Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Online only

Contact: Samantha Morris/Alyson Grice  Overview and Scrutiny Officers


No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting in particular Councillor Jane Potter, who had been appointed to the Board and as Chairman of the Adult Care and Well-being Overview and Scrutiny Panel by Council on 16 July 2020 in place of Cllr Juliet Brunner.


No apologies had been received.


Declaration of Interest and of any Party Whip




Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance in writing or by e-mail indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 21 July 2020).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.





Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meeting


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 22 June were agreed as a correct record and would be signed by the Chairman.



Interim COVID-19 Worcestershire County Council Community Safety Update Report pdf icon PDF 155 KB


The Board received an update about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic upon the community safety work supported by Worcestershire County Council (the Council) and its key partners and how it had been managed to date.


The Lead Member for Crime and Disorder introduced the Report and highlighted that the Board was the designated statutory Crime and Disorder Scrutiny Committee responsible for the consideration of Crime and Disorder matters and usually met on an annual basis with Crime and Disorder partners, to discuss issues of mutual interest. Due to COVID-19, this had been deferred until later in the year and the Board was being provided with an interim update by the Senior Public Health Practitioner (Public Health Directorate). In addition, all Councillors had been asked to provide the Lead Member with examples (if applicable) of how crime had changed in their areas.


The Senior Public Health Practitioner highlighted the following from the Agenda Report:


·         Managing the consequences of COVID-19 had significantly impacted on Public Health and staff had been redeployed to lead and manage the emergency response. Staff who ordinarily worked on community safety had and were still required to support the emergency planning response. Whilst some work was returning to “business as usual”, there was still a requirement to support the wider COVID-19 work and some areas of community work had been delayed or were in abeyance, although, the system supporting community safety had adapted well to the challenging circumstances.

·         During the early response, the usual working arrangements were impacted, with the instant move to remote working by the majority of staff and the suspension of much of the partnership governance arrangements, although front line operational services such as the Worcestershire Children First (WCF) Family Front Door and adult social care had remained active.

·         More recently, there had been a move back to shorter virtual partnership meetings, primarily focusing on the impact and response to COVID-19 across the partnership and was detailed in the Report. 

·         Strategic Action Plans for the Safer Communities Board (SCB) and its key subgroups had been streamlined with a “plan on a page” approach.

·         Domestic Abuse which had received much publicity during COVID was an area of concern. The Domestic Abuse Forum had met twice and would meet again during the summer before resuming its normal meetings cycle. The broad trend highlighted that reported incidents of domestic abuse and collated crime data was lower than usual in March and April, but the Police, Women’s Aid, WCF and the DAWN project had all reported that this had begun to change recently, and cases and referrals to services had begun to rise. This reduction was anticipated and coincided with the closure of schools and the full lockdown requirements being imposed in March. This appeared slightly different to some of the national reporting on the increased numbers of domestic abuse cases, but the local position was being monitored closely by all agencies as suppression of reporting was likely.

·         In South Worcestershire, police records had indicated in the year  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1152.


Scrutiny Proposal: The County Council's Energy Purchasing Arrangements pdf icon PDF 223 KB

Additional documents:


On 21 November 2019, the Economy & Environment Overview and Scrutiny Panel was advised of a cost pressure relating to street lighting and it was agreed that the Corporate & Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel would look into the Council’s energy purchasing arrangements.   Accordingly, a small group of Panel Members were asked to gather some further detailed information and report back to the Corporate and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel.


Building on this work, the Board had before it a scrutiny proposal to set up a Task Group to review the Council’s energy purchasing arrangements from West Mercia Energy to ensure best value for Worcestershire County Council.


The Board considered the scrutiny proposal and it was agreed that a Task Group would be set up led by Councillor Adam Kent, Chairman of the Corporate and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Board to review the Council’s energy purchasing arrangements from West Mercia Energy to ensure best value for Worcestershire County Council.


Refresh of the Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Additional documents:


The Board was asked to consider the Scrutiny Work Programme for 2020/21. The current 2019/20 Scrutiny Work Programme agreed at Council in September 2019 was due to be refreshed for the coming year.  The refreshed work programme, including any necessary revisions in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, would be considered by full Council on 10 September 2020.


Appendix 1 (draft Scrutiny Work Programme for 2020/21) was tabled at the meeting and had been uploaded to the Council’s website.


Panel Chairmen had consulted with their Panels on any amendments they would like to make to their work programme except for Economy & Environment and Adult Care and Well-being Overview and Scrutiny Panels which, were due to meet later in the month and would confirm the Work Programmes then.


The respective Chairmen talked through the work programmes as per Appendix 1. The OSPB, Children and Families, Corporate and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panels and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee programmes were approved and it was agreed that the Work Programmes for  Economy & Environment and Adult Care and Well-being Overview and Scrutiny Panels would be agreed at the Panel meetings and forwarded to the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Board for approval and onward transmission to Council for its meeting on 10 September 2020.




Performance and 2019/20 Year-End Budget Monitoring pdf icon PDF 134 KB


The Board was asked to consider the feedback provided by Scrutiny Panel Chairmen following the discussion of Quarter 4 (January – March 2020) performance monitoring and financial information for 2019/20 financial outturn.  The main point made were as follows:


Corporate and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel (Cllr Kent)


·       There was an overall forecasted underspend for Corporate of £1m (13%) and for Communities an overall forecasted underspend of £260k (2.7%)

·       Supplementary information had been requested in respect of complaints data which was showing as red and a deteriorating trend.


Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Panel (Cllr Oborski)


·       The Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) year-end position was showing an overspend of £7.2m, the key pressures were specifically out of County provision and Post-16 in the High Needs Block. The overspend was carried forward essentially increasing the deficit balance on the DSG reserve which at some point needed to be paid back. The deficit balance at the start of the year was £0.633m and at the end of 2019/20 £7.9m. Worcestershire’s total deficit was £6.2m and would be carried forward.

·       Some of the former Children, Families and Communities’ (CFC) budgets had been transferred to the People Directorate and Finance.

·       Adult Learning was overspent by £151,000 and the Service continued to review costs and income which, had resulted in reducing course activity in some areas whilst adding some new income generating evening courses.

·       The Duke of Edinburgh Service closed in September 2019 and there was a £23k overspend relating to exit costs.

·       The remaining CFC budgets in the Council were £549k overspent (0.6%) (Note this was a ‘whole year’ position that was effectively 6 months for the Council and 6 months WCF).

·       The outturn position for WCF was an underspend after Corporation Tax of £522k.

·       There was concern regarding Home to School Transport which was overspent by £803k due to known issues at budget setting.  £246k of the spend was in WCF.


Crime and Disorder (Cllr Vale)


It was agreed that in future Cllr Vale would look at budget monitoring related to crime and disorder within the relevant Scrutiny Panels.



Member Update and Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Additional documents:


Corporate and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel (Cllr Kent)


Two points to highlight from the July meeting were:


·       Performance and Year End Budget Monitoring - following services adapting to different ways of working through COVID-19 things were starting to return to normal with birth registrations being back on track and the gradual re-opening of libraries

·       Worcestershire Councillors’ Divisional Fund - the Panel had picked up that councillors often received mailshots requesting funding and as a result the Democratic Governance and Scrutiny Manager had agreed write to all Councillors to provide guidance on handling the general mail shots.


Children and Families Overview and Scrutiny Panel


·       Keeping in touch (KIT) calls had proved to be very successful during the COVID-19 pandemic for WCF and would be considered as an adaptation to future ways of working.


The Chairman thanked the Scrutiny Team for their work in supporting public meetings via Zoom.