Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Panel - Monday, 10th October, 2022 1.30 pm

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

Contact: Linda Albon  Member Services and Governance Officer

No. Item


Previous Minutes. pdf icon PDF 185 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of 18 July 2022.


The minutes of the meeting of 18 July 2022 were confirmed and signed subject to the following comment:


·         Councillor Booth asked it to be noted that he had given his apologies prior to the meeting, which had not been recorded in the minutes.


Update on previous actions. pdf icon PDF 181 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 asked that any updates to the action plan are kept in alignment and dealt with, so members do not miss them. 

·         Councillor Mason requested an update on the Task and Finish Group. Anna Goodall advised that numerous dates have been circulated to the Group members in relation to their availability to conduct the review. Time is of the essence because for the review findings to be fed into the draft Business Plan, the Group needs to have concluded that work by the end of October so it can feed into Cabinet and full Council. Further dates can be circulated but if not, for the governance process to take place, members may need to reconsider whether the results from the Task and Finish Group will feed into the Plan for 2023/24 or if it will be delayed and therefore influence the Plan for 2024/25. Councillor Mason thanked Anna Goodall for the clarification.

·         Councillor Booth pointed out that he had given his availability, but half the dates have now passed. He added that the goal posts are already changing to complete this task because a meeting has been diarised for 21st November. The main feeding point for the Business Plan is the Key Performance Indicators for measuring the objectives. If the objectives are okay, then do we have the KPIs to support the objectives? This is a point he has been raising all along. Councillor Booth added that he believes the Business Plan can still go ahead for consultation but wonders if we are setting too challenging dates to get this process finished. If the objectives are the right ones, then we need to ensure we have the right KPIs. He believes the end of October is not correct; the issue is if we can get usable KPIs by the time the new Business Plan is adopted but it takes time to develop those.

·         Anna Goodall advised the dates of either 31st October or 21st November were the potential for the additional meeting date of Overview & Scrutiny so the panel could agree whether the outcome of the review was acceptable to them and therefore those recommendations go to Cabinet. The potential meeting date of 21st November was a full O&S panel meeting for that reason rather than a Task and Finish Group. So, the results of the Group would need to be concluded by then to feed into that for that agreement for the Cabinet papers to be published on 2nd December.

·         Anna Goodall confirmed the core Group consisted of Councillors Booth, Connor and Miscandlon, with subs being Councillors Hay and Wicks. Both Councillors Connor and Miscandlon advised they would be on leave during October. Anna Goodall said that If members are agreeable and still wish to pursue the Task and Finish Group and achieve the output to contribute to the Business Plan for 2023/24 then further dates can be circulated and  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC9/22


Public Health Presentation pdf icon PDF 939 KB

A report from Dr Jyoti Atri, Director of Public Health setting out the approach being proposed to tackle health inequalities.


Councillor Mason welcomed Dr Jyoti Atri and Val Thomas from Public Health, and Annabel Tighe to the meeting.


Dr Atri shared a presentation giving some of the key health outcome data and gave a brief introduction to the Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the statutory Director of Public Health Annual Report. 


Some key points from the demographic data: 


·         The population of Fenland is aging.

·         Fenland Life Expectancy for both males and females is shorter in Fenland compared to Cambridgeshire and England.

·         Fenland has one of the highest rates of early death (under 75) from cardiovascular disease in the East of England, much of which is preventable and linked to deprivation and behaviour.

·         Since 2013, rates of premature mortality, not just caused by cardiovascular disease, have been increasing. Rates are significantly higher in Fenland than England and this is not declining.

·         Childhood obesity is worse in children in Fenland than Cambridgeshire with about 20.5% of year 6 children being obese (up to 36% if looking at overweight and obese) and 15% of Fenland children are living in absolute low-income families.

·         2018 against 2021 data shows a decrease in children’s wellbeing and mental health

·         Fenland has one of the highest rates of death by suicide in the East of England.


Dr Atri explained that both Peterborough and Cambridgeshire Health and Wellbeing boards have merged to form a single entity that meets as a committee in common with the Integrated Care Partnership, with representation from the Combined Authority and Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner.  The mission statement is ‘All together for healthier futures’ with three overarching ambitions: 


1.    Have better outcomes for our children

2.    Reduce inequalities in deaths under 75 years

3.    Increase the number of years that people live in good health.


Dr Atri further outlined a series of priorities that have been agreed to fulfil these ambitions and the approach to health inequalities. 


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


1.    Councillor Mason said he thinks the report and presentations identifies the problems; it is a matter of getting to the solutions.

2.    Councillor Booth thanked Dr Atri for the presentation. He said what Dr Atri is basically saying is that different tools are used to target different issues. In terms of using a universal approach to make improvements, it is his view that it is more at government level where that needs to be led. He would like a better understanding of what is being done to improve Fenland health outcomes. In the past there has been a list of action plans, and he remembers hearing a few years ago that smoking cessation was going in the right direction, but last year’s report indicated that smoking was increasing in the working population so he would like to know what is happening there. The previous action plans involved holding workshops to target large employers to encourage smoking cessation in the workplace. So, it is more of an understanding of what is happening in Fenland to  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC10/22


Local Government Ombudsman - Annual Review of Complaints pdf icon PDF 5 MB

To update Members on the annual statistics in relation to the Local Government and Health and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO) and the Council’s corporate ‘3Cs’ procedure. This explains how we deal with the comments, compliments, correspondence and complaints we receive.



Councillor Boden presented the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) Annual Review of Complaints report to members.


