Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny & Overview Committee
Monday, 11th February, 2019 6.30 pm

Venue: F10, Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX. View directions

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

Items
No. Item

8/19

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 15 January 2019 as an accurate record.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 15 January 2019 were agreed as an accurate record, subject to the following amendments.

Minute 1/19, paragraph three be amended to:-

‘The Chief Executive assured Members that information should be provided in a timely fashion when requested by the Committee. It was agreed that going forward requests for information would be listed separately from recommendations to prevent delays in the requested information being circulated to Members.’

Minute 4/19, first bullet point be amended to:-

‘In light of ongoing cuts to Council grant funding from central Government, the Administration had taken a clear view that the Budget proposals for 2019/20 would seek the maximum increase in both Council Tax (without triggering a referendum) and the Adult Social Care precept to continue to protect frontline funding.’

Information Request

Having noted that the information on Cil funding raised on a Ward level, as detailed in the Cil Annual Monitoring report would be circulated to all Members, the Committee requested information from the previous three years for their respective Wards.

9/19

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 none.

10/19

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:

The Chair advised the Committee that following the unfortunate death of their former Council colleague, Maggie Mansell, a vacancy had arisen on the Children & Young People Sub Committee. It was proposed that Councillor Callton Young would fill the vacancy.

The Committee resolved that Councillor Callton Young be appointed as a member of the Children & Young People Sub Committee.

11/19

Pre-Decision Scrutiny: Development Voluntary & Community Sector Strategy for Croydon pdf icon PDF 907 KB

To provide comment and inform the development of a Voluntary & Community Sector Strategy for Croydon Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report, set out on pages 15 to 58 of the agenda, together with a supplemental presentation, that provided information on proposals for a Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy for Croydon. The Committee was asked for its comments, which would be used to inform the final strategy that would be considered by the Cabinet in March 2019.

During the introduction of the report, which was presented by the Cabinet Member for Safer Croydon and Communities, Councillor Hamida Ali, the following points were noted:-

·      The voluntary and community sector was a massive asset for the borough with 819 groups registered with the Charity Commission and over 2,000 with Croydon Voluntary Action.

·      The Council worked with the sector in a number of different ways including providing infrastructure support to build capacity, co-ordinating engagement, providing information on commissioning opportunities and a range of work through the One Croydon Alliance.

·      The Strategy was being developed to coordinate the Council’s work with the voluntary sector, to ensure that there was transparency in the Council’s grant processes and that funding was balanced.

·      The Community Fund was the main source of voluntary sector funding provided by the Council. It was last awarded in September 2016 with funding provided over a three year period. This was to provide greater certainty to the organisations in receipt of a grant. In total £1.9m of funding was being awarded per annum to 31 separate organisations.

·      The Prevention Fund, was a grant aimed at organisations providing services for the over 65s. This fund awarded a total of approximately £500k per year to 21 organisations.

·      Other funds available to the voluntary and community sector included the Community Small Grants fund, which had a budget of £100,000 for small grants up to £5,000. There was also Subsidy and Rate Relief and Community Ward budgets.

·      As part of the process of developing the Strategy a consultation process had been undertaken, with 225 organisations responding and over 100 organisations communicated with directly.

·      From the responses to consultation, the main threats to voluntary and community sector organisations included funding concerns, the lack of affordable premises and the availability of volunteers.

·      As a correction to the published report, it was highlighted that 70% of organisations who had responded felt that their needs were not being met by the Council, rather than 30% which was stated in the report.

·      The responses had also indicated that there was an expectation that the Council would facilitate collaboration, that the Council should be doing more to promote the sector, provide affordable space, provide funding and assisting with capacity building

Following the introduction, the Committee was given the opportunity to question the Cabinet Member on the proposed strategy. The first question posed asked whether there was a need for a voluntary sector and whether the sector was providing services that should be funded by either the Council or the Government. In response it was advised that it was not for the Council to say whether there should be a voluntary  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11/19

12/19

Pre-Decision Scrutiny: Development of a Culture Plan for Croydon pdf icon PDF 129 KB

To provide comment and inform the development of the Culture Plan and a Libraries Plan for Croydon Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report, set out on pages 59 to 64 of the agenda, together with a supplemental presentation, that set out information on proposals for a Cultural Plan for Croydon. The Committee was asked for its comments, which would be used to inform the final strategy that would be considered by the Cabinet later in the year.

