Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Hendon Town Hall, The Burroughs, London NW4 4BQ. View directions

Contact: Faith Mwende - Email: faith.mwende@barnet.gov.uk 

Media

Items
No. Item

Councillor Danny Rich, Chair of the Committee, welcomed all attendees to the meeting.

1.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In relation to the minutes of the meeting held on 27th November 2023, a committee member questioned the accuracy of the minutes in relation to item 6 (Brent Cross Plot 1) the Chair noted that in response to a question on the whether the scheme could proceed without the loan, the Cabinet Member had confirmed the scheme would not progress without the loan. It was agreed that the minutes would be amended to reflect this.

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 27th November 2023 be approved as a correct record subject to amendment detailed above.

 

In relation to the minutes of the meeting held on 21st November 2023, the following corrections were agreed:

·       To delete Councillor Zinkin’s double attendance

·       To amend item 3 to read: “Councillor Danny Rich and Councillor Anne Hutton declared a non-pecuniary interest as they were trustees of Barnet Carers, who and Barnet Carers received money from the London Borough of Barnet.

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 21st November 2023 be approved as a correct record subject to the amendments detailed above.

 

2.

Absence of Members (If any)

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Alex Prager who had been substituted for by Councillor David Longstaff.

 

3.

Declaration of Members' Disclosable Pecuniary interests and Other interests (If any)

Minutes:

Councillor Arjun Mittra declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to item 7, as his family are tenants of Barnet Homes and that one of the families receiving retrofitting are known to him.

 

Councillor David Longstaff declared a non-pecuniary interest in relation to item 7, as a governor at Foulds Primary School which is part of the current retrofitting programme.

 

4.

Report of the Monitoring Officer (If any)

Minutes:

None.

5.

Public Comments and Questions (If any)

Minutes:

None.

6.

Members' Items (if any)

Minutes:

None.

7.

Towards Net Zero - Decarbonisation of the Corporate Estate pdf icon PDF 780 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Environment and Climate Change introduced the report stating that the decarbonisation of council buildings and properties was a key part of the Council’s commitment to reach Net Zero by 2030. There are ambitions to go further but will depend on future funding opportunities.

 

The Assistant Director for Estates and Decarbonisation gave an overview of the report stating that the decarbonisation journey from 2018 led to applications for grant funding which had pushed programme forward. The project was building business cases for additional borrowing to keep the programme going in context of financial constraints.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, it was reported that the retrofit programme could save money as schools benefit from cheaper utility bills and avoid provider costs.  Officers also confirmed that they could calculate both financial and carbon savings.

 

A Committee Member asked if the programme could be halted if it is found to be unsuccessful and if the schools will be required to fund running costs of the new retrofit systems are found to be more expensive.

 

The Cabinet Member confirmed that the Council would use the latest technology and would adapt as technology changes. It was noted that so far, the retrofit programme had been working well, but this would be continually reviewed. Officers confirmed that the schools were responsible for their own utility bills and any savings would go to the school.  It was noted that Council had funded the installation costs.

 

Councillor David Longstaff reported he was on the Finance Committee in the Foulds School and understood there was provision in the contract to cover any additional costs for utilities.

 

Officers noted that early calculations show savings in schools. Technology such as air source heat pumps were keeping costs down and more data would be available in winter 2024/25. Officers confirmed that schools would be revisited to do insulation where possible to keep costs down further.

 

A Committee Member queried the scale of the project to retrofit all council buildings by 2030, with the reported delay in early phases.  It was questioned how many buildings would need to be completed per annum to reach the 2030 goal. Officers confirmed that delays had been caused by UK Power Networks capacity to cope with additional demand. There was a Net Zero team to support the catchment area and respond quickly which should lead to fewer delays going forward. The project was completing higher emission buildings first such as schools. It was noted that the Council needed to spend £10m per year to reach 2030 deadline. There were 90 assets in the Managed Estate, but not all need same amount of work.

  

In response to questions from the Committee about the involvement of local organisations and the private sector, officers confirmed that there was a re- procurement process taking place which would allow greater involvement of public sector partners.  There had been interest from the RAF Museum and Barnet College to have access to the contract. It was not open  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Annual Performance Review of Registered Providers (RPs) pdf icon PDF 203 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Ross Houston, Cabinet Member for Homes & Regeneration, and Cath Shaw, Deputy Chief Executive, presented an overview of the report stating that it provided performance data from the main registered providers in the Borough.  It was noted that this was a detailed report and some of data was from borough level and some London wide.

 

The Committee asked how the ratings were determined as Ward Councillors had found high levels of dissatisfaction with the repair work and timeliness of their responses, particularly in relation to Notting Hill Genesis. Officers confirmed that the data had been gathered via a questionnaire sent to all housing associations who provided feedback on how they were performing.

 

The Committee said we needed to reconsider this approach and have direct engagement with residents to obtain true satisfaction data as Ward Councillors had not seen improvements in quality of service via their case work. The Committee further queried the methodology of data collection and if comparison data was available or independent data as the data available makes it difficult to draw out meaningful conclusions, without a uniform methodology for data collection. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Homes and Regeneration said there is a new regulatory regime on how repairs and other information is recorded, and it would lead to better standardisation of data. The department are also working with regulators to get better comparable data.

 

Officers confirmed that the Committee could influence what data is reported in future. Future data collection can be done differently and presented in the performance review for next year.  Action: Scrutiny Officers to work with Customer & Place officers on alternative formats to present information in future years reports.

 

A committee member said whilst they recognise that housing providers are under pressure, there has been a lack of engagement with residents, we need to get feedback from resident’s associations, not just the providers.

