Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Via MS Teams

Contact: Clare Gray 

Media

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
Note No. Item

10am

1.

Apologies for absence/change in membership

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Minutes:

Apologies for absence were given by Mr Tom Hunter-Watts and Paul Kelly.

2.

Declarations of interest

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Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 479 KB

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 June 2020 to be confirmed as a correct record.

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Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 18 June 2020 were agreed as a correct record with Ms L Smith included as present.

4.

Public questions

No public questions have been submitted for this meeting.

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Minutes:

There were no public questions.

5.

Chairman's Update

For the Chairman to update Members on Communities and Localism scrutiny activities since the last meeting.

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Minutes:

With regard to issues raised at the last meeting on protected groups the Chairman provided a quick update. Community Boards were working on a Strategy and Communications Plan to ensure that Community Boards and Sub-Groups have a diverse membership and were well represented to ensure that all communities have a voice. Some Community Boards have developed a community cohesion sub group but many of the sub groups impact on all communities including sub groups on covid recovery plans.

 

During the pandemic a letter was sent to gypsy and traveller communities providing advice on how to contact the local area housing departments if there was a need for anybody self-isolating or if there were any problems with accommodation. The Housing Service would continue to offer Housing support and advice to travellers who request assistance. A Member commented that it was important to address the negative stereotyping of travellers. She referred to the Gypsy and Traveller Liaison Officer and the need to support their work including the need for Ward Councillors to raise any issues faced by Gypsy and Travellers at their local Community Board.

 

With regard to diversity training Members were offered the LGA’s equality and diversity online training course and additional guidance has been added to the Members area on legislation and useful websites.

 

Another Member referred to the Equalities and Diversity training offered to Members and emphasised that this should be made mandatory as they were all Community Leaders. She also referred to the BAME Network that had been set up to help Buckinghamshire Council reach communities that never had a voice.

10.10

6.

Update on the development of the Buckinghamshire Council Taxi and Private Hire Licensing Policy pdf icon PDF 708 KB

Buckinghamshire Council is aligning policies and procedures in respect of taxi and private hire licensing matters to ensure that decision making is consistent and drivers, vehicles and operators are held to the same standards across the Council. Pre-engagement work, including the views of this Select Committee, will feed into the final draft policy document which will be presented to the Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services and then the Licensing Committee in October 2020.

 

Presenters:

Fred Wilson – Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services

Carl Jackson – Chairman of Licensing Committee

Lindsey Vallis – Transition Head of Licensing, Cemeteries and Crematoria

Simon Gallacher – Principal Licensing Officer, Aylesbury area

Caroline Steven, Licensing Team Leader, Wycombe, Chiltern and South Bucks area

 

Papers:

Report attached

Department for Transport - Statutory Taxi & Private Hire Vehicle Standards

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services introduced the report and reported that Buckinghamshire was one of the largest taxi licensing authorities in the Country with 3,500 drivers and 2,500 vehicles. The Council’s taxi and private hire licensing policy was an important document that demonstrated the Council’s commitment to securing public safety, provided clarity for applicants and licence holders, assisted decision making, facilitated enforcement activities and helped safeguard against legal challenge.  The creation of Buckinghamshire Council presented an opportunity to create a new policy that incorporated the new statutory taxi and private hire vehicle standards, promoted the highest possible standards to secure public safety, supported the Council’s key priorities of protecting the vulnerable and would help improve the environment and promote the local economy. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services reported that a new draft policy document was being prepared, ready for consultation later this year, with a view to adoption next year which would have regard to the Department for Transport Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards which came out in July 2020. The aim of this document was to introduce consistency in the licensing system and reduce the risk of harm posed to children and vulnerable passengers. Councils must have regard to these new standards and it was expected that they would be adopted unless there was a compelling local reason not to.

 

The Chairman of the Licensing Committee informed Members of the Workshops that had been held to obtain the views of Licensing Committee Members to review, consider and discuss areas of policy harmonisation and the potential implications and impacts of decision making in particular policy areas. He also referred to pre-engagement consultation with external stakeholders which was taking place between 7 – 27th September in the form of an online survey Your Voice Bucks which was available on the Council website and had been publicised to the following stakeholders; public, school transport users and the taxi trade.

 

Lindsey Vallis, Transition Head of Licensing, Cemeteries and Crematoria informed Members that the drafting of this policy was a Cabinet Member priority with wider benefits such as protecting the vulnerable, improving the environment and the local economy. Members noted the following points:-

  • Each legacy Council had different licensing policies including fee structures, conditions and bye laws which continue to exist for each geographical area until a single policy was agreed. It was really important that decision making was consistent across the Council and that drivers, vehicles and operators were working with the same standards in place. They need to be working under the same fee levels and ensure parity and consistency for both the taxi licensing trade and travelling passengers.
  • The work already undertaken had been a collaborative project with experienced licensing officers across the Council and a leading legal expert on licensing.  Officers had also worked with other service areas in the Council such as home to school transport (particularly relating to children with special educational needs), safeguarding employment and the climate change team.
  • Responses from Your  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

11.10

7.

Safer Buckinghamshire Plan pdf icon PDF 748 KB

The Committee will receive an update on the Safer Buckinghamshire Plan which was agreed at Cabinet on 8 September 2020.

