Agenda and minutes

Venue: Aylesbury Vale District Council Offices - The Oculus


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No. Item


Chairman's Introductions

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The Chairman welcomed members and officers to the meeting and asked everyone to introduce themselves.  As the agenda contained two substantial items, the Chairman requested that members restricted their questions to two minutes per question to officers, keeping their questions and comments succinct and only spoke once on each item.


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies for absence.

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Apologies were received from Councillor S Renshell, Councillor P Turner, Councillor R Bagge, Councillor G Hollis and Councillor A Cole.  Councillor P Birchley left the meeting at 19.55 hours in order to attend another meeting.


Declarations of Interest

Members to declare any interests.

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There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 246 KB

To approve the Minutes of the Shadow Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 30 September 2019.

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The Chairman asked for agreement that the minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2019 were an accurate record.  There was discussion regarding Item 5 – Council Access Points (CAP) as a couple of the members expressed concern that the Shadow Executive had agreed that the CAP at High Wycombe library should be removed from the list of venues; just leaving the Wycombe District Council offices in High Wycombe.  One of the members suggested increasing the number of CAPs across the county.  The Chairman explained that the new Buckinghamshire Council was aiming to be a better council and that it would be preferable to start with a robust service with an aspiration to open in the evenings and weekends if the evidence, feedback and budget were available rather than to withdraw services at a later date.  It was important to provide a strong, robust service from day one.  There was a discussion on whether there should have been a vote on the number of CAPs in High Wycombe; however, the Chairman stated that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had agreed on the feedback to be provided to the Shadow Executive and ultimately it was the Shadow Executive’s decision to remove the CAP in High Wycombe library.  The Chairman agreed to feedback the Shadow Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s concerns to the Shadow Executive. 

ACTION:  The Chairman


RESOLVED:  The minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2019 were AGREED as an accurate record and were signed by the Chairman.


Equalities Policy Development

The Committee will receive a presentation on the proposed approach to the development of the Equalities Policy for the new Buckinghamshire Council. Members will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide their views at the early stages of the policy development to help inform the Shadow Executive decision later in the year.


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The Committee welcomed Ms M Domigos, Solicitor, Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC), Ms N Donhou-Morley, Senior Strategy and Partnership Officer (AVDC) and Ms L Wright, Policy Officer, Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC). Ms Domigos explained that she was a member of the Equalities Working Group which consisted of seven officers from the five councils and was a sub-group of the Policy and Partnership Group in the Legal and Governance work stream.  The new Equalities Policy was in the draft stage.  Ms Domigos provided a presentation and the following points were highlighted:


  • The legal implications - decisions could be overturned if Buckinghamshire Council did not comply with the required reporting.  The new council would have to fulfil its public sector equality duty to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people.
  • Decisions which were challenged would normally relate to closure or reduction of services and usually included an equalities related item.
  • A challenge would made by judicial review; if successful the decision was normally overturned with the legal effect that the decision was never made and would have to be re-done.  A judicial review could be extremely expensive and there was no guarantee that costs would be refunded if the council were successful in defending the review.
  • The current approach across the councils was broadly similar; but there were different memberships and accreditations.
  • All the councils carried out Equality Impact Assessments (EIA), monitoring reports and publications.
  • The sub-group was looking at the Local Government Association (LGA) framework which had an emphasis on self-assessment and peer challenge.
  • The LGA framework helped local councils to meet their obligations under the Equalities Act and included the public sector equality duty common performance framework for compliance.
  • There were five performance areas and three levels of achievement; the best practice would be used from each of the councils to create a policy which worked for the new Buckinghamshire Council.
  • There was a high level road map of what the team aimed to do in order to provide an ongoing requirement and commitment to equalities; some areas would have to be filled after 1 April 2020.
  • There were long term aspirations under the LGA framework and eventually the Buckinghamshire Council could consider a peer review into the LGA framework.
  • Ms Domigos asked for support for the suggested approach and asked for thoughts and ideas going forward. 


In response to members’ questions the following points were noted:


  • In response to being asked whether there was an Equalities Policy in place at the moment, Ms Domigos confirmed that the Shadow Authority did not have an Equalities Policy.
  • A member of the committee queried whether the LGA framework was a policy which could be adopted or whether it was a skeleton which needed to be ‘fleshed out’.  Ms Domigos advised it was a skeleton of five performance areas to be completed.
  • Members asked about the approach being taken to the development of the new policy; Ms Domigos explained  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Organisational Development Strategy - Focus on Vision, Culture and Values

The Committee will receive a presentation on the draft Organisational Development Strategy, with a focus on the vision, culture and values from day one of the new Council. Members will have an opportunity ask questions and comment on the draft strategy to help inform the Shadow Executive’s decision.

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Ms J O’Neill, Head of HR and OD and Consultancy, BCC, provided a presentation and highlighted the following points:


  • The values and behaviours were key in shaping the right culture for the new organisation to complement the corporate plan; they would help to align the employees and wider workforce with the organisational vision.
  • The method and approach that had been used in shaping the new values had been to start with the existing values in each organisation. 
  • The Shadow Executive had been asked what was important to them.
  • A paper had been to the Chief Executive’s Implementation Group and shared with various teams, the trade union and employee representatives.
  • Respect, pride and ambition emerged strongly as potential values.
  • Accountable, collaborate and trusted were the possible behaviours.
  • The behaviour statements would be built into performance management.
  • There would be four key building blocks in the Organisational Development’s People Framework – work place culture and design, personal development, employee engagement and inspirational leadership and a Bucks management programme.
  • The values and behaviours would be woven into the wider workforce e.g. contract managers and volunteers to ensure a common purpose.
  • Work would be carried out with the communications team to develop a diagram showing the values and behaviours.


