Venue: Zoom video-conference meeting
Contact: Fiona Cameron Democratic Services Manager & Deputy Monitoring Officer
Welcome, introductions and procedural information
The Leader welcomed Executive Members, councillors, and members of the public watching online, to the Council’s first virtual meeting, held under the provisions of The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020.
The Leader confirmed that the meeting was being streamed to the Council’s YouTube channel to meet the public access requirements of the Regulations, and asked Members and Officers participating and supporting the meeting to introduce themselves for the benefit of those watching on line.
The Leader then confirmed the procedural arrangements being used for the meeting, including those in the event of any Member losing their internet connection, or the live YouTube stream being interrupted.
To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 3 March 2020.
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 3 March 2020 were confirmed as a correct record of the meeting. These would be signed at a later date.
DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS
To receive from members, declarations of interest in relation to any items included on the agenda for this meeting, in accordance with the Waverley Code of Local Government Conduct.
There were no interests declared in relation to items on the agenda.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
The Chairman to respond to any questions received from members of the public for which notice has been given in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.
In the absence of the opportunity for informal questions at this meeting, the deadline for receipt of written questions has been extended to 5pm on Thursday 7 May 2020.
There were no questions from members of the public.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL
The Chairman to respond to any questions received from Members in accordance with Procedure Rule 11.
There were no questions from Members of the Council.
78.1 The Leader referred to the joint statement from the leaders of the political groups at Waverley which had been circulated with the agenda, and reiterated the thanks to Waverley staff and councillors for the way in which they had responded to the pandemic emergency, adapting to the very strange circumstances and different ways of working, and making huge efforts to support residents and businesses. The statement also highlighted to the public the actions that Waverley was taking, and the partnership work the county council, health services, town and parish councils, and voluntary sector.
78.2 The Leader reported that from his discussions with the leaders of other councils in Surrey and across the country, it was clear that all were concerned about the financial impact on council finances. In addition to the unexpected costs of responding to the Covid-19 emergency, councils had seen severe reductions in their usual income streams including investment income, car parking income and leisure centre income. Waverley was less severely impacted than some, but the loss of income was a serious matter.
78.3 The Leader commended the work of contractors who had managed to maintain services to Waverley residents and communities despite staff shortages, in particular the refuse and recycling collection contractor and the grounds maintenance contractor. Concluding, the Leader reiterated how proud he was of what the council had achieved in responding to the Covid-19 emergency.
PART I - RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE COUNCIL
Unless specified under an individual item, there are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to the reports in Part I of these minutes.
This report proposes temporary changes to the Council’s governance arrangements in response to the business imperative to prioritise urgent action to support the Waverley community during the Coronavirus emergency.
It summarises keys changes in legislation (via the Coronavirus Act 2020) and Regulations (via the Local Authorities (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Meetings (England)) Regulations 2020) (“the Regulations”) and makes recommendations on temporary arrangements for Council and committee meetings during the 6-month period from April to October 2020.
That the Executive recommends to Full Council:
1. That in principle, remote meetings, at least for the time being, be used sparingly, and that only matters considered to be critical to the Council’s business be dealt with by way of remote meetings. Non-critical, ‘business as usual’ items and items that can be delegated to officers (either through existing or new delegations), delayed or cancelled are not dealt with by remote meetings. All time-limited emergency provisions to be reviewed at the July Council meeting and at any further Full Council meetings beyond that as required.
2. That the Annual Meeting of Council for 2020 be postponed until such date to be agreed by the Leader of the Council, the Mayor, and the Chief Executive.
3. That the Mayor and Deputy Mayor remain in their current roles until an Annual Meeting of the Council is held.
4. That the
committee memberships for 2019/20 continue for 2020/21, subject to
any adjustments required to satisfy political proportionality
following the January 2020 by-election; and that existing committee
chairmen and vice-chairmen continue for 2020/21 unless there is a
need to appoint a new chairman and/or vice-chairman due to any
5. That the revised schedule of committee meetings outlined for Phases 1, 2 and 3 in paragraph 4.8 below, is agreed; a detailed calendar of meetings will be provided to Members as soon as possible.
