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Neighbourhood Scrutiny Panel
11 October 2004
(1.30 pm – 4.05 pm)

Present:

Councillor:         Bell (Chair)

Councillors:        Boyle, Down, Middleton, Phillipson, Robinson, Thorkildsen, Todd and
                    Whittaker

Also Present:

Councillor Proud:   Portfolio Member for Neighbourhoods and Communities

In Attendance:
A Lamb              - Scrutiny Manager, Chief Executive’s Office
A McNeill           - Democratic Services
R Thomas            - Community Safety Co-ordinator
K McGready          - Anti Social Behaviour Co-ordinator
D Scott             - Tall Ships Office
P Payne             - Tall Ships Office




18.     WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

        The Chair welcomed Members to the meeting of the Panel. He also referred to
        the attendance of Councillor Proud the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods
        and Communities who would answer questions on his portfolio.

19.     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

        Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Stephenson and
        Psallidas.

20.     MINUTES OF LAST MEETING

                      RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on 13
                      September 2004 be approved as a correct record and signed by the
                      Chair.
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      Matters Arising:-

      Leisure Services

      i)     the Chair referred to examples of the leisure services marketing material
             and a report entitled Marketing Synopsis which was available at the
             meeting.

      ii)    a memo from the Project Engineer Street Lighting monitoring team about
             lighting in parks was also circulated.

21.   FORWARD PLAN OF KEY DECISIONS

      Submitted: Report by Scrutiny Manager, Chief Executive’s Office (previously
      circulated and copy attached to Official Minutes).

      A Lamb introduced the report and reminded the Panel that members had
      suggested that it would be useful to consider the Forward Plan when they were
      looking at their work programme.

      She referred to the matters to be considered at future meetings and in particular
      to the licensing policy presentation and the investment plan for community
      buildings both of which were to take place at November’s meeting.

      A member suggested that it was extremely useful for information to be submitted
      in that way so it could dovetail into the Panel’s work. He referred in particular to
      the interaction of community buildings and the community participation plan and
      suggested that they should be considered together.

      In response to a question A Lamb outlined the programme for the submission of
      the licensing policy to the Executive. She pointed out that the new licensing
      arrangements would come into force in January 2005.

      The Chair suggested that Tourism in the North East Region and the City should
      be deferred from its slot in November because of the other items on the agenda.

      So far as the licensing policy was concerned he urged members to view the draft
      policy which was on the City Council’s website.

      R Thomas offered to undertake a Community Safety Partnership workshop at
      December’s meeting which the Chair suggested could be either arranged through
      a special meeting or part of a meeting specifically devoted to it.

      A Lamb referred to the inclusion of the Corporate budget consultation exercise
      which would also have to be considered in November.
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      The Chair suggested that Culture 10 could be subject to detailed scrutiny as the
      programme would have immense impact on the arts and culture activities and
      involved the maximisation of external funding opportunities.

                    RESOLVED – That the reports be noted subject to the above.

22.   PROGRESS MONITOR, WORK PLAN AND ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION AT
      FUTURE MEETINGS

      Submitted: Report of Scrutiny Manager, Chief Executive’s Office (previously
      circulated and copy attached to Official Minutes).

      A Lamb introduced the report and referred in particular to the item relating to
      school based leisure opportunities – making the most of community use contracts
      in PFIs. She suggested that this issue could be subjected to detailed
      consideration as a Panel study topic. She also suggested that discussions could
      be undertaken with the Head of Leisure Services and the Head of Arts and
      Culture about the Audit Commission’s Regular Performance Assessment of
      ‘Culture’ and the report brought to the Panel for discussion, once it was available.

      The Chair mentioned that A Lamb the Scrutiny Manager would welcome the
      opportunity to interview Panel Members individually to identify their particular
      areas of interest within the portfolio and how they see the work programme might
      begin to address them. She would also like to find out if there were any areas of
      common interest where information sessions or seminars could be arranged.

                    RESOLVED – That the contents of the report be noted bearing in
                    mind the comments above.

23.   DISCUSSION WITH THE EXECUTIVE MEMBER FOR NEIGHBOURHOODS
      AND COMMUNITIES

      Submitted: Report of Scrutiny Manager, Chief Executive’s Office (previously
      circulated and copy attached to Official Minutes).

      Councillor Ian Proud, the Executive Member for Neighbourhoods and
      Communities introduced himself to the Panel and outlined his remit, which he
      acknowledged was extremely wide and involved several areas of overlap with
      other portfolios.

      He thanked the Committee for the invitation to discuss his portfolio.

      Discussion took place on his portfolio in the light of the topics listed in the report
      of the Scrutiny Manager and Councillor Proud’s address to Council.

