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Agenda and minutes

Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 21st March, 2011 5.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1 & 2 - Guildhall. View directions

Contact: Martin Whelan  01223 457012

Note: Please note that the minutes for item 11/8/SR were updated on Monday 14th March 2011 to correct the voting figures. 

Items
No. Item

11/19/SR

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

The committee received apologies for absence from Councillor Dryden and Councillor Al Bander.

11/20/SR

Declarations of interest

Members are asked to declare at this stage any interests that they may have in an item shown on this agenda. If any member of the Committee is unsure whether or not they should declare an interest on a particular matter, they should seek advice from the Head of Legal Services before the meeting. 

 

Minutes:

Cllr Ward declared a personal interest in the petition and associated public questions as family members work on the market.

 

Cllr Taylor declared a personal interest in the petition and associated public questions as a previous customer (non fur products) of the market stall named in the petition.

11/21/SR

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meetings held on 17th January and 2nd February 2011 were approved as a true and accurate record.

 

It was noted the approved minutes included a revision from the printed minutes to reflect that the Scrutiny Committee vote on item 11/SR/8 should have read 6 – 3 and not 6-0.

11/22/SR

Public Questions

Minutes:

The committee received four public questions, which related to the issues raised in the petition.

 

i.  Joan Court addressed the committee on behalf of herself and Cambridge Animal Rights. The progressive track record of Cambridge City Council on animal welfare issues was welcomed and Councillors were encouraged to recommend that the sale of fur should be banned in council owned property.

 

ii.  Sue Hughes addressed the committee on behalf of herself and Cambridge Animal Rights. The committee were advised of the different methods for the production of the fur, and why in her view they were unacceptable. The representation also suggested that legislation would hopefully outlaw the practice in future.

 

iii.  Rachel Mathai addressed the committee and urged the committee to recommend that the sale of fur should be banned on council land and buildings, and argued that it would be easy and cost effective to monitor compliance.

 

iv.  Douglas Workman addressed the committee as owner of the Dixie’s Market Stall. The committee were advised that the fur sold was between 30 and 60 years old, and the use of the fur was not causing ongoing harm to animals. The stance and consistency of the petitioners was also questioned in relation to the use of other animal products. It was also noted that the stall had started a counter petition, which currently had 98 signatures in support of the stall. Councillors were encouraged to reject the petition.

 

The Executive Councillor for Customer Services and Resources agreed to respond following the presentation and debate on the petition.

11/23/SR

Petition

A petition has been received stating the following

 

"We the undersigned call on Cambridge City Council to ban the sale or distribution of fur on all council property, land and at Council events".

 

Under the Council’s procedure the petitioners may present the petition and speak for five minutes. Members of the Committee may then discuss the petition for a maximum of 15 minutes.

Minutes:

The committee received a petition requesting that the council banned the sale of fur products in council owned buildings and on council owned land.

 

Aran Mathai addressed the committee on behalf of the petitioners and made the following points,

 

i.  It was emphasised that the petition was not focussed on a single stall, and the proposed ban covered both the sale of new and vintage fur. The petitioner explained the reasons why a ban was also being sought on the sale of vintage fur.

 

ii.  It was suggested that some stores may attempt to disguise “new” fur as “vintage” fur, to avoid potential restrictions. The possibility of disposing of furs to charities was suggested.

 

iii.  It was highlighted that a similar national petition was also currently being undertaken, and that there was a large degree of support for the proposed ban. 

 

In response the committee asked the following questions which the petitioner answered.  

 

i.  How widespread is the sale of fur in Cambridge? The petitioner responded that they had been unable to locate any retailers other than the market stall in the city selling fur.

 

ii.  What is the likely commercial impact of a ban? The petitioner suggested that the ban could have a potential positive benefit as the sale of fur may be discouraging potential customers at present.

 

iii.  Does the proposed ban also include sheepskin? The petitioner explained that the same objections also applied to sheepskin products.

 

Cllr Pogonowski attended and spoke under Council procedure rule 39.2 (3). He spoke in support of the ban, and encouraged other Councillors to take an ethical stand and support the petitioners. The committee were urged to follow the position of Winchester City Council, who had recently imposed a similar ban.

 

The committee made the following additional points

 

i.  It was suggested that no further action should be taken on the issue due to the resource implications. The petitioners were also encouraged to lobby parliament to change the law, as the sale of fur was currently legal.

 

ii.  It was proposed that the petition should not be rejected and that the implications should be fully researched and reported to members.

 

iii.  The difficulties in imposing a “ban” were discussed.