The Executive further recommends that the Standards Committee:
6. Considers and makes recommendations to Full Council on the adoption of revised Procedure Rules in relation to virtual meetings, and remote attendance at meetings, including a delegation to the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Mayor, the Leader and the Chair of the Standards Committee to make minor amendments as need is identified in the light of experience.
7. Considers and makes recommendations to Full Council on the Terms of Reference of the proposed two new temporary EASTERN and WESTERN planning committees, on the basis of agreement between Group Leaders and Independent Members, together with recommendations on appropriate sunset clauses for these committees.
8. Considers and makes recommendations to Full Council on any other revisions to the Scheme of Delegation that officers propose in response to the Coronavirus Act 2020, or to facilitate the Council’s response to the COVID-19 emergency.
79.1 The Leader introduced the report setting out proposed temporary governance arrangements that reflected the provisions of the Local Authorities (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority Meetings) (England) Regulations 2020 (the Regulations) that enabled remote attendance at council meetings by Members, and waived the requirement to have an Annual Council meeting before 7 May 2021. Besides holding virtual council meetings, the most significant change in governance arrangements proposed was a temporary stream-lining of the planning committee structure, moving from five committees to two committees. The proposals had cross-party support in principle, but in the interests of transparency the Standards Committee was being asked to review the proposed arrangements and make recommendations to Council.
79.2 Cllr Julia Potts, Leader of the Principal Opposition Group, thanked the Leader for the opportunity to contribute to the discussions about implementing virtual meetings and developing the proposals for temporary planning committee arrangements.
79.3 Cllr Hyman noted that the government had already indicated its likely approach of helping the country build its way out of recession, and he highlighted the pressure this would put on the council’s environmental and climate change agendas. It was therefore all the more important to ensure that decision-making was robust and subject to scrutiny. He was looking for assurances that the involvement of the Standards Committee was not tokenism and there would be a genuine opportunity for scrutiny of the proposals.
79.4 Cllr John Gray assured Cllr Hyman that the proposals for the planning committees had been considered very carefully by the Conservative Group and the consensus had been that this was a good compromise to enable the council to continue taking planning decisions during the current crisis. He was pleased that the Standards Committee would be able to assure itself the proper procedures were being followed and the arrangements were sound. Cllr Gray advised that he had had confirmation that the Audit Committee would be meeting in July, and he felt that it would be helpful for all Members to have a briefing on the impact of the crisis on the Medium Term Financial Plan.
79.5 Cllr Jenny Else asked that Members be kept informed about what decisions had been dealt with by officers under delegations rather than being brought to committees, if this was the case.
79.6 Cllr Follows reminded Members of the Executive’s commitment to openness and transparency, and recognised that in an emergency situation there was potential for abuse of authority. That was why the Executive was seeking the input of the Standards Committee and allowing them to make recommendations to Council. In addition, the report made it clear that Overview and Scrutiny was not being overlooked, and temporary arrangements would be subject to review and sunset clauses to ensure that normal arrangements were resumed as soon as Council felt it was appropriate. Cllr Merryweather endorsed the importance of scrutiny, and confirmed that he was discussing with officers the best time to hold a Member briefing on the financial situation of the Council.
79.7 In summing up, the ... view the full minutes text for item EXE 79/19
The purpose of this report is to advise the Executive of the recent changes to the Council’s Safeguarding Policy of 2017.
It is recommended that Executive recommends adoption of the updated Safeguarding Policy for Children and Adults at Risk to Full Council.
80.1 Cllr David Beaman, Portfolio Holder for Culture, Health and Wellbeing, introduced the report and revised Safeguarding Policy. The revisions to the Safeguarding Policy were not related to the current emergency, but reflected changes in Surrey County Council’s structures and arrangements for Children’s Services in response to their 2018 OFSTED inspection report on services for children in need of help and protection.
