Borough of Poole

Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee Minutes

Date:
Tuesday 17th March 2015
Time:
7:00pm
Place:
Committee Suite, Civic Centre, Poole
 

Attendance Details

Present:

Councillor Mrs Pratt (Chairman)
Councillor Miss Wilson (Vice-Chairman)
Councillors Chandler, Mrs Hodges, Maiden, Parker, Mrs Parkinson and Wilkins
 

Also in attendance:
Councillor Mrs Dion, Portfolio Holder
Lesley Spain, Principal Learning Manager
Pete Stratford, Corporate Research Manager
Emma Leatherbarrow, Corporate Strategy Team Manager
Sue Newell, Community and Equality Manager
Kevin McErlane, Strategic Director
Item Number Item/Description
PUBLIC
COS39.15 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

There were no apologies for absence

COS40.15 DECLARATIONS OF PECUNIARY INTEREST

There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interest

COS41.15 MINUTES

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the previous Meeting held on 27 January 2015 having been previously circulated, be taken as read, signed and confirmed by the Chairman as a correct record, subject to the following amendment:

 

• That Councillor Parker be marked as Present
 

COS42.15 ANNUAL SKILLS AND LEARNING UPDATE

The Principal Learning Manager introduced a report detailing the performance and activities of the Joint Skills and Learning service following a merger of services for Poole, Bournemouth and Dorset Councils. She explained that the merger process had been completed and that staff were now able to focus on developing the business further.

 

Officers responded to Members’ requests for clarification, details included:

 

• Cuts to funding had impacted the service.
 

• There was increased participation from Learners from Bournemouth due to migrant workers being required to study English and Maths.
 

• A new ‘Carers in Care’ project was aimed at attracting learners looking at returning to work following an extended career break or a change in career but required some additional skills that would be of benefit to them or potential employers.
 

• There was a focus on recruiting learners from disadvantaged wards and ensuring that learners have the skills required to move into employment or further training
 

• Approximately 40% of JCP+ mandated learners progressed into employment and a further 20% undertook additional training.
 

• As the Service was designed to be flexible, learners were able to select any site to learn at, even if they were not resident of that Local Authority.
 

• There was a high level of satisfaction from learners that had undertaken a course and many felt far more confident after they had completed one.
 

• Community Learning Mental Health Pilot funding had been awarded to the Joint Service for partnership working with Dorset Mental Health Forum and the Recovery Education Centre to develop an innovative co-ordinated mental health signposting infrastructure and series of ‘living well’ workshops.

 

The Portfolio Holder explained that Poole had a good reputation when it came to joint working with other organisations and that this Service proved to be a great success. She added that the Borough of Poole had recently hired five apprentices and was therefore leading by example.

The Chairman thanked Officers for the Report and stated that it was a credit to all of the hard work that had been done in relation to this project.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

(i) Members note the success of the first year of the adult learning merger with Dorset and comment on any issues from the report.

 

(ii) Members support and recognise Skills and Learning’s contribution to the priorities of each Council, the diverse methods of engaging Learners, the outcomes for Learners and the current performance against business plan objectives.

 

(iii) Members continue to monitor service activity and performance annually.

 

Voting: For - Unanimous
 

COS43.15 POVERTY IN POOLE - CONCLUDING SUMMARY

The Corporate Research Manager introduced a report summarising the work that had been undertaken to identify the forms of poverty faced by many residents of the Borough of Poole. He added that it was part of the Corporate Strategy to ensure that the Borough improved the quality of life for all people in Poole.

Officers responded to Members’ requests for clarification, details included:

 

• Fuel Poverty was a big issue for Poole, particularly in rented accommodation, and the challenge faced by the Council was encouraging private landlords to ensure that these properties were as energy efficient as possible. There was an Enabling Team within Housing and Community Services which was able to offer advice to Private Landlords but it was unable to enforce the implementation of any advice given.
 

• The National Living Wage was always going to be a difficult subject area, particularly in a time of economic instability and uncertainty for businesses and although the National Minimum wage was to increase later in the year, it would still be far from the suggested Living Wage.
 

