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Agenda and minutes

Sustainable Growth and Environment Capital Scrutiny Committee
Thursday 17th July, 2014 7.00 pm

Venue: Bourges/Viersen Room - Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Paulina Ford, 01733452508  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Councillor Arculus.  Cllr Stokes attended as substitute.



Declarations of Interest and Whipping Declarations

At this point Members must declare whether they have a disclosable pecuniary interest, or other interest, in any of the items on the agenda, unless it is already entered in the register of members’ interests or is a “pending notification “ that has been disclosed to the Solicitor to the Council.

Members must also declare if they are subject to their party group whip in relation to any items under consideration.



There were no declarations of interest or whipping declarations.



Minutes of Meetings held on: pdf icon PDF 113 KB

·         12 March 2014 – Call-In Meeting

·         7 April 2014

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meetings held on 12 March 2014 and 7 April 2014 were approved as an accurate record.



Call In of any Cabinet, Cabinet Member or Key Officer Decisions

The decision notice for each decision will bear the date on which it is published and will specify that the decision may then be implemented on the expiry of 3 working days after the publication of the decision (not including the date of publication), unless a request for call-in of the decision is received from any two Members of a Scrutiny Committee or Scrutiny Commissions.  If a request for call-in of a decision is received, implementation of the decision remains suspended for consideration by the relevant Scrutiny Committee or Commission.



There were no requests for call-in to consider.



Solar Panel Energy Working Group Report pdf icon PDF 68 KB


The report was introduced by Councillor Fletcher who was the Chair of the Working Group.  Members were informed that the Working Group had reviewed all the evidence and particularly the financial elements of the Ground Mounted Solar Photovoltaic (Pv) Panels (Solar Farms) and Wind Turbine Project.  The report provided the Committee with their findings and recommendations as requested by the Committee at the Call-In meeting held on 12 March 2014.  The Working Group by majority recommended that the scheme should not go ahead as they concluded that the financial returns were not viable and the risks unacceptably high.  The report advised that Councillor Hiller had however dissented on the grounds that the viability of the schemes had been evidenced by independent experts and reports and that the risks were evaluated sensibly and the schemes should proceed.  Councillor Sandford advised that whilst part of the Group he had not been in attendance at the meeting when the recommendations had been agreed.


Questions and observations were made around the following areas:


·         Members stated that they had not been given any figures and it was therefore difficult to understand how the conclusion was reached. Councillor Fletcher responded that the working group had received and studied the financial figures but the group had not felt it necessary to provide the figures submitted as the brief was merely to come to the Committee with a recommendation.

·         Members asked how a working group could come to the Committee with a recommendation without any evidence to support the recommendation. Councillor Fletcher responded that the working group was poorly attended but the figures which had been put forward had been available for a while.  The Group had drafted the report with the help of the Interim Head of Legal Services.

·         Members stated that the report did not detail the work undertaken and asked what experts had been consulted in the process. Councillor Fletcher stated that there had been no opportunity to bring in experts to inform the Group.  However there had been other opportunities to hear from experts on the subject at other meetings.  However it was his opinion upon listening to the experts that it was not viable.

·         The Group Leader of the Peterborough Independent Forum responded that having the figures within the report would make no difference as they would be the same ones that had been presented to the Working Group and to Scrutiny previously.  The Working Group had been tasked with making a recommendation from their findings.

·         Members commented that the terms of reference of the working group were not answered in the report submitted to the Committee.

·         The Group Leader of the Peterborough Independent Forum informed the Committee that the grading of the land had not been done under correct procedures.

·         Members stated that the report was unhelpful and contained no useful information and needed to be revised and suggested that the Working Group do further work on the report and resubmit it with detailed information and justification for the recommendation.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Report on the Performance of the Serco Partnership (2013/2014) pdf icon PDF 134 KB


The report was introduced by the Serco Operations Manager and provided the Committee with an update on the performance of the Serco Partnership during the 2013-2014 municipal year.   Key highlights covered the following areas:


  • Operations
  • Growth
  • Transformation; and
  • Procurement


Questions and observations were made around the following areas:


·         Members referred to page 32, paragraph 6.3 “The Complaints related to Revenues and Benefits” and were concerned as to the number (157) of complaints relating to delayed/failed services. The Serco Operations Manager stated this largely referred to the Council Tax Support Scheme. Eleven thousand residents were paying council tax for the first time so there was a deluge of calls coming in which caused delays. The majority of complaints largely referred to this.

·         Members asked how the new online benefits claims system was progressing. The Serco Operations Manager stated that this had improved processing time from 29 days to 24 days.  However some claims would always be longer than the average time.

·         Members commented that Serco staff were always helpful and willing to listen.

·         Members asked what non-compliance spending referred to. The Serco Operations Manager stated that this would be where the council would work with the procurement team to identify a range of savings.  It might be that the savings may not be exactly what the council would want and therefore did not follow a recommendation from Serco in the interest of customer service. 

·         Members noted that Serco and the Council had signed a Notice of Change to remove the two remaining break clauses and asked why this had been agreed. The Serco Operations Manager stated that there were two contracts with the council.  One was the Serco Partnership Contract and the other was the ICT Contract which had predated the Partnership Contract. The ICT contract underpinned the transformation work and was therefore vital.  Break clauses were approaching both parties and both parties wanted to stay together.  The remedy was therefore to remove both break clauses to ensure continued delivery of the projects.

·         Members asked if the development of high-speed broadband referred only to council owned facilities. The Serco Operations Manager stated that the initial phase of the project was only for public buildings. The council would be saving a considerable amount even with this first phase.

·         Members followed-up stating that the ICT support for councillors was of a high quality, however the council was in a difficult economic situation and asked if there was a risk that councillors were subject to too much generosity in terms of ICT support.  Was there a single piece of technology that did everything that a laptop, iPad etc. did. The Head of Strategic Commissioning/Transformation responded that there were areas that were being looked at regarding the use of one piece of technology which would do everything that iPads, laptops, etc. would do.  Google Chrome books were being looked at.

·         Members responded that the difficulty in an ICT strategy was that there was competition between Apple and Microsoft and therefore there was difficulty in having  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Peterborough Draft Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Additional documents:


The report was introduced by the Principal Strategic Planning Officer which provided the Committee with an update on the proposed changes to the way developer contributions (S106 agreements) would be negotiated in the future.  The Committee were asked to comment on the Peterborough Draft Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) before being presented to Cabinet.


Questions and observations were made around the following areas:


·         Members asked why the council had decided to adopt a Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). The Director of Growth and Regeneration responded that the current POIS system could not be continued post 2015 as it would not be a legal process. Most councils did not have POIS or CIL in place. Peterborough was one of the few Local Authorities that had collected money towards the cost of new infrastructure. In the future only councils where it would not be viable, in that it would threaten the viability of new development, would not be pursuing CIL.

·         Members referred to the Integrated Development Schedule and stated that members of the public may be interested in the 20 pages of individual projects which the council was spending money on.  Why was this not being consulted on. The Director of Growth and Regeneration stated that CIL could not be charged unless new infrastructure was needed to support growth. The other aspect of CIL was that you had to be able to evidence that you could not afford the infrastructure that was needed to deliver growth.  Therefore the list of projects was there to evidence the gap between what the council had and what the cost of infrastructure would be to enable growth. Many of the individual projects listed sat within other strategy documents which the council had. The strategies were pooled together in terms of capital investment within the list. There would need to be a separate conversation about what projects would be funded, but it would have been confusing to have it as part of the Peterborough Draft Developer Contributions Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). Elements of the list had been to full public consultation. The Principal Strategic Planning Officer stated that the document was a live document which would be added to and updated over time.

·         Members referred to page 68 of the report for some clarification regarding the Lifetime Homes Standards element of the report. The Principal Strategic Planning Officer stated that for a scheme of 15 or more dwellings there was a target to provide 20% of homes built to Lifetime Homes  Standards, and for a scheme of 50 or more dwellings, 2% of dwellings would be required to be built to a wheelchair home standard, and the figures represented this requirement.

·         Members asked how community involvement was being delivered within these projects e.g. open space development. The Director of Growth and Regeneration stated that councillors could assist with this through the work being carried out by the Community Development Manager which would provide an evidence base for projects being undertaken. Parish plans were however very useful  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Review of 2013/2014 and Future Work Programme 2014/2015 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Additional documents:


The Senior Governance Officer introduced the report which provided the Committee with a review of the work undertaken by the Committee during 2013/14 and the opportunity to approve the draft work programme for 2014/15.


·         Members asked what had happened to the 20MPH Speed limit – Scrutiny Task and Finish Group Report.  The Senior Governance Officer responded that the report would be presented to Cabinet on 28 July 2014.




The Committee noted the report and approved the draft Work Programme for 2014/15.



Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 44 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee received the latest version of the Forward Plan of Key Decisions, containing key decisions that the Leader of the Council anticipated the Cabinet or individual Cabinet Members would make during the course of the following month.  Members were invited to comment on the Forward Plan and, where appropriate identify any relevant areas for inclusion in the Committee’s work programme.




The Committee noted the Forward Plan of Key Decisions.



Date of Next Meeting

Thursday 4 September 2014


4th September 2014.



Peterborough City Council. Town Hall, Bridge Street, Peterborough, PE1 1HF - (01733) 747474
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