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: Daksha Ghelani, Acting Senior Professional - Democratic Services  Tel: 020 8424 1881 E-mail:  daksha.ghelani@harrow.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

PART I - RECOMMENDATIONS - NIL

PART II - MINUTES

717.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of personal or prejudicial interests arising from business to be transacted at this meeting from:

 

(a)               all Members of the Cabinet; and

(b)               all other Members present.

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:  To note that there were no declarations of interests made.

718.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Of the Cabinet meeting held on 12 November 2009 to be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 12 November 2009, be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

719.

Petitions

To receive any petitions submitted by members of the public or Councillors.

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs Eileen Kinnear presented a petition signed by 75 residents in relation to 1?5 Sudbury Hill.  She read out the terms of the petition which were as follows:

 

“We the undersigned note with dismay that there has been yet another planning application submitted for the re?development of this site, this time for 64 units with associated underground parking.

 

We believe that the significant increase in bulk, height and building envisaged in this proposal will be to the detriment of the area if allowed.  There would be a significant loss of green space, which must have a negative effect on the environment.  Also, there is already quite severe traffic congestion at this corner, which could worsen, and the site is next door to a school so there are safety concerns.

 

We note that Harrow Council Members recently stated their deep concern about ‘garden grabbing’, which has increased significantly during the last decade.  We ask the Council to recognise our concern at the possible loss of the large gardens of these properties, acknowledging that they are worth preserving.”

 

RESOLVED:  That the petition be received and referred to the Corporate Director Place Shaping for consideration.

720.

Public Questions

To receive any public questions received in accordance with paragraph 16 of the Executive Procedure Rules.

 

Questions will be asked in the order notice of them was received and there be a time limit of 15 minutes.

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:  To note that the following public questions had been received:

 

1.

 

Questioner:

 

Ann Freeman

Asked of:

 

Councillor Barry Macleod-Cullinane, Portfolio Holder for Adults and Housing

 

Question:

Why is the report, on negotiations to formulate a Rehabilitation Policy for people in Harrow with a mental illness, requested by Councillor David Ashton, not on today's agenda, please?

 

You will remember that the December deadline was given by Councillor Ashton after impassioned public questions at the 22 October Cabinet.

 

Answer:

 

When this matter came up at Cabinet, it was intended to provide an update on how far forward we had reached on this matter, rather than provide a full written report.  Since that meeting, I have met with a number of groups, both from the users and the carers, to go through issues around the Section 75 review, and to listen to various concerns in order to ensure that the groups had an opportunity to feed back to the review of the Section 75 agreement.

 

Supplemental Question:

 

Yes, as carers, we gave a presentation about the “Confidence for Life” course that we experienced but it was not actually about the Section 75 Agreement.

 

Supplemental Answer:

I understood that it would feed into the Section 75 work.  How the special services would be provided within the new Section 75 agreement and how the concerns were being addressed in the overall structure was key.  My intention was to simply update Cabinet and the public this evening that we had been looking to meet that.  The Council has also been looking to secure a meeting with Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust to take this matter forward.

 

2.

 

Questioner:

 

Joan Penrose

 

Asked of:

 

Councillor Barry Macleod-Cullinane, Portfolio Holder for Adults and Housing

 

Question:

In your reply to my question to Cabinet on the 12th November, you stated that the course 'Confidence for Life' has a wider agenda than vocational support which is a 'well?being agenda' and that you hope to "dove?tail this into personal budgets". 

 

Would you have a further meeting with Harrow service users and family members so that we can try to persuade you that addressing the well-being agenda will require much more than personal budgets because Harrow does not have a rehabilitation policy involving the whole service which will be required if unmet needs are to be addressed?

 

Answer:

 

I am happy to meet again.  I believe we need to have a range of services to meet different people’s needs at different points in their lives and at different intensities.  We are looking to work with our partners at Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust to make sure that this aspect is part of the Section 75 Agreement.

