Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing and Communities) - Thursday, 25th January, 2024 10.30 am

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

Contact: Becky Atherton (0113 37 88642)  Email: becky.atherton@leeds.gov.uk

Link: to View Meeting Recording

Items
No. Item

70.

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.

71.

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 was no exempt information.

72.

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.

73.

Declaration of Interests

To disclose or draw attention to any interests in accordance with Leeds City Council’s ‘Councillor Code of Conduct’.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

74.

Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitutes

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutes.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr A McCluskey.

 

Cllr J Heselwood attended as a substitute.

75.

Minutes - 7 December 2023 pdf icon PDF 160 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 7 December 2023.

Minutes:

The minutes of 7 December 2023 were approved.

76.

Budget Proposals pdf icon PDF 521 KB

To receive an update on the proposed budget for 2024/25 and the provisional budgets for 2025/26 and 2026/27, so far as the proposals relate to the remit of the Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing & Communities).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair noted that the Executive Board’s budget proposals were referred to Scrutiny for consideration and comment on 13 December 2023.

 

Initial working groups took place in December 2023 to enable scrutiny members to discuss the budget proposals so far as they related to the remits of their respective boards.

 

There is further opportunity for members to consider the proposals at the January cycle of public Scrutiny Board meetings.

 

The comments and conclusions of all the Scrutiny Boards will be summarised in a joint report that will be submitted to the Executive Board in February.

 

When the Executive Board refers the final budget proposals to Council, its members will need to report how they have taken account of any recommendations made by the Scrutiny Boards.

 

Those in attendance for this item were:

 

·  Cllr M Harland (Executive Member, Communities)

·  Cllr M Rafique (Executive Member, Energy, Environment & Green Spaces)

·  Cllr J Lennox (Executive Member, Housing)

·  Cllr D Coupar (Executive Member, Resources)

·  James Rogers (Director, Communities, Housing & Environment)

·  Paul Money (Chief Officer, Safer, Stronger Communities)

·  Lee Hemsworth (Chief Officer, Community Hubs, Welfare & Business Support)

·  John Woolmer (Chief Officer, Environmental Services)

·  John Mulcahy (Chief Officer, Elections and Regulatory)

·  David McNutt (Senior Finance Business Partner)

·  Gerard Tinsdale (Chief officer, Housing)

·  Adam Crampton (Head of Property Management)

 

The Chair summarised the comments, conclusions and recommendations of members of the Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing & Communities) at their working group in December 2023.

 

He noted that the following matters had been discussed and would therefore be reflected in the joint Scrutiny report:

 

-  Expansion of district parking charges and the service review proposal relating to new charges at Middleton, Roundhay and Temple Newsam.

 

-  The introduction of car parking charges at Golden Acre and Otley Chevin Parks (categorised as a ‘business as usual’ saving with further comment scheduled under the following item).

 

-  Trade Union engagement with proposals to reduce staffing numbers. 

 

-  The distribution of Welcome Spaces for winter 2024.

 

-  Continued publication of both Business as Usual and Service Review proposals.

 

-  Assurances were sought regarding attracting new users to community centres to generate income, reductions in 3rd sector funding, opportunities to improve insulation in community buildings and the likelihood of increased fly tipping due to bulky waste charges.

 

-  Members requested that community committees receive information about costs for services carried out by the cleaner neighbourhoods’ teams - to inform local decisions about future service prioritisation.

 

-  Members recommended that officers explore opportunities to deliver savings by reducing the temperature of community buildings.

 

-  Members requested that the Scrutiny Board is engaged in early consultation about a future waste strategy including plans for glass recycling.

 

-  The Board recognised the decision in relation to HAP budgets was taken in the context of wider risk to the Housing Revenue Account. Members welcomed the retention of environmental works budgets held by local housing offices.

 

James Rogers provided a brief update on the consultations that are taking place in relation to various budget proposals. It was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 76.

77.

Car Park Charges Golden Acre and Otley Chevin pdf icon PDF 320 KB

To consider the appended report, which recommends support for “the principle of the introduction of modest car park charges at Golden Acre Park and Otley Chevin Forest Park.”

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair introduced this item, noting that concern had been raised at the Scrutiny Board’s budget working group in December 2023 about the introduction of car parking charges at Golden Acre and Otley Chevin Forest Parks.

 

He reiterated that these charges are not part of a new service proposal but were instead categorised as a ‘Business As Usual’ saving in the budget papers submitted to Executive Board.

 

The Chair informed colleagues that he had received communication from two other Scrutiny Board Chairs on this issue. Concerns had been raised by members of the Adults, Health & Active Lifestyles Scrutiny Board about the potential impact of introducing charges on support for active lifestyles. The Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board had highlighted concern about the consultation process in their budget discussions.

 

The Chair highlighted that a report had been published on 2 January 2024 outlining a response to proposals to introduce charges at Golden Acre Park and Otley Chevin Forest Park, following public consultation.

 

As a Board member, Cllr B Anderson requested that this was brought to the Scrutiny Board for further discussion ahead of comments on the budget proposals being submitted to the Executive Board.

 

Given the comments on this matter across three Scrutiny Boards, and the timeframes for submitting the joint scrutiny report on the budget to Executive Board, the Chair confirmed that he had agreed to the request to include the report on the agenda for the meeting.

