Agenda and minutes

Place Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 28th March, 2023 10.30 am

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

Contact: Martin Jenks  Senior Scrutiny Adviser


No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 166 KB

Additional documents:


24.1     The Committee RESOLVED to agree the minutes of the meeting held on 24 November 2022 as a correct record.


Apologies for absence

Additional documents:


25.1     Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Eleanor Kirby-Green.


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.


Additional documents:


26.1     Councillor Chris Collier declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest under agenda item 8, Food Waste Environment Act 2021 requirements,  as he is the Cabinet Member for Performance at Lewes 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.


Additional documents:


27.1     There were none.


Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Report by the Chief Executive.

Additional documents:


28.1     The Chair introduced the report which asked the Committee to review its input into the Reconciling Policy, Performance and Resources (RPPR) process for the financial year 2023/24 and to consider any RPPR related items that it may wish to add to the work programme.

28.2     The Committee discussed the report, and a summary of the discussion is given below.

28.3     The Committee commented that one of the potential areas of work that could be included in the work programme was the idea of developing a range of ‘shovel ready’ projects that had been costed and prioritised (with a weighting in terms of importance and benefit) for inclusion in the Council’s budget should Government funding become available. This could be developed by asking officers to include information on areas for improvement, policy changes, or service issues that require funding as part of the reports that are presented to the Committee. For example, the upcoming reports on the Rights of Way service and the Libraries and Information Service.

28.4     The Committee noted that the timetable of the RPPR process would mean that the Committee would need to agree detailed work now in order to have a range of projects ready for inclusion in the following financial years budget.

28.5     The Director of Communities, Economy and Transport commented that one of the challenges is that often Government funding is made available for specific purposes and may be subject to a bidding process. It can be difficult to find the necessary revenue funding in order to develop a pipeline of costed projects, although the Government has more recently recognised this problem and made capacity building funding available (e.g. for the Bus Service Improvement Plan). Some new policies, such as the requirement to collect food waste, are new areas but are not considered as a new burden for which the Government will provide additional funding. This can put added pressure on any revenue funding the Council has. As the RPPR process is an iterative process, the Scrutiny Committee has an opportunity to comment on where it might be better to allocate any funding that does become available.

28.6     The Committee RESOLVED to:

1) Note the report; and

2) Request that future reports include areas for improvement, policy changes, or service issues that require funding, in order to develop a prioritised pipeline of ‘shovel ready’ projects that the Committee could investigate, support and recommend for funding.




Scrutiny Review of Procurement: Social Value and Buying Local pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Report by the Chair of the Review Board.

Additional documents:


29.1     The Chair of the Review Board, Councillor Chris Collier introduced the report of the Review Board on the Scrutiny Review of Procurement: Social Value and Buying Local. He thanked the other Board members who were Councillors Julia Hilton and Paul Redstone, and the officers and other witnesses who took part in the review. Councillor Julia Hilton and Councillor Paul Redstone also commented on the report.

29.2     The Chief Operating Officer outlined that the report was very well received by the Procurement Team and the department is happy to take forward the findings and recommendations from the review. The Head of Policy & Improvement, Orbis Procurement also welcomed the review and outlined that the Team is happy with the recommendations of the review and will be taking them forward. Councillor Bennett, Lead Member for Resources and Climate Change thanked everyone for the report and the work that they had done.

29.3     There were no questions on the report from the Committee.

29.4     The Committee RESOLVED to endorse the report of the Review Board, and make recommendations to Cabinet for comment, and County Council for approval.




Community Asset Transfers and Asset Use pdf icon PDF 383 KB

Report by the Chief Operating Officer.

Additional documents:


30.1     The Assistant Director Property introduced the report and summarised the key points regarding the Council’s policy and processes for community asset transfers and asset disposal and use. He highlighted that there are some statutory considerations where the Council is required to secure best value for disposals which applies to the sale of property assets and includes the freehold transfer of land/buildings or the grant of a lease over 7 years.

30.2     The Committee discussed the report and a summary of the questions and key points raised is given below.

30.3     The Committee asked how many Council assets are currently declared surplus and being considered for disposal. The Assistant Director Property responded that there are currently ten building assets that are surplus and being considered for disposal, retention for income generation or transfer.

30.4     The Community Asset Transfer (CAT) policy is dated 2016 and some Committee members commented that community groups in Hastings were not aware of the policy. The Committee asked what plans there were to update the CAT policy and ensure that it is communicated to Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) partners so that they are aware of the policy.

30.5     The Assistant Director Property outlined that the CAT Policy had been included within the Strategic Asset Plan 2020-2025, and officers would update the CAT policy within the next six months. The update work will include talking to VCSE groups about the policy and many groups are already aware of the CAT policy.

30.6     The Committee asked if the Council has a mechanism for working collaboratively with public and private sector partners to bring forward the development of land or property where the Council owns or has an interest in part of the potential development site (e.g. where working together would unlock a site for development for the benefit of the local community).

30.7     The Assistant Director Property explained that this is the role of the Strategic Property Asset Collaboration in East Sussex (SPACES) programme and there are examples of successful projects where the SPACES Group has pooled land to realise development opportunities. Officers are also part of a wider Developer Group in East Sussex, and the Council has sold land in conjunction with private developers.

