Venue: Committee Room (B6) - Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton, London, SW2 1RW. View directions
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To agree the minutes of the meeting of 17 September 2019 as an accurate record of the meeting.
Councillor Liz Atkins, Chair, welcomed everyone to the meeting and all present introduced themselves.
Apologies for absence were noted.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 September 2019 be approved subject to an amendment received by Councillor Jonathan Bartley regarding the housing contract options appraisal.
Declaration of Pecuniary Interests
Under Standing Order 4.4, where any councillor has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.
There were no declarations of pecuniary interest.
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Christina Thompson, Director of Finance and Property, introduced the report and stated that:
· The purpose of the report was to update the medium term financial strategy, setting out the local government funding situation and the Council’s spending and budget monitoring
· This was a period of uncertainty for local government finance, with the latest funding settlement from central government being a one-off
· Grant funding was continuing and in some cases expanding, such as the new social care grant. However, demand pressures were also increasing
· The overspend related mostly to Children’s Services. It was noted that the Children’s Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee met the previous evening to consider the budget in that area, among other issues
The Chair explained that the committee had asked the Trade Unions and People’s Audit for contributions, and a written submission had been received from People’s Audit raising three issues. Addressing these, the Director of Finance and Property said that:
· The work to identify savings to fill the funding gap, which this year stood at roughly £6m, was carried out with the support of Finance, and detailed proposals were tested and agreed by Cabinet Members before being signed off
· In relation to the unspecified £1m lump sum in Appendix 1 for income generation activities, work was starting now to identify opportunities for four years hence. There had been previous scrutiny from members on this which would no doubt continue
· It was correct that there had been slippage in the capital programme. Work was being done to look at ways of improving the monitoring of the programme including setting out a yearly profiled spend
· It was not possible to provide the five year CIPFA code breakdown of the budget in the way described due to changes in the number and make-up of Council directorates over that period
· It was accepted that it was good practice to include more comparative data; while some services did this it was not currently done on a whole council basis
In response to questions from Members, Christina Thompson, Director of Finance and Property; Fiona McDermott, Strategic Director for Finance and Investment; Andrew Eyres, Strategic Director for Integrated Health and Adult Care; Sara Waller, Co-Strategic Director for Sustainable Growth and Opportunity; and Fiona Connolly, Executive Director for Adult Social Care stated that:
· The London business rates pilot pool was running for a second year. Last year 100% of annual growth was pooled and distributed as agreed by the authorities involved, yielding benefits over and above what the Revenue Support Grant would have been. The advantages which accrued from the business rates pilot were being treated as one-offs rather than being set into the base budget. London Councils had estimated that the Council would gain around £700k from next year’s pooling arrangement. The future 75% retention would not necessarily be a pool and would be shared with the Greater London Authority (GLA) on a 75/25 basis
· A revaluation of business rates was expected next year. This was a national government decision over which local authorities ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
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Councillor Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, introduced the report and stated that:
· It was helpful to consider this strategy following the finance report as it linked strongly into the Council’s future budget, which was becoming increasingly reliant on revenue and income generation – principally council tax and business rates – to fund core services. This meant decisions regarding attracting growth and investment would set a baseline for the future
· The strategy presented in the papers looked across the Council as a whole to consider what growth is and how to bring it about. It was an early draft and scrutiny members’ views would assist in shaping the work. A final version was likely to go to Cabinet in the spring
· One of the aims of the strategy was to make sure the Council provided the right skills and training to the right people to help match skills to employment opportunities while also addressing some of the disparities experienced by certain communities, such as BAME and disabled residents
· A draft action plan was presented via which the administration could be held to account
· It had to be acknowledged that this was a shared endeavour with partners
In response to questions from Members, Councillor Matthew Bennett, Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes; Councillor Jacqui Dyer, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Community Safety (Job Share); and Sara Waller, Co-Strategic Director for Sustainable Growth and Opportunity, stated that:
· The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) was a tax on development which was charged per square metre. The borough was split into zones with a different charging schedule in each area. While this had previously been thought of in terms of offsetting the effects of development in the area concerned, it was now considered a broader source of funding to address need in the borough more generally. It was felt that there were opportunities to help address environmental and public realm issues via CIL using a criteria-based system of prioritisation