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


1.    Councillor Mason said he was pleased to see there were more compliments than complaints and was keen to note that senior officers are very helpful in addressing and resolving complaints, for which he would particularly like to thank Dan Horn and Phil Hughes. It was also pleasing to see that officers are attempting to identify themes resulting from complaints in the last 12 months. Councillor Mason asked if these could be broken down into some form of data so the Panel can see where most complaints are coming from.

2.    Councillor Boden said we need to think about what we are trying to do. It is not merely that we have a process in place to deal with complaints, and that so long as they are dealt with satisfactorily, they progress no further and do not end up going to the Ombudsman. So far as the three Ombudsman complaints are concerned, they are assessed, and it is not just about resolving the individual problem that exists but looking to see if there are underlying themes within those problems that need resolution to ensure change takes place to prevent problems reoccurring. It is by being open and positive about dealing with complaints, that changes to the good do take place. So, the grouping together in themes is valid, and there is no reason why that information cannot be more available. We want to better publicise our 3Cs service; complaints can be productive, and the Council wants to hear from people if things go wrong because we want to do better than we do now. There are always things that can be done better. Our attitude is that we will listen to people, and we will respond to them.

3.    David Wright stated that every complaint is logged under a service and then broken down into areas or topics. After examination, there are no topics in each area that have recurring themes this year, although that is not to say that has not been the case in previous years.

4.    Councillor Mason said looking at the data, most complaints seem to be for Refuse and asked if they are common or multiple complaints. David Wright advised that because Refuse is a frontline service, many complaints relate to missed bins. However, an online missed bins form has been developed for customers to report quickly and if it is a correct missed bin, the issue can be resolved quickly by going back to them for collection. If it is not a correct missed bin, then this can be followed up with the customer to explain why it has not been done.

5.    Councillor Boden added that the figures relating to missed bins are slightly misleading, it is not that a certain number of bins were missed, but these are complaints where people felt that the service provided was  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC11/22


Annual Meeting with the Leader and Chief Executive pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Presentation on FDC’s key achievements and performance 2021/22


Members had received the presentation from the Leader and Chief Executive prior to the meeting. 


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


1.    Councillor Boden said he noted that several of the questions received from the pre-meet are more operational than strategic and asked if the report is being produced in a way which is not helpful for the Overview and Scrutiny Panel to question the strategic side of what the Council does.

2.    Councillor Mason said he was satisfied with the presentation of the report as it highlights the indicators, although it was important to concentrate on the RAG. However, there are only two points to bring up on this, one being the homeless situation, which is being dealt with positively.

3.    Councillor Boden said this is not an easy area to work in and it is getting more rather than less difficult for various reasons; he has a great deal of respect for the officers working in this field, they do a lot of work behind the scenes daily to prevent further homelessness. Councillor Boden added that it is recognised there is insufficient resource, which is why we have acted with many partners to have greater resource available so we can deal with individuals who find themselves in that terrible situation of being statutorily homeless more efficiently, effectively, and compassionately.

4.    Councillor Mason said the other red area relates to Planning. Minor issues seem to be in the red as opposed to major planning applications and he would like to know why.

5.    Paul Medd responded that is always a concern when performance targets are either amber or red. In respect of the minor planning applications, this can be put down to two key issues, namely the unprecedented volume of applications over the last 12 months, although it is good to see active development in the district, coupled with a degree of staff turnover, which impacts on continuity and time taken to induct new staff.

6.    Councillor Mason asked if there are the staff to deal with minor applications. Paul Medd responded that there is a continuum, always making sure there is a fit-for-purpose staff structure to deliver on Council objectives, but it is also about finding the balance between having adequate skills and capacity against the sustainable financial situation and challenges the Council is confronted with. One of the other issues that impacts on timescales is that applications need to be validated which puts further pressure on the system.

7.    Councillor Boden said that the importance of looking at the planning team processes cannot be overemphasised, streamlining to achieve more with the same number of staff. There is currently a lot of work going on behind the scenes which will lead to a significant improvement of team performance overall. He is not sure that that the numbers always tell the truth that may be useful to us, and they are not always direct measures of our failure; in some cases it is down to  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC12/22


Future Work Programme pdf icon PDF 120 KB

To consider the Draft Work Programme for Overview & Scrutiny Panel 2022/23.


Members considered the Future Work Programme.


1.    Councillor Mason said he would be keen to bring forward the Clarion review in terms of getting ahead of the winter period. Anna Goodall said Clarion had confirmed they would be attending the December meeting.

2.    Councillor Connor suggested that, following the discussion with the Director of Public Health, the Panel should invite the Clinical Commissioning Group to get some clarification on what is going on with Fenland health-wise. Councillor Booth said Dr Aytri had recommended the ICB should be invited rather than the CCG.

3.    Councillor Miscandlon said the Panel needs either a written update or presentation from Anglian Water. Their response times to leaks in Whittlesey is abysmal. Ten days ago he reported a leak on the A605 opposite the end of Victory Avenue, they thanked him for reporting it but ten days on it is still gushing water. Councillor Connor said he would speak to the Regional Manager to see what he can do. Anna Goodall highlighted that Anglian Water are scheduled to attend the July 2023 meeting. Councillor Booth said they should be invited sooner rather than later; one of the things they reported to the Panel was that there would be no discharges of pollution into waterways, but they have been fined quite heavily for that so either we were not getting the full information, or something has happened. Councillor Connor agreed, adding that come July we do not know who will be on the Panel. Councillor Purser said the Panel needs to be mindful that Anglian Water are not beholden to us. Councillor Miscandlon agreed but added that they have been very cooperative with us previously, we have had excellent responses from them, and they deserve some credit.