Agenda and minutes

Venue: Boardrooms 3-5 - 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 were received from Councillor Mashari. Councillor Johnson was attending as a substitute member.

2.

Declarations of interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, the nature and existence of any relevant disclosable pecuniary, personal or prejudicial interests in the items on this agenda and to specify the item(s) to which they relate.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made.

3.

Deputations (if any)

To hear any deputations received from members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 67.

Minutes:

None.

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 95 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 7 February 2019 were agreed as an accurate record of the meeting.

5.

Matters arising (if any)

To consider any matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

The Chair advised that a reply had been received to the letter sent to the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) from the Chair and Lead Member for Community Safety. The response from MOPAC would be circulated to the committee.

6.

Chair's Report pdf icon PDF 71 KB

This report includes notes from the chair of the committee on the agenda for the March meeting, including reasons for the selection of topics, as well as on the work of the committee outside of public meetings.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the Chair’s report which included comment on the agenda for the current meeting, reasons for the selection of topics, and detailed the work of the committee outside of public meetings.

 

RESOLVED: that the report of the Chair of the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee be noted.  

7.

Contracts 2023 - Merits & obstacles of bringing services back in-house pdf icon PDF 71 KB

This report examines the process for establishing terms and the merits / obstacles to bringing the Business Rates service back in-house when the existing contract expires and makes recommendations accordingly. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised that the committee would consider this item in two parts: first the committee would review the report from the Strategic Director of Resources regarding the merits and obstacles to bringing the Business Rates Service back in house; secondly; the committee would receive a presentation from the Strategic Director of Regeneration and Lead Member for Environment on a proposed programme of work to design, deliver and integrate a range of front line environmental services due to be recommissioned for implementation in 2023.

 

At the invitation of the Chair, Margaret Read (Director of Brent Customer Services) introduced the report from the Strategic Director of Resources. Members heard that the Business Rates Service and associated IT Support had been retendered, with the contract award made to Capita Business Services Ltd following Cabinet approval on 12 November 2018. The contract was due to commence from 1 May 2019 and was for a period of five years. The report detailed an evaluation of the options for delivering the Business Rates Service, including advantages and disadvantages of in-house, shared service and outsourced delivery models. It was highlighted that a detailed options appraisal had been undertaken in 2017, at which time Cabinet had decided against bringing the service back in-house, noting that this would introduce a number of risks. In particular, as a small, specialist service with a big financial impact, it was prone to resilience issues. A key benefit of outsourcing the service was that it allowed services to be run at a larger scale therefore minimising vulnerability of the service to staff absence. Additionally, to bring the service back in-house would require investment in various specialisms including IT support. It was emphasised that the Scrutiny review was extremely timely as the council was now due to start planning for the next five year period.

 

The committee subsequently questioned whether better use of technology could address resilience issues. Members requested details of the number of businesses in the borough, queried whether relief was still offered for London Living Wage employers and questioned how the council supported the growth through mixed use developments. The committee further questioned whether contractors were incentivised to address hard to reach companies and whether the council made use of civil enforcement officers to aid debt recovery.

 

Responding to the queries raised Margaret Read advised that it was not possible to automate the service due to the complexities involved and the need for judgement in decision-making. The Council’s Finance Department did monitor the number of businesses in the borough and this had not increased, though it was likely that the nature of Brent’s businesses may have changed. Councillor McLennan (Deputy Leader) confirmed that the council continued to offer Business Rates relief to London Living Wage employers. Amar Dave (Strategic Director, Environment and Regeneration) confirmed that the council pursued mixed use developments but also sought to tailor the mixed-use offer as appropriate for specific sites. Margaret Read advised that the council ran a scheme under which the contractor helped identify businesses  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Air Quality Pledges pdf icon PDF 93 KB

This report informs the committee how the Council is progressing with local air quality action plan measures.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jennifer Barrett (Nuisance Control Team Manager) introduced the report on the progress made against the Brent Air Quality Action Plan 2017-2022, noting that the five year plan sought to cut local pollutant emissions from key sources. Provided as an appendix to the report was the Annual Status Report for 2017, which the council was required to provide to the Mayor of London.

 

Jennifer Barrett advised that one of the core objectives had been engagement with the public and schools, advising that  air quality around schools had been identified as an urgent priority. The report detailed a number of projects with schools including a raft of activities being undertaken under the council’s Breathe Clean project. This project built on previous work with schools, including school audits, tailored assemblies and the ongoing schools idling programme, to provide data allowing the council to better estimate exposure of children to poor air quality around Brent Schools. It was intended that by late Spring 2019, the council would have a shortlist of high-priority schools.

