Agenda and minutes

MOVED (from 9 December 2019), Scrutiny & Overview Committee
Monday, 10th February, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions

Contact: Simon Trevaskis
0208 7266000  Email: simon.trevaskis@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

8/20

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 29 October 2019 as an accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 14 January 2020 were agreed as an accurate record.

 

9/20

Disclosure of Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.

 

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest made at the meeting.

 

10/20

Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.

 

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

 

11/20

Fairfield Halls pdf icon PDF 166 KB

The Committee is asked to consider the information provided and decide if it wishes to make any recommendations.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report setting out information on both the redevelopment of Fairfield Halls by Brick by Brick and the ongoing operation of the venue by BH Live. A tour of the venue had been arranged for the members of the Committee prior to the meeting. The following were in attendance at the meeting for this item:-

·         Councillor Oliver Lewis – Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Sport

·         Shifa Mustafa – Executive Director for Place, Croydon Council

·         Colm Lacey – Brick by Brick

·         Neil Chandler – BH Live

·         Natasha Bucknor – Talawa Theatre Company

·         Sheree Vickers – Savvy Theatre Company

The first part of the item focussed in on the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls, with it confirmed that the current estimated cost for this was £42,600,000, with the project having been delivered by the Council’s development company, Brick by Brick. It was also confirmed that cost of the redevelopment had been met through the release of land around the venue for other development and had not required direct funding from the Council.

It was highlighted by a member of the Committee that the original budget for the redevelopment of Fairfield Halls had been £30,000,000 and as such it was questioned why this had increased to £42,600,000 and whether any further increases were expected. In response it was confirmed that no further increases were expected, although the final accounts were still to be signed off with the contractor on the project. There were two main reasons for the increase, the first being design developments during the project such as upgrading the sprinkler system to meet current fire safety standards and secondly unforeseen issues such as the discovery of a significant amount of asbestos which required removal.

In response to a follow up question about whether any further capital expenditure was planned for the venue in the coming eighteen months it was confirmed by the operator, BH Live, that no additional financial expenditure was planned at this stage. It was advised that as part of the ongoing upkeep of the venue the Council would occasionally need to make further investment, but there were no planned works at this time.

Regarding the value of the land funding the development, it was confirmed that this was based on the current valuation which included the development of approximately 420 homes on the site. The previously proposed scheme was for a development of approximately 200 homes. As a result of the increased densification of the site, the value had risen to cover the full cost of the redevelopment.

In response to a question about the key risks identified at the outset of the project it was confirmed that asbestos had been identified. Work was undertaken to investigate the level of asbestos present in the building which established that it was located throughout. Despite this preliminary work, once the redevelopment commenced the level of asbestos found in the building was greater than expected.  A decision was taken to completely remove asbestos from the site rather than encapsulating  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11/20

12/20

Question Time: Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Sport pdf icon PDF 225 KB

Question Time with the Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, Councillor Oliver Lewis.

 

The Committee is asked to consider the information provided by the Cabinet Member and decide if it wishes to make any recommendations

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report together with a presentation delivered at the meeting from the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Sport, Councillor Oliver Lewis, which provided an overview of the key activities within the Culture, Leisure & Sport portfolio over the past year.

A copy of the presentation can be found at the following link:-

https://democracy.croydon.gov.uk/documents/b7156/Question%20Time%20Cabinet%20Member%20for%20Culture%20Leisure%20Sport%20-%20Presentation%2010th-Feb-2020%2018.30%20Scru.pdf?T=9

During the course of the presentation the following points were noted:-

·         £42,600,000 had been invested in the restoration of Fairfield Halls which had resulted in the provision of an inclusive space for all of Croydon.

·         There was a growing cultural calendar in the borough with the Pride and Mela events attracting 22,000 people to Wandle Park. There had also been larger events such as the Ends Festival in Lloyd Park. Work continued on growing and developing the local music scene.

