Place Scrutiny Committee


MINUTES of a meeting of the Place Scrutiny Committee held at Council Chamber, County Hall, Lewes on 26 November 2021.




Councillor Matthew Beaver (Chair), Councillors Chris Collier, Johnny Denis, Alan Hay, Ian Hollidge, Stephen Holt, Eleanor Kirby-Green, Philip Lunn, Steve Murphy, Paul Redstone and Daniel Shing




Councillors Nick Bennett, Claire Dowling and Rupert Simmons




Philip Baker, Assistant Chief Executive

Ian Gutsell, Chief Finance Officer

Rupert Clubb, Director of Communities, Economy and Transport

Nick Skelton, Assistant Director Communities

Nigel Brown, Assistant Director Property

Sarah Mainwaring, Head of HR and Organisational Development

Andy Arnold, Environment Team Manager



16.          Minutes of the previous meeting


16.1     The Committee RESOLVED to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 22 September 2021 as a correct record.




17.          Apologies for absence


17.1     Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Julia Hilton (Councillor Johnny Denis substituting) and Councillor Stephen Shing (Councillor Daniel Shing substituting).




18.          Disclosures of interests


18.1     Councillors Johnny Denis and Chris Collier declared a personal, non- prejudicial interest in agenda item 5 as they are Cabinet members of Lewes District Council. Councillor Philip Lunn declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest in agenda item 8 as he is a Cabinet member of Wealden District Council and is Chair of the Safer Wealden Partnership.




19.          Urgent items


19.1     There were no urgent items.




20.          Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR)


20.1     The Assistant Chief Executive introduced the report. This report provides the opportunity for the Committee to receive updates on the RPPR process since the September Place Scrutiny Committee meeting and identify any information it requires for the Place RPPR Board which will be held in December. The September Cabinet report, which is appended to the Committee report, provides a policy update since the State of the County report. There is still a great deal of uncertainty about the forthcoming Government policy developments, and more information is awaited on the Levelling Up White Paper; the national review of Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) provision; the review of Children’s social care; and the review Adult Social Care funding. All of which are expected to be announced later this year or next year.

20.2     It is usual that the Committee receives an update on the proposed savings as part of this report, and in particular the Committee has requested an update on the proposed savings for the Trading Standards service. As set out in the report, the planned savings in the Trading Standards service have been removed following service pressures. The report also sets out an updated Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).

20.3     The Chief Finance Officer provided an update on the MTFP since September during which time there has been the Budget Statement and the publication of the Spending Review for 2021. There have been some key financial announcements as part of the Settlement which saw the announcement of three-year grant totals, but not specific grant allocations. The Council is likely to receive only a one year funding allocation from those grants for 2022/23, with the future two years likely to be subject to different types of allocation. There is a level of risk that the methodology for funding allocations will change over the course of the next three years. The Council knows the totals for the grants that have been announced but not the individual allocations to local authorities, and there is still a large degree of uncertainty.

20.4     Some of the key announcements are:

·         There will be £4.8 billion new grant for local government nationally which equates to £1.6 billion per year. Under the current formula for allocation, East Sussex County Council’s (ESCC) likely share of this will be around £7 million. However, some sub-grants that make up this figure have previously been announced such as £200 million over three years for supporting families, £38 million for cyber security over three years, and £35 million for transparency which will be for things such as external audit and access to information.

·         The 1.25% increase in National Insurance that the Council will have to pay as an employer from April 2022 will have to be taken from the local government grant and this will add a cost pressure to ESCC of around £1.5 million.

·         Allocations of £2.7 billion funding nationally for roads, £3 billion for buses, and £2 billion for walking and cycling. We will need confirm whether this is new funding, or in part, existing funding previously announced.

·         £3.6 billion nationally has been announced for supporting the implementation of Adult Social Care (ASC) reform, which is likely to be an operational and financial challenge for the Council in the coming years.

·         There has also been an announcement of a range of grants for Children’s Services totalling £3.9 billion.

·         In total £20 billion of funding has been announced in grant funding over the next three years up until 2024/25, but the exact allocations have yet to be announced through the Local Government Provisional Settlement expected on 16 December 2021.

