Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission - Monday, 29th June, 2020 5.30 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Mrs KM Howard  01744 676106


No. Item


Appointment of Chairman


*           Resolved that Councillor Clarke be appointed as the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission.


Councillor Clark here took the Chair.


Apologies for Absence


It was reported that there were no apologies for absence.


Minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2020 pdf icon PDF 102 KB


*           Resolved that the minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2020, be signed and approved.


Declarations of Interest from Members


There were no Declarations of Interest from Members.


Recovery and Reset pdf icon PDF 4 MB

·         The Assistant Chief Executive, Rob Huntington has been invited to attend the meeting.


The Assistant Chief Executive, Rob Huntington gave a presentation to the Commission on Recovery and Reset.


The Presentation, entitled ‘COVID 19 – The Council’s response and our ‘Reset’ blueprint’, detailed the following:


·        Summary;

·        Our Strength / Our Challenges;

·        CV19 in St Helens;

·        Our Response;

·        Support of Residents & Community #sthelenstogether;

·        Doing Things Differently;

·        Summary of Action Taken to support our Communities;

·        Doing Things Differently;

o   Community;

o   Schools & Education;

o   Council Workforce;

o   A Selection;

·        Supporting the Local Economy Recovery;

·        St Helens Economy – An Overview;

·        Economic Impact;

·        Local Economy and Business Support;

·        Test, Trace, Isolate & Contain (TTIC);

·        TTIC Governance;

·        Reset and Recovery Challenges & Opportunities;

·        St Helens Reset, Recovery and Remobilisation Architecture;

·        Reset and Recovery Principals;

·        Reset and Recovery Planning;

·        Timelines and Phasing;

·        End – Let Go – Restart – Amplify?

·        Transformation vs Responsibility; and

·        Governance & Planning.


Concerns were raised in relation to the impact of the pandemic on Adult Heath and Social Care, particularly in relation to deaths in care homes. There were comments that Central Government risk assessment for care homes had been inadequate, and it was proposed that the issue be brought to Scrutiny to determine what went wrong and what can be done to improve resilience in care homes going forward.


The Commission was advised that a lot of work had been undertaken with local care homes during the pandemic which had been led by the Director of Adults Services alongside the ongoing work in understanding the impact of the virus on Adult Social Care Sector.


It was noted that the Covid-19 crisis in care homes was a national issue and not just a
St Helens specific one and that this would be under national scrutiny. Assurance was given that there was an ongoing focus on Adult Social Care, especially for sustainably and provision in the market and that the pandemic impact would be investigated and addressed going forward.

Questions were raised in relation to the Council estates and agile working, and queries were raised in relation to details on the development of local and regional economic recovery plans.


The Assistant Chief Executive advised that before the Government directive to work from home in March 2020, the Council had staff working from over 50 buildings across the borough and that an accommodation strategy was now being developed with the view that work should be viewed as ‘something that people do not somewhere they go’.

The Commission was advised that the momentum gained from the Government directive to work from home now had proved that there was the capability to be an agile workforce and that this would now be used as an opportunity to develop this going forward.

Assurance was given that discussions were ongoing with employees through the Staff Wellbeing Group and the relevant Trade Unions, and that changes to Policies and Terms and Conditions were being reviewed.

In relation to local and regional economic recovery plans, the Liverpool City Region (LCR) had been one of the first authorities to develop an economic recovery plan  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.


Future Overview and Scrutiny Structure Discussion Paper pdf icon PDF 142 KB


The Scrutiny Manager presented the report Future Overview and Scrutiny Structure Discussion Paper.


The report advised that the Council Budget 2020/21 contained a decision to reduce the number of Scrutiny Panels from five to three with the Commission and remaining Panels covering the three directorates (Corporate, People and Place). The report provided suggestions to inform the Commission on how the new structure could be implemented to enable Councillors to discuss options.

The Commission was advised that although the decision to have four Committees in the Council’s Scrutiny Function had been taken, there were still details within the structure of the function to be decided upon and that a final decision regarding the configuration of the four remaining committees, the size and memberships of the committees and the frequency and dates for committee meetings would be decided by Council.


The report gave background information on the scrutiny structure and legislation to date, example structures from other Local Authorities, possible options for the future structure and detailed other changes to the Scrutiny Function, such as reporting to Cabinet and Reponses from Cabinet, work programming, frequency of meetings and production of Annual Report and communications.

The Scrutiny Manager advised that there were many options that Councillors could consider. However, there appeared to be prevailing configurations among those local authorities with four committees. These had been set out as Options One and Two within this report, as follows:

·        Option 1 – reduce the number of Panels through the merging of two of the existing panels into some of the others.

The proposal presented was to merge the remit of the Audit and Financial Monitoring Panel into the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and to merge the remits of the Safer Communities Panel and the Environment, Regeneration, Housing, Culture and Leisure Panel to create a Place Scrutiny Committee.

·        Option 2 - focus the structure of the Scrutiny Committees on the Council’s priorities within the Council Plan.


The Commission raised questions, which were answered in the meeting in relation to the role and remit of the Blackburn with Darwin’s Call-in Committee. The Scrutiny Manager advised that it was likely this Panel met on an ad hoc basis if/when a decision was ‘Called In’. It was noted that the last ‘Call In’ by the St Helens Scrutiny function had been in 2008 and that if a ‘Call-In’ occurred it would be the leading Panel that would be likely to review that decision.

Further questions were raised in relation to the financial impact and savings from restructure and the date that the report would be submitted to Council for decision. It was advised that any savings were corporate savings against deficits and that there was no redirection of savings. The Scrutiny Manager advised that the report was scheduled to be taken to the Council meeting scheduled for 22 July 2020.

Concerns were raised in regard the workload that would be generated through the merging of the Environment, Regeneration, Housing, Culture and Leisure Panel and Safer Communities Panel and with  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.