Agenda and minutes

Resources and Fire & Rescue Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 15 September 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: John Cole  Democratic Services Officer


No. Item



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Apologies were received from Councillor Martin Watson; Councillor Jan Matecki was present as a substitute. Apologies were also received from Councillor Caroline Phillips and Councillor Andy Jenns (Portfolio Holder for Customer & Transformation).



Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

Members are required to register their disclosable pecuniary interests within 28 days of their election of appointment to the Council. ?Any changes to matters registered or new matters that require to be registered must be notified to the Monitoring Officer as soon as practicable after they arise.


A member attending a meeting where a matter arises in which they have a disclosable pecuniary interest must (unless ?they have a dispensation):


·       Declare the interest if ?they have not already registered it

·       Not participate in any discussion or vote

·       Leave the meeting room until the matter has been dealt with

·       Give written notice of any unregistered interest to the Monitoring Officer within 28 days of the meeting


Non-pecuniary interests relevant to the agenda should be declared at the commencement of the meeting.


The public reports referred to are available on the Warwickshire Web


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There were none.



Chair's Announcements

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There were none.



Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 225 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2021.

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That the minutes of the meeting held on 14 July 2021 be approved as a correct record.


There were no matters arising.



Public Question Time

Up to 30 minutes of the meeting is available for members of the public to ask questions on any matters relevant to the business of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Questioners may ask two questions and can speak for up to three minutes each. To be sure of receiving an answer to an appropriate question, please contact John Cole (Democratic Services) at least two working days prior to the meeting.

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No public questions were received or presented at the meeting.



Questions to Portfolio Holders Relevant to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee

Up to 30 minutes of the meeting is available for the Committee to put questions to the Leader and Portfolio Holders on any matters relevant to the remit of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

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In response to Councillor Boad, Ben Brook (Chief Fire Officer) advised that an increase in the number of fires at industrial sites was evident at both a local and national level and was being closely monitored by Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service (WFRS). He stated that, nationally, a rise in the number of fires occurring at waste and recycling centres had been recorded leading to the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) appointing advisors to support the response to these incidents.


Ben Brook advised that an increased risk of fire had been observed as Pandemic restrictions eased. This was attributable to a change in behaviours during lockdown, including factors such as motorists being out of practice, resulting in road traffic collisions. WFRS was monitoring trends in these areas.


In response to Councillor Boad, Ben Brook advised that prevention work had progressed well as lockdown restrictions had eased. During lockdown, WFRS had been obliged to undertake Safe and Well Checks remotely; it was now possible for fire crews to meet with businesses and the wider public.


The Chair praised the reaction of WFRS to challenging circumstances following a succession of serious fires in the area; they had responded admirably. On behalf of the Committee, he expressed his thanks.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 187 KB

To consider the Committee’s proposed Work Programme and future areas of scrutiny.

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That the Committee agrees the updated 2021/22 Work Programme, as set out in the report, and notes the scheduled future meeting dates.




Council Plan 2020-2025 Quarterly Progress Report - Quarter 1 (April 2021 to June 2021) pdf icon PDF 853 KB

The report is attached.

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Steve Smith (Assistant Director, Commissioning Support Unit) introduced the report, stating that it drew upon information provided to Cabinet on 9 September 2021 in respect of performance against key business measures (KBMs), strategic risks and workforce management. He encouraged members to make use of Power BI, stating that this resource provided a means to examine data in detail, supporting scrutiny objectives.


Steve Smith highlighted some areas of good performance, stating that customer satisfaction levels had exceeded the set target of 85%. This was a positive trend. He reported that there had been a substantial increase in the number of people following the Council’s social media channels. This was attributable to the Authority’s response to COVID-19 and the drive to expand social media coverage and digital communication. The increase in social media followers proved the effectiveness of this response and the change in behaviours observed during the Pandemic.


Steve Smith drew attention to the commentaries attached to each of the KBMs outlined within the report where performance had not reached targeted levels. Improvement measures had been prioritised and detailed work was under way with specific departments to analyse issues affecting performance. He stated that the refreshed performance framework would prioritise continuous improvement to ensure that the organisation was moving in the right direction.


The Chair praised the response of the organisation to the additional pressures brought about by COVID-19, including a considerable uplift in demand for specific services.


In response to Councillor Matecki, Steve Smith advised that KBMs were reviewed on an annual basis, including consideration of relevant factors affecting performance. Performance was monitored by a dedicated team to prioritise continuous improvement. This methodology would inform development of the updated performance framework. He stated that Power BI provided a highly effective means of interrogating data to identify areas where remedial action and investment should be targeted.


Councillor Boad highlighted the importance of Warwickshire Fire & Rescue Service’s commitment to set a target of zero fire-related deaths and fire-related injuries. However, she emphasised that in some remote areas of the County, it was acknowledged that meeting targeted response times was extremely challenging. Similarly, there were instances where response time targets had been met but WFRS had been unable to save the individuals concerned. She emphasised the importance of setting targets that were configured to provide an accurate representation of performance. This was an area being examined by members of the Integrated Risk Management Plan (IRMP) Assurance Panel.


Councillor Crump (Portfolio Holder for Fire & Rescue and Community Safety) emphasised the importance of prevention work, which had progressed well as lockdown restrictions had eased. He recognised that in some instances, WFRS had acted promptly and proficiently but had been unable to prevent a fire-related death; however, it was right for the target to be set at zero. In respect of response times, he advised that rigorous, evidence-based analysis was utilised to determine the locations of fire stations. This provided the best possible means to ensure that WFRS could respond effectively.




