Agenda and minutes

Policy Development Panel - Tuesday, 4th March, 2014 6.30 pm

Venue: Meeting Room 1, Council Offices, Priory Road, Spalding

Contact: Christine Morgan  01775 764454

Items
No. Item

47.

Safeguarding Awareness Training

 

A need has arisen to raise awareness of the Council’s Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures, in order to be legally compliant with Section 11 of the Children Act 2004.  Emily Holmes (Community Development Team Leader) will give a short training session which will cover the following points:

 

-          Discuss who the policy applies to;

 

-          Learn the basic principles and understand the Council’s duties under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004;

 

-          Learn how to identify abuse; and

 

-          Understand how to report concerns and be able to signpost residents who raise concerns with them.

 

(Please note that an invitation to attend this item has been sent to all members of the Council).

Minutes:

A need had arisen to raise awareness of the Council’s Safeguarding Children Policy and Procedures, in order to be legally compliant with Section 11 of the Children Act 2004.  Emily Holmes (Community Development Team Leader) gave a short training session which covered the following points:

 

-          Who the policy applied to;

 

-          Learning the basic principles and understand the Council’s duties under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004;

 

-          Learning how to identify abuse; and

 

-          Understanding how to report concerns and be able to signpost residents who raise concerns with them as Councillors.

 

 

(Councillors Chandler, Lawton, Sneath and Worth,  Emily Holmes (Community Development Team Leader) and Amanda Taylor (Member Services Officer) left the meeting at 7.05 p.m. after consideration of the above item)

 

 

48.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 53 KB

To sign as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 7 January 2014 (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The minutes of the Policy Development Panel held on 7 January 2014 were approved as a correct record.  

49.

Declarations of Interest.

(Members are no longer required to declare personal of prejudicial interests but are to declare any new Disclosable Pecuniary Interests that are not currently included in their Register of Interests.

 

Members are reminded that under the Code of Conduct they are not to participate in the whole of an agenda item to which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.  In the interests of transparency, members may also wish to declare any other interests that they have, in relation to an agenda item, that supports the Nolan principles detailed within the Code of Conduct.)   

 

Minutes:

There were none.

50.

Questions asked under Council Procedure Rule 10.3.

Minutes:

There were none.

51.

Tracking of recommendations

To consider responses of the Cabinet reports of the Panel. 

Minutes:

There were none.

52.

Items referred from the Performance Monitoring Panel

Minutes:

There were none.

53.

Key Decision Plan pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To note the current Key Decision Plan (copy enclosed).  

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the Key Decision Plan published on 29 January 2014. 

 

AGREED:

 

That they Key Decision Plan, 29 January 2014 be noted. 

54.

Contaminated Land Strategy

Richard Boole (Environmental Protection Manager) to provide a verbal update on the Contaminated Land Strategy as requested by members at the 29 October 2013 meeting of the Policy Development Panel. 

Minutes:

Richard Boole (Environmental Protection Manager) was in attendance to update members on the Contaminated Land Strategy, as requested at the 29 October 2013 meeting of the Policy Development Panel. 

 

Phil Adams (Public Protection Manager) had attended the 29 October 2013 meeting of the Panel to present to members the current Contaminated Land Strategy.  Members were advised that as there were considerable changes to the document that were needed, a full re-write and not just an update to the document was required. 

 

The Chairman of the Panel had requested that a verbal update on the current situation be provided to members of the Panel as it was not anticipated a suitable draft would be complete to present to members. 

 

Members were advised that the authority had been legally obliged since 2004 to have a Contaminated Land Strategy and the current re-write would be the fourth version since that time.  Statutory guidance dictated that the document had set out how the authority was to deal with contaminated and potentially contaminated land. 

 

Members raised the following queries:

 

·        How often was land tested to see what risk of the land was?

 

·        Who monitored if remedial work had been undertaken?

 

·        Was the water table tested on contaminated land?

 

·        Was there any risk to assuming that land was not contaminated?

 

·        What would happen should South Holland come across land that was contaminated and the land owner was not managing it appropriately?

 

·        Did South Holland have any powers to enforce the removal of asbestos from buildings?

 

Richard Boole provided the following responses:

 

  • Land was not tested as a matter of course, however should it be developed as part of the planning process Environmental Health would undertake investigations and make appropriate recommendations;

 

  • Planning and Environmental Health would work together to ensure any work which was required had been undertaken;

 

  • The water table was not monitored however should land be developed for dwellings then the Environment Agency would be contacted to undertake suitable investigations;

 

  • Any planning applications would trigger suitable investigations, so the risk would be minimal;

 

  • Should remedial work not be undertaken by the land owner then the Council were able to serve notice on them, the land would then be added onto the risk register.  There was some financial risk to the authority in fulfilling its duties under the statutory guidance. 

