Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Hendon Town Hall, The Burroughs, London NW4 4BG

Contact: Tracy Scollin Tel 020 8359 2315 Email: tracy.scollin@barnet.gov.uk 

Note: Attendees are requested to view the agenda online and if needed, to print any specific agenda report(s). 

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of last meeting pdf icon PDF 390 KB

    Minutes:

    RESOLVED that the minutes were approved as an accurate record.

2.

Absence of Members (If any)

    Minutes:

    Apologies were received from Cllr Danny Rich, Cllr Reema Patel and Cllr

    O-Macauley. Cllr O-Macauley was substituted by Cllr Nagus Narenthira.

3.

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

    Minutes:

    Cllr Conway declared an interest under Item 7, noting that she is a Member of the Jewish Volunteering Networks Advisory Board.

     

4.

Report of the Monitoring Officer (If any)

    Minutes:

    None.

5.

Public Comments and Questions (If any) pdf icon PDF 375 KB

    Minutes:

    Item 7 – Future Direction of the Community Participation Strategy

     

    A question from Barbara Jacobson and an officer’s response were published prior to the meeting. Ms Jacobson was invited to the table to ask a supplementary question.

    Question: ‘How do the Resident Forums which do not relate to the issues discussed at the Theme Committees replace the type of feedback previously allowed at Theme Committees and actually involve residents in decision making?’

     

    The Chairman responded that Resident Forums were not intended to provide the same function as Theme Committees. To facilitate questions and comments in a fair way amongst residents Barnet’s Public Participation Rules had been changed by Full Council. Resident Forums were held so that residents could raise a variety of issues. 

     

     

    Item 8 – Independent Evaluation of the Library Service

     

    A question from Emily Burnham and an officer’s response were published prior to the meeting. Ms Burnham was invited to the table to ask a supplementary question.

    Question: The report states that Barnet Council has saved £1.1 million. Can you confirm this figure does not include the cost of security guards at unstaffed libraries?

     

    The Head of Library Services responded: the cost of security guards is not part of the libraries’ budget so this is not included.

     

    A question from Cherry Sewell and an officer’s response were published prior to the meeting. Ms Sewell was invited to the table to ask a supplementary question.

     

    Question: Have you known since 2016 that you would not be able to rent out commercial space at South Friern Library? If not, when did you find out that it was too expensive to convert and could not be let out?

     

    The Head of Library Services responded that this was a matter for the Estates Team and was not within the remit of the Library Service. However, the decision not to make a hard division of the space did not preclude it being let out.

     

    A written comment was received from Keith Martin. This was published prior to the meeting, and noted.

     

     

     

     

6.

Members' Items (If any)

    Minutes:

    None.

7.

Independent Evaluation of the Library Service pdf icon PDF 396 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

     

    The Chairman announced that he would vary the agenda order due to the residents attending for the item on the library service.

     

    He invited Mr Eric Bohl, Director, Activist Group to the table to speak to his presentation on its independent review of Barnet’s library service.Mr Bohl commented that the four main areas of the findings were outlined in the report:

     

    • Vision and strategy
    • Infrastructure: IT and buildings
    • Service offer and take-up
    • Budgets and staffing

     

    Mr Bohl stated that Barnet Council had requested an honest appraisal. Activist had carried out a consultation, conducted mystery shopping and tours of the libraries, completed a CIPFA study and discussed the libraries with a large number of people. Mr Bohl summarised the key points of the report:

     

    • In line with many other library services around the country, due to financial constraints staffing hours had had to be reduced in Barnet’s libraries. Barnet had a gap in its volunteering provision and this had exacerbated the impact of the reduction in staffing hours on users.
    • Another criticism in the report was that Barnet could have a better understanding of the libraries as an asset.
    • Activist was impressed by the Library Service’s clarity of vision.
    • The interiors were dull and interior space was insufficient, with noise and poor signage being reported as problems.
    • Opening times of toilets seemed to be a barrier for users.
    • Technology, particularly visitor account issues, was a problem.
    • It had been difficult to access sufficient data to assess performance fully.
    • There had been teething problems with Self Service Opening (SSO) and SSO was not popular with users. The age limit was a barrier for young people and many parents supported lowering the age limit.
    • Library Managers and staff were held in high esteem by residents whom Activist had spoken to and were a credit to Barnet Council.

