Agenda and draft minutes

Place Scrutiny Committee - Friday, 26th November, 2021 10.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Lewes. View directions

Contact: Martin Jenks  Senior Scrutiny Adviser

Media

Items
No. Item

16.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 361 KB

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Minutes:

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

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Minutes:

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

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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Minutes:

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

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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Minutes:

19.1     There were no urgent items.

20.

Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) pdf icon PDF 395 KB

Report by the Chief Executive.

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Minutes:

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  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Scrutiny Review of Becoming a Carbon Neutral Council - Progress report pdf icon PDF 959 KB

Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport and the Chief Operating Officer.

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Minutes:

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:

·         The work being undertaken across the Orbis Partnership to increase expertise and capacity in reducing emissions from procurement.

·         Beginning to build in specific carbon reduction requirements into the Council’s contracts, such as the Highways Maintenance contract re-procurement where the contractor will be required to reduce emissions by 13% per annum in line with the corporate target.

·         For smaller, local suppliers who may need support to meet contractual requirements to reduce emissions, the Council is offering free energy audits and energy efficiency grants over the next 18 months.

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  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Workstyles Review - Update report pdf icon PDF 212 KB

Report by the Chief Operating Officer.

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Minutes:

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

23.

East Sussex Road Safety Programme Outcomes pdf icon PDF 161 KB

Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport.

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Minutes:

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,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

24.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 370 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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.