Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Watford

Contact: Ishbel Morren  Email: democraticservices@watford.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

25.

Apologies for Absence/Committee Membership

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Allen-Williamson.

26.

Disclosure of interests (if any)

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest.

27.

Minutes

The minutes of the meeting held on 23 July 2020 to be submitted and signed.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 23 July 2020 were submitted.  It was noted that the minutes would be signed once officers and members were able to return to the town hall.

28.

Other scrutiny meetings - minutes

    The following scrutiny committees and task groups have met since the last meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Committee:

     

    ·      Watford & Three Rivers Trust task group on 19 August

    ·      Finance Scrutiny Committee on 10 September

    Minutes:

    It was noted that Finance Scrutiny Committee had met on 10 September.  In addition, the Watford and Three Rivers Trust (W3RT) scrutiny task group had met on 19 August and had since held a number of evidence sessions. 

29.

Call-in

    To consider any executive decisions which have been called in by the requisite number of councillors.

    Minutes:

    No executive decisions had been called in.

30.

Voluntary Sector Commissioning Framework Yr 1 Report pdf icon PDF 388 KB

    • View the background to item 30.

    Report of the Head of Leisure and Environmental Services

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Overview and Scrutiny Committee received the report of the Head of Leisure and Environmental Services.  This reviewed the performance of the Voluntary Sector Commissioning Framework in 2019-20 in providing a range of leisure and community services delivered by voluntary sector organisations on behalf of Watford Borough Council.

     

    The Head of Leisure and Environmental Services briefly introduced the report before asking the Contract and Partnership Manager – Leisure and Community Services to provide a more detailed overview.  This included a short review of the impact on service delivery during the Covid-19 lockdown period (end of March to August 2020).  Committee members were advised that a more detailed analysis would be included in the year 2 report.

     

    Following the presentation, scrutiny members raised the following points:

     

               Monitoring and engagement of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities – a significant amount of work had been undertaken to increase the monitoring and engagement of under-represented and BAME communities.  However, minority languages continued to affect accessibility for some people.  This might include some eastern European languages.  Previously money had been set aside to provide specialist language assistance.  It was questioned whether this funding had been ring fenced such that it would be available to provide interpretation services today.

     

               Impact of the Covid 19 lockdown on the demand for virtual activities from BAME residents – members were interested to understand whether participation levels by BAME residents had increased or decreased during lockdown.  In addition, where there had been an increase in demand for virtual activities, how this had been achieved.

     

               Shopmobility Watford – since 50% of users were non-Watford residents, it was questioned whether differential charging should be introduced.  Officers advised that the service was currently free of charge, although users often provided donations.  Thought was being given to possible charges in the future.  This might include differential charging structures.

     

               Pump House – it was suggested that movie nights might include an Asian film offering.

     

               Women only swimming – previously members had proposed that an additional women only session should be provided.  It was questioned whether current demand supported this proposal.

     

    In addition to providing information on the above points, following the meeting, the Contract and Partnership Manager advised that she would report more fully on the work being undertaken to understand and, where required, increase participation by BAME and under-represented groups in the activities covered by the Voluntary Sector Commissioning Framework.

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    that Overview and Scrutiny Committee notes the report.

                

    Action: Head of Leisure and Environmental Services and Contract and Partnership Manager – Leisure and Community

31.

Quarter 1 2020/21 Council Performance Report pdf icon PDF 1 MB

    Report of the Executive Head of Strategy and Communications

    Minutes:

    The scrutiny committee received the report of the Executive Head of Strategy and Communications setting out the council’s key performance indicators for the end of quarter 1 2020/21.

     

    The Executive Head of Strategy and Communications introduced the report, highlighting in particular the impact of Covid-19 on the authority’s key performance indicators:

     

               services had generally performed well, but some had felt the strain of additional workloads.  These included the council’s benefits service which had had to administer a large number of new applications in response to government grants announced during lockdown;

               high call volumes in customer services as a result of changing working arrangements following the closure of the town hall;

               sharp drop in penalty charge notices as a result of fewer car movements coupled with the suspension of some restrictions;

               changes to the housing figures following the government’s drive to get rough sleepers off the streets;

               rise in recycling rates, possibly explained by the additional packaging generated by home deliveries from online shopping and the closure of Hertfordshire County Council’s household waste and recycling centres;

               closure of leisure centres during lockdown;

               lower rates of council tax and non-domestic rates collection;

               lower rates of staff sickness whilst working from home. 

