Agenda and minutes

Venue: Pittville Room - Municipal Offices

Contact: Rosalind Reeves, Democratic Services Manager 

No. Item




Apologies were received from Councillor Wall.

It was noted that there was a vacancy on the committee following the resignation of Councillor Teakle and this would be filled after the bi-election for her seat in May.


Declarations of Interest


None declared.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Approve minutes of the last meeting held on 18 February 2013


The minutes of the last meeting of 18 February 2013 were approved as a correct record.


Public questions, calls for actions and petitions

None received to date.


None received.


Matters referred to committee

No matters referred.


No matters were referred to the committee.


Feedback from other scrutiny meetings attended


Councillor McCloskey updated members on a number of meetings she had attended.

Gloucestershire Community Safety Overview and Scrutiny Committee - she had attended the last meeting of this committee as after the county council elections its functions would be subsumed into the county's Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee where sadly there would be no district representation. It had been reported at the meeting that all performance indicators were on or ahead of target and sickness absence in the fire service had now improved significantly following the committee’s review.  Trading standards performance had also improved.


Gloucestershire Police and Crime Panel - after receiving satisfactory answers from the Police and Crime Commissioner, the panel had approved the Commissioner’s  draft plan which set out his priorities and objectives. The delivery of this plan would be scrutinised by the panel in due course.


Gloucestershire Health, Community and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee - she had deputised for Councillor Sudbury who had been unable to attend this meeting. She reported that following the elections there would be a new chair of the committee. A range of matters had been discussed including the performance of night shelters in Gloucestershire, the current NHS consultation, publicity on new contact numbers and performance data.


Updates from scrutiny task groups pdf icon PDF 21 KB

Review the latest update from the scrutiny task groups.


The chairman referred members to the summary of scrutiny task groups which had been circulated with the agenda.  The following points were noted.

Events - Councillor Penny Hall as the chair of this working group was invited to speak by the chair.  She was concerned that the recommendations of the task group had only been noted by Cabinet at their meeting on 5 February 2013 and they had indicated that they would come back with a further report on the implementation of the recommendations at a later date.  She was concerned that there was no date for this in the Cabinet Forward Plan and consequently she felt the outcomes from the scrutiny review remained  in limbo.

It was agreed that the chair of O&S /Chief Executive would raise this with the Cabinet.


ICT – Councillor Colin Hay as the chair of this scrutiny task group advised that the group had met for a one-off meeting on 12 March to consider the audit report and the management response to the virus outbreak. Members had a detailed discussion on the report and they were satisfied with the actions being taken to address the issues raised. They did not feel there was a requirement for them to meet again on the understanding that the Audit Committee would be in receipt of the summary of their meeting when considering the report. The task group were not making any recommendations to O&S and so it did not need to be added to the scrutiny workplan.


Deprivation - Councillor Driver had been advised that only one other member, Councillor Chris Coleman, had put their name forward to be on this scrutiny task group.  It was agreed that an additional member was needed and preferably two and Councillor Sudbury and Councillor Smith agreed to go back to their groups  to seek further nominations.


One Legal Shared Services - the chair advised that since raising the request he had been updated on the role of the JMLG in reviewing performance issues with the service and he felt this proposed scrutiny task group would be in danger of duplicating that work. On that basis he proposed to withdraw the proposed scrutiny registration and request a briefing note to members from the JMLG. This would satisfy the concerns of the Conservative group.

Councillor Hay advised that there were similar groups for other shared services and it would be useful for this committee to have an annual report on the issues that had been raised and dealt with by them. This was agreed by the committee and would be added to the workplan.


Report of the scrutiny task group- UBICO pdf icon PDF 34 KB

The report of the scrutiny task group – UBICO will be introduced by the chair of the task group, Councillor Andrew Chard. The O&S committee are asked to satisfy themselves that the terms of reference have been met and endorse the recommendations before forwarding them to Cabinet on 16 April 2013.


Additional documents:


Councillor Chard introduced the report of the scrutiny task group. He gave thanks to the members of the task group and the officers who had contributed to the review and the support they had received from Councillor Colin Hay as the observer on the UBICO Board and Councillor Roger Whyborn as the Cabinet Member responsible for this service. He did not intend to go through the report in detail but wished to highlight two particular recommendations.


Firstly he referred to the relationship between the council and UBICO. The task group were dismayed that there was no elected member representation on the UBICO board except for Councillor Hay who attended only as an observer. They acknowledged that members were not experts in the service but the same would apply to Cheltenham Borough Homes where there were a number of elected members on the board. The council should be the lead body but during the snow disruption, it seemed that decisions were being taken about the service without any consultation with the council. From the task group review it appeared that the management of UBICO felt they communicated effectively with staff but the staff did not always feel the same way. The task group also raised concerns about the communications between the council and UBICO and its residents which they felt was sometimes minimal and impersonal.  This needed to be looked at along with the communications with commercial customers. They were particularly concerned to be told that UBICO were not allowed to approach businesses in the town to promote their services to commercial customers.


He invited questions from members.


Members welcomed the review and thought it was an excellent report. They were concerned that Cotswold District Council had not responded to the invitation to be part of the task group. They requested that a copy of the report be sent by the task group to Cotswold inviting their comment.


A member highlighted the successful operation of the CBH Board and thought UBICO should follow that good practice and have elected members on its Board.


The Chief Executive highlighted a potential reason why UBICO might not be able to be proactively seeking new business. As a local  authority company it was restricted in the way it could operate under European procurement law. Under these arrangements the councils did not have to go down a full procurement route when setting up the company but it required the company to limit their business allowing only 10% to be picked up from other sources outside the councils. However he would still expect UBICO to be making the most of this 10%. 


The Chief Executive went on to say that the council was represented on the board by an officer, namely, Grahame Lewis who was a board member. The original thinking had been that in essence the board was the operational arm of the service and therefore it was more appropriate to have officer representation on the board. He referred back to when the service had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Review of scrutiny workplan pdf icon PDF 47 KB

Review of the latest workplan and any suggestions for inclusion in the plan.


Councillor Sudbury suggested that there could be a scrutiny review of how night shelters were operating in Cheltenham and to look at the county's success rate in moving people on from homelessness. It was agreed that a suitable registration form could be brought back to this committee in September/October.


It was noted that following the completion of a number of scrutiny task groups, there was a lack of proposed scrutiny topics for the next 12 months.  The chair urged members to go back to their groups and encourage other members to put forward scrutiny topics.


Date of next meeting

Date of next meeting: Thursday 16 May at 6 pm


The date of the next meeting was agreed for 16 May 2013 at 6 pm.