Document Sample
					Craven District Council

                            OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

                                          9th February 2010

Present – Councillor Mrs Firth (Chairman) and Councillors Barrington, Butcher, Heather, Pamela
Heseltine, Lis, Mason, Quinn, Roberts, Solloway and Whaites.
Also present were Councillors Knowles-Fitton and Whitaker.

Officers – Assistant Chief Executive, Strategic Manager (Legal and Democratic Services),
Environment Protection Manager, Principal Economic Development Officer and Committee

Apologies were received from Councillor Beck and Wilf Fenten (Yorkshire Dales National Park
representative on the Tourism Working Group).

Start: 6.30pm                                                                        Finish: 9pm

The minutes of the 19th January meeting were confirmed and signed by the Chairman.

                                         Minutes for Report

OS.121                        2009/10 ANNUAL FLOODING REPORT

The Environment Protection Manager presented the Council’s 2009/10 Annual Flooding Report.
The report detailed action taken during 2009/2010 to address flooding and land drainage issues;
advised Members of the resources and service available to tackle flooding; reported progress
towards implementing Pitt Review recommendations; set out the implications of the Floods and
Water Management Bill and Flood Risk Regulations 2009; and presented the draft Craven Multi-
Agency Flood Plan.

The main implications of the pending legislation, which was the Government’s response to the Pitt
Review, included the Council being designated as a risk management authority. The local lead
flood authority was North Yorkshire County Council, which would be responsible for developing a
risk management strategy, for surface run-off, groundwater and ordinary watercourses, in
partnership with this Council, as the risk management authority. The risk management work
introduced greater responsibilities, in partnership with the lead authority, including identifying and
mapping local flood risk areas; associated information such as ownership of land or structures;
undertaking flood maintenance works; preparing flood incident reports; and generally working with
local partners.

The Government expected that the costs of implementing the proposals would be met in savings
achieved by local authorities through better flooding management. Environmental Protection
staffing had decreased: it was unlikely to be able to take on extra work and did not have the
expertise. The level of staffing meant that it was difficult to fully respond to incidents, although
there was a growing public expectation. The financial implications section of the report outlined the
financial pressures stemming from the proposals.

The Government required flood management authorities to work with the emergency services in
developing and testing multi-agency flood plans. Flood prevention was a key element and the
Environment Agency approved plans. The Agency had consulted upon flooding in Skipton and had
produced a flood alleviation document.

The Emergency Planning Advisor for the Council, Ian Spiers, from North Yorkshire County County,
gave a presentation on Craven’s Multi-Agency Flood Plan. The document had been finalised and
was due to be signed off by the Chief Executive. Electronic and paper copies of the draft version

                                                   1       Overview and Scrutiny Committee 9 February 2010
Craven District Council

had been available previously for Members to view. The Plan was over 200 pages and was an
evidence-based document using clear audit trails for conclusions. Production guidance had been
made available by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the
Environment Agency, while the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum had identified risks and
developed the Plan. The Plan sat in the middle of the emergency planning organisational structure,
wider regional and area response plans lead to theme based plans such as the Multi-Agency Flood
Plan, evacuation plans. These, in turn, lead to more detailed site-specific local plans from
community groups and utility companies.

The Plan focussed on river flooding and surface water issues using local knowledge to identify ‘hot-
spots’. The Police, Fire and Rescue and Health Services had also been involved. Each of these
employed advisors who would feed through information to operators ‘on the ground’. Command
and Control procedures would be used to monitor situations and identify if an incident required a
local or multi-agency response. The Police would coordinate operations and local authorities would
lead on recovery work.

Development of the Plan had included six public meetings. Considerations for the Craven Plan had
included identifying vulnerable infrastructure, houses and people, availability of community
buildings as temporary accommodation, key local contact details, utilities etc. The Plan achieved
95% compliance with the Environment Agency’s checklist. Comprehensive annual reviews were
required, although development could be ongoing as a ‘live’ document. Final copies of the Plan
would be issued to the Chief Executive and senior Environmental Protection staff, with a copy for
Members to access.

During the course of Members’ discussion, various points were made:
 The monthly risk management programme of inspecting and clearing 40 flooding ‘hot-spots’ /
   culverts of debris etc by Council staff had resulted in reduced localised flooding and was
   welcomed by Members as a good initiative.
 Vulnerable buildings would be identified and not used as temporary accommodation.
 The main focus areas were the Rivers Aire. Ribble and Wharfe, although ‘hot-spot’ becks etc
   were included. Low level localised issues would not activate the Plan.
 The police considered their wider operational priorities, usually becoming involved only if there
   was a danger to life etc. The fire and rescue service undertook actual rescue work and local
   authorities generally advised.
 Parish councils had been kept involved.
 Different flood management schemes existed, such as diverting floodwater to floodplains, but,
   ultimately, there still needed to be responses to flooding.
 There needed to be robust ‘duty’ officer arrangements especially for ‘out-of-hours’ incidents.
   Council employees were operating on a ‘good will’ basis and were not the emergency services,
   although there was a public perception of emergency support on demand.
 Flooding budgets needed to be appropriate to ensure that extra flood management costs were
   not incurred because of reduced ability to tackle issues.
 Delivering sandbags was a manpower issue. Sandbags could be charged for, but in practice
   emergency situations had to be tackled first and it could be difficult to recover money. Storing
   sandbags in community ‘hot-spot’ locations could be a more practical alternative.
 Charging riparian owners was an option that would be pursued.

Resolved – (1) That the action being taken by Environmental Protection to address flooding and
           drainage issues in Craven is noted and supported.

               (2) That the level of service that can be provided in response to flooding in Craven. in
              accordance with current budgets and staffing levels, is noted.

              (3) That it is noted that additional resources would be needed to enable the Council to
              operate an out-of-hours response to flooding and to meet its responsibilities under the

                                                   2       Overview and Scrutiny Committee 9 February 2010
Craven District Council

              Multi-Agency Flood Plan and Civil Contingencies Act, subject to a financial

              (4) That the provision of community sandbag stores, where practicable and within
              current budgets, is supported, as an alternative to delivering sandbags to residents
              and businesses.

              (5) That the progress being made to implement the recommendations of the Pitt
              Review is noted.

              (6) That the implications of the Floods and Water Management Bill and the potential
              capacity, expertise and resource issues are noted.

              (7) That the Craven Multi-Agency Flood Plan is noted and supported.

OS.122                            INFORMATION SERVICES –

The Assistant Chief Executive presented a report inform Members of business-critical incidents,
which had affected the availability of information systems between 27th October and 4th November
2009. The report detailed what had caused the problems, remedial actions and improvement
actions, some of which had been put in place already.

Systems were down for that week because of two unrelated problems. Firstly the Council’s internet
connection was lost, affecting external emails, and then the main server infrastructure had
collapsed. The parallel problems had impacted on the availability of IT staff to resolve them and
final recovery.

The internet problem had been caused possibly by configuration work on the Council’s external
routers, which had led to emails not being delivered. Some discussion had taken place with the
Council’s external network supplier before the need to contact Microsoft had been established and,
following further effort, the problem had been resolved. However, the Council’s system only
allowed emails to be stored for five days before delivery otherwise they were lost.

The wider server problem was caused by the age of the network and overdue replacement servers.
Server systems were generally replaced every three years and the Council’s systems were much
older. The growing age of the network meant that problems had occurred more often, putting
pressure on reduced staff. A lot of work was required to repair and reconfigure the systems.

Since then, a server virtualisation project had started, reducing the number of servers from over 50
to under 10, which also realised significant efficiency savings. Further virtualisation work would
ensure that the whole network infrastructure was replaced. The project was due to be completed
by the end of March 2010. One critical improvement would be development of a disaster recovery
plan, effectively a robust back-up system.

During the course of Members’ discussions, various points were made as follows:
 Consideration should be given to increasing the email filter system capacity to allow external
   emails to be retained for more than five days in the event of network or other failure.
 Manual systems allowed benefits payments to still be made before the systems recovered for
   people in real need.
 The Contact Craven customer service team were briefed to allow the public to be kept informed.
 The business critical nature of maintaining robust IT systems was recognised.

