Agenda and minutes

Place Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 15th November, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Committee Room, County Hall, Lewes. View directions

Contact: Martin Jenks  Senior Democratic Services Advisor

No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 150 KB


13.1     The Committee RESOLVED to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 13 September 2018 as a correct record.


Apologies for absence


14.1     Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Simon Elford, Pat Rodohan, Stephen Shing and Richard Stogdon.


Disclosures of interests

Disclosures by all members present of personal interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the member regards the interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct.



15.1     Councillor Martin Clarke declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest in item 6 as he is a trustee of the Hastings Centre which hosts the emergency planning service. Councillor Darren Grover declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest in item 6 as he is an employee of the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS). Councillor Claire Dowling declared personal, non-prejudicial interest in item 5, the savings proposals for the Road Safety Services, as she is Chair of the Wealden Safety Partnership in her role as a Cabinet Member for Wealden District Council.


Urgent items

Notification of items which the Chair considers to be urgent and proposes to take at the appropriate part of the agenda. Any members who wish to raise urgent items are asked, wherever possible, to notify the Chair before the start of the meeting. In so doing, they must state the special circumstances which they consider justify the matter being considered urgent.



16.1     There were none.


Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 151 KB

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17.1     The Chief Operating Officer introduced report, which follows on from the RPPR report presented to the Committee at the September meeting. At that meeting the Committee requested more detail on the Core Offer which is provided in the Cabinet report of 13 November (see Appendix A of the report) and the current year savings plans (see Appendix B). The areas of search for savings were agreed by Cabinet on 13 November 2018 and are detailed in appendix 3 of the Cabinet report. The recommendations of the report invite the Committee to comment on the Core Offer, Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) and the areas of search for savings. It also asks the Committee to identify any further information it requires for the RPPR Board in December and to consider any other work for input into the RPPR process.


17.2     The Chair outlined that there appeared to be more unknowns than knowns in the MTFP. The Chair acknowledged that the Core Offer was an articulation of the services that a competent council should provide and is not intended to be the detailed budget proposals for the Council. These will be developed later through the RPPR process, following the announcement of the provisional local government settlement on or around 6 December 2018. The Chair noted that the Core Offer had been discussed in detail at the recent Cabinet meeting, and suggested that the Committee focus on the areas search for savings and any requests for further information for the December RPPR Board.


17.3     The Committee discussed the proposed savings for 2019/20 to 2021/22 (appendix 3 of the Cabinet report), and made the following requests for further information, or sought clarification on the savings proposals and impacts.


Road Safety Services

  • The Committee asked for further information on what is intended for Road Safety Services and what this would mean in practice for Community Safety Partnerships (CSP’s) and Joint Action Groups. The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport (CET) outlined that the Team will still attend community safety meetings and continue work with Public Health team on road safety issues (e.g. driver behaviour change initiatives).


Trading Standards

  • The Committee asked for more information about the proposed changes to Trading Standards and in particular the work to protect people vulnerable to scams. The Committee also requested a more in depth explanation of the changes to food sampling regimes, especially in the light of national interest in food sampling to protect consumers.


Civil Parking Enforcement

  • The Committee would like further detail on Civil Parking Enforcement (CPE) proposals for fee increases including where the fee increase are, residents parking permits, and whether there is scope to increase fees further. The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport (CET) explained that the existing CPE schemes started at different times and vary in nature. Any changes to fees needs to reflect local circumstances, but work in this area will look to rationalise the fee structure where possible. It is also important to look at what Borough and District councils  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Emergency Planning - Update report pdf icon PDF 279 KB

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18.1     The Team Manager, Emergency Planning introduced report. East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is part of the East Sussex Resilience and Emergencies Partnership (ESREP) established in 2013 to provide Emergency Planning services for the partners under a Memorandum of Understanding. The East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) joined the Partnership in 2015.


18.2     The report gives details of the work undertaken by Emergency Planning Team including responses to local and national incidents and emergency planning exercises which test plans and rehearse responses for major incidents (e.g. exercise Galileo for a mass casualties plan; exercise Snail for a major fire in the Cuilfail Tunnel). There will be a large scale multi-agency Sussex Resilience Forum exercise in February/March 2019 to test the recovery from an adverse weather event.