 

  • The removal of asbestos from buildings was not covered under the Contaminated Land Strategy.  If any site where a building was known to have asbestos was void and there was also no sensitive receptor the building would not be subject to any remedial works.  However as with contaminated land, should a planning application be submitted, the site be developed and the subject property was demolished then the land would be considered contaminate, suitable remedial works would then need to be undertaken by the land owner. 

 

AGREED:

 

(a) That the draft Contaminated Land Strategy be added to the Policy Development Panel agenda for the 29 April 2014 meeting; and

 

(b) That any further comments or questions from  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Policy pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To formally consider the updated Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Policy (Report of the Assistant Director Finance (S151) enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received a report by the Assistant Director of Finance and the Revenues and Benefits Transformation Manager, Compass Point Business Services (East Coast) Ltd.

 

Members noted that every year the Department for Work and Pensions provided an allocation of funding to use as Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP). 

 

DHP’s were not payments of benefit and the Council had discretion in how it managed this fund; however it could only award Discretionary Housing Payments to people receiving Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. 

 

Previously DHP could also be awarded to people receiving Council Tax Benefit (CTB), but this ceased when CTB was abolished and replaced by local Council Tax Support from April 2013.

 

The amount of DHP funding from DWP had increased from 2013/14 in order for local authorities to support those people affected by the welfare reforms.

 

DHP was a short term emergency fund, and was not, and should not be considered as, a way around current or future entitlement restrictions set out within Housing Benefit legislation. 

 

South Holland District Council’s policy has been updated to reflect the following key changes : -

 

i)                    Welfare Reform

ii)                  Provision for Universal Credit

iii)                Abolition of Council Tax Support

 

 

Members discussed the Policy and supported the proposed changes.

 

AGREED:

 

That the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) Policy be supported.

56.

Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider resolving that, under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

 

Minutes:

DECISION:

 

That, under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

 

57.

Risk Based Verification (RBV) Policy

To formally consider the Risk Based Verification (RBV) Policy (Report of the Assistant Director Finance (S151) enclosed).

Minutes:

The Panel received a report by the Director of Finance and the Revenues and Benefits Transformation Manager which set out the Council’s Risk Based Verification (RBV) Policy for 2014/15.

 

Members noted that in the early 1990’s the (DWP) Department for Work and Pensions introduced a verification framework for administering Housing and Council Tax Benefit claims.  The approach recommended that local Councils should obtain a substantial amount of documentary evidence and carry out numerous checks and visits before making any payment.  Although this approach was abandoned in 2006, most Councils, including South Holland continued to use at least some of the guidelines from this framework.

 

In 2011, the DWP allowed a limited number of Councils to pilot a different type of scheme to try to reduce fraud and error, based on risk based verification principles for new claims.  This concentrated on the risk profile of each claimant, enabling resources to be targeted at the higher risk groups where most fraud and error would be found.  This is an approach used by many public services as well as businesses in the commercial world.

 

South Holland DC joined the scheme live trials in January 2011; an arrangement supported by DWP.

 

In November 2011, recognising that results from early adopter sites were impressive, the DWP confirmed that the scheme was to be extended on a voluntary basis to all Local Authorities from April 2012.

 

There were requirements for local authority compliance in adopting RBV; this included the requirement to have a policy in place detailing risk profiles, verification standards and the number of claims to be checked.

 

Members considered and supported the policy and noted that the Policy should not be made public due to the sensitivity of its content, as recommended by DWP.

 

AGREED:

 

That the Panel supports the Policy.

 

(Councillor Slade left the meeting at 8.05 p.m. Sharon Hammond and Sonia Linn left the meeting at 8.10 p.m. (the end of the item))

58.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

Minutes:

DECISION:

 

That, under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be re-admitted to the meeting for the following items of business.

 

59.

Spalding Cemetery Extension - Position Statement pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To brief the Panel of the position in respect to the extension of Spalding

Cemetery (Report of the Senior Environmental Services Officer enclosed). 

 

 

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Senior Environmental Services Officer on the Spalding Cemetery Extension – Position Statement. 

 

There was a need to ensure that adequate future provision of grave space existed in Spalding and to avoid grave space in Spalding cemetery being used up before that provision had been sourced. 

 

Spalding Cemetery was reaching its capacity and further burial space was required.  On recent detailed examination of cemetery records and newly located plans it was estimated that based on the present rate of usage there was four years of grave space remaining at Spalding. 

 

The Panel had received a position statement at its meeting on 17 September 2014 and this report detailed further progress to this date.

