Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee Minutes

Thursday, 3rd March, 2011
Committee Room 1, Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City

Attendance Details

Councillor Paul Marment (Chairman), Councillor Alan Millard (Vice-Chairman), Councillor David Billing, Councillor John Bishop, Councillor Lawrence Oliver.
In attendance:
Jacqui Hime (NHCVS), Liz Green (Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development), Andrew Godman (Head of Housing and Public Protection), Katie White (Corporate legal Manager) and Hilary Dineen (Committee and Member Services Officer).
Also Present:
Councillor Michael Paterson and one member of the public.
Item Description/Decision
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Lee Downie and Elliot Needham.
A Member expressed disappointment that the outcomes on the Community Safety Action Plans were process based rather than objective based.

The Head of Housing and Public Protection advised that the Community Safety Action Plans would be reviewed in the near future at which time the number of outcomes would be reduced and those remaining would be more focused.

RESOLVED: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 4 November 2010 be approved as a true record of the proceedings and signed by the Chairman.
No other business was submitted for consideration by the Committee.
There were no presentations from members of the public.
(1) 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;

(2) The Chairman gave a further reminder that any advice from a Member of the Committee concerning a party whip direction should also be declared.
Chief Inspector Neil Ballard of the Hertfordshire Constabulary gave a verbal presentation to the Committee and drew attention to the following:
• The Community Safety Partnership had a healthy relationship with Hertfordshire Constabulary;
• Officers within the Constabulary and North Herts District Council had a good working relationship;
• The partnership should not be led too much by the Police;
• It was crucial that partners work together effectively and efficiently;
• The Joint Anti-Social Behaviour Team worked together on more serious anti-social behaviour;
• There had been successful Partner Enhanced Community Projects around Wilbury and the Grange;
• A pilot Community Safety Partnership named Operation Protector was underway. This partnership was working with Children’s Schools and Families looking at the safe protection of children;
• Through the Joint Action Group there had been success with Selector DNA (a method of marking property). This had been supported by the Neighbourhhood Panels in identified problem areas;
• The Police were working closely with security in the Industrial Area;
• The police had a close working relationship with the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation.

Inspector Ballard then advised Members of the pressures and changes expected due to the financial climate as follows:
• This was a time of pressured resources which had resulted in the reduction from two to one for the Safe Neighbourhood Inspectors in North Herts;
• Baldock Police Station would be closing;
• Front enquiry desks at police stations throughout Hertfordshire would be closing, although opening hours of those that remain open would be better than first envisaged;
• That due to police station closures a base for the Safer Neighbourhood Team of 4 people was being sought;
• The Constabulary had stated that the Safer Neighbourhoods Policing was protected for 2 years;
• A new regime had been instigated which would trigger police action based on the number of complaints received;
• Police overtime must be reduced;
• Operation Prince, which stopped cars using Automatic Number Plate Recognition had resulted in a drop in burglary of dwelling, however this was now under threat due to budget reductions and constraints on out of hours working, generally used to resource this activity.

Members asked several questions including how could the effectiveness in outcomes regarding children at risk work be improved; that effectiveness and membership of Neighbourhood Policing Panels appeared to inconsistent as was the chairing, note taking of meetings and follow up actions of these panels and that the requirement to identify 3 priorities at Neighbourhood Policing Panel meetings was unrealistic as information regarding crime in the area was not usually available. Members also queried whether Dispersal Orders would continue to be used in problem areas.

Chief Inspector Ballard advised that Neighbourhood Policing Panels were not chaired due to limited resources; that Panels should be considering Safer Neighbourhood issues, however the comments made would be considered and he confirmed that resourcing of any Dispersal Orders would take place at least for the next 2 years.

The Head of Housing and Public Protection informed Members that Neighbourhood Panels were by nature considering local issues and that the information provided by the Panels were considered in the Strategic Assessment.

RESOLVED: That Chief Inspector Ballard be thanked for his presentation.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee are kept fully informed about the role of Partnership Working within Hertfordshire Constabulary.
The Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development presented a report which updated the Committee on Partnerships. She introduced Jacqui Hime (Chairman of the District Childrens Trust Partnership/Vice-Chairman of the North Herts District Local Strategic Partnership) who would be available to answer questions from Members and informed Members that all partnerships were in a state of flux due to recent legislative and inspection changes and, going forward, elements of the Localism Bill however this report considered the positions of 3 of the partnerships as follows:

• The plans for this Partnership were previously directed or prescribed by legislation but was now facing a period of significant change;
• The County Hertfordshire Childrens Trust Partnership had scheduled a number of meetings to discuss options for the future including considering the future of Children Schools and Families;

Jacquie Hime informed Members:
• that thinking regarding the future was quite advanced;
• that good working relationships had been built, but the Partnership would be affected by changes to partner working practices;
• that good practice was shared between groups and strong partnership working was required for this to happen;
• that the Diversionary Sub-Group had worked very well, although this would have happened without the Partnership;
• that the Multi Agency Safety Team worked well;
• that there was a good working relationship with the Police;
• that with limited resources the Partnership would be ever more important;
• that the DCTP was a large structure, but quite cost effective;
• that the Partnership would concentrate on bullying as an issue, working in a targeted way with partners including schools and police.

Members queried whether networking would work as effectively as having meetings.

Jacqui Hime advised that it was useful for discussions to take place in the same room.

• The Hertfordshire Waste Partnership was currently asking all members authorities to agree to an Inter Authority Agreement;
• The proposed agreement will be presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 15 March 2011 and to Cabinet on 22 March 2011.

• The removal of the Comprehensive Area Assessment and the need for formal inspections, which had previously resulted in prescribed activities and record keeping, had meant that the LSP would undergo radical structural changes;
• The plan, as detailed at Appendix C to the report, lays out a reduced number of focused targets which would also take account of changes within partner organisations and this will be taken forward in order to be more effective in the future.

Members welcomed the proposed way forward but were concerned that more Councillors and less officers should be included in the membership and that the Overview and Scrutiny would retain the right to review the Partnership and ask questions.

The Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development advised that the Council and mechanisms such as the LDF had identified the LSP as the body with which to consult and that the Localism Bill contained significant emphasis on Community engagement and the LSP was a useful tool to do this

(1) That the report entitled “Partnership Updates” be noted;

(2) That the audit review of the Herts Waste Partnership be presented to the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee as soon as it becomes available.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee are kept fully informed about the issues surrounding partnership working and relevant resource and policy changes.
The Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development presented the report entitled “Updates” which outlined current positions regarding County Health Scrutiny, Pathfinder and the Duty to Co-operate.

The Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development informed Members that there had been a lot of debate regarding Health Scrutiny and concern had been expressed about the knowledge required to scrutinise it effectively since it would extend to private contractors and health providers and the amount of scrutiny that would be required

The Head of Policy, Partneships and Community Development advised that Pathfinder had completed its initial tasks and led to shared services “closer two-tier working”, which were now being considered for various services and was being led by the Strategic Director of Finance and Governance

Members requested that details of the £26m of savings across the County, as detailed at paragraph 4.3 of the report, be made available to the Overview and Scrutiny Task and Finish Group on Shared Services.

The Corporate Legal Manager informed Members that some savings had been made from the Legal Pathfinder from joint procurement.

The Head of Policy, Partnerships and Community Development advised that the Localism Act contained many changes to this area.

(1) That the report entitled “Update” be noted;

(2) That details of the £26M savings as detailed at paragraph 4.3 of the report be made available to the Overview and Scrutiny Task and Finish Group on Shared Services;

(3) That the Head of Policy, Partnership and Community Development be requested to provide this Committee with an update regarding the Duty to Co-operate once this becomes clear.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee are kept fully updated on issues in their remit.
RESOLVED: That the report entitled “Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA)” be noted.

REASON FOR DECISION: To ensure that the Partnerships Scrutiny Sub-Committee are fully appraised of actions taken under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA by this Council.
Published on Tuesday, 12th April, 2011
8.46 p.m.