Venue: Town Hall, Scarborough
Contact: Sandip Mahajan
Members are reminded of the need to consider whether they have a disclosable pecuniary, prejudicial or other (personal) interest to declare in any items on this agenda. Details of any interest must be declared at the start of the meeting or as soon as any interest becomes apparent during the meeting. The attached form must also be completed. Any advice required should ideally be sought before the day of the meeting.
Cllr Janet Jefferson declared a personal and non-prejudicial interest in agenda item 7, Scarborough Town Centre Strategy,as she was President of the Scarborough Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Chair of Scarborough Anti-Theft Group and owner of the Train Shop in Scarborough Town Centre.
To approve as a correct record, and sign, the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board meetings held on 6 March 2019.
Resolved - That the minutes of the meeting held on 23 January 2019 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
To consider any public questions submitted, of which due notice has been given, and which are relevant to the business of the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
There were no public questions received.
Communications Strategy - Progress Report
To consider a verbal progress report from the Director, Lisa Dixon, on developing an enhanced Communications Strategy.
Lisa Dixon, Director presented a progress report on enhancing the Council’s approach to communications.
This was a challenging area cutting across all services and it was important to ‘get it right’ for everyone internally for staff & members and externally to help promote useful information to people about services, where good outcomes for the Borough had been achieved plus clarify any issues or confusion etc.
It was also an opportunity for reputational improvement and understanding.
Current approaches were being developed to ensure they were ‘fit for purpose’. Development work had been ongoing for eighteen months after service unit managers had recognised that communications needed to be reviewed. A communications working group was chaired by Cllr Sandra Turner who had Cabinet responsibility for communities and democracy.
Key themes underpinned the work, e.g. ensuring the Council had influence; opportunities for engagement with local people; improved IT communications; and effective communications with staff & members.
Some actions had already been delivered and some could be delivered in good time for visible progress. These included media training for Cabinet members and relevant staff as well as new councillors; better consideration and awareness of media issues/opportunities e.g. committee reports included reference to any communication considerations. Other initiatives included balanced service performance reports with compliments & complaints; and dedicated officers meeting & working with parish councils.
There had been some particularly successful pieces of work with young people, led by Cllr Turner. These included promoting young people’s engagement in local democracy, getting to see what services & work the Council delivered as well as opportunities to understand and get involved with policy development / decision-making processes. The proposed scheme for recognising the work of young people in environmental sustainability work, ‘Eco-champions’, had stemmed from working with the local Youth Council. Another current piece of work was a local democracy play at the Stephen Joseph Theatre which had involved members.
Lisa Dixon provided more details about communications work & approaches. Communications staffing had reduced but there was greater interest in social media use so it had been decided to spread the use of this tool across service managers, i.e. taking responsibility for their own area’s use of social media.
There was also better corporate planning of communications across the Council, e.g. significant communications campaigns such as garden waste changes did not overlap with information messages about other key areas.
The enhanced Communications Strategy had been drafted but not completed yet due to staff illness. The Director concluded that it was important to be seen as a ‘listening’ council and to get communications right for people.
Members observed that communications had been an issue for some time but there had been some good work in recent times, e.g. consultation with many people over the Cinder Track review & proposals with people listened to well.
They also recognised that communications was a challenging environment, e.g. Twitter generated fast moving ‘conversations’ which could be hard to manage especially for safeguarding young people. Members welcomed the wider good work with young people.
Resolved - that the communications progress ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Sustainability Policy work - Progress Report
To consider a verbal progress report from the Operations Manager (Transport, Countryside, Parks and Street Cleansing), Paul Thompson, on Sustainability Policy work.
Paul Thompson, Operations Manager presented a progress report on sustainability policy work.
The Council had a proactive approach to sustainability with a comprehensive Sustainability Policy running to 2019/20 and had achieved good progress over time. Many actions were still relevant and there had been some difficulties in delivering all actions due to finite resource.
Consideration now needed to be given as to how to take the challenge of environmental sustainability forward. Tackling climate change continued to grow in importance and communities internationally & locally were more proactively interested in addressing the issues.
