Agenda and minutes
Venue: Virtual meeting via Microsoft Teams
Contact: S. Tautz (Principal Democratic Services Officer)
Webcast: View the webcast
Apologies for Absence
There were no apologies for absence from the meeting.
Questions from Members of the Public
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.
There were no questions from members of the public relating to business included in the agenda for the meeting.
Declarations of Interest
The following councillors declared interests as indicated:
(a) Councillors I Gilbert, A Jones, K Robinson, M Terry and R Woodley (Cabinet Members) - Interest in the referred items; attended pursuant to the dispensation agreed at Council on 19 July 2012, under S.33 of the Localism Act 2011;
(b) Cllr D Burzotta - Minute 44 (Initial Local Financial Assessment of COVID-19) - Interests in local family business and as local property landlord - Interest;
(c) Cllr P Collins - Minute 45 (Urgent Item of Business - SO46 Report) - Season ticket holder of Southend United Football Club - Interest;
(a) Cllr M Davidson - Minute 43 (Council’s Response to COVID-19) - Volunteer with Southend Food Bank - Non-pecuniary interest, Minute 43 (Initial Local Financial Assessment of COVID-19) - Director of South Essex Homes - Non-pecuniary interest;
(b) Cllr I Gilbert - Minute 43 (Council’s Response to COVID-19) - Council representative on the Board of Southend Association of Voluntary Services (SAVS) - Non-pecuniary interest;
(c) Cllr A Jones - Minute 45 (Urgent Item of Business - SO46 report) - Council’s representative on governing body of Southend Adult Community College - Non-pecuniary interest;
(d) Cllr M Terry - Minute 45 (Urgent Item of Business - SO46 Report) - Season ticket holder of Southend United Football Club - Interest; and
(e) Cllr R Woodley - Minute 45 (Urgent Item of Business - SO46 Report) - Wife is a season ticket holder of Southend United Football Club - Interest.
Report of the 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 comprehensive 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 Committee in considering relevant matters and the decisions of the Cabinet in respect of each report will be circulated to each of the scrutiny committees in advance of their meetings. The relevant Cabinet Members and senior officers will be available to answer questions at the meeting of each committee.
The draft minutes of this meeting of the Policy and Resources Scrutiny Committee will be reported to the meetings of the Place Scrutiny Committee and People Scrutiny Committee to be held on 15 and 16 June 2020 respectively, for information. However, members should note that each scrutiny committee must focus on the Council’s COVID-19 response and 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. In response to questions raised by councillors that couldn’t be answered at the meeting, the Chair requested that details be provided by way of written response.
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.
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
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 use of the Southend 2050 programme to drive the Borough and
Council’s recovery phase and in that context undertake a
review of the Southend 2050 outcomes and roadmap content, be
3. That the residents, staff, businesses and partners be thanked for all their efforts to date in responding to the pandemic;
4. That the governance arrangements for overseeing preparations for a local outbreak of Covid-19 and the production and implementation of a Local Outbreak Control Plan be put in place, as outlined in paragraph 4.15.5 of the submitted report. This will see the establishment of an Outbreak Control Oversight Board and a ... view the full minutes text for item 43.
Report of the 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. The Executive Director (Finance and Resources) 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.
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
This matter was considered at the meeting as an urgent additional item of business on thebasis of its relevance to the report on the Council’s response to COVID-19. The ScrutinyCommittee had before it the report made to the Cabinet at its meeting on 9 June 2020 and theassociated Minute 26 of that meeting.
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) 1.1 Covid-19 - Rent Arrangements for Council Commercial Tenants; and
(b) 1.2 Roots Hall and Fossetts Farm – Tenants
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