Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing and Communities) - Thursday, 21st March, 2024 10.30 am

Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR. View directions

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 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 exempt items.


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.)


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 Cllr A Hannan and Cllr J Tudor. Cllr M France-Mir attended as a substitute for Cllr A Hannan.


The Scrutiny Board also noted apologies from Liz Jarmin (Head of Locality Partnerships) and Cllr M Harland in respect of item 7, and Cllr M Rafique in respect of item 8.


Minutes - 22 February 2024 pdf icon PDF 151 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 22 February 2024.


RESOLVED: The minutes of the meeting that took place on 22 February 2024 were approved.


Matters Arising


Referring to several requests detailed in minute 88 the Chair noted that information relating to void properties, damp and mould, and repairs had been circulated to members.



Community Committee Review pdf icon PDF 489 KB

To receive an update from the Director of Communities, Housing & Environment on the Community Committee Review.

Additional documents:


Those in attendance for this item were:


·  James Rogers (Director Communities, Housing & Environment)

·  Paul Money (Chief Officer Safer, Stronger Communities)

·  Rachel Marshall (Localities Programme Manager)


Paul Money introduced this item, noting that Cllr Harland had asked him to thank members for their engagement with this review.


Paul provided an overview of the key themes of the review and the proposed timeline for progressing various aspects of the associated programme of work. He noted that progress would be informed by the outcome of work carried out by three task and finish groups, involving both officers and elected members.


The Scrutiny Board was updated about the outcome of three member workshops that took place during 2023/24. Those workshops focused on Community Committee Champions, Delegated Budgets and Community Engagement and Empowerment. Members were informed that a further recent workshop addressed delegated functions. The outcomes from that session are still being analysed. 


The Board noted that the review is moving into a secondary phase focused on the implementation of initial recommendations. However, wider work will be ongoing through 2024 and 2025.


Members welcomed the debate about the role of community committee champions. It was recommended that consideration is given to introducing both a new induction programme for champions and an enhanced training offer. Paul Money and Rachel Marshall confirmed that these issues are being explored.


Members advocated the use of technological solutions to enable meetings to be live streamed from community settings. Paul confirmed this is being explored with colleagues from IDS.


Community engagement was identified as a priority and a challenge for some community committees. The Scrutiny Board considered how meetings are advertised and how residents can be encouraged to attend. It was noted that the perceived formality of meetings, and limited opportunities for the public to interact with Board members on matters of interest, can be a barrier to public attendance. 


The Scrutiny Board recognised the diversity of communities represented by community committees and agreed that taking ‘one size fits all’ approach would not be appropriate. However, members proposed that the sharing of best practice could strengthen local arrangements. Paul confirmed that members will be consulted on what works well in their areas and what might therefore be transferable good practice.


Members queried whether formal matters such as the approval of grant funding could be streamlined to allow more time within meetings for the discussion of issues identified as priorities by residents. Rachel noted that some committees have ‘pre meetings’ to consider issues relating to financial approvals so as to be more efficient in public meetings.


Clarity was sought as to whether corporate communication resources could be used to support enhanced publicity around community committee meetings.


The engagement of elected members to date was welcomed. Officers were asked how the lived experience of residents could also be captured to ensure community committees are designed to effectively respond to local priorities.


Members were also assured that officers from the communities’ team work with lots of people who are very active in their communities,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 99.


Parks & Green Spaces Strategy - Annual Update pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive an update from the Chief Officer (Climate, Energy & Green Spaces) on progress with delivering the actions set out in the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy.

Additional documents:


Those in attendance for this item:


-  James Rogers (Director Communities, Housing & Environment)

-  Polly Cook (Chief Officer, Climate, Energy & Green Spaces)

-  Emma Trickett (Parks Technical Manager)


Emma Trickett introduced the item, noting that the update is the second since the original publication of the Parks and Green Spaces Strategy, which was agreed by Executive Board in December 2021.


Emma advised members that the accompanying report covered progress towards the goals set out in Parks and Green Spaces Strategy during 2023. Emma highlighted significant investment in play equipment over the year and asked members to note the new actions detailed at 3.1 of the report.


Members were advised that new actions within the strategy include:


-  delivering new habitats through Biodiversity Net Gain funding

-  embedding new guidance about access to parks and greenspaces for women and girls

-  switching to electric vehicles and machinery where practicable.

-  developing and implementing a Green Spaces Play Strategy


The Scrutiny Board requested early engagement in the development of the Green Spaces Play Strategy and asked that this be reflected in the 2024/25 work programme.


It was noted that a masterplan is being created for Tropical World and as such previously agreed actions in relation to the site are not currently being progressed.


It was also confirmed that several completed actions – such as supporting Leeds 2023 – will be removed from future version of the strategy.


Members sought clarity about action being taken to address the challenges of the “shrinking and aging” workforce. In response Polly Cook informed members that the service is looking to reintroduce an apprenticeship programme and is considering opportunities to use tools such as flexible retirement to ease transitions and enable knowledge and skills to be shared.


Further to member queries, Polly informed the Scrutiny Board that five new officers have been recruited within forestry and some proactive tree management will be part of their role.


Concern was raised about the choice of accessible play equipment available to members looking to invest in new play equipment. Polly noted the benefits of purchasing equipment through a single supplier – e.g., availability of spare parts – but confirmed that equipment can be sourced from other suppliers if specific options are limited.


Concern was raised about the environmental impact of artificial pitches. It was noted that many community pitches in Leeds are waterlogged during the winter and matches are often cancelled as a result. There is therefore a need to balance the means to enable people to engage with physical activity all year round with the potential adverse environmental impacts of such surfaces due to the microplastics contained within the rubber crumb.


The Scrutiny Board will be updated via Polly Cook about ongoing correspondence between the Council and Sports England with regards to this matter.  


Polly confirmed the department would not install 3G pitches due to the cost. However, it is anticipated that several 3G pitches will be installed in the city through planning agreements.


Emma Trickett confirmed that regional  ...  view the full minutes text for item 100.


End of Year Statement pdf icon PDF 332 KB

To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services which presents the 2023/24 end of year statement for the Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing & Communities) for consideration and approval.

Additional documents:


The Chair noted that at the end of each municipal year, every Scrutiny Board publishes an end of year summary. The statements are published on the Council’s website and feed into the Annual Report on Scrutiny, which is considered at July’s Council meeting.


RESOLVED: Members noted the draft summary and approved its publication.



Work Schedule pdf icon PDF 331 KB

To consider the draft work programme for the 2024/25 municipal year.


Additional documents:


RESOLVED: Members noted the draft 2024/25 work programme included at appendix 1 and agreed to advise the Principal Scrutiny Advisor of any further requests.




Date and Time of Next Meeting

The first meeting of the 2024/25 municipal year will take place on Thursday 20 June 2024 at 10.30am. There will be a pre meeting at 10.00am.


The next public meeting of the Scrutiny Board will take place on 20 June 2024 at 10.30am. There will be a pre-meeting for all boardmembers at 10.00am.