Venue: Walton Suite, Winchester Guildhall
Contact: Matthew Watson, Democratic Services Officer Tel: 01962 848 317 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies and Deputy Members
To note the names of apologies given and deputy members who are attending the meeting in place of appointed members.
Apologies for the meeting were noted as above.
Declarations of Interests
To receive any disclosure of interests from Members and Officers in matters to be discussed.
Note: Councillors are reminded of their obligations to declare disclosable pecuniary interests, personal and/or prejudicial interests in accordance with legislation and the Council’s Code of Conduct.
If you require advice, please contact the appropriate Democratic Services Officer, prior to the meeting.
Councillor Scott declared a non-pecuniary interest regarding agenda item 6, Housing Revenue Account 2022/2023 as he was a Council housing tenant.
No announcements were made.
That the minutes of the meeting be signed as a correct record.
That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 3 July 2023. be approved and adopted.
To receive and note questions asked and statements made from members of the public on matters which fall within the remit of the Committee.
Members of the public and visiting councillors may speak at the committee, provided they have registered to speak three working days in advance. Please complete this form (https://forms.office.com/r/Y87tufaV6G) by 5pm on Deadline(registertospeakdeadline) or call (01962) 848 264 to register to speak and for further details.
David Chafe on behalf of Tenants and Council Together (TACT), Councillor Wallace and Councillor Lee addressed the committee, and their contributions were captured within the following agenda items.
It is recommended that the committee scrutinise and comment on the proposals within the attached cabinet report, ref CAB3417 which is to be considered by cabinet at its meeting on the 13 September 2023.
Councillor Westwood introduced the report, ref CAB3417 which set out the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Outturn 2022/23, (available here). The introduction included the following points.
1. In 2022/2023, the HRA Outturn indicated an overspend of £1.304 million and an adverse variance of £0.698 million, including a one-off accrual to be reversed in 2023/24.
2. There was a request to carry forward £18,000 of unspent set-up funding for the Housing Company into 2023/2024.
3. The 2022/2023 Capital program saw a carry forward of £14.44 million, with reprofiling for the capital program in 2023/2024 onwards.
4. Notable variances included:
a) An employee underspend of £108,000.
b) Premises overspend of £2 million, encompassing the mentioned accrual and a repair and maintenance overspend of £0.486 million.
c) An overspend of £0.109 million on electricity costs.
d) A net favourable variance of £0.622 million in net interest and depreciation due to lower interest payments, reduced capital spend, and a higher depreciation charge.
e) Strong performance in void management and arrears, generating additional income of £0.2 million.
5. Capital program overspends, and underspends consisted of:
a) An overspend of 2% on the Major Works budget, driven by fire prevention and roofing works.
b) Underspend in estate improvement works amounting to £0.187 million.
c) Sheltered schemes, including power door installation and fire safety work, resulting in a £0.24 million underspend.
d) An underspend of £0.328 million on climate emergency works due to contractor difficulties.
e) An underspend of £0.207 million on procuring a sewage treatment vehicle.
f) An underspend of £13.03 million in the new homes program, detailed in section 11 of the report.
The committee was recommended to comment on the proposals within the attached report, ref CAB3417 which was to be considered by the cabinet at its meeting on 13 September 2023.
Councillor Lee addressed the committee and raised the following points:
1. In reference to section 1.2 and the capital program for retrofit works, he asked:
a) When was the £15.7 million budget allocated?
b) How much of this budget had been expended by the end of 2022/2023?
c) How many homes had undergone upgrades by the end of 2022/2023?
d) Had a new energy staff role been established, and if so, was it funded from the £15.7 million budget?
2. Regarding the revised Capital program budget for 2023/2024, he asked:
a) Whether funding had been earmarked to address overheating, considering the vulnerability of over one-third of homes to overheating due to climate change.
b) What measures were in place for existing homes considering recent building regulations that tackle overheating in new homes?
c) He drew attention to recent reports titled "It's Getting Hot in Here" and the UK Green Building Council's statement, "The UK isn't built for this heat."
3. Regarding the challenges in recruiting and retaining housing staff, he requested information on the steps taken to mitigate this issue.
