Agenda and minutes

Corporate Review Committee
Tuesday, 2nd April, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Oak Room, County Buildings, Stafford

Contact: Tina Gould 


No. Item


Declarations of Interest

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There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the meeting held on 8 March 2019 pdf icon PDF 103 KB

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RESOLVED: The Chairman had indicated that he would be arriving a few minutes late.  In his absence, the minutes of the meeting held on 8 March 2019 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Vice Chairman.


Assets and Property - training session

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The Cabinet Member for Commercial introduced this item stating that he welcomed the Committee’s challenge in helping the Council to make the best decisions.  It was important that the Council made the best use of its assets, maximising economic value and worked in different ways, including SMART working.  The new People Strategy meant that staff would work more flexibly, and this made best use of assets.  The example of Castle House in Newcastle was given as proof of this different way of working. 


He indicated that this was an initial session on assets and property and it would be followed up with at least one, and possibly two, more sessions, where the Council’s property strategy could be scrutinised in more detail.  The Council currently owns 249 properties, at an annual maintenance cost of £12m per annum plus capital investments.


Ian Turner, Head of Commercial and Property gave a presentation to the Committee that majored on corporate property and not schools’ property or regeneration.


There are two main designations of property – schools and corporate (although technically the biggest property the Council owns is roads).  Corporate assets and property are sub divided into operational and non-operational.  Operational properties include libraries and highways depots.  There is also surplus land such as former school playing fields, that are not used on a day to day basis.  The Council also still owns the Wedgwood Building, Superdrug in Stafford and Greenwood House.  There are 249 properties with £12m for running costs per annum plus investment costs.  £30m per year was being spent on the corporate estate. Its asset value is circa £300m.  He said that caution should be exercised when it comes to considering ‘value’ as there are different types of value such as depreciated replacement cost, market value and insurance value. 


Details of the properties were explained.  The council held an asset database with details of all properties that the Council owned.  Members asked why we had 8 training centres.  Mr Turner did not have the information to hand and agreed to obtain further details. Members asked how many properties were empty.


There are other properties that are owned for community use e.g. community managed libraries and Eastgate Street voluntary sector hub (VAST) who manage the property and cover all the management costs for voluntary and community groups.  There are also former youth centres that are largely in voluntary control.  Work was ongoing to identify all of these for the Property Sub Committee.


The Council was spending around £30m on the corporate estate and £35m on the schools’ estate.  The schools’ capital programme amounted to £32.6m including new schools, extending schools and Section 106 funding.  £11.6m was spend on pooled buildings.  The corporate capital programme was £15.2m.  The property team running costs were £1.8m.  The Council has support from Entrust on professional services, for example design work and contract management around the day to day maintenance and improvements of the estate.  The Chairman applauded the amount of money set aside in the schools’ capital  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


Proposals for Scrutiny of the Medium Term Financial Strategy and Annual Budget and Council Tax pdf icon PDF 98 KB

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The Scrutiny and Support Manager introduced this item.  The plans were to establish an MTFS Working Group along the same lines as in the previous year.  The proposed lines of enquiry and review arrangements were set out in the report and Members’ comments were invited.  The Section 151 Officer confirmed that the intention was to identify target service areas for scrutiny and to restrict scrutiny to those areas.  Members stated their preference for face-to-face scrutiny to consideration of written submissions from Cabinet Members.  Members preferred the focus on key strands where there was a history of overspend or where spending is more volatile. 


The Section 151 Officer confirmed that face to face interviews would be the approach taken and additional paperwork would only be considered to support subsidiary questioning.  The programme is a rolling programme, previous consideration would help to inform the areas prioritised for consideration.


The following Members expressed an interest in joining the Working Group:


·         Susan Woodward

·         Charlotte Atkins

·         Johnny McMahon

·         Colin Greatorex

·         Jonathan Price

·         John Francis


Bob Spencer indicated that whilst he had no experience  of being on the Working Group, he was happy to assist if required.  It was agreed to ask Members not present at the meeting if they wished to be involved.


Members extolled the virtue of face to face discussions with Cabinet Members.


RESOLVED: That the MTFS Working Group be established.


Select Committee Work Programmes pdf icon PDF 66 KB

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The Scrutiny and Support Manager informed Members that the Work Programmes had be brought to the Committee at the request of the Scrutiny Chairs, to enable identification of potential duplication and overlap to be identified and to enable the Committee to perform its role as the ‘parent’ scrutiny Committee with responsibility for co-ordinating the work of the Select Committees.  Attention was drawn to some items on the Safe and Strong Communities Select Committee Work Programme that should be referred over the Healthy Staffordshire Select Committee.  The Chairman of the Safe and Strong Communities Select Committee stated that where there was a need for Committees to work jointly this should continue as it had worked successfully.


The Leader of the Opposition asked that Corporate Review triangulation meetings be reintroduced.  The Chairman apologised for allowing these to lapse and asked the Scrutiny and Support Manager to calendar these in Members’ diaries.


The Leader of the Opposition referred Members to the publication of the report of the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report on Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.  Concerns were expressed regarding the reputational damage to the Council of this report and the impact on the most vulnerable people that the Council serves.  She asked that the action plan be considered by the Corporate Review Committee. 


Note by Clerk:  The Director of Corporate Services has decided that this report should be considered by Cabinet on 15 May and Audit and Standards Committee on 12 June.


RESOLVED: a) That the Select Committee Work Programmes were approved b) that the Action Plan arising from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman report on Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards be added to the Corporate Review Committee Work Programme.


Exclusion of the Public

The Chairman to move:-


“That the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business which involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraphs of Part I of Schedule 12A (as amended) of Local Government Act 1972 indicated below”.




(All reports in this section are exempt)

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RESOLVED: That the public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business which involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs of Part I of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Local Government Act 1972. 


(Exemption paragraph 2)




Report on Gender Issues

Exempt report of the Leader of the Opposition


(Exemption paragraph 2)


The Committee considered a report on Gender Issues.


(Exemption paragraph 2)