Agenda and draft minutes

Call In Committee
Tuesday 13th July 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Suite. View directions

Contact: Joe Suffield  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman

To appoint a Chairman for this meeting of the Scrutiny Call-In Committee.

Minutes:

Nominations were requested for a Councillor to act as the Chairman for this meeting of the Call-In Committee.

 

Councillor Mrs Holl-Allen proposed Cllr Gough, and this was seconded by Cllr Davis.

 

No further nominations were received and Cllr Gough was duly appointed Chairman for this meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

That Councillor Gough be appointed as Chairman for this meeting of the Call-In Committee.

2.

Apologies

Minutes:

None received, but it was noted that Cllr Brain one of the signatories to the Call-In request was unwell and would not be participating in the meeting.

 

3.

Declarations of Pecuniary or Conflicting Interests from Members

To receive declarations of interest from Members in accordance with the Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

None received.

4.

Questions and Deputations

To deal with any questions or deputations received.

Minutes:

None received.

5.

Scrutiny Call In Procedure Note pdf icon PDF 11 KB

For information.

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Call-In procedure was noted.

6.

Call in Notice pdf icon PDF 79 KB

The Call In Notice submitted in respect of the Decision by the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Skills, Councillor Holt, in relation to the decision “New Provision for permanently excluded secondary age pupils” from the Cabinet Portfolio Holder Decision Session on 26th May 2021.

Minutes:

 

The full Call-In notice was attached to the main agenda, which set out in detail the reasons for the Call-In.

 

Councillors Hamilton and Laura McCarthy two of the signatories to the Call-In request were in attendance and addressed the Committee and made a number of points which is summary included:

 

·  The signatories to Call-In request stressed that the Call-In had not been politically motived, they recognised the need for this kind of provision and they supported the principle of creating 6th day provision;

 

·  The key points of concern were over the lack of due diligence, poor consultation and the procedure not being honest and transparent as detailed in the Call-In notice;

 

·  Reference was made to a conflict of interest regarding the report author who was a Trustee and former Director of Solihull Academy Trust, which had not been formally declared in the report;

 

·  There was concern that the consultation undertaken was done by Solihull Academy (SA), who would be running the facility, and not the Council, and only focussed on the merits of 6th day provision and not the location of the provision. It was felt there should have been a much wider consultation which should have included the location of the new provision i.e. Castle Bromwich Youth Centre (YC). In particular Castle Bromwich Junior School (CBJS) should have been consulted, given their proximity to the site and the emergency access they shared with the YC;

 

·  There was concern that by using YC this would result in a loss of a community facility in an area were community amenities were limited;

 

·  The signatories felt that the report presented to the Cabinet Member fall short on detail. Very little was provided as to which alternative sites had been considered and the reasons why these sites had been ruled out. It was noted that SA was committed to enhancing and supporting the development of opportunities for young people, with a youth offer, but this should have been formalised in the report presented to the Cabinet Member;

 

·  There was a question as to why the decision could not have been deferred to allow for a proper consultation to be undertaken on the proposed site location. The report considered by the Cabinet Member in May referenced the fact that SA were prepared to make alternative interim arrangements if the September 2021 time line was missed;

 

·  The point was made that the consultation that the Cabinet Member agreed to add to his decision on 26 May had still not taken place; and

 

·  The signatories referenced the impact this decision had, had on the local community and in particular CBJS. A feeling of animosity had been created over the lack of consultation and clarity and trust in the Council had been undermined.

 

The Chairman thanked Cllrs Hamilton and Laura McCarthy for their presentation and invited the Committee to ask any questions.

 

Some Members of the Call-In Committee noted that a consultation on the provision had taken place and received support. It was pointed out that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Reports considered by the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Skills and Decision Table pdf icon PDF 313 KB

Documents considered by the Cabinet Portfolio Holder at the Decision Session on 26th May 2021 and confirmation of the decision made.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report considered by the Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills along with the formal decision made was available for the Call-In Committee to consider and noted.

 

8.

Statement provided by Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Children, Education and Skills in response to the grounds outlined in the Call In Notice

Councillor Holt to provide a verbal response to the Call In Notice.

Minutes:

The Chairman invited the Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills to respond to the Call-In notice.

 

In responding the Cabinet Member made a number of points which is summary included:

 

·  The Cabinet Member stated that the decision he made was reasonable, having taken into consideration all the relevant facts, it was neither illogical or perverse;

 

·  The Cabinet Member advised that there was no formal duty to consult with CBJS or the wider community regarding the site, prior to the decision being made. The building being used was within the ownership of the portfolio and being repurposed;

 

·  However, CBJS was informed in January 2021, that the YC site was under consideration along with a number of other sites, but was subject to a final decision;

 

·  Subsequently CBJS was informed in May prior to the Cabinet Member decision that the YC site had been selected for 6th day provision;

 

·  The Cabinet Member confirmed that he had received correspondence from CBJS and the parish council regarding concerns over lack of consultation, but the Cabinet Member was of the view that the consultation that had been undertaken was adequate, but amended the decision to authorise officers to carry out further consultation and engagement with CBJS and local partners;

 

·  The Cabinet Member stressed that Officers did not have the power to engage in public consultation without prior political approval. Due to the Call-In this had prevented further consultation with CBJS, but if the decision made was up held by the Call-In Committee then further discussion with CBJS could take place and their concerns could be addressed;

 

·  The Cabinet Member confirmed that SA had undertaken consultation on a 6th day provision offer, along with a change in the age range for SA increasing the number of pupils on roll. No site had been included as no political decision had been made at that stage. All primary and secondary Head teachers had been consulted, including the Head teacher at CBJS;

 

·  The Cabinet Member was of the view that consultation had been adequate, with further discussion and engagement with parties affected authorised as part of the decision made on 26 May 2021;

 

·  With regard to the openness and transparency of the decision made the Cabinet Member stated the decision was open and transparent. With regard to an alleged conflict of interest by an officer this point had been discussed in full at the decision session, and the Cabinet Member confirmed his view at that time, which remained unchanged, there was no conflict of interest. No officer had abused their position to advance the interest of another school, and there was no pecuniary interest gained. The Cabinet Member reminded all those present that SA held charitable status;

 

·  The Cabinet Member assured the Committee that the report author had been supervised at all times by senior officers, and it was inconceivable that an officer would be able to promote a personal agenda, in the way suggested. The Cabinet Member also advised that officers in the Directorate were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.