Council services by letter

Agenda and minutes

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Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Harrow Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2XY. View directions

Contact: Vishal Seegoolam, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1883 E-mail:  vishal.seegoolam@harrow.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of Chair

To receive a nomination from the Employee’s side as to the Chair to the Forum for the Municipal Year 2014/15.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that Gary Martin be appointed Chair of the Forum for the 2014/15 Municipal Year.

2.

Attendance by Reserve Members

To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.

 

Reserve Members may attend meetings:-

 

(i)                 to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;

(ii)               where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and

(iii)             the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;

(iv)              if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note the attendance of the following duly constituted Reserve Members:

 

Ordinary Member

 

Reserve Member

Councillor Paul Osborn

Councillor Camilla Bath

 

3.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:

 

(a)               all Members of the Forum;

(b)               all other Members present.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that the following interests were declared:

 

Agenda Items 9 & 10 – Draft Revenue Budget 2015/16, Medium Term Financial Strategy 2015/16 to 2018/19 and Capital Programme 2015/16 to 2018/19 & Part 2 of Annual Equality in Employment Report for

1 April 2013 – 31 March 2014

 

Councillor Jeff Anderson declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a member of Unison.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Councillor Graham Henson declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a member of the Communication Workers’ Union, Unison and his cousin was an employee of the Council.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Councillor Barry Kendler declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a retired member of GMB and was sponsored by GMB.  He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.

4.

Appointment of Vice Chair

To note the appointment at the Council meeting held on 12 June 2014 of Councillor Graham Henson as Vice-Chair of the Forum for the Municipal Year 2014/15.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note the appointment of Councillor Graham Henson as Vice?Chair of the Forum for the Municipal Year 2014/15.

5.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 106 KB

That the minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2014, which was reconvened on 3 February 2014, be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2014 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

6.

Petitions, Deputations & Public Questions

To receive petitions (if any) submitted by members of the public/Councillors under the provisions of Executive Procedure Rule 48 (Part 4D of the Constitution).

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that no petitions, deputations or public questions were received.

RESOLVED ITEMS

7.

INFORMATION REPORT - Draft Revenue Budget 2015/16, Medium Term Financial Strategy 2015/16 to 2018/19 and Capital Programme 2015/16 to 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Report of the Director of Finance and Assurance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Forum received a report of the Director of Finance and Assurance which set out the Council’s proposals for the draft Revenue Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2015/16 to 2018/19 and the Draft Capital Programme 2015/16 to 2018/19.

 

Following a question from a Representative regarding the Council Tax Freeze Grant of £1.068m, an officer advised that the current Medium Term Financial Strategy was based on the implementation of a Council Tax increase of 1.99% in 2015/16 which would generate an estimated income of £1.922m and therefore the Freeze Grant would no longer be applicable.

 

A Representative commented that charging residents for the disposal of organic waste would deter residents from recycling, which would impact on the landfill charges the Council paid.  He added that the new 23 litre caddies supplied to households had caused injuries to staff and would lead to increased sickness absence and personal injury claims.  He suggested that households should be charged for additional residual bins. Another Representative asked whether residents had been consulted about the charge and stated that those residents who chose not to pay for this service would still need to dispose of their waste.  The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Major Contracts stated that the introduction of a charge for organic waste had been a difficult decision, made only after extensive discussions and was part of the overall savings the Council was required to make over coming years.  It was anticipated that the scheme would require a 40% take up rate to make it viable and those residents who did not pay the charge had the alternative of composting or taking their waste to the Civic Amenity Site (CAS).  Savings could be made by separating organic waste from dry waste and disposing of them separately and officers would continue to monitor the situation. He added that he would welcome further discussions with the Representative regarding the supply of a second bin to all households.

 

The Director of Finance and Assurance stated that comparable London boroughs had a similar 40% target and that, in his view, this was achievable and would deliver savings.  A Representative added that the CAS saw a high volume of use by residents at weekends, often with long queues building up.

 

The Chair asked what plans were in place to reduce the funding gap and how this fitted into the Council’s overall commercialisation agenda.  The Director of Finance and Assurance stated that he anticipated that savings planned for future years would help reduce the funding gap and he would be working closely with the Portfolio for Finance and Major Contracts on this issue.

 

The Chair asked about the Council’s contribution to West London Waste (WLW).  Harrow residents were actively engaged in recycling and 50% of all waste was recyclable.  However, this had not led to a reduction in the £7m figure.  The Portfolio Holder advised that there was a ‘pay as you throw’ element to the charge which meant lower charges for less waste.

 

A Representative queried whether  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

INFORMATION REPORT - Part 2 of Annual Equality in Employment Report for 1 April 2013 - 31 March 2014 pdf icon PDF 540 KB

Report of the Divisional Director of Human Resources, Development and Shared Services.

Minutes:

The Forum received a report of the Divisional Director of HRD & Shared Services which set out the key issues identified from the 2013/14 equalities in employment data, a revised Action Plan for addressing priority issues highlighted by the data and a review of the Conduct and Dignity at Work cases and equalities workforce data.

 

Following comments from a Representative, an officer advised that lack of IT facilities available to staff at the Depot was a long standing issue, which management were seeking to address.  This included plans to develop a staff Extranet, which would enable staff to access employment information online.

 

Following a question from the Chair, an officer advised that it was important to build up a more complete picture of the workforce profile and often staff with disabilities did not declare this on monitoring forms.  The Council’s recruitment process was designed to be open and transparent and it had an adjustments policy in relation to disabled staff.

 

Following a question from a Member, the Divisional Director of HRD and Shared Services advised that the Council was increasingly moving to online modes of communication but would ensure alternative modes of access for those residents without access to IT.

 

A Representative stated that, in his view, there was a social divide in Britain that had been increasing steadily as a result of policies implemented by successive administrations on both a national and local level.  Efficiencies and cuts implemented by the council in recent years inevitably had a greater impact on those staff on lower grades.  These efficiencies and cuts had not been implemented in an open and transparent manner and their implications had not been fully explored.  Furthermore, the Council operated a covert pay structure, in that highly paid interims and agency staff received higher salaries than those on permanent contracts.  This was not an isolated incident and these discrepancies impacted on Council services.  The officer report should therefore have included a socio-economic impact assessment.  The only way to address these issues would be to instigate a change in culture and institutional behaviours at the Council. 

 

The Divisional Director stated that the report concerned itself with the protected characteristics set out in Equalities legislation and did not therefore include a socio-economic impact assessment.  He added that he would be pleased to discuss this further with the representative outside the meeting.  The Leader added that such an impact assessment would be difficult to measure and quantify, however, the issues raised by the Representative were of great concern and he would be looking into this further and would welcome further discussions with the Representative.

 

A Representative asked why a review of the Conduct and Dignity at Work cases in 2013/14 had not been carried out as in the previous year.  The Divisional Director advised that his service would continue to record and report on employment procedures on the basis of protected characteristics, to both the Corporate Equalities Group and to the Forum.  However, it would not be in a position to resource  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.