 

I also suggest that we invite the Joint Mental Health Commissioner, Mr Jason Jongali, to the meeting, as his expertise will help to ensure that the right outcomes are achieved.

 

Supplemental Question:

 

Could I ask this Cabinet to use its authority to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 720.

721.

Councillor Questions

To receive any Councillor questions received in accordance with paragraph 17 of the Executive Procedure Rules.

 

Questions will be asked in the order notice of them was received and there be a time limit of 15 minutes.

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:  To note the following Councillor Questions had been received:

 

1.

 

Questioner:

 

Councillor Bill Stephenson

Asked of:

 

Councillor David Ashton, Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Strategy, Partnership and Finance

 

Question:

Would Councillor Ashton join me cross-party in congratulating both the police and our Council staff, and the stewards from the mosque on the outstanding way in which they conducted themselves at the ‘anti?mosque’ demonstration last Sunday at which there was no violence or arrests and minimal disruption to local Harrow residents.  Will he further agree cross-party to sending formal thanks to all those concerned with this very satisfactory outcome?

 

Answer:

 

On behalf of the Council, I am delighted to join Councillors Stephenson and Noyce in congratulating the Police, Council staff and Mosque stewards on the way they conducted themselves at the demonstration last Sunday. It was outstanding.

 

I would also like to congratulate Chief Superintendent Ian Thomas of the Public Order Branch at New Scotland Yard for his support with the planning and preparation for the events.  Such events go well because the resource is provided to ensure that there is no trouble.  If other problems had arisen, these would have been addressed by a large police presence behind the scenes. Thankfully, this was not necessary.

 

We are also fortunate in having an excellent relationship with Harrow Central Mosque and the leadership of Commander Dal Babu for policing in the Borough. The exceptional close liaison that the Council has with the Mosque and the Police is an example of ‘best practice’ across the country.

 

I am going to take the liberty of reading two letters that I have written on behalf of the Council.

 

The first one is to Chief Superintendent Ian Thomas, which I wrote on  the day after the demonstration,  December 14:

 

“Dear Chief Superintendent Ian Thomas

 

On behalf of Harrow Council, may I thank you for the excellent policing of yesterday’s demonstrations outside Harrow Civic Centre. 

 

The afternoon was confined to shouting and cat calls, without a hint of violence.  This was due to the careful planning that I know went into the preparation of the afternoon, particularly by Superintendent Brian Pearce and Superintendent Colin Morgan.  

 

Notably there was outstanding close liaison betweenthe Mosque, the Council and the Police.  You may wish to consider this an example of Best Practice.

 

Our relationship, as the Council, with Harrow Central Mosque, has always been very good, a situation reinforced by Commander Dal Babu’s appointment as responsible for policing in Harrow.  As a Council, we had excellent relations with his predecessor, Commander Richard Walton and they have gone from strength to strength under Dal’s leadership.”

 

I wrote a separate letter to the Mosque.

 

“We have spoken this week about the very successful outcome of the 13 December demonstration.  Everyone at the Council is most appreciative of the successful efforts you and your Committee made to ensure that it was non?violent. 

 

I was particularly impressed by the approach and attitude of the young men  ...  view the full minutes text for item 721.

722.

Forward Plan December 2009 - March 2010 pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council advised:

 

·                     the Council’s Insurance Contracts Tender report had been considered at a Portfolio Holder Decision Meeting held on 8 December instead of 3 December 2009;

 

·                     reports relating to the Corporate Plan and Planning Obligations Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) were not on the agenda and had been deferred to the February and March 2010 meetings of Cabinet, respectively.

 

RESOLVED:  To note the contents of the Forward Plan for the period December 2009 – March 2010.

723.

Progress on Scrutiny Projects pdf icon PDF 17 KB

For consideration

Minutes:

The Leader welcomed the work carried out by the Council's scrutiny unit.

 

RESOLVED:  To receive and note the current progress of the scrutiny reports.

724.

