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Overview and Scrutiny Minutes - 9th April 2008

TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL

OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

Committee Room, Riverbank House, Bideford

9th April 2008

PRESENT: Councillor C J Leather (Chairman)
Councillor Mrs C B Church (Vice Chairman)
Councillors R Brown, D C Fulford, R Johnson (from 6.30 p.m.),
B J Lacey, D M Lausen, Mrs F M Perkin, S Robinson, A J Symons
and R M M Tisdale (from 6.30 p.m.)

Apologies for absence were received from Mr R French and Mr R Rumbold (Independent Members)

41.

ACTION LIST/FORWARD PLAN

The Committee considered their Action List and Forward Plan circulated with the Agenda.

Resolved: That the Action List and Forward Plan be noted.

(Vote: 9 For, 0 Against)

42.

URGENT MATTERS OF INFORMATION BROUGHT FORARD WITH THE PERMISSION OF THE CHAIRMAN AND THE COMMITTEE

The Chairman advised that in accordance with the Constitution Minute 184 of the Policy, Performance and Resources Committee held on the 31st March 2008, relating to Brunswick Wharf, had been called in. Reference was also made to Minute 178 of the same Committee, relating to Civil Parking Enforcement, which had been called in, and appeared on the current agenda.

The Chairman invited Members to consider a date for an additional Overview and Scrutiny Committee Meeting, bearing in mind the provisions of the Constitution, to discuss the called in item relating to Brunswick Wharf. He also confirmed that he would like as many Councillors as possible to be present at this meeting, and that a representative of the Kathleen and May Trust would also be invited to attend.

Resolved: That a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee be convened for Thursday, 17th April, 2008 commencing at 6.00 p.m. to discuss the called in item relating to Brunswick Wharf.

(Vote: 9 For, 0 Against)

43.

PUBLIC HEALTH AND WELLBEING

The Chairman welcomed Julia Page, the Head of Health Improvement for the North Devon and Torridge PCT, to the meeting and invited her to make her presentation to Members.

Julia Page began by advising that her presentation formed part of a process which sought to obtain feedback on a strategic framework for health and social care in Devon. In this respect she circulated to the meeting a copy of the summary of this work entitled "The Way Ahead", and it was noted that the aim was to achieve a five year plan.

The Committee were also advised that this was a joint initiative between Devon Primary Care Trust and Devon County Council, and that together the two organisations had studied the health needs of the population, and the way health and social care was provided. The joint strategic review had also looked at best practice locally and nationally and had sought the views of all those users of the services.

The main thrust of the presented document related to the improvement and development of health and social care upon which feedback was invited. Members noted that this was to be an ongoing process, with details of proposals being published regularly, and further feedback invited.

Julia Page also advised that work had centred around developing profiles for local communities to ascertain need.

The presentation concluded with Julia Page advising that a key part of the whole process related to engaging and consulting. In this respect it was noted that a further consultation on the framework would be taking place on the 8th May 2008 at the Barnstaple Hotel to which Members were invited. Additionally comment was also invited through the PCT website. The Committee noted that the consultation period would be ending on the 31st May 2008, with the launch of the Action Plan by the end of June 2008.

Julia Page then invited questions and indicated that views would be welcome on such areas as the direction of travel being taken; whether the proposals were good or could more be done; ideas to take the agenda forward; and comment on specific areas.

Questions were then raised by Members and related to timescales and feedback; the current position with regard to the provision of services; the definition of self care; life expectancy statistics; health promotions; the provision of services for cancer patients; hospital transport; and the effects of any decisions taken in respect of the Boundary Committee Review.

The Chairman also referred to GP Surgeries opening hours, which the Committee had been keen to debate. In response Julia Page advised that this topic was the subject of a directive from the Government, and discussions were currently taking place in respect of extending consultation hours.

There being no further questions, the Chairman thanked Julia Page for her informative presentation, and asked the Members to feed their comments back to him in order that a Committee response might be prepared.

44.

CALLED IN ITEM - CIVIL PARKING ENFORCEMENT (MINUTE 178 OF POLICY, PERFORMANCE AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE REFERS)

The Chairman welcomed Lester Willmington of the Devon County Council to the meeting. Members noted that the District Council's Officers had been liaising with Mr. Willmington in respect of civil parking enforcement. A welcome was also extended to Mr Ricky McCormack, the Council's Head of Operational Services, and Mr Simon Toon, the Car Parks Manager

The Chairman advised that in accordance with the Constitution the above item had been called in because it was felt that Policy, Performance and Resources Committee had not had all the relevant facts and had therefore not debated all the ramifications. He pointed out that civil parking enforcement had been given approval in principal in October 2007, and posed the question as to why nothing further had been presented to Members until March 2008.

