Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 6 - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Robert Sutton  Email: robert.sutton@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5134

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Mick Hayes and Cherry Parker.

2.

Urgent Business

The Chair to announce any items of urgent business circulated separately from the main agenda.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 44 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships, as Council appointed representatives on Outside Bodies; Joint Committees and School Governing Bodies, be noted.

 

 

4.

Cabinet Member's Report: Business, Employment and Skills Priorities pdf icon PDF 153 KB

Update on the delivery of the Cabinet Member for Business Enterprise and Skills priorities.

Minutes:

The item was introduced by Councillor Sizwe James, Cabinet Member for Business Employment and Skills and by the Head of Employment and Skills. The Cabinet Member summarised the content of the report, highlighting his priorities.

 

The Scrutiny Panel noted the amount of European Union funding the Authority had bid for and asked what the impact would be for the Authority should the UK vote to leave the European Union in the forthcoming referendum?

 

In response, the Head of Employment and Skills stated that European funding made a large contribution to the Borough’s budget for projects. 

 

The Panel discussed with the Cabinet Member the current and emerging bids listed in section 3 of the report. Members also discussed in detail the European Social Fund and were informed by the Head of Employment and Skills that a target of 650 beneficiaries supported into employment, compared well with national benchmarks.  Referrals would be made through Job Centre Plus and eligibility criteria were being established by the Greater London Authority. Barriers to securing a job would be assessed for each person and where needed they would be offered training and access to job brokerage along with income support.

 

Members enquired about the size of the consortium making the bid to the European Social Fund and were informed that the consortia comprised of 10 boroughs who shared similar corporate priorities. 

 

The Scrutiny Panel questioned how sectors were selected for consideration as skills centres, what consultation took place and whether other sectors should be included?

 

The Head of Employment and Skills stated that skill centres were chosen to reflect growth areas.  People were trained not just for Jobs in the Borough but also the wider area.  She highlighted Kent as an area where those trained at the equestrian skills centre found job opportunities in their chosen field

 

Members noted that working with horses provided a learning environment and often boosted confidence in people with special needs. 

 

The Head of Employment and Skills commented that in addition to the jobs created by the construction phase of the cruise liner terminal there would be recruitment to approximately 200 operational jobs; with allied jobs in support chains.  She informed Members that the Authority was in talks with the TWIN Group to establish a retail skills centre. As an International Language School, they were one of the few organisations who were able to issue visas to overseas students. 

 

The Cabinet Member clarified that the adult skills budget was generally for qualification courses. Community learning was for non-qualification courses but were designed to help adults pursue an interest; improve their skills; prepare for work; become healthier and also provided opportunities for helping people into work. 

 

The Scrutiny Panel discussed the Highways Improvement Local Labour Scheme and noted there were slight differences between the content of this report and performance indicators contained in the Quarter 2 Performance Monitoring report. They expressed satisfaction with the concept and operation of the scheme. 

 

The Scrutiny Panel questioned whether land was reserved for business development to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

River Flooding at Westhorne Avenue pdf icon PDF 53 KB

Background information on response by the Environment Agency to the flooding of properties in Westhorne Avenue.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Assistant Director, Transportation and the Highways Asset Group Manager, who summarised the background of the issues. 

 

The meeting was addressed by members of the public, who confirmed that residents were taking legal action against the Environment Agency and raised issues regarding health and safety, including the lack of railings/fencing along the river and stated that the current fencing was inadequate. 

 

The meeting was addressed by Councillors Mark James and Christine May, Ward Councillors for the area, who reported that progress had been made but stated that the key issue was that the exceptional rain fall on 23 December 2013 had made it unsafe for the Environment Agency to put staff into the river to clear the grill and asked what action had the Environment Agency taken to deal with emergency situations, if they were to reoccur?