30.8     The Committee noted that the original report request included a request for an update on the SPACES programme and its successes. The Committee asked if it would be possible to have a follow up report on the updated CAT policy and an update on the SPACES programme.

30.9     The Assistant Director Property outlined that a review of the SPACES programme was carried out in January 2023 which looked at the future focus of the programme and has a detailed implementation plan. All partners have agreed a slightly different approach, which will focus on Adult Social Care wellbeing, asset rationalisation and climate change. The Chief Operating Officer added that it will be possible to bring an update report on the CAT policy and SPACES programme to a future meeting.

30.10   Councillor  ...  view the full minutes text for item 30.


Food Waste - Environment Act 2021 requirements pdf icon PDF 447 KB

Report by the Director of Communities, Economy and Transport.

Additional documents:


31.1     The Waste Team Manager introduced the report and summarised the key points and implications for the Council of the requirement in the Environment Act 2021 for councils to provide a food waste collection service. The report outlines the implications for East Sussex County Council (ESCC) as the waste disposal authority. The District and Borough councils (D&Bs) in East Sussex, who are the waste collection authorities (WCAs), will be responsible for operating the food waste collection service and they will then deliver the food waste to ESCC for composting. The Waste Team Manager outlined that he thought ESCC was in a good position to deal with this new requirement with the waste disposal facilities that are already in place.

31.2     The Committee discussed the report and a summary of the key points and questions raised is given below.

Use of home composting ‘hot bins’

31.3     The Committee commented that providing food waste collections in rural areas could be expensive and asked whether the Council could request that the WCAs offer ‘hot bins’ for food waste composting instead of food collections. The Waste Team Manager explained that it is a legal requirement to collect food waste so it might not be possible to offer home food composting facilities as an alternative. However, he would investigate and come back to the Committee with an answer.

Food waste composition of ‘black bag’ residual waste

31.4     The Committee questioned whether the estimate of around one third of ‘black bag’ (residual) waste being food waste was accurate, as Covid and the cost of living crisis has made people much more aware of reducing wasting food. The Committee also asked if the Waste Team knows the proportion of the different types of food waste to draw a distinction between the ones that could be minimised (e.g. the proportion of surplus food waste/cooked food, versus food preparation waste such as peelings that are less amenable to waste minimisation). The Waste Team Manager responded that percentage of food waste in black bins is quite high, and the Waste Team is planning to carry to carry out a composition study to get an up to date analysis of the composition of ‘black bag’ waste. This will cover the different types of food waste.

Environmental impacts of food waste collection

31.5     The Committee commented that a food waste collection service would add extra vehicle movements and carbon emissions and increase resource use. It asked what the energy and environmental costs would be of the food collection service and whether ESCC would monitor the impact on carbon emissions. The Waste Team Manager explained that not all vehicle movements to deliver food waste for disposal would be to the Woodlands facility at Whitesmith. There will be other hubs to collect food waste in Brighton and Pebsham to bulk up food waste before transporting it for processing at the Woodlands site. He outlined that the carbon emissions for the service will be monitored.

Education and Communication to reduce food waste

31.6     The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 375 KB

Additional documents:


32.1     The Committee discussed the future work programme, and a summary of the key points raised is given below.

Work Programme - Economic Development

32.2     The Committee discussed scrutiny involvement in the Economic Development project development process and establishing a scrutiny board or reference group to work on this topic. The Director for Communities, Economy and Transport suggested that the best way of scrutiny having input into the process would be for the Committee to be involved with the development of the Economic Growth Strategy and would welcome the Committee’s input into this piece of work.

32.3     Councillor Hilton commented that there might be an opportunity to look at the Economic Growth Strategy through the lens of climate change and examine how it could help promote green businesses. Committee members also noted that it would be helpful to include some lessons learnt as part of the work on the Economic Growth Strategy and the ongoing role of scrutiny in scrutinising this area of work. The Committee agreed to form a reference group to provide scrutiny input into the development of the Economic Growth Strategy.

Work Programme - Southern Water

32.4     The Committee noted that since the November 2022 meeting with representatives from Southern Water there had been further serious pollution incidents, notably at Bulverhythe. It was suggested that it would be helpful to put together a set of questions for Southern Water in advance of the next update from them at the 23 November 2023 Committee meeting. Committee members also noted that it would be important to get verbal updates from representatives from Ofwat and the Environment Agency on any changes in regulation and investment.


Highways Scoping Board

32.5     Councillor Lunn commented that the scoping meeting had been very interesting and productive and the recommended scope for the scrutiny review will help provide a response to residents on the issue of potholes and help with communications in this area.

32.6     Councillor Hilton asked if it would be possible to add the condition of pavements to the terms of reference of the review and indicated that she would like to be part of the Review Board. Councillor Stephen Shing asked if the Council had a plan to enlarge drainage capacity. Councillor Hollidge, Chair of the Scoping Board, commented that it would be better to focus on one specific aspect of highways i.e. potholes, before examining other areas.

32.7     The Committee discussed the issue of highways drainage and flooding from highways into properties. It was suggested that the Committee could explore this subject in more detail after the pothole review to see if it an issue across the County and what could be done about it. The Committee noted that this might be a wider piece of work looking at drainage and flooding and the links to the Nature Recovery Network and the follow-on work from Southern Water on reducing the use of combined sewer overflows. It might be possible to produce a menu of actions the Council could take on these  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.