Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing and Communities) - Thursday, 9th July, 2020 10.30 am

Venue: Remote Meeting

Contact: Becky Atherton (0113 37 88642)  Email:


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).

Additional documents:


There were no appeals.



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.

Additional documents:


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.)

Additional documents:


There were no formal late items.



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.

Additional documents:


There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests.



Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitutes

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutes.

Additional documents:


Apologies for absence had been received from Councillors M Dobson and A Gabriel.




Minutes - 18 June 2020 pdf icon PDF 232 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2020.

Additional documents:


RESOLVED – That, subject to an amendment to minute no. 8 to read “concerns regarding the financial aspect of the proposals… It was requested that information contained within the business plan be made clear and available to Members” the minutes of the previous meeting held 18 June 2020, be approved as an accurate record.



Referral to Scrutiny: Nitrous Oxide Use and Abuse pdf icon PDF 330 KB

To consider a Referral to Scrutiny in the name of Cllr Matthew Robinson. The Board is asked to determine whether or not its work programme should be amended in order to include a detailed scrutiny session on this topic later in the municipal year.  

Additional documents:


The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report that presented a referral for Scrutiny, alongside some background information to help inform the Board’s consideration.


The following were in attendance for this item:

o   Councillor M Robinson, Referrer

o  Paul Money, Chief Officer Safer Leeds


The referral for Scrutiny was submitted as follows:


To consider an inquiry to look at the use and abuse of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and how the council work alongside/support the Police, help users, educate people, tackle the health problems and work to eradicate the empty canisters we find left within our communities.


Councillor M Robinson addressed the Board highlighting his concerns in relation to the use and distribution of nitrous oxide as follows:

·  Littering of canisters in public spaces including road sides;

·  Distribution of ‘laughing gas’ across the commercial sector in terms of its uses as a legal high;

·  Risks associated with health, particularly when used in conjunction with alcohol.


Councillor Robinson suggested Scrutiny work on this matter on an educational basis to raise awareness to gain a greater understanding on the risks associated with the legal high. Additionally, to understand whether there would be any scope to restrict the purchasing of the substance commercially.


In response to the submission, Paul Money (Safer Leeds) addressed the Board. It had been acknowledged that although there had been a relatively small number of deaths in relation to the use of nitrous oxide, this was considerably fewer compared to the use of most controlled drugs. It was confirmed that it was not illegal to be in possession of the substance but is a criminal offences to supply or possess with intent to supply a psychoactive substance. As a consequence of recent events regarding Covid-19, the use of the substance had become more prevalent with users typically being young people. In terms of targeting resources, West Yorkshire Police will deal with breaches of the law concerning the use of nitrous oxide but are also focusing on priority issues such as the impact of Class A drugs on communities and it was confirmed that nitrous oxide had not been deemed to be so harmful as to warrant control under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Members heard of the remedies available to Local Authorities in terms of Anti-Social Behaviour Legislation, the use of Public Space Protection Orders and the powers available in terms of littering. In summarising, the Board noted there was an opportunity to look at legislation, and how the Government could work nationally with the industry and retailers in understanding the supply change.


In response to Members comments and questions, the following was discussed:

·  The legalities of supplying canisters in local shops – nitrous oxide is illegal to sell if it is known or believed to be intended for use as a psychoactive substance, but broadly speaking not illegal to sell. Members noted the opportunity to work with retailers on the rules around selling the substance;

·  The biggest and most visible impact on communities was the littering of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Responding to the COVID 19 Pandemic - The Volunteer Response pdf icon PDF 518 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Officer for Communities, which sets out the work that Leeds City Council, Voluntary Action Leeds and other organisations undertook to respond community needs in the initial phase of the Covid-19 Pandemic.