·         The Council Tax referendum limit remains at 2% for the next 3 years, and the announcement of a 1% ASC precept in 2022/23. For the current financial year there was an option for a 3% ASC precept which could be spread over 2 years and the Council agreed to apply a 1.5% in 2020/21 and further 1.5% in 2022/23.  The 1% ASC precept that has been announced for future years has no flexibility to vary it or carry it forward. This will have implications for the MTFP.


20.5     At present the budget assumptions are based on a 1.99% increase in Council Tax and a 1.5% ASC precept taken in 2022/23. A 1% increase in Council Tax equates to additional income for the Council of around £3.1 million. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has issued its latest assessment of inflation which is exhibiting an upward trend, and this will have to be factored in to the MTFP which may result in an additional cost pressure when the Council comes to set the budget.

20.6     In response to Covid the Council has received many grants in this financial year and there is £69 million available. The Council is currently estimating that it will have £30 million of that total unallocated at the end of the financial year and it is not yet clear if it will be possible to carry forward some of the specific grants or whether they will have to be spent by the end of the financial year. This will also have to be factored into the MTFP.

20.7     For savings, there is no requirement for additional savings to be found other than those already set out in the report. Details of the Local Government Provision Settlement for ESCC are awaited and the MTFP will be updated once the Council has more detailed financial information on budget allocations.

20.8     The Committee discussed the report and raised a number of questions and made comments, which are summarised below.

Parking Charges

20.9     The Committee asked whether any parking charges surplus will be spent in the localities related to the various Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) schemes (e.g. in Hasting, Eastbourne, Bexhill/Rother etc). The Committee also asked what type of transport measures or schemes the funding will be spent on. For example, the ‘Gear Change’ document sets out how sustainable transport schemes for walking and cycling and active travel can be developed, and the role parking may play in the modal shift to safe and reliable active travel. Some members of the Committee also noted that there is a desire by some residents in the Rother CPE scheme to extend some of the parking restrictions. The Committee asked for a link to be circulated to the annual report on parking surpluses.

20.10   The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport (CET) outlined that parking surpluses are spent on local transport schemes across the County and can be used to support public transport, such as supported bus routes, which may be linked to other areas. The Eastbourne Town Centre Improvement scheme has used funding from this source. Parking charges can help with demand management and surpluses can be used to make public transport more reliable and safe, as well as supporting active travel. Parking reviews are held on a regular basis if parking restrictions need to be changed or expanded. In some cases, the prevention of parking can help with bus reliability. The ‘Gear Change’ document is good in setting out a direction for change, however some of the interventions will be expensive. The implications and any potential use conflicts will need to be examined. The Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) will be a key component in the shift to walking and cycling as a mode of transport.

20.11   The Committee noted that parking on the pavement is becoming an increasing problem and asked if the Council could lobby the Government to introduce a national policy to ban parking on the pavement (as is the case in London).

20.12   Councillor Denis commented that he thought the Lewes Town Partnership had an agreement with ESCC that parking surpluses would be spent locally when the CPE scheme was introduced rather than being pooled and spent across East Sussex. He would like this agreement reviewed as the original agreement was to spend parking surpluses locally.

Waste and Recycling

20.13   The Committee commented that if there is a possibility that more Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRS) are closed, this could result in more fly-tipping and increased travel for residents to dispose of their waste. There should be a carbon assessment and as this is a very visible service. It would be preferable to look at other options such as reducing opening hours rather than closing sites. The Committee noted that there may be a need for cross border use of HWRS sites where the nearest site is in another local authority’s area. The Committee asked if it would be possible to have a high level agreement for East Sussex residents to access other local authorities’ sites.

20.14   The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport outlined that the department has previously done work on HWRS need and accessibility and clarified that the are no plans to further reduce the number of sites. This will be kept under review if there are changes in waste behaviour or demand. The planned savings will be achieved through efficiency savings in the £1.3 billion Waste PFI (Private Finance Initiative) contract such as additional income generation from the sale of electricity and the processing of commercial waste.