4. Regarding section 11.3 B, he sought more detailed information about the costs associated with the property at Tower Street.
David ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
It is recommended that the committee scrutinise and comment on the proposals within the attached cabinet report, ref CAB3416 which is to be considered by cabinet at its meeting on the 13 September 2023.
Councillor Cutler, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance and Liz Keys, Corporate Head of Finance; introduced the report, ref CAB3416 which provided details of the General Fund Outturn 2022/2023, (available here).
The introduction covered the following key points:
1. Despite economic pressures, including inflation, the outcome revealed a surplus of just under £1 million.
2. This surplus was primarily attributed to challenges in accurately forecasting business rates, contributing £688,000, and a significant increase in interest received on retained funds.
3. The report provided a detailed breakdown of variances, encompassing both underspending and overspending across various services, with specific attention to variances in one-off budgets.
4. Additional details for both the revenue fund and the capital fund could be found in the appendices.
6. An overspend on services was primarily driven by higher-than-expected paid inflation and contract inflation, factors beyond the council's control.
7. Income exceeded budget expectations, especially in the case of business rates.
8. Extra income was generated from investments due to higher interest rates and larger cash balances than initially anticipated.
The committee was recommended to comment on the proposals within the attached report, ref CAB3416 which was to be considered by the cabinet at its meeting on 13 September 2023.
Councillor Lee addressed the committee, highlighting the following key points:
1. He commended the well-written report.
2. He inquired about the Winchester Town account, questioning why it only covered part of the neighbourhood service offices' costs while Parishes and Market towns in the district bore the full expenses of support offices in their areas.
3. Additionally, he sought clarification on the methodology used to calculate the proportionate contribution.
The committee proceeded to ask questions and debate the report. In summary, the following matters were raised.
1. The competitiveness of the council in terms of staff remuneration.
2. Progress updates on major regeneration projects and the local plan.
3. Clarification on whether the increase in full-time equivalent staff indicated staff positions being filled or an increased staffing requirement.
4. Concerns about the overspending on agency staff and the need for a strategic review of staffing scales.
5. Delays in implementing bike storage and related measures and their expected completion in 2023/24.
6. Questions regarding variances in the homelessness budget and the necessity for transparency in future spending proposals.
7. Requesting clarification on additional Park and Ride funding from Hampshire County Council.
8. Determining whether the favourable income variance was a one-off windfall or a permanent increase.
9. The council's intentions for closing the gap between Guildhall costs and income.
10. Concerns about historic assets and a request for updates on progress.
11. Specific local issues, including the Bishops Waltham footpath and cycle link, the Goods Shed at Barfield Close, and the status of 59 Colebrook Street.
12. The number of currently vacant Winchester City Council-owned properties that were not generating revenue.
These points were responded to by Councillor Cutler, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, Councillor Tod, Leader and Cabinet ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
That the Scrutiny Committee:
1. Notes that the Performance Panel met on the 21 August 2023 to scrutinise the attached report, CAB3415 and its associated appendices. The notes of the panel’s meeting are included as an appendix of the Cabinet report.
2. Notes that a verbal update will be provided at the Scrutiny Committee.
3. Raises with the Leader or relevant Cabinet member any issues arising from the information in this report, ref CAB3415, which is being presented to Cabinet on the 13 September 2023 and considers whether there are any items of significance to resolve or to be drawn to the attention of Cabinet.
Councillor Caroline Horrill, Chairperson of the Performance Panel introduced the report, reference CAB3415 which set out the Quarter 1 Performance Monitoring report, (available here).
Councillor Horrill provided an overview of the following matters:
1. The meeting was productive, with the presence of key officers to address questions and concerns.
2. Page 77 of the agenda pack, containing the recommendations to the Scrutiny committee, should reference that the Performance Panel met on the 21 August 2023, not the 22 May 2023.
3. She referred to the notes of the Panel's meeting starting on page 179, specifically highlighting item 43 (summary of points to be addressed) and item 44 (feedback for scrutiny committee) on page 184. She raised each of the items listed under item 44 with the committee.
4. Under item 43 (summary of points to be addressed), two items from the notes had been omitted: items 35 and 38.
5. Emphasised the importance of resolving outstanding issues from the report to prevent them from carrying over into the future.
