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 SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (HOUSING AND PUBLIC PROTECTION)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 15th January, 2014.

 

Present: Councillor J.C. Bird (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson (Vice-Chairman); Councillors R.J. Bertin, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, J. Drysdale, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, Mrs. A.J. Moore, Ms. R.F. Probert and E. Williams.

 

Also present: Messrs G. Amos and A. Raybould (Tenant Working Group).

 

754     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillor R.P. Thomas and Mrs. A. Evans and B. Fisher (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

755     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 4th December, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

756     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

757     HEALTH AND SAFETY ENFORCEMENT SERVICE PLAN 2013/14 (REF) –

 

The above matter had been considered and subsequently approved by the Cabinet at its meeting held on 16th December, 2013.  Following the consideration of the same, the Cabinet subsequently referred the matter on to the Scrutiny Committee for information / consideration. 

 

In addressing the Scrutiny Committee the Head of Public Protection indicated that the Council was the enforcing authority under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974 and was required by Section 18 of the Act to set out arrangements for discharging the duty and the above provisions and accordingly the Plan as reported to the Cabinet set out such arrangements.  Included within the Plan were the resources the Council had available to deliver the service, delivery models and links with other partners and stakeholders (set out in Appendix 1) and detailed the type and number of interventions to be used. 

 

The targets for the service were detailed on page 9 of the Plan.  The Scrutiny Committee noted that there were approximately 1,900 work places in the County in respect of which the Council was the enforcing authority for health and safety.  All premises rated as high risk would be inspected during the year of the Plan.  Where required enforcement action would be taken which would include informal notices, improvement notices and prohibition notices.  The Head of Service also indicated that the Plan was required to take account of local needs while also addressing national priorities as defined by the Health and Safety Commission in its Strategic Plan.  The Plan must identify both reactive and proactive work and included details of planned promotional and educational activities and how these resources identified within the Plan would be met.

 

The Scrutiny Committee made a number of comments in respect of the publication of the Plan which related to the reasons why the Plan had been delayed in its publication, the use education in relation to prevention matters, duties undertaken by the team responsible for the areas identified within the Plan and the knowledge and skills of the Council’s Environmental Health officers which covered a range of health and safety issues that they were required to carry out / perform. 

 

Having regard to the contents of the Plan and to the above matters, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Health and Safety Enforcement Service Plan for 2013/14 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement that the Council had a robust Plan in place to deliver its obligations as an enforcing authority under the Health and Safety Work Act 1974 and to comply with statutory guidance.

 

 

758     FOOD LAW ENFORCEMENT PLAN 2013/14 (REF) –

 

The Cabinet at its meeting held on 16th December 2013 gave consideration to and approved the draft Council’s Food Law Enforcement Service Plan for the period 2013/14.  The Cabinet as part of its deliberations resolved that the report should be referred to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration / information bearing in mind that the Scrutiny Committee had, as part of its work programme, requested that the Plan be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

The Head of Public Protection referred to the above Plan and indicated that the Food Standards Agency required the Council, under the Framework Agreement on Local Authority Food Law Enforcement, to produce a Plan for its food law enforcement work.  He indicated that the Plan covered all aspects of food safety in food standards enforcement work and facilitated comparisons of performance between local authorities.  The Plan provided the basis on which all local authorities were monitored and audited by the FSA. 

 

In referring to the Plan the Committee made reference to the service resilience in regard to the Food Enforcement Team, the FSA inspection regime in respect of Scores on the Doors and the reasons why the Plan had been published later than expected.  The Committee also suggested that the challenges for the service in the future should be given greater profile within the Plan with a dedicated section of its own. 

 

Having regard to the contents of the Plan and the above matters, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the Food Law Enforcement Service Plan for 2013/14 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledge of the Council’s Plan in respect of this subject area and acknowledging the demands on the service and the resources allocated to the function.

 

 

759     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2013 TO 30TH NOVEMBER 2013 (DDS AND DVSH) –

 

The Principal Accountant indicated that the Revenue Budget was projected to outturn for 2013/14 with an underspend of £150,000. 

 

For the first time a graph and table had been included as additional information for the Committee and displayed the variances between the various profiled budgets and the actual expenditure to date which was detailed in Appendix 1 to the report.

 

In relation to Public Sector Housing (HRA) this account was showing a favourable variance of £63,000.  The main reasons for the underspend related to the following areas:

 

·         Incentive to Move scheme - £40,000

·         Staff vacancies - £23,000.

 

Further resources would be required in the coming months to deal with Health and Safety issues, such as asbestos management and therefore it was expected that the HRA would outturn on target.

