Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 4th November, 2010
Time:
7.30pm
Place:
Committee Room 1, Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City
 
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillor Alan Millard (Vice-Chairman), Councillor David Billing, Councillor John Bishop, Councillor J.M. Cunningham, Councillor S.K. Jarvis, Councillor Lawrence Oliver, Councillor R.L. Shakespeare - Smith.

NB: Councillor John Bishop arrived at 7.40 p.m.
In attendance:
Liz Green (Head of Policy, Partnerships and Comminuty Development), Andrew Godman (Head of Housing and Public Potection), Anthony Roche (Senior Lawyer), Rebecca Coates (Community Safety Manager), Brendan Sullivan (Scrutiny Officer) and Hilary Dineen (Committee and Member Services Officer)
Also Present:
Councillor Michael Paterson
Item Description/Decision
PART I
12 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Lee Downie, Paul Marment and Elliot Needham.

Councillor Julian Cunningham advised that, having given due notice, he would be substituting for Councillor Paul Marment.

Councillor S.K. Jarvis advised that, having given due notice, he would be substituting for Councillor Lee Downie.

Councillor Ray Shakespeare-Smith advised that, having given due notice, he would be substituting for Councillor Elliot Needham.
13 MINUTES
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 July 2010 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and signed by the Chairman.
14 NOTIFICATION OF OTHER BUSINESS
No other business was submitted for consideration by the Committee.
15 PUBLIC PARTICIPATION
There were no presentations from members of the public.
16 CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS
(1) The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting of the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee;

(2) The Chairman apologised on behalf of Committee Services, that the Agenda contained two Items numbered 6.

(3) Members were reminded that any declarations of interest in respect of any business set out in the agenda, and the nature of the interest, should be declared as either a prejudicial or personal interest at the commencement of the relevant item on the agenda. Members declaring a prejudicial interest should leave the room and not seek to influence the decision during that particular item;

(4) The Chairman gave a further reminder that any advice from a Member of the Committee concerning a party whip direction should also be declared.
17 HERTS CONSTABULARY - PARTNERSHIP WORKING
The Chairman advised Members that Chief Inspector Neil Ballard of the Hertfordshire Constabulary had tendered his apologies. Inspector Ballard had stated that he would be unable to attend the meeting to make a presentation regarding partnership working due to a critical incident however stated he would welcome an invitation to the next meeting of this Committee.

RESOLVED: That the Committee and Member Services Officer be requested to invite Chief Inspector Neill Ballard to make a presentation regarding “Herts Constabulary - Partnership Working” at the next meeting of the Committee due to be held on 3 March 2011.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee are kept fully informed about the role of Partnership Working within Hertfordshire Constabulary.
18 REGULATION OF INVESTIGATORY POWERS ACT (RIPA)
The Senior Lawyer informed Members that the Monitoring Officer had been unable to attend the meeting and offered her apologies and then presented the report of the Corporate Legal Manager and Monitoring Officer regarding the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). He drew attention to Paragraph 4.2.1 which detailed that, since October 2007, there had been 15 directed surveillance authorisations, which had been used to investigate benefit fraud, fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour and advised that the Head of Revenues and Benefits found the legislation invaluable in respect of benefit fraud. He informed Members that the Government was in the process of reviewing this legislation. He directed Members attention to Appendix 1 of the report which contained the NHDC Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) Policy and Procedures, which provided an overview of how RIPA operated in North Hertfordshire and the role of the Committee in the process. He advised that updates would be provided to the Committee at every meeting.

Members asked several questions including what were the findings of the Office of Surveillance Commissioners inspections mentioned in Paragraph 3.6; how was any confidential recorded material securely stored and whether there had been any incidence of collateral intrusion through use of covert surveillance. They considered that more information would be required in future update reports including the number of uses, what it was used for and the number of cases where collateral intrusion had occurred.

The Senior Lawyer advised that the Office of Surveillance Commissioners report had been complementary and supportive of the approach detailed in the new Policy and paperwork that had been introduced and that areas identified for improvement had been addressed. He informed Members that there were a small number of Senior Officers who were fully trained Authorising Officers

The Head of Housing and Public Protection Service informed Members that that overt surveillance did not fall under RIPA legislation and therefore was not reported and that use of the RIPA authorisation was time consuming and used only when deemed absolutely necessary and that the Monitoring Officer oversaw use of the legislation, kept records regarding usage and reviewed renewals. He advised that the RIPA legislation applied to collection of data rather than future management, however, authorisations included that information and images would be stored securely and deleted as soon as possible and that this consisted of a securely locked cupboard and GovConnect guidance on computer security; that future reports would contain the information requested; that the Committee may wish to consider any over and/or under use of the legislation and that the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee would be the body to scrutinise NHDC’s use of the legislation.

