Agenda and minutes

Venue: Boardrooms 4-6 - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ. View directions

Contact: Bryony Gibbs, Governance Officer  020 8937 1355; Email: bryony.gibbs@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence and Clarification of Alternate Members

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Aden. Councillor Choudhary was substituting for Councillor Aden as a member of the committee.

2.

Declarations of Interest

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, any relevant disclosable pecuniary, personal or prejudicial interests in the items on this agenda.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on 11 July 2017 as an correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 11 July 2017 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.

4.

Brent Outcome Based Reviews (OBRs) Update pdf icon PDF 621 KB

For Members to consider an update on the outcomes and learning from the Council’s first three Outcome Based Reviews (OBRs).

Minutes:

Fiona Kivett and Sadie East (Change Managers) delivered a presentation to the committee which detailed the outcomes and learning from the Council’s first Outcome Based Reviews (OBRs) and described the progress of three new OBRs established in 2017. The committee heard that OBRs were underpinned by design methodology and involved working with a wide range of stakeholders to re-imagine ways of working and jointly develop and test solutions.  The first OBRs had been carried out in 2016 and had focussed on Housing for Vulnerable People, Employment Support, and Welfare Reform and Regeneration. The OBRs had generated a number of ideas in response to the key insights from community research. These had included the design and testing of a community hub model in Harlesden and a number of new projects such as a single homeless assessment pathway, commissioning short term accommodation and redesigning disabled related adaptations processes from a customer perspective. The new OBRs focussed on Domestic Abuse, Edge of Care and Gangs. These were currently at the information gathering ‘discover’ phase and next steps would include undertaking more community and professional research. Following this the OBRs would progress to the developing and testing stage.

 

In the subsequent discussion the committee questioned how the subject-focus of the OBRs were selected, how decisions were made about who should be consulted, including whether particular demographics or communities should be targeted and how and by whom the interface with people was managed. With regard to the Domestic Abuse OBR, the committee strongly emphasised the importance of early intervention and raised several related queries, particularly questioning how early intervention initiatives could be progressed. The committee fully supported the discussion of this issue in schools, highlighting the dual benefit of helping to prevent children becoming perpetrators in the future and helping to identify children experiencing domestic abuse at home.  Members noted that the focus of outreach and policy tended to be on the victims of Domestic Abuse and on women in particular and suggested that the OBR extend that focus to include men. Discussing the OBR on gangs, the committee queried whether gang activity had increased in Brent, how the council currently worked to tackle this issue and how the outcomes of the OBRs would be monitored to assess their effectiveness.

 

Responding to the queries raised, Fiona Kivett explained that support was provided by a range of services and agencies in identifying key stakeholders, who in turn were engaged when research plans were developed. The change team had been trained in community research techniques, including ethnographies. Experience had revealed that one of the best approaches was to carry out interviews and discussions in partnership with trusted members of the community. The change team also signposted interviewees to sources of support. Councillor Miller (Lead Member for Stronger Communities) advised that the stakeholder base included third sector organisations and partnerships which were already engaging with people affected by the issues under consideration.

 

Addressing the importance of early intervention, Sadie East advised that the research for the Domestic Violence  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Follow Up Review on Brent High Street Initiatives pdf icon PDF 170 KB

This report contains:

 

           An analysis on how have the town centre managers performed since being appointed;

           An analysis of how the Digital High Streets project is performing; and

           A report on how uniformed litter patrol officers are performing after being brought in-house.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Growth, Employment and Skills) and Southwood (Lead Member for Environment) presented a report from the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Environment which provided a performance analysis of the newly recruited town centre managers, the digital high streets project and the in-house uniformed litter patrol service. It was noted that Members of the committee had undertaken a site visit to Harlesden high street to support their scrutiny of the various Brent High Street Initiatives and that two Town Centre Managers Grace Nelson and Rubina Charalambous were in attendance at the meeting to aid discussion.

