Councillor Gary Hewson, Chair of the Performance Scrutiny Committee, presented a report which provided Council with an update on the work of the Committee. He took this opportunity to thank all members of the Committee for the time they put into the work of the Committee and to officers, particularly from the Council’s Policy Team, for their ongoing support.
Councillor Hewson emphasised the importance of the Performance Scrutiny Committee and its role in enabling all members, from the administration and the opposition, in holding the Executive and the performance of the Council’s service delivery, to account.
Councillor Eddie Strengiel was concerned that the issue of homelessness still seemed to be prevalent in Lincoln, despite introducing measures in 2017 which were supposed to have addressed the issue. He understood that lots of organisations provided support to homeless people but questioned how joined up they were and whether they had opportunities to work together or share good practice. An issue such as homelessness required a joined up approach and so he suggested that the Council sought to arrange an event such as a conference to facilitate this.
Councillor Chris Burke highlighted that the Council was doing the best it could through its Intervention Team to tackle the issue of homelessness. He added that a lot of the problems were beyond the Council’s own powers and highlighted that budget cuts and the loss of seven hostels in ten years had contributed to the problem in Lincoln.
Councillor Donald Nannestad highlighted that a conference was recently held at the Showroom in Lincoln involving over 100 people from a range of organisations regarding homelessness in the city.
Councillor Hewson explained that changes in the Homelessness Act placed more pressure on the City Council but that the authority worked very hard through intervention and prevention. The City Council had also allocated 20 of its properties in partnership with the organisation P3 and was using all means possible to address homelessness. He added, however, that this was not an easy situation to resolve and that the authority and partners were doing the best they could with the resources available to them.
Councillor Ronald Hills praised the work of the Committee and the important role it undertook. He took this opportunity to thank the Chair for all of his work and even handedness with the Committee.
Councillor Thomas Dyer echoed Councillor Hills’ sentiments. He referred to discussions last year where a proposal was put forward to place time limits on meetings of Scrutiny Committee meetings. He therefore sought assurances that the Executive would not be able to control or influence these meetings and that meetings would continue to last as long as they needed into order to conduct business as necessary.
Councillor Ric Metcalfe reminded Council that the Executive had not suggested or proposed any time limits associated with Scrutiny Committee meetings and in no way sought to curtail its very important role. Suggestions from some members were put forward following a very long meeting of the Performance Scrutiny Committee last year to provide the Committee with the ability to defer items of business should meetings exceed a particular length, acknowledging that meetings were held in the evening. Such suggestions had not been formalised but Councillor Metcalfe reiterated that this was not an attempt to interfere with the Council’s scrutiny function.
Councillor Hewson highlighted that the Ethics and Engagement Committee had previously considered this issue. He said that the Performance Scrutiny Committee sought to undertake business as efficiently as possible but agreed that this was not always easy. This was mainly due to the nature of the information presented which would always generate questions, adding that members should be able to take the opportunity to seek information and ask questions at these meetings to ensure the Committee undertook its role properly.
The report was noted.