RESOLVED: That the Monitoring Officer be requested to provide an update report regarding usage of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 to each meeting of the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee to include the following:
(i) Number of uses;
(ii) What it was used for;
(iii) Number of cases where Collateral Intrusion occurred.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee are kept fully informed about the use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 in North Hertfordshire.
19 UPDATE ON IMPROVEMENT ACTIONS ARISING FROM THE PARTNERSHIPS TOOLKIT
The Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development presented a report regarding Improvement Actions Arising from the Partnerships Toolkit. She advised the partnership agenda was changing rapidly and drew attention to the following:
DISTRICT CHILDREN'S TRUST PARTNERSHIP
• Paragraph 5.3 which detailed the development of a communications plan
• She advised that this Partnership was being reviewed by Hertfordshire County Council;
LOCAL STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP
• Paragraph 6.3 which detailed membership
• Paragraph 6.5 which detailed finance and performance measuring
• She advised that this was an area which was changing rapidly;
COMMUNITY SAFETY PARTNERSHIP
• Paragraph 7.3 which detailed the Communications Plan;
LONDON COMMUNTER BELT(LCB)
• Paragraph 8.1 which detailed the role of this partnership
• She advised that a new Hertfordshire based group was likely to emerge in the near future at which time the Partnership Toolkit would need to be reviewed
HERTS WASTE PARTNERSHIP
• Paragraph 9.3 which detailed data sharing protocols
• She advised that the review of these protocols had been completed;
HERTS RESILIENCE PARTNERSHIP
• She advised that membership of this partnership was being reviewed, which when completed would require a review of the Partnership Toolkit.

Members debated the report including that any decision regarding whether actions were satisfactorily completed or no longer required should be made by this Committee, although account should be taken of changing views and the changing role of partnerships. Members expressed concern that the role and responsibilities of the Committee were understood and that future reports include details of goals, successes, areas for improvement and annual reports of the partnership as well as the detailed Partnership Toolkit. The Committee noted that the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution had been identified as a means to resolve any major disputes between partners and agreed that further details regarding this organisation should be circulated to Members and asked for clarification regarding whether this method of resolution could be instigated quickly for time sensitive matters.

The Head of Housing and Public Protection Service advised that it was hoped the disputes would be resolved locally by negotiation or by vote but as a last resort the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution could be used and although it would take some time to be instigated this would allow space for parties to resolve the matter locally.

The Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development advised Members that currently all partnerships were in flux; that Partnership Toolkit improvements could be incorporated into action plans, although any actions identified needed to be SMART and confirmed that COVALENT could not be used for monitoring these actions plans. She advised that a further report regarding improvement actions would be presented to the next meeting of this Committee.

RESOLVED:
(1) That the Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development be requested to review the actions arising from the Partnerships Toolkit and present her findings to the next meeting of this Committee due to be held on 3 March 2011.

(2) That the Head of Housing and Public Protection Service be requested to circulate details regarding the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) to Members of the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee are kept fully informed about the actions arising from the Partnerships Toolkit.
20 NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE PARTNERSHIPS REPORT FOR 2009/2010
The Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development presented a report regarding North Hertfordshire Partnerships (LSP). She advised that the Local Strategic Partnership was a non-statutory partnership which brought together different parts of the public, private, voluntary and community sectors working at local level. She informed Members that the North Herts Local Strategic Partnership was only funded by the Performance Reward Grant which was devolved to LSPs though the County Council and that monitoring and reporting of this one-off expenditure was undertaken by NHDC although onward reporting to a national level was the responsibility of the County Council. In regard to the Annual Report at Appendix A she advised that this was prepared by partner agencies and included details of issues that benefited from a partnership approach.

Members debated the report including that many of the actions undertaken by the Local Strategic Partnership would have been completed whether the LSP was in existence or not and that the Minutes and reports presented to the LSP should be made available. Concern was expressed that large expenditure was undertaken with no information or input from this Council and that monitoring of expenditure was limited. Members sought to clarify that the role of this Committee and the Council in the process was invaluable, expressed disappointment that a representative of the Partnership was not present at the meeting to answer questions and queried whether the Duty to Co-operate was still in place. It was further debated that, although the annual report presented to this Committee was useful as a high level view of successes, Members would wish to see a list of what was hoped to be achieved (targets) together with the evidence of what actually was achieved and what was not able to be completed.

The Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development confirmed that the Duty to co-operate was still in force and suggested that as the LSP was an overarching partnership it may be useful to ask members of the underpinning membership parties to attend. She advised that many organisations contributed evidence to the LSP including the Responsible Authorities group, the Joint Action Group, County Partnership and schools. She informed the Committee that applications for Performance Reward Grant funding included the completion of a 10 page form which gave significant details. In respect of the LSP she stated that this was a large group of approximately 50 people.

RESOLVED: That the Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development be requested to present a report containing sufficient information to support proper evaluation of the Local Strategic Partnership, to include the issues detailed below, to the next meeting of the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee meeting due to be held on 3 March 2011.
(i) A list of targets (what was hoped to be achieved), which relate to the Sustainable Community Strategy;
(ii) A list of achievements;
(iii) Details of what could not be completed, with reasons why this was not possible;
(iv) Details of responsibility and ownerships of funds made available to the Local Strategic Partnership by way of the Performance Reward Grant.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee are able to effectively review the Local Strategic Partnership.
21 DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE OF THE NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE COMMUNITY SAFETY JOINT ACTION GROUP
The Community Safety Officer presented the Draft Terms of Reference of the North Hertfordshire Community Safety Joint Action Group. She informed Members that the Community Safety Joint Action Group was an operational, multi - agency group, which looked at the delivery of local priorities and that much of the business was of a confidential nature and therefore was not open to the public although a Communications Sub-Group consisting of NHDC, Police and Fire representatives, were working together to consider how issues could be promoted effectively.