 

Buckinghamshire Council is a statutory member of the Safer Buckinghamshire Board which is the statutory Community Safety Partnership  for Buckinghamshire. A key responsibility of the Safer Buckinghamshire Board is to maintain the Community Safety Plan for Buckinghamshire, based upon the strategic assessment of crime and community safety in the County, public engagement and other insight into crime and the causes of crime in Buckinghamshire. This Plan will help inform the Work Programme of this Select Committee.

 

Presenters:-

Gareth Williams – Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health

Rebecca Carley – Communities Engagement and Safety Manager

 

Papers:

Cabinet report and Safer Buckinghamshire Plan

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Communities and Public Health introduced the report and stated that the Safer Buckinghamshire Plan was a rolling three-year plan which had been developed by the Safer Buckinghamshire Board; Buckinghamshire Council, Thames Valley Police, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes Fire and Rescue Service, Clinical Commissioning Group, National Probation Service, Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company and Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner. A public community safety survey was conducted in early 2020 with 2,379 respondents (including 76 councillors), the results of which were used to shape the Plan’s five key priorities which have been agreed as follows:-

 

  • Helping communities to become more resilient
  • Protecting vulnerable adults and children
  • Addressing the impact of drugs, alcohol and poor mental health
  • Tackling domestic violence and abuse
  • Dealing with offending.

 

The Cabinet Member reported that the work for the new Plan was undertaken before the covid-19 pandemic therefore they would be close monitoring of the Plan to understand the impact of covid-19 and steps would be taken to reduce its impact on crime and the causes of crime. The Safer Buckinghamshire Board would review the implementation plan and impact at its regular meetings. The main impacts of covid-19 have been increases in anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse, radicalisation and speeding. Burglary had decreased. The Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner had devolved a considerable budget of £440,000 which helped support some of the projects sitting under the agreed priorities along with Council and partnership funding.

 

The Communities Engagement and Safety Manager reported that detailed Delivery Plans sat under the Strategic Plan and she co-chaired with Thames Valley Police the Safer Buckinghamshire Co-ordinating Group, the operational arm of the Board which reviewed the detailed delivery on a regular basis. The Safer Buckinghamshire Board maintained oversight of the work and provided a check on performance on a quarterly basis. They were developing a dashboard which would provide some contextual information so Members could see the trends in Buckinghamshire and also specific measures which relate directly to the priorities.

 

In terms of next steps officers were developing Community Safety Profiles for Community Boards as many Boards had Community Safety Sub Groups and this information would provide an evidence base and highlight more pervasive issues which Boards may be concerned about. There was also a legislative requirement for an annual community safety Strategic Assessment to identify emerging trends and issues; and public engagement. This was completed at the end of last year and formed the basis of the new Safer Buckinghamshire Plan. This work would be continued this year and the Board would like more detailed work carried out on:-

  • Mental health – developing greater insight into its links with being a victim/offender; and risk management
  • Those with housing need – more likely to be victims
  • Victim suspect duality; and repeat victimisation

 

The Communities Engagement and Safety Manager reported that the next public community safety survey would be undertaken in January 2021 and they would be linking in with Community Boards to access local information.

 

During discussion  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

12.00

8.

Draft Inquiry Scoping paper pdf icon PDF 214 KB

At the last meeting Members discussed having an Inquiry to assess the effectiveness of community organisation grants during the Covid-19 pandemic. Attached is a draft Scoping Paper for Member comments and approval.

 

Presenters

Chairman Councillor Paul Irwin / Clare Gray – Scrutiny Officer

 

Papers

Draft scoping paper

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

At the last meeting Members agreed that they would like to have an Inquiry Group on the effectiveness of community grants during the covid-19 pandemic. A draft scoping paper was attached to the agenda for comment. The Inquiry Group should have cross party representation from 6-8 Members with two days of evidence gathering. The aim was to examine that resources were being used effectively and efficiently providing value for money for all residents through good partnership working, that there were no gaps or duplicate services and that benefits were provided which may have a long term impact on communities. Members who had volunteered were Paul Irwin, Graham Peart, Mimi Harker, Ashley Waite and Peter Cooper.

 

During discussion the following points were made:-

 

·         A Member asked if the scope could include Community Impact Bucks and other organisations that have provided funding.

·         It would be helpful if all Members send in an email on their experiences during the covid-19 pandemic and interaction with community groups.

·         A comment was made that the Council was commended for the work on this area however as it was a new situation some historical community groups were competing with pop up community groups for resources e.g. food. Established charities should be contacted as part of the review. There should also be a check on how the money was used and its impact.

·         Reference was made to those groups who held the funding and how decisions were made on its allocation.

 

The draft scoping paper was agreed by the Committee.

 

12.15

9.

Draft Work programme pdf icon PDF 338 KB

The Committee will discuss and agree the Work Programme and consider the items for the next meeting.

 

Presenters:

All Committee Members

 

Papers:

Work Programme attached

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer referred to the draft Work Programme which was attached to the agenda. Members noted that the Work Programme was not set in stone and once this had been agreed further changes could be made during the year, particularly as projects got off the ground. A Member asked if the domestic violence item in March 2021 could be referred to as domestic abuse as it covered coercive control and it would be useful to focus on one particular area of domestic abuse. Following the elections next year a more detailed piece of work could be undertaken. A Member suggested whether it would be helpful to have an update on this area at the November meeting and following that Members agreed that contact numbers should be circulated so that they could raise public awareness.

 

Members agreed the draft Programme.

12.30

10.

Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will take place on 19 November 2020 at 10am.

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Minutes:

19 November 2020 at 10am