 

In regard to General Fund Housing, this was showing a favourable variance of £191,000.  The reasons for the favourable variances related mainly to the reduction in the number of homeless individuals requiring emergency accommodation to a long term increased focus on prevention by the homelessness team.

 

The Principal Accountant then indicated that all other services were anticipated to outturn on target by the year end.

 

His attention then turned to the Capital Programme with the Principal Accountant indicating that details of financial progress as at 30th November 2014 was set out in Appendix 2 to the report.

 

He referred to the Housing Improvement Plan and indicated that there were a number of virements that had been requested to amend budgets to reflect the amounts as set out in Appendix E to the Housing Business Plan and subsequently approved by Cabinet on 2nd December 2013 (Minute No. C2113 refers). 

 

In respect of Emergency Contingency Works, virements had been requested to fund the undermentioned schemes:

 

·         Llantwit Major Housing Lights - £1,000

·         Retaining wall – Laleston Close, Gibbonsdown, Barry - £12,500.

 

As in previous reports to the Scrutiny Committee the Principal Accountant indicated that for all schemes that it was evident that the full year’s budget would not be spent during the year, the relevant officers were required to provide an explanation for the shortfall and this would be reported to Cabinet at the earliest opportunity. 

 

Appendix 3 provided non-financial information on capital construction schemes with a budget over £100,000.  Where a budget shown in Appendix 2 was more than £100,000 but was made up of several schemes that individually were less than £100,000, the scheme was not included in Appendix 3.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the revenue and capital budget for the period 1st April to 30th November 2013 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of progress made to date.

 

 

760     SAFER VALE PARTNERSHIP PROGRESS REPORT 2012/13 (DDS) –

 

In referring to the progress report the Safer Vale Manager indicated that the Partnership in the lead on crime and disorder reduction initiatives had achieved a 9.2% reduction in 2012/13 when compared to the previous year.  She indicated that the Partnership priorities in the year had been Substance Misuse, Domestic Abuse, Anti Social Behaviour and Hate Crime, Integrated Offender Management, PREVENT and Community Engagement and progress in respect of these areas was detailed in Appendix 1. 

 

In order to demonstrate the impact of the Partnership on the community, statements and quotes had been obtained and included from members of the public highlighting the benefits of the service they had received. 

 

During 2012/13 the Partnership took the decision to be more visible to the public and to be victim focused.  One of the new developments was the introduction of a Victim Champion for Anti Social Behaviour and Hate Crime.  From June 2012 to March 2013, 898 victims were contacted of which 270 were provided specialist support.  In the same period, 15 volunteers had been recruited to assist work undertaken by the Partnership’s Anti Social Behaviour Unit. 

 

In addition to these matters the Safer Vale Manager indicated that in November 2012 and following the election of the Police Crime Commissioners (PCCs) the Partnership was working in co-operation with the PCC and his team in order to enhance the current delivery and to pilot new initiatives.  She also made reference to the Local Service Board Unified Needs Assessment which reflected the activities and targets for the Partnership as identified by the LSB stakeholder individual priorities.

 

In commenting on the report the Committee enquired as to why matters relating to community engagement and satisfaction had not been included in the Annual Report.  The Safer Vale Manager indicated that there was no specific funding for carrying out community engagement under the above auspices, however any issues that arose in regard to policing for example would be fed back informally through the appropriate channels to the Police.  The Scrutiny Committee suggested that a summary of the Annual Report be produced and made available to local PACT meetings.  In response the Safer Vale Manager indicated that there were regular media / press releases raising awareness of the Partnership’s successes and the public and community groups were encouraged to sign up to the Community Messaging Service. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)          T H A T the Safer Vale Partnership Annual Report for 2012/13 and the information contained therein be noted.

 

(2)          T H A T the Safer Vale Manager be requested to prepare a summary of the Annual Report for circulation to PACT meetings at the earliest opportunity.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)          In acknowledgement of activities undertaken by the Partnership during April 2012 to March 2013.

 

(2)          To ensure that information contained in the Annual Report was disseminated to Community PACT meetings in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

 

761     SAFER VALE PARTNERSHIP QUARTER 2 MONITORING UPDATE 2013/14 (DDS) –

 

The Committee apprised of progress made towards achieving strategic community safety targets for the second quarter (July to September) 2013/14.

 

The following identified those 2012/13 targets which had been taken from the Unified Needs Assessment and then used to monitor performance:

 

·         Serious Sexual Offences: Actual 46 which equated to an increase of 31.4% reported incidents against the same period last year.

 

·         Number of Press Releases: Target 50 – Actual 35, 30% under target.

