Agenda and minutes

Dorset Council - Resources Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 2nd June, 2020 9.30 am

Venue: A link to the meeting can be found on the front page of the agenda.. View directions

Contact: Helen Whitby  01305 224187 - Email:


No. Item




The Chairman opened the meeting by welcoming those who were attending.  The purpose of the meeting was to scrutinise the Council's response to the Covid-19 pandemic which had touched every part of the organisation. He particularly welcomed the Chairmen from the Council's other scrutiny committees who would play a full part in the discussion but not be able to vote on any recommendations.  He then explained how the meeting would be conducted.


He also took the opportunity to thank the Vice-Chairman, who was a retained firefighter, and his colleagues who had been involved in tackling the recent Wareham Forest fire and paid tribute  to those who had volunteered across Dorset to help the vulnerable living within their communities in response to the pandemic.


All Dorset Councillors had been given an opportunity to put forward questions for the meeting.  Questions had been received from Councillors Carole Jones, and Gill Taylor and these were read out at the most appropriate point during the meeting.  The questions and responses would be attached to the minutes.  Questions received from Councillor Jon Orrell were referred to the forthcoming joint meeting of the Dorset Council Health Scrutiny Committee and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council's Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee who were to scrutinise the NHS response to the pandemic.



To receive any apologies for absence.



No apologies for absence were received at the meeting.


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.


No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests were made at the meeting.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 138 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meetings held on:-


(a)        26 November 2019

(b)        13 January 2020

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meetings held on 26 November 2019 and 13 January 2020 were confirmed.  They would be signed by the Chairman at the first available opportunity.


Public Participation pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To receive questions or statements on the business of the committee from town and parish councils and members of the public.


Please note that public speaking has been suspended during the Covid-19 crisis. Each question or statement is limited to no more than 450 words and must be electronically submitted to by the deadline set out below. The question or statement will be read out by an officer of the Council and a response will be given by the appropriate Portfolio Holder at the meeting. All questions/statements and the responses will be published in full within the minutes of the meeting.


The deadline for submission of the full text of a question or statement is 8.30am on Thursday 28 May 2020.



There were no statements or questions from Town and Parish Councils or members of the public.


Covid-19 Response pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To consider a report by the Chief Executive.

Additional documents:


The Committee considered a report by the Chief Executive on Dorset Council's response to the Covid-19 pandemic.  The matter had been referred to the Committee for scrutiny by the Cabinet on 5 May 2020.  The Committee had also been provided with a summary of delegated decisions made during the pandemic and up to 20 April 2020.


The Leader of the Council introduced the report highlighting the important role scrutiny had in considering the Council's response to the pandemic, its achievements and identification of any lessons learned.  The Chief Executive added that although the Council's response to the pandemic had been amazing, it was important to learn from this.  He reminded members that the report related to the situation up until 20 April 2020 and that the circulated list of decisions taken should be considered in the context of the information available at the time they were taken.


Members generally agreed that the Council's response to the pandemic had been very outstanding.  They were then given an opportunity to ask questions about the report and actions taken by the Council. These covered a number of areas with Cabinet Members and senior officers providing detailed responses.



Councillors were told that as a result of lockdown the Council had to make arrangements overnight for 2,500 members of staff to be able to work from home in order for the Council's business to continue.  Following on from this IT had enabled decision making meetings to be held, members kept up to date by regular virtual meetings and for staff briefings.


With regard to media platforms available for virtual meetings, this had been considered the previous week by the Executive Advisory Panel for Digital and ICT.  With 2,500 staff working from home currently, there was a need for any such platform to be secure.  The Council was already using Teams, it was known to be secure and officers were familiar with its use so there was no need to change to a different platform where security was a greater risk.  



Council meetings had taken place virtually from the end of April 2020 as soon as Government legislation allowed this. The first meetings were those of the Cabinet, Audit and Governance and Planning Committees.  The next Council meeting was scheduled for 3 September 2020 and it was hoped that meetings would be fully re-introduced after this date, possibly in person, or by use of hybrid meetings.  The Leader and Chief Executive were keen for meetings to be reintroduced as soon as possible.


It had been agreed that health scrutiny committee meetings not be held in order to not put additional pressures on staff.  However, a joint meeting of Dorset's Health Scrutiny Committee and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole's Health and Adult Social Care Committee was to be arranged to scrutinise the NHS response to the pandemic. 


Local Resilience Forum (LRF)

The Executive Director - Corporate Development represented the Council on the multi-agency LRF Gold Network.  This worked across Dorset during the pandemic, held regular meetings  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.


