Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday 10 December 2009 7.00 pm

Venue: Room 8, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, SW2 1RW. View directions

Contact: Matthew Mannion, Tel: 020 7926 2225, Email:  mmannion@lambeth.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

None were declared.

2.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting of [DATE] as an accurate record of the meeting.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 13 October 2009 be approved and signed by the Chair as a correct record of the proceedings.

3.

Public Notice Questions with response pdf icon PDF 75 KB

(Report No: 267/09-10)

 

Contact for Information: Tom Barrett, Scrutiny Manager, 020 7926 2235,  tpbarrett@lambeth.gov.uk

Minutes:

 

  • Public Notice Question: SC OS 01 OCT 09-10 submitted by Mr De Maynard

 

Mr De Maynard addressed the Committee reporting that the rental increases that he had actually experienced significantly differed from those promised by the formula presented in the response.

 

Officers promised to respond in more detail about the figures and to examine any mismatch. It was also agreed that a copy of the response would be sent to Members of the Committee and would be examined at the next meeting if necessary.

 

RESOLVED: That the Public Notice Question and response be noted.

4.

Clapham Park Homes Update pdf icon PDF 117 KB

(Report No 256/09-10)

 

Contact for Information: Kate Zaki – Client Manager, kzaki@lambeth.gov.uk, 020 7926 7734.

Minutes:

Officers from the Council and Clapham Park Homes (CPH) introduced the report and apologised for the delay in being able to present the report to Committee. They then summarised the current situation as follows:

  • Regular meetings were held between Council Officers and CPH to examine progress and any issues that may arise including the timescales for delivering the project.
  • The CPH Business Plan had come under pressure as the current economic climate made it difficult to sell properties on the private market.
  • Plans were therefore being altered to frontload the development of social housing but that this had an impact on the loan agreements which had been based on a plan to use sales to subsidise the building of social housing.
  • Officers expressed confidence that the project would be delivered as planned, for example keeping the current social housing mix, but did state that the timescales for some parts of the project would probably have to be extended due to these problems related to the current financial climate.
  • Amendments to the Social Housing mix or changes to the Section 106 agreement would require that an application be presented to the Planning Applications Committee for agreement.
  • CPH were also examining ways of maximising income and were bidding for new grant funding.
  • It was acknowledged that local residents had expressed concerns about the level of continuous engagement from CPH but that the report provided information on a large number of consultations that had taken place and were continuing to run.

 

Following questions from Members, officers confirmed that:

  • There were no plans to change the standards that the scheme would be built to but that they would look to see if buildings could be used more efficiently such as by combining services within single buildings.
  • Although it was likely that more of the social housing would now be built earlier than many of the private properties, there was flexibility in the scheme so that advantage could be taken of changes in the market.

 

Moving on to looking at issues around the consultation process, a number of points were raised by local residents and Members including:

  • Some Ward Councillors were still having difficulties arranging meetings with Senior CPH staff, however, officers from CPH assured the Committee that meetings did take place and that they were open to having further discussions and that Ward Councillors were also invited to general consultation events.
  • Details were provided on a large number of consultation exercises and events that had taken place and were continuing to run.
  • It was explained that although CPH did work with Tenants’ and Residents’ Associations (TRA) they took the view that they needed to reach out beyond those associations in order to reach all local residents.

 

Following questions about the scheme from Members and residents, Officers stated that:

  • Current development was geared towards re-housing existing tenants so it was not anticipated that there would be a significant increase in the population until the later stages of the project and that this would be a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Draft revenue and capital budgets 2010/11 - 2012/13 for the Office of the Chief Executive pdf icon PDF 126 KB

(Report No 269/09-10)

 

Contact for Information: Jason Hinton, Interim Divisional Director Resources, 020 7926 9210 jhinton@lambeth.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Officers introduced the report highlighting the new savings proposals that resulted in a 15% reduction on costs despite having to absorb new cost pressures.

 

In answer to questions, officers explained that:

  • Some savings on the current year’s budget had been shared with other departments and this had resulted in a large variance between the Budget agreed at February 2009 Council and the final Full Year Budget and that the savings had been spread through the budgets of other departments so they would show consequential savings.
  • Maternity cover had to be covered locally by Business Units.
  • Around 60% of the potential identified savings from the recent reorganisation of the Chief Executive’s department had been realised directly but that the rest of the savings had then been found through other means.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

6.

Scrutiny of the draft revenue and capital budgets 2010/11 - 2012/13 for Housing Regeneration and Environment pdf icon PDF 126 KB

(Report No 266/09-10)

 

Contact for Information: Anthony Wilkinson – Strategic Finance Manager, 020 7926 1706 awilkinson@lambeth.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Officers introduced the report explaining that the Committee were being asked to examine those parts of the budget that specifically related to Regeneration and Enterprise. They highlighted both the savings proposals but also areas where growth bids were being prepared. It was also reported that discussions were continuing on projects that were being hit by the impact of the credit crunch.

 

Responding to questions, officers reported that:

  • There was a £7.3 million overspend in the current year’s budget and that a recovery plan was in place to deal with this including a release of a £3 million contingency to cover costs in the temporary accommodation budget.
  • The additional costs relating to the Temporary Accommodation budget had been built into the proposals for next year.
  • The opening of the new neighbourhood employment centre had been delayed but was going to proceed at the beginning of 2010.
  • They would report back to Members with details on the facilities costs for the new Norwood Hall Joint Service Centre.
  • Most of the older style Temporary Accommodation contracts had now ceased and that changes to Central Government grants had now been factored into the budget setting.
  • Lower than anticipated income from the Parking Service were being addressed and it was now recognised that the previous target had been unrealistically high.

 

Members also debated whether:

  • Efficiency savings could still be found within the department and whether old problems were now solved.
  • Costs relating to borrow through PFI schemes were too high, officers agreed to provide more detail on the relative costs of borrowing money relative to standard Council borrowing and how the overall costs comparisons that were used in taking the decision. It was also noted that a PFI may have been the only way the Council was able to raise the finance at this time.
  • Whether the Norwood Hall site would have better served as a location for a new Primary School. Councillor Peck explained that it was anticipated that another site would be found for the Primary School. Concerns were expressed about whether a site in an industrial area that had been mentioned by some was suitable for a school and whether there was a danger that it would result in the closure of local businesses.

 

Finally, it was noted that the savings proposals in the report were flexible at the moment but would be firmed up once the base budgets had been finalised and that more information would be provided to Members at a later date.

 

RESOLVED: that the report be noted.

7.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 81 KB

(Report No: 268/09-10)

 

Contact for Information: Tom Barrett, Scrutiny Manager, 020 7926 2235,  tpbarrett@lambeth.gov.uk

Item and Report: (Report Contact for Information: Elaine Carter, Lead Scrutiny Officer, 020 7926 0027 ecarter@lambeth.gov.uk

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was reported that the new Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Act brought Scrutiny into the Petitions process with the opportunity for residents to demand that senior officers be held to account by Committee. It also brought in a new requirement to have a Statutory Scrutiny Officer.

 

In further discussion it was noted that:

  • Progress was continuing in arranging an event to look at Section 237 powers and issues.
  • ESOL/Lambeth College and Working with the Voluntary Sector reports were in production.
  • LVAC should be invited to the committee’s meeting in January and their constituent bodies notified of the meeting.
  • Members were requested to support the preparation of a report detailing their suggestions for the development of Overview and Scrutiny over the next four years.

 

RESOLVED:that the work programme and updated actions and information requests be noted.