Members considered that the line of responsibility should be included in the Terms of Reference and requested that the Community Safety Action Plans be circulated to Members of this Committee.

RESOLVED:
(1) That the Draft Terms of Reference of the North Hertfordshire Community Safety Joint Action Group be supported;

(2) That the Community Safety Manager be requested to circulate the current and future Community Safety Action Plan to all Members of the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee.

REASON FOR DECISION: To enable the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee to consider the Draft Terms of Reference of the North Hertfordshire Community Safety Joint Action Group.
22 DRAFT TERMS OF REFERENCE OF THE NORTH HERTFORDSHIRE COMMUNITY SAFETY RESPONSIBLE AUTHORITIES GROUP
The Head of Housing and Public Protection service presented the draft Terms of Reference of the North Hertfordshire Responsible Authorities Group. He advised that redrafting the Terms of Reference had been useful in that the responsibilities and objectives had been mapped and then consideration given to performance and dispute resolution. The Terms of Reference being considered were based on the previous version and included legislative requirements.

Members debated that this Committee would wish to monitor whether actions were completed and objectives met and asked how the Group was publicised to the interested parties detailed in Paragraph 5.5 of the report and to the general public as detailed in Paragraph 8.1. They noted that the information at Paragraph 4.2.8 would need to be updated in view of recent Government changes. Members considered that it was important that the General Meeting be advertised and that this Committee be able to consider whether objectives are met. They also considered that there was little consistency in the approach to the business of the Locality Neighbourhood Panels, questioned whether these were effective or representative and considered that some basic procedures for these Panels should be devised by the Responsible Authorities Group.

The Head of Housing and Public Protection Service stated that although there were issues that were confidential, at least one meeting per year was open to the public, which was advertised in NHDCs Outlook. He advised that the Performance indicators at Paragraph 4.2.8 would remain until the end of the year at which point local indicators would come into force and that recommendation 8.1 could be amended to include an invitation to Hertfordshire Constabulary to review the effectiveness of the Locality Neighbourhood Panels. He advised that there was a legal requirement to consider a mechanism by which the Chairman of the Group could be removed and therefore would be recommending that the Leader of the Council be responsible for this decision if required.

The Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development advised that North Herts was acknowledged as an area of low crime and that this had to be balanced against the costs and risks of advertising.

RESOLVED: That the following issues be included in the Draft terms of Reference of the North Hertfordshire Responsible Authorities Group:

(1) That the General Meeting of the Group be properly and clearly advertised to the public;

(2) That the North Herts Community Safety Partnership invite Hertfordshire Constabulary to review the effectiveness of the Locality Neighbourhood Panels;

(3) That the Leader of the Council be considered as the appropriate mechanism to remove the Chairman of the Responsible Authorities Group, should this be deemed necessary.

REASON FOR DECISION: To enable the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee to consider the Draft Terms of Reference of the North Hertfordshire Responsible Authorities Group.
23 PARTNERSHIPS SCRUTINY SUB-COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME 2010/2011
The Scrutiny Officer presented the Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme 2010/2011 and advised that he would be canvassing Members regarding what content they would wish to see presented in reports.

Members considered that the following should be included in the work programme:
• Review revised Annual Strategic Assessment for Community Safety, including crime statistics
• Review effectiveness of District Childrens Trust Partnership
• Review effectiveness and Scrutiny of the Herts Waste Partnership benefits
• Review partnerships with Registered Social Landlords
• Review effectiveness of the Local Strategic Partnership
• Review partnerships which work with the Police
• Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act
• The Role of this Committee in Health Scrutiny
• Report on Pathfinder

Members expressed grave concern that the ability of this Committee to undertake it’s workload was severely hampered by the low number of scheduled meetings and considered that effective scrutiny of this workload would involve a significant amount of Officer time. They were also concerned to avoid duplication of the work of the main Overview and Scrutiny Committee and considered that a strategic view of Overview and Scrutiny may be required.

RESOLVED:

(1) That the draft work programme be endorsed;

(2) That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme include:
• Review revised Annual Strategic Assessment for Community Safety, including crime statistics;
• Review effectiveness of District Childrens Trust Partnership;
• Review effectiveness and Scrutiny of the Herts Waste Partnership benefits;
• Review partnerships with Registered Social Landlords;
• Review effectiveness of the Local Strategic Partnership;
• Review partnerships which work with the Police;
• Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act;
• The Role of this Committee in Health Scrutiny;
• Report on Pathfinder.

REASON FOR DECISION: To enable the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee to plan and carry out its workload efficiently and effectively.
Published on Thursday, 23rd December, 2010
9.30 p.m.