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Agenda item

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2021/22 and Action List

To consider the forthcoming work of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the actions arising from previous meetings.

Minutes:

37.1          Attention was drawn to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2021/22 and the action list setting out the actions arising from meetings of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee between June 2019 and June 2021. Members were asked to consider the Work Programme and action list.

37.2          The Head of Corporate Services indicated that, following the request at the last meeting, the Digital Strategy had been added to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme for the meeting on 8 February 2022 along with the Housing Strategy which had been in the pending items section of the Work Programme previously.  A Member noted that the Planning Services Review Action Plan was in the pending items section of the Work Programme and he asked whether a date could be agreed for it to come to the Committee.  In response, the Head of Development Services indicated that she would consider this following the meeting.

37.3           In terms of the action list, the Head of Corporate Services explained that this was usually populated and emailed to the Committee on a regular basis but tended to receive a limited response.  In the interests of transparency, and to give an opportunity for greater challenge, it had been agreed with the Chair and Vice-Chair that the action list would be brought to the Committee for consideration on a quarterly basis.  It was noted that there were currently 38 actions, of which, 18 remained outstanding.  The following issues were raised during the discussion:

Meeting date: 18 June 2019

P34 - Agenda Item 9 – Enviro-Crime Annual Report

A Member was pleased to note a CCTV camera had been purchased and she questioned whether any General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) issues had to be overcome.  In response, the Head of Community Services confirmed there were no GDPR issues as it was an overt camera rather than a covert one so there was signage to indicate the camera’s location.  Officers were currently in the process of procuring an additional camera via Section 106 monies to use primarily in Bishop’s Cleeve and Winchcombe but it could also be deployed to other parts of the borough.

22 October 2019

P35 - Agenda Item 8 – Review of Planning Enforcement Plan

A Member indicated that he had significant concerns about planning enforcement and felt there was very little evidence of any action being taken within the borough.  Another Member pointed out that a press release had been issued earlier that day in respect of a successful prosecution for unauthorised development of land in the Badgeworth area and he expressed the view that this needed to be widely communicated in order to give people confidence in enforcement powers.  The Head of Development Services agreed that the Council did not shout loud enough about the positive work which was carried out; nevertheless, she was happy to discuss any particular issues Members may have outside of the meeting.

Another Member went on to indicate that she shared these concerns as, although Members received information about reported enforcement breaches, they did not receive any details of the action taken.  In response, the Head of Development Services provided assurance that all enforcement cases were investigated; however, the enforcement policy was very clear in terms of the different categories of breach, the timeframe for response and the action arising.  In some cases, it may be that a retrospective planning application would regularise the situation and, if that was not forthcoming, the policy was clear as to whether it would be expedient to take action.  Enforcement cases were prioritised so that focus was on those which caused the greatest harm.  She accepted that it was necessary to look at how the information was communicated to Members and indicated that the enforcement webpage had been updated and templates were in the process of being developed.  The Member expressed the view that it came down to perception and, to the lay person, it often appeared that the Council was not doing anything.  Another Member felt it would be a great help to understand the logic and reasoning behind decisions on enforcement cases as he was often approached by residents and had to justify and explain any action, or lack thereof.  A Member agreed that public perception was the biggest concern and that applied to all enforcement, not just planning.  Residents could see clearly what was not being done but it was often harder to see what had been done and he felt they may be more accepting of situations if they understood the reasoning behind them.  The Vice-Chair in the chair suggested that the Communications team may be able to assist with this and the Head of Corporate Services undertook to work with the Head of Development Services to consider the best way of communicating the successful work done by the Council.

Meeting date: 14 January 2020

P36 - Agenda Item 8 – Enviro-crimes Interim Report

A Member noted that Officer visits to Parish Councils had been suspended as a result of resources being refocused due to COVID-19; these visits had been very successful in terms of promoting the enviro-crime services and he asked when visits were likely to recommence.  In response, the Head of Community Services undertook to speak to the Environmental Health Manager following the meeting and advise Members accordingly.

Meeting date: 14 July 2020

P37 - Agenda Item 5 – Performance Management – Quarter 4 and Full Year 2019/20

A Member noted that the target date for the review of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in relation to affordable housing was September 2021 and he asked whether this was still on track.  In response, the Head of Community Services advised that the new housing indicators were reflected in the performance tracker which would be considered later on the Agenda.  These would be further reviewed as work on the new Housing Strategy moved forward.

Meeting date: 24 November 2020

P39 - Agenda Item 8 – Gloucestershire Police and Crime Panel Update

It was noted that the query raised regarding the recruitment process for Gloucestershire Police was still outstanding and needed to be followed-up with the Council’s representative on the Gloucestershire Police and Crime Panel.

Meeting date: 12 January 2021

P40 - Agenda Item 6 – Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme

It was noted that Councillor P D McLain had asked Parishes affected by the recent flooding at that time to compile a list of issues encountered which he would share with the Head of Finance and Asset Management and Head of Development Services but this action was still outstanding and needed to be followed-up.

Meeting date: 9 March 2021

P42-43 – Agenda Item 9 – Council Plan Performance Tracker and COVID-19 Recovery Tracker Quarter 3 2020/21

A Member asked what the implications were in relation to the application to the High Court, made by Ashchurch Rural Parish Council, for a judicial review of the Council’s decision to grant planning permission for Ashchurch bridge.  In response, the Borough Solicitor advised that a decision would be made by the High Court as to whether the planning permission would be quashed; the Council was defending the case and did not believe there had been any procedural defects but, if that was found to be the case, the application would need to be re-determined.

Meeting date: 8 June 2021

P51 – Agenda Item 10 – Corporate Peer Challenge – Progress of Action Plan

The Vice-Chair in the chair explained that a session on how to maximise the value of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee was due to be arranged for September but a date had yet to be agreed.  The Head of Corporate Services suggested that the session could be arranged to take place prior to the next Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 12 October in lieu of a Committee pre-briefing and Members agreed that would be appropriate.

37.4           Accordingly, it was

RESOLVED          That the Overview and Scrutiny Programme 2021/22 and action list be NOTED.

Supporting documents: