Agenda and minutes
Venue: Virtual Meeting via MS Teams
Contact: Tim Row - Principal Committee Officer
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Jarvis (Substitute: Councillor Nelson).
Declarations of Interest
The following councillors declared interests as indicated:
(a) Councillors I Gilbert, C Mulroney, K Robinson, M Terry and R Woodley (Cabinet Members) - Interest in the referred items; attended pursuant to the dispensation agreed at Council on 19th July 2012, under S.33 of the Localism Act 2011;
(b) Councillor A Bright – Minute No. 56 (Council’s Response to COVID-19)– Non-pecuniary interest: Lives in the High Street;
(c) Councillor D Nelson – Minute No. 56 (Council’s Response to COVID-19) – Non-pecuniary interest: Member of Southend Wheelers cycling group;
(d) Councillor I Gilbert – Minute No. 56 (Council’s Response to COVID-19)– Non-pecuniary interest: Place of work is located in Town Centre Area and Council appointed Member to the Board of SAVS;
(e) Councillor M Terry – Minute No. 56 (Council’s Response to COVID-19) – Non-pecuniary interest: Lives in Eastern Esplanade and Minute No. 58 (Urgent Item of Business - SO46 Report) - Season ticket holder of Southend United Football Club - Interest;
(f) Councillor Wakefield – Minute No. 56 (Council’s Response to COVID-19) – Non-pecuniary interest: Owns a business in the Town Centre;
(g) Councillor Ward – Minute No. 58 (Urgent Item of Business - SO46 Report) - Shareholder of Southend United Football Club - Interest; and
(h) Councillor Woodley – Minute No. Minute No. 58 (Urgent Item of Business - SO46 Report) – Wife is a Season ticket holder of Southend United Football Club - Interest.
As this is a special meeting of the Committee, questions must relate to business included in the agenda for the meeting, in accordance with Standing Order 6B.
The Committee noted the responses to questions that had been submitted by Mr Ward to the Cabinet Member for Transport, Capital Inward Investment. Copies will be forwarded to Mr Ward as he was not present at the meeting.
Report of Chief Executive attached.
This special meeting of the Scrutiny Committee has been called by the Chair pursuant to Paragraph 4 of the Scrutiny Procedure Rules in Part 4(e) of the Constitution, to consider the Council’s Covid-19 response and recovery plans. Special meetings of the other Scrutiny Committees have also been called for the same purpose.
The Cabinet will consider reports on this item and the following item of business (Item 5 - Initial Local Financial Assessment of COVID-19) at its meeting on 9 June 2020. Copies of these reports are attached to assist the Scrutiny Committees in considering relevant matters and the decisions of the Cabinet in respect of each report will be circulated to the Scrutiny Committees in advance of their meetings. The relevant Cabinet Members and senior officers will be available to answer questions at the meetings of each Committee.
The draft Minutes of this meeting of the Place Scrutiny Committee and the meeting of the Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee to be held on 11 June 2020 will be reported to the meeting of the People Scrutiny Committee to be held on 16 June 2020 for information. However, Councillors should note that each Scrutiny Committee must focus on the Council’s Covid-19 response and the immediate recovery plans in respect of its specific areas of responsibility.
The Chair reported that he had called the special meeting of the Committee pursuant to Paragraph 4 of the Scrutiny Procedure Rules in Part 4(e) of the Constitution, to consider the Council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its plans for recovery.
The Committee considered Minute 24 of the meeting of Cabinet held on 9 June 2020, which had been referred direct to Scrutiny, together with a report of the Chief Executive detailing the action taken by the Council to respond to the pandemic and its approach to the restoration of services and the provision of support for local residents, businesses, staff and the borough in general.
Councillors were advised that the report was to be considered by each of the scrutiny committees during the current cycle of special meetings and were reminded that, in considering the action taken by the Council in response to the pandemic, each scrutiny committee should focus on its specific areas of responsibility. The relevant members of the Cabinet and chief officers were in attendance to answer questions raised by councillors at the meeting.
The Committee also had before it the Minutes of the meeting of the Policy & Resources Scrutiny Committee held on Thursday 11th June 2020 for information.
The Committee received a presentation from the Policy Manager and the Interim Head of Corporate Strategy, together with an updated version of the report of the Chief Executive, which also set out proposals to address arrangements for local COVID-19 outbreak planning and highlighted the role of the Council in supporting the NHS test, trace, and isolate programme. The report also detailed a proposed approach to driving recovery from the impact of the pandemic, through the use of the Southend 2050 programme.
In response to questions regarding the improvement to the air quality, the Cabinet Member for Environment & Planning agreed to circulate the air quality levels for the area around the Bell Junction.
In response to a question regarding the redeployment of staff in the remit of the Place Scrutiny Committee, the Chair requested that details be provided in a written response.
In response to questions regarding the waste collection service, the Executive Director undertook to circulate a complete list of all the meetings we held with Veolia in the period from 23 March, the date of the commencement of the lockdown restrictions, to 12 June.
On behalf of the Cabinet, the Leader thanked all officers of the Council for their commitment in responding to local issues arising from the pandemic and for their contribution to the delivery of new, adapted and existing services in difficult circumstances. The Leader also extended his thanks to National Health Service staff and other key workers for their dedication in responding to issues arising from the pandemic
1. That the following decisions of the Cabinet be noted:
“1. That the action taken to date in response to the Covid-19 crisis, be noted;
2. That, in the light of the impact of Covid-19, the proposed approach to recovery, including the ... view the full minutes text for item 56.
Report of Executive Director (Finance and Resources) attached.
NOTE: In light of rapidly changing circumstances, it is anticipated that a supplementary report will be issued before the Cabinet meeting on 9 June 2020.
The Committee considered Minute 25 of the meeting of Cabinet held on 9 June 2020, which had been referred direct to Scrutiny, together with a report of the Executive Director (Finance and Resources), which provided a high-level initial assessment of the local financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the minimisation of its impact on local residents and businesses and the future sustainability of service provision. The report also outlined the Council’s initial response to the financial challenges presented by the pandemic over the short and medium term, although councillors were advised that assumptions and understanding of many contributory factors were under constant review.
Councillors were advised that it was currently too early to assess the overall economic impact of COVID-19, but that it was currently estimated that the original lockdown arrangements could cost the authority around £2.5m-£3.0m each month and that effective management of the short and medium-term financial challenges arising from the pandemic would be important going forward, whilst continuing to provide support for local residents and businesses.
The Executive Director (Finance and Resources) highlighted areas of central Government support that had been received by the Council, including a number of elements of passported funding and reported that the pandemic had had a significant effect in terms of a number of universal income areas. He also gave an oral update on the latest announcements by the government regarding potential emergency grant funding since the publication of the report.
The relevant members of the Cabinet were also in attendance to answer questions raised by councillors at the meeting.
In response to questions regarding the costs of the temporary contraflow system in Western Esplanade to assist with social distancing measures, the Executive Director (Finance & Resources) agreed to circulate the costs of the security staff employed to manage the scheme to the Committee after the meeting.
That the following decisions of the Cabinet be noted:
“1. That the Council’s initial assessment of the local financial impact of the unprecedented challenges that has been caused by the pandemic, be noted;
2. That the proposed tactical and strategic response to managing the financial challenges, be noted; and
3. That regular reports be presented to future Cabinet meetings, which will provide updated assessments on the Council’s financial position and outline any changes to the Council’s strategy and range of assumptions.”
Note: This is an Executive Function
Cabinet Member: I Gilbert
The Chair has agreed to consider the SO46 report at this meeting, as an urgent additional item of business, on the basis of its relevance to the report on the Council’s response to COVID-19.
This matter was considered at this meeting as an urgent additional item on the basis of its relevance to the report on the Council’s response to COVID-19. The Scrutiny Committee has the report to Cabinet and the associated Minute No. 26.
With the agreement of the Chair, the Committee considered a report setting out details of the following decisions that had been implemented pursuant to Standing Order 46 (Urgent Action) during the period of the COVID-19 pandemic and were of relevance to the earlier report on the Council’s response to the pandemic:
(a) 1.3 Business Continuity Plans – Waste Collection & Disposal Services
(b) 3.1 Footway Re-surfacing Policy Change
There was no debate on the report by councillors.
That the report be noted.
Note: This is an Executive Function
Cabinet Member: As appropriate to each item