18.3     The Committee asked why Rother District Council (RDC) is not part of the Partnership as all the other East Sussex councils are members of ESREP. The Assistant Director, Communities responded that when the Memorandum of Understanding was drawn up, RDC decided that they did not want to join as they have their own Emergency Planning officer. However, if there is an incident and RDC request assistance, ESREP members would provide mutual aid (and vice versa). The Team Manager, Emergency Planning added that she would welcome it if RDC decided to join ESREP.


18.4     The Committee enquired about what ESCC is doing to encourage RDC to join ESREP, and what their reasons were for not joining. The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport explained that the Emergency Planning Team have an ongoing dialogue with RDC about joining ESREP, but the RDC staffing structure may be one of the reasons why they do not want to join at this point in time. It is a matter of demonstrating the compelling reasons why RDC should join the Partnership.


18.5     The Committee commented that ESCC local Members are not always notified when an incident has occurred in their Division. It is important that all local Members (ESCC as well as Parish, Town, Borough and District councils) are made aware of incidents and kept updated. It is also import for ESCC Councillors to know what their role is in the response to an incident and where that role ends. For example, it would be helpful to have a point of contract in the Emergency Planning Team to feed information into about reports of an incident.


18.6     The Lead Member for Communities and Safety outlined that the Team is developing a guide, which will include all 3 tiers of local government. So it will be possible to offer guidance in due course and the Team will undertake work to brief ESCC Councillors on their role. The Team Manager, Emergency Planning added that generic plans on what to do will be developed for Councillors.


18.7     Mark Andrews, ESFRS outlined the strong partnership working and support from the Local Resilience Forum (LRF), and assured the Committee that it has robust plans in place to deal with major incidents. He commented  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Transport for the South East (TfSE) pdf icon PDF 212 KB

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19.1     The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport introduced the report. Transport for the South East (TfSE) is a Sub National Transport Body (SNTB) which has been formed by 16 local authority bodies in the south east. The aim of TfSE is to facilitate economic growth by developing and putting in place strategic transport policies for the whole geographic area. The 16 bodies have formed a shadow body and have co-opted representatives from the five Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP’s) that cover the region onto the TfSE Board. The strength of having a SNTB is that the Secretary of State for Transport has to have regard to the strategic transport priorities established by TfSE.


19.2     ESCC is the accountable body for the shadow body, and is the hosting body for accounting, staff, and receiving Department for Transport (DfT) monies. There is a monetary contribution (levy) from each authority which is being used to fund a small interim staff team to take forward the submission to Government and develop the Transport Strategy. All staff costs are funded by the levy and there is an Inter Authority Agreement (IAA) to protect against redundancy or wind up costs should the Government not agree to formally establish TfSE.


19.3     So far TfSE has obtained £1m from the DfT to develop the Transport Strategy, which was helped by the partners’ willingness to contribute to development of the SNTB via the levy. TfSE has also responded to consultations (e.g. the second Road Investment Strategy RIS2; the Network Rail consultations on the East Grinstead pinch point; Hasting and Bexhill rail link development; and improvements to the A21and A27). It has also highlighted the impact of the Southampton and Dover ports on East Sussex economy.


19.4     The Committee discussed the report and raised a number of points which are summarised below.


19.5     The Committee asked from an East Sussex Resident’s point of view, what more is going happen than if ESCC did not take part in TfSE.  The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport explained that once TfSE has official status, the Secretary of State for Transport has to have regard to the strategic transport priorities established by TfSE and cannot ignore them. This provides a strong cohesive view on where transport investment priorities lie for the area. The main benefit is that it allows ESCC to have an influence on the national transport infrastructure that benefits East Sussex, but is not in East Sussex. It fills the current gap in spatial planning between local and national planning policies. There is also the benefit of influencing where DfT money is invested in the future.


19.6     Some of the Committee Members felt that the £58,000 contribution appeared to be unfair on the smaller councils, and asked whether an allocation based on population or geographic area would be a fairer way of apportioning contributions. The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport responded that the view the TfSE Board took was that each county or unitary authority would have one vote and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Highway Grass Cutting Service- Update report pdf icon PDF 232 KB

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20.1     The Contracts Manager introduced the report, which updates the Committee on the outcomes of changes to the grass cutting service. The changes to the service included an option for Parish, Town, District and Borough councils to top up the ESCC grass cutting service and pay for extra cuts, or elect to receive a contribution from ESCC and self-deliver the service. Of the 106 local authorities, 52 bought an additional 4 cuts (24 of which were funded by Rother District Council),  26 opted to remain with the ESCC provided 2 cuts per season, and 16 elected to receive a contribution and manage the grass cutting themselves.