Resolved – That the report is noted and the Assistant Chief Executive is asked to provide, at a
           future meeting of the Committee [possibly 20th April], an update on the next steps, as
           set out in paragraph 3.12 of the report
                                                  3       Overview and Scrutiny Committee 9 February 2010
Craven District Council

OS.123                                REVIEW OF TOURISM

The Chairman invited Trevor Reynolds, proprietor of the Harts Head Inn, Giggleswick, to speak on
this item. A letter from Mr Reynolds had been circulated to Members previously, in which he stated
the need for the Council to have a robust Tourism Strategy and raised a number of questions
relating to tourism performance indicators in Craven. He felt that there needed to be more robust
measurement of recent statistics, such as visitor numbers, tourism spend, etc., identifying areas
where improvement was needed or innovation could be considered, such as networking with
businesses and developing a Strategy with measurable targets and priorities.

During his address to Members, Mr Reynolds made various points:
 In his 12 years as proprietor of the Harts Head Inn he had increased turnover by 400%.
 He had been involved with Settle tourism and business bodies, as well as the Yorkshire Tourist
   Board (succeeded by Welcome to Yorkshire).
 The critical value of tourism to Craven and the UK and the diverse nature of tourism from small
   bed and breakfast providers to international hotels.
 He referred to the robustness of tourism – withstanding recessions better than most sectors.
 Having first raised the need for a Tourism Strategy during the 2001 ‘Foot and Mouth’ crisis and
   feeling disappointed that little seemed to have been achieved since.
 There needed to be a picture of where the Council had failed or succeeded and challenges
   faced by the sector.
 There needed to be constant product development and innovations; the status quo was never
   an option. Tourism needed to be in constant development.
 The example of poor quality pubs from 30 years ago being transformed into places to eat
   quality food and serve interesting local beers.
 How he had benefited himself, several years previously, from Council support to set up his
   website. Basic websites had now moved on to active web marketing, for example he kept a
   database of former / potential customers, who he could keep updated of offers, etc through
   regular emails.
 It was essential to look at past performance, current activity and identify future areas for
   development and innovative opportunities
 He felt that benchmark targets needed to constantly set such as 3% year-on-year growth.
 Particular areas that needed development were all-day, all-year, all-weather activities and,
   particularly for off-peak seasons, securing the most accommodation possible.
 Opportunities such as the growing retired population needed to be captured. Benefiting from
   exchange rates was good but fluctuated, so the home market needed to be secured.
 In summary, the O&S report needed to review recent past performance against targets; portray
   the current picture, including resources, strengths and weaknesses, challenges faced; and
   develop into a forward-looking strategy of targets and priorities.

Councillor Heather, Chairman of the Tourism Working Group, explained that the Review had to be
focussed on agreed areas. One area of focus had been the Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate
Partnership, as it was responsible for tourism in the sub-region. Examples of concerns had
surfaced, particularly the Partnership’s delayed Holiday Planner for 2010, which had seriously
impacted on tourism bookings.

During the course of Members’ discussion, various points were made:
 Mr Reynolds had been unavailable for earlier meetings of the Review.
 The regional tourism structural changes, lead by the regional development agencies, had
   diluted the impact of regional tourism impact through another tier at sub-regional level: tourism
 The Yorkshire Dales and Harrogate Tourism Partnership had yet to prove it was delivering
   tourism improvements. Private sector representation was poor, not ‘hands-on’ people prepared
   to ask pertinent questions.

                                                 4       Overview and Scrutiny Committee 9 February 2010
Craven District Council

   The Partnership’s Holiday Planner featured Craven in only around 26% of their advertising,
    which had been caused partly by businesses being confused by Partnership changes and the
    advertising charges increasing substantially.
   The Principal Economic Development Officer confirmed that the Council’s current Tourism
    Strategy was due for renewal.
   There was general agreement that some aspects of the report were robust whilst other aspects
    could be developed.
   Other general comments included reference to the international impact of website
    recommendations such as the Dales featuring on the internet as the fourth best mountain biking
    area in the world.

