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1. Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Tim Hodgson and Councillor Max McLoughlin.
Apologies for absence were also received from Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of the Council and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for the Economy, who was on Council business.
Declarations of Pecuniary or Conflicts of Interest
Councillor D Pinwell declared a non-pecuniary interest as a Board Member of Solihull Community Housing (SCH) in relation to agenda item 5 ‘Solihull Community Housing Delivery Plan: 2022/23’.
Questions and Deputations
No questions or deputations were received.
To consider for approval the draft Minutes arising from the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board meeting held on 12th January 2022.
The Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board:
To agree the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board Minutes dated 12th January 2022 as an accurate record.
To present the draft delivery plan for 2022/23 to the Scrutiny Board for consideration and review.
The report was submitted to the Scrutiny Board to present the draft SCH Delivery Plan 2022/23 for consideration and review.
The Chief Executive (SCH) provided a PowerPoint presentation to introduce and set the context for the report before the Scrutiny Board. The PowerPoint presentation addressed key strategic themes across the Delivery Plan for the 2022/23 period and included the following areas:
· SCH strategic vision
· Delivery Plan priorities
· Managing the stock portfolio in a proactive, green and holistic way
· Building new environmentally sustainable homes
· Delivery commitments - key activities
· Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
· SCH and SMBC - operational framework
· Monitoring and Delivery
The Scrutiny Board was further advised that the SCH Delivery Plan 2022/23 was scheduled for submission to the Cabinet meeting of 7th April 2022.
Having received the presentation, Members of the Scrutiny Board raised a number of related questions to the report, which in summary included the following matters:
Councillor Howell noted that with regard to the three corporate priorities detailed within the report, all three were attributable to one SCH directorate only and addressed improving SCH business infrastructure. Councillor Howell queried how these priorities would filter down to the customer experience and across other SCH directorates.
Members were advised that the Corporate Directorate also supported SCH’s customer facing directorates. In terms of data integrity, the organisation had recognised that greater data integrity was required in order to support customers and to provide a more joined up service experience. Furthermore, the SCH Board had recently approved customer portal investment, which was to be a key priority in 2022 as it was envisaged the portal would lead to a more beneficial customer experience across the organisation.
The Executive Director – Customer Services, Transformation & Business Support (SCH), further informed Members that the Corporate Directorate existed to facilitate other services across SCH, such as the complaints service from which learning could be extracted in order to improve future service provision.
Councillor K Thomas advised the meeting that for residents the SCH housing list waiting times was the most important of all KPI’s, which currently appeared to cover a timescale of between two to five years. Councillor K Thomas queried what actions were being undertaken by SCH in order to reduce waiting times. The Chief Executive (SCH) stated that the key question to be addressed related to housing supply, for which SCH had no control. Housing supply in relation to waiting list times was a national issue and further factor which had to be considered within that was provision of social housing. Fundamentally this issue of addressing waiting list times was attributable to establishing adequate social housing supply nationally.
Councillor Qais sought confirmation for whether the SCH Tracking KPI’s would be subject to review on a quarterly basis by the SCH Monitoring Board and was advised that this was to be the case.
Councillor K Thomas noted that reference was made within the SCH Delivery Plan to building sustainable housing supply, but that no detail seemed to be included in the Strategic ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To receive a progress update on the Council’s Inclusive Growth programme. REPORT TO FOLLOW
The report before the Scrutiny Board provided a progress update on the Council’s Inclusive Growth Programme. The report was introduced by the Head of Inclusive Growth.
Members were informed that the Council was using its role as an employer and was creating opportunities for both young unemployed people and people with learning disabilities. The Council had also created 36 Kick Start opportunities within the Council itself
The Council continued to better deliver social value outcomes through it procurement arrangements. The Council had agreed a Social Value Policy in December 2021 and continued to work towards delivering its objectives.
The Council continued to work with other institutions and partners to deliver inclusive growth opportunities, such as with the Birmingham Integrated Care System (ICS) to deliver pathways to employment within the NHS. The scheme commenced in December 2021 and to date 170 people were scheduled to commence with training opportunities. The Social Care sector would shortly be included as a sector providing pathways to employment.
Members were informed that a number of Place based frameworks were in place nationally, with which the Council was seeking to align and integrate into the refreshed Council Plan to drive forward inclusive growth outcomes.