20.15   The Environment Bill which has received Royal assent may introduce changes that have an impact on ESCC through requirements for a food waste collection, consistency in the collection methodology and deposit return schemes. Introducing cross county agreements would have commercial implications for ESCC and would need to be examined carefully in order to understand the impact on tonnages and costs. Work would also need to be undertaken to understand how people travel to HWRS sites and the embodied carbon in the waste contract.

Management of Back Office Systems (MBOS) Programme

20.16   The Committee noted that there was nothing in the revenue budget for the MBOS Programme and asked if all the expenditure will be from the capital budget. The Chief Finance Officer clarified that the MBOS Programme expenditure is capital, but the ongoing revenue costs are reflected in the MTFP through existing budgets.

National Insurance increase and Pressures Protocol

20.17   The Committee asked if the ongoing cost of the National Insurance increase in employer contributions had been built into the budget and for clarification of what is meant by “pressures approved by protocol”. The Chief Finance Officer outlined that the increase in National Insurance has been built into the base budget and therefore the budget reflects the ongoing cost increase. The ‘pressures protocol’ is a process to assess and rank financial pressures (i.e. the need for budget increases to meet a growth in costs such as from inflation, or changes to service requirements) before they are included in the MTFP.

20.18   The Committee RESOLVED to note the information in the attached RPPR Cabinet report of 30 September 2021(appendix A), including the updated Medium Term Financial Plan and savings plans.




21.          Scrutiny Review of Becoming a Carbon Neutral Council - Progress report


21.1     The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport introduced the report and outlined that the report provides an update on the progress in implementing the thirty-seven recommendations that were agreed as part of the scrutiny review, which are linked to the actions detailed in the action plan in appendix 2 of the report. Work is progressing on the 37 recommendations, with 5 completed, 28 are ongoing and 4 have yet to be started. The report and appendices set out what has been achieved and the progress that has been made since the Council started work on reducing carbon emissions and outlines the use of the funding that has recently been allocated by Cabinet (appendix 3).

21.2     The Environment Team Manager summarised the background to the report. The report focusses on what the Council is doing about its own emissions and does not cover what it is doing externally on issues such as transport and waste. The Council is working towards a science-based target of reducing carbon emissions by an average of 13% per year. This target is the rate of change that is required across the County in order that it contributes towards the target of limiting climate change to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with pre-industrial levels.

21.3     Organisations break down their carbon emissions into a number of categories, which for the Council includes scope 1, scope 2 and scope 3 emissions. Scope 1 and 2 emissions are those broadly from activities the Council controls directly such as the energy used to heat corporate buildings. Scope 3 emissions are from any other sources which are mainly from supplies and services the Council buys.

21.4     Work has focussed firstly on scope 1 and 2 emissions as the Council has much better data on them and has more control over them, which means there is a greater ability to achieve reductions. The work also recognises how important it is to tackle scope 3 emissions as they represent a larger proportion of the Council’s overall emissions. Although the Council is at the start of its work on scope 3 emissions, more work is being undertaken such as:

21.5     This represents a mix of measures across the Council’s supply chain in order to help them take as much action on emissions as they can. Although work has started to reduce scope 3 emissions from the supply chain, due to the scale and complexity of the supply chain it is going to take some time.

Progress against the Recommendations.

21.6     The Environment Team Manager outlined the progress against the 37 recommendations where a small number have been completed but the majority are ongoing due to the nature of the recommendations. There are some actions that will take longer deliver such as the work to reduce scope 3 emissions. New technologies, such as the use of hydrogen in heating and transport, will be incorporated into the actions as they become available.

21.7     Environment Team Manager summarised the use of the additional funding that Cabinet has made available for climate change work as detailed in appendix 3 of the report. This includes:

21.8     This moves the Council from a reactive to a more proactive approach and will continue to use the energy hierarchy to guide the work. This aims to:

  1. Reduce energy use first, avoiding energy use where we can;
  2. Use energy more efficiently;
  3. Install renewable sources of energy; and finally
  4. Use carbon offsetting such as tree planting, and changes to land management.

At present the Council is focussing on activities further up the hierarchy and particularly on actions to reduce energy usage.

