Minutes for Overview & Scrutiny Committee for Performance and Resources meeting, Feb 10 2009, 10.00AM official page
Venue: Large Ireland Room, New County Offices, Aylesbury. View directionsItems Note No. Item
Apologies for Absence / Changes in Membership
Apologies were received from Mike Appleyard, Patricia Birchley and Michael Edmonds.
Declarations of Interest
To declare any personal and prejudicial interests
There were none.
Minutes PDF 105 KB
of the meetings held on 13th, 14th, 15th and 21st January 2009 to be confirmed as a correct record.
- Minutes , 14/01/2009 Overview & Scrutiny Committee for Performance and Resources, item 3. PDF 86 KB
- Minutes , 15/01/2009 Overview & Scrutiny Committee for Performance and Resources, item 3. PDF 36 KB
- Minutes , 21/01/2009 Overview & Scrutiny Committee for Performance and Resources, item 3. PDF 35 KB
The minutes of the meetings held on 13th, 14th, 15th and 21st January 2009 were confirmed as a correct record.
Key Decisions/Forward Plan PDF 20 KB
Members will receive the Leaders/Deputy Leader’s and Cabinet Member for Resources Key Decisions and Forward Plans for information and discussion.
A joint scrutiny task and finish group compromising two members from each council across Buckinghamshire was set up to review the effectiveness of the LAA in its early phase. Members are invited to evaluate the progress that has been made against the recommendations accepted at Cabinet on 23rd June 2008.
Contributor: Jackie Fisk
Background Papers: Evaluation of the LAA Partnerships Review
The Chairman welcomed Jackie Fisk, Policy Officer for the Local Area Agreement (LAA) to the meeting. Margaret Aston explained that she had chaired a joint Overview and Scrutiny task and finish group to review the effectiveness of the LAA in its early phase. The group comprised of two members from Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) and two members from each of the four district councils. One of the main issues identified by the group was a lack of member engagement with the LAA. Mrs Aston asked Jackie Fisk if she could update members on any improvement in this area and how the performance of the LAA was progressing.
Jackie Fisk gave members an update on the LAA and the following points were noted:
- As the task group was coming to the end of their review, considerable changes were on the horizon for the LAA. New governance arrangements with the Bucks Strategic Partnership (BSP) were introduced and a new version of the LAA was signed in April 2008. A new performance framework with different indictors had also been introduced by government.
- The Government Office for the South East recently submitted to central government the first six monthly return on the Bucks LAA. Bucks was found to be one of eight authorities out of 17 in the South East, who were making good progress.
- Government highlighted areas of good practice in Bucks such as the LAA Pooled Fund (sourced from partner contributions from the Local Public Service Agreement reward grant), the work on Equalities Impact Assessment and the fact that delivery plans were in place for the LAA, which were regularly updated.
- With regard to the performance indicators, only 14 indicators had data available at the six month mark. Of these 14, most were on track to fulfil their targets. The areas of most concern were affordable housing and acquisitive crime. The performance for affordable housing had understandably been affected by the economic downturn. The BSP were discussing how best to address the acquisitive crime target.
- The recommendations from the task group had been incorporated into an action plan aimed at all LAA partners. This action plan had been signed off by the BSP Implementation Group (BSPIG), whose membership consisted of officers from all the key LAA partners.
- With regard to strengthening the role of members, Jackie Fisk acknowledged that ongoing work was needed. The BSP were undertaking a Communicating Performance project and as part of this they were looking at improving the BSP website and launching an e-magazine in Spring 2009, to highlight the key outcomes of the LAA. Through this project, it was hoped that a shared message could be portrayed regarding performance.
- Of the five thematic partnerships, the Children’s Trust, Healthy Communities Partnership and the Bucks Economic and Learning Partnership have member representation. The Safer and Stronger Bucks Partnership has county member representation, but not district level representation. Adult Commissioners does not currently have member representation. Both are currently considering this issue. More information was requested in relation to the membership of the thematic partnerships.
- A member commented that members were not very aware of the work of the Local Strategic Partnerships (LSPs) or the BSP. Even if members were sitting on an LSP or the BSP, feedback to other members was non-existent. Jackie Fisk agreed that it was quite difficult to make links between the various groups but she hoped that the e-magazine would lead to more effective communication with members.
- A member asked if Bucks would receive additional funding if the LAA targets were delivered. Jackie Fisk reported that the new LAA had a £2.8million performance reward grant attached, which was a much lower figure than the reward grant which could be gained through the Local Public Service Agreements. However it was still an incentive and the BSP wanted to achieve this grant.
- In response to a question regarding affordable housing, Jackie Fisk advised members that Bucks had resisted the inclusion of a housing completions target in the LAA, unlike most other areas in the South East. The indicator around affordable housing and homelessness and others such as access to transport would be affected by the economic downturn. The targets might be revised at the refresh of the LAA. Continual renegotiation of the targets was not advocated but the economic downturn has had a major impact. Whilst the LAA should be stretching the targets needed to be realistic. Additional information was requested in relation to the affordable housing indicator.
- The Chairman asked if it would be possible to have some information on the effects of the economic downturn on the LAA. Jackie Fisk advised that the BSP had recently received a report on this and an economic summit was being organised by the Bucks Economic and Learning Partnership.
