Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate & Partnerships Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 7th June, 2021 10.30 am

Venue: Remote meeting held via Microsoft Teams

Contact: Melanie Carr  Email: Melanie.carr1@northyorks.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

150.

Minutes of the meeting held on 19 April 2021 pdf icon PDF 460 KB

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the Minutes of the formal meeting held on 19 April having been printed and circulated, be taken as read and be confirmed and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

 

151.

Apologies & Declaration of Interest

Minutes:

Apologies were received from County Councillors Bryn Griffiths; Val Arnold and Angus Thompson Mike Jordan. 

 

There were or declarations of interest to note.

 

 

 

152.

Public Questions & Statements

Members of the public may ask questions or make statements at this meeting if they have given notice and provided the text to Melanie Carr of Democratic Services (contact details below) no later than midday on Wednesday 2 June 2021. Each speaker should limit themselves to 3 minutes on any item.  Members of the public who have given notice will be invited to speak:

·           at this point in the meeting if their questions/statements relate to matters which are not otherwise on the Agenda (subject to an overall time limit of 30 minutes);

·           when the relevant Agenda item is being considered if they wish to speak on a matter which is on the Agenda for this meeting.

 

If you are exercising your right to speak at this meeting, but do not wish to be recorded, please inform the Chairman who will instruct those taking a recording to cease whilst you speak.

 

Minutes:

There were no public questions or statements received.

153.

Bi-annual Update on Community Safety Plan Delivery & Partnership Working pdf icon PDF 287 KB

Minutes:

Members were disappointed to note the absence of Dr Justin Ives - Chief Executive of the Community Safety Partnership.  In his absence they agreed to submit the following questions to the Head of Safer Communities with a request for a written response:

·            In regard to the new Domestic Abuse Commissioner monitoring the effectiveness of local authorities and  other statutory agencies – did  those other statutory agencies include Wetherby Young Offenders Institute?

·            How much liaison/work took place with District Council Housing departments?

·            What counselling was offered to victims of domestic abuse?

·            In regard to Serious and Organised Crime, which organisations made up the multi-agencies referred to in the report?

 

Finally, as their was no mention in the report of LGBT Groups, the Chair questioned whether they were included in the information on hate crime and community cohesion. He also asked that in future a more detailed report be provided, that included an update on any LGBT related issues.   

 

Members were pleased to note the new Domestic Abuse Act.  In particular they were pleased to see that GPs would no longer be able to charge a domestic abuse victim for a letter in support of an application for legal aid.

 

The Committee requested the attendance of the new Chairman of the Community Safety Partnership and the Head of Safer Communities, the next time the Committee was scheduled to receive a bi-annual update.

 

Resolved – That:

i.     The report be noted

ii.     The questions agreed at the meeting be submitted for a written response

154.

Property Services Bi-annual Performance Update pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Minutes:

Jon Holden, Head of Property Services provided a progress update on the Council’s approach to property services and the rationalisation of NYCC’s property portfolio, which included:

·            An overview of the ongoing objectives for the Service;

·            An update on the savings achieved to date against the target set as part of the 2020 Programme;

·            A breakdown of the different types of properties within the County Council’s portfolio;

·            An overview of the re-modelling works for NYCC headquarters which were completed on budget but not on time, due to Covid;

 

He also provided an update on the other challenges, risks and issues associated with Covid, which included:

·          The need for regular inspections of workplaces – it was noted that the HSE had given the County Council a clean bill of health following it spot checks;

·          The significant impact on works planned or already underway

·          The risks associated with maintenance contractors going in to the buildings;

 

In regard to the ongoing works to reduce carbon and improve energy efficiency, Members noted the Smart Campus review underway – looking at what technologies could be implemented to further improve efficiency and the opportunities arising for staff to work in a more efficient way.  It was confirmed that energy efficiency advice and guidance had been made available to staff working from home.  They also noted the continuing work to promote behavioural change.

 

Members queried whether going forward, the County Council had the technology available for holding hybrid meetings, they also questioned what work may be required if the Local Government Review was successful.

 

In response, Jon Holden confirmed that should LGR prove successful, property services would work closely with the District Councils to assess all buildings, and that the benefits that had arisen from  remote meetings e.g. reduction in travel time, the improved experience / attendance of outside bodies and members of the public would feed in to the decision making around future meetings.

 

Members thanked Jon Holden for his update report and it was

 

Resolved – That:

i.     The update be noted

ii.     That a further update be provided in 6 months.

155.

Annual Update on Library Services pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Minutes:

Considered –

 

A presentation from Chrys Mellor - General Manager of NYCC Libraries, providing an overview of their work since April 2020, throughout the Covid pandemic.

 

Chyrs Mellor confirmed:

 

·          The new Library Strategy was approved by Council in July 2020 with its new core priorities of Digital; Literacy & Learning; Health & Wellbeing; and Communities;

·          There were a number of challenges e.g. capacity, skills, and IT kit for frontline staff.  There was also much concern initially about loss of income but most community libraries had since received COVID grants.  There had also been some reluctance to do things online, followed by a fear of re-opening and coming back into the physical spaces;

·          Many volunteers were shielding;

·          Originally, returned books were being quarantined but now they were comfortable with just wiping them clean;

·          At the start of lockdown over 3,500 new members registered;

·          A new library app was introduced in June 2020, making it easier to access the digital library;

·          In November 2020 a new Select & Collect service was introduced, with over 3000 members now registered for the service. It’s success had led to a decision to retain the service post COVID;

·          A Young Adults Group was formed providing online sessions for other young adults across the county;

·          Virtual classes were successfully piloted in the Scarborough area and would be rolled out across the county;

·          Funding was received to pilot some telephone/online reading groups to reduce isolation and support well-being;

·          Libraries had worked with Stronger Communities to deliver a telephone Befriending Service;

·          A number of libraries had received a make-over;

·          Libraries became a drop off point for North Yorkshire’s Reboot Project;

·          142,000 new books were processed;

·          Libraries were open only 41% of the year but by the end of June 2021, opening hours were nearly back to normal;

·          Library priorities had been re-jigged to bring them inline nationally with how can support recovery

 

Chrys Mellor went on give an overview of the lessons learnt -‘Give it a go’; ‘Keep calm’; and ‘Communicate’.

 

Members noted the challenges ahead, which included improving customer confidence, increasing volunteer capacity and volunteer retention, and funding. In order to encourage more donations, they asked that a press release be issued confirming that NYCC was prepared to wipe clean data on IT equipment donated via the Reboot Project. 

 

In regard to volunteers, concern was expressed about the over reliance on their use.  Suggestions were made about alternative routes in to volunteering. Members also queried how residents who were not online, were made aware of all the services provided by libraries, and it was confirmed it was a challenge but often through press releases, radios and word of mouth.  It was noted that the volunteers also acted as advocates for the library service.

 

Members questioned the possibility of residents using a private space within a public library to access and participate in online NYCC meetings e.g. a home to school transport appeal.  It was confirmed that not all libraries had such a space but it was something they could work on.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 155.

156.

Annual Review of Locality Budgets 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 825 KB

Minutes:

Considered -

 

Areport reviewingthe operationof CountyCouncillorLocalityBudgetsin thefinancialyear 2020/21.

 

NeilIrving,AssistantDirector- Policy,Partnershipsand Communities,PolicyPartnerships andCommunities(CSD) introducedthereport, which confirmed the Locality Budgets were in their sixth year.

 

Members were disappointed to note that two County Councillors had not spent any of the budget allocation, and it was confirmed that it was a mixed picture in terms of seed funding, with many not requiring match funding.

 

Resolved–

 

That the reporton theoperationof CountyCouncillorLocalityBudgetsduring the 2020/21financialyearbe noted.

 

157.

Work Programme 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 352 KB

Minutes:

Considered –

 

The report of the Principal Democratic Services and Scrutiny Officer inviting Members to consider the Committee’s Work Programme for the remainder of the 2020/21 municipal year, taking into account the outcome of discussions on previous agenda items and any other developments taking place across the county.

 

County Councillor Mike Jordon drew attention to a recent fire in Scarborough caused by the use of solar battery chargers in vehicles e.g. motor homes and caravans, used to charge equipment.  He agreed he would keep a watching brief on the issue and would report it to Trading Standards if necessary.

 

The Chair agreed to follow up on the Safer Communities item and the lines of enquiry identified earlier in the meeting, and asked that it be added to the work programme for the Committee’s next meeting.

 

Resolved – That the work programme for the next meeting be amended to include the additional item identified.