Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Friday, 3 February 2023 10.30 a.m.

Venue: District Council Chamber, South Lakeland House, Kendal

Contact: Committee Services 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 237 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 04 November 2022 (copy attached).


The Chairman informed Members that the item regarding Financial Reserves referred to at O&S/38 (5) will be provided as a written response to Members following the February meeting.


RESOLVED – That the Chairman be authorised to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 04 November 2022.


Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations by Members of interests in respect of items on this Agenda.


Members are reminded that, in accordance with the revised Code of Conduct, they are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests or other registrable interests which have not already been declared in the Council’s Register of Interests.  (It is a criminal offence not to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest either in the Register or at the meeting.)


Members may, however, also decide, in the interests of clarity and transparency, to declare at this point in the meeting, any such disclosable pecuniary interests which they have already declared in the Register, as well as any other registrable or other interests.


If a Member requires advice on any item involving a possible declaration of interest which could affect his/her ability to speak and/or vote, he/she is advised to contact the Monitoring Officer at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.


No declarations of interest were raised.


Declaration of the Party Whip

In accordance with Rule 17 of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules, any Member who is subject to a party whip on any item must declare the existence and nature of the whip.


No declarations of the party whip were raised.


Local Government Act 1972 - Excluded Items

To consider whether the items, if any, in Part II of the Agenda should be considered in the presence of the press and public.


There were no excluded items on the agenda.


Public Participation

Any member of the public who wishes to ask a question, make representations or present a deputation or petition at this meeting should apply to do so by no later than 0:01am (one minute past midnight) two working days before the meeting.  Information on how to make the application can be obtained by viewing the Council’s Website or by contacting the Committee Services Team on 01539 733333.


(1)        Questions and Representations


To receive any questions or representations which have been received from members of the public.


(2)        Deputations and Petitions


To receive any deputations or petitions which have been received from members of the public.


No questions, representations deputations or petitions were received in respect of the meeting.


Draft Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 127 KB

To consider the Draft Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report 2022/23.

Additional documents:


The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources presented the report and noted that it gave a brief overview of the work of the Committee over the last 12 months. He added that despite it being an unusual year in the lead up to Local Government Reorganisation (LGR), the Committee was still useful and effective as indicated in the later reports to follow. He concluded by highlighting the work of the LGR Task and Finish group which examined and recognised the great work of the Council over years, with the findings passed on to Westmorland and Furness Council.


Members expressed thanks to all officers involved over the years, acknowledging the excellent work done by the committee. Members also expressed well wishes for future Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s under Westmorland and Furness Council.


With regards to the annual report, Members requested that the Task and Finish Group heading be amended to reflect the work done in relation to LGR.


The Chairman informed Members that she had been invited to a meeting later in the month with the Westmorland and Furness Council regarding Overview and Scrutiny, and added that she would be taking the findings of the LGR Task and Finish Group with her. Members requested that she also highlight the importance of partnership working, working with parish councils and the condition of Lake Windermere. The Chairman thanked Members for the suggestions and noted she would be happy to relay any comments through the meeting.


RESOLVED – The Draft Overview and Scrutiny Annual Report 2022/23 be approved for referral to Full Council, subject to the addition of any updates requested.


Review of Effectiveness and Scrutiny Recommendations 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 126 KB

To consider the annual Review of Effectiveness and an update on progress made by Cabinet in implementing the adopted recommendations of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

Additional documents:


The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources briefly presented the report, noting that the detailed checklist was in Appendix 1. He finished by confirming that the report’s conclusion was that the committee remained effective, which he attributed to its skilled and knowledgeable membership.


Members noted that there was a lack of conversation with local health bodies, noting that it was crucial for that kind of information to come through to Members. They conceded that this would be something for Westmorland and Furness Council to pick up moving forward.


RESOLVED – That the following be noted by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee:-


(1)        the findings of the Review of Effectiveness, as attached at Appendix 1; and

(2)        the progress made by Cabinet in implementing the recommendations of the Committee.


