Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 12th September, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4BB. View directions

Contact: James Dearling  Email: james.dearling@guildford.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

OS18

Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitute Members

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Liz Hooper and James Walsh.  The Committee was advised of two substitutions as detailed above.

 

OS19

Local Code of Conduct and Declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

In accordance with the revised local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda.  Any councillor with a DPI must not participate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.

 

If that DPI has not been registered, the councillor must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.

 

OS20

Minutes pdf icon PDF 246 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 11 July 2017.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 11 July 2017 were approved.

 

OS21

Guildford Philanthropy pdf icon PDF 226 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

With reference to the report submitted to the Committee, the Policy and Partnerships Manager introduced the item. The meeting was advised of the establishment of Guildford Philanthropy in 2013, its aims and progress, and the Council’s match-funding to incentivise donations.  The Committee was advised of arrangements, including the extension of funding criteria for Guildford Philanthropy, to enable support for carers to be maintained following the closure of the Carers Support Guildford charity in 2017.

 

The Chairman of Guildford Philanthropy, Mr Peter Cluff, addressed the Committee.  He referred to a Community Foundation for Surrey publication entitled Surrey Uncovered [circulated to Committee members] and outlined Guildford Philanthropy’s aims.  He indicated that the initial remit of Guildford Philanthropy had been to focus on social enterprise projects, but that tackling wider need across the Borough was part of the organisation’s role.  He informed the Committee that a primary purpose was to raise awareness of the levels of deprivation in some neighbourhoods in the county and of the roles of Guildford Philanthropy and the Community Foundation for Surrey.

 

In response to a question, the Chairman of Guildford Philanthropy indicated the rationale for a grant to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, advising the Committee of Theatre’s Discover Drama workshops for young people with disabilities and its need to improve online fund-raising capabilities.

 

In reply to questions, the Committee was advised that Guildford Philanthropy needed a larger permanent fund to undertake a wider remit.  In addition, the Committee was informed the Community Foundation for Surrey would be able to provide help to establish area-based funds

 

In response to a question, the Committee was advised that Guildford Philanthropy had a streamlined process for smaller grants to carers.

 

The Chairman thanked Mr Cluff for attending the meeting and answering questions from the Committee.

 

OS22

On-street Parking task and finish group pdf icon PDF 270 KB

To consider a draft scoping report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

With reference to the draft scoping document submitted to the Committee, Councillor Goodwin explained the reasons for the proposed scrutiny review of On-street parking.  He informed the meeting that parking in Guildford could be a key concern for town centre residents. 

 

Councillor Goodwin indicated that the task and finish group would not be reviewing the Council’s Parking Strategy of 2016 and would be focused on the on-street parking aspects.  In addition, he indicated that the parking zones in the town and the scratch card permit scheme would feature in the task group’s work.

 

The Deputy Leader of the Council and Lead Councillor for Infrastructure and Governance indicated that much of the work proposed for review was underway.

 

RESOLVED:  That the scoping document for the On-street parking review, as submitted to the Committee, be approved.

 

OS23

Lead Councillor Question Session

A question session with the Lead Councillor for Housing and Environment, Councillor Philip Brooker.  The primary focus of the session is to be traveller strategy and policy. 

 

The Lead Councillor’s areas of responsibility:

 

Housing strategy and development

Assessment of housing need

Homelessness and housing advice

Council housing and tenant services

Monitoring and enforcing housing standards

Housing and Council Tax Benefits

Traveller strategy and policy

Air Quality

Climate change, home energy and sustainability

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Councillor Philip Brooker, Lead Councillor for Housing and Environment, the Community Development Manager (Neighbourhood and Housing Management Services), and the Property Manager (Neighbourhood and Housing Management Services).

 

The primary focus of the question session was traveller strategy and policy.  A number of question areas were provided to the Lead Councillor for Housing and Environment in advance of the meeting.  In responding to these issues and other questions put at the meeting, a number of clarifications and points were made on traveller strategy and policy:

 

·         The Lead Councillor for Housing and Environment advised that the Council did not have authority to evict travellers from private land, but could advise the private landowners affected.

 

·         The Lead Councillor for Housing and Environment indicated that the Council’s Joint Enforcement Team (JET) was not yet trained to assist in the eviction of  travellers but training was planned.

 

·         The Committee was advised that transit sites for travellers invariably became permanent sites.  The Committee was informed that a pragmatic approach to the issue might be to tolerate an illegal encampment as it occurs, rather than establish a transit site.

 

·         The Community Development Manager advised the Committee that to obtain planning permission for private pitches on designated sites travellers had to demonstrate they travel and this was part of the reason for the rise of itinerate travellers in the summer.

 

·         The meeting discussed the different approaches of local authorities in Surrey to the issue of traveller incursions, including obtaining Community Protection Notices.

 

·         The Community Development Manager advised that social media was used by some travellers to publicise unauthorised sites, which suggested the sites witnessing incursions this year were potentially at risk next year too.

 

With reference to other aspects of the Lead Councillor for Housing and Environement’s area of responsibility, the Committee members asked about the take up of the Right To Buy scheme and the maintenance of the Council homes in Guildford.   In response, the Committee was advised that under the Right To Buy scheme tenants were allowed to buy after three years’ residence at a discount of £78,000 and then sell the property after five years.  The meeting was advised that the amount of discount was calculated in accordance with rules laid down by Government.

 

In relation to the maintenance and repairs of Council homes in Guildford, the Committee was advised that facilities were inspected before any renewal.  The Committee was informed that the choice of tenants was respected if the offer of a new kitchen was refused. 

 

In response to a question, the Committee was advised that there were examples of facilities being upgraded in a Council house shortly before a tenant exercised the Right To Buy. 

 

With reference to Council housing in the Borough, Committee members questioned the safety issues raised by the Grenfell Tower tragedy.  The Lead Councillor for Housing and Environment indicated that the Council’s tower blocks at Bishop’s Court and Mount Court were inspected following the Grenfell Tower fire.  He advised that the first inspection report identified the  ...  view the full minutes text for item OS23

OS24

Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 133 KB

To agree the draft Overview and Scrutiny work programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report setting out the Overview and Scrutiny work programme as developed thus far for the period 2017-18.

 

The Chairman reminded the Committee that the work programme should be determined with reference to the recently introduced P.A.P.E.R. topic selection tool.  In addition, the Chairman advised the Committee that potential work programme items suggested by officers would be considered by the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the Committee and the EABs on 20 September.

 

RESOLVED:  That the Overview and Scrutiny work programme as set out in Appendix 1 of the report submitted to the Committee be approved.