Venue: Committee Room 1, City Hall
Contact: Democratic Services - 01522 873387
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 24 May 2018 be confirmed.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Housing Scrutiny Sub-Committee held on 18 June 2018 be confirmed.
Declarations of Interest
Please note that, in accordance with the Members' Code of Conduct, when declaring interests members must disclose the existence and nature of the interest, and whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) or personal and/or pecuniary.
No declarations of interest were received.
Portfolio Holder under Scrutiny
Pat Jukes, Corporate Policy Business Manager:
a) gave a presentation outlining the performance of the Our People and Resources Portfolio, which included:
· contextual information on the corporate environment in the City of Lincoln Council. The following points were noted:
- the number of full time equivalent staff working for the Council had decreased from 590.9 in 2016/17 to 557.9 in 2017/18. An average of 20.5 apprentices was in addition to this figure. Quarter one performance for 2018/19 indicated a revised figure of 555.4;
- the percentage of staff turnover at the end of quarter four was 2.83%, which was an increase of 0.48% compared to the previous quarter. Quarter one performance for 2018/19 indicated a figure of 3.31%;
- there were 73 active projects in Vision 2020 in 2017/18 and going forward into 2018/19 there would be over 60 active projects;
- during 2017/18 there were 48 new apprentices on the programme, all of which completed on time. For quarter one, six people had completed their apprenticeships and six people had enrolled as new apprentices;
- the General Fund this year had a net requirement of £14.3 million, which was up from £10.4 million in 2017/18;
- in 2017/18 the Towards Financial Sustainability target was overachieved by £30,390;
- as part of the business rate pilot in 2018/19, the Council would receive 60% of business rates, with 40% going to Lincolnshire County Council.
· latest population estimates, with the biggest age range being around the 15-29 bracket due to the impact of the Universities in the city;
· latest population splits, with the gap between the number of males and females reducing. This currently stood at 720 which was down from 1,169 in 2016;
· Lincoln population per square kilometre, with Lincoln having the sixth highest density of population per square kilometre when compared to the Council’s nearest neighbours;
· sickness comparisons year on year, by type and with East Midlands local authorities;
· followers to the Council’s social media sites and social media following compared to other local authorities.
b) highlighted the following key points:
· sickness levels were growing due to higher than normal long term sickness;
· the City of Lincoln Council continued to increase its social media reach and was the third highest on Twitter per 100,000 population in comparison to its nearest neighbours;
· the Council’s online facility ‘Myinfo’ was increasing in popularity, with over 50% more users in quarter four than in quarter three;
· performance in respect of time taken to answer calls had dropped in quarter four but this was expected to recover well in the first quarter of 2018/19;
· the 2017/18 council tax collection rate overachieved its target;
· non-domestic rate collection, whilst lower than last year, still achieved its target.
c) invited members’ questions and comments.
The increase in people using technology and social media, in particular, was excellent, but were there measures in place for people who could not use or did not have access to the internet or social media?
The Council would always ... view the full minutes text for item 15a
Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Our People and Resources:
a) presented a report which set out:
· contextual information relating to the changing political landscape nationally and the impact that this was having on the Council’s resources;
· an overview of the Council’s priorities via its Vision 2020 and a summary of key achievements;
· key achievements in relation to the Our People and Resources Portfolio, including:
- progress on reshaping local government, working with partners which could support a possible future Greater Lincolnshire bid submission for infrastructure projects;
- financial sustainability and delivery against the Towards Financial Sustainability savings targets;
- the Revenues and Benefits Shared Service;
- asset optimisation;
- emergency planning;
- business continuity;
- risk management;
- corporate health and safety;
- Human Resources;
- Work Based Learning, including apprenticeships;
- Civic and International Partnerships.
b) highlighted those service areas and responsibilities that were within the former Corporate Management and Customer Services Portfolio and had moved under the responsibility of other Portfolios following the introduction of new Executive Portfolios.
c) outlined the key Portfolio performance results up to quarter four in 2017/18, as set out in the previous item.
d) presented future challenges for the Portfolio going forward, including planning for the second phase of projects as part of the Vision 2020.
e) Invited members’ questions and comments.
The new Central Car Park was opened in November 2017 and the top floor to the car park was still not able to be used. Similarly, part of the fourth floor was recently closed. This did not look good for people visiting the city.
The extremely hot weather experienced recently had prevented works being finalised on the top floor of the Central Car Park. The Council had experienced significant growth in use of the car park since it was opened, with positive feedback having been received from customers, together with national recognition in respect of the standards of the car park. Councillor Metcalfe shared concerns regarding the delay in completion of the top floor. Work was due to commence next week which consisted of complex waterproofing on the top floor of the car park. The recent unavailability of part of the fourth floor was due to the storage of materials in anticipation of being able to commence with works on the top floor. All materials had since been cordoned off, which allowed for part of it to be open. The car park had seen 98,000 visitors since it opened in November 2017 and was running between 50% and 60% capacity.