In response to members’ questions the following points were noted:


  • A committee member felt that some of the wording in the paper could be better phrased and that the Member role should be given greater emphasis.  It was suggested that the word ‘positive’ be used in place of ‘great’ in the following phrase, ‘leaders who are great role models’. ‘Residents’ should be used instead of ‘people’.  The member suggested that, in terms of equality, everyone should be performance managed, not just staff.
  • Another committee member commented that the council would need considerable drive and energy and that the values and behaviours were uninspiring.
  • It was suggested that an alternative word be used for behaviour which was mentioned numerous times.
  • It would be important to ensure that the Equalities Act came through the work place, that the employees were diverse and that the trade union was involved.  Ms O’Neill commented that the theme of respect captured the point regarding diversity. 
  • One of the committee members felt it lacked passion; staff needed encouragement and to enjoy their work.
  • A member of the committee felt it underplayed the importance of values; bad values bred complacency and cynicism.  There was not a great deal of focus on delivery.  He felt it was too inwardly focussed and should be about how the organisation was run, the culture and how business was carried out.   Ms O’Neill stated that the intention was to weave the values and behaviours in with the corporate plan which would provide direction and vision.  The corporate plan was being worked on by a different team but they would be pulled together.
  • The Chairman added that the corporate plan (called the strategic plan in the work programme) would be presented at the meeting on 25 November 2019. 
  • A  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Task and Finish Group Updates

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Councillor B Gibbs advised that the next meeting for the Task and Finish Implementation Plan Group would be held on 5 November 2019.  The group had asked officers to look at the 128 ‘must haves’ on day one and Members would also prioritise the list to ensure a seamless opening of the new council.  The task and finish group would also review the risk register, which consisted of some amber risks but the majority were green.  Councillor Gibbs encouraged members of the committee to read the forward plan and the list of ‘must haves’.


Councillor Gladwin reported that he had attended a Budget Task and Finish Group meeting earlier that evening. A budget building process presentation had been provided along with an overview of the social care budgets.  The group would continue talking to the officers to gain more understanding of the budget process.  Councillor Gladwin was concerned that the budget indication was likely to be made in January 2020, however, his preference was for it take place in December 2019 as the group was due to talk to the portfolio holders in January 2020 and he wanted to be in a position of understanding their budgets.  The group was also aiming to have informal budget discussion meetings with the portfolio holders in November 2019.


The Chairman added that the cabinet members would have the opportunity to discuss the plans and aspirations for each portfolio prior to the formal budget setting process which would take place in January 2020.  The Overview and Scrutiny Committee would also need to hold informal discussions to provide help and support.


A member of the committee requested assurance that the budget be brought to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in advance of going to the Shadow Executive meeting.  The Chairman stated that it would come back to the committee; the actual budget scrutiny would be a week of meetings in public but pre-meetings would be held for any queries beforehand to work together on a robust legal budget by the end of February 2020.


Councillor Lambert advised he was aware of the process and felt it worked.  However, he and other committee members were concerned about the capacity of officers and members to support the budget programme and the number of meetings to be held to set the budget.  The Chairman disagreed as officers would not be asked for additional papers; he thought it was proportionate and the Overview and Scrutiny Committee would support cabinet members and officers.  By the time the budget was put under public examination, no awkward questions should arise. 


Mrs Ashmead stated that the budget dates were arranged in January 2020; however, she was concerned that diary availability before Christmas would be a challenge.  The Chairman advised that the committee would still receive the paperwork and be able to provide support even if diary capacity meant meetings could not be arranged.


Shadow Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 279 KB

To consider the Shadow Executive Forward Plan.

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Ms K Wager, Committee and Governance Manager, BCC, advised that an updated version of the Shadow Executive Forward Plan had been circulated earlier that day as there had been a couple of amendments.  None of the changes would impact the scrutiny committee work programme.  Ms Wager highlighted the item on Community Boards which was due to be considered on 3 December 2019; however, given the interest from members on the CAPs, Ms Wager recommended the Community Boards be discussed at the Implementation Task and Finish Group to inform feedback to the Shadow Executive.


In response to a query from a committee member who stated the Wycombe Community Governance Review had to be a decision before 10 December 2019 not 7 January 2020; Mrs Ashmead clarified that there was a legal requirement for Wycombe District Council to publish the report by 10 December 2019; the Shadow Executive was then obliged to consider its response to the report at the next meeting.


Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 124 KB

The Committee will consider the work programme and agenda items for the next meeting.

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It was noted that the ‘strategic plan’ should read ‘corporate plan’.


In response to a query from a committee member on the Regeneration Strategy for Wycombe which was going to the Shadow Executive on 12 November 2019 to note; the Chairman advised the strategy had been through the relevant scrutiny process.


Meetings of the Committee

To note the next meeting dates as follows:


·         Monday 25 November at 6.30pm

·         Monday 16 December at 6.30pm

·         Monday 3 February at 6.30pm

·         Tuesday 3 March at 6.30pm

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The Shadow Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting dates had been arranged until the end of March 2020.  Councillor Clarke sent her apologies for the meeting on 25 November 2019.