The Chairman then invited Mr Willmington to provide a brief history with regard to civil parking enforcement, together with an update of the current position.

Mr Willmington began by confirming that 18 months ago the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary had advised the County Council that they could not police on-street parking through their traffic wardens. As a result of this the Executive of the County Council had considered their options under the Traffic Management Act, 2004 recognising that the introduction of civil parking enforcement should be for traffic management and not be punitive. Discussions had ensued with Torridge District Council, together with all other local authorities in Devon, who had agreed to consider the initiative bearing in mind the shared services agenda. Members noted that all the local authorities' Chief Executives had also supported this.

Mr Willmington confirmed that it was proposed that the District Councils should act as agents for the County Council in respect of civil parking enforcement (on street), which would have no effect on off street car parking, although penalty charges would have to be the same, and that it was hoped that the proposal would provide a reliable and consistent approach across Devon. It was also confirmed that the County Council would meet all capital and revenue costs in the provision of the service.

The Committee noted that it was proposed the transfer date from the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary to the County Council would be the 1st May 2008, and that the necessary Statutory Instrument would be laid before Parliament on the 10th April 2008.

Mr Willmington concluded by confirming that all local authorities in Devon were currently within the scheme.

Members were then invited to ask question to which the Head of Operational Services, the Car Parks Manager and Mr Willmington responded.

The issues debated related to the use of the urgency procedure; the information provided to Member through the Members Bulletin in February; the work being undertaken in respect of the legal and financial issues; the financial consequences to the authority should the proposal not be approved; the staff time involved in the establishment of the process; savings to the Police Authority; the need to ensure the factoring in of all costs to the County Council; the consultation exercise and the perceived lack of communication with businesses and the public; the major implications of the proposal on the District's residents; the consolidation of all previous legislation under the Traffic Management Act 2004; and the need for consultation between District and County when road traffic issues are being discussed recognising the ultimate decision would be that of the HATOC Committee.

In response to a question Mr Willmington confirmed that it was not the intention at present to introduce wheel clamping or cameras for the enforcement of car parking.

There being no further questions the Chairman thanked Mr Willmington for attending the meeting.

The Solicitor and Monitoring Officer reminded the Committee of their powers under the Constitution.

Councillor R M M Tisdale moved, and it was duly seconded, and;

Resolved: That the recommendation of the Policy, Performance and Resources Committee "to support the introduction of Civil Parking Enforcement in the Torridge area with effect from 5th May 2008" be accepted.

(Vote: 11 For, 0 Against)

45.

GP SURGERIES OPENING HOURS

The Chairman reported that it had not be possible to get a speaker to the meeting to discuss GP Surgeries Opening Hours, but that in any case this matter had now been covered by Julia Page during her presentation on public health and well-being.

46.

SHARED SERVICES

This item appeared on the Agenda because it appeared on the Committee's Forward Plan. The Committee recognised that this work had currently been superseded by the Boundary Committee exercise.

The Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) advised that IT services were currently shared with Mid Devon District Council, and that a meeting had recently been held with this Authority to consider the possibility of additional shared services.

47.

QUARTERLY BUSINESS REVIEW/PERFORMANCE

The Chairman referred to the QBR3 circulated with the Agenda, which had been considered by the Policy, Performance and Resources Committee at their meeting on the 25th February 2008. This had been provided to give Members a flavour of the information currently being collated.

Mr Robert Dinnis, the Strategy Analyst, asked the Committee to reflect on how in the future they would want to receive such information. In this respect he drew attention to the two page summary report relating to the QBR, which had been circulated with the Agenda. It was suggested that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee might wish to focus on the larger issues, rather than all the information contained within the QBR report. In this respect it was felt that perhaps the Committee should consider this matter again at their June meeting, and could then subsequently look at the bigger issues.

In response to a question Mr Dinnis confirmed that whilst quarterly QBR's would continue to be produced, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee could choose to focus on this topic half yearly. Mr Dinnis also confirmed that the responsibility for preparing the QBR lay with Financial Services, but that he had helped to get this off the ground in the last nine months.

Other issues debated related to the challenging targets to drive up progress; confirmation that scorecards were compared; the utilisation of SPAR.net Performance Management System with regard to making comparisons; the need for a report to this Committee detailing the major concerns and the remedial action being taken; the monitoring of the effective spending of the Council's resources; bench marking and comparisons with regard to value for money; lean reviews; and the performance of services against their Business Plans.

The Committee also felt that the QBR did not show whether good value for the money spent on a particular service was being achieved, and believed there should be some way of assessing this. It was noted the QBR only showed the finance allocated to delivering a given service.

In conclusion Mr Dinnis confirmed that further consideration would be given to this matter at the June Meeting of the Committee, including clearer presentation of information.

The meeting commenced at 6.00 p.m. and ended at 8.30 p.m.