Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 6th March, 2012 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Suite 1,2 & 3, Westfields, Middlewich Road, Sandbach CW11 1HZ. View directions

Contact: Mark Nedderman  Senior Scrutiny Officer

Items
No. Item

178.

Officers Present

Minutes:

Lisa Quinn Director of Finance and Business Services.

Mark Nedderman Senior Scrutiny Officer

179.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED - That the minutes of the meeting held on 3 February 2012 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

180.

Declarations of Interest

To provide an opportunity for Members and Officers to declare any personal and/or prejudicial interests and for members to declare the existence of a party whip in relation to any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

181.

Public Speaking Time/Open Session

A total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to make a statement(s) on any matter that falls within the remit of the Committee.

 

Individual members of the public may speak for up to 5 minutes, but the Chairman will decide how the period of time allocated for public speaking will be apportioned, where there are a number of speakers.

 

Note: In order for officers to undertake any background research, it would be helpful if members of the public contacted the Scrutiny officer listed at the foot of the agenda, at least one working day before the meeting to provide brief details of the matter to be covered. 

Minutes:

There were no members of the public present who wished to address the Committee.

182.

Budget Task Group pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To consider a report of the Borough Solicitor.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report of the Borough Solicitor relating to the work of the Budget Task group in 2011/12.

 

            In June 2011, the Committee had set up a Budget task group consisting of the following 6 Members:

 

            Councillor P Findlow (Chairman), Councillors B Burkhill, D Newton, B Moran, F Keegan, and G Wait.

 

The group initially met on 25 July and set a task of providing an ‘effective and timely input into the budget setting (Business Planning) process to ‘influence the budget setting process and to submit initial comments on the draft budget prior to approval’.

 

            The group met on nine occasions throughout the business planning process for the period 2012/2015; the last meeting being held on 13 February 2012.

 

            The report summarised the activity of the group throughout that 8 month period and recommended some improvements to the process in future years.

 

The group had concluded that although it was important for Corporate Scrutiny Committee, through the Budget task group, to take a holistic view of the budget, the other 5 Scrutiny Committees should not be ignored and in future years, it was suggested opportunities should be made available for all Overview and Scrutiny committees to have an input into the business planning process on a committee by committee basis.

 

Members considered it essential to have timely access to up to date information on the proposed budget. During the business planning process it had been noted that the new style of business plan had gone through several mutations which resulted in confusion as to whether Members had in their possession the latest version of the plan. It had been suggested to the group that the best solution to this problem was to access the information electronically. The group concluded that consideration should be given to making sure that all members were provided with appropriate hardware to enable them to access financial information electronically.  It was also important that measures were in place to ensure that changes made during the process were tracked and easily identifiable during the progress of the business plan, particularly where savings and growth items that had been included.

 

Although the concept of linking the budget to corporate priorities was commended by the group, in practice, Members found the new style of document difficult to follow and lacked detail. Consequently, Members had requested that consideration be given to improving the narrative in future years and to providing more detailed figures.

 

The Scrutiny Chairmen’s group had recently considered a protocol produced by the Director of Finance and Business Services. The protocol aimed to formally recognise the involvement of the 6 Overview and Scrutiny committees in the Business Planning Process. The group supported the Scrutiny Chairmen’s Group’s position and subsequently recommended as the first step to secure wider involvement, that Overview and Scrutiny Committees should be given an opportunity to comment on the emerging priorities influencing the business plan, at the latest by September of each year.

 

At its meeting held on 2  ...  view the full minutes text for item 182.

183.

Work Programme Progress Report pdf icon PDF 68 KB

To consider a report of the Borough Solicitor.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee reviewed the work programme for 2012/13.

 

The Procurement and Shared Services Portfolio Holder at a recent 1:1 Meeting had reported that the voluntary redundancy scheme was due to be reviewed in March and that statistics were now available in relation to the Council’s sickness records.

 

Councillor Sam Corcoran also suggested that the Committee should consider reviewing the Council’s policy in respect of exemptions on Council tax for second and empty homes in anticipation of an expected change in legislation.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

(a)               That the report be received;

 

(b)               That the Head of HR be requested to consult Members of this committee informally in respect of the Review of the Council’s Policy on Voluntary Redundancy prior to the Cabinet taking a decision in April 2012;

 

(c)               That the Head of HR be requested to submit a report to the next meeting of the Committee on Sickness records at Cheshire East;

 

(d)       That The Director of Finance and Business Services be requested to submit a report to a future meeting to brief Members on the current arrangements which provide discounts in respect of Council Tax for empty properties and second homes in Cheshire East, with a view to the policy being reviewed.

 

 

 

184.

Forward Plan - Extracts pdf icon PDF 170 KB

To note the current forward plan, identify any new items, and to determine whether any further examination of new issues is appropriate.

Minutes:

The Committee considered items listed in the current forward plan.

 

RESOLVED – That the Forward Plan be received.