Agenda and minutes

Place Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 17th March, 2021 10.30 am

Venue: Remotely via Teams or CC2, County Hall, Lewes

Contact: Martin Jenks  Senior Democratic Services Adviser


No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 173 KB

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18.1     The Committee RESOLVED to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 25 November 2020 as a correct record.


Apologies for absence

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19.1     Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Godfrey Daniel and Councillor Darren Grover. Apologies were also received from Councillor Rupert Simmons, Lead Member for Economy.


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.


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20.1     There were none.


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.


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21.1     There were none notified.


Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 383 KB

Report by the Chief Executive.

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22.1     The Chair introduced the report which is the Committee’s opportunity to review it’s input into the RPPR budget setting process for 2021/22 and consider any areas for inclusion in the Committee’s future work programme. The Committee commented that they were happy with scrutiny’s involvement in the RPPR process and went on to discuss elements of the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) and areas for inclusion in the work programme which are summarised below.


Trading Standards


22.2     The Committee discussed the work of the Trading Standards team, and particularly the work to protect vulnerable people from rogue traders and the vital work on scams. It was noted that further savings are planned for the service and the Committee will want to explore the impact of those savings on service provision to ensure the sustainability of the Service.


22.3     The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport (CET) commented on the fantastic work the Team does and the work to protect the vulnerable through the National Scams Team, as well as the work with the Police and other agencies. The Lead Member for Communities and Safety outlined that the Covid19 pandemic had had an impact on the Service and its ability to carry out planned work and generate income. The work of the Trading Standards Team also has a strong relationship with community safety and the Police.


22.4     The Committee agreed to include request for a report on the work of the Trading Standards team in the work programme to examine how services are currently being provided, the impact of proposed savings on the sustainability of the service, and whether it is adequately funded to continue its work to protect the vulnerable and work with partners on community safety.


Access to the Internet and Digital Inclusion


22.5     One of the areas highlighted in the Committee’s comments to Cabinet was the importance of access to the internet and digital inclusion. The Committee noted the good work of the Library Service to provide Covid secure access to the internet, which had provided a vital service for people wishing to apply for jobs or make benefits applications online who do not have internet access. The Committee also noted the importance of completing the work to provide the maximum internet coverage possible through the Superfast Broadband Project and the Council’s support for the Gigabit Broadband Voucher scheme.


22.6     The Lead Member for Communities and Safety assured the Committee that the Library Service would continue the work to support digital inclusion, and outlined the support Library Service staff had given to other departments during the pandemic such as the community hubs, and had ensured the home delivery of library materials for those unable to use the digital library.


22.7     The Committee agreed that it would like a report later in the year to update the Committee on the delivery of the Broadband Project and the role of the Gigabit Voucher scheme in enabling access to broadband services by hard to reach properties and communities.


Government Funding for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


Road Safety Programme - Interim Outcomes pdf icon PDF 151 KB

Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport.

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23.1     The Assistant Director Communities introduced the report. He outlined that the Programme had involved working with the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) and other partners on pilot projects to reduce the number of Killed or Seriously Injured (KSI) crashes on the County’s roads. The vast majority of KSI’s and collisions are due to a driver carelessness and error in which speed is also a factor. The Programme has devised a number of trial schemes to change driver behaviour using behavioural science techniques.


23.2     The report provides information on the interim outcomes of two trials aimed at reducing re-offending for speeding. One used a redesigned Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) letter and leaflet in which a randomised trial resulted in 23% of people less likely to re-offend. The second trail involved sending out an anniversary letter a year after the original speeding offence reminding people to continue to drive carefully within the speed limit. This was also successful in reducing re-offending levels. A third project targeted High Risk Routes where low cost measures such as changes to signs, road markings and speed limits were made to change the way the road appears to drivers to produce a ‘self-explaining’ road environment. This led to a decrease in the number of collisions on the eight sites that had a least 8 months post implementation crash data. Full results for all the trials will be reported later in the year.


23.3     The Committee welcomed the report and the encouraging results of the trial schemes. The Committee noted the innovative use of behavioural science techniques to change driver behaviour which is very important in order to reduce the number of KSI collisions in the County. A number of aspects of the report were discussed in more detail which are summarised below.


Behavioural Factors


23.4     The Committee commented that there may be a popular perception that speed is the only factor in causing collisions and other factors such as drink, drugs and driver error also need to be tackled.  The Assistant Director Communities outlined the ongoing work of the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership which is crucial in tackling these issues through community engagement. The increased use of technology in the future will also play a part (e.g. driver behaviour monitoring through apps and ‘black boxes’). He added that most people involved in KSI collisions are travelling close to their home address.