Strategic Performance Report - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 767 KB

Report of the Assistant Chief Executive

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Performance, Communication and Corporate Services introduced his report, which summarised Council and service performance against key measures, including areas where further action was required.

 

The Portfolio Holder was proud of the Council’s achievements and the recognition given by the Audit Commission, which had awarded Harrow 3?stars out of 4 in its first Comprehensive Area Assessment (CAA).  The step change achieved in adult social care was also commended.  He highlighted areas where the Council continued to face challenges, including in the benefits area where the caseload continued to grow.  Another area of concern was the level of staff sickness absence.  However, resident satisfaction levels with the Council had risen dramatically.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services reported that Ofsted had recently carried out an inspection under its new safeguarding inspection regime.  The outcome of the two?day unannounced inspection had been positive and she commended staff for their work.

 

The Leader of the Council stated that the proliferation of ‘green’ indicators in the overall performance summary in relation to the Council’s three Corporate Priorities was an indication of the positive work that had been undertaken by the Council.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted and the Portfolio Holders continue working with officers to achieve improvement against identified key challenges.

 

Reason for Decision:  To enable Cabinet to be informed of performance against key measures and to identify and assign corrective action where necessary.

725.

Outcome of the Comprehensive Area Assessment pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Report of the Assistant Chief Executive

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cabinet received the report of the Assistant Chief Executive, which set out Harrow’s results from the first Comprehensive Area Assessment published on 9 December 2009 by the Audit Commission.

 

The Chief Executive stated that he was proud of the achievements made and highlighted some of the key messages in the Audit Commission’s report, as follows:

 

·                     the Council had made significant improvements and was financially more stable, whilst having increased the reserves held;

 

·                     the leadership of the Council had improved markedly in the last three years and had set the foundations for becoming a high performing authority;

 

·                     staff performance had improved and the outcomes of staff surveys had acknowledged that staff believed they were provided with good direction and leadership.

 

The Chief Executive was pleased to report that the Council had been short?listed for a prestigious award for the Most Improved Council by the Local Government Chronicle (LGC).  The Council was the first authority to have been nominated for awards by both the LGC and the Municipal Journal (MJ).  However, he was not complacent and recognised the need to continue to build on the excellent work with a view to improving services further for residents.

 

The Leader of the Council congratulated the individual Portfolio Holders for their dedication and hard work in their areas, which had culminated in reaching this important milestone.  On behalf of the Portfolio Holders, he also thanked staff and the Corporate Directors for their work.  In turn, the Deputy Leader thanked the Leader for his work, which had helped to ensure financial stability within the Council. 

 

RESOLVED:  That the Audit Commission’s judgement for Harrow’s first Comprehensive Area Assessment be noted with pleasure.

 

Reason for Decision:  To inform Cabinet about the positive outcome of the Comprehensive Area Assessment.

726.

Half Year 2009/10 Treasury Management Activity pdf icon PDF 88 KB

Report of the Corporate Director Finance

Minutes:

The Corporate Director Finance introduced the report, which set out a half?year summary of Treasury Management activities for 2009/10.  The Corporate Director reported that the return on investments had been good despite the adverse economic climate.  Borrowing had been managed effectively and the benefits of low interest rates captured.  Additionally, the new Code of Practice on Treasury Management and Prudential Codes for Capital Finance would ensure additional scrutiny of the Council’s case flow, borrowing and investments, including associated risks.

 

RESOLVED:  That the half-year Treasury Management activity for 2009/10 be noted.

 

Reason for Decision:  To keep Cabinet Members informed of Treasury Management activities and performance.

727.

Revenue and Capital Monitoring 2009/10 pdf icon PDF 191 KB

Report of the Corporate Director Finance

Minutes:

The Corporate Director Finance introduced the report, which set out the Council’s revenue and capital forecast position for 2009/10 at the end of September 2009.