     

    The report recommended:

     

    • There should be more investment in interior design and exterior signage.
    • The root cause of the IT problems should be investigated and if suppliers had failed in their provision they should be made to fix issues.
    • Piloting keeping toilets open during SSO hours.
    • Piloting a phased reduction in age limit for younger people.
    • The Book Fund is at its limit and further reductions could cause a downward spiral of the service.
    • PCs were used extensively and were being replaced as they should be.
    • There was an extensive programme of events for children and young adults which was rare in comparison to many library services.
    • Staffed opening hours are very low and this has an impact on the sense of security for many people. It would be helpful to extend the staffed opening hours, with an increase in employees or volunteers. Activist was impressed by the commitment of the staff and volunteers running the Partnership Libraries. However, volunteering in Barnet was bottom in the CIPFA comparison group and the strategy to date around volunteering had been weak. Volunteering had to be set up and coordinated as a project by staff. There should be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Future Direction of the Community Participation Strategy pdf icon PDF 224 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The CEO commented that the Community Participation Strategy offered opportunities to strengthen the voluntary sector in Barnet including recruiting more volunteers. The report on the libraries offered an important starting point to focus on opportunities in other areas such as litter picking and adult social care.

     

    The Deputy Head of Strategy reported that annual updates on the Community Participation Strategy were provided to CLLC and an update would follow in November 2020. The latest update coincided with some changes and provided an opportunity to rethink current progress and to inform future work with residents. From March to November there would be a process of stakeholder engagement to explore some of workstreams identified in the report with a focus on stronger local networks.

    The Deputy Head of Strategy noted that Councillors were an important element of the strategy, particularly in their role as Ward Members as they can ensure residents’ views are fed back. 

     

    A Member noted that Barnet has a multi-racial population and it was important to not pressurise residents who would be keen to retain their separate identities, though they could still get along with each other. The Deputy Head of Strategy acknowledged this adding that it is a strength with faith communities providing key hubs in Barnet.

     

    The CEO agreed, adding that there was huge strength and faith and multi-faith groups but the Council did not wish to impose too much control. It would have a coordinating and support role and there may be areas that the Council is not aware of but could provide support to. 

     

    A Member asked whether a register of community groups was available. Also, it was important to avoid them duplicating work. It was also not clear where funding was available. The litter picking volunteers operated in Colindale twice per month but street cleaning was a Council duty and they were not receiving help from the Council and could be overburdened, without support from officers. 

     

    The Chairman noted that he did not feel that there was anything negative about residents willing to do some litter picking. The Council is fulfilling its statutory duty but residents were taking responsibility for their area. The Deputy Head of Strategy noted that the strategy aimed to celebrate civic pride. The Barnet Community Directory had previously listed community groups online but this had not been comprehensive. Work would begin on a single database.

     

    The Strategy Officer commented that for the past eight months the team had been supporting, promoting and celebrating the work of the litter picking groups. Many volunteers were involved in other areas also, such as schools, and reported feeling that they are part of the bigger picture in Barnet. Schools were also keen to take part in community work. The Strategy Team is working with the Barnet Federation of GPs to develop a directory of services that will provide the Council with information on groups that are under the radar. Social prescribing link workers could do social prescribing to these groups also, to reduce social  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Q3 19/20 Delivery Plan Performance Report pdf icon PDF 794 KB

    Minutes:

    The Chairman introduced the report.

     

    A Member stated that she would not rate Barnet as ‘good’ for environmental crime. A KPI was needed and much more action.

     

    A Member noted that there needed to be a better link on major issues from Ward Councillors on community safety to help to escalate issues at partnership level.

     

    Cllr Conway askedthe following:

     

    ·       Whether 101 calls only, or also online reporting, was included in the ASB calls.

    ·       Why was Barnet rated ‘good’ for hate crime, if it had only achieved 3 out of 7?

    ·       Where are the 9 reporting centres? These were not well publicised.

     

    The Director of Assurance would respond after the meeting and would circulate this to the Committee.

     

    Action: Director of Assurance

     

    The Committee unanimously RESOLVED to note the Quarter 3 2019/20 Delivery Plan Performance Report.

     

10.

Refresh of Annual Delivery Plans for 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 381 KB

11.

Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 89 KB

    Minutes:

    The Committee received the Forward Plan.

     

    Cllr Conway requested the following:

    ·       Coronavirus to be a standing item at CLLC or whichever Committee this would be appropriate as this is a community safety issue.

    ·       The BCU item to be discussed at the next meeting.

    ·       Environmental crime to be discussed at the next meeting.

    ·       That the impact of regeneration on community cohesion and community safety be discussed by CLLC.

    ·       At the last meeting of Safer Communities Partnership Board, there was a presentation from the London Fire Brigade about housing and fires, and the work the LFB is doing. It would be helpful to discuss this at CLLC in relation to some of the estates where concerns had been raised about how people were being housed.

     

    The Chairman noted that these would be considered individually outside the meeting. Cllr Conway could forward further information if she wished and he would discuss this with officers to find appropriate committees and reports for those issues.

     

    Cllr Gordon commented that there should be a focus on hate crime at a meeting of CLLC. The Chairman asked Cllr Gordon to put together a Member’s Item.

     

    The Committee RESOLVED to note the Forward Plan.

     

12.

Any item(s) the Chairman decides are urgent

    Minutes:

    None.