      During the discussion amongst other things the following points were made:-
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 In response to a question from the Chair Councillor Proud outlined how he
  hoped to ensure that people’s interests were represented and community
  participation was achieved.

 Councillor Proud reported that because of his wide remit and areas of cross
  cutting he frequently had meetings with Councillors Stone and Faulkner the
  portfolio holders of the Development and Regeneration and Culture and
  Heritage and Sport respectively.

 There appeared to be a lack of publicity and guidance on how the Council
  could assist voluntary organisations in preparing applications for financial
  support either within the Council or through outside agencies.

 Councillor Proud said that there were some excellent services provided by the
  Council such as the Play & Youth Service, but the public sometimes had a
  poor view of them because they weren’t marketed effectively.

 Councillor Proud agreed with the feelings of some Panel members, that Ward
  Community Co-ordinators should be located outside the Civic Centre. He also
  noted that not every ward had a full time Community Co-ordinator and he
  would like to see more staff employed.

 The Chair suggested that Ward Community Co-ordinators should work
  closely with Community Development Workers despite being located in
  separate directorates and buildings.

 A member suggested that stopping the production of ward newsletters was a
  retrograde step. He felt that this was the most effective way in which the
  Council communicated with the community It also provided links into local
  democracy and social inclusion, helping to generate a feeling of partnership.

 City literature should promote the Council as a Corporate Body and not one
  promoting political party favouritism.

 Councillor Proud reported that he had taken up the issue with the Leader as
  he believed it was very important to maintain local communication He talked
  about the community taking control of information channels, perhaps
  producing their own newsletters and the importance of the bottom up
  approach.

 He hoped to publish a newsletter for children and this would be delivered
  through the door. It could be issued on a quarterly basis.

 The contents of Citylife might also need to be reviewed.

(Councillor Whittaker joined the meeting at 1.50 pm)
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 A Panel member said that the role of the Ward Co-ordinators would need to
  be examined. They have in the past facilitated the policy development
  process and helped to improve the delivery of services in neighbourhoods –
  their work is strategic and they should be based in the Civic Centre to do their
  jobs properly.

 A Panel member said that in the interests of transparency, officer’s
  recommendations on grant aid should be publicised before the Executive
  members make their decision.

 Councillor Proud said that he was prepared to discuss the proposals about
  Area Working with the Panel once they had been formulated and would like to
  come back early next year.

 A Panel member commented that it was important that Community
  Development workers moved away from the traditional project based work
  which could lead to a culture of dependency in communities.

 Councillor Proud paid tribute to the work of the previous portfolio holders in
  providing a firm foundation for action.

 It was suggested that Councillor Proud discuss the management issues
  around local tidying/cleansing issues with Councillor Taylor, Portfolio holder
  for the Environment, Sustainability and Transport in an effort to improve
  grounds maintenance and litter removal. The Rapid Response Team was
  working well. However there was a need to employ well trained, multi skilled
  staff to build on this successful initiative in the community.

 Referring to his address to Council, Councillor Proud indicated that the
  priorities outlined did not relate to a financial year.

   He envisaged that the community use of buildings would be the subject of
   detailed consideration and would generate adverse comment however it
   would be open to discussion. Anti-social behaviour would also have to be
   closely examined.

He said that community buildings were an important starting point for him
because their provision touched on his main themes of customer service and
social inclusion and had a knock on effect on the Council’s ability to delivery
community based activities across all ages ranges. Community buildings are
crucial in getting young people off the streets and in developing cohesion in
communities by bringing people together under one roof.

   He wished to promote a open door approach to delivery of services.

 The Chair’s intention to develop areas for monitoring in consultation with the
  Vice Chair and relevant officers was noted.
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       The Chair asked Councillor Proud if there were any areas of his portfolio
        where he felt that a scrutiny study might be useful. He suggested i) the future
        of community buildings and facilities and ii) the delivery of Play and Youth
        Services, modernisation and best practise

      The Chair thanked Councillor Proud for his attendance at the meeting.

25.   TALL SHIPS RACE 2005

      Submitted: Report of Scrutiny Manager, Chief Executive’s Office (this item was
      brought forward on the agenda with the agreement of the Panel).

      Phil Payne introduced himself and Dorothy Scott from the Tall Ships office.

      He undertook a presentation with the aid of leaflets and a plan showing the
      proposed berthing of the ships.

      Amongst other things he outlined

      i)      funding issues

      ii)     the management structure

      iii)    the type of ships and particularly the inclusion of the Eagle and the
              SEDOV.

      iv)     the STI conference and the creation of a website

      v)      the rigorous safety precautions that had been required by the Police and
              other agencies

      vii)    the recruitment of local volunteers

      viii)   the sail training opportunities

      vi)     the arrangements for berthing

      x)      availability of publicity and events guides in different language.

