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Overview and Scrutiny Minutes - 24th October 2007

TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL

OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

Committee Room, Riverbank House, Bideford

24th October 2007

PRESENT: Councillor C L Leather (Chairman)

Councillor Mrs C B Church (Vice Chairman)

Councillors R Brown, D C Fulford, R Johnson,
B J Lacey, Mrs F M Perkin, S Robinson, A J Symons
and R M M Tisdale

Independent Members: Mr R French

ALSO PRESENT. Councillors R E Johns, J Morrish, P J Pester and D H Shadrick

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor D M Lausen, Mr Richard Rumbold and Mr D Scotting

12.

MINUTES

Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 12th September 2007 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman, subject to the amendments detailed at the meeting relating to Declarations of Interest.

13..

EQUALITY SCHEME

The Head of Human Resources presented an overview of the scheme and highlighted the legal and moral obligations, the role of scrutiny in relation to the Equality agenda to ensure the inclusion of all people, and how the Council needs to ensure all its activities work to the Equality Scheme. The range and depth of the scheme was outlined and how most of the issues are now covered by legislation.

Members discussed the requirements to achieve Level 2 and the Impact Assessments that will start in November and the creation of staff Equality Champions nominated by each of the service areas. Members asked for particular statistics regarding people with a disability employed by the Council and the Officer explained the survey being undertaken, but stressed that it will be the choice of staff to declare whether they have perceive themselves to have a disability or not.

The Committee acknowledged the progress already made regarding Equality and thanked the Officer.

Resolved: That this Committee receive a report on the Equality Scheme progress at the 9th April 2008 meeting

14.

DRAFT SONIC ACTION PLAN

The Head of Environmental Health and Public Protection reminded the Committee of the issues presented previously and the subsequent development of the Action Plan. This is the six monthly report requested by Members. The Members were asked to note that the Code of Corporate Governance & SONIC will be combined into a new format for next year, it is anticipated that this will be less resource intensive.

All the Actions will be achieved by the end of the year. Members asked specific questions regarding risk management and the integration into the Council's performance management system to ensure progress can be monitored and issues challenged. Members can view progress via SPAR.net (Judy Phillips available to advise).

Resolved: That this Committee review the SONIC on 9th April 2008.

15.

PLANNING CO-ORDINATION/SECTION 106 AGREEMENTS

Members had already agreed to rearrange this item for the next meeting on 5th December 2007 when the Solicitor and Section 106 Officer will attend. This was also to ensure the meeting was one that was planned for during the day in consideration for those invited to attend from the Building Confederation and Devon County Council.

The Committee discussed the importance of looking at planning co-ordination and S106s. The Planning Guide 6 on Conditions and Planning Obligations was circulated with the agenda for information prior to the next Committee meeting. The five requirements of the guide were noted.

There was acknowledgement of the need to track S106s and make use of the money within legal obligations.

Resolved: That Members formulate their questions in preparation for the next meeting to ensure that best use is made of the opportunity. (Committee would like to understand better contributions relating to education, roads and water).

16.

FORWARD PLAN

The Head of Corporate Services was invited to present a format to help focus the Committee following a meeting the previous week with the Chairman of Overview & Scrutiny Committee and the Strategic Director (Corporate Resources).

The structure of the proposed forward plan was around the following themes:

  • Strategic Plan priorities and budget setting
  • Performance, service improvement, BVPP and VfM
  • Policy review and development
  • Public concerns
  • Cross cutting issues and partnerships

A draft plan categorising the existing agenda into these themes was presented and discussed. Members agreed these themes fit well with the role of 4th option scrutiny functions and the balance between proactive/reactive nature of scrutiny work and the training previously received by the Members was referred to.

Future items were highlighted and scheduled with recognition that capacity must be considered to ensure an impact could be made with the focus of this Committee. The Chairman confirmed that the Strategic Director will continue to support the Committee with additional support from the Head of Corporate Services. This was welcomed by Members. The Head of Financial Services will be asked to provide financial information in advance of the budget setting work scheduled for the week beginning 14th January 2008.

Resolved: The newly formatted Forward Plan be adopted by the Committee. Members to note that the budget setting work may be across more than one day.

The meeting commenced at 6.30pm and ended at 8.10 pm.