 

A Committee Member also raised concerns about Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing Association speed of repairs. In addition, it was questioned what was being to address anti-social behaviour on the Grahame Park Estate.

 

The Deputy Chief Executive said standardisation of data would help and give us confidence that the data provided by the registered providers was reliable. The Housing team were also committed to community engagement and would be holding community listening events, but noted that there were resource implications of conducting a direct resident’s survey. It was suggested that when we had an understanding of the new regime, the Council could determine our approach and any supplementary work which needed to be undertaken.

 

The Chair suggested that the Committee could invite the registered providers to attend a future meeting to respond to questions about the concerns raised.

 

A Committee Member sought clarification on social rents for different size accommodation as there was a lot of variation including a three bed being cheaper than one bed home. Officers confirmed that the rents took into account the benefits cap and made some of the large units affordable, and there were on-going discussions on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Culture Strategy Progress Briefing pdf icon PDF 205 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member forCulture Leisure, Arts and Sports gave an overview of the report and began by thanking officers for their contribution to developing the strategy. This was an opportunity for this Committee to undertake pre-decision scrutiny on the strategy before it is presented to Cabinet. 

 

The Committee noted that the report didn’t recognise the rich and diverse culture which already exists in Barnet and it was considered that we may not need to promote culture in an obvious way.

 

In response to a query if the Steering Group would be widened to include additional diversity from faith communities, the elderly, schools, and universities, it was reported that representation on the Group was based on those who responded to an invitation to join the Group rather than targeting specific communities.

 

It was noted that the Strategy should have outcomes and actions, and it was questioned how success would be measured.  It was reported that the Steering Group would be vocal about what was being delivered, and external surveys could be used for comparison to see if a difference had been made. The Committee agreed that a recommendation should be added to request that this information be included in the Strategy.

 

In response to questions about how the Strategy would, be funded it was reported that if Barnet is successful as the Borough of Culture bid it would come with funding and resources. All work streams would be delivered directly by the council as there were opportunities to use leverage and enabling powers. The Cabinet Member confirmed that officers were involved in developing report and it delivery of the Strategy was financially viable.

 

Committee Members asked about representation from the local businesses. It was reported that Town Centre Teams had been engaged as part of the process and would feed into the work of the steering group.

 

RESOLVED that the Committee:

 

1.     To note the contents of this report and the Culture Strategy Briefing Paper.

 

2.     The Cabinet Member is asked for the draft culture strategy report to Cabinet to include examples of what can be achieved and metrics to determine what has been achieved.

 

10.

Chief Finance Officer Report – 2023/24 Q3 Financial Forecast and 2023/24 Budget Management pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Barry Rawlings, Leader and Cabinet Member for Resources & Effective Council, and Anisa Darr, the Executive Director of Strategy & Resources (Section 151 Officer), gave an overview of the report highlighting that work has been undertaken to reduce the overspend which had now reduced significantly and work would continue to reduce it further.

 

The Committee asked about the increase in payment for residents parking permits and pay and display, and reduced payments for penalty charge notices (PCN).  It was noted that this is not driven by the cost-of-living crisis. The Leader reported that PCN’s income was higher, but less than budgeted, so there was a deficit in forecasted figures.

 

In response to a query about opportunities for shared services, officers confirmed that opportunities were being considered including with children’s services, adult social care commissioning, and hospital discharge arrangements.

 

In response to concerns raised about debt from NHS, the Assistant Director of Resources reported that the original debt of £30 million had been reduced to £23m. There was a commitment from the NHS commitment to pay a further £14m. There was around £3m–£4m which is disputed between the Council and NHS and it was reported that regulators would review this. It was also noted that some funds would be written off, but actual figures are not known at the moment.

 

The Executive Director of Strategy & Resources said she would circulate Council Tax debt collection comparison rates for London separately or will include it in the Budget report. When asked why the income parenting hubs has not been achieved. The Leader reported councils have service pressures and are using family centre in a different way.  Action: Executive Director of Strategy & Resources

 

In response to a question about the Brent Cross West project and if a delay would lead to an escalation of costs, officers confirmed that the project had been paused as the site was being explored with a Business Case being produced, which may cost more, but will have better outcomes.

 

A Committee Member asked about court costs awarded and why the Council only collected half, and if the delay in receiving income was having an impact. Officers confirmed that court costs are sometime paid back via payment plans, which can defer the income, but means that it would ultimately be received.  

 

In response to a query about EV charging including advertising portals income and how what proportion the council will receive, the Leader reported it was shared income.

 

The following recommendations that were moved, duly seconded and unanimously agreed.

 

That the Cabinet explore options for a deep dive into the special parking account

 

RESOLVED that the Committee:

 

1.     To note the contents of Chief Finance Officer Report – 2023/24 Quarter 3 Financial Forecast and 2023/24 Budget Management report.

 

2.     To receive the council tax debt collection comparison rates for London separately or will include it in the Budget report.

 

3.     Follow up on issues with the mobilisation of the Parenting Hub

 

That the Cabinet be requested to explore  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Task and Finish Groups Updates pdf icon PDF 169 KB

Additional documents:

12.

Cabinet Forward Plan (Key Decision Schedule) pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Additional documents:

13.

Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 167 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Committee:

 

1.     Note the Overview and Scrutiny Committee 2023- 2024 Work Programmes for Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

2.     Note the proposal for work programming planning for 2024/35

 

3.     Add a review of the Arts Depot funding and value for money to the list for topic selection. 

 

14.

Any item(s) the Chair decides are urgent

Minutes:

None.