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The Chairman provided the following statement:
‘In the light of the situation with Covid-19 case rates, Dorset Council's Chief Executive - Matt Prosser has exercised his delegated powers to continue to hold virtual informal committee meetings.
Where a decision is required, committee members will express a ‘minded to’ decision in respect of recommendations set out in officer reports, with decisions being taken under officer delegated authority in the light of ‘minded to’ decisions expressed by members in the virtual meetings. Any decisions or recommendations required will be confirmed by the appropriate officer at the conclusion of the committee’s debate on an agenda item.’
Declarations of interest
To disclose any pecuniary, other registrable or non-registrable interests as set out in the adopted Code of Conduct. In making their disclosure councillors are asked to state the agenda item, the nature of the interest and any action they propose to take as part of their declaration.
If required, further advice should be sought from the Monitoring Officer in advance of the meeting.
M Roberts declared an interest as a Director of a company which provided adult care services to Dorset Council. He indicated that if there was any debate in this area then he would step back from the discussion.
S Bartlett declared an interest as his wife worked in a local school and was on the Dorset Council payroll. He indicated that he would stay in the meeting.
To receive any updates from the Chairman of the Place and Resources Scrutiny Committee.
The Chairman noted that a supplement to the Budget report had been produced and published before Christmas. This provided an update following the Council’s receipt of the provisional local government finance settlement for 2022/23.
The Chairman provided an update in respect of the position with the Land Charges Services, which had been provided by the Head of Legal Services. The update is provided at Appendix 1 to the minutes.
To receive questions or statements on the business of the committee from town and parish councils and members of the public.
Public speaking has been suspended for virtual committee meetings during the Covid-19 crisis and public participation will be dealt with through written submissions only.
Members of the public who live, work or represent an organisation within the Dorset Council area, may submit up to two questions or a statement of up to a maximum of 450 words. All submissions must be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org by the deadline set out below. When submitting a question please indicate who the question is for and include your name, address and contact details. Questions and statements received in line with the council’s rules for public participation will be published as a supplement to the agenda.
Questions will be read out by an officer of the council and a response given by the appropriate Portfolio Holder or officer at the meeting. All questions, statements and 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 Tuesday 4 January 2022.
There were no questions or statements from members of the public or local organisations.
Questions from Members
To receive questions submitted by councillors. The deadline for receipt of questions is 8.30am on Tuesday 4 January 2022.
There were no questions from councillors.
The scrutiny committee is asked to consider the budget proposals on behalf of the residents of Dorset, and to provide constructive challenge to decision-makers before a final decision is made.
The committee was invited to consider the budget proposals for 2022/23 prior to consideration at Cabinet on 18 January 2022 and Full Council on 15 February 2022. The report gave a summary of progress to date on the budget strategy and process and provided the opportunity for the scrutiny committees to review further, budget assumptions and actions being proposed to deliver a balanced and sustainable budget for 2022/23. In addition, following the receipt by the council of the provisional local government finance settlement for 2022/23 on 16 December 2021, a supplement to the report had been published, which provided an update on various issues.
The Place and Resources Scrutiny Committee had the opportunity to consider the implications of the proposals on behalf of residents of Dorset and to provide constructive challenge to decision makers before a final decision was made. It was noted that the comments made by the committee would be reported to Cabinet on 18 January 2022 and taken into consideration as part of the budget setting process.
The Executive Director of Place and Executive Director of Corporate Development and relevant portfolio holders provided a short introduction to their budget areas and in addition, the Corporate Director for Finance and Commercial provided an overview of Central Finance and Capital issues. Following this, councillors discussed the issues arising.
Further to the discussion held, the Senior Democratic Services Officer and the Chairman provided a summary of the key points raised during the discussion in relation to each area covered by the committee and noted that the points below would be submitted to Cabinet as part of the budget setting process:
· Fees and Charges – a regular financial report should be presented to the appropriate committee with regard to the monitoring of Dorset Council fees and charges
· Fees and Charges – the Council should further explore and take into account inflation and market rates when setting increases to fees and charges for Council services
· There may be a need for additional resource to progress work around the Dorset Council Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy and Action Plan. This is linked to the point noted above related to opportunities for securing additional budget from raising fees and charges
· Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Transport Savings – potential risk for the budget is identified in this area. It is noted that further work is to be undertaken and future reporting to councillors will be undertaken through the Council’s transformation project
· Car Parking – the committee wish to flag to Cabinet the potential risk that the new car parking regime (phases 1 and 2) may not generate sufficient income for the Council’s highways management requirements. This needs to be kept under review.
At this point in the meeting, the committee had a five-minute adjournment and returned at 12.51pm. The Chairman held a roll-call of committee members – those present: Councillors S Bartlett, A Canning, J Andrews, M Roberts, D Tooke and B Trite.
It was proposed by J Andrews seconded by M ... view the full minutes text for item 57.
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.
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 x 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 is no exempt business.
There was no exempt business.
Appendix 1 - Update on Land Charges Service
Land Charges Service Update provided by the Chairman of Place and Resources Scrutiny Committee
We received a report about the Land Charges Service, at our September meeting, explaining service delays and action being taken to address them.
I provided you with a progress update at our last Committee.
We were due to receive a report at our January 2022 meeting, but in the meantime I have received a further and very positive progress update, as follows:
· In November, we reported that, with a larger team, new ICT system, and targets in place to reduce waiting times we had planned to reduce the search response times by the end of November.
· The team have achieved the planned reduction for November. The average search response time for the whole Dorset Council area during November was 51 working days. This is a significant reduction from an average of 62 working days during October.
· The response time published on the Dorset Council website on 6th December is 50 average working days and this will be updated fortnightly.
· The number of search requests received during November continued at an increased level compared with the same months in 2019. There has not been a significant reduction following the end of the stamp duty holiday at the end of September.
· Our data is showing that the response time is continuing to improve during December with an average response time of around 44 working days at 17th December. With continued effort of the team and target setting the rate of improvement experienced in November is expected and planned to continue in the coming months.
Given this positive progress report, and further data for December will not be available until after the report deadline for our January meeting, a formal report on progress will be presented to our March 2022 meeting.