 

The meeting was addressed by Tim Connell and Jack Hayes from the Environment Agency, who referred to a report on the supplementary agenda, which laid out the actions and operational responses to the issues that had happened on 23 December 2013.  They stated that whenever storms were predicted, plant was stationed at the site. Plant had been deployed three times since December 2013 however, so far they had not been required.  They referred to the culvert as being the only area that accommodated run off. Consultants were finalising a report which would be shared with the Council if they were able to but that was dependent on issues relating to the legal proceedings.

 

Mr Connell informed the meeting that the fencing was the responsibility of the landowners rather than the Environmental Agency. He explained that a study of the nature of the river and the impact of roads and open spaces in the area was also looking at how all parties could work together to avoid any future floods.

 

The Scrutiny Panel was aware that the River Quaggy was not the only flood risk and questioned whether equipment would always be made available for the Quaggy?

 

The representatives from the Environment Agency stated that the River Quaggy was a prioritised site where hired equipment could be used if needed. They were confident suitable equipment would be available. The site was monitored by CCTV which allowed the Environment Agency to respond quickly to potential problems.

 

The Environment Agency was interested in natural flood risk measures and some funding was available for high risk areas. Modelling was undertaken to identify areas of high risk and was used as the starting point for developing projects.  They worked strategically to put in funding bids.

 

A member of the Panel referred to the flood risks in Eynsham Drive and stated that it would be helpful to have a map of risks areas; who was responsible for what elements and the level of risk for each area.

 

The Environmental Agency spokesperson said that Regional Flood and Coastal Committees had a huge amount of data available which could provide this information.  Some of this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Quarter 2 Performance Monitoring Directorate Regeneration, Enterprise & Skills pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Outline of the Business Critical Indicators and performance outcomes.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills, who gave a short summary of the report and stated that the preferred bidder for Spray Street had been identified and were taking place. The negotiations included a value for the covered market. In relation to Charlton Riverside the Director confirmed that all baseline assessments had been completed and the project would move forward to consultation.

 

The Director referred to budget management and informed the Scrutiny Panel proposals were to be put forward increasing pre-application fees. The proposals better reflected the cost to the Borough and would be considered as part of a forthcoming Fees and Charges report.

 

Referring to the performance indicators, the Director confirmed that the majority of indicators were on target. 

 

Members asked what could be done to attract particular types of business into the borough. In response the Director stated that the Council could work with landlords / owners of sites to ensure they were aware of the regeneration of the Royal Borough an ensure consistent messages were used.

 

Answering enquiries she confirmed that “Poundland” in Eltham had chosen to vacate their premises in October which was earlier than required by the Council.

 

The Scrutiny Panel asked for clarification on changes of buildings from business use to residential use and was informed by the Director that she would circulate planning policies to Members.

 

Action Director of Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills

 

The plan for the school building and maintenance programme was to maximise existing school sites for expansion. There were sometimes issues which meant that there could be delays and in this instance the use of the Old Dover Road site. Had been agreed as a temporary secondary school site. 

 

Internal Audit had assessed compliance with the Wilmouth recommendations on all procurement and agreed that it was fit for purpose. 

The meeting was addressed by the Assistant Director of Transport, who stated that transport related schemes funded by TfL had mainly been completed in the last quarter. There had been a shortfall in income from parking and to tackle the problem, he was looking at back office staff efficiency; increased income through enforcement; income areas of parking controls and changes to permit parking.

 

Members enquired about the employment of enforcement officers and whether this was limited in any way? The Assistant Director stated that many people were not attracted to this type of work or were disqualified by the outcome of Disclosure and Barring Service checks which took time to be completed. Recruits needed to have flexible approach.

 

Members asked if parking enforcement could be undertaken by volunteers, particularly around school areas and were informed by the Assistant Director that prescribed training had to be undertaken. 

 

Members questioned the recovery of income and were informed by the Assistant Director that Parking operations made a surplus however; income projections were not being reached.  Income had been affected by the austerity measures which meant that less money was available to spend leading to curtailed shopping  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.