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:

Councillor Colwill advised that he was attending in place of Councillor Kansagra, who had submitted apologies for the meeting.

 

Councillor Ketan Sheth, a member of the Budget Scrutiny Panel, had also submitted apologies for the meeting.

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.

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 242 KB

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

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the previous meeting held on 5 September 2018 be 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:

There were no matters arising.

6.

Chair's Report pdf icon PDF 71 KB

The attached paper includes notes from the chair of the committee on the agenda for the January meeting, including reasons for the selection of topics, background research carried out by members of the committee in advance of the meeting and some changes to meeting dates.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the Chairs report which included comment on the agenda for the current meeting and arrangements for the next meeting on 7 February 2019, which had been postponed from December 2018.

 

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

7.

Knife Crime Task Group Scoping Paper pdf icon PDF 81 KB

This report proposes the establishment of a members’ scrutiny task group to review knife crime in Brent.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A report proposing the establishment of a Task Group on Knife Crime was considered by the committee. The purpose of the task group would be to gain a better understanding of knife crime in Brent and of how interventions could reduce knife crime. A full scoping paper for the task group and terms of reference were attached as appendices to the report. These detailed that  the task group would review the links between knife crime and gangs in Brent; review partnership working arrangements with regard to a public health approach to knife crime; and, review what needed to be done locally to complement the wider London approach.

 

The report explained that the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee fulfilled the role of the Crime and Disorder Committee for the purposes of Section 19 of the Police and Justice Act 2006. In this capacity, the committee could review or scrutinise decisions made and actions taken by responsible authorities with regard crime and disorder functions. It was intended therefore that the task group investigate the work undertaken by the Community Safety Partnership as a whole and the final recommendations would be made to the Partnership via Full Council in accordance with the powers of the Crime and Disorder Committee and the council’s constitution. 

 

Chris Whyte (Operational Director, Environment Services), Karina Wane (Head of Community Protection), Superintendent Louis Smith (Metropolitan Police) and David Evans (Partnership Manager, St Giles Trust) were present to address the committee’s queries.

 

In the subsequent discussion, members questioned what steps would be taken to engage with victim’s families and victim support in Brent and whether the task group would consult ex-gang members and offenders. The committee also questioned whether the task group would explore the use of a social housing panel for at risk youths.

 

David Evans advised that the St Giles Trust worked with young people affected by serious youth violence or gang crime. He outlined the range of support and activities provided by the St Giles Trust and explained that since the services were commissioned in April 2017, they had worked with 49 young people. In response to members’ comments regarding consulting victims and perpetrators, David Evans emphasised that often perpetrators of knife crime had been victims of knife crime in the past.  Karina Wane added that the St Giles Trust also provided wrap around support with families and that many of the frontline workers had lived experience of the issues at hand. It was emphasised that any work the task group undertook with ex-offenders would be subject to safeguarding considerations.

 

Karina Wane confirmed that housing was a significant issue as many of the young people affected by knife crime were at risk in the area where they lived. This was a pan-London issue. Superintendent Louis Smith recommended that the task group may wish to escalate issues to the Mayor and the new Serious Violent Crime Unit with regard to potential cross borough funding for relocating families at risk.

 

Councillor Kabir (proposed Chair of the Task Group)  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Budget Scrutiny Panel Report pdf icon PDF 88 KB

This report set out the findings and recommendations of the Budget Scrutiny Panel.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the report of the Budget Scrutiny Panel, which had been convened following the publication of the Cabinet’s draft Budget proposals for 2019/20 and 2020/21 in October 2018 and comprised members from the council’s three Scrutiny Committees. The Chair highlighted that he had chaired the Budget Scrutiny Panel and explained that the Panel had met with Cabinet members, the Chief Executive, Chief Financial Officer as well as Strategic Directors, and Operational Directors from the council’s five departments: Chief Executive’s; Resources; Regeneration, Growth and Environmental Services; Community Wellbeing, and Children and Young People. The purpose of the panel was to scrutinise the Cabinet’s plans and offer suggestions and amendments to improve the proposals where appropriate. In particular, the Panel focused on the Budget proposals set out in appendices to the Cabinet report of 15 October 2018,  which had been divided into four categories: recommended, difficult, very difficult and most difficult.

 

The committee’s attention was drawn to the 32 recommendations of the Budget Scrutiny Panel, set out in the attached report, along with the detailed explanation of each proposal.

 

The Chair advised that Councillor McLennan (Deputy Leader) was present, with Ravinder Jassar (Head of Finance) to help address any questions the committee may have.

 

Councillor McLennan advised that since the publication of the Cabinet’s budget proposals, internal discussions within the Labour Group had determined that certain proposals would not be taken forward at the current stage, including 15 minute care visits and the reduction of library opening hours. Commenting on the recommendations of the Budget Scrutiny Panel, Councillor McLennan confirmed that these all appeared viable suggestions and would be given careful consideration by the Cabinet. The committee was subsequently reminded that the public consultation on the budget proposals did not conclude until 31 January 2019.

 

In the subsequent discussion the committee raised a number of queries. Members sought assurance that if any of the budget proposals had negative unintended consequences following their implementation Cabinet would review the decision and explore alternative options, including reinstating the original service. A Member particularly welcomed the proposal of the Budget Scrutiny Panel that every proposal be subject to an equality impact analysis and questioned whether the council had sufficient officer capacity to undertake such action.