21.9     The Environment Team Manager explained it is unlikely that the Council will achieve the 13% reduction target this year as staff return to offices and other buildings. This is due to increased energy use to heat buildings as more staff return and the requirement to ventilate them due to Covid measures, as well as increases in emissions as staff travel more. Therefore, achieving the target will be more challenging.

21.10   In terms of future scrutiny work in this area, the Environment Team Manager outlined that work will be taking place during 2022 to update the corporate Climate Emergency Action Plan, as the current plan runs from 2020-2022. The Committee may wish to be involved in the work to develop a new two-year action plan.

21.11   The Committee discussed the report. The questions and comments made by the Committee, together with the responses are summarised below.

Carbon reduction measurement and literacy training.

21.12   The Committee commented that the measures outlined in appendix 3 need to include an estimate of the carbon reduction that will be achieved in relation to the investment that is being made. The Environment Team Manager responded that carbon reduction figures can be included against each of the measures where they are known. The Committee commented that it supported carbon literacy training for Members, senior managers and staff, and the continued use of online virtual meetings.

Installation of solar panels and work with the community energy sector.

21.13   The Committee welcomed the installation of solar panels on six of the Council’s buildings and asked if a list of the buildings could be made available to the Committee. (Post meeting note: the six buildings are: County Hall, Sackville House,            Milton Grange, Hookstead, Lansdowne, and Herstmonceux School). The Committee also asked if the Council is working with community energy partnerships to promote energy efficiency measures and the use of renewable energy such as the installation of solar panels. Officers confirmed they are reviewing the lease that would cover solar PV to ensure that it can work for both the Council and third parties such as community energy groups.

Street lighting upgrade

21.14   The Committee questioned the response to recommendation 7c in the action plan and whether programming new street light units to switch off at night was accurate and perhaps this should be changed to read that they are programmed to switch off at a certain time. Officers agreed to amend the text to clarify this point. (Post meeting note: the text will be amended to read, ‘Savings were better achieved by programming the new lighting units to switch to part night lighting as they are installed and where this is approved’).

Electric Vehicle (EV) charging

21.15   The Committee noted that there is a Government initiative to have EV charging points in all new homes and asked if this changed the Council’s position regarding providing EV charging points. Officers commented that there is a plan around corporate vehicle emissions and the provision of EV charging points. However, the wider provision of EV charging facilities for the public is outside the remit of the work on the Action Plan but will be included as part of the work on the Local Transport Plan.

Future work

21.16   The Committee asked if there was a point at which the scrutiny review itself would be reviewed. It was clarified that the scrutiny review would not be reviewed as an action plan has already been set out in response to the review. Some actions will take time to complete, and timescales can be challenged where appropriate. A further update report is also due to be presented at the June Committee meeting. The Lead Member for Resources commented that he considered the corporate Climate Emergency Action Plan to be one of the best compared with other local authorities and encouraged the Committee to build upon this work. Officers also outlined that the Committee is invited to be involved in the update of the corporate Climate Emergency Action Plan.

21.17   The Committee RESOLVED to note the progress report and the agreed additional expenditure on climate change measures of £3.867m up to 2023/2024.




22.          Workstyles Review - Update report


22.1     The Assistant Director, Human Resources and Organisational Development (HR&OD) and the Assistant Director, Property introduced the report. There has been a large scale engagement with staff across all levels of the organisation about the future ways of working and the move to hybrid working. The report sets out the principles of hybrid working and that Team Agreements will be developed to describe how teams will work in future in order to meet business and individual’s needs. The new way of working supports recruitment and retention, as well as helping to achieve a work life balance. It also supports a reduction in carbon emissions due to the need to travel less and will support any potential future considerations around rationalisation of the corporate office estate.

22.2     There has also been widespread engagement to understand the business needs and physical adaptations that may be necessary to support the new ways of working. A building by building approach will be taken with changes agreed through co-design workshops. There will be less banks of desks, more confidential space, and a different use of meeting rooms, including the use of screens for meetings. All revised layouts will be agreed with Heads of Service prior to implementation. This work will be phased to start at St Mary’s and St. Mark’s House, in Eastbourne, then Ocean House in Hastings and will probably commence in February 2022. The changes at County Hall will follow later in the year and will incorporate any lessons learnt from earlier phases.