 

The Corporate Director reported on the level of underspend forecasted for 2009/10.  She highlighted the pressures in Children’s Services and in Adults and Housing Directorates and the work being carried out to mitigate the overspend in these areas.  However, the step recovery had ensured a healthy overall financial position.  Many challenges lay ahead and it was important to deliver on the underspend for 2009/10.

 

The Leader of the Council stated that the increased levels of reserves held by the Council with prudent budget management would help deliver a nil increase in Council Tax for 2010/11. 

 

RESOLVED:  That (1) the revenue and capital forecast outturn position for 2009/10 be noted;

 

(2)  the amendments to the Capital Programme, set out in appendix 4 of the report, be approved;

 

(3)  the write-off of £52,000, as set out at paragraph 17 of the report, be noted.

 

Reason for Decision:  To present the forecast financial position and actions required to be taken.

 

(See also Minute 728)

728.

Key Decision - Draft Revenue Budget 2010/11 to 2012/13 pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Report of the Corporate Director Finance

Minutes:

The Corporate Director Finance submitted a report detailing the draft revenue budget for 2010?11 and medium term financial strategy (MTFS) for 2010?11 to 2012?13.

 

The Leader of the Council stressed that this was a draft budget and that the final budget would be submitted to the February meetings of Cabinet and Council for the setting of the Council Tax.

 

The Corporate Director Finance stated that the budget process had been challenging partly due to the recession and partly as a result of increasing costs in social care provision and additional landfill tax.  She highlighted the key aspects of the report such as the proposal to deliver a nil increase in Council Tax in 2010/11.  Savings of £7.3m had been identified and a further £1m was required to ensure a balanced budget.  Against this £4.5m would be invested in frontline services.  The schools would receive 4.1% increase in funding per pupil and this was ring?fenced.

 

The Corporate Director also referred to the proposal to amend the reserves policy, and confirmed that the Mayor of London had indicated that there would be no increase in the Greater London Authority (GLA) precept.  She informed Members that consultations on the draft budget would take place with various stakeholders.  The report to February 2010 Cabinet would additionally address public sector pay and other elements of the government’s recent pre-budget report, including the outlook for the future.

 

Cabinet was informed of the challenges that lay ahead with regard to a funding gap of £15m year on year.  In response, the Leader of the Council stated that it was an achievement during the adverse economic climate to hold off an increase in the Council Tax for 2010/11.  He also spoke on the potential implications for Council Tax for 2011/12 - 2012/13.  He noted that substantial investment had been made in Adults and Housing and that joint working arrangements with NHS Harrow (formerly known as Harrow PCT) in the provision of services had been valuable.  The Council would work to ensure that frontline services were protected and would continue to work with its partners to achieve this.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Adults and Housing highlighted the need for certainty in relation to financial planning from central government, in order to allow local government to plan ahead, noting the difficulties that had arisen earlier in the year in relation to rent rises.

 

It was noted that the Corporate Plan would be submitted to the February Cabinet, and would be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee prior to that meeting.

 

RESOLVED:  That (1) the results of the consultation carried out on the draft corporate priorities set out in Appendix 1 be noted, and the priorities for 2010/11, as set out in paragraph 2, be approved;

 

(2)  the draft Revenue Budget 2010/11 of £171.587m and the draft Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) be agreed;

 

(3)  the Reserves Policy as set out in paragraph 48 of the report be agreed.

 

Reason for Decision:  To publish the draft  ...  view the full minutes text for item 728.

729.

Key Decision - Draft Capital Programme 2010/2011 to 2012/13 pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Report of the Corporate Director Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Corporate Director Finance introduced the report, which set out the draft rolling capital programme for 2010/10 - 2012/13 that formed part of the annual budget review process.  She outlined the factors that constrained the capital programme and those areas which had been provided for in the draft programme, some of which would be funded by capital receipts.

 

RESOLVED:  That the draft Capital Programme for 2010/11 to 2012/13 be agreed.

 

Reason for Decision:  To publish the draft capital programme as part of the annual budget review process and to enable forward planning.