Annual Review of the Call-in and Urgency Provisions 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 274 KB

To consider the 2022/23 Annual Review of the Call-in and Urgency Provisions.

Additional documents:


The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources briefly introduced the report, highlighting the list of urgent decisions in Appendix 1.


Members noted the importance of urgent and emergency decisions, in order to resolve matters promptly for the benefit of residents.


RESOLVED – That the following be noted by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee:-


(1)        the contents of the 2022-23 Annual Review of the Call-in and Urgency Provisions; and

(2)        that the report will be considered by Council.


Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report Quarter 3 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 433 KB

To monitor progress against the measures of success as detailed within the Council Plan 2021-2026.

Additional documents:


The Case Management Officer presented the report, noting that it monitored the various activities and services of the Council against the targets set out in the Council Plan.


He noted that performance across services was excellent, citing the processing of Land Charge applications and determination of planning applications as examples. He continued noting that the number of complaints had significantly reduced each month. Finally, he noted that for the third quarter 6 out of 19 risks were above appetite – one of these risks being ‘The cost of living crisis on both the Community and the Council’.


Members noted that there was a lot to be proud of, making particular mention of a recent planning committee decision to grant permission for a homelessness pod at Manna House and more generally the partnership working around the Swarthmoor roundabout.


In response to a request for an update on the Glaxo Smith Kline site, the Director of Customer and Commercial Services noted that it remained a complex matter, and that a detailed examination of the potentially contaminated ground was currently being undertaken. He added that it was vital to ensure that the site would not be a liability for future council tax payers.


Members highlighted the support given to Abbott Hall and noted that the project had completed with the gallery to re-open as soon as the exhibits were back in place. They queried the context for a recent emergency decision to provide a further grant to Lakeland Arts. The Director for Customer and Commercial Services confirmed that he would investigate and feedback a response.




(1)        the Summary of Performance as detailed in the report be noted;

(2)        the detailed risks information contained within Appendix 1 be noted;

(3)        the detailed performance statistics in Appendix 2 be noted; and

(4)        the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has no recommendations for Cabinet.


Poverty Alleviation and Financial Resilience Update pdf icon PDF 222 KB

To receive an update on Poverty Alleviation and Financial Resilience from the Health, Wellbeing and Poverty Alleviation Portfolio Holder.


The Strategy Specialist presented the update report on behalf of the Health, Wellbeing and Poverty Alleviation Portfolio Holder, Cllr Suzie Pye.


He began by reminding Members of the significant impact of the cost of living crisis, which had left people with little disposal income and rising tax and energy bills. He noted that rural communities felt additional pressure due to increased transport costs and less digital connectivity compared to urban areas. He informed Members that the Department for Work and Pensions had announced their latest round of support for January, which included payments for those claiming benefits, those with disabilities and for pensioners to support Winter fuel payments.


The Strategy Specialist continued, noting that analysis from Cumbria County Council showed a growing number of children accessing free school meals, with other families who don’t qualify for the schemes still struggling to pay for essentials. He noted that the County Council currently administered schemes that helped with emergency food support and food and activities for school children over the holidays, however it was clear there remained an unmet demand from those families that weren’t eligible to access the schemes. He was pleased to note that the County Council were allocating various grant monies to Cumbrian schools to support food access and provisions and to establish breakfast clubs and holiday food programmes.


The Strategy Specialist then moved on to talk about the partnership working that the Council was involved in, starting with the Cumbria Cost of Living Crisis Coordination Group (CCLCCG) which met fortnightly to monitor the situation across the County. He suggested that recent indications were that services and funding currently were just about able to meet current demand, however debt and food remained key issues and one issue currently being addressed was the quality and effectiveness of communications to inform residents of support available.


The Strategy Specialist continued, noting that the Council continued to work proactively with partners through the Building Financial Resilience (BFR) Partnership and through County network meetings. He briefly highlighted some of the recent work undertaken, noting that the Council and Cumbria Association for Local Councils (CALC) had produced a cost of living crisis survey which was sent to every council in Cumbria. He noted that there were over 115 responses with 30 from South Lakeland, and the survey revealed a general lack of awareness of the support available. In response to this, the Council along with CALC and Action with Communities in Cumbria had developed and distributed bulletin for local councils with information on how they can support local communities.


