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Appeals Against Refusal of Inspection of Documents
To consider any appeals in accordance with Procedure Rule 25* of the Access to Information Procedure Rules (in the event of an Appeal the press and public will be excluded).
(* In accordance with Procedure Rule 25, notice of an appeal must be received in writing by the Head of Governance Services at least 24 hours before the meeting).
There were no appeals against refusal of inspection documents.
Exempt Information - Possible Exclusion of the Press and Public
1 To highlight reports or appendices which officers have identified as containing exempt information, and where officers consider that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information, for the reasons outlined in the report.
2 To consider whether or not to accept the officers recommendation in respect of the above information.
3 If so, to formally pass the following resolution:-
RESOLVED – That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following parts of the agenda designated as containing exempt information on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information, as follows:
No exempt items have been identified.
There were no items excluded from the public domain.
To identify items which have been admitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration.
(The special circumstances shall be specified in the minutes.)
There were no late items.
Declaration of Interests
To disclose or draw attention to any interests in accordance with Leeds City Council’s ‘Councillor Code of Conduct’.
There were no declarations of interest.
Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitutes
To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutes.
Apologies were received from the following Board members:
Cllr Caroline Gruen (Cllr Eileen Taylor attended as a substitute)
Cllr Sam Firth (Cllr Linda Richards attended as a substitute)
The following invitees also asked that apologies be noted:
Cllr James Lewis
To confirm as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting held on 25 July 2022.
The minutes of the meeting of 25 July were noted.
The Principal Scrutiny Advisor provided an update in relation to information requested in relation to minutes 21, 22 and 24.
The minutes of the meeting of 25 July were noted.
To receive an update from the Head of Electoral Services, including reference to voter behaviour in May 2022 and the Parliamentary Boundary review 2023.
The following were in attendance for this item:
Cllr D Coupar - Executive Member
John Mulcahy - Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory
Susanna Benton - Head of Electoral Services
John Mulcahy and Susanna Benton presented a paper to the Scrutiny Board summarising voter behaviour in the May 2022 local elections and the progress of the Parliamentary Boundary Review 2023.
Susanna confirmed that in May 2022 the number of postal voters in Leeds was 186,367, which equates to 31.87% of the electorate. 62.27% of all votes received were cast were via post and it is anticipated this trend in voting behaviour will be a long-lasting legacy of arrangements put in place during the covid-19 pandemic.
Susanna highlighted the actions taken to address the number of postal votes rejected from the number returned, noting a decrease from 3.22% in May 2021 to 2.11% in May 2022. This included introducing a second manual check of rejected postal votes.
It was noted that given the change in voter behaviour the number of polling stations required, and the location of those polling stations, will remain under review.
Members requested further information about any anticipated reductions in the number of polling stations in Leeds. In response officers noted that significant reductions are not anticipated given changes that were previously implemented during the pandemic period.
Members sought clarification about why some wards record a higher number of rejected postal votes than others. In response officers advised members that they have identified some errors occurring in homes where multiple people are registered to vote – and in such cases they advise those individuals that this has been the reason for a rejection.
The Head of Electoral Services agreed to review the wording contained in voter packs that sets out the options for depositing a postal vote at a polling station.
Members of the Board queried whether further information could be included in the packs provided to postal voters to assist in instances where language barriers may create a disincentive to vote.
The Board discussed the accessibility of electoral services for residents who need to collect a replacement pack in cases where their voting pack has not been delivered.
Members requested further information about the support provided to those voters with visual impairments and those in care settings. It was noted that tactile devices are already available in polling stations.
It was noted that the Elections Act will require a higher level of support to be provided in future to those who may require assistance to cast their vote.
The benefit of information services provided via third sector organisations such as RNIB were discussed.
Concern was expressed about proposals for new constituency boundaries set out by the Boundary Commission for England.
The Scrutiny Board was informed that the Boundary Commission for England is reviewing the responses received in relation to first and secondary stages of consultation on proposed new constituency boundaries.
Cllr Coupar put on record her thanks for the work of the elections team.
Members of ... view the full minutes text for item 33.
To receive an update on the risks and summary assurances presented in the Annual Corporate Risk Report.
The following were in attendance for this item:
- Cllr D Coupar – Executive Member
- Tim Rollett – Intelligence and Policy Manager
- Andy Dodman – Chief Officer Human Resources
- Polly Cook – Chief Officer Sustainable Energy and Air Quality
Tim Rollett introduced the Annual Corporate Risk Management report, which updates members on the most significant risks currently on the Council’s corporate risk register and the controls in place to manage them.
Tim noted that the Annual Corporate Risk Report was reviewed by the Executive Board at its meeting on 27 July 2022. The report includes internal, organisational risks and external risks such as flooding.
Members were asked to note that due to the changing nature of the Council’s risk environment, the rating for some risks – such as the corporate risk on workforce planning - have increased since July.
In the context of the financial management risks, the Chair welcomed the fact that the majority of Scrutiny Board members have now attended additional training on the current challenge.
