Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall, Worcester

Contact: Emma James/ Jo Weston  Overview and Scrutiny Officers

No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


Apologies had been received from the Panel Vice-Chairman, Paul Denham.


Declarations of Interest and of any Party Whip




Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services in writing or by email indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 17 January 2019).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/email address below.



There were 3 public participants relating to Item 6 – Budget Scrutiny: Draft 2019/20 Budget for Economy and Environment, specifically in relation to the proposed budget reductions (of £405,000) to the Worcestershire Archives Service (WAS).


Public Participants


Mark Regan, a service user and historian who also oversaw bell ringing at Worcester Cathedral, made the following points:

·         Had councillors seen a business case for the proposed £400,000 budget reduction to the WAS and who had come up with this figure?

·         Had consultation taken place with staff and HR, external funders, national professional bodies, the Diocese, users and the public?

·         Would other service budgets would be reduced by 60%?

·         Was there an impact analysis or risk assessment and had financial scrutiny taken place?

·         Worcestershire Archives and Archaeology Service (WAAS) and its location (The Hive) were award winning and he queried what would happen to those services and their accreditation?

·         The Council's Chief Executive had said that he would be looking for innovative working to make money, however the WAAS did this already.


Roger Leake, Chairman of the Friends of Worcestershire Archives and a passionate supporter of local and family history made the following points:

·         Acknowledging the Council's difficult financial position and the priorities of areas such as Children's Services, the analogy was made of a family with a dairy cow; its slaughter would reduce costs and provide a few meals but would also remove years' of milk supply

·         The WAS had already been cut yet was highly recognised and further reduction would mean a likely loss of reputation, accreditation, and income generating records and information such as Shakespeare's marriage bond which could be moved to London. Archive records were also used for planning and legal purposes. The Council as a whole would be affected by this and he urged the Council not to bury the WAS.


Dr Pat Hughes, Committee member of the Friends of Worcestershire Archives and service user since 1974, made the following points:

·         How proud the Council could be of the WAAS and its staff, both of which were recognised nationally and generated interest and income

·         Budget cuts would be counter-productive, as referred to by Cllr Lunn at the previous day's Council meeting, who had pointed out that the Service cost only 0.12% of the overall budget and also generated income

·         Having written several books in conjunction with universities, Dr Hughes was indebted to WAS staff

·         The important role of WAAS in planning applications and legal matters at local and national level; curtailing the WAS would be disastrous.



Confirmation of the Minutes of the previous meeting

Previously circulated.


The Minutes of the meeting on 14 November 2018 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Flood Risk Management Annual Report pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:


In attendance for this item were:


Tim Smith, Flooding Analyst, Strategic Asset Management at Severn Trent

Dave Edwards, Senior Adviser at The Environment Agency


Directorate of Economy and Infrastructure:

Nigel Hudson, Head of Strategy and Infrastructure

Ian Bamforth, Highways & Public Rights of Way Operations Manager

Matt Maginnis, Flood Risk Manager

Emily Barker, Strategic Planning and Environmental Policy Officer

Cllr Tony Miller, Cabinet Member with Responsibility (CMR) for Environment


The Chairman thanked everyone for attending the meeting and invited those present to present the Flood Risk Management in Worcestershire Annual Report for 2018.


2018 had been dominated by the significant flooding in Wythall during which 300 properties had been flooded and this would be reflected through the annual Flood Risk Report. The response from local organisations and councillors during the Wythall incident had been very well received, although scrutiny was always important and the event had triggered the first formal flood investigation under the Council's statutory duty (Flood and Water Management Act 2010)


Considerable positive progress had been made during the year and the Report set out the rationale and importance of systems to capture information from events and also the critical role of partnership working, for example in completing a number of flood alleviation schemes.


Over 1600 planning applications had been assessed and commented on for drainage plans over the 12 month period, involving a mix of major and minor schemes, the cumulative impact of which needed to be addressed, although the increase in numbers of pre-application discussions was positive.


The Chairman flagged up concerns about a major application by Codex for 380 houses in his division, which the Secretary of State had given planning permission for. The area was very boggy, and he asked officers to look at this.


