Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Declarations of personal and prejudicial interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, any relevant personal and prejudicial interests and discloseable pecuniary interest in any matter to be considered at this meeting.




Deputations (if any)




Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 139 KB




That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 6 August 2014 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting subject to the following amendments:


    (i)        That the first sentence of the second paragraph under minute item 3 be amended to read ‘Councillor Daly asserted that she could not support the plans to close Central Middlesex Hospital Accident and Emergency Department as she been provided with inadequate evidence to make a decision.’


  (ii)        That the comments of Mr Kaye under minute item 7 be amended to include reference to his concern that there was no longer a Scrutiny Committee dedicated to scrutinising the One Council programme.


Matters arising


There were no matters arising.


Closure of A&E at Central Middlesex Hospital pdf icon PDF 356 KB

The Scrutiny Committee will receive an up-date on the arrangements in place for the closure of the A&E unit at central Middlesex Hospital, and Brent changes to related services, to ensure a high quality of health care is accessible to residents.  This will reflect recent concerns raised following  Care Quality Commission inspections at Northwick Park Hospital.  Senior Representatives from the Northwest London Hospital Trust and the CCG will be at the meeting to answer questions.


The Chair advised that the committee had received an update on the closure of the A&E Department at Central Middlesex Hospital (CMH) at its last meeting on 6 August 2014.  However, since that time, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) had published a report following its inspection of Northwick Park Hospital (NPH), and had rated the A&E service as ‘Requires Improvement’. Members had raised concerns about how this affected plans to close CMH A&E and senior health colleagues were present to address members’ queries.


At the invitation of the Chair, Rob Larkman (CO Brent, Harrow and Hillingdon CCGs) introduced the briefing report before the committee which set out the response of the North West London Hospitals Trust (NWLHT) to the CQC report and addressed the implications of the report for plans to close CMH A&E. He explained that the closure of CMH A&E formed part of the Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF) proposals which aimed to improve hospital based services across the whole of North West London. The proposals had been made by medical professionals working in North West London and had been extensively consulted upon in 2012. They had been reviewed and supported by an independent panel of medical professionals and had been agreed by the Secretary of State, who had recommended that in light of concerns regarding safety and sustainability, the CMH A&E department be closed as soon as practicable. Since the publication of the CQC report on NPH, NWLHT together with the CCGs had revisited and reaffirmed the decision to close CMH A&E on 10 September 2014 having concluded that it remained both safe and necessary to proceed.


Chris Pocklington (Deputy Chief Executive of North West London Hospitals Trust (NWLHT)) explained that the findings of the CQC report had been anticipated and were fully supported by NWLHT. He outlined four key themes identified by CQC in relation to NPH A&E; workforce shortages, lack of clinical leadership on the floor, pressure on beds leading to long waiting times, and patient privacy and dignity. In describing planned improvements, he emphasised that NWLHT was of the view that the closure of CMH A&E would enable many of the concerns identified by CQC to be addressed. In closing CMH A&E, staff would be transferred to NPH A&E, increasing the number of consultants and nursing staff available. Prior to the publication of the inspection report, NWLHT had already appointed a team of senior clinicians to lead the A&E department. The ongoing pressure on beds at NPH would be eased by the creation of 20 new beds due to open on the closure of CMH A&E. It was also considered that further benefits would derive from the opening of the new A&E department at NPH later in the year, including improved patient experience.


Rob Larkman concluded the presentation by emphasising that the feedback received from the CQC actively reinforced the decision to proceed with the closure of CMH  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Parking Services Update pdf icon PDF 125 KB

This report provides commentary on some of the services provided by the Council’s Parking and Lighting Service.


Michael Read (Operational Director, Environment and Protection) introduced a report to the committee updating members on the delivery of parking services. He explained that in September 2012, the Executive had agreed to make a raft of changes to the service to modernise delivery, reduce expenditure and provide a platform for future efficiencies. Key to these changes was the development of a new online parking permit database designed to facilitate access to the service via telephone, text and the council’s website, whilst removing counter services. These changes posed no difficulties for adequately capturing the data required for residents’ permits but it was recognised that substantial changes would be required for visitor parking which had operated using scratch-card permits. It had subsequently been agreed that a virtual visitor permit system be implemented and this had been built into the contract specification put to the market. The contract had been awarded to Serco with anticipated savings for the council of up to £850k per annum, predicated on the reduction of Civil Enforcement Officers permitted by the introduction of virtual permit system.