 

Outlining another key strand of activity, Jennifer Barrett advised that emissions from construction sites from non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) had the potential to significantly contribute to local pollution. A GLA sponsored programme around inspection of this equipment was now underway and all London boroughs were expected to join at a cost of £4,000 – a sum significantly less expensive than implementing a programme individually. It was intended that the council would join the NRMM action group once arrangements had been confirmed.

 

The Chair thanked Jennifer Barrett for her introduction to the report and invited questions from the committee. Members sought assurance that this was a matter of high priority for the Cabinet and questioned what regular monitoring data was provided to the Lead Member. Members welcomed the initiatives described but questioned what intensive, urgent action was being taken to address those four areas identified at crisis point. The committee emphasised the importance of community engagement and questioned how Clean Air for Brent was being engaged and included in the council’s activities. Members’ sought to understand the role of the Director of Public Health in the council’s response to poor air quality and further questioned the potential impact of the Mayor’s forthcoming ultra-low emissions zone, which only partially included Brent. Questions were raised on whether the Cabinet would challenge the car lobby and what enforcement powers officers had with respect to idling vehicles. The committee further pushed for confirmation of the number of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) issued by the authority for idling. Discussing, the pollution at construction sites, Members questioned what responsibilities developers had to fund mitigating actions to address the pollution caused at their sites and how closely the council worked with developers to achieve carbon neutral developments. Additional questions were raised regarding work with partners such as Transport for London (TfL) to address other significant sources of pollution. In concluding their questioning, Members queried what work was being done to encourage the uptake of more electric vehicles in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Update on initiatives to reduce barriers and increase recycling in flats and flats and above shops pdf icon PDF 72 KB

This report provides clarification of the council’s recycling service, current challenges with regards to increasing recycling and what steps are being taken to develop the best possible recycling service for our residents

Additional documents:

Minutes:

At the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Krupa Sheth (Lead Member for Environment) introduced the report updating members on the initiatives to reduce barriers and increase recycling in flats, advising that Kelly Eaton (Policy, Projects and Support Manager) was in attendance to help address the committee’s queries. Kelly Eaton highlighted that over 50 per cent of Brent’s housing stock was flats and the council worked proactively and creatively, seeking ways to support and achieve better levels of recycling in these properties. Summarising the activities undertaken, Kelly Eaton explained that a large project continued with the Education Team of Veolia, the council’s public realm contractor, which reduced the proportion of general waste bins in flats and increased the number of recycling bins. It had been found that this helped to reduce the amount of contamination of recycling waste, though this remained a key issue for these communal bins. Recycling and waste collection for flats above shops took place twice a day, seven days a week and these residents were no able to collect free recycling bags from libraries. The council was also examining ways of managing food waste flats – as all flats in Brent were now provided with facilities for recycling and recycling separate food waste. 

 

In the subsequent discussion, members welcomed leaflets helping residents to understand what could and couldn’t be recycled but noted that this information needed to be available at the point of use in a very simple and accessible way either on or near the recycling bins. Clarification was sought on the contamination of recycling waste, noting that residents had expressed confusion about why some loads were not collected. The committee further questioned how the assessment was made that recycling matter was being placed in the general waste bins. Turning the discussion to flats above shops, members highlighted the issue of unsightly bags placed haphazardly on pavements for collection, often insufficiently secured, causing spillages. A further query was raised regarding the turnover of tenants in these premises and the difficulties this caused for the work of Veolia’s Education Team. In concluding their questioning members sought an overview of the work undertaken with Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO) landlord licensing and estate agents to ensure that responsibilities around recycling were communicated to all new tenants.  Suggestions were made regarding ways to better communicate and make available information on recycling in Brent including the provision of information on fridge magnets and posters for flats rented out by landlords. A member also noted that the letting website, Zoopla, also provided policy documents for an area if made available to them.

 

Kelly Eaton responded to the issues and questions raised. Members were informed that where contamination was a frequent issue for particular blocks of flats, the information provided to those residents would be tailored to the specific circumstances. Whilst this did include visits to individual flats, posters would also be provided in the bin sheds to identify what could and could not be recycled. Residents would also be informed of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

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 60.

Minutes:

None.