The Scrutiny Officer submitted a report that reviewed the actions included in the existing work programme and proposed amendments to the ongoing work programme. She drew Members’ attention to the scoping document within the agenda and referred to the work of Task and Finish Groups.
The Scrutiny Officer referred in particular to the Parking Task and Finish Group and advised Members that the Head of Operations would be reporting on these recommendations and other related matters to Executive on 11 February 2020 with the recommendation that the findings be submitted to the next ordinary Council meeting for a decision.
The Scrutiny Officer said that following discussions with the
Chairman and Vice Chairman a decision had been taken not to
scrutinise the matter of Hertford Town Centre and Bircheley Green, as the owners of the site needed
time to bring forward their development proposals for the
The Scrutiny Officer explained that the first meeting of the East Herts Climate Change Forum had taken place on 15 January 2020 and further meetings would be held in 2020/21 across the District at three monthly intervals. Members agreed that an update in relation to the Environmental Climate Forum be included as a standing item on each OS Committee
The Scrutiny Officer updated the Committee in respect of the matter of cycle storage provision in Bishop’s Stortford which had been raised by a Member. She explained that the issue had been raised with Greater Anglia and partner organisations and the Executive Member for Environmental Sustainability had been involved in research. The Scrutiny Officer explained that as a result of the information already available in terms of cycle provision and future proposals for the District and following discussions with the Chairman and Vice-Chairman that a Task and Finish Group was not needed.
The Committee was reminded that a Task and Finish Group had explored the relationship between the Council and registered social housing providers. A Task and Finish Group had met on 19 December 2019 which had established what probing questions could be asked to both tenants’ representatives and to senior Officers of two housing associations. The Scrutiny Officer explained that she was still trying to arrange meeting with relevant parties.
Councillor N Symonds said that smaller meetings with tenants and the housing associations was the best way forward. She confirmed that the Head of Housing at Network Homes could also be invited. The Chairman reminded Members that Overview and Scrutiny Committee had tasked the Task and Finish Group to speak to the Housing Associations on behalf of the Committee. Councillor D Snowdon said that the Task and Finish Group Members should be allowed to carry out what had been asked of them.
The Scrutiny Officer said that the Performance, Audit and Governance Oversight Committee had received a report on Section 106 allocations on 24 September 2019 and Members had agreed to take no further action. Members were asked to agree that this subject be removed and from the current work programme. This was supported.
Councillor H Drake said that where an item had been added to the work programme by Members, the Committee expected a report to be submitted by Officers. The Scrutiny Officer explained that the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) best practice advice was that two in depth reports on a scrutiny agenda was sufficient to allow effective scrutiny to take place.
The Committee debated at length the matter of public speaking as well as the venue for future meetings of the Committee. Councillor A Ward-Booth said that premises that were satisfactory for holding Town Council meetings were acceptable for Overview and Scrutiny Committee. At Members’ request, the Scrutiny Officer undertook to book the next meeting of Overview and Scrutiny Committee at Bishop’s Stortford Town Council on 31 March 2020.
Councillor A Ward-Booth proposed and Councillor M Goldspink seconded, a motion that the proposed Work Programme be approved, as detailed in Appendix A and scrutiny of Section 106 allocations be removed from the Work Programme as it was considered in detail at a meeting of Performance, Audit and Governance Oversight Committee.
Members expressed their concern that a report on Pre-Planning Advice had not been included on the agenda for this meeting. The Chairman reminded Members that when a report had been asked by Scrutiny at a specific meeting then this request should be adhered to. The Scrutiny Officer explained that the Head of Planning and Building Control had explained that the process needed time to embed and that this was why a report had not been forthcoming to Members at this time. While Members acknowledged the position, they insisted that the Head of Planning and Building Control report back to the next meeting on 31 March 2020.
After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, this motion was declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED – that (A) the proposed Work Programme be approved, as detailed in Appendix A, which had been amended in line with progress on:
· the Task and Finish Group (Parking);
· consideration of issues relation to Hertford Town Centre and Bircheley Green, Hertford;
· to include on each OS Committee an update on the Environmental and Climate Forum as a standing item;
· consideration of cycle storage provision in Bishop’s Stortford
· the Task and Finish Group (social housing)
(B) Scrutiny of Section 106 allocations be removed from the Work Programme
(C) a report in respect of pre-planning advice be added to the work programme for the 31 March 2020 meeting of the Committee.