      Following the presentation and in response to members question the following
      points were made:
      (i)     P Payne outlined that Sea Britain 2005 was being marketed throughout the
              country and had been precipitated by the Collingwood/Trafalgar
              connotation and a substantial Culture 10 funding opportunity had been
              created.
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      (ii)     The funding and marketing opportunities were outlined following a question
               from the Chair about City Council financial commitment to the staging of
               the race. Apart from One NE and council funding from both Newcastle and
               Gateshead Councils and Culture 10 further marketing income had been
               expected.

      (iii)    The opening of the Sage would complement the celebrations.

      (iv)     It was suggested that the areas of entry into the City by rail and road
               should be tidied up. P Payne would take this to the technical services
               group.

      (vii)    Several areas had been identified for park and ride and these were
               outlined by P Payne. It was suggested the Newcastle Great Park could
               present a further opportunity.

      (viii)   Following problems that had been experienced during the holding of the
               Great North Run it was hoped that better liaison between the police and
               stewards could be established.

      (ix)     Free transport for participants in the Tall Ships race had been sought
               through Nexus.

      (x)      The Chair’s suggestion that areas of activity such as community
               involvement would be suitable for monitoring during the lead up to the Tall
               Ships race was approved.

      (xi)     The Panel may also visit the race headquarters at the Baltic in the run up
               to the event.

26.   INTERIM ANTI SOCIAL BEHAVIOUR STRATEGY

      Submitted: Report of Anti Social Behaviour Co-ordinator (previously circulated
      and copy attached to Official Minutes).

      K McGready introduced himself and outlined how he had been working with the
      City Council for 3 months and how it was envisaged that several initiatives could
      be carried through. He highlighted several examples of anti social behaviour and
      highlighted the impact and perception by the public they encompassed.

      Of significance was the fact that one police command unit had been established
      rather than the 4 previously operated. This eliminated the post code lottery
      response to policing matters.

      The following points were made during questions of K McGready and R Thomas:
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 A member asked how the Police part of the Community Safety Partnership
  manifested itself.

 K McGready referred to the police enforcement plans which were being
  developed and the gradual shift of emphasis in dealing with anti social
  behaviour matters. He would be meeting the geographic inspectors of
  command in the near future.

 A reduction in police funding requirements could be experienced if the City
  Council undertook certain initiatives that relieved pressure on the Police. For
  instance if play and youth work increased their presence in the area it cost
  the City Council money yet there was no reciprocal exchange of funds.

 Frequently problems were created when a family was moved from YHN
  accommodation to the private sector. This sometimes meant a family could
  be evicted from a neighbourhood then ended up in the same area from which
  they had been evicted.

 A member queried whether any benefits would be experienced by the merger
  of the Community Safety Partnership and the Drugs Action Team . He
  suggested that the split in accommodation currently experienced by the
  Partnership was detrimental to its progress. R.Thomas reported that
  alternative accommodation was to be sought. In the interim members were
  welcome to visit the offices.

 There was a rumour that the police may be departing from their problem
  solving role in the community. It was felt that this would be detrimental and
  the multi-agency approach should continue.

 A greater use of the planning system could enhance security standards in new
  homes.with initatives such as ‘secure by design’.

 Youth disorder was a major item of concern and was frequently expressed at
  Ward Sub-Committees.

 The Police, Neighbourhood Services and YHN co-operated in dealing with
  anti-social behaviour complaints.

 The Drug Action Team and the community safety partnership were merging
  on the 31 March 2005 with a new name.

 An audit of the Community Safety Partnership would take place in November.
  The outcome of the inspection and any inspection documents should be made
  available to the Panel.
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        Simply dispersing young people was not a long term solution to anti social
         behaviour.

        Information on the use of anti-social behaviour orders was not available on a
         ward by ward basis at present. Certain work had been undertaken and was
         available as part of the YHN Inspection report. Nevertheless it was intended
         that a Citywide information base would be available on a quarterly basis and
         this would be accessible to Ward Committees The information was very
         sensitive.

        A comparison with other core cities on statistics relating to crime and disorder
         should be undertaken. The Panel would like to see a regular report comparing
         Newcastle’s issue of ASBO’s, parenting contracts etc to similar cities

        The Chair thanked K McGready and R Thomas for their contribution to the
         meeting.

             He would draw up a list of areas within their workload for monitoring in
             consultation with the Vice Chair and Scrutiny Manager.

27.    ITEMS FOR INFORMATION

       i)       Information on the Opening of the Sage, Gateshead was available at the
                meeting.

       ii)      Details of a conference, “Are You Ready? “a one day seminar about the
                Licensing Act 2003 was circulated. Interested members should contact A
                Lamb.

28.    DATE AND TIME FOR FUTURE MEETINGS

       Dates and times for future meetings were noted.




Min: 008018

				
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