Agenda and draft minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Panel
Tuesday, 17th April, 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent. View directions

Contact: Charles Hungwe 

Items
No. Item

160.

Apologies for Absence

161.

Declarations of Interest

    To receive any declarations of interest. Members are advised to consider the advice contained within the Declaration of Interest form attached at the back of this agenda. If a Member declares an interest, they should complete that form and hand it to the officer clerking the meeting and then take the prescribed course of action.

    Minutes:

    There were no declarations of interest.

162.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 51 KB

163.

Cabinet Member Presentation

    The presentation is on the following topic:

     

    “Please outline the current arrangements for street cleansing, the reasoning behind them and how you expect them to impact on the cleanliness of streets across the district.”

    Minutes:

    Councillor Taylor-Smith gave a presentation on the current waste and recycling arrangements after which she responded to questions from Panel members. During her presentation she highlighted the following:

     

    a)  The first priority of the Corporate Plan for 2015-19 was a ‘Welcoming and Clean Environment;’

    b)  Councillor Bayford Leader of Council had  highlighted tackling litter in the district as one of the key priorities for the new administration;

    c)  The portfolio holder appreciated the contributions of various community groups in working with the Council to address the issue of litter in their local areas;

    d)  The Council budget allocation for keeping the district as a clean and welcoming environment was evidence for how importantly the Council viewed this issue and the current service being offered;

    e)  The aim was to meet and exceed the national standards for cleanliness. The national standards for litter as defined by the National Environmental Protection Act 1990 Code of Practice. This has Grade A (no littler or refuse); Grade B(predominantly free of litter/refuse); Grade C(littered); Grade D(heavily littered);

    f)  During the peak summer period the service would recruit additional staff to assist with the cleaning of public spaces;

    g)  Collection costs of household waste was about 53 pence per week per household;

     

    h)  Performance of the service was improving significantly;

    i)  All staff report to the depot in the morning and they are then transported to where they are needed most and then back to wherever else they would normally be working. This new way of working was aimed at addressing areas that faced significant littering problems;

    j)  The new mechanical sweepers were helping meet the performance targets;

    k)  The 2 minute beach cleaning was a good approach and was effective;

    l)  The Service would soon be issuing woven litter bags for the beaches. These could be re-used;

    m)  There were 34 prosecution cases in February and March 2018. This was in addition to the  cases reported in the slide presentation;

    n)  The use of seagull proof bins was currently under review;

    o)  The Service was working smarter using new technology to deliver an effective service;

    p)  Some community groups (like in Ramsgate) had adopted a street to keep clean. This was an important contribution by residents;

    q)  The Council would be encouraging campaigns to keep Thanet clean;

     

    Future Options

    a)  Council would continue to use ‘men with brooms’ working alongside the mechanical sweepers;

    b)  Additional bins in public spaces would be installed in various places around the district;

    c)  On 14 June 2018 Cabinet would be recommended to formally adopt the government’s prescribed cleanliness standards for litter. That would mean Council would have clear and prescribed levels of cleanliness in response times across the district;

    d)  Council would continue to work on new approaches for effective delivery of the street cleansing and litter collection in the district.

     

    In response to the presentation, the made comments and asked questions as follows:

    a)  One of the challenges faced by the Council was to address the issue of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 163.

164.

Risk Based Verification Policy for Housing Benefit / Council Tax Support pdf icon PDF 70 KB

    Panel requested for post decision scrutiny, after a few months of policy implementation.

    Minutes:

    Andrew Stevens, Head of Shared Services introduced the item for discussion and gave a brief background to the issue and indicated that the report before the Panel was to provide some feedback on how the Risk Based Verification Policy was working. Mr Stevens made the following points:

     

    a)  The policy was an integral part of the digitisation of the benefits management (and processing) system;

    b)  Whilst previously all applicants had to provide the same level of evidence for processing their claims, under the new system only individuals who were viewed as posing a more significant risk to commit fraud would be required to provide more evidence than individuals viewed as posing a lesser risk;

    c)  The computer system profiled individual applicants according to their circumstances;

    d)  As a result, most applicants were now required to provide less evidence as they were deemed to be low risk to commit fraud;

    e)  Since the system went live, the Revenue & Benefits team had handled 270 cases using the new system and 75% of those claims were done on-line;

    f)  It was most likely that two thirds of the claimants in Thanet would fall under the low risk category;

    g)  In the best case scenario a claim had been processed and paid in 12 minutes;

    h)  This was a better customer experience than had been previously been the case.

     

    One Member made the observation that as the system usage progressed, some individuals may query why they were made to produce additional information than others. In response Mr Stevens said that each application would be handled on its own merits.

     

    There being no further action required, the Panel noted the report.

165.

Review of Overview & Scrutiny Panel Work Programme for 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 99 KB

166.

Forward Plan and Exempt Cabinet Report List for 11 April 2018 - 30 September 2018 pdf icon PDF 63 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    A Member requested and the Panel agreed that an officer report on ‘An amended RIPA Policy & Procedures Guidance Note for 2018/19 and to receive the annual report on the use of RIPA in 2017/18’ be presented to the Community Safety Partnership Working Party if the sub group was re-constituted in 2018/19. Members would like to know more about the current Council activities being carried out under the RIPA Policy and purpose for the amendments to the policy.

     

    Members further agreed that there should be a standing Panel rule that whenever an officer report was being presented to the Panel or its sub groups an invitation be extended to the portfolio holder to be in attendance to respond to questions from Members. In response the Panel Chairman advised Members that it was up to the Chairmen of the working parties to ensure that portfolio holders were invited to these meetings as is appropriate.

     

    A Member requested that the Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety be invited to a future Panel meeting to make a presentation on ‘Whether there is a minimum standard or provision which has to be fulfilled and is checked provided by Letting Agencies for people in temporary accommodation.’

     

    In response Tim Willis, Director of Corporate Resources and S151 Officer said that he would be responding in more detail to that question outside the Panel meeting.