Urgent items

To consider any items of business which the Chairman has had prior notification and considers to be urgent pursuant to section 100B (4) b) of the Local Government Act 1972. The reason for the urgency shall be recorded in the minutes.



There were no urgent items.


Exempt Business

To move the exclusion of the press and the public for the following item in view of the likely disclosure of exempt information within the meaning of paragraph 3 of schedule 12 A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

The public and the press will be asked to leave the meeting whilst the item of business is considered.


There were no items of exempt business.

Appendix - Dorset Councillor Questions and Responses

From Cllr Carole Jones

1.       I know many members will have heard, like me, from residents who have received the           government food boxes and they had no need of them.  No matter how hard I tried – I could           not remove names or change an address or anything.  This type of activity really needs to be left to the local community as we know where the need is.  I have wasted valuable time in           arranging collections of these boxes to deliver them to the food banks.  I would very much like this fed back please.



We have continued to feed this back, firstly via Local Resilience Forum and Military Planners, and more recently via direct conversations with MHCLG. The difficulty has been that when people deregister from the national Food Box scheme some have experienced also losing their Priority Supermarket Delivery slots (even though this is not meant to be the case) and so we have been reluctant to advise deregistering if they are reliant on supermarket delivery. We agree that a local response coordinated by Dorset Council in partnership with our CVSE would provide the best response but to date Government have decided to continue with their national scheme.


2.       With regards to those that are shielded, whilst Dorset Council will know who they are, as do          the doctors locally, I would have found this information useful after setting up our Covid          Action Group.  This way we could have made the calls instead of Dorset Council having to make them with our local volunteers, we could have quickly identified those needing their prescriptions, we could have prioritised their shopping needs etc.  Whilst there will be GDPR – as this was what can only be described as an emergency – I would think that as local members this information for our own areas could be shared, or perhaps so just as long as it was each local member having that information – could this be discussed?  After all, I am     taking calls for help from the Doctors and the CCG – but we would like to identify those in most need for food parcels – but are having to reach out through the Heads of both schools          to identify those who need help but may not like to ask – surely we could find a better    way?



We have worked with Volunteer Centre Dorset and Age UK to target support to shielded individuals in cases where a local volunteer service was the best way to respond, and in many cases, this includes access to food and medicine as well as other types of support. We have not shared the full list of Shielded Individuals with a range of community groups, and through our Community Shield group we have checked this several times with MHCLG. Their advice has consistently been that we have acted properly and that it would not have been appropriate to share the list of shielded people more widely with a range of Covid Action Groups. Dorset Council has been able to focus our efforts supporting Shielded People precisely because we could trust our wider Community Organisations supported by Elected Members to manage the wider needs of communities in Dorset.


From Councillor Gill Taylor

1.       Our front-line staff have continued to visit vulnerable clients in their homes during COVID. This, I believe, has included social workers who are doing routine checks on residents. Part   of their checks / support includes entering the client’s property as it would not be possible in some cases to ensure the ongoing safety of this client group without being able to see them in their home environment. It is my understanding that the staff who are being asked to undertake these checks / supports are still not being provided with the necessary PPE. If this is correct, please could you comment on why these staff members were not included in staff requiring PPE to undertake their day to day work for their own safety and for the safety of the clients they are visiting?  


Please see answer below (as stated in question 2)


2.       My next question is about the Risk Assessments for staff visiting clients – when they were in place taking COVID into account, how they were amended and how that information was disseminated to staff.



Visiting our vulnerable clients has been by exception rather than the norm.  On 18th March the Locality Managers sent out the attached PowerPoint to all of their staff advising them of the following:


Staff must call the vulnerable individual to check if they have any symptoms or if anyone if their household has symptoms. (Similarly, if any of our staff have symptoms, they were asked to self-isolate for 7 days and 14 days if family member has symptoms).


Staff are also asked to call the area Practice Manager to talk through with them alternatives to visiting in person e.g. is another professional visiting who has to go (e.g. District Nurse) who could undertake the visit/assessment or can it be done remotely or via a Carer or relative.


We have always provided PPE for any member of staff who has had to do a physical visit and when the localities have not had PPE themselves, they have obtained stocks via the hospitals or community rehab team.


No member of staff has ever been asked to do a physical visit without appropriate PPE


The localities have a stock of PPE so any member of staff needing to do a visit can arrange to pick up or have it delivered and staff member and anyone needing to do more regular visits are given a stock to keep in their car.


NB:  The exceptional cases of where a member of staff has had to visit the person have been where they have fluctuating mental capacity to make decisions or possible complete lack of capacity or where there is a safeguarding issue.