- A member expressed concern about the fact that some PIs were not currently measured. Jackie Fisk reiterated that all indicators were being performance managed – this included looking at data, milestones in activities needed to achieve the targets and risk. Whilst only 14 of the 26 national performance indicators (PIs) had been performance data available, to date, all had delivery plans in place and performance monitoring of activity milestones was taking place. Some PIs relied on annual figures or the results of the recent place survey, which would be published in February 2009.
- A member commented that he was not sure of the memberships of the different thematic partnerships and how the whole governance structure for the LAA fitted together. As the new LAA was now almost a year into its three year cycle, this sort of basic information should be common knowledge. Whilst he was sure that lots of work was being done on delivering the LAA, as a member he was not confident that he had been adequately informed and he questioned whether the e-magazine would be enough to educate members. Jackie Fisk noted that the memberships of the thematic partnerships and clearer information on the governance structure would be made available through the BSP website and also through the e-magazine.
- Another member suggested that whilst some members wanted more knowledge on the LAA, others would not want to be inundated with a huge amount of information so this was a difficult balance to strike. Jackie Fisk advised that quarterly LAA reports were publicly accessible but these were a table of figures that would not mean much to a member of the public or perhaps members, without an accompanying narrative. As part of the communications project, the BSP wanted to highlight pieces of work that had contributed to different LAA outcomes, which would be more meaningful to members.
- A member who had been a representative on the Children’s Trust commented that some representatives were not senior enough in their own organisation to be able to make decisions. This meant that they had to go back and consult before the Trust could move forward
- The issue of scrutiny of the performance of the LAA was discussed. It was suggested that as the joint task group had worked well, a joint approach to scrutiny should be considered going forward. If this was not possible then the Chairman proposed that the LAA should be on the Committee’s agenda at six monthly intervals in order to monitor progress against targets.
- Jackie Fisk reminded members that the LAA was a delivery vehicle, not a strategy in itself. BCC and other partners had signed up together through the Sustainable Community Strategy, which is the over-arching a longer term plan. The LAA had certainly drawn partners together but it could not do everything. It was perhaps limited to some extent by the national indicator set. The Community Strategy was now being reviewed and the countywide and district level strategies would be brought together as a ‘family’ of community strategies all working under a similar framework and to the same timescale. Michael Chard advised members that the draft Community Strategy would be presented to Committee in March or April.
The Chairman thanked Jackie Fisk for attending the meeting.
Work Programme PDF 23 KB
Members will have the opportunity to discuss future work programme topics for the Committee.
Background Papers: Future Work Programme
The Committee considered proposed items for the future work programme. Members noted that there were only three more committee meetings scheduled prior to the elections in June 2009, therefore any projects would have to be completed and signed off at the 10th May meeting.
A member suggested that the Committee should investigate the strategy behind the Transformation project. Another member asked if the Committee could receive further information from Bill Chapple on the proposed restructure of Cabinet and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s.
The Chairman asked members to contact Michael Chard if they had any additional ideas.
2009/10-2011/12 Medium Term Plan Report PDF 44 KB
The Chairman will update Members on Cabinet response to the MTP report. This will be followed by a discussion of how the Committee wish to respond to Full Council. There will also be an opportunity to discuss learning points from the 2009/10 examination in public.
- Report into the MTP Process and Budget Proposals for 2009/10 -2011/12
- Lessons Learnt from the Examination in Public of the MTP/Budget 2009/10
The Chairman advised members that the Committee’s report on the Budget and Medium Term Planning (MTP) process had been accepted by Cabinet in its entirety. The final budget figures were still under review and would be presented to Council on 19 February 2009.
Members discussed the lessons learnt from the examination of the budget in public. Michael Chard’s paper was found to be very comprehensive in identifying the issues and the Chairman commented that in general the meetings had gone well, but questioning could have been more focussed.
It was noted that Steve Adams had substituted for Mrs Dewar, Cabinet Member for Community Services during the budget meetings and at Cabinet when the Committee’s report was presented.
With regards to the timing of the budget meetings, a member commented that in reality members had to do the best they could with the figures available at a given time.
The Committee thanked Michael Chard for his work on the budget report and also Kelly Sutherland, Katharine Woods, Alex Care and Rebecca Smith for assisting with the preparatory work. It was agreed that Michael Chard would circulate the Cabinet’s response to members again and members were invited to feedback any comments which would help the Chairman in preparing his report to Council.
Exclusion of the Press and Public
To resolve to exclude the press and public as the following items are exempt by virtue of Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12a of the Local Government Act 1972 because they contain information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)
That the press and public be excluded for the following item which is exempt by virtue of Paragraph 5 of Part 1 of Schedule 12a of the Local Government Act 1972 because it contains information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings
Shared Support Services - Cabinet Response
Members will have the opportunity to discuss the response from Cabinet to the Shared Support Services report that was presented to Cabinet on 26th January 2009.
Contributor: Whole Committee
Members discussed the Cabinet’s response to the Committee’s report on the Shared Services project. The Chairman commented that he felt the Committee had added value to the process and members noted that their recommendation that the final draft of the Inter-Authority Agreement, Joint Committee Constitution and Memorandum of Understanding should come back to the Committee, prior to agreement, had been accepted.
Exempt minutes of the meeting held on 21st January 2009
To confirm the exempt minutes of the meeting held on 21st January 2009.
The exempt minutes of the meeting held on 21st January 2009 were confirmed as a correct record.
Date and Time of Next Meeting
Tuesday 3rd March 2009 at 10am in Mezzanine Room 3
Tuesday 3rd March 2009 at 10am in Mezzanine Room 3