Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Panel - Monday, 7th February, 2022 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 259 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of 17 January 2022.


The minutes of the meeting of 17 January 2022 were confirmed and signed.


Update on previous actions. pdf icon PDF 161 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 stated that it would be useful if the ongoing sections of the previous actions had completion dates so that members and the public could have an idea of when the actions were proposed to be closed.

·         Councillor Hay asked what the situation was with Peterborough and whether they had completed their review? Councillor Connor confirmed that the Head of Planning was now solely working for Fenland District Council and had been since the start of January.

·         Councillor Hay asked what the arrangement with Peterborough City Council was following this and asked what percentage of time the Head of Planning was now working? Dan Horn explained that there was no longer an arrangement with Peterborough City Council regarding the head of service but that the arrangement had continued as normal regarding the shared support manager and the delivery of the Local Plan.

·         Councillor Yeulett asked whether the Council could inform members about the Head of Planning’s working days? Dan Horn responded that the Head of Planning usually worked Tuesday and Wednesday with another half day during the week and said that he would look at how this could be conveyed to members.  


Progress of Corporate Priority – Environment pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider and note the Progress of Corporate Priority – Environment.


Members considered the Progress of Corporate Priority - Environment presented by Councillor Murphy.


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

·         Councillor Cornwell asked what percentage of commercial and business collections were recycled? Councillor Murphy responded that any collections containing recyclables were recycled but that the recycling percentages for these areas were not in the report but committed to providing these figures to the panel.

·         Councillor Hay commented that there was no RAG rating on page 36 of the report for customer satisfaction. Councillor Murphy stated that the data was not available at the time and that the information would be provided when possible.

·         Councillor Yeulett asked whether there was a charge for a green bin to be provided where a household did not have one upon moving in? Councillor Murphy explained that the bins belong to the property and that they do need to be paid for by the property owner even in cases where they are taken as it was not possible to pinpoint who had taken the bin.

·         Councillor Miscandlon commended the Environmental Services Officers for their prompt action in Whittlesey.

·         Councillor Wicks noted that street collections were being rolled out for normal and recyclable street waste and asked how this was progressing? Councillor Murphy explained that they had almost completed the rollout, with around 50 bins still to be deployed, with them being placed throughout town and village centres along with some being placed in cemeteries. Councillor Wicks asked if they were providing a good opportunity for recycling in the areas they had been placed? Councillor Murphy confirmed that they were and had been full most days so far.

·         Councillor Booth stated that the recycling rates for Fenland had previously been described as good and asked where they currently stood? Councillor Murphy responded that they were still in the same position and that this was well above average compared to where they should be. He explained that they were still preforming better than any other area in Cambridgeshire. Councillor Murphy made the point that no days of collection were lost during the Covid-19 pandemic but that there had been more staff off due to Covid in the previous weeks than in the last two years. Despite this, he explained that there were sufficient contingencies with officers being drafted in to do certain jobs and loaders being moved from the brown bin service to cover the shortage as the collection rates for brown bins were low this time of year.

·         Councillor Booth expressed his concern that the answer had been the same over several years, pointing out that the recycling rate was now 27 percent as a target where it used to be 52. He made the point that official sources stated Fenland were recycling 40-50 percent and that compared to all areas Fenland were 194 out of 398. Councillor Booth explained that these figures were different to what they were reporting and that other Cambridgeshire areas were also ahead of Fenland in the official  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC38/21


Community Safety Partnership pdf icon PDF 800 KB

To consider and note the current performance of the partnership for 2021/22 and the CCTV performance report for 2021.


Members considered the Community Safety Partnership presented by Councillor Lynn.


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

·         Councillor Hay noted that the Community Safety Partnership funding originally came via the County Council from Central government but that once the Police and Crime Commissioner was created it was delivered through them. She asked why no funding had been received from them from April to December 2021? Councillor Lynn explained that they had not received any funding as it was awarded on a year-by-year agreement and when the last commissioner finished his term the funding also stopped, which was due to the election and the appointment of a new commissioner. He stated that the new commissioner undertook many consultations to decide on his strategy going forward and that funding was lost during this period as they were told it was changing.  Councillor Lynn explained that once they had set out the new Local Plan they had put a new agreement in place to offer funding on a three yearly period which covers his term of office. Councillor Hay queried that if Fenland District Council did not have the funding, then no work must have taken place to which Councillor Lynn informed her was not the case. Councillor Hay asked why they had not insisted on the funding being backdated to cover this period? Dan Horn informed her that they had made representations prior to the new funding agreement and that this was essentially the point that had been made. He explained that they had been able to fund the work from residual reserves to cover the gap in costs.