• It would be investigated whether it would be possible to implement a simple way of switching energy supplier alongside the exploration of Council fuel suppliers
 

• The energy company proposal was still being developed and was currently being discussed with Poole Housing Partnership (PHP) to get a sense of the options available. It was likely that the proposals would go to Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee and that updates could be provided to this Committee.

 

A Member explained to the Committee that he had sent an Overview and Scrutiny topic suggestion form to the Overview and Scrutiny Board regarding DECC Fuel Poverty Funding Grant for further investigation.

 

A Member expressed concern that the Council only seemed to be focussed on working with PHP rather than other housing associations or private landlords. He added that it was not just PHP residents that were in fuel poverty or “fuel poor” and stated that he would like to see other residents included in the implementation of this Scheme should it come to fruition.

 

NOTE: Councillor Wilkins declared a personal interest as a tenant of a Poole Housing Partnership Ltd (PHP) property.

 

A Member stated that he was often approached by residents in his Ward questioning why they were unable to have Solar Panels installed due to the properties not being south-facing and suggested that the energy supplied to homes that were able to use them could be shared with properties that were not south-facing via a community scheme.


The Chairman thanked Officers for the Report and stated how important it was that all residents were able to maintain a high quality of life.
 

RECOMMENDED That:

(i) Cabinet recommend to Council that the Borough of Poole continues to:
 

a) Learn about and understand poverty in Poole;
b) Lead and speak up for people and communities experiencing poverty, especially those that may be less able to speak up for themselves;
c) Encourage and support other local agencies in their role in addressing the causes and consequences of poverty;
d) Make policy and service decisions that take into account the impact on poverty; and
e) Develop and maintain services that address the causes and consequences of poverty in Poole.

 

(ii) The Committee consider the summary of the report findings and consider if further work is required on particular issues identified in the Committee’s next forward plan including;

 

(a) Encourage employers to increase Care Worker salaries.
(b) Encourage local employers not to employ staff on zero hour contacts.
(c) Investigate the allocation of the Fuel Poverty Funding Grant
(d) Investigate how the Council can help tenants with switching fuel tariffs.
(e) Investigate sharing the benefit of solar heating with Tenants that had not been included in the photovoltaic Scheme. i.e Community Scheme.

 

Voting: For - Unanimous
 

COS44.15 UPDATE ON EXPERIENCES OF PREJUDICE IN POOLE AND PREVENTING EXTREMISM

The Community and Equality Manager introduced a report providing an update on progress following the Scrutiny Review of “People in Poole’s Experiences of Prejudice” and the Borough’s duties around preventing extremism. She added that it was important that all residents in Poole were treated with respect and did not find themselves to be victims of hate crime. Furthermore, she stated that it was imperative that both Members and Council Officers were trained to identify people who may be vulnerable to being radicalised.

 

Officers responded to Members requests for clarification, details included:

 

• The Borough and schools had new statutory duties under the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015, which meant that training around “Prevent” was key to undertaking these duties.
 

• The no-smoking policy around the bus station was voluntary and not legally enforceable. However, it was acknowledged that the Dolphin Centre should be a pleasant environment for all.

• No meetings of the Channel Panel had yet been convened because there had been no major concerns although this was continuously being monitored.

 

The Chairman thanked Officers for the Report and stated how pleasing it was to see how dedicated the Council was to ensuring the safety of its residents.

 

RECOMMENDED that:

 

(i) the Head of Legal and Democratic Services ensure that Member induction includes equality and diversity training and raising awareness around the ‘Prevent’ agenda.

 

(ii) the Council’s Management Team continue to offer the Home Office accredited ‘Workshop to Raise Awareness of Prevent’ (WRAP) to all Council officers and Members as appropriate.

 

Voting: For - Unanimous
 

COS45.15 OPTIONS DEVELOPMENT FOLLOWING THE DESTRUCTION OF THE FORMER ROMAN HOUSE AT UPTON COUNTRY PARK

The Item was withdrawn for further work to be carried out.

COS46.15 FORWARD PLAN

The Forward Plan was noted and Members added the following Items:

 

• Former Roman House at Upton Country Park
• Fuel Poverty

 

RESOLVED that the Forward Plan with additions be noted.
 

The Meeting commenced at 7:00pm and concluded at 8:46pm