Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: On line

Contact: Alison Spall/Samantha Morris  Overview and Scrutiny Officers


No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and explained the arrangements for meetings taking place online.


Apologies were received from Mr A Stafford and Mr K Daisley.



Declarations 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 20 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 17 June 2020 were agreed as a correct record and would be signed by the Chairman.


Performance and Year End Budget Monitoring pdf icon PDF 233 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel received details on the performance and financial information for services relating to Corporate and Communities, specifically:


·       Performance Information (PI) for Quarter 4 (January to March 2020)

·       Financial information for the 2019-20 draft outturn.


Performance Indicators for Quarter 4


The Strategic Director of Commercial and Change advised the Panel that the data set provided an overview of the key performance indicators as at March 2020. The Panel had received a full update on services at its previous meeting.


Registration and Coroners


The Assistant Director explained that performance for the previous year had been good across all indicators. The Birth Registration Service had recently re-started following lockdown and staff had managed to clear the majority of the backlog, with just 125 births still to register. This was a great achievement in such a short timescale and the Council was currently the highest performing authority in the West Midlands in this respect. In response to a Members question, the Panel was assured that checks and balances were in place to ensure that all births during lockdown were registered.  Some small wedding ceremonies were now taking place in registry offices and other licensed premises, with a maximum of 30 attendees in line with Government guidance. The Team was also very busy re-arranging wedding dates for couples whose ceremonies had been scheduled to take place and now needed to be moved. The Cabinet Member with Responsibility (CMR) for Communities praised the efforts of the Team for their achievements under the considerable time pressures they faced.


Communications and Consumer Relations


The Strategic Director highlighted that there had been an increasing proactive use of social media during the year. During lockdown a range of methods had been used to communicate with staff and the annual staff survey was currently underway to obtain feedback. He expected to see a significant increase in the ‘increasing staff engagement’ indicator by the next set of data.


The Chairman referred to the red RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating for the PI’s relating to Stage 2 Children’s Social Care complaints (in 65 days) and Stage 2 Corporate complaints (in 25 days). It was acknowledged that waiting for information from external bodies sometimes added to delays in response time and that this was an ongoing challenge affecting all local authorities. Following the discussion, more detailed information was requested on:


·       the total number of complaints received for each PI

·       the number completed within threshold and the number that went over the threshold

·       the nature of complaints

·       a new indicator giving the number of compliments received



Management Information Analytics and Research


The Strategic Director commented that the PI’s for these Teams were positive with all statutory returns completed on time. The Chairman praised the data updates that Members had received during lockdown.


Human Resources and Information Technology


The Panel was reminded about the investment that the Council had made in ICT services over the past few years, particularly focusing on the resilience of the services, the end-user experience and cyber security. These improvements had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 278.


Worcestershire Councillors' Divisional Fund pdf icon PDF 156 KB


The Panel received a report which presented an annual update on the Worcestershire Councillors’ Divisional Fund (WCDF). The Democratic Governance and Scrutiny Manager (DGSM) reminded the Panel that the purpose of the scheme was to enable Members to facilitate ‘good works’ for the benefit of their division, focusing on environmental, economic or social well-being issues. In total, 703 submissions had been authorised for payment during the year with 93% of available monies being spent and £29,581 agreed to be rolled over to 2020-21.


During the year Members had received guidance reminding them of key points to bear in mind, for example the need to declare an interest under the Members Code of Conduct and the importance of considering the financial viability of the potential recipient and to check on their VAT status. 


Whilst the digitalisation of the process had been widely welcomed, the Chairman raised an issue which was causing some concern for Members. He explained that some organisations were pre-filling the proforma and sending it to all councillors, anticipating that it might just be signed and submitted. This did not fit with the purpose of the Scheme which, was to allow members to help local divisional priorities and there was concern that there could be abuse of the system. The DGSM commented that some organisations wrongly viewed it as a grant scheme but it was Members’ decision as to which cause they wished to support. The DGSM suggested removing the proforma from the website to help alleviate the problem and reminded members that all applications were also checked and authorised and would be questioned if they did not confirm to the Policy. Following further discussion, it was agreed that the DGSM would write to all Members offering guidance in respect of the pre-filled forms that they received.


A Member queried what would happen to the funding awards made during 2019-20 which hadn’t been spent due to COVID-19. The DGSM advised that if members had allocated funds in 2019-20 or 2020-21 to an event or initiative which did not proceed due to the ongoing Coronavirus restrictions, then the allocation, once refunded, could be brought back into this year’s fund and be reallocated.


Cllr Raine suggested that an analysis of the investment in local communities made via the WCDF would be helpful to gain a wider appreciation of the coverage of the scheme and offered to complete he offered to complete this task on behalf of the Panel. The Chairman thanked him for this offer and felt the information could be used to send out a positive message to demonstrate one of the ways in which local councillors have a direct impact in their local communities.


The Cabinet Member with responsibility for Transformation and Commissioning suggested that Members should be reminded that their allocation should be spent before purdah.


The Panel were supportive of the continued WCDF and it was agreed that:


·       The Democratic Governance and Scrutiny Manager would write to all Councillors to provide guidance on handling the general mail  ...  view the full minutes text for item 279.


Work Programme Refresh 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel reviewed its draft 2020/21 work programme and considered which items should be investigated as a priority.


Following a detailed discussion, the Panel agreed its 2020/21 work programme for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board on 22 July and noted that the scrutiny work programme would be agreed by Council on 10 September 2020.


It was noted that the work relating to the County Council’s Energy Purchasing Arrangements would be carried out in a Scrutiny Task Group format, a proposal for which would be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Board for approval on 22 July. It was proposed that the Task Group would be led by the Chairman (Cllr Kent) and Councillors Raine and Morris had indicated their continued support for this work and their willingness to be part of the Task Group if approved.