In terms of car parking generally, Councillor Metcalfe highlighted that car parking in the city had not increased as anticipated over the last few years with people finding new ways of getting into the city. He emphasised, however, that Lincoln was not unique in this respect and that there were a number of contributing factors as to why this was the case. Avoidance of car parking charges and people ... view the full minutes text for item 15b
Alison Timmins, Housing Solutions and Support Manager:
a) presented a report which provided the Performance Scrutiny Committee with information relating to the provision of homelessness services following the enactment of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 on 3 April 2018.
b) explained that the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 placed new duties on Councils so that everyone who was homeless or threatened with homelessness would have access to meaningful help, irrespective of their priority need status or local connection to the authority they approached. The new Act was the biggest legislative change in homelessness in the last 15 to 20 years.
c) reported that a significant amount of work was required by local authorities to be ready for the new duties which came into effect in April 2018. The Council’s Housing Solutions Team had received specialist training to assist them and, following a visit in May by the Homelessness Advisor, the Council was statutorily compliant with the new Act.
d) explained that it was difficult to predict what the impact of the Act would have, although it was predicted that homelessness applications would increase by 25%, with acceptances expected to reduce together with the use of temporary accommodation. It reported that the team had noted a significant increase in applications since April 2018, with the majority of these being single people who the authority would previously not have had any duties other than the provision of advice and assistance.
e) highlighted that rough sleeping had become more visible, particularly in the city centre, over the last two years. Despite the city having a night shelter, supported accommodation and a street outreach team, numbers continued to rise and currently approximately 30 people slept rough in Lincoln each night.
f) reported that the Lincoln Business Community had been working with the Council and had launched a diverted giving scheme to encourage people to give donations to a fund which would be used to help and support rough sleepers. The Council had also successfully bid for £376,474 of funding to target rough sleeping and prevent the flow of new rough sleepers onto the streets of Lincoln.
g) invited members’ questions and comments.
The growth in homelessness in the city was a direct result of reduced funding centrally – had any additional funding been received as part of the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017?
Additional funding had been received but this was currently on a short-term basis with there being no guarantees at this stage that this would be ongoing. It was currently being used for additional staffing due to the increased number of applications that were being submitted.
Lots of different agencies and organisations supported homeless people and rough sleepers, using various funding streams in different ways. Was the Council successfully engaging with them?
Yes the Council was actively engaging with other agencies and organisations in the city to address the issue of homelessness. It was acknowledged that rough sleeping had increased in the city significantly over the last ... view the full minutes text for item 16.
Simon Walters, Director of Communities and Environment:
a) presented a report which provided the Performance Scrutiny Committee with the key financial performance in relation to the 2017 Lincoln Christmas Market.
b) reported that the total direct expenditure for the 2017 Christmas Market was £552,039 against an expenditure budget of £487,080, equating to an overspend of £64,959.
c) reported that income received was £611,745 against an income budget target of £602,970, equating to an overachievement of £8,775.
d) reported that core staffing costs amounted to £113,456 against an expenditure budget of £124,550, equating to an underspend of £11,094.
e) reported that, overall, the 2017 Christmas Market produced a loss of £53,750 which was £45,090 higher than the budgeted £8,660 cost to the authority.
f) highlighted the following key influencing factors affecting the final outturn of the 2017 Christmas Market:
· breakdown of the event commenced around 24 hours earlier than planned due to adverse weather conditions and severe weather warnings, which had an adverse impact on both costs and income;
· the national threat level remained at ‘severe’ following a number of terrorist attacks in crowded places which occurred early in 2017. Additional police and extra security measures, including the use of controlled vehicle access points, resulted in a significant increase in police and security costs;
· stall holder income;
· park and ride income;
· coach parking income;
· expenditure resulting from staffing costs, venue hire costs and contractor payments, including policing and security costs;
g) reported that the Council was in the process of reviewing the format of the Christmas Market for future years and would seek to consider how it could be improved and the potential for extending it to other parts of the city, such as Lincoln high street.
h) invited members’ questions and comments.
Too much criticism for the closure of the Christmas Market last year was allowed to be accrued to individual officers at the Council, namely the Strategic Director of Communities and Environment, when 19 agencies were included in discussions leading up to and contributing to that decision. A single officer should not be left to take the blame and a more joined up approach, involving members, would need to be followed should similar circumstances occur in the future.
There were opportunities for the Christmas Market to extend down Lincoln high street and the prospect of it crossing the railway line should be explored, incorporating places of interest such as the Guildhall and St Mary Le Wigford Church.
The review of the Christmas Market was welcomed as it was important to develop and improve it where possible.
Lincoln Castle was looking to hold its own Christmas Market this year – how would that impact the Council’s Christmas Market?
Heritage Services at the County Council was being encouraged to move to a ‘budget zero’ model and would be seeking to generate income for themselves as part of holding a Christmas Market. It was proposed that this market would take place after the Council’s Christmas Market ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
RESOLVED that the work programme be noted.