the error was noted.
· Had the Returning Officer changed the printers used for the ballot papers and did the contract allow for the printers to subcontract work out?
· The inconvenience caused to residents.
· That the printers had accepted liability and the costs of reprint and reissue were borne by them – did these costs include staff time and did the Council successfully seek recompense?
· Seeking reassurance that lessons had been learnt and procedures put in place to ensure similar events didn’t happen again and that there was no extra cost to taxpayers
· That information in the private appendix should be public.
The Executive Director of Finance and Resources responded that it was the view of the report author that the appendix should be confidential owing to the financial information included and the ongoing claim to the Electoral Commission.
The Executive Director agreed a written response would be provided in response to Councillor Westbrooks questions.
The committee considered deferring the item and noted the following questions for officers to respond to when the item returned to the committee;
· There was separate indemnity insurance for the Returning Officer - did insurance cover the Brookvale printing error, had the Council claimed costs and if so how successful was the claim and how much was claimed?
· Sought reassurance that the technical updates from Xpress installed by the Senior Officer were completed, and if appropriate IT were involved as well?
· That Internal Audit should consider the checking procedures in place for proofing documents from the printers and the procedures to install Xpress technical updates. It was suggested that these activities undertaken by the Electoral Services team should be added to the Annual Audit Plan.
· Noted that the Neighbourhood Plan Referenda for Overton was run on the same day as the EU Referendum. Councillors suggested that if hadn’t run on the same day then time would have been freed up to concentrate more on the EU Referendum, as such did running two elections/referenda on the same day save money?
Resolved: ... view the full minutes text for item 28/16
Contact Officer: Lesley Murphy
The committee is asked to note the minutes of the Performance Panel meeting of the 6th December and the Council Plan 2016 to 2020 Performance Tracker Q2 Results.
The Chair of the Scrutiny Committee introduced the Performance Panel update from the meeting held on the 6th December which covered revenue and capital budget forecast as at the end of September 2016 and performance monitoring of quarter 2 2016/17 project and key indicator results.
The committee asked brief questions on the wording of some points, and noted concern over the new and affordable homes being delivered each year in line with Local Plan policy which had moved from green to red on the councils RAG (Reg, Amber, Green) status chart.
The committee requested that, where items were listed as red on the RAG status, additional notes be provided to clarify the position.
Resolved: The committee;
1) Notes the update from the Performance Panel
Contact Officer: Phillip Hood
The purpose of this report is to present for Scrutiny Committee comment theCabinet’s budget proposals for 2017/18.
The Cabinet Member for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement introduced the report which set out key elements of the proposed budget and policy framework prior to it’s consideration by Council.
The committee asked questions of the proposed budget covering parish precepts, New Homes Bonus and fees and charges.
Discussions took place over the percentage increase on some of the fees and charges payable in particular over the lack of justification or clarity on the amounts charged.
The Cabinet Member informed the committee that he was considering a mechanism as part of financial monitoring to provide information on progress with the New Homes Bonus, in order to maintain oversight of the delivery against forecasts.
In response to specific questions on the figures for maintaining street furniture, the Cabinet Member agreed to provide a written response.
1) The Cabinet Member for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement note the committees varied view of the budget which a majority of members considered well balanced while some members noted the risk to the council
2) The Cabinet Member for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement considers the committees diverse views over planned investments and protecting future generations, while acknowledging other members feel risks are well balanced
3) The committee suggests the alternative investment strategy could be broadened to various residential facilities
4) The committee acknowledges concerns raised by some members on the percentage increase of fees and charges
The committee is asked to note and review its work programme
The committee reviewed its work programme for the coming year and agreed the following actions;
1) That Democratic Services confirm with officers from Hampshire County Council that the education performance figures due to be related to the committee at it’s meeting in February will be publically available.
2) That a review of the Elections and Referendum service be re-timetabled for the committees March meeting.
3) To remove Cabinet engagement from the items to be timetabled as this is an ongoing theme of the work of the Scrutiny committee.