 

Questions were then raised regarding whether Britain’s impending exit from the European Union had yet had any discernible effect on the council tax and business rates base line for the borough. The committee sought assurance that the council’s council tax support scheme would be safeguarded moving forward. The committee highlighted that neighbourhood CIL funds could be used in a more coordinated and strategic way, noting, by way of example, that residents were currently encouraged to bid for funds to replace and plant street trees on an individual/street-by-street basis. Further queries were raised regarding the additional funding provided by central government to repair roads and the progress achieved in raising funds for the borough of culture programme. Members emphasised that the council needed to be mindful that funding provided to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Consultation on the Draft Brent Local Plan pdf icon PDF 98 KB

The report details progress with the development of the council’s new Local Plan and provides access to the results of initial public consultations.  It sets out the plans for further consultation.

 

Minutes:

The Chair advised that in preparation for the current meeting members of the committee had met with officers to discuss the Brent Local Plan. The meeting had been very useful and the issues discussed expansive. At the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning) introduced the report to the committee, which provided an overview of the development of the council’s new Local Plan, the results of initial public consultation and plans for further consultation. Members were advised that Alice Lester (Head of Planning, Transport and Licensing), Paul Lewin (Team Leader, Plan Making) and Rob Krzysowski (Spatial Planning Manager) were also present to discuss the report and address members’ questions. 

 

The report detailed that Brent’s Local Plan needed to be updated to reflect changes to national policy, the London Plan and Brent’s latest aspirations. This process had commenced in summer 2017 and thus far there had been three separate phases of consultation: 1) pre-issue of Brent Local Plan Issues and Options during 2017; 2) Brent Local Plan Issues and Options Feb 2018; and 3) Brent Local Plan Preferred Options Nov 2018. This latter consultation had closed on 3 January 2019. There had been a good response to the consultations in terms of number and quality. The plan’s content was extensive and as such the responses diverse. The next stages of consultation were anticipated to be publication in summer 2019 (a statutory stage required for a minimum of six weeks) and examination in autumn 2019 including proposed modifications arising from representations made during the previous consultation stage and the Inspectors feedback.

 

In the subsequent discussion the committee questioned whether the Plan anticipated future trends regarding employment and skills shortages and how it supported the provision of high value jobs for Brent residents. With regard to the Carbon Offset Fund, members questioned what opportunities there would be to achieve carbon offsetting in Brent. Queries were raised regarding inter-departmental consultation in the development of the Local Plan. Members welcomed the focus on design and place-making to reduce poverty and social exclusion and questioned whether organisations such as Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and more widely, wildlife and environmental organisations, had been engaged. Members further queried whether officers would pursue themed consultations with regard to environmental issues and sustainable transport. It was queried how the council’s key partners would be engaged to have ownership in supporting the delivery of the Local Plan. 

 

Responding to the queries raised, Councillor Tatler explained that the new London Plan had identified Brent as a borough that should seek to provide further industrial capacity. One of the ways in which this would be achieved would be through developments with mixed use, including residential, commercial and open spaces. Highstreets and Town Centres would be supported and digital connectivity would be improved across the borough. Rob Kryzsowski added that helping start-up businesses in affordable workspace, working with the colleges and improving and promoting the borough’s good links to Park Royal, Heathrow and via the proposed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Affordable Housing Task Group Report pdf icon PDF 78 KB

This report set out the findings and recommendations of the Affordable Housing Task Group.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Nerva (Chair of the Affordable Housing Task Group) introduced the report advising that the task group had sought to  gain an understanding of the barriers and solutions to affordable housing delivery. Members and officers were thanked for their contribution to the work of the task group and the committee’s attention was drawn to the recommendations set out in the task group’s report. Councillor Nerva emphasised that the key message to come out of the task group’s work was that the council needed to continue to work really hard to identify places where affordable housing could be delivered and that this would often depend on cross-subsidy from private market housing.

 

The committee welcomed the report of the task group.  A member sought clarity on the council’s position with regard to combining smaller properties to provide the larger or specially adapted units needed to meet housing needs. Councillor Tatler advised that combining smaller affordable dwellings was difficult to support due to the significant overall need for affordable dwellings.  In addition, family housing was what was predominately needed in Brent and as such, the council had a policy requirement to secure 25% of new dwellings across the Borough as family sized homes and new homes were required to meet accessible and adaptable standards set out in the London Plan and Building Regulations.. Speaking on the South Kilburn Regeneration, Councillor Tatler noted that it had been possible to incorporate needs of council tenants with specific vulnerabilities into the design of the properties.

 

During the discussion the committee requested the following information:

 

-       An overview of the council’s policy on combining existing properties to meet housing needs.

 

RESOLVED:

 

i)     That Cabinet note the committee’s endorsement of the report and recommendations of the Affordable Housing Task Group;

 

ii)    The Cabinet note and consider the committee’s additional proposal that plans for new housing developments take into account the known needs for people with disabilities awaiting housing provision;

 

iii)   The committee expressed its thanks to the individuals and organisations that contributed to the work of the task group and directed that they be provided with a final copy of the report.

 

11.

Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 80 KB

The updated committee work programme is attached for members consideration and approval.  

Minutes:

The committee noted the updated work programme.

12.

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.