Councillor Wallace addressed the committee and raised the following points:
1. That there were significant improvements in the performance monitoring reports for this quarter compared to last year, particularly in the layout and content of appendices one to three.
2. That in Appendix 4, activities related to Transport, Domestic Energy, and Land Use had undergone review by Council Policy Committees, but when would activities under the Commercial Energy heading be presented to a Policy committee?
3. That in Appendix 4, regarding the Carbon Programme, could Members receive a briefing on the HCC carbon assessment tool that would be utilised in future council processes and reports, as mentioned on page 142?
The committee was recommended to:
1. Note that the Performance Panel met on 21 August 2023 to scrutinise the attached report, CAB3415 and its associated appendices.
2. Note that a verbal update was provided at the Scrutiny committee.
3. Raise with the Leader or relevant Cabinet member any issues arising from the information in this report, ref CAB3415, which was being presented to Cabinet on 13 September 2023 and consider whether there were any items of significance to resolve or to be drawn to the attention of Cabinet.
The committee discussed the report and the points raised by Councillor Horrill and the following additional points were made.
1. Fly tipping reporting and clearance times did not align with a councillor’s real-world experience, and whether further investigation could be carried out to address this.
2. Concerning hydrogenated vegetable oil and hydrogen as diesel alternatives, whether a comprehensive carbon appraisal to address potential environmental concerns was being considered.
1. Noted that the performance panel had met on 21 August 2023 (not 22 May 2023, as inaccurately stated on page 79 of the report) to scrutinise report CAB3415 and its associated appendices.
2. Noted the draft minutes of the panel's meeting and the verbal update provided by the Chairperson, including the summary of points to be addressed and ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Scrutiny Request - Update on public convenience strategy.
The Chair of Scrutiny has requested that the relevant Cabinet Member attend the meeting to provide an overview of the proposals relating to this strategy.
The chairperson advised that she had invited Councillor Learney, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Andy Hickman, Head of Programme: Place to the meeting to update the committee on the improvements to public conveniences.
Councillor Learney informed the committee that this initiative had been prompted by feedback from residents regarding the condition of public toilets. It was clear that addressing this issue required a comprehensive and proactive approach, leading to the formation of a public toilet task force. The team had conducted several assessments, including commissioning a report from the British Toilet Association and carrying out condition surveys, to gauge the extent of necessary improvements and establish priorities. Consequently, a Public Toilet Improvement Strategy had been developed, which proposed a substantial programme of upgrades and renovations.
Andy Hickman, Head of Head of Programme: Place provided a presentation which discussed the following areas:
1. City Council public toilet locations.
2. Previous toilet works.
3. Costs and Contributions.
4. Usage and cleaning.
5. Issues with the public toilets.
6. Public Toilet Improvement Strategy.
7. Key issues.
8. Next steps.
The committee proceeded to ask questions and debate the presentation. In summary, the following matters were raised.
1. Regarding formal complaints versus informal resident comments, further clarification on the nature of these complaints was requested.
2. Whether Parish Councils handled additional complaints, and how did it affect the overall complaint count?
3. Further explanation on how the usage figures were determined?
4. Had the reduced public access to the Guildhall impacted usage, and how did the facility upgrades relate to concerns about cleanliness and frequency?
5. Were there specific recommendations from the British Toilets Association regarding refurbishment timeframes?
6. Was there a projected timetable for toilet refurbishments after discussions with Parish and Town Councils to inform residents?
These points were responded to by Councillor Learney, Cabinet Member for Climate Emergency and Andy Hickman Head of Head of Programme: Place accordingly and were noted by Councillor Learney.
That the committee noted the presentation, and the Cabinet Member and officers note the comments of the committee raised.
The latest version of the committee work programme can be found here: https://democracy.winchester.gov.uk/mgPlansHome.aspx?bcr=1
That the latest version of the work programme (which can be found here https://democracy.winchester.gov.uk/mgPlansHome.aspx?bcr=1 ) be noted.
1. That the September 2023 Forward Plan of Key Decisions be noted.
The Chairperson agreed to discuss with the Chief Executive options for providing the committee with a forward plan, that would enable them to identify future issues for review.