The economic agenda continued to be implemented through projects such as UKC, and the Health and Wellness Hub in Kingshurst.
The recently published Government Levelling Up White Paper was consistent with the Council’s approach to addressing inclusive growth and economic development, which also prioritised a number of opportunities for the Council, such as:
· How to attract further investment into the borough.
· Using place based leadership and attracting additional investment.
· The WMCA / Greater Manchester had been invited to develop a Devolution Deal for their respective regions.
· Through the Levelling Up White Paper, the WMCA will manage the Shared Prosperity funding locally.
The Council was continuing to work in close partnership with the WMCA to attract further investment into the borough and deliver the objectives of the Council’s Inclusive Growth Strategy, for which good progress was being made.
Having received the report presentation from the Head of Inclusive Growth, Members of the Scrutiny Board raised a number of questions in relation to the report, which in summary included the following matters:
Councillor Howell sought confirmation as to when embedding inclusive growth outcomes into the refreshed Council Plan were due for publication, which the Head of Inclusive Growth confirmed was scheduled for April 2022.
Councillor K Thomas welcomed the initiatives in the Inclusive Growth Strategy supporting pathways into employment and re-training, which Councillor K Thomas noted was particularly helpful for the long-term unemployed, but which also had the potential to act as unpaid work. With respect to the Levelling Up White Paper and entry level jobs, Councillor K Thomas noted that the salaries offered were not the best and that those taking up such employment were likely to still remain in some financial difficulty.
Councillor K Thomas further queried what actions were being taken to address the prospects of those already in employment, ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Members of the Scrutiny Board are invited to review the Draft Work Programme 2022/23 in order to retain or remove topics detailed in Appendix 1; to put forward additional topics for scrutiny and to consider the priority order for the Work Programme 2022/23.
Members considered reporting arrangements pertaining to the Air Quality Strategy and air quality monitoring for the 2022/23 municipal year.
Having read the Clean Strategy and Air Quality Monitoring Briefing Note Update as supplied by the Senior Public Health Specialist, Councillor K Thomas queried whether the Council should consider reducing monitoring and instead increasing action to address problematic areas directly.
The Senior Public Health Specialist advised the Scrutiny Board that moving forward the Council was keen to deliver air quality monitoring for sensitive sites such as schools and hospitals, with relevant accompanying actions; for example, to work in partnership with schools to deter idling vehicles in the vicinity of schools, encouraging active travel and developing electric vehicle infrastructure all to underpin the Air Quality Strategy.
The Council was also working in partnership with the WMCA with regard to the Regional Air Strategy and the Commonwealth Games Air Strategy. The Councils approach was a combination of actions, including monitoring and seeking to encourage positive behaviour change, all of which were to be reflected I the refreshed Air Quality Strategy.
Councillor Qais questioned what Communications Plan would be put in place to support pubic engagement for the refreshed Air Quality Strategy.
The Senior Public Health Specialist confirmed that a Communications Plan was in place, with a number of key themes remaining relevant for the refreshed Air Quality Strategy, such as the anti-idling campaign, supporting electric vehicle uptake and infrastructure, supporting modal shift and using a systems wide approach to deliver objectives; for example, through joined up working and delivery through planning and development services.
The Assistant Director (Growth and Development) informed the Scrutiny Board that the Council had adopted a Walking and Cycling Strategy, which included substantial data, which helped inform the strategy as well as the Sustainable Travel Plan. Significant amounts of learning had been involved with the development of the Air Quality Strategy and Net Zero Strategy for example, all of which contributed towards achieving the strategic goals of the Air Quality Strategy. As such, the Council was not in effect ‘starting from scratch’ and that substantial amounts of work was already in progress to deliver the Air Quality Strategy objectives, which cut across both strategies and geographic boundaries.
The Deputy Director of Public Health informed the Scrutiny Board that it was too early to advise Members when the refresh for the Air Quality Strategy would be scheduled for approval by Cabinet, but did state that she would like to have the Scrutiny Board’s oversight and input into the refreshed strategy at the pre-Cabinet decision, drafting stage (also incorporating the draft, supporting Consultation Plan).
Having discussed and considered the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board Draft Work programme 2022/23 report, the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board:
(i) To include within the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board Work programme for the 2022/23 municipal year, the following matters: