Agenda and minutes

Resources and Fire & Rescue Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 7 June 2023 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 2, Shire Hall. View directions

Contact: Andy Carswell  Democratic Services Officer


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The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, particularly the new Committee members who were attending for the first time.



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Apologies were received from Councillor Wallace Redford. Councillor Tim Sinclair was attending as a substitute.


Disclosures of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

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Chair's Announcements

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There were no announcements from the Chair.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 111 KB

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The minutes of the meetings held on 22 February 2023 and 16 May 2023 were agreed as a true and accurate record.


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 Andy Carswell (Democratic Services) at least two working days prior to the meeting.

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There were no questions from members of the public.


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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There were no questions to portfolio holders.


OSC Customer Feedback 22/23 pdf icon PDF 369 KB

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The Chair reminded members that a revised report had been circulated with the most up to date information, and thanked officers for providing the latest version.


Craig Cusack (Assistant Director, Enabling Services) introduced the item and stated the report indicated services were making positive progress. The number of complaints for service areas of relevance to the Committee had decreased and the overall volume of cases had gone down. The proportion of complaints being made to these service areas had increased, which was attributed partly to some people making multiple complaints. Craig Cusack drew members’ attention to the fact that, annually, more cases were being handled solely by the Customer Relations Team, and this was helping to speed up resolution times for residents and improve the data held on the type of correspondence received and how they were responded to.


Councillor Tim Sinclair said he would have liked to have seen more detail on the CRM Dynamics. He said he had requested this at the Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Councillor Sinclair asked if more detail and realistic timescales could be provided, and the benefits it would bring. Craig Cusack said the specific requirements of the CRM were being looked into, with the aim of being able to provide greater flexibility than the current system. He said the new Dynamics system would be able to be used to serve by the public in the autumn. This would include the system of submitting complaints and comments, the likes of which were summarised in the report to members. Members of the public would be able to log into a portal and see direct feedback from officers, and get responses much more quickly and easily. Responding to Councillor Sinclair, Craig Cusack said an update on the scheduling of subsequent Dynamics modules would be made available to members at the relevant Committee. Rob Powell (Strategic Director, Resources) said the information was already available to members through the quarterly the Integrated Delivery Plan reporting and data on Power BI. It had been necessary to delay implementation until assurance work had been completed to show that the plans would support changes introduced through the now delayed Government adult social care reforms.


Councillor Sarah Boad asked if there was a breakdown of statistics on how residents had contacted the Council to make a comment, complaint or compliment. She said more services were being provided online and there was a possibility residents who did not have internet access were being disadvantaged. Paul Aitken (Customer Relations Officer) said no breakdown was available, but said there were still a number of ways residents could get in touch. For example they were still able to send in letters, and services could be accessed in libraries. Rob Powell said it was now possible for residents to borrow electronic devices from libraries, and the Council wanted to cater for everyone’s individual preference. The Chair asked if a breakdown could be made available to members if this was not too onerous a task.


Councillor Sarah  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Q4 Integrated Performance Report pdf icon PDF 132 KB

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The item was introduced by Steve Smith (Assistant Director, Commissioning Support Unit), who stated the report had been compiled by the Business Intelligence Team. He said there continued to be a consistent strong performance in areas of relevance to the Committee, which was particularly encouraging in light of the current volatile economic climate and challenges relating to staff capacity and workforce retention. Steve Smith said around three quarters of the performance measures under the Committee’s remit were either on track or had already been met. He said there were significant challenges caused by an increased demand and funding levels for Special Educational Needs provision, which then had an impact on the High Needs Block on the Dedicated Schools Grant. The Fire and Rescue Service had challenges relating to incident response times, which had led to a re-evaluation of risk and resource management across the county. Significant risks included slowing in economic growth, high interest rates and high rates of inflation. Steve Smith said the emerging Government policy regarding adult social care reforms would also continue to be monitored.


Members’ attention was drawn to the appendices of the main report, which outlined the key business measures and how Warwickshire County Council’s performance compared against other local authorities. Performance against the Integrated Delivery Plan, management of the financial risk associated with the Fire and Rescue Service, and the key services’ risks summary were all also included in the appendices. Members were reminded they had access to this data through Power BI.


The Chair said members should thank officers for the work they were doing in light of challenging global circumstances.


Responding to a question from Councillor Sarah Boad, Steve Smith said 74 per cent of the items on the Integrated Delivery Plan were either on track or completed. This figure was 54 per cent for the key business measures. Steve Smith reminded members that the Integrated Delivery Plan covered a two-year cycle. It had incorporated Levelling Up and Community Powered Warwickshire, and had been formally adopted by Cabinet at its May meeting.


Councillor Sarah Feeney noted the Fire and Rescue Service’s target relating to road traffic collisions, and asked if this could be met, was an area of concern, or an arbitrary figure. Ben Brook (Chief Fire Officer) said that the police would attend incidents that the Fire and Rescue Service were unable to get to. He said the figure had been produced as an average of the figures over the past three years; however, incidents were now rising and their severity was also increasing.


Councillor Tim Sinclair noted the percentage of respondents to the Your Say survey who had said they felt safe to be their authentic self, and said he felt this ought to be higher. He also noted high sickness absence rates in some service areas. On the first point Rob Powell said this had been an area of particular focus by the EDI team and stated his belief the figure of 79 per cent was in line with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Social Impact Fund Progress Report pdf icon PDF 105 KB

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The report was introduced by Charles Barlow (Delivery Lead, Communities and Partnerships Service). He reminded members the Social Impact Fund had been agreed by Cabinet in October 2021 to help build stronger communities. It had targeted geographical areas that had experienced higher than average instances of Covid and groups that had experienced increased rates of isolation, such as financial, social or health-related issues. Projects applying for funding needed to align to at least one of the Council Plan outcomes, one of the core themes of the Voluntary and Community Sector Strategy, and the Community Powered Warwickshire approach. Additional projects needed to help reduce climate change and support local biodiversity. The Fund had been launched prior to the approach to Levelling Up being implemented. Revenue and capital funding was used on a 60:40 split.


Charles Barlow said 21 projects received funding; of those, 16 received capital funding which was required to be spent within 15 months of approval, and the remaining five received revenue funding that needed to be spent within 18 months. Most of the projects were on track to be completed on time. Two projects had been delayed but it was likely both would proceed soon. Charles Barlow said operation of the Fund was commissioned to the Heart of England Community Foundation, who had been able to signpost applicants to up to 50 different funding streams.


Members were told the Social Fabric Fund was due to be launched later in the month. Learning from the implementation of the Social Impact Fund had helped to inform the thinking of how it would work and improve embedding of the Community Powered approach to prioritise delivery of levelling up outcomes, primarily in the 22 Lower Super Output Areas as these were in the 20 per cent most deprived nationally. A further update report would be provided in early 2024.


Responding to a question from Councillor Sarah Boad, Charles Barlow said there had been 52 applications for funding. In response to Councillor Boad noting a large proportion of projects which were successful in their application were from Leamington Brunswick, Charles Barlow said this would be because there were higher Covid rates there at the time and the applications were stronger. Covid rates had been provided by Public Health. Charles Barlow said there had been a good geographical spread of applications.


Councillor Tim Sinclair noted some dummy text had been included in the summary of awards and asked if this could be updated. He also suggested the report could outline in more detail how the different projects were chosen, to pre-empt queries from members who noted that no projects in their ward had been successful in their application for funding.


Responding to a question from Councillor Sarah Feeney, Charles Barlow said fuller details of the impact the funding had had for the successful applicants would be provided in the next update report.


Members noted the contents of the report.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 57 KB

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Members noted the contents of the forthcoming work programme.


Any Urgent Matters

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There were no urgent matters for discussion.


Reports Containing Exempt or Confidential Information

To consider passing the following resolution:


‘That members of the public be excluded from the meeting for the items mentioned below on the grounds that their presence would involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1972’.


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Resolved unanimously


That the motion to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting be approved.


Exempt Minutes of Previous Meeting


The exempt minutes of the meeting held on 22 February 2023 were agreed as a true and accurate record.