He concluded by informing members that both he and the Portfolio Holder had been liaising with the incoming Cabinet member for Westmorland and Furness Council to look at the transition arrangements. He noted that they had been provided with a comprehensive list of the main poverty alleviation work streams and that they had been attending both the CCLCCG and BFR Partnership meetings.


Members gave thanks to the Strategy Specialist and the Portfolio Holder for the useful  ...  view the full minutes text for item O&S/48


Planning Services Update

To receive a verbal update on Planning Services.


The Operational Lead presented the update, noting that it would focus on performance metrics and statutory targets.


He began by informing Members that the Council was moving into a strong position, but conceded that the early stages of the pandemic had seen Planning Services suffer alongside many other services.


He continued, noting that 2021 saw a significant increase in planning applications partly due to the Stamp Duty holiday and was the busiest year in over a decade. As a result of this, private sector recruitment significantly increased and unfortunately key members of the Planning Services team left to take up opportunities in the private sector. The Operational Lead noted that in order to maintain service levels the Council relied on agency staff, but conceded that the quality of service during this period was not up to par.


Looking more recently at 2022/23, the Operational Lead was pleased to confirm that staffing issues had greatly improved, with only 1 agency worker retained to work on a specific project. He added that two apprentices were set to start in September, which showed a commitment to developing talent in-house.


Regarding performance against statutory targets, the Operational Lead noted that the performance was above targets, with 92% of applications determined within the statutory period against the minimum government target of 60%. He continued noting that the number of appeals was also well below the threshold for concern and that 6 recent ombudsman complaints had ruled in favour of the Council.


He concluded by acknowledging that it had been a difficult period for Planning Services, but was pleased to say that there had been significant improvement with a commitment to delivering an even better service moving forward.


In response to a query on the number of complaints received, the Operational Lead estimated around 20-30 complaints on average each year, with the majority being those from residents regarding the impact of an application.


Responding to concerns that the Planning Officers were not local to the area, the Operational Lead confirmed that only one officer didn’t currently live locally, but had previously done so for 3 years. Also, in response to concerns around the transition to Westmorland and Furness Council, he confirmed that an agreement had been reached to fund the existing planning services staff for 12 months in the new authority.


In response to queries regarding the Local Plan, the Operational Lead confirmed that the new Council would have a 5 year window to draw up a new Local Plan, and that work had already begun to look at the key decisions so that the new Council could hit the ground running. Responding to a comment on the incompatibility of current policy with rural development, he added that the new Local Plan would be the perfect opportunity to refresh policies to ensure they reflect the needs of the local area.


Finally, in response to queries on the new structure for planning committees in Westmorland and Furness Council, the Operational Lead confirmed that there would be local  ...  view the full minutes text for item O&S/49


Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee Update

To receive an update on the work of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee from the Council’s representative or substitute.


Cllr Wilson provided a short update on behalf of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee.


He noted that the committee regularly met with officers from NHS Trusts, and they were very candid and confident in reporting on issues faced by various health services.


He spoke briefly on various topics, noting that hospitals were near capacity but not currently overwhelmed, the use of virtual wards within Cumbria and emphasised the importance of technology moving forward.


He expressed a desire for greater communication and involvement with health services moving into Westmorland and Furness Council.


He concluded noting that he felt the area was well serviced, with competent individuals in charge.


RESOLVED – That the update be noted.


Final Overview and Scrutiny Committee Meeting

To delegate authority for the sign-off of final set of committee minutes to the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Chair.


The Chair informed Members that as it was the last meeting of the committee, a delegation would need to be agreed in order to sign off the final minutes. She proposed that the sign-off of the minutes be delegated to the Monitoring Officer in consultation with herself as Chair.


There were no objections to the proposal.


RESOLVED – That authority for the sign-off of the final minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee be delegated to the Monitoring Officer in consultation with the Chair.