23.5     The Lead Member for Communities and Safety outlined that the character of the roads in East Sussex is also a factor and people need to pay attention when they are driving. The emphasis of the report is on the trials to change driver behaviour, which can be challenging. The results are encouraging and there is the opportunity to apply them wider than the County.


Rural Unclassified Roads


23.6     Several members of the Committee highlighted the issue of people driving too fast on narrow and sometimes challenging unclassified rural roads, which typically have the national speed limit of 60  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Scrutiny Review of the Effectiveness of School Travel Plans - Update pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport.

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24.1     The Assistant Director Economy introduced the report which is an update on the progress made in implementing the recommendations of the review. Appendix 2 of the report sets on the progress on the recommendations compared with the previous update received by the Committee in November 2019. There has been a successful implementation of all the recommendations, some of which are complete (such as the work to provide information and advice on the ‘C Zone’ part of the web site for schools), whilst others are ongoing in nature. The Team have been successful in securing funding to support this work and steps have been taken to ensure planning conditions are applied where it is appropriate to do so (e.g. Claverham Community College and Hailsham Community College). As part of the continuing work in this area the ‘School Streets’ pilots are now in place and will commence shortly.


24.2     The Committee noted the progress on implementing the recommendations and indicated that they were pleased with the progress that had been made. The Lead Member for Transport and Environment, who had been part of the review, outlined the topic for the review had arisen from Member’s experience on the Planning Committee. She commented that it was pleasing to see the progress that had been made and noted that there was an opportunity to take this work forward through the ‘School Streets’ pilots.


24.3     It was clarified that the ‘School Streets’ pilots are being funded through the second tranche of the Active Travel fund. The impact and effects of the pilots will be monitored and evaluated before considering the next steps to be taken. It is difficult to say at present whether the pilot schemes will be made permanent or expanded as this will be dependent on the outcome of the pilots and the availability of funding. However, ‘School Streets’ could be included as part of the work on the revised Local Transport Plan (LTP).


24.4     The Committee RESOLVED to note the updates in relation to the agreed recommendations identified through the scrutiny review of the effectiveness of School Travel Plans, as set out in Appendix 2 of the report.




Work programme pdf icon PDF 374 KB

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25.1     The Committee noted that the composition of the Committee may change following the County Council elections in May. However, the Committee considered that it would be worth sign posting a number of issues to the incoming Committee by including reports and suggested topics for scrutiny reviews in the work programme. The new Committee will then be able to consider them when it looks at the work programme at the next meeting in June 2021.


Highways Reference Group


25.2     The Committee agreed that it would be good to keep the membership of the Highways Reference Group as close to the current membership as possible to ensure continuity. It was agreed to delegate authority to the Chair of the Place Scrutiny Committee, in consultation with the Vice Chair, to reconvene the Highways Reference Group after the May elections and appoint members to the Group if necessary before the Committee meets in June 2021.


Future Reports


25.3     The Committee discussed the need to follow up on the work on Climate Change and the progress in changes to working practices for council staff post Covid19. It was noted that the first monitoring report for the Scrutiny Review of Becoming a Carbon Neutral Council is scheduled for the November 2021 meeting, but it would be helpful to have an earlier update on the changes in working practices.


25.4     The Chief Operating Officer commented that as most staff will not be returning to the office until September it would be difficult to give a complete picture to the Committee of the changes. Work is currently being undertaken on the Workstyles programme which is looking at changes to office space, technology and working practices such as increased working from home. The Committee agreed to have a verbal update at the June meeting on the direction of travel and work to date on Workstyles programme, followed by a written report in the Autumn on the lessons learnt from Covid and the changes to working practices.


25.5     The Committee agreed to request a report on Trading Standards as discussed under the RPPR item to examine the current work, focus and sustainability of the Service. The Committee also endorsed the earlier discussion and agreement under the RPPR item to request a report on the Council’s work to support businesses and economic regeneration post Covid19.


Topics for Scrutiny Reviews



25.6     The Committee discussed the possibility of reviewing the Councils Communications function to explore the work they are currently undertaking, the use of new technologies/social media and the impact that any potential future savings would have on this function. It was agreed to add this as a potential scrutiny review topic to the work programme.


Highway Licence Fees

25.7     The Committee discussed the possibility of reviewing the scale of fees charged to Parish and Town Councils for placing items on the highway and other highways works. Such councils range in size and the budget or precept they are able to set. For some councils who wish to work with ESCC  ...  view the full minutes text for item 25.