 

The Executive Councillor thanked all the public questioners and the petitioner for attending the meeting and sharing their views. The Executive Councillor made the following points in response

 

i.  The progressive track record of the city council was highlighted. The Executive Councillor explained that policies can have unintended consequences, such as the use of only freedom eggs prevented the council from offering flu vaccinations to staff as these relied on the use of sterilised battery farmed eggs during the production process.

 

ii.  The cost and logistics of implementing and managing a monitoring system were highlighted, particularly due to the diverse nature of the Council’s property portfolio.

 

iii.  It was suggested that the public might find it confusing, if certain properties were subject to the restrictions due to the fact that the Council is the landlord whereas privately owned premises wouldn’t be subject to the same restrictions.

 

The Executive Councillor explained that he requested a briefing note outlining the options regarding this issue, including the practicality of imposing any restrictions. It was agreed that the briefing would be shared with all members of the committee.

 

In accordance with the public speaking procedure, the public questioners were given an opportunity to respond to the response from the Executive Councillor and raised the following issues

 

i.  Councillors were urged to recommend that the sale of fur be banned.

 

ii.  The assertion that monitoring would be complicated and expensive was challenged.

 

iii.  Concern was expressed that council policy could be seen to have been dictated by a small pressure group.

 

The Executive Councillor re-iterated the difficulties with imposing restrictions.

11/24/SR

Annual Portfolio Plans for 2011/12 pdf icon PDF 89 KB

In August 2010 Strategic Leadership Team and the Executive Councillors reviewed the Councils service planning process. It was agreed that service plans based on service areas would be replaced by seven annual Portfolio Plans, from 2011/12.

The Plans express the strategic objectives for the portfolio over the financial year 2011/12 and beyond. Beneath each of the objectives will be detailed the particular outcomes to be achieved in 2011/12. Finally the plans will include performance measures that will provide evidence to members and the public that the outcomes have been achieved.

This information will enable members and the services contributing to the delivery of the plan to be clear about the priorities for the portfolio and will assist in decisions about where resources should be focussed within the portfolio.

The Scrutiny Committee is invited to comment on the Executive Councillors Strategic Objectives and Performance Measures and the Executive Councillor is recommended to agree the Portfolio Plan.
 

 

Minutes:

Matter for decision: Approval of the Strategy Plan setting out strategic objectives and performance measures for 2011/12.

 

Decision of the Leader:

 

·  Approved the Strategy Plan

 

Reason for the Decision: As set out in the officer’s report

 

Any alternative options considered and rejected: N/A

 

Scrutiny Considerations:

 

The Leader gave a brief overview of the 2011/12 Strategy Portfolio Plan.

 

Members of the Scrutiny Committee were then invited to comment and discuss the Plan.

 

Members made the following comments:

 

i.  An update was requested on the progress with establishing governance arrangements for the Local Economic Partnership (LEP) and the likely benefits of the proposed arrangement. The Leader was also asked about the likelihood of Cambridge receiving regional growth funding.

 

ii.  The efforts to engage opposition councilors to date in the partnership arrangements were welcomed, and it was requested that where possible this should continue. The importance of developing a simple structure to co-ordinate sub regional growth was highlighted.

 

iii.  The area-working pilot was welcomed. The Leader was encouraged to undertake an advocacy role with other partner organisations to enhance engagement.

 

iv.  Caution was expressed regarding the potential over reliance on web-based communications. The importance of flexible engagement particularly around the Customer Services Centre was noted.

 

The Leader of the Council responded:

 

  i.  It was emphasised that the authority had a strong record of a robust approach to transparency, and that where possible opposition Councillors had been and would continue to be involved in partnership arrangements.

 

  ii.  The anticipated differences between the organisational arrangements and structures associated with Cambridgeshire Horizons and the LEP were outlined. The committee was advised that it was hoped that the regional growth fund would support the delivery of the Chesterton Station project.

 

  iii.  It was acknowledged that progress had been slow in finalising the governance arrangements for the LEP, and that either a company or local authority style model was likely to be the most appropriate.

 

  iv.  The suggestion regarding the potential advocacy role for the Leader in association with the area working pilot was welcomed, and the Leader agreed to amend the plan to reflect this. It was agreed that the exact wording of the amendment would be agreed with Chairs and Spokes. 

 

  v.  The importance of maintaining a plurality of means of communications was acknowledged. The issues regarding physical constraints to accessing services were noted.

 

 

The Leader approved the Portfolio Plan.