Resolved – (1) That the Tourism Working Group meets on 18th February at 6pm to review the
           report, with an invitation for all key stakeholders to attend; the Working Group to
           consider the Council’s Tourism Strategy, including recent past performance, current
           resources and development of a new Strategy (framework of outline priorities and

              (2) That the final O&S Tourism report is presented to the Overview and Scrutiny
              Committee on 9th March.

[Councillor Whaites declared a personal interest, as the report referred to heavy goods vehicles
and he allowed HGV drivers to park on his premises. Councillor Pam Heseltine declared a
personal interest as a tourist information centre volunteer.]

OS.124                                REVIEW OF DENTISTRY

The Strategic Manager (Legal and Democratic Services) presented a report outlining draft Terms of
Reference (ToR) for a review of dentistry issues. The outline ToR took account of common issues
that arose in many areas across the country, such as access to a dentist and consequent inequality
issues. Any comments received from the general public before, or at, the first meeting of the
Working Group would help deliver a picture of priority issues for consideration.

Members requested that:
 A range of robust wide communications should be used to attract public interest, including
  notices in dentists’ and doctors’ surgeries, use of the Council’s website, use of patients’ and
  residents’ panels, etc.
 Dentists be secured to act as witnesses.

Resolved – (1) That the proposed Overview and Scrutiny review of dentistry be deferred until the
           current tourism and disability reviews have concluded.

              (2) That the outline Terms of Reference for this Review are approved, with delegated
              authority for the Working Group to confirm final Terms of Reference at its first meeting.

              (3) That Councillors Barrington, Butcher, Mrs Firth, Mason and Roberts are appointed
              as Working Group Members, with Councillor Mrs Firth to be the Chairman.

[Councillor Heather declared a personal interest as his wife worked in a dentist’s practice]


The Strategic Manager (Legal and Democratic Services) presented a report reviewing the Articles,
and Terms of Reference for Overview and Scrutiny Committee and proposing General Principles in
the Articles. The latest review aimed to consolidate the provisions in the Council’s Constitution,
                                                   5       Overview and Scrutiny Committee 9 February 2010
Craven District Council

which implemented various pieces of legislation relating to Overview and Scrutiny from the Local
Government Act 2000, through to the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act

The Audit and Governance Committee was responsible for maintaining the Constitution so would
consider the proposals.

Resolved – That the revisions to the Committee’s Articles and Terms of Reference; to include the
           General Principles in the Constitution, are recommended to the Audit and Governance


(a)     Disability Review Working Group – The Chairman of the Working Group, Councillor
        Solloway, stated that a draft report had been produced, but some more work was required
        to achieve more robust improvements as recommendations.

(b)     North Yorkshire Scrutiny of Health – The Council’s representative, Councillor Heather,
        updated Members on ongoing issues for developing a ‘one-stop’ shop for health services
        within Craven. There were concerns that officers were not involving Members fully, so he
        was aiming to ensure Member involvement. He was in close contact with the North
        Yorkshire Primary Care Trust.

(c)     Joint Scrutiny – The Chairman, Councillor Mrs Firth, mentioned that the Corporate and
        Performance Improvement Manager had produced a useful briefing note on the work,
        structures and representation in the Leeds City Region.

Resolved – (1) That the Disability Review Working Group meets on 25 February (6.30pm) to
           consider further work and its draft report to report to the Committee on 9 March.

              (2) That the briefing note on the Leeds City Region is circulated to all Members.

OS.127                             WORK PROGRAMME 2009/10

The Strategic Manager (Legal and Democratic Services) submitted the current work programme for

Resolved – That the Work Programme is approved, as submitted, with the following changes:
               18 February (6pm) – Tourism Working Group meeting.
               25 February (6.30pm) – Disability Working Group meeting.
               9 March – changed from working group to committee meeting (tourism and
                   disability reviews – final reports, and 2010/11 work planning session).
               25 March – committee meeting cancelled (note – this could become a working
                   group meeting).
               March/April – review of Dentistry deferred until tourism and disability reviews
               20 April (or later) – update on virtualisation project implementation and
                   improvement actions.


                                                  6       Overview and Scrutiny Committee 9 February 2010