Venue: Council Chamber - WPBC
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Code of Conduct
Members are required to comply with the requirements of the Localism Act 2011 and the Council’s Code of Conduct regarding disclosable pecuniary and other interests.
· Check if there is an item of business on this agenda in which the member or other relevant person has a disclosable pecuniary or other disclosable interest
· Check that the interest has been notified to the Monitoring Officer (in writing) and entered in the Register (if not this must be done within 28 days)
· Disclose the interest at the meeting (in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct) and in the absence of dispensation to speak and/or vote, withdraw from any consideration of the item where appropriate. If the interest is non-pecuniary you may be able to stay in the room, take part and vote.
For further advice please contact Stuart Caundle, Monitoring Officer, in advance of the meeting.
J Osborne declared an interest in respect of agenda item 9, ‘Scrutiny Review – Weymouth Town Centre Conservation Area’, as he had an interest in two historic buildings. He would take part in discussion and voting on the item.
To receive an update from the Chair of the committee.
As the new Chair of the Scrutiny and Performance Committee, A Blackwood highlighted the important role of the committee to monitor the activities of the Management Committee on behalf of the public. He also noted the role of briefholders and the link between them and the committee. The committee should be asking questions of briefholders and holding them to account.
This will be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes – 3 minutes will be allowed per speaker. The order of speakers is at the discretion of the Chair and is normally taken in the order of agenda items. Questions must relate to a report which is on the agenda for consideration. Notice is not required if you wish to speak at the meeting but if you require an answer to a question, it is advisable to submit this in advance by contacting the Democratic Services Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr Burt addressed the committee with regard to the requirement for councillors to declare pecuniary interests at meetings and previous requests for scrutiny reviews that he had made and why these had been turned down?
In response the Chair noted that following a similar question asked by Mr Burt at Management Committee the previous week, he had taken advice from the Monitoring Officer and confirmed that directorships should be declared by members in their register of interests. The Chair noted that he would meet with Mr Burt following the meeting to discuss his points further.
Mr Farn addressed the committee with regard to the need for a town centre manager, litter on the street and the state of properties in the town.
The Chair noted that issues with regard to the town centre manager and litter patrols were included within reports on the agenda for this meeting.
The Head of Community Protection noted that if Mr Farn had examples of bins being consistently overfilled, he would address these with the Dorset Waste Partnership.
Questions by councillors
To receive questions from councillors in accordance with Procedural Rule 12. Councillors are entitled to a total of 5 minutes regardless of the number of matters raised.
There were no questions from councillors.
To confirm the minutes of the Scrutiny and Performance Committee held on 27 April 2017 and 18 May 2017, previously circulated to all members.
The minutes of the meetings of the Scrutiny and Performance Committee held on 27 April 2017 and 18 May 2017, previously circulated to all members, were agreed and signed by the Chair as a correct record.
Timing of meetings for 2017/18
To confirm the times that the meeting will take place during the 2017/18 municipal year.
It was agreed that meetings of the committee would continue to take place at 6.30pm for the municipal year 2017/18.
Urgent items not included in the committee work plan
To consider any items of business which the Chair has had prior notification and considers to be urgent pursuant to Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972. The reason for the urgency shall be specified in the minutes.
There were no urgent items.
To receive the report of the scrutiny working group on behalf of the Scrutiny and Performance Committee.
Councillor Page-Nash introduced the report of the scrutiny working group, following the review of issues associated with the Weymouth Town Centre Conservation Area and noted the recommendations coming out of the review. In addition, Councillor Page-Nash noted discussions that had been held with the Civic Society with regard to the appointment of a Civic Champion and also discussions that had been held with the Weymouth BID with regard to opportunities for the borough council and the BID to work together to make improvements within the town centre (such as improvements to signage, planting schemes, running competitions to encourage improvements and working with local schools).