80.2 The principles set out the in the policy were unchanged, but the revised policy included Surrey County Council’s new multi-agency approach, Effective Family Resilience, and expanded on Contextual Safeguarding including Modern Day Slavery, Child Exploitation, online bullying and grooming, and anti-Semitism and hate crime. Cllr Beaman endorsed the revised Safeguarding Policy for Children and Adults at Risk, and the recommendation that it be submitted to Full Council for adoption.
80.3 Cllr Jerry Hyman spoke to endorse the revised Policy, and drew attention to an editing error in Appendix 5 that would need to be corrected before it was put to Full Council for approval.
80.4 Cllr Jenny Else commended the revised Policy but noted that she would have liked to see a clearer statement of councillors’ responsibilities in relation to safeguarding and how councillors should respond when they had safeguarding concerns about children or adults. Cllr Else also had some concerns about how information sharing was covered in relation to someone without mental capacity; and, how the safeguarding approach included care homes and domiciliary care organisations.
80.5 Cllr Paul Follows noted that he shared concerns that the council might assume too much of the county council’s responsibilities under the revised Policy, as this would not be funded. However, he recognised the importance of the Policy and recommended it to Council for adoption.
The Executive RESOLVED to recommend to Council that the Safeguarding Policy for Children and Adults at Risk be adopted.
Reason: It is a statutory responsibility for local authorities to have in place effective safeguarding arrangements.
PART II - MATTERS OF REPORT
The background papers relating to the following items are as set out in the reports included in the original agenda papers.
This report summarises Waverley Borough Council’s response so far to the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) and highlights some critical risks that will shape the Council’s plan and actions to help the borough recover.
It is recommended that this report be noted.
81.1 The Leader introduced the Chief Executive’s report which provided an account, for the record, of Waverley Borough Council’s response to the unprecedented medical and social crisis of coronavirus as at the end of April 2020. The Leader reiterated his thanks to all staff for their response, and took the opportunity to commend Waverley’s Senior Management Team and in particular the Chief Executive, Tom Horwood, and Strategic Directors Annie Righton and Graeme Clark, for their magnificent contribution.
81.2 Mr Tom Horwood, Chief Executive, outlined the scale of the response by the community and by council officers and Members to the unprecedented circumstances and the challenges that it presented. The council had supported health and social care services, but had also provided direct support to vulnerable people and to businesses in the borough. These services were continuing, even as the community and the council organisation began to move into the recovery phase. There were clear risks relating to the length of time the crisis would last, and there were financial risks to the council which would require further reporting to the Executive and possibly Full Council in the coming months.
81.3 Cllr Julia Potts, Leader of the Principal Opposition Group, endorsed the report which showed the tremendous effort from everyone at the council and the many community volunteers who had worked with the council in different ways. Everyone should be proud of the way in which Waverley had delivered. Cllr Potts passed on the positive feedback of businesses who had received government grants via Waverley and had commended the professional and efficient way in which these had been administered. Cllr Potts thanked the Executive for the collaborative cross-party approach they had taken, enabling her to participate in the weekly briefings and get a good understanding of what was happening behind the scenes. Cllr Potts extended the thanks of the Conservative Group to staff for their hard work, and asked if update reports could be made to future meetings so that all Members and residents were able to understand the scale of the council’s work in responding to this crisis.
81.4 Cllr Jerry Hyman echoed the thanks to staff, noted the financial uncertainty for the council and implications for future service delivery. He asked for more detailed information in relation to the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in Waverley, the testing and tracing arrangements, and what the council could be doing to accelerate this activity.