 

Those in attendance for this item were:

 

·  Cllr M Rafique (Executive Member, Energy, Environment & Green Space)

·  Cllr D Coupar (Executive member, Resources)

·  James Rogers (Director, Communities, Housing & Environment)

·  Polly Cook (Chief Officer, Climate, Environment & Green Spaces)

 

The Chair invited Cllr B Anderson to outline his concerns about the proposals and asked the Director to clarify the distinction between ‘Business As Usual’ savings and Service Review proposals.

 

Cllr Anderson informed colleagues that, while he acknowledged the very challenging circumstances relating to the Council’s budget, he had a several concerns about the proposal to introduce charges at these parks. Those concerns included:

 

-  Facilities for making cash payments.

-  The availability of an equality impact assessment to enable members to understand how such considerations had informed the proposals.

-  The potential impact of new charges on the Council’s wider ambitions relating to improving the health and well-being of residents.

-  The volume of respondents to the consultation that oppose the charges and the extent to which consideration had been given to those responses.

-  The times during which charges would apply.

-  The nature of the questions posed within the consultation.

-  Displacement of cars onto surrounding roads.

 

James Rogers provided clarification about the categorisation of savings as either Business As Usual or Service Reviews within the budget papers.

 

He reassured members that regardless of the categorisation of savings in the budget papers, the same procedures would be followed in relation to consultation and any associated statutory processes.

 

James informed the Scrutiny Board that it had been agreed in 2023 that the introduction of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 77.

78.

Performance Monitoring pdf icon PDF 411 KB

To receive an update on performance against strategic priorities for the council and city, and other performance areas relevant to the Environment, Housing & Communities Scrutiny Board.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair noted that the Scrutiny Board receives an update on performance against key performance indicators in June and January each year.

 

Those in attendance for this item were:

 

·  Cllr M Harland (Executive Member, Communities)

·  Cllr M Rafique (Executive Member, Energy, Environment & Green Spaces)

·  Cllr J Lennox (Executive Member, Housing)

·  Cllr D Coupar (Executive Member, Resources)

·  James Rogers (Director, Communities, Housing & Environment)

·  Ian Strickland (Business Development Manager)

·  Paul Money (Chief Officer, Safer, Stronger Communities)

·  Lee Hemsworth (Chief Officer, Community Hubs, Welfare & Business Support)

·  John Woolmer (Chief Officer, Environmental Services)

·  John Mulcahy (Chief Officer, Elections and Regulatory)

·  Gerard Tinsdale (Chief officer, Housing)

·  Adam Crampton (Head of Property Management)

 

James Rogers introduced the performance update, setting out the strategic vision for the directorate and noting that the key performance indicators included in the report have been identified as relevant to achieving the ambition of that vision.

 

Ian Strickland outlined how performance reporting aligns to other reports received by the Board and noted that the indicators are organised according to their contribution to the three pillars of the Best City Ambition – health and well-being, zero carbon and inclusive growth. He highlighted the importance of maximising capacity within the directorate so as to deliver efficient services.

 

At the request of members in June 2023, the report included information about Tenant Satisfaction Measures and reflected on the experience of residents with disabilities, where applicable and/or appropriate.

 

It was noted that a substantial item on housing would be considered in February and as such board members agreed to consider issues relating to housing at that meeting.

 

Cllr Golton highlighted that several aspects of future performance will depend to some degree on digital transformation. However, he noted that the budget proposals include a reduction of FTEs within IDS. Within that context he sought reassurances that there would be capacity within IDS to support the projects the service has identified as priorities.

 

James Rogers reassured members that the service works closely with IDS and will continue to do so to take forward projects identified as priorities.

 

Lee Hemsworth added that all projects within the update are already ongoing and identified by IDS as ‘priority 1’ schemes. 

 

The Scrutiny Board requested that updates on the transformation projects highlighted in the performance update should be incorporated into the work programme of the 2024/25 successor board.

 

The Scrutiny Board welcomed action to tackle littering and fly tipping. However, it was noted that there is a concern amongst some members that new bulky waste charges could inadvertently create more fly tipping.

 

John Woolmer reassured members that reducing fly tipping remains a priority for the Council. He welcomed the fact that recent activity has led to a reduction in fly tipping. Government statistics have shown a reduction of 15% in Leeds for fly tipping, compared to 1% nationally.  Interventions have included the introduction of a serious environmental crime team for Leeds to focus on enforcement. This has resulted in several successful prosecutions and the crushing of a number of vehicles.

 

The Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78.

79.

Work Schedule pdf icon PDF 331 KB

To consider the Scrutiny Board’s work schedule for the 2023/24 municipal year.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Principal Scrutiny Advisor advised the Scrutiny Board that draft dates for 2024/25 had been circulated and that members should have received invitations to two remote working groups.

 

RESOLVED –

 

Members noted the contents of the draft 2023/24 work programme.

80.

Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing & Communities) will take place on 22 February 2024 at 10.30am. There will be a pre-meeting for all Board Members at 10.00am.

Minutes:

The next public meeting of the Scrutiny Board will take place on 22 February 2024 at 10.30am. There will be a pre-meeting for all boardmembers at 10.00am.