During the introduction of the report, which was presented by the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, Councillor Oliver Lewis the following points were noted:-

·      The Cultural Strengths in the borough included a good cultural calendar of events such as Mela and the Pride Festival, the recent successful bid for Cultural Enterprise Zone status which had resulted in funding of £1m, the Cultural Partnership Fund and the strong musical heritage of the borough.

·      Weaknesses included the boroughs reputation which effected investment and a historical lack of investment in culture in the borough.

·      Potential opportunities included the population of Croydon which was young and diverse, culture should be seen as a means to delivering on other priorities such as the work on Prevention, the newly refurbished Fairfield Halls and the Music City project.

·      Challenges included ongoing budget constraints and having to find an approach for Croydon that was distinct from other London Boroughs.

Following the introduction the Committee was given the opportunity to question the Cabinet Member on the emerging Cultural Plan. It was highlighted that there had been a number of previous Cultural Strategies that had met with varying degrees of success and as such it was questioned what would help to ensure that the forthcoming Plan would be more successful. In response it was highlighted that the profile of culture had changed within the Council over the past five years with its importance being prioritised by the Administration. Evidence of this could be seen through the investment made in the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls and the Cultural Enterprise Zone.

A number of Members emphasised that it was important that the Plan reflected the different district centres within the borough. This was felt to be particularly significant with the forthcoming redevelopment of the town centre in Croydon. It was also agreed that although the report highlighted the large proportion of young people in the borough, it was essential that the strategy was reflective of the diverse age range in the population of the borough as well.

As it had been highlighted during the presentation that there had been initial success with the Cultural Partnership sponsorship Fund, it was questioned how much had been raised through the scheme. It was advised that at present £100,000 had been raised. The scheme offered a tiered package to contributors which was based upon the amount donated.   It was early days for the development of corporate sponsorship for cultural events in Croydon and there was no set percentage being aimed for.

The Mayor of London’s Cultural Strategy was highlighted and in particular that there was little mention of Croydon within the document, which had a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12/19

13/19

Pre-Decision Scrutiny: Development of a Libraries Plan for Croydon

Minutes:

The Committee received a report, set out on pages 59 to 64 of the agenda, together with a supplemental presentation, that set out information on proposals for a Libraries Strategy for Croydon. The Committee was asked for its comments, which would be used to inform the final strategy that would be considered by the Cabinet later in the year.

During the introduction of the report, which was presented by the Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, Councillor Oliver Lewis the following points were noted:-

·      Strengths of the library service included the management of the 13 libraries within the borough being brought back in-house, libraries were one of the few universal free services and were already hosting a wide range of events.

·      Weaknesses identified included the age of the library portfolio which needed investment to bring back up to standard, the IT equipment was in need of updating and the marketing of the range of services available could be improved.

·      Opportunities included some of the sites having the potential for redevelopment as housing, which would include the provision of new library facilities. There was also the possibility of having more flexible opening hours through the use of new technology.

·      The challenges to making improvements were that any potential changes to the service could often be met with fierce public resistance and the significant cost of improvement.

Following the presentation, the Committee was given the opportunity to question the Cabinet Member about the proposed strategy. The first question related to the use of data and whether the location of library users was mapped, with a view to finding out those parts of the borough where the service was least used. In response it was confirmed that data was available and used, but this was only dated from when the service came back in house. Having reviewed the data, most parts of the borough were within 1.5 miles of a library or 30 minutes travel by public transport.

In response to a question about the budget available to make library improvements, it was advised that a capital bid would be submitted in 2019/20 for IT improvements and initial refurbishment, but it was highlighted that the service had to live within its means.

In regard to library improvements, it was questioned whether there was any plans to completely demolish and rebuild any libraries. It was highlighted that there were plans in place for a new library in South Norwood. The current building had an inaccessible layout based over five floors, which presented a number of operational issues. As such this building would be demolished and be replaced by a new development, to be built by Brick by Brick, which would include a new library facility on the ground floor and housing above. The new building would also include a community space that could be used flexibly.

There was a general level of agreement amongst the Committee that the strategy should be ambitious and embrace new technology to improve the service. It was noted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 13/19

14/19

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 needed.