That the Committee notes  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Priority Worker Help to Buy Scheme pdf icon PDF 382 KB

The report is attached.

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Rob Powell (Strategic Director for Resources) introduced the report which provided an outline of the concept to establish a Warwickshire Priority Worker Help to Buy (PWHTB) scheme which could be offered for new-build properties built by Warwickshire Property and Development Group (WPDG) on selected sites. The Committee’s recommendations would be progressed to Cabinet ahead of its meeting on 14 October 2021.


Rob Powell advised that the proposed scheme supported the Council’s Recovery Plan objective 7.8: “Working in partnership with Homes England, we will remove the blocks that have prevented some sites in Warwickshire from being developed, providing more and affordable housing whilst also supporting the recovery of our local economy.” He stated that this provided a clear policy context for the introduction of the PWHTB scheme.


Rob Powell advised that the scheme was designed to encourage homeownership and support priority workers with affordable homes. Consequently, it would seek to address recruitment and retention challenges in key areas of the economy, providing a means to attract and retain priority workers in Warwickshire. He stated that, with effective targeting, the scheme would support levelling-up objectives.


Rob Powell stated that the PWHTB scheme constituted an attractive product for prospective homeowners. It offered high loan to value mortgages, lower deposits, and would be available to eligible applicants irrespective of whether they were first time buyers. The criteria were less restrictive than national schemes; it would be attuned to local market considerations.


Rob Powell advised that the scheme would apply exclusively to new build properties built by WPDG and must be the homeowner’s only home. The scheme would not apply to all WPDG developments, a decision would be taken on a site-by-site basis as to whether PWHTB properties could be made available. He stated that financial considerations would limit the extent to which the scheme could be offered. WPDG would assess each site when developing a business plan to ascertain whether availability of help-to-buy homes would support sales and delivery of policy objectives. The Council would then review financial risks and make a site-specific value for money assessment. He stated that a robust decision-making framework would support targeted implementation of the scheme.


Rob Powell reported that the proposal was for the definition of what constituted a ‘priority worker’ to be decided on a site-by-site basis. This enabled flexibility, allowing the scheme to be tailored to and targeted to address local market requirements.


Rob Powell advised that an eligibility cap would be set. This would be based upon household income. A separate maximum price cap would also be set on a site-by-site basis in recognition of the variance in housing markets across Warwickshire.


Rob Powell reported that the PWHTB product was an equity-based loan, meaning that WCC would, in effect, take a share of the property. This tied the loan to the current house value, so if house prices fell, the loan would reduce in value. If house prices increased, the value of the loan would rise proportionately. He advised that an interest-free equity loan  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Customer Feedback Overview Report pdf icon PDF 164 KB

The report and appendix are attached.

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John Findlay (Service Manager, Business and Customer Support) introduced the report, the purpose of which was to provide an overview of the organisation’s performance in responding to customer complaints, including outcomes and timeliness of complaints processing. The report identified areas of principal concern to customers alongside details of complaints upheld (partially or fully), where an apology or compensation had been provided, and details of cases forwarded to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO).


John Findlay advised that information captured using the Authority’s ‘Contact Us’ system provided a means to categorise complaints and identify areas where learning from feedback could be derived. He stated that during 2020/21, the proportion of complaint cases resolved within the agreed Service Level Agreement (SLA) timeframe was 77.77%. This surpassed the 70% target. He reported that the proportion of complaints received through digital channels had increased during 2020/21.


John Findlay stated that an examination of the reasons for complaints showed three areas which constituted 90% of all complaints received. Of this amount, 8% related to WCC service standards; 9.5% related to the physical environment; and 69% related to communication. This provided a clear focus for the Customer Relations Team. He advised that an analysis of findings, with input from ICT and Business Intelligence, had provided a means to utilise customer feedback to seek improvements. The Customer Experience Strategy offered a means to accomplish this, including a project examining schools admissions systems which had shown good results.


In response to Councillor Roberts, John Findlay advised that complaints received outside of digital channels (for example by a letter or telephone call) were transferred to the ‘Contact Us’ system to enable comments to be captured, recorded, and tracked.


Councillor Kaur (Portfolio Holder for Economy and Place) praised the work undertaken by Business and Customer Support, stating that impressive progress had been made since 2018 when it was resolved to undertake in-depth analysis of customer feedback. She stated that there was a need to listen to residents’ concerns and respond positively.


Councillor Tromans highlighted the improved response rate of complaints managed within required timescales in 2020/21. He acknowledged the considerable effort required to achieve this level of progress.


In response to Councillor Tromans, John Findlay advised that where it was considered that in-depth analysis was required to resolve a complaint, the Customer Relations Team would work closely with the relevant service area. This provided a means for service level risk registers and practices at a local level to be updated. Previously, the Customer Relations Team had taken a less prominent role in this process. The current arrangement provided improved support for service areas.


In response to Councillor Boad, John Findlay advised that the Marketing and Communications Team monitored and responded to complaints received on social media. Should an official complaint be received via social media, it would be referred to the Customer Relations Team.


Rob Powell (Strategic Director for Resources) stated that an opportunity was present to develop links between social media and customer feedback processes. Social media  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Any Urgent Matters

At the discretion of the Chair, items may be raised which are considered urgent (please notify Democratic Services in advance of the meeting).

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The meeting rose at 15:25.