Paul Thompson referred to the Council recently supporting declaration of a climate change ‘emergency’ requiring robust action planning to address any issues caused by the Council’s own use of resources and collectively through community leadership. Funding had also been agreed to support this work.
The Council had a primary leadership role but there needed to be collective understanding and effort of all people & communities. This was a challenging area cutting across all services, e.g. Town Centre public realm improvements.
Partnership work was imperative given the scale of cross-cutting challenges. Some examples of effective joint work included a comprehensive review of the York & North Yorkshire Waste Management Strategy. It was important now to both reduce & recycle waste as part of a ‘whole’ system approach to costs and working towards achieving carbon ‘neutral’ outcomes.
Members were informed that joint sustainability work with Ryedale District Council was being considered.
Paul Thompson highlighted some particularly good progress, e.g. the Council sourcing all its electricity through renewable sources. Work on tackling single use plastics had also been taking place over the last year internally and with communities. More recent activities included supporting mass community tree planting and proposed introduction of the Eco-Champions scheme.
Some particular initiatives needed to be considered, e.g. supporting use of electric cars through charging points. Induction training for new members also included sustainability awareness and work.
Services were now collecting baseline data to help focus sustainability work going forward. Ultimately there would be an aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. He suggested that a ‘task and finish’ group could help with this work. There would need to be a clear focus with a solid action plan produced with deliverable targets. This would need to cover internal & external actions with delivery leads but in partnership.
The Board welcomed the good progress made and recognised that there was still a long way to go towards achieving carbon neutrality given the massive scope of sustainability work. They agreed that existing activities needed to be recognised through a baseline data exercise and good progress promoted. Alongside this, a clear picture of actions required needed to be developed. They also supported working in partnership including across the county. They queried whether central government would be providing any additional funding given there would be transformation costs.
Members raised some specific concerns, e.g. recycling categories (products & collections) were not easy for people to identify what they could recycle; non-recyclable polystyrene waste as well as plastics packaging; ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider the draft Members’ Induction Programme for 2019.
St John Harris, Democratic Services Manager presented an outline of the proposed induction programme for new councillors from May 2019. The main aim was to ensure a comprehensive package of information to support members as soon as they started.
There were four broad areas covering - mechanics of how the Council worked & role of members; key policies & procedures for all members to understand; topical corporate projects & activities; and general & specific skills. Sustainability had also been added as an important theme.
The Board noted that ‘mandatory’ training was prescribed in the Council’s Constitution. However, other important training needed to be promoted to new & experienced members, e.g. ‘highly recommended’. Inevitably there would be a steep learning curve but this needed to be proportionate given some new members would be working. Nevertheless, they needed to be encouraged to benefit from attending as much training as possible.
Members were given assurance that there would be fall-back options for any new people unable to attend any specific key training and there would be some online training (e-learning) options.
The Board suggested some specific areas which ought to be ‘mandatory’ for equalities & diversity, finance and information governance. A training library resource for members to tap into was also suggested.
Resolved - that the proposed induction programme for new members was welcomed with minor amendments requested, for mandatory training to include equalities & diversity, finance and information governance; other important training to be designated as ‘highly recommended and/or essential’; and an online training library resource for members’ use.
To consider the findings, and recommendations of the Scarborough Town Centre Strategy ‘Task and Finish’ Group (reference 19/057).
Richard Bradley, Director, presented the outcomes of a review to create a sustainable, buoyant town centre for people of all ages. This had involved developing a strategy & action plan for Scarborough Town Centre.
Widespread consultation had taken place led by well attended public events. The strategic objectives & themes for the town centre were well supported by business/public consultees & were in line with recommendations from national reviews of town centres & high streets. Practical feedback & ideas had been generated and he thanked everyone involved for their constructive input.
The three objectives were:
· To become the leading visitor / wider economy for the Yorkshire Coast & beyond by 2025;
· Have over 25% more residential accommodation by 2025;
· Work with all property owners to have a built environment & necessary infrastructure exceeding people’s expectations by 2025.
Seven strategic themes had been identified:
· Creation of a mixed use environment
o Diversification beyond retail, bringing empty properties back into use as residential etc.