81.5 Cllr Jenny Else echoed the points made by Cllr Potts, and added that she was pleased to have received very few complaints about services such as refuse collection and grass-cutting, which indicated what a great job the council’s contractors were doing in maintaining normal services in very difficult circumstances. Cllr Else went to highlight the community meals service that had expanded its capacity almost overnight to help vulnerable residents, and the phone calls to vulnerable and shielding residents and financial support provided to small businesses. Cllr Else raised a matter that was causing some confusion ... view the full minutes text for item EXE 81/19
To seek approval for an amendment to the Scheme of Delegation to authorise officers to act in respect of new legislation introduced by the Government relating to the Covid-19 pandemic for the purpose of reducing public health risks posed by the incidence and spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome conronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).
It is recommended that the Executive amend the Scheme of Delegation to include the designation under to:
· the Head of Environmental and Regulatory Services,
· the Head of Housing Delivery and Communities,
· the Head of Housing Operations, and,
· the Head of Planning and Ecomomic Development
as authorised persons under the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 and the related public health protection regulations, including the Health Protection (Conronavirus, Business Closure)(England) (Regulations 2020 (‘the Business Closure Regulations’) and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions)(England) Regulations 2020(‘the Restriction Regulations’) and any updating and or amending legislation.
It is recommended that the designation above is also extended to officers employed within specified service teams of the Council namely environmental heath, environmental protection, environmental enforcement, licensing, housing management operations, private sector housing and planning enforcement.
82.1 Cllr Nick Palmer, Portfolio Holder for Operational and Enforcement Services, introduced the report that set out the proposed amendment to the delegation of Executive functions to officers. This delegation would authorise officers to act in respect of new legislation introduced by the government for the purpose of reducing public health risks prosed by the incidence and spread of COVID-19. Specifically, delegation was in relation to new public protection regulations on business closures under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 on which local authorities were expected to lead. Cllr Palmer endorsed the recommendation, which would enable the council to act swiftly and efficiently in its health protection enforcement role for the benefit of the Waverley community.
82.1 Cllr Julia Potts, Leader of the Principal Opposition Group, hoped that the measures would not need to be used, but agreed that it was crucial that the council should be able to respond swiftly and legally should the need arise in order to protect the health and safety of residents and businesses in these unusual times.
82.3 Cllr Jerry Hyman had some concern that the delegation proposed was not just to the named Heads of Services but also to a wide range of unspecified officers across a number of services which he felt was not sufficiently specific.
82.4 Cllr Jenny Else asked whether the Environmental Health Officers were inspecting the kitchens of food businesses that had moved to offering a takeaway service, and whether Regulations 4 and 5 which were within the council’s remit covered these operations. Cllr Rosoman assured Cllr Else that Environmental Health Officers were still inspecting takeaway businesses and supporting other businesses who were now providing takeaway services to ensure they were doing so safely. The new delegations were to take action when businesses that were supposed to be closed under the regulations were open and trading.
82.5 Daniel Bainbridge, Borough Solicitor, assured Members that the proposed delegation to specific Heads of Service who would authorise officers within the specified teams to act on their behalf was normal practice and avoided the Scheme of Delegation becoming unwieldy.
The Executive RESOLVED
(1) to amend the Scheme of Delegation to include:
· the Head of Environmental and Regulatory Services,
· the Head of Housing Delivery and Communities,
· the Head of Housing Operations, and,
· the Head of Planning and Economic Development
as authorised persons under the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984 and the related public health protection regulations, including the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Business Closure) (England) Regulations 2020 (‘the Business Closure Regulations’) and the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020 (‘the Restriction Regulations’) and any updating and or amending legislation; and,
(2) the designation is also extended to officers employed within specified service teams of the Council, namely environmental health, environmental protection, environmental enforcement, licensing, housing management operations, private sector housing and planning enforcement.
Reason: To enable officers to enforce the Regulations effectively and efficiently where appropriate.
