Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Panel - Monday, 6th December, 2021 1.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Fenland Hall, County Road, March PE15 8NQ

Contact: Niall Jackson  Member Services and Governance Officer

No. Item


Previous Minutes. pdf icon PDF 127 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of 8 November 2021.


The minutes of the meeting of 8 November 2021 were confirmed and signed subject to the following comments:

·         Councillor Booth clarified that in the previous minutes section it was an action for Councillor Benney to provide an update from the Combined Authority. He asked that the panel write to Councillor Benney to chase an answer due to the time taken to reply to this request.


Update on previous actions. pdf icon PDF 230 KB

Members to receive an update on the previous meeting’s Action Plan.


Members considered the update on previous actions and made the following comments:

·      Councillor Miscandlon requested that all outstanding actions be chased up.


Review of Clarion pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Presentation attached.       


Councillor Mason welcomed attendees from Clarion, Councillor Hoy and Dan Horn to the meeting.


Members asked questions, made comments and received responses as follows:

·         Councillor Mason asked whether Cadent had any routine maintenance programmes in place. Sally Greetham informed the panel that, regarding routine gas maintenance compliance, Clarion were undertaking 99.78 percent within the timescales. She noted that this was good compared to peers who only average around 99.4 percent. She informed the panel that they do well in other areas of maintenance such as solid fuel types where 100 percent servicing had been achieved and noted their programme for green technology servicing which was in the high 90s for compliance. She explained there were some challenges with compliance including customers refusing entry which prevented 100 percent compliance. She explained there are more legal opportunities for enforcing gas compliance and that where compliance was lower than expected this was due to there being less of a legal basis for compliance. In addition, Sally noted that Clarion also have a planned routine maintenance scheme for when kitchens, bathrooms and roofs are due to be replaced. She also explained that alongside the usual investment programme they had successfully undertaken a decarbonisation project in Fenland.

·         Councillor Yeulett asked how the sites for new builds are chosen with regards to good transport and facilities. He also asked what plans they had to implement the green agenda noting the expense and questioning how they will manage this. Daniel Reed noted that Clarion have a strategic land team who look at long term options which take 5-10 years to develop and an everyday land team who buy sites with planning already passed. He explained that all sites are chosen in consultation with the local authority and the housing management team to ensure that they are in an area that is well located. He further noted that they also have a strategic project team which works on sites already owned but are coming to the end of their life such as Springfield Avenue and Roman Court. He explained that these sites are modernised and that they were aiming to be zero net carbon whilst remaining as affordable as possible for residents. He noted that Clarion were also trying to be more sustainable when working with developers on any package deals for land and building, however he explained that this was done at the developer’s discretion as there was no legal obligation to build houses to a high level of sustainability yet.

·         Councillor Yeulett noted that the price of modern green technology such as the ground source heat pumps was high at 18,000 pounds and asked whether Clarion could work with these prices whilst keeping the cost down for residents. Daniel Reed agreed that it was expensive and that whilst it was not a legal obligation to have them in a new build, Clarion were attempting to stay ahead of the curve in phasing out traditional fossil burning technology.

·         Councillor Miscandlon asked what steps were being taken to  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC27/21


Annual review of Anglia Revenues Partnership pdf icon PDF 311 KB

To update Overview and Scrutiny on performance of the Council's Revenues and Benefits service, since it became part of ARP on 1 April 2014.


Councillor Mason welcomed attendees from Anglian Revenues Partnership (ARP), Councillor Mrs French and Sam Anthony to the meeting.


Members considered the Annual review of Anglia Revenues Partnership presented by Adrian Mills.


Members asked questions, made comments and received responses as follows:

·         Councillor Hay asked how the collection of arrears for Fenland compared in terms of percentages in relation to other partners across ARP. Adrian Mills informed the panel that they did not have the information to hand and would provide the exact figures after the meeting.

·         Councillor Hay asked whether Cambridgeshire County Council (CCC) were still not contributing to the recovery costs of the fraud team? Adrian Mills noted that whilst this was currently the case, under the new fraud hub they would be investing into resources to help conduct fraud recovery work. Councillor Mrs French clarified that CCC had agreed to invest a significant amount of money and that they were awaiting a signed agreement with a memorandum of understanding also being drafted.

·         Councillor Hay asked whether the new civil enforcement initiative would be undertaken by ARP? Councillor Mrs French informed her that no decision had been made yet and that it was due for discussion in the new year.

·         Councillor Yeulett questioned what increases in workload there had been for ARP regarding business rates? Adrian Mills explained that there had been an increase in workload for property registrations with businesses coming forward to apply for the various Government grants. He also noted that extra work had been undertaken regarding small business rate reliefs. Matthew Waite-Wright explained that there was an influx of registrations for business rates which created an extra workload. He also noted that they were required to make sure that all their current records were correct so that the right people could collect their grants. He explained that they also employed a third party to visit the small businesses who had not collected the small business rate relief to ensure that they had the right people registered. He noted that they were contemplating employing another third party to investigate whether there are any business rate properties that have been missed. Lorraine King added that the number of work items had increased by 39 percent compared to 2017 and the number of hereditaments had increased by 6 percent in the same period.

·         Councillor Yeulett asked why other Council’s insist on different forms for universal credit? Adrian Mills explained that the Department for Work and Pensions customers are told to contact their local Council and complete another form for Council Tax support. He informed the panel that ARP have linked their Council Tax Support scheme to Universal Credit data share so that when customers claim Universal Credit this information is automatically treated as a claim for Council Tax support removing the need to complete separate forms. Councillor Yeulett asked for confirmation that they were confident in this process? Adrian Mills confirmed ARP were happy with the process and added that if a customer contacts ARP and it is  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC28/21


Future Work Programme pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To consider the Draft Work Programme for Overview & Scrutiny Panel 2020/21.


Members considered the Future Work Programme:

·         Councillor Mason informed the panel that the Wisbech Rail Report would be deferred to a later date.

·         Councillor Miscandlon commented that the current programme was comprehensive. Councillor Booth supported this comment and noted that May could be used for the deferred Wisbech Rail Report.

·         There was a discussion around inviting the Road Safety Partnership and it was decided that they would be invited to the February meeting as part of the Community Safety Partnership item.