·         Councillor Hay stated that the Police and Crime Commissioner is elected every 4 years and raised concern that should it be a different person elected the Council would lose funding again. Councillor Lynn agreed that this would be the case. Councillor Hay suggested that they should be making representations to suggest that funding be carried over whenever a new commissioner takes office so that they have time to look at the details without Fenland losing out. Dan Horn responded that they would need to be making representations like last time but that they were not persuasive enough last time. Councillor Hay expressed the view that if this occurred again and further funding was held back then this would need to be made known to the general public.

·         Councillor Hay referred to page six of the report where it mentions talking to sports clubs linked to Polish schools. She queried whether there were any Polish schools in the area?  Dan Horn explained that there was not a Polish school but there was a Saturday school held at the Rosmini centre and that there was a similar provision in Huntingdon. Councillor Hay requested that they make this clear in the future.

·         Councillor Hay stated that there were partners RAG rated red but that there was no narrative in there to explain why. Dan Horn explained that this area was still incomplete which  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC39/21


Wisbech Rail Update pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To consider and note the Wisbech Rail Update.


Members considered the Wisbech Rail Update presented by Rowland Potter.  Councillor Mason introduced Rowland Potter and welcomed him and Councillor Seaton to the meeting.


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

·         Councillor Booth asked where the timescales for the project were and expressed the view that more research needed to be done. He asked when they would see the project undertaken and asked for more context around timings. Rowland Potter appreciated the frustration over the time taken and explained that there had been challenges due to the line being out of use. He explained that a detailed business case had been created for the heavy rail option and that this had been put forward. Rowland Potter acknowledged that they had put in a strong submission for restoring the existing railways but this had been rejected on several grounds by the restoring railways fund application, including the high-cost estimate and the fact that the proposal suggested two services per hour from Wisbech to Cambridge which Ely Station did not have the current capacity for. He explained that they had been advised that they could continue developing a third-party scheme and that it would be reviewed once the Ely capacity issues had been resolved towards the end of year. Rowland Potter stated that after positive engagement with the relevant areas they went back to Board and requested further funds to progress to the next stage. He made the point that the first business case had failed to engage with Network Rail, explaining that Network Rail had a project control framework with a section called 3 and that they had opted to go down the 3b route which is the technical build up and  Network Rail then completed 3c which was the review, with there being some challenges as they had gone directly for heavy rail and had discounted light rail early with Network Rail stating that there needed to be evidence of the review of light rail. Rowland Potter informed the panel that they had received one report back which was the technical report, summary of the business case and recommendations on how to progress and that they were awaiting the other report on demand modelling and how profitable it would be commercially, with it being the intention to return to the Transport Committee Board in March with the reports. With regards to the question about the programme, he stated that if they got approval then they were expecting that there would then be a recommendation for a refinement of the business case based on the recommendations that had been given which would lead into consultation and the consideration of light rail. Rowland Potter hoped that the process would be sorter as they already had a strong business case for heavy rail and predicted that it could be completed within six months.

·         Councillor Booth stated that he had heard that the new Mayor was considering the light rail option and asked what the difference was to heavy rail? Rowland  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC40/21


Future Work Programme pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To consider the Draft Work Programme for Overview & Scrutiny Panel 2022.


Members considered the Future Work Programme:

·         Councillor Mason reminded the panel that they would be reconvening again before the next meeting to receive a briefing on the budget.

·         Councillor Miscandlon noted that he would like to see Rowland Potter’s offer of coming back before the panel taken up so that they can get a better understand of what is happening and when it is happening.

·         Councillor Booth asked whether the Road Safety Partnership could come before the committee in the future as it had been close to a year since they had last been before the panel.

·         Councillor Count asked whether the next time the Wisbech rail item came before the panel it could include more than just the rail update and focus on Wisbech schemes as a whole.

·         Councillor Mason informed the panel that the Commercial Investment Strategy would be moved from March to May.

·         Councillor Yeulett asked whether they could invite the Mayor to give a presentation on what his plans for Fenland were? Councillor Booth agreed that they should extend an invite to him. A discussion commenced on the scope of the invitation to the Mayor. It was resolved that officers would invite the mayor to present on levelling up and funding for the Fenland area and that this would be kept separate from Rowland Potter’s presentation on Wisbech rail as this would provide more technical details.