730.

Key Decision - Calculation of Council Tax Base for 2010/2011 pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Report of the Corporate Director Finance

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Corporate Director Finance introduced the report, which explained that the Local Government Finance Act 1992 (as amended by the Local Government Act 2003), required the Councils to formally calculate the Council Tax Base for 2010/2011 and to pass this information to precepting authorities by 31 January 2010.  The Council tax base had to be set between 1 December 2009 and 31 January 2010.  She added that an assumed collection rate of 98.25% in Council Tax had been factored in the draft revenue budget.

 

RESOLVED:  That the following information given in the report be agreed:

 

(a)            the Band D equivalent number of taxable properties was calculated as shown in accordance with the Government Regulations;

 

(b)           the provision for uncollectable amounts of Council Tax for 2010/11 was agreed at 1.75% producing an expected collection rate of 98.25%.

 

(c)            subject to (a) & (b) above, a Council Tax Base for 2010/11 of 86,362 Band D equivalent properties (being 87,900 x 98.25%) be approved, allowing for payment in lieu of Ministry of Defence properties.

 

Reason for Decision:  To fulfil the Council’s statutory obligation to set the Council Tax Base for 2010/11.

731.

Key Decision - Draft Housing Revenue Account Budget 2010/11 to 2012/13 pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Joint Report of the Interim Divisional Director Housing and the Corporate Director Finance

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Adults and Housing introduced the report on the Draft Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for 2010/11 to 2012/13, which was subject to the annual HRA subsidy determination.  He added that the government had not yet announced the HRA Subsidy Determination and therefore the budget remained as estimated in July 2010. Following pressures in the responsive repairs area, extra resources had been allocated with a view to containing costs.  The Portfolio Holder informed Members that other ways of generating income were being considered to assist in closing the funding gap.

 

RESOLVED:  That (1) the Draft Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for 2010/11 to 2012/13, set out in Appendix 1 to the report, be approved, and referred to the Tenants’ and Leaseholders’ Consultative Forum;

 

(2)  income maximisation options be approved in the event that the subsidy position does not improve and reduce annual in-year deficits over the three-year period.

 

Reason for Decision:  To publish the draft budget.

732.

Key Decision - Council's Third Sector Strategy - Final Draft for Consultation pdf icon PDF 42 KB

Report of the Corporate Director Community and Environment

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Community and Cultural Services introduced the report, which set out how the Council proposed to engage with and support the Third Sector in Harrow.  She defined the objectives as follows:

 

·                     strengthen the role of the Third Sector as a strategic partner;

 

·                     support the development of the capacity of the voluntary and community organisations in the borough to allow them to meet the needs of Harrow’s diverse communities;

 

·                     increase opportunities for Third Sector involvement in design and delivery of public services through a more transparent commissioning process and by improving the management and administration of grant funding.

 

Cabinet was informed that the Voluntary and Community Sector Forum had received the Strategy positively.  The Forum had made some comments, which would be taken on board.  The Strategy would also be submitted to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for comment, prior to the Final Strategy being submitted to 18 March 2010 Cabinet.

 

RESOLVED:  That officers be authorised to consult on the Harrow Council Third Sector Strategy, ‘Working Better Together’.

 

Reason for Decision:  To ensure good practice It was good practice and in line with the Third Sector Compact, for the Council to consult widely on a draft before finalising the Third Sector Strategy.

733.

Key Decision - Harrow Corporate Major Works Contract pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Report of the Corporate Director Community and Environment

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Major Contracts and Property introduced the report, detailing the project management and evaluation processes undertaken to enter into a contract to design and construct major works for Harrow, in line with current procurement legislation.

 

Prior to taking a decision on this matter, Cabinet considered the report together with a confidential appendix, which set out the tender evaluation data.  The Portfolio Holder explained why it had been necessary to re-tender the framework for corporate buildings.  He outlined the benefits that would ensue as a result.  A saving of 7% was expected over the life of the contract.