     

    The Executive Head of Strategy and Communications noted that some data remained outstanding and would be circulated when it became available. 

     

    During subsequent discussions, committee members raised a number of issues including:

     

               Staff mental health – the effects of home working on staff morale and on their mental health.  It was noted that the council’s Managing Director was keenly aware of the impact of lockdown and current working arrangements on officers’ health and wellbeing.  Measures had been put in place, and remained under review using regular staff surveys and increased communication and liaison within and between teams across the authority.

     

                 Scrutiny members suggested that specific training for managers in mental health first aid should be arranged.  In addition, the views of the council’s existing mental health first aiders should be sought to establish how managers might better engage on mental health.

     

               ICT customer satisfaction surveys – the process of seeking feedback from helpdesk users and whether this was sought in all cases.  Response rates were acknowledged to be generally low.  It was agreed to send committee members an example of the automated email and to assess whether the messaging might be improved.  Clarification would also be sought on whether emails were sent to users experiencing on-going problems. 

     

               Benefits team – whether extra staff had been deployed to assist the benefits team with increased workloads. 

     

               Customer services – whether customers’ needs for face to face contact, particularly for those either unable to access or unfamiliar with online services such as the elderly, were being met by the limited opening of the town hall.  It was reported that face to face meetings had been possible for a number of weeks, but that uptake had been low.  People had generally been signposted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

New scrutiny task group - Watford's BAME community pdf icon PDF 380 KB

    • View the background to item 32.

    Report of the Senior Democratic Services Officer

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The scrutiny committee received a report of the Senior Democratic Services Officer.  This provided details of a potential scrutiny review about the issues of importance to Watford’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community, including street naming in the borough and the authority’s policy for naming streets going forward.  The scrutiny suggestion followed two separate motions from Councillors Ezeifedi and Khan debated and agreed at Full Council on 14 July 2020.

     

    Following publication of the agenda, Councillor Mauthoor had withdrawn her nomination to participate in the task group.  However, there remained six nominations for five available places.  In addition, two nominations had been received to chair the task group.  Scrutiny members were therefore asked to vote on the final composition of the task group.

     

    In accordance with Standing Committee Procedure Rules, paragraph 4.4, as an equal division of votes had been cast for the two nominations to chair the scrutiny task group, the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee used her casting vote to determine the appointment.

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    1.          that a new task group be established to review the issues of importance to Watford’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community, including street naming in the borough and the authority’s policy for naming streets going forward;

     

    2.          that the Watford’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Task Group comprises Councillors Allen-Williamson, Ezeifedi, Jeffree, Khan and Pattinson;

     

    3.          that Councillor Ezeifedi be appointed chair of the task group.

33.

Hertfordshire County Council's Health Scrutiny Committee

    Councillor Parker, the Council’s appointed representative to the County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee, to provide an update.

     

    Minutes:

    Councillor Parker reported that, as the council’s appointed representative to Hertfordshire County Council’s (HCC) Health Scrutiny Committee, she had attended a combined meeting with HCC’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 16 September.  This had been a single item agenda which had considered the impact of Covid-19 on NHS services.  A further meeting would be taking place on 30 September and scrutiny members would be provided with an update.

34.

Executive Decision Progress Report pdf icon PDF 404 KB

    The Scrutiny Committee is asked to review the latest edition of the Executive Decision Progress Report and consider whether any further information is required.

     

    Minutes:

    The scrutiny committee was invited to review the current Executive Decision Progress Report for 2020-21 and consider whether any further information was required. 

     

    The Senior Democratic Services Officer advised that the Watford Colosseum Contract Options report had been removed from the Executive Decision Progress Report since publication of the agenda.

                

    RESOLVED –

     

    that the current 2021/21 Executive Decision Progress report be noted.

35.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 422 KB

    The scrutiny committee is asked to review the current version of the work programme and consider any additional areas councillors wish to scrutinise.

    Minutes:

    The scrutiny committee received the 2020/21 work programme. 

     

    RESOLVED –

     

    that the 2020/21 work programme be noted.

36.

Dates of Next Meetings

·           22 October 2020

·           26 November 2020

Minutes:

It was noted that the next meetings would take place on Thursday 22 October Thursday 26 November.

 

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