22.3     The Committee discussed the report and made a number of comments which are summarised below.

22.4     The Committee expressed support for the change to hybrid working and viewed it as a positive step for staff. The Committee asked a number of questions related to what the Council will do with any spare office space; the use of car parks at County Hall; the level of engagement with staff around the proposed changes; and how the balance between flexible and hybrid working will be treated.

22.5     The Assistant Director, Property outlined that a balanced approach had been taken to office space changes and departmental management teams had been involved. The changes may free up office space, particularly at County Hall, which may provide opportunities for commercial rental income as well as bringing in other public sector partners to drive greater utilisation. There are no changes planned to car parking as there has not been a permanent return to work, which explains the current low usage. The Committee noted that working from home may reduce carbon emissions by reducing staff travel, but the emissions from increased home working also need to be taken into account and deducted when calculating savings.

22.6     The Assistant Director, HR&OD explained that staff had been involved at all levels and particularly in drawing up Team Agreements. It has been made clear that the working arrangements need to be driven by business needs, but there is also an opportunity to meet individual needs such as flexible working. The Team Agreements support individual preferences and aim to balance needs. Staff have expressed that they feel hybrid working is more efficient and they feel more productive. There is an acknowledgment that working from home might not be suitable for everyone and there is still a place for face to face working. Display screen assessments and workstation assessments are carried out where staff are working from home to make sure they have the right equipment, desk, chair etc. Working arrangements will be kept under review and Team Agreements will be reviewed in 4-6 months’ time to ensure they remain valid.

22.7     The Committee RESOLVED to note the report on the Workstyles Review.




23.          East Sussex Road Safety Programme Outcomes


23.1     The Assistant Director, Communities introduced the report. The report provides the Committee with an update on the final outcomes of the East Sussex Road Safety Programme, which started in 2016. It has been identified from evidence both nationally and locally that the vast majority of Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) crashes and over 90% of collisions are due to driver behaviour or driver error. Therefore, the Programme trialled a number of interventions designed to change driver behaviour and reduce the number of Killed or Seriously Injured collisions (KSIs) in the County. The trials were developed by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) in conjunction with Sussex Police and other Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) partners. The Programme was funded by £950,000 from Public Health, based on the Public Health Outcomes Framework which identified that the proportion of people either killed or seriously injured on East Sussex roads was higher than the average rate for England.

23.2     Randomised controlled trial methodologies were used so that the evaluation of the outcomes is robust, and results can by applied with a high degree of confidence. There have been very few previous road safety trials that have used this methodology, which uses data science to show which interventions work in improving road safety. The Programme has included work on five behaviour change trials and the high risk sites trial. The high risk sites trial makes physical changes to how the road appears to drivers at certain sites to see how this changed driver behaviour. Four out of the five of the behaviour trials demonstrated positive outcomes, which included the Notice of Intended Prosecution (NiP) trial and the Anniversary trial. The results from the high risk sites trial of 15 schemes showed a reduction in the average number of crashes and the average number of casualties per annum.

23.3     Following the successful outcome of these trials further Public Health funding has been allocated to develop more trials. The Behavioural Insights Teams has been appointed to do this work which will take place during the summer of 2022 for implementation in the autumn.

23.4     The Committee welcomed the successful outcome of the trials and the positive impact that was made on the number of collision and KSIs. Anything that reduces collisions and casualties in East Sussex is very welcome. The Committee discussed the report and a summary of the questions raised and points made is given below.

Target Groups

23.5     Some Committee members commented that the high risk groups, such as the 18-24 year old age group, are well known and it would appear that the Council is spending money establishing the target groups and causes of collisions (such as driver inattention) which it already knows about. The Assistant Director, Communities outlined that it was important to be guided by the data and researching the target groups properly enabled an accurate understanding of the situation to be developed. This dispelled a number of myths such as elderly drivers and out of county drivers cause more KSIs, which turned out not to be the case. It also confirmed that distraction is a key element in collisions.

