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Agenda and minutes

Customers, Performance, Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 24th October, 2018 1.30 pm

With effect from 1 April 2016 Agenda and Minutes will be available in both Welsh and English. Reports are working documents and produced in English only in accordance with Welsh Language Standard 41 of this Council’s Final Compliance Notice from the Welsh Language Commissioner.

Venue: Meeting Room 1, Guildhall

Contact: Suzanne Price  Scrutiny Facilitator

Items
No. Item

18.

Best Wishes

Minutes:

On behalf of the Committee the Chair wished to extend best wishes to Councillor Paul Blackwell for a speedy recovery following his recent accident.  It was –

 

AGREED – That a letter be sent to Councillor Paul Blackwell conveying the Committee’s best wishes for a speedy recovery.

19.

Welcome

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Councillor John McCusker to his first Meeting of the Committee and welcomed Susan Evans, Interim Head of Children’s Services.

20.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Bryan Apsley and Paul Blackwell.

21.

Declarations of personal interests, if any

Members are reminded of their responsibility, under Paragraph 11 of the Members’ Code of Conduct, to declare the existence and nature of any personal interest in respect of any of the business to be transacted at this meeting

Minutes:

Members were reminded of their responsibility, under Paragraph 11 of the Members’ Code of Conduct, to declare any interests in relation to any of the business to be transacted at this meeting.  The following declarations were made:

 

Agenda Item 5 – Councillors Sonia Benbow-Jones, Dana Davies, Adrienne Jeorrett, Gwenfair Jones, Geoff Lowe and John Pritchard – Personal and Prejudicial – School Governor – The Councillors remained in the meeting and claimed an exemption under Article 12(2) of the Members’ Code of Conduct taking part in the discussion and voting thereon.

22.

Confirmation of Minutes pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To sign as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 26 September 2018

Minutes:

AGREED – That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 26 September 2018 be signed as a correct record.

23.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/111/18s) to assist the Committee in considering and agreeing its work programme.

 

Members considered the report and referred to the following matters:

 

·         Nominations to serve on the Joint Task and Finish Group received from Councillors Sonia Benbow-Jones, Gwenfair Jones, Barrie Warburton and Mike Davies.

·         Topic Selection Form submitted by the Chief Executive in respect of WCBC Emerging Priorities agreed to be submitted to the December Meeting.  Members requested that the Chair work with the Scrutiny Facilitator  to defer one of the current December items until the January meeting.

 

AGREED –

 

(i)         That the following Members be appointed to serve on the Future Use of Groves School Building Joint Task and Finish Group:

 

            Councillor Sonia Benbow-Jones

Councillor Gwenfair Jones

Councillor Barrie Warburton

Councillor Mike Davies

 

(ii)        That the item – WCBC Emerging Priorities – be submitted to the December meeting and the Chair and Scrutiny Facilitator defer one of the current December items to the January meeting to accommodate this.

24.

Budget Monitoring and Control 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To consider the report of the Lead Member for Organisation – Finance, Performance, Health & Safety and Governance

Minutes:

(Members declarations of interest in relation to this item are set out in Minute 21 above)

 

The Lead Member for Organisation – Finance, Performance, Health & Safety and Governance submitted a report (HF/107/18s) to inform Members of the Council’s current budgetary position following five months of the 2018/19 financial year.

 

Members considered the report and asked questions of the Lead Member and officers present.  The following matters were highlighted in debate:

 

Children’s Social Care

·         The unprecedented increase in Looked After Children (LAC) was continuing and the department was predicting an overspend in relation to out of county and leaving care placements.

·         Reported that the department had appointed a recruitment officer to focus on engaging more foster carers.  In addition, senior managers were reviewing LAC cases, in particular out of county, to try to match children with local carers or to plan rehabilitation back home if appropriate.

·         Noted that regionally all local authorities faced similar challenges in respect of commissioning residential placements.  It was essential to increase the recruitment of foster carers.

·         The Leader of the Council and the Chair of the Committee both commended the work of the department.

 

Environment and Planning

·         Refuse collection and disposal – predicted overspend as a result of government grant reduction in 2018/19 of £256k, giving an overall reduction of £477k, plus additional staffing costs.  In addition, estimated car park income was lower than the budget target.

·         Reported that historical changes to kerbside collection at a time of reducing budgets had led to increased staffing demands which along with more commercially attractive alternative employment and natural turnover had resulted in an increased reliance on agency workers.  The department continued to try to recruit in order to address this.

·         Noted that changes to the frequency of winter waste collection would free up staff to support the winter maintenance team.

·         Reported that Welsh Government had recently announced additional funding to improve waste and recycling.  Further information would be provided to Members at a future date.

·         Acknowledgement that there had been added complexities in relation to the staff car parking proposals.  Requested that Member car parking be dealt with separately in order to expedite its roll out.

 

Schools

·         Overall delegated budget balances for Wrexham schools were projected to reduce during 2018/19 by £2.051m to a net deficit figure of £39k.

·         Noted that teachers’ pay uplift was not included in the predictions, however Welsh Government had indicated that additional funding would be received in 2018/19 and 2019/20 representing the cost of the teachers’ pay award.

·         Guidance and support was provided to ensure that schools operating under  licensed deficit arrangements worked to their agreed recovery plans.

·         Noted that the position in Wrexham reflected the national picture.  An analysis of the position of school balances of other local authority schools could be provided to Members.

·         Concern that 6 out of 9 secondary schools were projected balances with a licensed deficit.

·         The need to ensure that appropriate funding was made available for schools.  Representations had been made to Welsh and National Government.

·         Praise  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Contracts which have exceeded the agreed contract sum by more than 5% pdf icon PDF 198 KB

To consider the report of the Lead Member for Organisation – Finance, Performance, Health & Safety and Governance

Minutes:

The Lead Member for Organisation – Finance, Performance, Health & Safety and Governance submitted a report (HF/110/18s) to allow Members to consider a six monthly report, which details contracts, which have exceeded the agreed contract sum by more than a specified percentage or amount.

 

Members were pleased to note that there had been no contract overspends of more than 5% with more than a £10,000 overspend in respect of Capital and HRA contracts. Also, there had been no contract overspends of 20% subject to a minimum overspend of £30,000 which required a detailed report to the next meeting.

 

Members considered the report and asked questions of the officer in respect of highways maintenance works and council house voids in excess of 10%, subject to a minimum variation of £5000, as follows:

 

Highways Maintenance

·         The timeliness of invoices being received for payment.

·         Post inspection of highways works.

·         Liaison with utilities regarding highways works.

·         Road condition surveys.

·         The materials purchased for use on roads were regularly monitored for quality and value for money.

·         The Committee was pleased to note the steps taken to manage cost variances.

 

Council House Voids

·         Noted that all properties now received a comprehensive initial survey and deduction of items not required which had enabled an accurate survey and target cost to be produced.

·         Use of external contractors and the need to ensure that best value was achieved.

·         Noted that costings were fixed by the schedule of rates.

·         Close work was undertaken with housing estate offices regarding the standard of garden maintenance.

 

AGREED – The Committee notes the improvement and tightening up on contract management and looks forward to the next report in 6 months.