11/25/SR

Fixed Term Growth Related Posts pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Minutes:

Matter for Decision: To consider a report regarding fixed term growth related posts. 

 

Decision of the Leader

 

The Leader resolved to

 

i.  Recommend to Council that :

·  18.68 full-time equivalent (FTE) growth-related/fixed-term funded posts and associated costs are made permanent

·  The revenue contribution for General Fund capital spending in 2012/13 is increased by £220,000.

·  An additional contribution of £184,770 is made to the Climate Change Fund in 2011/12.

 

ii.  Revise the budget of the City Council to reflect this decision.

 

Reasons for the Decision: As set out in the officer’s report

 

Any alternative options considered and rejected: N/A

 

Scrutiny Considerations:

 

The committee received a report from the Director of Environment regarding fixed term growth related Posts.

 

The committee made the following comments

 

i.  The report was welcomed and clarification was sought on whether the New Homes Bonus had any restrictions attached. The Director of Resources advised that the bonus would be received as a “section 31 payment” which was not restricted in its use.

 

ii.  The overall approach was welcomed; however concern was expressed about the principle of funding the bonus through a top slicing of formula grant. The Director of Resources advised that the expectation was that authorities with greater than normal growth would receive a greater level of New Homes Bonus, than the level of formula grant lost.

 

iii.  The importance of securing talented staff was acknowledged, however it was questioned how long the growth period was expected to last. The Director of Environment outlined the existing growth commitments and that the current growth was likely to continue for at least another 15 years.

 

iv.  The scale of work required to ensure that the new development met the aspirations of the city was acknowledged.

 

v.  Clarification was requested regarding the reliability of the assumptions of the likely future allocations of the New Homes Bonus. The Director of Resources advised that first bonus allocation was based on existing growth and was expected to be paid in April 2011. It was noted that the changes would be reflected in the Medium Term Financial Strategy presented to Council in October. The Director of Environment agreed to share with members the details of the methodology used to calculate the bonus on request.

 

vi.  An explanation impact of not accepting the decision was requested. The Leader emphasised the importance of getting things right first, and that the resources were vital to the delivery of the growth agenda. The Director of Environment clarified that the Planning Service as a whole was currently being restructured and £100k would be saved as part of that process.

 

vii.  Further information was also requested on the exact amount to be transferred to the Climate Change Fund and the relevance of the empty homes references. The Director of Environment explained that the figure of £786k was subject to confirmation and that the net number of new homes was a critical element. The Director of Resources explained that the previous allocation of £250k to the climate change fund would be supplemented by a further £184k as a result of the proposed decision.

 

The Scrutiny Committee considered and approved the recommendations by 6 votes to 0.

 

The Leader approved the recommendation.

11/26/SR

Provisional Carry Forward Requests, Capital Plan changes and project appraisals pdf icon PDF 101 KB

Minutes:

 

Matter for Decision: To consider Provisional Carry Forward Requests, Capital Plan changes and project appraisals

 

Decision of the Leader:

 

The Leader resolved to

 

i.  Agree the provisional General Fund revenue carry forward requests, totalling £417,030 to be recommended to Council for approval, subject to the final outturn position.

ii.  Approve the following additions to the Capital Plan:

 

From the Executive Councillor for Arts & Recreation:

 

i.  Additional funding of £60,000 from Developer Contributions for Public Art in respect of SC476 – Water Play Area Abbey Paddling Pool

 

ii.  Additional funding of £51,000 from Developer Contributions for Public Art in respect of SC487 and SC488 (Coleridge Recreation Ground – Landscaping and Informal Play)

 

 

 

From the Executive Councillor for Housing:

 

i.  Provisional re-phasing of £4,624,000 of capital resources, from 2010/11 into 2011/12, as part of the Housing Capital Investment Plan, to be recommended to Council for approval, subject to the final outturn position.

 

 

 

Reasons for the Decision: As set out in the officer’s report

 

Any alternative options considered and rejected: N/A

 

Scrutiny Considerations:

 

The committee received a report from the Director of Resources regarding provisional carry forward requests.

 

Clarification was requested on the likelihood of the carry forwards being spent during the next financial year, and whether there would be a supplementary set of reports in the next scrutiny cycle. The Director of Customer and Community Services explained that the majority of the housing carry forward related to a single project (Brandon Court), which had been re-phased to align with the future plans for Ditchburn Place. The committee were also advised of the difficulty of precisely planning expenditure due to the length of the lead in times associated with the housing capital programme. The Director of Resources advised that all the carry forwards were subject to final outturn and further reports may be required in the next cycle.