Focus on KSIs

23.6     The work focusses on KSI data, and the Committee asked what other sources of data on collisions were used (e.g. insurance claims data, analysis of people attending speed awareness courses, Community Speed Watch etc.) in order to try and prevent collisions. Some members of the Committee commented that they felt there was an over emphasis on KSIs and historic (after the event) data rather than looking to prevent casualties caused as a result of speeding and making residents feel safe. For example, future emphasis for expenditure could be through the adoption of school streets, low traffic neighbourhoods and 20mph zones as outlined in documents such as Gear Change and Reaching the Destination Safely to create safer streets. It might be better to focus expenditure outside schools and reduce speeds in areas important for walking and cycling, rather than on crash sites that occur randomly across the County.

23.7     The Assistant Director, Communities explained that KSI data was used as this was the best evidence that was available. It is important that work is driven by the data and the focus of the work is to change driver behaviour in order to reduce casualties. It should be noted that the trials did cover the whole population and not just the target groups, and information from the speed awareness courses and who attends them was used in the design of Notice of Intended Prosecution trial. The Assistant Director, Communities confirmed that data from the Community Speed Watch scheme was considered as part of the Operation Crackdown trial.

High Risk Sites trial

23.8     The Committee commented that looking at the map of the sites involved in the trial it appeared that some electoral Divisions are not represented and asked how the sites were selected for the high risk sites trial. The Assistant Director, Communities explained that sites were selected from across the County based on the analysis of three years KSI data. Sites were selected which had the highest number of KSIs and where it was possible to implement measures to make the road environment self-explaining. Each year the Road Safety Team carries out an assessment of crash sites and develops a programme of works based on the results.

Evaluation of trials

23.9     The Assistant Director, Communities confirmed the outcomes of the trials are robust and are statistically significant. The data has been validated and all results have been independently assessed and audited by BIT statisticians. Therefore, the results can be applied more widely with confidence.

New Technology

23.10   The Committee asked if the 18-24 year old age group could be encouraged to take up the use of ‘black box’ technology which monitors driving behaviour. It was confirmed that the team are looking at ‘black box’ technology and mobile phone apps that track driver behaviour and are working with insurance companies as part of the next phase of the work. The role of car manufacturers in the introduction of new technologies in vehicles to make them safer is also key in reducing KSIs.

Police Enforcement

23.11   Some members of the Committee commented that the Police focus appeared to be mainly on speeding enforcement and questioned whether there should be greater emphasis on moving offences such as use of mobile phones or other driver distractions and the propensity to offend. Clarification was sought as to whether only the Police could enforce no parking on zig zag lines outside schools.

23.12   The Assistant Director, Communities clarified that the money raised from Speed Awareness training courses is used to fund the work of the SSRP. ESCC works closely with SSRP partners, including Sussex Police, and is engaged with the work on the new Speeding Strategy for Sussex. It was clarified that Civil Parking Enforcement Officers can carry out enforcement where there is dangerous parking.

23.13   The Committee RESOLOVED to:

(1) To note the positive outcomes of the East Sussex County Council (ESCC) Road Safety Programme, which included:

a. Notice of Intended Prosecution (NiP) Trial - receiving the redesigned NIP and leaflet significantly reduced speeding reoffending by 23% within 6 months. Over the 6-month trial this meant 170 fewer reoffences than business-as-usual, or 6 per week. This would translate to 560 fewer reoffences over the 6months if everyone in the trial had received the new leaflet and new NIP.

b. The Anniversary Trial - Drivers who received the Anniversary letter were 8%less likely to speed between 7 and 12 months later than those who did not. Over the 6-month trial this meant 80 fewer reoffences than business-as-usual, or 3 per week; and

c. High Risk Sites Trial - results from 15 schemes have indicated a 49% reduction in the average number of crashes per annum and a 61% reduction in the average number of casualties per annum

(2) To note the development and implementation of a further evidence based behaviour change road safety programme.




24.          Work programme


24.1     The Committee discussed the work programme and whether it wished to add any scrutiny review topics or reports to the Committee’s future work programme.

24.2     The Committee REOLVED to note the report and did not add any new items.






The meeting ended at 12.07 pm.



Councillor Matthew Beaver (Chair)