Agenda and draft minutes

Overview & Scrutiny - Corporate & Community Committee - Thursday, 21st March, 2024 6.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room - Municipal Buildings, West Street, Boston, PE21 8QR. View directions

Contact: Karen Rist, Democratic Services Officer  Tel. no: 01205 314226 email:  karen.rist@boston.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

94.

APOLOGIES

To receive apologies for absence and notification of substitutes (if any).

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were tabled by Councillors Anton Dani and Chris Mountain with no substitute members, and by Councillor Helen Staples with Councillor David Scoot substituting.

95.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 161 KB

To sign and confirm the minutes of the last meeting.

Minutes:

With the agreement of the committee the Chairman signed the minutes of the previous meeting.

96.

DECLARATION OF INTERESTS

To receive declarations of interests in respect of any item on the agenda.

Minutes:

No declarations were tabled.

97.

PUBLIC QUESTIONS

To answer any written questions received from members of the public no later than 5 p.m. two clear working days prior to the meeting – for this meeting the deadline is 5 p.m. on Monday 18th March 2024

Minutes:

No public questions were submitted.

98.

ENGAGEMENT CHARTER pdf icon PDF 195 KB

A report by the Group Communications and Engagement Manager

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder Councillor Anne Dorrian presented the report supported by the Group Manager for Communications and Engagement.

 

Members were advised that the Engagement Pledge followed on from South Holland District Council’s Peer Review in July 2023 whereby one of the recommendations had been to “strengthen how the voice of residents and communities informed future service delivery”. Although the recommendation had been specific to South Holland District Council, it had been recommended that the Partnership adopted the Pledge as part of its corporate approach to engagement.   The Engagement Pledge set out the broad principles of how each council would approach its engagement work. The Pledge further made clear each council’s commitment to providing a clear and consistent approach when engaging with residents, businesses, and stakeholders.

With more than 300,000 residents, thousands of small, medium, and large businesses and a broad number of stakeholder agencies (such as neighbouring councils, Police, NHS, Government, and non-government agencies) across the sub-region, it was vital that the Partnership’s work reflected the thoughts and ambitions of its communities.

The Partnership’s engagement and consultation processes were crucial to how it communicated with its residents, businesses, and stakeholders, however each served slightly different purposes.

Engagement referred to the process of involving the community in decision-making and keeping them informed about our activities. Engagement was about relationship building, gathering feedback, and encouraging a sense of

Involvement and ownership among residents.

Consultation was a more formal process which sought input from the community on specific issues or decisions. That often involved seeking feedback on proposed policies, projects, or plans and could include public meetings, surveys, or focus groups.

In essence, engagement was broader and ongoing, focusing on communication and relationship-building, while consultation was a more targeted and specific approach, seeking input on specific matters.
This Pledge, which would be published on the SELCP and individual Council websites, would bring a clear and transparent process when conducting engagement and consultation exercises in the future.

 

Committee deliberation followed which included:

 

With no comments submitted by the committee or any amendments suggests to the report tabled, the Chairman summarised by congratulating the report author on the content of the report, and the clarity of distinction between consultation and engagement.

99.

JOINT SCRUTINY OF THE S&ELCP HEALTHY LIVING ACTION PLAN. pdf icon PDF 186 KB

A report by the Assistant Director, Wellbeing and Community Leadership.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder Councillor Emma Cresswell presented the report supported by Assistant Director, Wellbeing and Community Leadership and the Scrutiny and Policy Officer. 

Committee were advised that the report brought forward a joint scrutiny report of their review of the Healthy Living Action Plan.  The report would be presented to each of the Partnership Councils’ relevant sovereign scrutiny committees. The attached appendices to the reports contained a detailed overview of the review which also included a copy of the Healthy Living Action Plan (HLAP)

Councillor William Gray, Chair of the S&ELCP Healthy Living Board had commented on the review: “As Chair of the Healthy Living Board, it has been important to bring together key people from a range of sectors to work in collaboration to reduce inequalities and improve the health and wellbeing of our residents. I would like to thank Councillors for their valuable input and for reviewing the health and wellbeing offer across the South and East Lincolnshire Councils Partnership area. The recommendations, if accepted, will assist partners in identifying areas of need, reviewing work streams, and focusing resources”. Committee were asked to note the final report and to agree the associated recommendations.

 

Prior to committee deliberation the Assistant Director for Wellbeing and Community Leadership addressed the meeting and suggested the three members of the working group be invited to comment on the review and identify any further issues they may wish to see addressed.

Comments from the group members included concern at the time scale of 6 months for the review, which they felt was not long enough for the new initiative.  A suggestion was further tabled that the action plan become part of the Council’s statute with health being a statutory compliment and that having seen the inequality in Boston from the evidence sourced, that the County Council should hand more authority to the Borough. A further comment noted the importance of open spaces and their benefits on health.

The Assistant Director for Wellbeing and Community Leadership responded to the suggestions and advised that the Healthy Living Board met every quarter and that was fed by an officer group which met every six weeks, however the suggestion for a longer period of review would be taken on board.   Health was not a statutory compliment for the Borough Council however, the Council did undertake a lot of activity within the Borough aligned with health including open spaces, however consideration would be given to increase the activity directly at health as its own topic.

 

General committee comment and questioning followed which included:

 

Responding to a members’ question relating to how the plan would be monitored and what targets or KPI’s would be set and what funding mechanisms would be used, the Assistant Director for Wellbeing and Community Leadership advised that whilst there was no direct monitoring of the plan, it would draw from existing metrics already in place and aligned to the policy, including working with communities.  No direct funding streams were aligned to the plan,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 99.

100.

UNREASONABLE BEHAVIOUR POLICY pdf icon PDF 213 KB

A report by the Assistant Director - Governance and Monitoring Officer

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder Councillor Emma Cresswell presented the report supported by the Group Information Manager and Data Protection Officer.  Advising members that the last review of the existing policy had been 2017, the Portfolio Holder confirmed that the policy would be aligned to be the same across the 3 Councils in the S&ELCP to provide consistency for all staff when dealing with such incidents.

There was a clear need to manage the safety of Employees and Members of the Council, and to limit the unnecessary impact on Council resources. The design of the policy had successfully achieved that aim, whilst ensuring that the service to the Council’s customers would be fair; consistent and proportionate.

A full review had taken place of the draft policy and updated and aligned across the partnership. By reviewing the policy, the group had captured all the updates and ensured that the policy complied with all current statutory requirements. The Council was responsible for ensuring it had a suitable policy in place for dealing with abusive behaviour and unreasonably persistent complainants. Furthermore, the Council needed to deal with complainants in a way that was open; fair and proportionate. The policy-led approach helped enable staff to understand what was expected of them, what options for action were available to them, and who could authorise such actions. By sharing the policy with complainants if they started to behave unreasonably, it could help in managing their expectations and behaviour.

The policy provided the Council with a framework to implement and take appropriate action against incidences of unreasonable behaviour and unreasonably persistent complainants. It clearly defined unacceptable actions under three broad heading of ‘aggressive or abusive behaviour, ‘unreasonable demands’ and ‘unreasonably persistent’.


Significant deliberation and questioning followed which included:

 

In response to several questions the Portfolio Holder and the Group Information Manager and Data Protection Manager advised as follows:

 

When applying the policy consideration was on a case-by-case basis with a tiered approach.  The policy was fit for purpose with consideration of all groups of the community and complied with statutory requirements.  The sign-off procedure was by an Assistant-Director or Deputy Chief Executive and Councillor Creswell in her role as portfolio holder was involved in the process.  Councillors were afforded the same protection within the policy as staff.  If mediation between parties was deemed appropriate, then it would be an option for consideration. 

Cases of FOI requests were subject to separate legislation and were not classed as unreasonable behaviour.  PSPS tracked the cases within their teams which were predominantly front facing services but not all teams tracked cases specific to their departments.  The data provided was post Covid and did not reflect that period when staff were working from home.

 

Concerns were noted at the significant increase in cases and further noted at the potential number of cases not recorded which could be significantly higher than the number within the report.  Additionally, members queried the costs to the Council for dealing with vexatious members of the public.  

A request  ...  view the full minutes text for item 100.

101.

SIPC - SOCIAL IMPACT OF POPULATION CHANGE - REPORT ADOPTED BY BOSTON BOROUGH COUNCIL 19 NOVEMBER 2012.

A presentation by the Assistant Director – General Fund Assets

Minutes:

Addressing the meeting the Lead Officer for the Committee (the Assistant Director – General Fund Assets) advised members that the Social Impact of Population Change in Boston Task and Finish Group had been set up under the direction of the Council’s Corporate and Community Scrutiny Committee in November 2011.

The all-party group established to undertake the review, wanted to let everyone in Boston who felt the ‘social impact of population change’ share their views. The process adopted was simple – it was about listening to people, taking evidence from the community and from partners and then defining what the Council could do, what and who it could influence and what it could ask and expect from others on behalf of its residents.

A vast amount of evidence gathering took place from a very wide range of partners and stakeholders to produce a report. Full Council adopted the report pm 19 November 2012. The report contained twenty-eight recommendations for action at local, regional, National and European levels.   The report also won wide and significant acknowledgement and won the Centre for Public Scrutiny Scrutineer’s Choice Award and won the judge’s Overall Impact Award at the Centre’s awards ceremony on 11 June 2013. The original report was reviewed in May 2013, February 2014, and May 2014.

A brief update to each of the 28 recommendations took place and members were advised that the tabling of the report had been to allow committee the option to look further into any of the recommendations, or to re address the initial scope for the review and update areas, within its work programme should it so wish. The presentation which included updates on all the recommendations would be forwarded to all members following the meeting for their further information for consideration of re-visiting any aspect of that review.

 

At this point in the meeting the Chairman advised the committee that he had requested the update on the review, to illustrate that scrutiny had power and could achieve change over time by various means including group reviews into various subjects, alongside receiving reporting by officers.  Scrutiny was able to call people in to give evidence and effect change.   

A workshop would be scheduled ahead of the new term of meetings to allow members to discuss and agree what they wanted to look at through the scrutiny process and would be open to all non- executive members to attend.  Should any members wish to re-visit anything from the update report tabled by the Lead Officer, they could raise it at the workshop. 

 

102.

WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 187 KB

Standing Item.

Minutes:

Committee noted the work programme for their first year on the committee and the Chairman advised a date would be forthcoming for the workshop which he hoped members would attend, as it should be they who drive the work programme and not the Chairman.