Additional documents:


The report of the Chief Officer Communities sets out the work that Leeds City Council (LCC), Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) and other organisations undertook to respond community needs in the initial phase of the Covid-19 Pandemic


The following information had been appended to the report:

o  Tier 1 numbers, activities and organisations supported (Appendix 1)

o  Participant organisations (Appendix 2)

o  Referral data (Appendix 3)

o  Case studies (Appendix 4)

The Board noted of an amendment to Appendix 2. The Chapel Allerton Hub coordination lead had been listed as ‘Feel Good Factor’, but should read “The Orion Partnership and Touchstone”.


The following were in attendance for this item:

o  Shaid Mahmood, Chief Officer Communities

o  Councillor Coupar, Executive Member for Communities

o  Councillor Hayden, Scrutiny Chair Adults Health & Active Lifestyles

o  Martin Dean, Area Leader, Communities & Environment

o  James Woodhead, Head of Commissioning Integration

o  Rachael Loftus, Head of Regional Partnerships

o  Vic Clarke-Dunn, Programme Manager Service Transformation

o  Gary Blake, Voluntary Action Leeds

o  Richard Jackson, Voluntary Action Leeds


Front Line Volunteering Leadership

o  Bernie Gahan, Centre Manager Leeds Mencap

o  Alisa Rhodes, CEO Older People’s Action (OPAL)

o  Debbie Forsyth, Avsed

o  Shanaz Gill, Hamara

o  Vicar Richard Dimery, Pudsey Parish


The Chief Officer Communities introduced the report and provided some context on the role of local authorities, the Third Sector and volunteering arrangements to help support and meet the needs of citizens in Leeds. Arrangements had been set up at short notice and learning had been taken from workshops with the Third Sector and the Faith Sector, following the role of volunteering post flooding.


Leeds City Council (LCC) and Voluntary Action Leeds (VAL) colleagues were invited were invited to address the Board on the Volunteer Programme. The following information had been highlighted:

Tier 1

·  Tasks were to be undertaken to provide more intensive support,  including driving people to medical appointments and providing support inside their homes;

·  485 volunteers confirmed to having enhanced DBS requirements for this type of work and has been a joint effort;

·  Work from colleagues whom have been re-deployed volunteers have supported other organisations and services in Leeds such as the Age UK Hospital to Home scheme, Forward Leeds and the Leeds & York Partnership Foundation Trust (LYPFT).


Tier 2

·  The programme attracted nearly 8,000 across Leeds signing up and of those 5,400 completed their induction ready to be deployed;

·  Complexities with identification badges;

·  LCC telephone helpline to receive requests from the public;

·  Welfare support offer;

·  Third Sector organisations in Leeds have responded to the Pandemic by supporting their communities.


Tier 3

·  Thousands of people stepped up to help support neighbourhoods and communities;

·  VAL produced the ‘Being a Good Neighbour Pack’ providing guides and materials to help offer safe support;

·  Blogs sought to continuously highlight ongoing activity;

·  Volunteers that have not yet been deployed, have been encouraged to help neighbours.


The Board were provided with an update on the development of the “RUOK?” befriending service, with oversight by the Leeds Older People’s Forum. The service  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Work Schedule pdf icon PDF 153 KB

To consider the Scrutiny Board’s work schedule for the 2020/21 municipal year.

Additional documents:


The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report which invited Members to consider the Board’s schedule for the 2019/20 municipal year. Copies of the Board’s draft work schedule were appended to the report, as well as the remote minutes of the Executive Board meeting held Wednesday, 24th June, 2020.


Members discussed the items on the upcoming work schedule, including:

·  A potential working group for the fireworks inquiry; and

·  To receive an update on the Covid-19 response and how that has developed over the coming months.


RESOLVED – The Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing and Communities):

a)  Noted the items listed for consideration and agreed the overall work schedule;

b)  Noted the Executive Board minutes.



Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next public meeting will take place at 10am on 24 September. There will be a pre-meet for all Board Members at 9.30am.

Additional documents:


RESOLVED – To note the date and time of the next meeting as 24 September 2020 at 10 a.m. (with a pre-meeting for Board Members at 9:30 a.m.)


The meeting ended at 13:10.