 

The Scrutiny Committee considered and approved the recommendations by 6 votes to 0.

 

The Leader approved the recommendation.

11/27/SR

Draft Code of Best Practice on Consultation and Community Engagement pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 Matter for Decision: To consider the draft code of best practice on consultation and community engagement.

 

Decision of the Leader:

 

The Leader resolved to

 

i.  Agree the draft Code of Best Practice on Consultation and Community Engagement

 

Reasons for the Decision: As set out in the officer’s report

 

Any alternative options considered and rejected: N/A

 

Scrutiny Considerations:

 

The committee received a report from the Head of Corporate Strategy regarding the draft code of best practice on consultation and community engagement.

 

The committee made the following comments

 

i.  Members of the committee welcomed the strategy, and its important role. In response to comments the Leader agreed to add tenants associations and the Federation of Cambridge Resident Associations to the list of consultees.

 

ii.  Concerns were raised about the consultation in relation to the trees outside St Barnabas Church, specifically whether the appropriate Ward Councillors had been consulted regarding the proposed decision. The Leader acknowledged the concerns and agreed to address the issues raised outside of the meeting.

 

iii.  It was questioned how the current course of action in relation to Lion Yard Toilets fitted into this framework. The Leader clarified how the current consultation fitted into the policy.

 

iv.  The important role of ward councillors was acknowledged, but it was suggested that it was incumbent on individual ward councillors to respond appropriately to individual consultations.

 

v.  It was suggested that the Universities and Students Groups should be added to the consultee list.

 

vi.  It was questioned whether a joined IT system could be developed to join up different forms of consultation, although it was acknowledged that it may be technically difficult to achieve.

 

vii.  It was noted that a consistent list of residents associations should be an aspiration, however it was agreed that due to the evolving nature of these groups it was often difficult to accurately track.

 

viii.  It was suggested that reference to ward councillors being consulted on issues of any significance in their ward should be included in the document.

 

ix.  The importance of providing paper copies of the code where required and not simply relying on electronic versions was acknowledged.

 

The Scrutiny Committee considered and approved the recommendations as amended by 6 votes to 0.

 

The Leader approved the recommendation.

11/28/SR

Annual Portfolio Plans for 2011/12 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

In August 2010 Strategic Leadership Team and the Executive Councillors reviewed the Councils service planning process. It was agreed that service plans based on service areas would be replaced by seven annual Portfolio Plans, from 2011/12.

The Plans express the strategic objectives for the portfolio over the financial year 2011/12 and beyond. Beneath each of the objectives will be detailed the particular outcomes to be achieved in 2011/12. Finally the plans will include performance measures that will provide evidence to members and the public that the outcomes have been achieved.

This information will enable members and the services contributing to the delivery of the plan to be clear about the priorities for the portfolio and will assist in decisions about where resources should be focussed within the portfolio.

The Scrutiny Committee is invited to comment on the Executive Councillors Strategic Objectives and Performance Measures and the Executive Councillor is recommended to agree the Portfolio Plan.
 

 

Minutes:

Matter for decision: Approval of the Customer Services and Resources Plan setting out strategic objectives and performance measures for 2011/12.

 

Decision of Executive Councillor for Customer Services and Resources:

 

·  Approved the Customer Services and Resources Plan

 

Reason for the Decision: As set out in the officer’s report

 

Any alternative options considered and rejected: N/A

 

Scrutiny Considerations:

 

The Executive Councillor gave a brief overview of the 2011/12 Customer Services and Resources Portfolio Plan.

 

Members of the Scrutiny Committee were then invited to comment and discuss the Plan.

 

Members made the following comments:

 

  i.  An update was requested on any progress to date in developing joint service delivery.

 

  ii.  It was suggested that the reference to amendment of the broad market rental area could be seen to prejudge the outcome.

 

  iii.  An update was requested on the status of the project to develop a Business Improvement District.   

 

  iv.  Clarification was requested on the potential elements of the working smarter objective, and whether this included home working.

 

The Executive Councillor for Customer Services and Resources responded:

 

i.  The committee was provided with an overview of joint service delivery activity undertaken to date. Members were advised that a single list of potential projects didn’t exist, but members were encouraged to make suggestions at any time.

 

ii.  The committee was advised that the aspiration with the broad market rental area was a reformed approach, and that the underlying principle was to lobby effectively for reform.

 

iii.  In relation to home working the committee was advised that different approaches were being developed and implemented.

 

The Director of Environment provided an update on the development of a Business Improvement District.

 

The Executive Councillor for Customer Services and Resources approved the Portfolio Plan.