· It was agreed that there needed to be improved communications regarding CIL, setting out clearly and transparently how it was calculated and allocated
· While the Council did not have a dedicated small business strategy aimed at those businesses that were not part of wider networks for whatever reason, there was support offered. This included services provided via local libraries and affordable workspace schemes such as GLOWS in Tulse Hill. It was also important to support small businesses to grow and become medium sized enterprises
· More needed to be invested in addressing equalities issues with regards to business, education and employment
· Inner Circle had helped kick start this work when extra capacity was required as departmental restructures took place within the Council, while 31ten had assisted in modelling the amount of infrastructure needed to complement the growth happening in the borough
· Disparities existed for certain groups due to structural inequalities that had persisted for decades. The strategy aimed to pay particular attention to how these could be overcome; this was ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
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Councillor Mary Atkins, Overview & Scrutiny Vice Chair and Chair of the Events Scrutiny Commission, introduced the item by stating that:
· The report was a result of a great deal of work by four councillors over a number of months
· The commission came about as a result of debate over the use of public parks and open spaces for commercial events, not just in Lambeth but also more widely. It was felt that local councillors had a vital role to play in balancing competing interests and ensuring that commercial activity in public spaces delivered maximum benefits, not just to the Council but to the community more widely
· The commission considered a great deal of detailed research and best practice to arrive at its findings and recommendations, which were presented for consideration by the committee
· She believed it was a very good report and hoped Members would endorse it
· She thanked the Senior Democratic Services Officer for his work in supporting the commission
Councillor Nigel Haselden, Commission Member, added that:
· He was pleased to be given the opportunity to be part of the commission
· The four members of the commission reflected a range of geographical areas, backgrounds and perspectives and worked well together
· He hoped the report would help shape policy in this area
· It was important to deliver high quality cultural events while maximising benefits
· He expressed gratitude to the Senior Democratic Services Officer for capturing and shaping the arguments and findings
· The stakeholder consultation event referred to in the report played an important role in influencing the recommendations
Members discussed the report and made the following points:
· It was good to see reference made to the climate emergency and minimising environmental impacts
· It was queried whether part of the income for events could be ring fenced for accessibility improvements to parks and open spaces
· It was asked what steps were taken to engage with young people who might attend the types of events referred to. Councillor Mary Atkins responded that a number of young people had been invited to the stakeholder event and input had been sought from the Young Lambeth Cooperative. While only one young person had attended the consultation, their comments were very valuable and were augmented by other related contributions – for example, from councillors reflecting back the views of young people in their areas, and by a venue owner who catered for many event goers
· It was suggested that the impact of certain recommendations – particularly numbers 1, 3 and 5 – could be strengthened and made more lasting by changing the wording to state that the Council “must” carry out the suggested action, rather than “should”
In response to the report, Councillor Sonia Winifred, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Culture, and Kevin Crook, Assistant Director, Neighbourhoods, stated that:
· Lambeth was well versed in delivering events which reflected the borough’s communities
· The programme of events was not just the work of the Council but was a joint effort with volunteers and community groups
· Parks and open ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
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It was noted that the 30 January meeting would be the annual scrutiny of the Safer Lambeth Partnership with additional items on the redevelopment of Lambeth Hospital and the Digital Accessibility Scrutiny Commission. The Chair explained that the Children’s Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee would be taking the lead on scrutinising the Serious Youth Violence strategy at its meeting on 23 January and efforts would be made to coordinate the work of the two committees to ensure a joined-up approach to crime and disorder scrutiny.
The Chair also expressed concern at the number of people killed and seriously injured on Lambeth’s roads and suggested that a briefing note be requested from officers to gauge what the issues were and what was being done to tackle them before deciding whether further, more formal scrutiny was warranted.
1. That the work programme as drafted and status of actions be noted
2. That a briefing note be requested from officers on the number of people killed and seriously injured (KSI) on Lambeth’s roads, with data including KSI levels, trends and benchmarking with other boroughs, and what is being done (or is planned) to tackle this