Michael Read acknowledged that there had been significant problems with the initial implementation of the new system and described the work that had been undertaken to address these issues. The committee heard that initial capacity issues for the call centre had led to long call waiting times and a high rate of call abandonment. Members’ attention was drawn to the table at paragraph 5.3 of the report, detailing improvements in call centre performance. Michael Read highlighted that the call abandonment rate had reduced from 26.3 per cent between July and September 2013 to 1.7 per cent between April and June 2014. The average call waiting time had also reduced from 4 minutes 27 seconds to 39 seconds over the same period.


During the subsequent discussion the Committee emphasised that many elderly and vulnerable residents had reported that they had experienced significant difficulties attempting to use the new system. Many of these residents were not computer literate, nor au fait with mobile phone technology and given the difficulties and cost implications associated with registering visitor permits via the call centre, faced significant barriers to accessing the system. Members also noted that the system relied upon residents having the car registration details of a visitor in advance of the visit or being able to quickly arrange the permit on arrival. The committee expressed strong concerns that vulnerable residents who relied upon regular visits from friends, relatives and carers, could become isolated as a consequence of being unable to use the new permit system. Members noted that there had been numerous requests for alternatives to virtual permits to be considered and queried what action had been taken in response. The committee also queried how long a resident had to register a visitor’s car, before a parking ticket could be issued to the vehicle.  Further questions were raised regarding the cost to residents of calling the permit service and whether customer feedback from elderly residents had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Proposed Scope for Scrutiny Task Group on the Pupil Premium pdf icon PDF 100 KB

This report sets out the proposed scope for the Scrutiny task group on the use of the Pupil Premium.  This task group has been requested by the Scrutiny Members in responses to borough priorities to improve attainment for disadvantaged pupils.

Additional documents:


Cathy Tyson introduced a report to the committee setting out proposals for the establishment of a task group on the use of the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG). She explained that the PPG was provided by central government direct to schools as part of the Schools Funding Formula to assist schools in raising attainment of disadvantaged pupils.  The task group had been requested by the members of the Scrutiny Committee in response to borough priorities to improve attainment for disadvantaged pupils.  Members attention was drawn to appendix A to the report which detailed the proposed scope for the task group. Cathy Tyson highlighted that schools were required to report on their use of PPG and there were a number of good sources of data that could be drawn on.


At the invitation of the Chair, Mr Francis addressed the committee. He declared an interest in the item, explaining that he was Chair of Governors at Chalkhill Primary School. Mr Francis asserted that it was important that schools be publically accountable for their use of PPG. He suggested that the task group consider how schools identify pupils who required additional assistance, noting that categories such as eligibility for free school meals were not always indicative of support needs. Mr Francis further proposed that the task group also examine qualitative data regarding the activities undertaken by schools. He advised that holistic activities which aimed to meet emotional as well as academic needs were also very important for a child’s development and attainment. It was emphasised that some enrichment activities did not deliver immediately observable results and that this should be considered when looking at the period of study. Mr Francis also suggested that the task group engage with parents and children to discuss their experiences.


A view was put that teachers should also be directly consulted regarding their insights on the use of the PPG. A member noted that an enhanced focus should be applied to Stonebridge Ward  as it was ranked the 12th most deprived affected children’s ward in London. Councillor Filson added that it would also be important to examine schools who had slightly lesser numbers of pupils eligible for PPG, as they might be less able or less practiced at making the best use of the grant.


Christine Gilbert (Chief Executive) advised that the Brent Schools Partnership should be contacted for their views on the scope of the task group and about how Brent schools can best support each other to make best use of the PPG.


The committee welcomed the additional proposals and agreed that they be incorporated into the scope of the task group.




    (i)        That the scope and time scale for the task group on the use of the Pupil Premium, attached as Appendix A to the report be approved.


  (ii)        That the proposals made by councillors, officers and members of the public during the discussion of the item be noted and incorporated into the scope of the task group.


Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Democratic Services Manager or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 64.