Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Board (Strategy and Resources)
Monday, 18th November, 2019 10.30 am

Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR

Contact: Angela Brogden (0113 37 88661)  Email: Angela.Brogden@leeds.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

43.

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).

Minutes:

There were no appeals against refusal of inspection of documents.

 

44.

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.

Minutes:

There were no exempt items.

 

45.

Late Items

To identify items which have been admitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration.

 

(The special circumstances shall be specified in the minutes.)

Minutes:

There were no late items.

 

46.

Declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

To disclose or draw attention to any disclosable pecuniary interests for the purposes of Section 31 of the Localism Act 2011 and paragraphs 13-16 of the Members’ Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests were made.

 

47.

Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitutes

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutes.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Firth and Carlill.  Cllr Dawson attended the meeting as substitute for Cllr Carlill.

 

48.

Minutes - 14th October 2019 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

To confirm as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting held on Monday 14th October 2019.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on the 14th October 2019, be approved as a correct record.

49.

Embracing Digital Technology Solutions- Tracking of Scrutiny Recommendations pdf icon PDF 673 KB

To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services presenting the progress made in responding to the recommendations arising from the Scrutiny Board’s earlier inquiry around embracing digital technology solutions.

Minutes:

The report of the Head of Democratic Services set out the progress that has been made in responding to the recommendations arising from the Scrutiny Board’s earlier inquiry around embracing digital technology solutions.

 

In attendance at the meeting were:

·  Councillor James Lewis – Executive Member for Resources

·  Neil Evans – Director of Resources and Housing

·  Jo Miklo – Head of Digital Efficiencies

 

This inquiry concluded in December 2018 and a report setting out the Scrutiny Board’s conclusions and recommendations was agreed in April 2019. The Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board received a formal response to the recommendations in July 2019.

 

Appended to the report at Appendix 1 was a standard set of criteria presented in the form of a flow chart. Details of progress against each of the recommendations were set out at Appendix 2.

 

In consideration of the progress made towards implementing the 3 recommendations arising from this inquiry, the following key points were made:

·  Digital Leadership Skills training – it was noted that 11 senior managers had recently attended leadership training courses, with further places now filled going forward to March 2020;

·  Training provision for Elected Members – linked to the Board’s earlier consideration of the Council’s Annual Corporate Risk Management Report, it was highlighted again that Elected Members would benefit from further digital training, particularly around identifying and dealing with potential spam/malicious emails;

·  Directory of Digital Innovation – It was noted that the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government was developing a national solution to the Directory of Digital Innovation and that the Council would therefore use this facility once it does go live;

·  Ecosia – Linked to the climate emergency, it was noted that the Council was helping to promote a new search engine called Ecosia, which gives a commitment to use the ad revenue from its online searches to plant trees where they are needed the most;

·  Digital show and tell sessions – It was noted that these sessions have allowed services to demonstrate how they are using technology effectively and sharing practical solutions.  The Executive Board Member for Resources suggested that Scrutiny Board Members may be interested to attend the next planned session;

·  Bidding opportunities – Board Members welcomed the positive efforts being made towards identifying and bidding for funding opportunities surrounding the delivery of digital solutions. Existing funding programmes and bids were set out in Appendix A of the report.

 

RESOLVED – The Board agreed to sign off all 3 scrutiny recommendations as they were considered to be achieved.

 

50.

Revenue Budget Update for 2020/21 to 2024/25 including proposed saving proposals. pdf icon PDF 133 KB

To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services presenting a revenue budget update for 2020/21 to 2024/25, including proposed saving proposals, as reported to Executive Board in October.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Appended to the report of the Head of Democratic Services was a copy of the report by the Chief Officer for Financial Services to the Executive Board in October 2019 which presented the latest revenue budget update for 2020/21 to 2024/25 including proposed savings proposals.

 

In attendance for this meeting were:

·  Councillor James Lewis – Executive Member for Resources

·  Neil Evans – Director of Resources and Housing

·  Victoria Bradshaw – Chief Officer – Financial Services

 

In consideration of the budget update report, the following key points were raised:

·  Variation to the estimated budget gap - The report had set out a number of variations made since the previous revenue budget update report in July and linked to these, the Board noted that the estimated budget gap had increased from £93.7m to £161.7m.

·  Business Rates Pilot – the Board particularly noted the implications of the 75% business rates retention pilot for the North and West Yorkshire Authorities coming to an end in March 2020, with no new pilot for the North and West Yorkshire Authorities being approved for 2020/21.

·  Planning charges budget saving proposal – linked to this proposal, the Board sought further information in terms of how the planning charges in Leeds compare with other core cities.

·  Public Work Loan rates – the Board discussed the impact of the recent sudden decision made by Government to introduce a blanket 1% increase to the Public Work Loan rate in relation to any future new borrowing agreements. While acknowledging the Council’s own efforts to help mitigate some of the impact, the Board agreed for the Chair and Executive Member to write a joint letter to Government expressing concern regarding this decision. 

·  Staff pay increases – while acknowledging the ongoing negotiations linked to the national NJC pay claim for 2020/21 by the Joint Trade Union Side (UNISON, GMB and UNITE), the Board welcomed the Council’s own commitment to continue paying the national Living Wage as a minimum rate for staff.

 

RESOLVED

(a)  That the content of the report be noted

(b)  That further information is circulated to Board Members showing how planning charges in Leeds compares with other core cities

(c)  That a joint letter of the Chair of the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board and Executive Member for Resources is sent to Government to relay the concerns expressed regarding the impact of the Public Work Loan rate increase.

 

51.

Scrutiny Inquiry into the reduction of energy consumption in Council buildings - draft inquiry report pdf icon PDF 223 KB

To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services presenting the Board’s draft report following its recent Inquiry into the reduction of energy consumption in Council buildings.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report of the Head of Democratic Services presented the Scrutiny Board’s draft inquiry report into the reduction of energy consumption in Council buildings.

 

In attendance at the meeting were:

·  Councillor James Lewis – Executive Member for Resources

·  Neil Evans – Director of Resources and Housing

 

RESOLVED – The Board agreed to approve the content of its inquiry report into the reduction of energy consumption in Council buildings.

 

52.

Work Schedule pdf icon PDF 150 KB

To consider the Scrutiny Board’s work schedule for the 2019/20 municipal year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Principal Scrutiny Adviser presented the report of the Head of Democratic Services requesting Members’ consideration on the Scrutiny Board’s work schedule for the remainder of the current municipal year.

 

The work schedule was appended to the submitted report.

 

RESOLVED - To note the content of the report.

 

Chairs Comment

As this was the last meeting of the Board before Christmas, the Chair wished all the Members a Merry Christmas and best wishes for New Year.

53.

Date and Time of Next Meeting

Monday, 20th January 2020 at 10.30 am (Pre-meeting for all Board Members at 10.00 am)

Minutes:

The next meeting of the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board will be on Monday 20th January 2020, at 10:30am. All Members are invited to the pre-meeting at 10:00am.

 

(The meeting concluded at 11.20 am)