Agenda and minutes

Moved from 13 July 2021, Scrutiny & Overview Committee - Tuesday, 6th July, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: This meeting will be held remotely. View directions

Contact: Simon Trevaskis
0208 7266000  Email:

No. Item


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 218 KB

The Scrutiny & Overview Committee is asked to approve the minutes of its meetings held on the following dates as an accurate record:-

·         17 November 2020

·         8 December 2020

·         21 December 2020

·         7 January 2021

·         4 February 2021

·         9 February 2021

·         16 February 2021

·         23 March 2021

·         30 March 2021

·         20 May 2021


Additional documents:


The minutes of the meetings held on 17 November 2020, 8 December 2020, 21 December 2020 and 7 January 2021 were agreed as a correct record.

It was agreed that the minutes of the other meetings listed on the agenda would be considered at the next meeting of the Committee.


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.



There were no disclosures of interest made at the meeting.



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.



Ongoing Review of Brick by Brick Croydon Ltd and the Future of the Company. pdf icon PDF 100 KB

The Scrutiny and Overview Committee is provided with a report due to be considered by the Cabinet on 12 July 2021. The Committee is asked to review the information provided and consider whether its wishes to offer any feedback on the recommendations for the Cabinet to take account of when deliberating on the report.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report on the ongoing review of Brick by Brick Croydon Ltd and the future of the company, which set out a number of recommendations due to be considered by the Cabinet at its next meeting on 12 July 2021. The report had been included on the agenda to give the Committee the opportunity to provide feedback on the recommendations before Cabinet made its decision.

The Leader of the Council, Councillor Hamida Ali and the Council’s Interim Section 151 Officer, Chris Buss, were in attendance at the meeting to introduce the report and answer the Committee’s questions.

During the introduction to the report by the Leader, it was noted that there was two guiding principles underpinning the Council’s decision making. The first was reducing the Council’s risk appetite and the second was maximising the return on public investment. In this instance, the two principles came into conflict as there would be less risk in pursuing the sale option, but this would mean accepting a lower financial return. Due to their professional expertise, PwC and Savills had been commissioned to prepare reports on the two options, which were listed in the confidential Part B section of the agenda. This advice, along with a huge amount of work undertaken by council officers since the Strategic Review of the Council’s Companies was completed in November 2021, had led to the conclusion that completing the build out on the 23 Brick by Brick sites already in development and selling the remaining six sites represented the best return for the Council.

Following the introduction, the Committee was given the opportunity to question the Leader of the Council and the Section 151 Officer on the content of the report and the rationale for the recommendations made. The Chair advised that the questions of the Committee would focus on three key areas, which were officer confidence in the valuations provided, an evaluation of the risks to the Council presented by the two options outlined and whether there were any alternate options that needed further exploration.

The first questions of the Committee focussed on areas where further clarification needed on information provided in the report. From these questions it was noted that the ‘Client side’ referred to in the report meant the Council. It was also noted that there was an earmarked reserve of £500,000 set aside in the Council budget for Brick by Brick.

It was noted that the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) had set aside £31m to write off loans made to Brick by Brick. As such the potential impact upon the General Fund from opting for the build out option was questioned. It was confirmed that the build out option was the least worst in terms of minimising the potential loss to the Council. In the best case scenario outlined in the report, the return delivered would actually mean the write-off would be less than £31m budgeted in the MTFS. The build out option was the only one which would allow  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53/21


Scrutiny & Overview Committee Work Programme 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 97 KB

The Scrutiny & Overview Committee is asked to:-

1.            Note the current position of its Work Programme for 2021-22,

2.            To consider whether there are any other items that could be added to the work programme.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report setting out its work programme for the year ahead. It was noted that the content of the work programme was subject to change and at present there was two main items on the Committee’s agenda for the next meeting on 7 September 2021. The two items were the annual report from the Head of Paid Service and an opportunity to scrutinise an early draft of the updated Community Safety Strategy.

Concern was raised that there was an ever increasing trend of reports being published late, which made it very difficult for Members to fully digest the content. The Chair agreed that this was not acceptable and he would report this concern to officers.

Resolved: That the Scrutiny & Overview Committee Work Programme is noted.


Scrutiny Recommendations: Cabinet Response pdf icon PDF 89 KB

The Scrutiny & Overview Committee is asked to review the response given by the Cabinet to recommendations made by the Committee and consider whether any further action is necessary.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report which provided the Cabinet’s response to recommendations made by the Scrutiny and Overview Committee. The Committee was asked to review the responses and highlight any particular concerns.

It was noted that the Cabinet had rejected a recommendation from the Committee that a ‘review be undertaken of past lending to Brick by Brick to provide greater clarity over the arrangements and to ensure that the arrangements were legally compliant’. This raised concern as there was a view that it was important to learn from what had happened with Brick by Brick, to ensure any mistakes made would not be repeated.

It was agreed that until the Value for Money Review of the Fairfield Halls refurbishment by the Council’s external auditor, Grant Thornton, it was difficult to make a judgement on the rejection of this recommendation. As such it was agreed that any formal response would be deferred until after the review had been delivered.

Resolved: That the response given by the Cabinet to the recommendations of the Scrutiny & Overview Committee are noted.



Scrutiny Information Requests - Brick by Brick & Fairfield Halls pdf icon PDF 133 KB

The Scrutiny & Overview Committee is asked to note the response to the information requested.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report which provided a response to a formal request for information made by the Committee at its previous meeting held on 15 June 2021. The response was provided for the Committee to note the current availability of the information requested.

It was noted that the provision of the information was being hindered by a lack of a document management system, which meant that historic information was difficult to locate. It was agreed that the need for a robust document management process would be pick up with the Chief Digital Officer, when the Digital Strategy was reviewed by the Committee in the autumn.

Councillor Robert Ward, who had originally requested the information as part of a call-in request considered by the Committee on 27 May 2021, confirmed that he had received five of the 18 documents requested so far. There was concern about the availability of the Mott McDonald report that had been requested, as only a summary had been provided to date. It was confirmed that the full report had still to be located. It was requested that the Council should contact Mott McDonald to request a copy, rather than delay provision searching for it internally.

There was concern raised that the Scrutiny & Overview Committee may have been misled by the information it was provided when it considered a report on the Fairfield Halls refurbishment on 31 October 2017. It was agreed that until the information requested had been located and shared it was important to reserve judgement on any potential outcome. It would be a matter for the Scrutiny Chairs in consultation with the Monitoring Officer to decide how best to take any further consideration of this forward.

It was noted that the value for money review being undertaken Council’s external auditor, Grant Thornton, was looking at decision making on the refurbishment of Fairfield Halls, and once the outcome had been delivered may answer many of the concerns about the refurbishment. It was confirmed that once the review had been completed it would be considered by the General Purposes and Audit Committee in the first instance.

Resolved: That the response given to the formal information request be noted.



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 required.