20.2     The table in paragraph 3.1 of the report shows the number of customer contacts regarding grass cutting. There was a high level of contacts in May and June, in part due to the delay in starting the grass cutting the service. The number of contacts was much lower in July, August and September, which is thought to be due to the dry growing season and people getting used to new service. It is possible that there will be a difference in the number of contacts next year if the growing season is different.


20.3     Following feedback from the local councils, the Team is consulting earlier with them on the grass cutting service for next year. The service options will be the same as this year, with responses due back by end of November. Based on the responses received to date, there is a slight shift in Parish Councils wishing to pay for extra cuts. The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport added that he had attended a recent Sussex Association of Local Councils (SALC) meeting to talk about grass cutting, and the concept of adding this to the precept to fund grass cutting if it is important to the councils and the communities they serve. The Chair observed that this is not an option in areas where there are no Parish or Town councils such as in Eastbourne and Hastings.


20.4     The Committee asked if the Council is making the planned savings of £400,000 per year, bearing in mind the damage to equipment and it taking longer to carry out the cuts. The Committee also asked if the longer grass cuttings (arisings) were blocking road drains and whether the Council has had to compensate the contractor for damaged equipment.


20.5     The Contracts Manager outlined that there has been a slight increase in machinery breakdowns costing around £2,000-£3,000, but ESCC is still determining if any compensation was due to the contractor as the cutting season had not quite finished. He was not aware that there had been a particular problem with grass cuttings blocking drains, and the cuttings are blown back onto the grass verges. The Contract Manager confirmed that the planned savings had been achieved. There has been a minimal adverse impact resulting from the changes to the grass cutting service. This is due in part to the growing season and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 217 KB

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21.1     The Senior Democratic Services Advisor introduced the report and outlined that this was the Committee’s opportunity to discuss the future work programme to:

  • Review the reports and agenda items in the existing work programme (appendix 1);
  • Consider any changes or additions to the work programme, ensuring that the amount of business for each meeting is balanced;
  • Discuss and agree potential topics for scrutiny reviews; and
  • Review the Council’s Forward Plan (appendix 2) for any items of interest, or that require further scrutiny.


Emergency Planning


21.2     The Committee discussed the issue raised by the earlier agenda item on what the local Member’s role is and whether the Committee could have some input to the guidelines that are being developed for local Members. The Assistant Director, Communities explained that the Emergency Planning Team is undertaking work to update the information for Councillors on web site, and agreed to circulate it to the Committee.


House Waste Recycling Sites (HWRS)


21.3     The Committee discussed the changes to the HWRS service and requested a report on the implementation of charging at HWRS and impact on fly tipping. The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport outlined that the implementation of charging has gone smoothly, and there is no evidence of an increase in fly tipping. However, there has been a decline in the amount of waste brought to HWRS sites which was anticipated. The Director has asked the District and Borough councils about fly tipping, and they did not report an increase in fly tipping. The Committee agreed to have an update report at the September 2019 Place Scrutiny Committee meeting and add this to the work programme.


Scrutiny Reviews


21.4     Councillor Grover suggested that there might be merit in undertaking a review of properties owned by ESCC that are either empty or underutilised, and to examine the plans for them. The Committee discussed the suggested topic and added that it would be useful to understand how the SPACES programme is being delivered, and to look at vacant properties especially where buildings have been empty for a long time. The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport outlined that there is a process to declare property surplus to the Council’s requirements, which is followed before other options such as disposal or re-use are explored.


21.5     The Committee agreed to carry out some initial scoping with Property Team and report back to the Committee meeting in March 2019. It was agreed that Councillor Darren Grover and Councillor Chris Dowling would undertaking the initial scoping work on behalf of the Committee.


Forward Plan


21.6     The Committee reviewed and noted the Forward Plan for the period 1 November 2018 to 28 February 2019.