Agenda item

Report from Chairs of Scrutiny Committees

To receive reports from the Chairs of the Council’s Scrutiny Committees in accordance with Standing Order 36.


13.1    Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee


Councillor Kelcher (as Chair of the Scrutiny Committee) provided Council with the following update on the work of the Scrutiny Committee since the last report to Council on 18 September 2017:


·                Members of the Committee had spent a significant amount of time reviewing the Council’s budget consultation proposals with the report produced due to be appended for consideration with the final budget report at the February Council budget setting meeting.


·                Outside of the budget scrutiny the Committee had also commenced a review of recycling activity within the borough.  The initial findings had shown that recycling rates across London as a whole were starting to flat-line which Members had felt required consideration of a different approach towards the way in which waste was measured and dealt with in order to reduce the impact on landfill.  The review had included a visit to the Abbey Road Civic Amenity site where Members had examined the relationship between Brent and the West London Waste Authority, witnessed a mattress mountain and also the problems caused in having to deal with unseparated waste.


In order to reduce landfill, Members had identified a need for earlier intervention alongside greater education around recycling and re-use and where appropriate the use of more compulsory measures.  The Committee were also keen to look at ways of promoting more use of the existing “Can you recycle me” App.


·                The Committee had also undertaken a review of Trading Standards, given the important and valued role of the service in protecting local residents.  Members had met with Trading Standards Officers (which was a shared service operated jointly with the London Borough of Harrow) and amongst the issues considered had been the potential to introduce a spend to save rationale for the service.


·                Finally he advised Members that the Committee had also started to look at development of the Council’s Digital Access Strategy with the potential already identified in a number of areas to provide a more cost effective and efficient delivery of services.


13.2  Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee


Councillor Ketan Sheth (as Chair of the Scrutiny Committee) provided Council with the following update on the work of the Scrutiny Committee since his last report to Council on 18 September 2017:


·                As part of the scrutiny functions role in reviewing any significant changes proposed to the provision of health services within the borough the Committee had held a special meeting to consider Brent Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) planned changes to the GP extended access service.  Whilst recognising the issues with the existing service, a number of concerns had been raised which resulted in a number of recommendations.  These had included the need for consideration to be given to some form of transitional arrangements for unregistered patients; further consideration to be given to transport and disabled access at the proposed hub and also for NHS England to enable the early introduction of an on-line booking system for patients wanting to access the service.  Given the value placed on GP services by local residents the Committee would continue to monitor and update Council on the development and introduction of these service proposals.


·                Another significant area of work identified by the Committee had been around the action being taken to address the levels of childhood obesity in the Borough.  It was reported that Brent had the highest levels of childhood obesity across London with 45% of Year 6 children classified as either overweight or obese.  As a result the Committee would be meeting with the Director of Public Health, Director of the CCG and Cabinet Member to consider the measures being taken to address what was recognised as a complex problem.  Amongst the issues to be considered were the approaches being taken to the promotion of healthy food and lifestyles, physical activity and sport alongside steps to encourage the reduction in consumption of sugary snacks and drinks.  Given the importance of this issue he advised this would also be a matter on which Council would be kept updated.


13.3  Housing Scrutiny Committee


Councillor Long (as Chair of the Scrutiny Committee) provided Council with the following update on the work of the Scrutiny Committee since her last report to Council on 18 September 2017:


·                The Committee at its last meeting in January 2018 had undertaken a detailed look at the Housing Revenue Account proposals in relation to the rents charged at the Lynton Close Travellers site.  Members were supportive of the significant reduction in rent charges being recommended, which it was hoped would assist improve collection rates and as a result enable further investment and improvement to the site amenities.


·                Members were advised that the Committee had now completed their Task Group review on Fire Safety with the report now approved for consideration by Cabinet.  The focus of the review had been on improving fire safety in low rise properties rather than tower blocks with, as an example, residents encouraged to consider basic steps such as the installation and maintenance of smoke alarms.


·                The Committee had also held its first review session with a Register Provider having invited Metropolitan Housing Trust to their last meeting to respond to questions on how they dealt with issues raised on repairs and other performance related matters.  One of the issues identified had been the lack of any distinct process for dealing with issues raised on behalf of residents by ward councillors which would be a matter explored in more detail with other Registered Providers as they were invited to attend the Committee.  Members were advised that Genesis would be attending the Committee’s next meeting.


·                Another issue reviewed by the Committee had been the management of scaffolding installation across the borough.


Councillor Long concluded her update by advising the Committee were looking forward to working with the two newly appointed tenant and leaseholder co-optees on the Committee following their formal confirmation as members earlier in the meeting.


The Mayor thanked each of the Scrutiny Chair’s for their updates and it was RESOLVED that the content of each of their reports be noted.

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