· Have an attractive welcoming public realm
o Good space design, well maintained heritage assets; cultural quarter, links to other areas such as the Harbour etc.
· Developing a University Town
o Working with further & higher education providers to seize emerging opportunities - developing residential accommodation, creating study areas and lifestyle alternatives etc.
· Promoting a ‘Night Time’ Economy
o Creating range of ‘things to do’ after daytime using relevant powers to ensure a lively, safe environment from early evening onwards
· New SMART town centre infrastructure
o Marketing Scarborough as a futuristic town with modern infrastructure from free public wi-fi through to 4G/5G technology
· Marketing identity, image & brand
o Promoting Scarborough as a whole attracting tourism, creative industries and cultural opportunities for inward exhibitors etc.
· Working in partnership including communities
o Shared skills & expertise to deliver work led by a partnership Town Centre Team co-ordinated by a (funded) Town Centre Manager etc.
Richard Bradley referred to the proposed Action Plan which was dynamic with visible ‘real world’ outcomes, supported by, and involving, partners and underpinned by funding potential (national Future High Streets Fund, Local Enterprise Partnership etc.).
Cllr David Jeffels, Chair of the ‘Task & Finish’ Group, which had reviewed the proposals and consultation outcomes, was unavailable for the meeting but had sent his thanks to all those involved for their constructive input & diverse suggestions, e.g. clean & green areas, entertainment options, bringing empty properties back to life. He had highlighted that the proposals were propelling the town centre in the right direction and would be delivered in partnership.
Cllrs Janet Jefferson and Tony Randerson had also been members of the review group and added to the comments made. There were seventeen actions with dynamic opportunities being sought now & in partnership for a sustainable buoyant town centre comprising of a mix of small & large retailers and leisure activities etc. Delivering the early potential of empty properties, especially those in disrepair, was particularly important.
The proposed Town Centre Team, pulling together skills and determination, with an effective Town Centre Manager was core to delivery of the aspirations and securing funding underpinned ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
'Supporting Volunteers' - 'Task and Finish' Review Progress Report
To consider a verbal progress report on the Supporting Volunteers ‘Task and Finish’ review work.
The Chair, as a review member, gave a progress report on the Supporting Volunteers review. The review chair, Cllr John Ritchie was unavailable. The review had been looking at promoting volunteering to get best support outcomes for people & communities, two meetings had been held.
Volunteering was a significant area involving numerous individual volunteers and groups with themes cutting across a wide range of services. Support was offered by Council services to various volunteering activities and people.
Review members wanted to refine the focus of their work so practical outcomes could be delivered. They had wanted to establish a robust picture of volunteering across the Borough - who volunteered (demographics), what they did, why they took part, how much commitment was involved, what worked well, opportunities, issues and what value & support would be useful.
The views of active volunteers, people who might be interested in volunteering and people who had barriers to volunteering were sought through a survey. Members and staff had also been invited to respond.
The survey had concluded attracting a good response rate (180 returns). Review members would consider the findings in March 2019 and identify key line of enquiry outcomes for pursuing.
Meetings would follow with some key stakeholders in March or April 2019, e.g. Community First and Coast & Vale Community Action (both umbrella organisations for volunteers) and public sector partners. Benchmarking would include reference to the recent national survey of volunteering undertaken by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
The review work would be in stages, work before the May 2019 elections would lead to some recommendations and/or identify what more extensive work should take place after May.
Resolved - That the progress report be noted and planned work endorsed.
To review the Board’s current Work Programme, outline of the future year and the Cabinet Forward Plan.
The Board considered its remaining Work Programme for 2018/19 which aimed to be balanced and flexible whilst focusing on significant priorities to achieve the best value-added outcomes.
The outline work programme for 2019/20 was also included based on previously suggested items and/or items rolled forward. This would be considered again at the next meeting and, following an informal work planning session, would be agreed at the first meeting of the new council year in May 2019. This would ensure new members were able to review priorities.
Resolved - That the Work Programme be approved as presented subject to adding the proposed ‘task & finish’ review on sustainability work for the new council year.