Paragraph 3.3 of the Report referred to 150 broken gully connections, when in fact there were 200 broken gully connections which had been repaired. The Flood Risk manager agreed to confirm this to the Panel in writing.


In terms of Ordinary Watercourse Management, it was reported that there was a good relationship with partners and it was rare to take any enforcement action.


The Environment Agency (EA) had continued to deliver its responsibility for the management of flood risk on the 'main rivers' and had responded to 25 planning application consultations and provided flood risk technical guidance on a number of major infrastructure projects and worked with the military to deliver its 'Warn, Inform and Winter Ready' Campaign.


Work on natural flood management sought to manage flow as early as possible to prevent problems further on and the EA had secured £500,000 Government funding for an exciting project focused on the Cotswold Tributaries, Dowles Brook and Barbourne Brook.


A Member referred to the £4m Flood Alleviation Scheme in Broadway to protect 250 homes, whereas 300 homes had actually flooded during the Hollywood event (in Wythall). Whilst acknowledging the unprecedented factors behind this event, local residents were terrified it may recur and he asked what was in progress in protect these  ...  view the full minutes text for item 322.


Budget Scrutiny: Draft 2019/20 Budget Economy and Environment pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Additional documents:


In attendance for this item were:


Michael Hudson, Chief Financial Officer

Stephanie Simcox, Head of Strategic Infrastructure Finance

John Hobbs, Director of Economy and Infrastructure

Nigel Hudson, Head of Strategy and Infrastructure

Ian Bamforth, Highways & Public Rights of Way Operations Manager


Cabinet Members with Responsibility (CMR)

Cllr Lucy Hodgson, CMR for Communities

Cllr Tony Miller, CMR for Environment

Cllr Ken Pollock, CMR for Economy and Infrastructure


The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) provided the context to the budget consultation process and advised that comments from the Scrutiny Panels would be discussed by the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board and reported back to Council.


The key points included:

·         that the overall income from grants and council tax would increase by £6.2 million in 2019/20,

·         there was £35million of cost pressures from demand led services

·         the forecast outturn for 2018/19 at Period 7 was for a £3m overspend


Paragraphs 8.16-8.20 of the Report referred to Economy and Infrastructure developments and a £6.3m decrease in the net budget base budget, including switch to capital. The appendices referred to savings proposals, the capital programme, reserves and risks.  The 2019/20 Budget Book was in draft form but next year they would be available at an earlier stage in the process.


The Chairman invited questions and the following main points were made:


·         It was noted that the proposed redesign of the Economy and Infrastructure (E&I) Directorate made it one of the hardest affected Directorates whereas other Directorates had received additional funding. Recalling use of capitalisation during the previous year's budget setting, the Chairman asked about figures for 2019/20 and it was confirmed that £1.5m related to capitalisation.

·         The Panel had heard from several members of the public present regarding the proposed reform of the Archives Service and asked whether the proposed saving of £405,000 was a budget reduction? It was established that this was a reduction and was unrelated to accommodation costs around The Hive, which had been previously discussed with the Panel.

·         The Director explained that the Archives reform would reduce the Service to its statutory minimum. The reform figure followed consideration of nearest neighbours, as well as data from the Charted Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA). Analysis showed the Service was off the statistical norm, albeit acknowledging the excellence of Worcestershire's Service.

·         Given the competing demands faced by the Council, it would be a case of political prioritisation. Often in such circumstances the Management Team became inventive as in the case of Trading Standards which had undergone a similar exercise and continued to work to satisfaction.

·         The Director referred to the recently agreed Notice of Motion to Council, part of which would involve a Member Advisory Group (MAG) looking at the proposals as well as revisiting the Scrutiny Task Group work from 2015 – this work would help build a business case to deliver savings as well as continued provision of viable services.

·         The Director fully accepted the points made from the members of public, but public consultation exercises always ranked heritage  ...  view the full minutes text for item 323.


Work Programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny Officers undertook to check whether an update on electric charging posts was appropriate for the Panel's meeting on 5 March and to liaise with Severn Trent about the suggestion to look at Severn Trent works teams (including use of contractors).


It was also hoped to include performance information at this meeting.