 

·         The number of Safer Vale messages sent out to the community: Target 50 – Actual 61, 22% over target.

 

·         Domestic Abuse – Police reported incidents had undergone a change in how they were recorded.  In future the incident would be collected by the public on an automated system which would ensure that the information was more accurate.  However, work on improving awareness and data collection form different agencies was progressing.  In addition, the Council had launched the Domestic Abuse Work Place Policy during the Quarter 2 period.  In addition training had been provided to senior managers in order to understand the impact of domestic abuse and what support was available by the Council.  An online e-learning package would also be developed and rolled out to all Council staff.

 

·         Substance Misuse (number of individuals exiting drug or alcohol treatment as a positive closure – baseline year) – 76 individuals which represented 64.9% of all clients closed and demonstrated that the service users were being directed to the correct service.  The APB would continue to monitor this situation, targeting improvements over the coming year as new services came on board.  The new Aftercare service would enable earlier closure and positive outcomes for services users (baseline year). 

 

The Scrutiny Committee were made aware that during Quarter 2 there had been a number of issues raised in relation to discarded drug litter across the county.  Analysis continued to be completed however no trend or hot spots were identified.  The Community Engagement Co-ordinator continued to publicise information on what actions members of the public could take if they found such litter.

 

In addition the Safer Vale Manager indicated that work had been carried out to review the Criminal Justice Pathway.  Additional healthcare specific to substance misuse had been identified as a priority that would assist individuals and provide transitional support into the community.  Work was planned for Quarter 3 in order to plan this service and to ensure it met local needs. 

 

Two new services were also advertised for tender during Quarter 2.  The first relating to Open Access and Engagement Service and the second relating to the Through Care Aftercare and Recovery Service who would be commissioned during Quarter 3 with the services operational by April 2014. 

 

·         Incidents of Criminal Damage: Target 606 – Actual 569, 6.1% under target.

  

·         Anti Social Behaviour –

 

Stage

Under 18s

Over 18s

Total

Target

1  (first time letters)

220

261

490

47.6% over target

2  (Visits undertaken)

58

54

112

1.8% over target

3  (ABCs issued)

9

10

19

5% under target

4 (ASBO)

0

0

0

 

 

From 1st April 2013 to 30th September 2013 there had been an increase in Stage 1 letters being sent by 27.9% compared to the same period in the previous year.  In particular, Youth ASB saw a dramatic increase between Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 with an increase of 72.2%.  However there had been a reduction between Stage 1 and Stage 2 had continued and the reasons for the increase in Quarter 1 were detailed in paragraph 17 of the report. 

 

·         Victim Support Service: There had been a number of referrals to the Victim Support ASB and Hate Crime Service – Actual 676 (baseline year). 

 

Having regard to the above it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the progress in performance to date in regard to Quarter 2 for community safety targets for 2013/14 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of the Scrutiny Committee’s responsibility for monitoring progress towards the crime and disorder targets.

 

 

762     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DR) –

 

The report detailed progress in respect of uncompleted recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee for the financial year 2011/12 (Appendix A), the financial year 2012/13 (Appendix B), the 2nd Quarter July to September 2013 (Appendix C) and the 3rd Quarter October to December 2013 (Appendix D).

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)          T H A T the following actions detailed below be accepted as completed:

  

17 July 2013

 

Min. No. 265 - End of Year Performance 2012/13 and Performance Indicators 2013/14 – Public Protection (MD) – Recommended

(4)   That the Head of Public Protection submit the draft Food Enforcement Plan when prepared to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

 

 

 

Presented to Scrutiny Committee Meeting on 15th January, 2014.

Completed

09 October 2013

 

Min. No. 485 – The Affects of the Welfare Reform Act on the Homes4u Allocation Policy (DVSH) – Recommended

(2)   That the report be circulated to all Members of the Council.

 

 

 

Report emailed to all Members of the Council and is available on Membernet.

Completed

04 December 2013

 

Min. No. – Initial Revenue Budget Proposals 2014/15 (DDS and DVSH) – Recommended

(2)   That the initial Revenue Budget proposals for 2014/15 including cost pressures and savings proposals be noted, subject to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) being requested to ask the Cabinet to investigate the feasibility of utilising charities / third sector organisations to assist in the procurement of furniture in respect of savings proposals V11 and V12 for 2014/15. 

 

 

Referred to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) meeting on 10th December, 2013.

Completed

 

(2)          T H A T progress against the remaining recommendations identified as ongoing as detailed in the report be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)          To apprise Members of progress with Scrutiny Committee recommendations.

 

(2)          To note progress in respect of those uncompleted actions.

 

 

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