Members considered the contents of the report and during discussion the following points were made:
· In response to a point raised, it was noted that there would need to be a joint approach between the borough council and the town centre manager and heritage champion. The council’s conservation officers would support the heritage champion and assist with finding and securing funding for projects;
· The importance of the town centre manager being visible within the town was noted;
· A question was raised as to how the town centre manager and the heritage champion would work together and whether these roles would be defined?
· It was noted that the Civic Society already produced various leaflets in relation to Weymouth;
· Members discussed the issues associated with the placing of ‘A’ boards within the town. There was recognition that many businesses depended on having ‘A’ boards in order to advertise and direct people to their business. However, it was noted that the main issues were with regard to their size and where they were placed. There were current regulations for the placing of ‘A’ boards put in place by Dorset County Council and it was felt that guidance needed to be provided to businesses and discussion held where required. Clarification could be sought from Dorset County Council if necessary. The funding proposed for an enforcement officer would assist in this area;
· Discussion was being held with the Weymouth BID with regard to having finger post signs in the town centre;
· In response to a question, the Senior Planning Officer noted that the proposed shop front design guide could set out details of the Georgian town centre features and include examples and details of how town centre shop fronts should be maintained to encourage improvements and consistency within the town centre;
· A question was raised with regard to the links to the Weymouth BID for work in this area and how much of this would be feasible if the BID did not continue? Members agreed to include some wording in the recommendation to clarify that if the BID did not continue, then a proportion of the money provided by the council to the BID should be made available for these projects;
· In response to a question it was noted that a town centre manager would have a good knowledge of the town centre, knowing what the issues were and being able ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
To consider a report of the Head of Community Protection.
The committee received and considered a report of the Head of Community Protection which provided information on progress with the Environmental Enforcement project concerning littering, dog controls and other environmental offences in the borough. It was noted that the project was included in the Management Committee Action Plan with a decision required later in the year as to whether the project continued.
Feedback from the street cleansers was that the town centre streets were considerably cleaner since the scheme had been put in place. It was noted that with the summer season coming up, there was signage in place to inform all, that there was an active approach to enforcement of littering and dog fouling in the borough.
Members considered the issues arising from the report and during discussion the following points were made:
· The contact details for a 3GS officer would be provided to all councillors in order that issues could be reported as relevant. Ward members would have local information on hotspots;
· The council was currently working with 3GS to introduce new fixed penalty notices with regard to smoking in a smoke-free place and failure to produce waste documents. There were also current discussions related to commercial waste;
· The council’s Project Manager for this area noted that discussions had been held with the Dorset Waste Partnership (DWP) about the use of gull proof bags. There were issues with regard to the large number of waste collection providers operating in the area which could mean DWP staff would be collecting these on behalf of other organisations. Other issues which could be considered were where rubbish bags were stored by businesses and covering the bags with sheets so that gulls could not access the bags;
· It was noted that 3GS officers wore a uniform that included the 3GS and borough council logos. If they stopped people, they were required to show their ID which detailed their authorisation from the council. Officers did not demand payment of fixed penalty notices on the spot – notices provided detail of available options for payment;
· In response to a concern raised, it was reported that two notices were served on men for every one served on a woman. The Head of Community Protection noted that 3GS had a strict code of conduct for its operations. A request was made for a breakdown of figures for the issuing of fixed penalty notices to men and women. This would be provided to members following the meeting;
· It was noted that fixed penalty notices were not served on vulnerable people which included under 18 year olds;
· The Head of Community Protection noted that 3GS were investigating recent postings on social media and that he was overseeing this process.
That the Scrutiny and Performance Committee notes the progress on the environmental enforcement project and requests that an evaluation report is made in the autumn of 2017 for a recommendation to Management Committee on the future of the initiative.
To consider a report of the Licensing and Community Safety Manager.
The committee received a report of the Licensing and Community Safety Manager which provided an opportunity to review the effectiveness of current licensing controls being utilised in respect of Weymouth’s night time economy. It was noted that this issue had been highlighted in the Management Committee Action Plan with a report requested to be brought to Scrutiny and Performance Committee.
The Head of Community Protection noted that there could be reason for scrutiny of the legislative controls and how effectively these were being used in Weymouth. In addition, early morning restrictions and the late night levy were provisions used infrequently by many councils.