 

Sports England had raised various points in relation to the cemetery extension which required more attention and possible resources to help resolve.  The Manager at Sport England who had commented on the original application had subsequently vacated his post and some time had been taken for contact to be made with another appropriate officer. 

 

Liaison was now taking place with the appropriate officer in respect of the original comments made.  Sports England had stated that they would give their approval for the use of the site in question as an extension to the cemetery  providing that "equivalent or better replacement facilities currently on the site would be provided elsewhere".  Potential sites had been identified and were being collated for submission to Sports England for consideration. 

 

Discussions were taking place with regard to a piece of land under private ownership which had been identified as having potential to provide further cemetery space in addition too, or indeed instead of, the proposed site.  Initial discussions had taken place with the land owner with a view to having an agreement in principal to make the land available to the council.  Property Services were currently obtaining an independent evaluation of the land whilst awaiting the 'in principle' decision. 

 

A further piece of land under private ownership which was also adjacent to the cemetery had recently been subject to a planning application for housing development, this application had received objections and subsequently had been refused.  A local resident had contacted the Senior Environmental Services Officer with a proposal, working alongside the land owner which would possibly result in the site being offered to the council as part of a land exchange to enable the site to be used as an extension to the cemetery.  Although residents within the area looked upon this option favourably the proposal would have to be examined in detail, should it be offered. 

 

Councillor Casson (Junior Portfolio Holder for Waste Management, Green Spaces and Operational Planning) agreed that should members have any further queries that they please pass them on to him,  he would the collate them for the Senior Environmental Services Officer to respond to. 

Members were keen that further updates on the matter be provided so that the Panel did not lose site of the current situation, the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.

60.

Pay Policy Statement 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 24 KB

To recommend for approval the Pay Policy Statement 2014/15 (Report of the Director of Commissioning enclosed). 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Director of Commissioning on the Pay Policy Statement 2014/015. 

 

Under Section 38 of the Localism Act a pay policy statement was required to be produced annually, this had been a requirement since 2012/2013.  

 

The Pay Policy Statement for a financial year must set out the authority's policies for the financial year relating to:

 

  • The remuneration of chief officers;
  • The remuneration of the lowest paid employees
  • The relationship between chief officers remuneration and that of other officers.

 

The pay policy statement must be approved annually by full Council and was to be considered at its meeting on 2 April 2014.  The Authority is able to amend the policy during the period which it covered.  

 

Members were happy to recommend the Pay Policy Statement 2014/15, subject to a few minor typing errors.  In addition to this members requested clarification on car allowance rates, that the car allowance rates for the Chief Executive and the Assistant Director – Democratic Services was only available up to the 1000 – 1199cc category only, why was this the case.  The Principal Member Services Officer agreed to seek clarification on this matter and inform members accordingly.   

 

AGREED:

 

(a)That clarification be sought on the car allowance rates for the Chief Executive and the Assistant Director – Democratic Services

 

(b)That the Policy Development Panel give full support to the Pay Policy Statement 2014/15 and recommend it for approval at full Council on 2 April 2014.  

 

(Following the meeting the Principal Member Services Officer was advised that South Holland District Council had not adopted the 1200cc and above car allowance rates, therefore the Chief Executive and the Assistant Director – Democratic Services under the Employ of South Holland were only entitled to the 1000 – 1199 cc category only)

 

61.

Policy Development Panel Work Programme pdf icon PDF 41 KB

To consider the Work Programme of the Policy Development Panel (Report of the Assistant Director, Democratic Services is enclosed)

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Assistant Director, Democratic Services that set out the issues that had been identified by the Panel for inclusion in its work programme.  The first appendix to the report detailed the dates for future meetings and the expected agenda items.  The second appendix gave details of the Task Groups that had been identified by the Panel.

 

In considering the future work programme the Chairman raised that the Portfolio Holder had asked whether the Panel would wish to consider the Licensing Policy. The Panel agreed to add it to the work programme.  

 

Members also considered the Leisure Facilities Task Group and noted that Members of the Task Group had agreed to hold their meetings in the day time as this was the time of day most Members could make, however this meant that Councillor Woolf would not be able to attend the meetings. In view of this, the Panel agreed that Councillor Casson would replace Councillor Woolf on the Task Group.

 

AGREED:

 

1.                  That the Licensing Policy be added to the work programme, and

 

2.                  That Councillor Casson replaces Councillor Woolf on the Leisure Facilities Task Group.

62.

Any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent.

 

 

NOTE:            No other business is permitted unless by reason of special circumstances, which shall be specified in the minutes, the Chairman is of the opinion that the item(s) should be considered as a matter of urgency. 

Minutes:

There were none.