As a landlord the Council must adhere to a range of statutory requirements in order to ensure the safety, security and wellbeing of our residents. The Executive was informed at its meeting on 7 January 2020 of the early termination by MPS Housing Ltd of the Responsive Repairs and Voids contract. MPS terminated the contract within its first year, and the contract expired on 10 March 2020. In accordance with the authority given by the Executive at its 7 January meeting, a fixed-term interim contract has been procured to ensure continuity in service delivery.
The interim contract was awarded for a fixed period of 20 months until November 2021, during which time a longer-term solution for the delivery of housing responsive repairs, improvements, void refurbishment and disabled adaptations must be sought.
The purpose of this report is to seek the Executive’s agreement to progress procurement.
It is recommended that Executive:
1. agrees the recommended approach to procuring a conventional JCT schedule of rates contractual arrangement to deliver the Housing Maintenance Responsive Repairs, Improvements, Voids Refurbishment and Disabled Adaptation services;
2. agrees to a concurrent project to explore alternative delivery methods; and
3. delegates authority to the Head of Housing Operations in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Housing, Strategic Director and Section 151 Officer to:
3.1.appoint consultants to provide advice and undertake such work relevant to achieve the procurement; and
3.2.procure and recommend to the Executive contractors to deliver Responsive Repairs, Improvements, Void Refurbishment and Disabled Adaptation works, within agreed budgets, in accordance with the Council’s Contract Procurement Rules.
83.1 Cllr Anne-Marie Rosoman, Portfolio Holder for Housing and Community Safety, introduced the report setting out the proposed approached to procuring a new contract for the provision of responsive repairs, void property refurbishments, and disabled adaptations to Waverley housing tenants in fulfilment of the council’s landlord responsibilities. The need to procure a new contract followed the early termination of the contract with MPS by the contractor which had been reported to the Executive on 7 January 2020.
83.2 In response to receiving the notice of termination of the MPS contract the council had appointed an interim contractor on a fixed term contract to November 2021 in order to maintain services to tenants. That contract had commenced in early March, although in the current circumstances the extent of the works that could be carried out safely was limited to emergency works. The procurement of a new contracts was a complex process and it was important that the work commenced promptly, and Cllr Rosoman commended the recommended approach to the Executive.
83.3 Cllr Richard Seaborne, Chairman of the Housing Overview & Scrutiny Committee, reported that the Committee had scrutinised this matter in March with the benefit of an in depth briefing from officers prior to the committee meeting. The Housing Overview & Scrutiny Committee had endorsed the proposed procurement approach and welcomed the opportunity to be involved in the exploration of alternative delivery mechanisms as well as understanding the lessons learned from the previous procurement. This work would be carried out via remote meetings and was already being planned with officers in order to meet key milestones in the procurement timeline.
83.4 Cllr Jerry Hyman echoed the importance of learning lessons from the previous procurement exercise. He also queried whether recommendation 3.2 was procedurally correct, and it was clarified that the delegation to officers was to procure tenders from contractors to deliver the services and to make recommendations to the Executive on the award of the contract.
83.5 Cllr Rosoman thanked Cllr Seaborne for his positive comments and the constructive approach of the Housing Overview & Scrutiny Committee to ensuring that the proposals were robust and options were fully explored.
The Executive RESOLVED to:
1. agree the recommended approach to procuring a conventional JCT schedule of rates contractual arrangement to deliver the Housing Maintenance Responsive Repairs, Improvements, Voids Refurbishment and Disabled Adaptation services;
2. agree to a concurrent project to explore alternative delivery methods; and
3. delegate authority to the Head of Housing Operations in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Housing, Strategic Director and Section 151 Officer to:
3.1. appoint consultants to provide advice and undertake such work relevant to achieve the procurement; and
3.2. procure and recommend to the Executive contractors to deliver Responsive Repairs, Improvements, Void Refurbishment and Disabled Adaptation works, within agreed budgets, in accordance with the Council’s Contract Procurement Rules.
Reason: to ensure that the Council is able to meet its statutory landlord obligations in relation to repairs and health and safety.