Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing and Communities) - Monday, 9th November, 2020 12.00 pm

Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR

Contact: Becky Atherton (0113 37 88642)  Email:

Link: to View Meeting Recording

No. Item


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 the refusal of inspection of 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.


The agenda contained no exempt information.



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.)


No formal late items of business were added to the agenda, however the Board was in receipt of a supplementary pack relating to Agenda item 7 “Merger of Groundwork Leeds with Groundwork Wakefield and North Yorkshire and Leeds City Council's Future Role in Groundwork Yorkshire” which contained a report entitled ‘Groundwork Wakefield Merger Proposal’ presented to Wakefield MDC Cabinet on 31st October 2017.



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.


No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests were made; however Councillor P Grahame and Councillor A Blackburn both wished it be recorded that they were Trustees of the Board of Groundwork Leeds, appointed by Leeds City Council.



Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitutes

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutes.


Apologies were received from Councillors Smith, Sharpe and Khan. Councillors Shemilt, Hayden and Renshaw attended the meeting as substitutes. Apologies were also received from Councillor Dobson.



Call In Briefing Paper pdf icon PDF 223 KB

To consider a report from the Head of Democratic Services advising the Scrutiny Board on the procedural aspects of calling in the decision.


The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report in relation to the procedural aspects of the call in process.


Members were advised that the options available to the Scrutiny Board in respect of this particular called in decision were as follows:


Option 1- Release the decision for implementation


Having reviewed this decision, the Scrutiny Board may decide to release it for implementation. If the Scrutiny Board chooses this option, the decision will be immediately released for implementation and the decision may not be called in again.


Option 2 - Recommend that the decision be reconsidered


The Scrutiny Board may decide to recommend to the decision maker that the decision be reconsidered. If the Scrutiny Board chooses this option a report will be submitted to the decision maker.


In the case of an Executive Board decision, the report of the Scrutiny Board will be prepared within three working days of the Scrutiny Board meeting and submitted to the Executive Board. Any report of the Scrutiny Board will be referred to the next Executive Board meeting for consideration.


In reconsidering the decision and associated Scrutiny Board report, the Executive Board may vary the decision or confirm its original decision. In either case, this will form the basis of the final decision and will not be subject to any further call in.


Failure to agree one of the above options


If the Scrutiny Board, for any reason, does not agree one of the above courses of action at this meeting, then Option 1 will be adopted by default, i.e. the decision will be released for implementation with no further recourse to call in.


RESOLVED – That the report outlining the call in procedures be noted.



Merger of Groundwork Leeds with Groundwork Wakefield and North Yorkshire and Leeds City Council's Future Role in Groundwork Yorkshire pdf icon PDF 298 KB

To consider a report from the Head of Democratic Services presenting the background papers to an Executive Board decision which has been called in in accordance with the Council’s constitution. This relates to the merger of Groundwork Leeds with Groundwork Wakefield and North Yorkshire, and Leeds City Council's future role in Groundwork Yorkshire

Additional documents:


The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report that presented background papers to an Executive Board decision which had been called in in accordance with the Council’s Constitution.


The decision had been called in for review by Councillors Jonathon Bentley, Colin Campbell, Chris Howley, Diane Chapman and Ryk Downes.


The Scrutiny Board considered the following written information:


·  Call in request form – Friday 23rd October 2020

·  ‘Merger of Groundwork Leeds with Groundwork Wakefield and North Yorkshire and Leeds City Council's Future Role in Groundwork Yorkshire’ - Executive Board report 21st October 2020

·  Minute 57 Executive Board, 21st October 2020

·  Supplementary Pack containing a report ‘Groundwork Wakefield Merger Proposal’ to Wakefield MDC Cabinet meeting 31st October 2017.


The following were in attendance:


·  Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Executive Member for Environment and Active Lifestyles

·  Councillor Al Garthwaite, Lead Member for Parks and a trustee of Groundwork Leeds

·  Councillor Robert Finnigan, Leader of the Morley Borough Independent Group

·  James Rogers, Director of Communities and Environment

·  Tony Stringwell, Recreational Development Manager

·  Michael Everitt, Head of Finance

·  Mark Turnbull, Head of Service, Legal Services

·  Adrian Curtis, Chief Executive, Groundwork Leeds

·  Trevor Lincoln, Chair, Groundwork Leeds


As the Nominated Lead Signatory to the Call In, Councillor Bentley addressed the Board on his concerns regarding the material presented to the Executive Board to support its decision making. Councillor Bentley was concerned that the report lacked the detail and supporting documents to enable Executive Board to make a decision in the best interests of Leeds City Council, as a Member of Groundwork Leeds Board of Trustees. Councillor Bentley explained the process he had gone through in submitting the call in request, confirming that he had received briefings from relevant Senior Officers and that the supplementary document provided to this meeting arose from those pre-discussions. In particular, he identified the following:

·  The lack of an option appraisal within the report, to identify those options not taken forward and to clarify the rationale for the proposed merger of Groundwork Leeds, Ground Wakefield and Groundwork North Yorkshire to create ‘Groundwork Yorkshire’. Councillor Bentley referred to the conclusion of the Executive Board report which highlighted that the merger would provide no immediate additional benefit to Groundwork Leeds, noting that collaborative working was already undertaken under the existing Groundwork structure.

·  The perceived lack of due diligence in terms of risk and financial assessments to provide the Executive Board with assurance over the future sustainability of the merged Trust. Councillor Bentley noted that reference had been made to a review by BHP, but that it had not been provided to the Executive Board.

·  The lack of legal advice relating to the merger and whether the proposal complied with Charity commission requirements.


During his presentation, Councillor Bentley introduced Councillor Robert Finnigan, Leader of the Morley Borough Independent Group, as an external witness. Councillor Finnigan outlined his significant concerns regarding the future of the former Wesley Street Mills complex in Morley which had been repurposed to the Environment and Business Centre  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.


Outcome of the Call-In

To consider the Scrutiny Board’s formal conclusions and recommendations arising from the consideration of the called-in decision.


The Scrutiny Board considered whether or not to release the decision for implementation. A vote was subsequently held and the Scrutiny Board agreed (by majority decision) that the decision be released.

RESOLVED – That the decision be released for implementation.



Date and Time of Next Meeting

The Board’s next meeting will take place on 12 November 2020 at 10.30am. There will be a pre-meet for all Board members at 10am.


RESOLVED – To note the date and time of the next meeting as Thursday 12th November 2020 at 10.30 am