Members of the Board requested further information about how the corporate risk map is developed. It was noted that insufficient school places and housing growth are included as ‘medium risks.’ However, members suggested that due to the impact of these factors on citizens and communities they could be regarded as high risk.
It was further suggested that the number of people currently allocated Band A on the housing register could provide evidence that a lack of affordable, quality housing is already a high risk for residents in some communities.
Similarly, members sought to understand how probability is determined on the corporate risk map - noting climate change is categorised as ‘possible’ rather than ‘probable.’
In response, officers noted that impact and probability scores are affected by the level of controls in place to manage risk. For example, the level of planned development impacts upon the categorisation of the risk of insufficient housing growth.
External risks were explored including the way in which intelligence from partners such as the police might influence the Council’s assessment of progress towards the KPIs linked to the Best City Ambition.
Members asked for an update on progress towards the target of halving the carbon footprint from council operations to net zero by 2025.
Polly Cook responded by assuring members the Council is on track to meet the 2025 target. She provided a brief update on activity designed to decarbonise energy supplies – for example, through developing solar farms and transitioning to an electric fleet. She noted that progress to move away from gas is more challenging.
It was agreed that the Principal Scrutiny Advisor would circulate the Annual Climate Emergency Advisory Committee report, which was considered by Council in March 2022 to provide further detail about ongoing activity.
Members requested assurance that the Council is working with colleges to ensure training in construction skills reflects demands for modern methods of building.
The Chief Officer for Human Resources was invited to outline the support in ... view the full minutes text for item 34.
To receive an update from the Director of Resources on the ongoing transformation of customer contact.
Those present for this item were:
Cllr D Coupar – Executive Member
Polly Cook – Chief officer Sustainable Energy and Air Quality
Sonia Macdonald – Head of Shared Services
Andrew Byrom – Head of Cloud and Platforms
Polly Cook introduced the item setting out the progress of the programme of transformation within the contact centre since the last report to the Scrutiny Board in February 2022. She highlighted that the report provided to members included an overview of work volumes and performance in the contact centre.
Key areas of interest included customer satisfaction, staffing levels, digital improvements, and the anticipated benefits of a Council Tax automation project.
The Scrutiny Board explored the outcomes of an improved digital offer for residents who wish to self-serve online. The use of new online forms in areas such as refuse, reduce calls to the contact centre and release capacity within the team. It is hoped this will help reduce overall waiting times.
The Board was informed that significant benefits are also being realised from the introduction of online forms for registrar services and to capture information required from landlords in relation to a third-party change of address.
An update was provided about progress with a project to automate several council tax processes to reduce calls to the contact centre.
The Board noted the need for the contact centre to be agile enough to respond to spikes in demand relating to factors outside of the Council’s control – for example, a recent increase in cases relating to welfare support.
The Chair asked that it be noted that the Board welcomed the openness with which performance has been discussed since 2021, and he reiterated the support of members for the transformation programme.
Assurances were sought about the way in which calls are handled which highlight an adult safeguarding concern. Polly confirmed that calls relating to Adult Social Care are treated as a high priority and should be answered in 2 minutes. She also informed members that the staff handling those calls are highly trained and have direct routes into the service.
Polly Cook was asked to circulate a summary of call volumes and waiting times for Adult Social Care for the period April – August 2022, via the Principal Scrutiny Advisor.
Concern was expressed about the potential time taken to relay messages about the refuse service via the contact centre to the operatives who can take action to collect missed bins.
In response, officers noted that where services are using legacy systems not all functions can be integrated. Further improvements will follow as systems are updated.
The Scrutiny Board queried whether it is possible to trace whether a case has been resolved, particularly where a legacy system is in place.
Members recommended that further consideration be given as to how evidence of customer satisfaction can be produced in the context of the increased use of online forms.
Officers updated the Board on work with the Communications and Marketing Team on the corporate approach to mass communications ... view the full minutes text for item 35.
To consider the Scrutiny Board’s work schedule for the 2022/23 municipal year.
The work programme for 2022/23 was considered and agreed.
It was requested that the Principal Scrutiny Advisor liaise with the Chief Officer Financial Services to take all financial papers as one item in November.
It was confirmed that ‘Business as Usual’ savings would be presented to scrutiny boards as part of this year’s budget consultation.
The Chair provided an update to colleagues about a decision regarding the city’s bid to host the Eurovision Song Contest, which was taken by him on 26 August 2022 in his capacity as Scrutiny Board Chair and in accordance with ‘special urgency’ provisions.
The minutes of the Executive Board meeting at which the decision was discussed are attached to the work programme.
- That the work programme be noted subject to the amendments to the programme for November 2022 detailed above.
Date and Time of Next Meeting
The next meeting of the Scrutiny Board (Strategy & Resources) will take place on 11 November 2022 at 10am. There will be a pre-meeting for all Board members at 9.45am.
The next public meeting of the Board will take place on 11 November at 10.00am. A pre-meet will take place for Board members at 9.45am