 

The committee discussed the report and questioned how a place-based approach avoided becoming Wembley or Harlesden centric. Members sought further information on the establishment of Business Improvement Districts (BID) and the process of selecting areas appropriate for these. Questions were raised regarding the role of the Town Centre Managers and whether performance indicators for these positions included street cleanliness. Noting the excellent work being done by the Town Centre Managers, a member queried whether there was a greater focus on strategic rather than practical developments. The committee further queried whether the intention was to extend the provision of town centre managers to more areas of the borough.

 

Discussing the uniformed litter patrol service, a member commented that the deployment of the team was not sufficiently ambitious, should be more imaginative and that there should be a street cleanliness performance indicator. Another member of the committee queried what would be required to support the expansion of the team. Questions were raised regarding the disparity between the number of fixed penalty notices issued and those paid and what actions could be taken to improve the timeliness of payments. Further queries were raised regarding the hours of operation and the responsibility for educating residents on appropriate waste disposal. An update was sought regarding the task group recommendation on local community champions. Clarity was sought regarding the level of investigations undertaken into illegally dumped waste, the use of signs and other advertising to emphasise a strong message against this offence, and collaboration with teams dealing with landlord licensing.

 

In response to the queries raised, Councillor Tatler emphasised that the town centres were defined within the strategy approved by Cabinet. This strategy set out seventeen town centres in total, with nine priority areas identified as most in need of support. Other areas were recognised as running effectively without council assistance, though support would be provided where required. Matthew Dibben (Head of Employment, Skills and Enterprise) advised that interest in BIDs had been expressed by a number of associations and the viability of these would be explored. Councillor Tatler emphasised that strengthening the infrastructure of Town Centres made those centres more viable for BIDs.

 

Addressing members’ questions on Town Centre Managers, Councillor Tatler explained that an important part of their role was to establish relationships with businesses and identify issues affecting their respective areas. The Town Centre Managers explained that issues were logged daily, often relating to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Update on Recommendations of S106 and Community Infrastructure Task Group pdf icon PDF 90 KB

In early 2016 a S106 and Community Infrastructure Task Group was commissioned by the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee.  It made its recommendations to the Scrutiny Committee on 12th July 2016.  These recommendations, subject to three modifications, were accepted by the Scrutiny Committee. This report sets out progress against the modified recommendations.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised that the report before the committee set out the progress made against the recommendations of the Section 106 and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) Task Group, as modified by the committee at its meeting on 12 July 2016. The report presented a Red/Amber/Green assessment: thirteen actions were categorised as green, ten as amber, one as red and one, ‘not applicable. Councillor Tattler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Growth, Employment and Skill), Amar Dave (Strategic Director, Regeneration and Environment) and Alice Lester (Head of Planning Transport and Licensing) were present to address the committee’s queries.

 

The committee discussed the report. A member commented on the lack of clarity around CIL and sought confirmation of the officer lead for this area. Questions were raised regarding the possible uses and restrictions of S106 and CIL spending and clarity was particularly sought regarding paragraph 3.14 of the report. It was queried how the recommendations of the report accorded with the Council’s planning objectives.

 

Responding to the committee, Alice Lester advised that CIL fell within her remit as Head of Planning. Policy on CIL was developed in discussion with the Lead Member for Regeneration, Growth, Employment and Skill and the Strategic Director, Regeneration and Environment, within the context of legislative arrangements.  A report would be submitted to the Cabinet in the coming months on this matter. Councillor Tatler confirmed that Neighbourhood CIL had a named officer and that work on Strategic CIL was ongoing with a focus on mitigating the impact of developments and aiding growth. Alice Lester highlighted difficulties of recruiting to positions within the S106/CIL and Planning Policy teams and advised that the positions had been reviewed and re-advertised via professional networks. Councillor Tatler detailed the restrictions around CIL and S106 spending and emphasised that these monies must not be viewed as a way of filling gaps in the revenue budget.   Alice Lester further advised that CIL was only meant to be a contribution to the cost of infrastructure and difficult choices would need to be made about how best to direct these funds. It would be important to anticipate areas of future growth to try to improve infrastructure in advance of development and to identify how best to mitigate the impact of current and future growth. 

