Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Panel - Monday, 7th March, 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 143 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of 7 February 2022.


The minutes of the meeting of 7 February 2022 were confirmed and signed subject to the following comments:

·         Councillor Booth referred to item OSC40/21 which stated that more research needed to be conducted. He explained that the point he was attempting to make was that the project was taking a long time and that there were further stages to go through.


Update on previous actions. pdf icon PDF 301 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 Mason thanked Member Services for the concise action list produced.

·         Councillor Miscandlon stated that the watching brief item regarding updates from the CPCA on skills, employment and apprenticeships was now complete and that any further updates would now come to the Panel via Councillor Booth and himself.  


Update on CPCA Growth Service pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To provide the Overview & Scrutiny Panel with a general update presentation on Economic Growth activities between the Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) & FDC and to provide a specific update presentation on the CPCA’s Growth Service and the impact on Economic Growth in Fenland.



Members considered the update on CPCA Growth Service.  Steve Clark, Richard Cuda, Ed Coleman and Fliss Miller from the CPCA Growth Service were welcomed to the meeting.


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

  • Councillor Count asked what the CPCA were doing specifically for Fenland? He identified that there was positive movement with the weightings which would allow Fenland to feature higher and receive more projects and recognised that Fenland had been awarded more funding than some Council’s but less than others and argued that Fenland required significantly more than anyone else in terms of levelling up. Councillor Count stated that it would be helpful to see what the overall effect it was having arguing that they were not having the desirable effect as for Fenland to catch up with other areas they must be number one for levelling up for years to come due to the current deficit compared to other areas. He noted that productivities for Fenland were £26 per hour compared to the second lowest which was £33 per hour for Peterborough and whilst the differences did not sound like much it still constituted a 27% increase. Councillor Count expressed his surprise that all programmes had a combination of Peterborough, Huntingdon and Fenland as the other areas preform much better and asked why Fenland had not been individually identified as needing further assistance compared to the other areas? He acknowledged that there was a vast proportion of work aimed at growth but asked what was being done in other areas such as upskilling workers and questioned whether the CPCA were looking at the possibility of growth through removing people from the chain and implementing automation. Councillor Count  proceeded to clarify that there was a lot of good work being undertaken but reasserted that he wished to see more focus on Fenland. Ed Coleman explained that the biggest challenge they faced in terms of food production businesses was the perception they had of the growth services work. He identified that they need to overcome the inherent stereotypes of their service and develop relationships to enable them to establish a foothold and informed the Panel that they needed to place emphasis on local connections in years two and three. Steve Clark explained that regarding investing in automation, they had planned to have another stream of work around innovation funding but informed the Panel that they were unable to fund this in the overall package. However, he did state there was a possibility that this could be added in the future and since the levelling up agenda had evolved any new work streams would be likely to focus on Fenland. Steve Clark stated that with the Community Renewal Fund the Government had picked Fenland and Peterborough as the two places and Huntingdon had been tagged. He informed the panel that they had given grants for business to invest into new technologies and automation through the agriculture scheme and that some investments had helped with productivity but identified  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC44/21


Transformation & Communications Portfolio Holder Update pdf icon PDF 2 MB

This report sets out the Council’s progress in delivering the Transformation and Communications portfolio. 



Members considered the Transformation & Communications Portfolio Holder update.


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

  • Councillor Miscandlon stated that the Council were currently attempting to move services online and become fully internet integrated but asked what they were doing for residents who either had no access to the internet or did not wish to use the internet, stating that he did not wish to see people left behind. Councillor Tierney stated that this was an area that was important to him, explaining that they were not doing away with the old methods of communication and service and that they were keeping the traditional routes open alongside moving to a greater online presence. He stated that the Council were not trying to move everyone online. Councillor Miscandlon agreed with this approach but that the  perception was that the Council was becoming fully internet based. He was glad for the confirmation that this was not the case as many of the older generation do not wish to move online. Councillor Tierney responded that he had a dual role as portfolio holder for IT and communications and that whenever the Council do a press release regarding this matter, they always assert that they will not be leaving people behind.
  • Councillor Mason explained that there had been a lot of pressure on the local Council offices with residents calling in with all sorts of queries. He explained that they were often directed to the central number and asked what the process was from this point onwards. Councillor Tierney explained that changes had been made so that more could be done via the internet to reduce pressure on the traditional routes and that they had also introduced new call handling systems and software to help manage the way information is handled so that fewer people are needed but they can work faster and respond more quickly. Anna Goodall explained that the Council went live with My Fenland in July 2021 which brought together teams that had been customer facing under one umbrella, with the previous system involving the customer having to interpret which service they needed and then find the relevant number or email address for that service whereas the new system required no interpretation as there is now one central point of contact. She explained that as part of the process they changed the job descriptions to make them much more customer focused, eliminating single points of failure and took full advantage of the enhancements in technology and the digital process. Anna Goodall outlined the process for the panel stating that the new process involved customers phoning in via the 01354 654321 number to access the contact centre where they can then hold to get through to staff, with there now being two levels of staff within the structure, including advisors and technical officers. She explained that advisors deal with a wide range of questions and can reply to any query relating to the Council to a certain level and technical  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC45/21


Future Work Programme pdf icon PDF 192 KB

To consider the Draft Work Programme for Overview & Scrutiny Panel 2021/22.


Members considered the Future Work Programme:

·         Councillor Mason made the point that the programme had been extended for the following year and asked if members had any comments on what had been included.

·         Councillor Miscandlon expressed the view that the agenda for the meeting of 9 May 2022 seemed to be pretty full with the Cultural Strategy and Commercial Investment Strategy and Investment Board and asked whether there was enough data available to fill the meeting. Councillor Mason responded that they would not know until the day. Councillor Booth stated that the Commercial Investment Strategy and Investment Board would be the main topic of discussion with a year’s worth of work to be covered. He said that the Cultural Strategy is more driven by the Arts Council with Fenland District Council acting as custodians and suggested that there may be less to discuss on this item.

·         Councillor Miscandlon expressed the view that the Housing Enforcement item would also be short as he doubted that there would be much of an update. Councillor Mason stated that he believed it would be quite a full meeting and that the agenda would be left as it is.

·         Councillor Booth asked whether the Task and Finish item would be to agree the terms of reference to allow them to move forward. Councillor Mason confirmed that this was the case.