11/29/SR

Seymour Court - Disposal of Land to Facilitate Redevelopment Scheme pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Matter for Decision: To consider the disposal of land to facilitate the Seymour Court re development scheme.

 

Decision of Executive Councillor:

 

The Executive Councillor resolved to

 

i.  Approve the disposal of the freehold of part of Seymour Court to Kier to facilitate the redevelopment of the site. The part of the site to be disposed is shown outlined on the plan attached as Appendix 1 to the committee report.

 

Reasons for the Decision: As set out in the officer’s report

 

Any alternative options considered and rejected: N/A

 

Scrutiny Considerations:

 

The committee received a report from the Head of Housing Strategy regarding the disposal of land at Seymour Court.

 

It was clarified that the recommendation should refer to the black outline, and following discussion it was agreed that the reference to colour could be removed. The innovative design of the proposed scheme was welcomed.

 

The Scrutiny Committee considered and approved the recommendations as amended by 8 votes to 0.

 

The Executive Councillor for Customer Services and Resources approved the decision.

11/30/SR

Telephony System Upgrade (Replacement of Power Cabinets) pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Minutes:

Matter for Decision: To consider a project appraisal for the upgrade of the telephony system (replacement of power cabinets).

 

Decision of Executive Councillor:

 

The Executive Councillor resolved to

 

i.  Approve commencement of the first phase of the Telephony System Upgrade project, which is already included in the Council’s Capital Plan (scheme reference SC429).

 

ii.  Approve the carrying out and completion of the procurement of the replacement of the telephone switch power cabinets.

 

 

iii.  Note that if the quotation or tender sum exceeds the estimated contract value by more than 15% the permission of the Executive Councillor and Director of Resources will be sought prior to proceeding.

 

Reasons for the Decision: As set out in the officer’s report

 

Any alternative options considered and rejected: N/A

 

Scrutiny Considerations:

 

The Scrutiny Committee considered and approved the recommendations by 6 votes to 0.

 

The Executive Councillor for Customer Services and Resources approved the decision.

11/31/SR

Mobile Communications pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Minutes:

Matter for Decision: To consider a project appraisal for the procurement of the mobile communications contract.

 

Decision of Executive Councillor:

 

The Executive Councillor resolved to

 

i.  Approve the carrying out and completion of the procurement of the mobile communications contract (if the 2-year extension option is not executed).

 

ii.  Note that if the quotation or tender sum exceeds the estimated contract value by more than 15% the permission of the Executive Councillor and Director of Resources will be sought prior to proceeding.

 

 

Reasons for the Decision: As set out in the officer’s report

 

Any alternative options considered and rejected: N/A

 

Scrutiny Considerations:

 

The committee received a report from the Director of Resources requesting approval of a project appraisal related to mobile communications.

 

The committee requested clarification on the following points

 

i.  Availability/use of VPN technology – The Director of Resources agreed to check on the type of technology proposed.

 

ii.  The robustness of the testing procedures – The Director of Resources outlined the testing procedures proposed and the associated difficulties.

 

The Scrutiny Committee considered and approved the recommendations by 6 votes to 0.

 

The Executive Councillor for Customer Services and Resources approved the decision.

11/32/SR

Re-tender of Corporate Multi-Function Device and Printer call off contract pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Minutes:

Matter for Decision: To consider a project appraisal for the re-tender of the corporate multi-functional device and printer call-off contract.

 

Decision of Executive Councillor:

 

The Executive Councillor resolved to

 

i.  Approve the carrying out and completion of a tender exercise for the corporate Multi-function and Printer call off contract.

 

ii.  Authorise the project team on conclusion of the tendering exercise to proceed with the preferred supplier.

 

Reasons for the Decision: As set out in the officer’s report

 

Any alternative options considered and rejected: N/A

 

Scrutiny Considerations:

 

The Scrutiny Committee considered and approved the recommendations by 6 votes to 0.

 

The Executive Councillor for Customer Services and Resources approved the decision.

11/33/SR

Standard Item: General Debts - Bad debts for write-off pdf icon PDF 40 KB

Minutes:

The committee resolved to exclude press and public during this item by virtue of paragraphs 1 and 2 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006

 

Matter for Decision: To consider the write off of general bad debts.

 

Decision of Executive Councillor:

 

The Executive Councillor resolved to

 

(i) Write off the debts listed in the confidential annex.

 

Reasons for the Decision: As set out in the officer’s report

 

Any alternative options considered and rejected: N/A

 

Scrutiny Considerations:

 

There was no debate on this item.