·         There was a thriving cultural network in the borough with 500 people on the Council’s cultural database

·         The Council was being held up as an example of best practice for the creation of its Night Time Plan, which had been developed in consultation with the Scrutiny and Overview Committee.

·         There had been a £5,000,000 capital investment in the borough’s libraries to create modern digitally enabled spaces, with the Selsdon Library the most recently upgraded.

·         There were a number of threats to the continued growth of culture in the borough such as the economic uncertainty making finding new investment challenging, historic underinvestment in the cultural sector and the wider economic issues restricting the public’s spending on non-essentials such as theatre tickets.

·         There were active Friends Groups in the parks across the borough and investment continued to be made in parks with data being used to inform this approach.

·         It was due to be confirmed on 11 February whether Croydon had been named the London Borough of Culture for 2023.

·         There had been historic underinvestment in sport in the borough which was changing with the Park Life project and the installation of outdoor gym equipment in parks, most recently in Norbury Park. The New Addington Leisure Centre had opened in January, providing a modern sports and leisure facility for the local community.

·         The Museum of Croydon was working towards reaccreditation, following the loss of its status in 2013. The future of the museum would be closely linked to the Clocktower development.

Following the presentation the Committee was given the opportunity to question the Cabinet Member about his portfolio. The first question concerned the provision of cafes in the borough’s libraries and how the success of these would be reviewed. It was advised that the provision of café facilities was decided on a case by case basis depending on the space available and whether there were existing alternatives in the near vicinity. As the provision of cafes in libraries was a new approach, each location would be reviewed and if they proved not to be successful the space would be utilised for another purpose.

An update was provided on the installation of three all-weather cricket pitches in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12/20

13/20

Pre-Decision Scrutiny: Proposed General Fund Revenue Budget 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 303 KB

For the Committee to scrutinise the proposed 2020-21 Council budget.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report, introduced by the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, Councillor Simon Hall, which set out the Administration’s budget proposals for 2020-21. During the introduction to the report the following points were noted:-

·         It was a challenging environment for the local government finance, with continuing austerity and uncertainty over the longer term funding from central government beyond 2020-21 making it difficult to plan financially.

·         The Council will receive a £1,000,000 increase to its grant, which equates to a real term cut when balanced against the ending of the London Business Rates pilot.

·         Despite cross party support across the Council, the cost for supporting Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) had not been addressed and was costing the Council £9,000,000 each year due to a shortfall in funding from the Home Office.

·         Protecting front line services continued to be a priority in the budget which a focus on new, innovative digital ways of work to deliver improvements for residents.

·         Through sound financial management the budget for 2020-21 increases the contingency and also looks to invest £5,000,000 in to Council reserves, along with continued investment over the next few years.

·         The budget looks to ensure that services are delivered efficiently through partnership and localities based work. Funding will also be sought from partners in areas where there is considered to be an imbalance.

·         Work will start in the next few weeks on monitoring both the budget and the action required to deliver the budget.

Following the introduction by the Cabinet Member, the Committee was given the opportunity to ask questions on the information provided.

The Committee learnt that although there had been periods in the past when the support provided by the Council for unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) had been fully funded by the Home Office, due to the way funding was currently administered that was not presently the case and had not been for a number of years. However, the fact that there was cross party support on the Council and from the local MPs on this issue would help to make the case for fair funding for Croydon. Recent conversations with the government about UASC funding had been encouraging, leading to optimism that the current funding shortfall of approximately £9,000,000 per year would be addressed.

The Committee gave consideration to the fees and charges for Council services, noting that there would be an increase to pay and display parking charges for the first time in a number of years, with care being taken to ensure these increases were fair and equitable. The full year effect of implementing the emissions based charging for residents parking permits and increased Building Control charges had also been factored into the budget.

The Committee questioned whether there would be any contract variations with the Council’s waste collection providers, Veolia, and learnt that there had been an increase in the cost of the contract of £2,500,000 which had been factored into the budget. The cost had increased due to the growth in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13/20

14/20

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:

 

“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”

 

 

Minutes:

This motion was not required.