 

The Portfolio Holder congratulated officers for their work with Kier which had helped to transform education in the borough and for delivering work to date on budget.

 

RESOLVED:  That approval be given for entering into a partnering framework contract with the Apollo Group, with a commencement date of 1 April 2010, for the provision of major works, design and related services within the Council’s property asset portfolio.

 

Reason for Decision:  To adhere to the European Procurement Directives and the Public Contract Regulations 2006.  In order to minimise the process, reduce procurement costs and maximise consistency, building on the Council’s growing expertise in the management and development of partnerships.  To improve risk management associated with the Council’s design and construction costs with a view to delivering value for money.

734.

Key Decision - London Development Agency Contract Employment Programme for Parents pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Report of the Corporate Director Place Shaping

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Planning, Development and Enterprise introduced the report, which proposed an agreement with a view to delivering the Local Development Agency (LDA) funded Childcare Affordability Programme (CAP09), known as Excite for Parents. The programme was intended to put parents into an employment programme that would be delivered from January 2010 – March 2012.  The proposed agreement would release funding to support workless parents and parents in low?income households into employment, lasting 12 months or more.

 

The Portfolio Holder outlined the options considered and commended the report to Cabinet.

 

RESOLVED:  That (1) the contents of the report be noted;

 

(2)  a CAP09 Agreement be entered into to support Harrow parents into sustainable employment.

 

Reason for Decision:  To help meet the vision and national indicators detailed in the Sustainable Community Strategy “to provide local work opportunities and minimise barriers to work”, supporting “NI 152 to reduce the number of working age people on out of work benefits”, and for a “reduction in child poverty in Harrow”.

735.

Key Decision - Proposed Extension of the Tookes Green Conservation Area

Report of the Corporate Director Place Shaping

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Planning, Development and Enterprise introduced a report, which recommended the extension of the Tookes Green Conservation Area that would capture the ‘Metroland’ development of Cecil and Marsh Roads.  In commending the proposal to Cabinet, the Portfolio Holder was pleased to report that, unlike in other local authorities, no conservation areas in Harrow were at risk.

 

RESOLVED:  That the extension of the Tookes Green Conservation Area be included as part of the Pinner Conservation Areas Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

 

Reason for Decision:  To meet the policy requirements of the Harrow UDP for designation as a conservation area, which was supported by the majority of respondents.  To enable the extended area to be adopted as part of the Pinner Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) within the timescale set out in the Local Development Scheme.

 

(See also Minute 736)

736.

Key Decision - Pinner Conservation Areas Supplementary Planning Document

Report of the Corporate Director Place Shaping

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Planning, Development and Enterprise introduced the report, which set out the history and current situation relating to the Pinner Conservation Areas Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).  She added that the SPDs would help protect and enhance Harrow’s conservation areas.

 

The Portfolio Holder thanked officers in the Planning Service for their work in taking this matter forward.

 

RESOLVED:  That Pinner Conservation Areas Supplementary Planning Document (SPD), including the extension to the Tookes Green Conservation Area, be approved.

 

Reasons for Decision:  (1)  To enable the Pinner Conservation Areas SPD, and its appendices of Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Strategies, to constitute part of the emerging Local Development Framework.  This would help form material considerations in the determination of planning applications both at planning committees and appeal proceedings.

 

(2)  To enable the SPD to provide useful guidance to relevant Council departments when dealing with issues relating to Pinner Conservation Areas.

 

(See also Minute 735).

737.

Exclusion of the Public and Press

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:  That the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of confidential information in breach of an obligation of confidence, or of exempt information as defined in Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972:

 

Item

Title

 

Reason

17.

Harrow Corporate Major Works Procurement (Appendix A)

Information under paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

 

738.

Key Decision - Harrow Corporate Major Works Contract

Appendix A to the report of the Corporate Director Community and Environment at item 17

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:  That the confidential appendix, which was considered in conjunction with the main report at Minute 733, be noted.