Meeting documents

Planning and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Panel
Monday, 7th February, 2011 7.00 pm



PRESENT: Councillors Meadowcroft (Chairman), Beer, Holness, Mrs Howes, Mrs Hunt and Thompson (substituting for Cllr Stretton)

Officers: Ms Bailey, Mr Herlinger, Mrs Hornby, Mr Miller, Mr Oram, Mr Perkins, Mr B Smith, Mr Sitha and Mr Slaney


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Stretton.


There were none.

    RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meetings of the Panel held on 24 January 2011 be approved, subject to amending the changes as noted on the Minutes from the 8 November 2010 meeting, as follows –
      Ø Page ii, last paragraph that it would be the responsbility of the RBWM, not EA as stated, to co-ordinate as laid out in the Flood and Water Management Act.
      Ø Page ii, second paragraph of the Flood Monitoring Report, the first sentence to read, “It was noted that the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 (Act) had received Royal Assent on 8 April 2010, but that it had not yet commenced…”


Members considered the report being sumbitted to Cabinet on the Lean Systems Thinking Update and noted that the report had been co-ordinated by the Strategic Director of Resources and the Business Improvement Manager and had been presented to Cabinet in October 2010. The Panel noted that the Comm Cells were now operational and were encouraged by the number of teams who had embraced the Lean Systems Thinking. Concern was raised over the price of the organisation who had been employed to implement the system and the Panel was advised they initially received a fee of £200,000, which was a one-off payment. The Panel were assured that savings would be made year on year now that the system was in place. The Panel also noted that the system was being sold to other Councilrs and that a presentation to two other Council’s had taken place.

During the ensuing debate, the following points were raised -

    Ø That in each Directorate there was a dedicated specialist who had received the requisite training and who would pass on their expertise to colleagues.
    Ø In respect of 3.2.7 the Panel noted the replacement of the Environment monthly meeting with a ten minute weekly meeting, therefore saving in the region of 3000 hours of Officer time, annually, although they believed this should already have been in place. However, it was reported that several of the team was disbursed around the Borough, and therefore not so easy to arrange ad hoc meetings.
    Ø Some concern was also raised in relation to the discrepencies between work processes which were not mirrored by the accounts system. The Panel wished to know whether this issue was being addressed as they were concerned that the work would not be properly costed. The Panel was advised that this issue was presently being addressed.
    Ø The Panel was advised that a ‘hot box’ was in relation to tarmac in that it kept the material maleable for a longer period of time. The Panel noted that the contract would come to an end which would make a saving of £20,000 per year. It was noted that the hot box would be replaced by tub of suitable materials and therefore would be more cost effective.
    Ø The Panel noted that there were two people who made up the Lean Academy, David Mead and an assistant, and that the costs would go to Cabinet in March. It was not known how long the Academy would be in place although it was noted that it would remain for a further 12 months at which point it would be reviewed. It was hoped that the Academy would sell the Lead Systems approach to other Local Authorities.
    Ø In respect of 3.2.11 and the reduced cost of parking service, it was noted that the £50,000 quoted, should be £75,000. Concern was raised that by reducing the number of parking attendants this would not be very lean, although changes in shift patterns could mitigate this.

The Panel expressed a wish for a Lean Systems Thinking update report to be brought to them on a quarterly basis.
    RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Cabinet be advised the Panel endorsed the report and that it should go forward.


Members considered the Servive Monitoring report and noted that Planning and Environment had been separated and were now separate reports. The Panel questioned where the cost for barristers had come from and were informed that costs had been covered by other efficiencies. There was a basic budget for legal cover and it was noted that as far as possible in-house cover was used.

The Panel noted that negotiations with Veolia were in the final phase and had, to date, been very positive. They also noted that should all the improvements be put in place there would be significant cost savings made which would negate any pressures.

In respect of winter weather, pot holes etc., it was noted that the Lead Member was constantly reviewing the budget, which, it was agreed, was a positively planned budget.

The Panel also noted that the run up to the Olympics was in the final phase. There was a cross-boundary group which met on a regular basis and that there was funding from LOCOG to be agreed.

70/10 BUDGET 2011/12

Members considered the report being submitted to Cabinet on 10 February 2011 on Budget 2011/12 and noted that there had been a 5% reduction in Council Tax for 2011/12.

In relation to Planning and Environment there were several points raised by the Panel, which were –
    Ø The Panel arised concern in relation to the Pensions Deficit recovery and after some discussion, it was agreed that the Head of Finance would prepare a Briefing Note on the pensions shortfall.
    Ø Concern was also raised in relation to the Environment Agency (EA) levy due to the Panel being given to understand that the Authority would be taking over responsibilities in the summer, and therefore were concerned that the amount being paid to the EA was so large.
    Ø It was noted that the Recycling budget had increased by £400,000 which was due to the new incentivisation scheme which was rolled out over the past year. It was also noted however, that the waste disposal figure had decreased due to reduced tonnages being disposed of. It was expected that a reduction of waste in black bins due to the new blue bins being introduced, would also have a positive impact on the amount of waste that is disposed of at landfill. It was agreed that data in respect of the Incentivised Recycling Scheme would be brought back to the Panel at a future date.

The Panel noted the Ordering of Capital Projects and agreed that all were mandatory and therefore could not be amended as they would be required to be carried out.
    RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Cabinet be advised the Panel endorsed the report and that it should go forward but should note that the Head of Finance was preparing a Briefing Note on the Pensions shortfall and Environment Agency Levy.


The meeting, which began at 5.00pm, ended at 6.20pm.