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To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 5 March 2019 as an accurate record.
The minutes of the meeting held on 5 March 2019 were agreed as an accurate record.
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.
Councillor Andy Stranack declared a non-pecuniary interest in the ‘Proposed Scoped of the new Digital Strategy’ item as a family member was a director of a fibre broadband company.
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.
There were no items of urgent business.
Question Time with the Cabinet Member for Economy & Jobs, Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed.
The Cabinet Member for Economy and Jobs, Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed was in attendance at the meeting to provide an update for the Committee on her Portfolio. During the introductory presentation given by Councillor Shahul-Hameed the following points were noted:-
· Strengths within the Portfolio included a 5.46% rise in the number of businesses in the borough since 2015 with a current total of 14,675 businesses.
· There was an enthusiastic business support network within the borough, who had organised the Croydon Means Business campaign.
· There was an Economic Summit held in Box Park 2018, with a second summit due to be held in the Fairfield Halls later this year.
· The borough had been hailed as a centre for enterprise and innovation by the Deputy Mayor for Business.
· The Croydon Digital Public Sector Contract event had been arranged to help businesses sell to the public sector.
· There had been the Croydon Works Health & Social Care recruitment event, which was attended by over 100 residents and resulted in employment for some of the attendees.
· Potential weaknesses included the weekly pay rates rising in Croydon at a slower rate than the rest of London.
· Some of the large scale developments planned for the borough were taking longer to progress than originally anticipated due to the continuing uncertainty over Brexit.
· Potential opportunities included the Creative Campus, which was being developed through a partnership between Croydon Council and Southbank University. This would help local children to access further education within the borough.
· The development of the Metropolitan Centre would lead to improved business opportunities.
· The Gatwick Expansion and the Brighton Mainline development would improve the rail links within the borough.
· Potential threats included the changing structure of retail and the continuing uncertainty over Brexit.
Following the presentation, the Committee were given the opportunity to question the Cabinet Member on her Portfolio. The first question related to the current position of both the Westfield redevelopment and the various housing developments being delivered by Brick by Brick. It was confirmed that the new owners of Westfield, Unibail-Rodamco, had given a strong commitment to Croydon when they had met with the Leader and other Council representatives. The Mayor of London had also met with representatives from Westfield to push for the start of the development. Recently it had been confirmed that the redevelopment would begin in 2020. In the meantime, the Cabinet Member was working closely with the Croydon Bid on a number of projects to retain the vitality of the town centre, including the Christmas Market.
As reassurance was given to the Committee that the Westfield project was still progressing, it was suggested that further consideration needed to be given to increasing communication about the project to provide reassurance to the wider public.
Brick by Brick continued to develop a variety of housing projects, a number of which would complete this year. There was also a need to work with local landowners to provide new employment land within the borough. To encourage this, the possibility of including a ... view the full minutes text for item 25/19
The Committee is asked to provide comment and inform the development of a Digital Strategy for Croydon Council.
The Committee received a report setting out the proposed scope for the new Digital Strategy. In attendance at the meeting for this were:
- Councillor Simon Hall - Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources
- Councillor Manju Shahul-Hameed - Cabinet Member for Economy and Jobs
- Neil Williams - Chief Digital Officer
- Dave Briggs – Head of Digital Operations
- Opama Khan – Head of Digital Place
During the introductory presentation on this item the following was noted:-
· The majority of the responsibility for the Digital Strategy fell within the Finance and Resources Portfolio, but the areas concerning the wider borough including the Smart Cities work streams came under the Economy and Jobs Portfolio.
· It was noted that the Government had produced a new code of practice for all local authority digital services. The Council’s most recent IT Strategy had expired in 2014 and did not focus on the wider digital remit proposed for inclusion within the new Strategy.
· It was confirmed that the Strategy would be structured around three main themes – Digital Council, Digital Services and Digital Borough.
· Within the Digital Council theme, it was highlighted that there was already a good range of hardware and software in the Council, although there were issues around the wi-fi in the Town Hall to resolve. At present the service was in the process of transitioning away from Capita to a system using multiple vendors who were experts in their respective fields.
· Going forward, there would be some learning and development required to upskill staff on the use of software and a need to embed a digital culture within the wider Council.
· A potential threat to the Digital Council theme was the limited market for business specific software, but the Council was due to join the London Digital Declaration with other local authorities, which would increase the ability to influence software providers.
· Within the Digital Services theme, evidence indicated that was a high volume of people accessing Council services online. However, a significant amount of work was needed to improve the quality of the user experience, with only 30% of enquiries resolved through online services.
· Through improving the online service for customers there was potential to make savings and also allow the Council to focus its resources towards those with more complex needs who were not able to access self-serve.
· Potential threats to the delivery of the Digital Services theme included there being no sustained funding in place for its ongoing delivery and also the need to overcome public distrust due to how the service operated in the past.
· For the Digital Borough theme, the strengths included decent broadband coverage within the borough and the Croydon Tech City legacy.
· Weaknesses included the lack of coverage for fibre broadband, which was a priority to address and that the Tech City had been disbanded due to stagnation.
· Opportunities included the existing support to promote Croydon as a tech destination and the scope in Croydon to participate in Smart City trials.
· Potential threats ... view the full minutes text for item 26/19
To receive the annual report from the Chairman of the Children and Young People Sub-Committee (to follow).
The Chair of the Children and Young People Sub-Committee, Councillor Robert Ward, provided a report for the Committee, which was set out in the supplementary agenda. This report provided an overview of the work of the Sub-Committee in the past year, scrutinising the progress made on the Children’s Improvement Plan. During the introduction of the report by the Chair of the Children and Young People Sub-Committee the following points were noted:-
· The principle used as a basis for the work of the Sub-Committee was that they needed to address the key areas highlighted by Ofsted. However this needed to be balanced against the need not to create unnecessary duplication of work already going on elsewhere.
· It was recognised that there had possibly been too much flexibility in the work programme of the Sub-Committee, which would be addressed in the forthcoming year with more structure put in place.
· The Sub-Committee had recently received a complete set of indicators from the Children’s Improvement Board, which would allow them to focus on those not going as well as others.
· For the next meeting of the Sub-Committee in June, the agenda would include a reports on the recovery plan for high needs, the localities model and the Children’s Improvement Board as well as looking at preparations for the next Ofsted inspection expected later in the year.
· It was hoped that there would be further opportunities for the Sub-Committee to engage with a wide variety of people including service users. It was also noted that there may need to be more work needed outside of the formal Sub-Committee meetings to enable this engagement.
The Committee acknowledged the importance of the report from the Chair of the Sub-Committee, in particular should the outcome from the next Ofsted inspection result in the service continuing to be rated as inadequate.
It was questioned whether the Sub-Committee was receiving the responses it needed to be able to make an assessment of the Children’s Improvement Plan. It was advised that it could be difficult as the organisation was sometimes reluctant to be challenged. It was not the Sub-Committee’s job to either judge or manage the Service, but instead to ask questions and look for potential gaps.
It was noted that one of the key area’s for improvement was recruitment and retention. Reports seemed to indicate that the performance was improving in the area, but anecdotal evidence from other sources seemed to contradict this. It was questioned whether recruitment and retention should be bracketed together as there would be different reasons effecting each. The Chair of the Sub-Committee advised from their work over the past year, it seemed that retention of staff remained a significant issue and they had concerns about the continuity of social workers supporting children.
The Committee agreed to extend its thanks to the Sub-Committee for its work over the past year, with the work of the Chair noted as being exemplary. It was agreed that another report should be given in the run up to the next ... view the full minutes text for item 27/19
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.”
This motion was not needed.