Members discussed the issues highlighted within the report and the following points were made:
· The Chair advised caution in this area and a consideration of the impact that the council could have. If a review was undertaken, it needed to be targeted effectively;
· The Licensing and Community Safety Manager noted that the Licensing Act was quite prescriptive. The council was good at negotiating and mediating but there could be opportunities to better use systems and tools that were available;
· A point was made that there were not enough emergency services officers on the street;
· A point was made that there were limits to the impact that the council could have on what was a large social issue. There needed to be a focus on the tools that the council had available to it and an assessment of what was currently being used and not being used;
· The timing for any scrutiny activity was questioned as the council had recently adopted a new Cumulative Impact Policy. This would be reviewed in 2019;
· Members considered changes to the night time economy with a rise in consumption of alcohol outside of licensed premises, with many people drinking at home before they went out;
· Preloading and regulations around off licenses could be looked at;
· The point was made that there was a disconnect between fear of crime and actual crime levels. The speed of communication, increased by wide use of social media, had a role;
· The Licensing and Community Safety Manager felt that the council managed licensed premises in the area very well and that many people felt safe within licensed premises. This may have resulted in a shift in criminal activity outside of these premises. The council could look at the effective use of tools that it had available;
· A point was made that there should be discussion with the bus companies that brought people into town for a night out;
· The importance of the street pastor scheme was recognised and it was felt that there should be more support of this scheme;
· Reference was made to the #RU2Drunk Campaign and that there had been an improvement in levels of crime since it had been introduced;
· Members considered the timing for any scrutiny work in this area and although it was felt that scrutiny may be useful in some areas, this should be put on hold for the time being ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
To consider a report of the Community Planning and Development Manager.
The committee received a report which provided an overview of grants made by the council and those that had come into the borough including those directly received or enabled by the council through officer support or match funding in the financial year 2016-17. In addition, the report identified a process for how external funding success could be improved.
The Community Planning and Development Manager noted that the council held information on some unsuccessful applications but what was not known was who on the council or the community were missing out on funding opportunities because of their lack of awareness of the funding available. There was a need for the council to be aware of what funding was available and to have projects ready to be funded. It was noted that local councils could not always apply for some grants and that some were for community groups. However the council could support community groups to apply for funding.
Members expressed support for helping community groups to bring funding in where available.
It was proposed by A Blackwood seconded by R Hope
That the Scrutiny and Performance Committee note the grant register for the financial year 2016-17.
Recommendation to Management Committee
That an audit is undertaken on external grant funding practice in the borough so options can be developed for improved success.
To consider the Scrutiny and Performance Committee work plan and to consider any scrutiny requests received.
To look at the matters to be considered in the forthcoming months and consider whether the committee wish to receive any assurance from relevant Briefholders or carry out pre or post decision scrutiny of any item:
· Management Committee Forward Plan, Action Plan and decisions
· Harbour Management Board Work Plan
Members noted the committee’s work plan, the Management Committee Forward Plan and Action Plan and decisions taken at meetings of the Management Committee.
R Hope provided an update with regard to the current scrutiny review of the Weymouth BID. Further work to be undertaken included discussion with relevant briefholders and a drop in session for levy payers.
K Brookes raised a possible issue with regard to the licensing of Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs). He would discuss this with the relevant briefholder and decide if he wished to take this any further.
T Roos indicated that she would like to see a scrutiny in respect of homelessness.
The Senior Democratic Services Officer would send scrutiny request forms to Councillors Brookes, Osborne and Roos to complete.
On the work plan, items listed under ‘Items requiring further assessment as to whether they are included in the work plan’ would be deleted following this meeting as they had been on the bottom of the work plan for some time.
Date of next meeting
Thursday 31 August 2017, 6.30pm in the Council Chamber, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council offices, Commercial Road, Weymouth.
Thursday 31 August 2017, 6.30pm in the Council Chamber, Commercial Road offices, Weymouth.