Agenda item

Performance Monitoring Panel Work Programme

To set out the Work Programme of the Performance Monitoring Panel (report of the Executive Manager Governance enclosed).

 

The Panel is also asked to consider the following for inclusion on its Work Programme:

 

a)    In line with a recommendation of the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field Task Group, consider setting up a one meeting, single issue Task Group to ensure the Council remains compliant with Charity Commission Guidance. To be undertaken on an annual basis.

 

b)    Investigating how effective SHDC’s fraud process is within the housing stock (item suggested by Councillor Alcock)

 

c)    Updates on:

 

              i.        The role of Street Scene Enforcement Officers;

            ii.        The role of Environmental Protection Officers, within the context of pest control (suggested by Councillor McLean).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Manager Governance, which set out the Work Programme of the Performance Monitoring Panel.  The Work Programme consisted of two separate sections, the first setting out the dates of the future Panel meetings along with proposed items for consideration, and the second setting out the Task Groups that had been identified by the Panel.

 

A number of particular items for discussion were identified on the agenda and each was discussed as follows:

 

Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field Task Group

 

The original Task Group had commenced its work in February 2014 at the request of the Council, in response to concerns from the Charity Commission about management of the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field that sufficient public benefit was being demonstrated.  The Task Group had concluded that the Council was compliant with the Commission’s Guidance on public benefit, and had also recommended that the Performance Monitoring Panel be invited to appoint a Task Group on an annual (single meeting) basis for the specific purpose of ensuring that the Council remained compliant with Charity Commission Guidance.

 

The Chairman confirmed that this Task Group should be set upon conclusion of the work of current task groups that were undertaking work.

 

Biennial Review of Implemented Planning Decisions

 

The Chairman advised that the tour in respect of the review would be undertaken in September 2016.  Officers would meet with the Chairman to discuss the process and Panel members would be asked to submit suggestions of sites to visit in due course.

 

The effectiveness of SHDC’s fraud process within the housing stock

 

The Chairman commented that fraud within the housing stock was a national issue, specifically in relation to individuals living in Council properties that they were not entitled to, subletting and benefit fraud.  He suggested that the Panel may wish to investigate how robust the Authority’s systems were in this area.  It was agreed that the Place Manager provide the Panel with information on these issues prior to a decision being made with regard to setting up a Task Group.    

 

Environmental Enforcement

 

Councillor McLean had raised a number of issues around the enforcement of environmental issues e.g. littering, dog fouling etc.  Reference was made to recommendations made by the Enforcement Policy (Street Scene) Task Group in November 2008, specifically ‘to implement the robust enforcement objective recommended in the SHDC Street Scene Strategy that all Community and Neighbourhood Services Officers currently operating in an enforcement role are trained and authorised to be generic enforcement officers and deal with street scene issues in both targeted and one off actions’.

 

The Environmental Services Manager was in attendance to explain what had happened since the Task Group had made its recommendations.  The Panel was advised that since then, the Authority had gone through a restructure and a  number of management reviews, the Community and Neighbourhood Services department was no longer in existence and that Environmental Services was now its own department.  In addition, there had also been changes in legislation around enforcement. 

 

A part-time enforcement officer was now in post.  His main priority was fly-tipping, but he also dealt with issues around fixed penalty notices.  There was still a desire by the Authority to continue issuing fixed penalty notices for littering offences.  There had been an increase in the number of notices given out since the Authority had employed a dedicated officer to deal with this issue.

 

The Panel discussed the topic further and the following issues were raised:

 

·         The Chairman commented that due to the changes detailed above, the recommendations from the original Task Group may no longer be appropriate however, the problem still existed and an alternative solution was therefore required.

o   The Place Manager responded that, as part of its work, the Authority’s Transformation Programme would be looking at a review of place services which would include addressing how enforcement in the round was undertaken.  The departments of the Environmental Services Manager and the Environmental Protection Manager had similar issues around enforcement, and common processes to deal with them were required.  How the Authority dealt with all regulatory issues as an organisation had to be considered.  Proposals could be shared with the Panel towards the end of the year, following consultation with staff.

 

·         With regard to fly-tipping, were cameras and/or signs used to deal with this problem?

o   Cameras were sometimes used however care had to be taken and the legal  process involved could sometimes be lengthy.  However, signage to discourage fly-tipping in an area had been used, and had produced good results.  

 

·         How was dog-fouling dealt with?

o   No fixed penalties had been given for dog-fouling – this was a notoriously difficult area to enforce as officers had no powers to compel individuals to provide details of their identity.  However, the Authority’s dog warden was very effective in helping to reduce its incidence.  Posters were also put up in areas where the issue was a particular problem.

 

·         What were the issues in dealing with persistent offenders?

o   For all offences, there were repeat offenders.  They could sometimes be dealt with however there were issues with lone working, the attitudes of individuals and obtaining evidence of who committed the offence.

 

·         Could officers use body cameras to identify offenders, similar to those used by the police?

o   The Place Manager commented that there could be data protection issues involved.

·         Members requested that this issue be looked into.

 

·         Members questioned whether the Authority could be doing more with regard to enforcement.

o   The Place Manager responded that it was doing as much as it could with the resources at its disposal.  The focus needed to be on prevention and education first, before enforcement.  Coordination of efforts amongst officers would also help. 

 

Following consideration of these issues, it was agreed that the Panel be provided with details of how the Authority could improve how it dealt with enforcement issues, through a coordinated Authority-wide approach to enforcement and undertaking of preventative educational measures.

 

AGREED:

 

a)    That both sections of the Panel’s Work Programme, as set out in the report of the Executive Manager Governance, be noted;

 

b)    That a single meeting Task Group to investigate whether the Council remained compliant with Charity Commission Guidance in respect of the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field be set up upon conclusion of the work of the Swimming Pool and Leisure Centre Contract Task Group;

 

c)    That the Panel be provided with information around the Authority’s processes to prevent fraud within the housing stock, prior to a decision being made as to whether to set up a Task Group to investigate this area; and

 

d)    That the Panel be provided with a report detailing how the Authority would undertake enforcement in the future, through a coordinated Authority-wide approach to enforcement and undertaking of preventative educational measures.

Supporting documents: