Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny & Overview Committee - Thursday, 27th May, 2021 5.30 pm

Venue: This meeting will be held remotely. View directions

Contact: Simon Trevaskis
0208 7266000  Email: simon.trevaskis@croydon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

37/21

Disclosure of Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct and the statutory provisions of the Localism Act, Members and co-opted Members of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to register disclosable pecuniary interests (DPIs) and gifts and hospitality to the value of which exceeds £50 or multiple gifts and/or instances of hospitality with a cumulative value of £50 or more when received from a single donor within a rolling twelve month period. In addition, Members and co-opted Members are reminded that unless their disclosable pecuniary interest is registered on the register of interests or is the subject of a pending notification to the Monitoring Officer, they are required to disclose those disclosable pecuniary interests at the meeting. This should be done by completing the Disclosure of Interest form and handing it to the Democratic Services representative at the start of the meeting. The Chair will then invite Members to make their disclosure orally at the commencement of Agenda item 3. Completed disclosure forms will be provided to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion on the Register of Members’ Interests.

 

Minutes:

There were no disclosures of interest made at the meeting.

 

38/21

Urgent Business (if any)

To receive notice of any business not on the agenda which in the opinion of the Chair, by reason of special circumstances, be considered as a matter of urgency.

 

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

 

39/21

CALL-IN: Ongoing Review of Brick by Brick Croydon Ltd and associated matters relating to the company pdf icon PDF 162 KB

The Scrutiny & Overview Committee is asked to consider and respond to the Call-In in accordance with the procedure set out in the Council’s constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny & Overview Committee considered a call-in request of the Cabinet key decisions set out in ‘Ongoing Review of Brick by Brick Croydon Ltd and associated matters relating to the company’ report. The decisions taken in this report were made by the Cabinet at its meeting held on 17 May 2021.

The Chair explained the process for considering a call-in, confirming that the Committee needed to agree whether to review the decision or not and if it was decided to proceed, to confirm how much time it wished to allocate for the discussion of the item. The Committee agreed that it would review the decision and allocated one hours and thirty minutes for its consideration.

The Chair went on to explain that there were three outcomes the Committee could reach as a result of its review. These were:-

1.    That no further action was necessary and the decision could be implemented as originally intended.

2.    To refer the decision back to the Cabinet for reconsideration, outlining the nature of the Committee’s concerns

3.    To refer the decision to Council, if the Committee considered that the decision taken was outside of the Budget and Policy Framework.

At the outset of the item an opportunity was given to the lead signatory of the request to provide an introduction, outlining the grounds for submitting the call-in. Councillor Robert Ward, as lead signatory, advised the Committee that it was important for the public to understand what had happened with Brick by Brick and who was responsible. Concerns about the company had first been raised in 2016 and since then many of the issues highlighted had come to pass. There had been repeated requests made for information throughout this time, which had not been granted. No adequate explanation had been given as to why this was the case. It was disappointing that the information requested had not been provided and it was up to the Committee to reach a conclusion on the call-in based on the information available in the Cabinet report.

Following this introduction, the Leader of the Council, Councillor Hamida Ali, was given the opportunity to explain the reasons for the Cabinet decision. It was advised that the key decisions taken were important in the context of the work over the previous seven months to improve the Council’s governance processes. The need to improve the Council’s governance had been raised as a criticism in the Report in the Public Interest (RIPI) issued by the Council’s external auditor, Grant Thornton. The decision to treat what had originally been a loan to Brick by Brick for the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls, as a capital expenditure had been taken following advice from CIPFA and the Council’s external auditor. The actual refurbishment of Fairfield Halls by Brick by Brick was a separate issue, which was the subject of an ongoing Value for Money review by the external auditors, Grant Thornton. 

The Cabinet had originally reviewed the decision to use the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) to purchase  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39/21

40/21

CALL-IN: Libraries Public Consultation Phase Two pdf icon PDF 160 KB

The Scrutiny and Overview Committee is asked to consider and respond to the Call-In in accordance with the procedure set out in the Council’s constitution

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny & Overview Committee considered a call-in request of the Cabinet key decisions set out in ‘Libraries Public Consultation – Phase One’ report. The decisions taken in this report were made at the Cabinet meeting held on 17 May 2021.

The Chair explained the process for considering a call-in, confirming that the Committee needed to agree whether to review the decision or not and if it was decided to proceed, to confirm how much time it wished to allocate for the discussion of the item. The Committee agreed that it would review the decision and allocated forty five minutes for its consideration.

The Chair went on to explain that there were three outcomes the Committee could reach as a result of its review. These were:-

1.    That no further action was necessary and the decision could be implemented as originally intended.

2.    To refer the decision back to the Cabinet for reconsideration, outlining the nature of the Committee’s concerns

3.    To refer the decision to Council, if the Committee considered that the decision taken was outside of the Budget and Policy Framework.

At the outset of the item an opportunity was given to the lead signatory of the request to provide an introduction, outlining the grounds for submitting the call-in. Councillor Gareth Streeter, as lead signatory, outlined to the Committee that the call-in request had been made for a number of reasons. The first was a lack of confidence in the consultation process, which was delivered within the restraints of the covid-19 pandemic. There was also confusion about the options being considered as it had originally been based upon the possible closure of five libraries, which had now been removed leading to conjecture about the reasons for its inclusion in the first place.

There was also concern about the viability of the remaining options to be considered in the next phase of the consultation, particularly the community option. It was felt the report did not provide enough assurance that there had been sufficient engagement with the community groups to evaluate their ability to take on the management of a library. It was also felt that the information provided did not give enough detail on what the outsourcing option would mean for the end service. There was other concerns noted about the business rates to be paid if the community option was chosen and the use of CIL money, which needed further clarification.

The Chair highlighted to the Committee that the use of CIL funding in the Library service was not relevant to the decision that was being reviewed, and as such did not need any exploration at the meeting.

Following this introduction, the Cabinet Member for Culture & Regeneration, Councillor Oliver Lewis, was given the opportunity to explain the reasons for the Cabinet decision. It was advised that it was important for the consultation process to identify how to deliver the savings required from the Library service to be open and transparent. The intention of the first phase of the consultation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40/21

41/21

Exclusion of the Press and Public

The following motion is to be moved and seconded where it is proposed to exclude the press and public from the remainder of a meeting:

 

“That, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information falling within those paragraphs indicated in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended.”

 

 

Minutes:

This motion was not required.