To receive a report from the Head of Democratic Services on potential sources of work for the Scrutiny Board.
The Head of Democratic Services submitted a report on potential sources of work and areas of priority within the Board’s terms of reference.
The following information was appended to the report:
- The Best City Ambition
- A summary of the Council’s 2022/23 budget proposals relevant to the remit of the Environment, Housing and Communities Scrutiny Board.
The following were in attendance for this item:
· Councillor S Arif, Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles
· Councillor M Harland, Executive Member for Communities
· Councillor H Hayden, Executive Member for Infrastructure and Climate
· Councillor M Rafique, Executive Member for Environment and Housing
· Polly Cook, Chief Officer Sustainable Energy and Air Quality
· Lee Hemsworth, Chief Officer Community Hubs, Welfare & Business Support
· Sean Flesher, Chief Officer Parks and Countryside
· Paul Money, Chief Officer Safer Stronger Communities
· John Mulcahy, Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory
· John Woolmer, Chief Officer Environmental Services
· Mandy Sawyer, Head of Housing and Homelessness
· Adam Crampton, Head of Property Management
· Tim Rollett, Intelligence and Policy Manager
The Chair invited views from the Executive Members, officers and Board Members around potential areas of work for the Scrutiny Board to undertake this year. In summary, the following key areas were highlighted:
Ø Parks and Countryside – Linked to the Board’s commitment to track progress against the new Parks and Green Space Strategy 2022-2032 (provisionally scheduled for the Board’s February 2023 meeting), it was suggested that the Board explores further opportunities to help raise the profile and use of local parks. Linked to this, the Board particularly highlighted the value of voluntary Friends groups and requested that the current list of known Friends and In Bloom groups be provided for information.
Ø Cemeteries and Crematoria – It was proposed that the Board receives an update on the current Cemeteries and Crematoria Strategy. Linked to this, Members raised a particular interest around provisions for natural burials.
Ø Safer and Stronger Communities – It was noted that the Board would be receiving a general Safer Leeds update at its July meeting. It was suggested that this update could reflect matters of particular interest around policing recruitment and training needs and the potential impacts on Neighbourhood Policing Teams, as well as the impact/benefits of the existing PACT meetings. It was also suggested that the Board may wish to maintain an overview of progress relating to the LASBT services following changes made in early 2020 and progress with the new LeedsWatch model. It was felt that new Board Members would also find it particularly insightful to visit the CCTV control centre.
Ø Migration – Having previously maintained a watching brief of the strategic approach to migration in Leeds, it was suggested that the Board considers the current position with a particular focus around the support being provided to Ukrainian and Afghan refugee families. In undertaking this piece of work, Members acknowledged the value of inviting representation from across other Scrutiny Boards too.
Ø Sustainable Energy and Air Quality – While acknowledging that a broader Climate Emergency update had already been provisionally scheduled for the Board’s March 2023 meeting, it was suggested that the Board also undertakes a focused piece of work around air quality that could be linked to the annual review of the 2021-2030 Air Quality Strategy Action Plan.
Ø Housing - It was noted that plans had provisionally been put in place for the Board to utilise its February 2023 meeting to consider housing activity matters. Linked to this, it was suggested that the Board explores the pressures surrounding affordable housing and to also continue monitoring progress in relation to the de-carbonisation of social housing stock. The Chair highlighted that a separate briefing session would also be arranged primarily to assist new Board Members to better understand the role and responsibilities of the Housing Service.
Ø Environmental Services – Linked to the Board’s earlier inquiry work around the future of waste services, it was noted that the service would be in a position in early Autumn to update the Board surrounding the development of the Waste Strategy. In the meantime, the Chair proposed that Board Members undertake a visit to the new premises at Newmarket House and also the RERF.
Ø Communities and Welfare Support – It was noted that plans had provisionally been put in place for the Board to utilise its September 2022 meeting to receive an update around reducing poverty and improving financial inclusion, along with an update on the revised Local Welfare Support Scheme. Linked to this, Members suggested that relevant external partners, such as Money Buddies and the Citizens Advice Bureau, also be invited to contribute to that meeting.
Ø Tackling gambling harm – The Chair made reference to a recent publication from the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny in partnership with the Gambling Commission around raising awareness and increased scrutiny into tackling gambling harm. In response, the Chief Officer Elections and Regulatory explained that the council has undertaken a lot of work in this area involving licensing, social inclusion and Public Health. In terms of highlighting this work, it was proposed that a report be taken to the Licensing Committee in the first instance for its consideration, with a view to reporting back to the Scrutiny Board later in the year.
RESOLVED – That the contents of the report and the suggested areas of work, as set out above, be noted.