 

Councillor Stopp reported that the leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council had stated that they would be using CIL contributions to fund the building of affordable housing. The Lead Member and Officers present advised that legislation prohibited the spending of CIL on affordable housing. In view of Councillor Stopp’s assertion, Members and Officers were asked to contact their counterparts in Hammersmith and Fulham to clarify if and how CIL contributions were being used to fund affordable housing.

 

Members subsequently requested that the following be provided to the committee before the next meeting: a briefing paper regarding the monies generated by the Community Infrastructure Levy, expanding on paragraph 3.14 of the report; information on whether the net CIL contribution per dwelling of £8,200 against the delivery  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Update on the Devolution of Business Rates Task Group pdf icon PDF 54 KB

This report provides an update to the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee on progress of the recommendations made by the Devolution of Business Rates Task Group in November 2016.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Davidson (Chair, Devolution of Business Rates Task Group) advised that the Task Group had created a productive report which had been fully endorsed by Cabinet. It was highlighted that the Devolution of Business Rates had been delayed, however, the policy of encouraging business had not. Of the task group’s recommendations, there remained a number of powerful actions for Brent’s businesses. Councillor McLennan (Deputy Leader) further explained that in preparation for the anticipated devolution of business rates, London’s local authorities were considering pooling business rates to provide a level of financial stability across the region. For Brent, this would ensure an additional £4million in 2018/19 and a further £4.8million the following year. A report on this matter was due to be submitted to Cabinet. Althea Loderick (Strategic Director Resources) and Ravinder Jassar (Head of Finance) were also present to address member’s queries.

 

A member subsequently questioned how the council addressed attempts by business owners to avoid paying business rates by dividing businesses into separate parts. Further queries were raised regarding the increased use of Wembley Stadium, how this affected the Stadium’s Business Rates, the Stadium’s current rateable value and whether there were any discounts or relief applied. The committee questioned whether Planning Policy would change to reinforce a desired mix of residential and business use in developments. Considering the recommendations of the task group in detail, members emphasised the value of having a named lead member responsible for Business Rates and highlighted that more could be done to enhance local partnerships. Members further questioned whether the apprenticeship scheme could be extended to the Football Association (FA), the target for the number of residents in the scheme and why the scheme was most prevalent in the Wembley area. Queries were also raised regarding the role of Brent Business Boards in attracting business to the borough.

 

In response, Ravinder Jassar confirmed that there was no evidence to suggest that business owners were dividing their business to avoid paying business rates, though assured the committee that this issue would be examined. The increased use of Wembley Stadium did not affect the level of business rates payable as this was based on the rateable value of the property. Althea Loderick outlined the rateable value of Wembley Stadium. In April 2016, this had been £6,200,000 and had risen to £7,800,000. The original rateable value for the Stadium in 2010 had been £10,000,000 but this had been reduced in 2011. Althea Loderick advised that she would liaise with the Valuation Office to ascertain the reasons for this reduction. Councillor Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Growth, Employment and Skills) advised that Brent’s Planning Policy currently emphasised mixed residential and business developments.

 

Councillors McLennan and Tatler confirmed that the practicalities of business rates fell within the portfolio of the former, whilst responsibility for business growth sat with the latter. A dedicated portfolio could be created if deemed necessary going forward. Matthew Dibben (Head of Employment, Skills and Enterprise) advised that a Brent Business Board was launched in November  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Any Other Urgent Business

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

Minutes:

None.

9.

Date of the Next Meeting

The next scheduled meeting of the committee is on 7 November 2017.

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for 7 November 2017.