Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Office. View directions

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Tosh McDonald and Kevin Rodgers.


Declarations of Interest, if any.


A declaration of interest was made by Councillor Mark Houlbrook and Councillor Jane Cox by virtue that they attend the Climate Change Local Commission in a observing and non-voting capacity.


Public Statements.


There were no public statements made.


Climate Change Local Commission and Development of the Environment Strategy pdf icon PDF 289 KB


The Panel was provided with a report and brief presentation updating them on what was taking place by the Climate Change Local Commission and around the development of the Environment Strategy.


It was explained that a refreshed Environment Strategy was being produced and progress was at the stage of data collections and evidence gathering.  This would be done prior to an analysis being undertaken and in addition to the development of costed proposals for proposed activities.  Members were informed that the strategy was expected to be finalised around the start of the financial year to coincide with the development of a new Borough Strategy.


The presentation covered the following issues;


  • Local Commission – who and purpose
  • Environment Strategy; and
  • Strategy interrelated with refresh of the Borough Strategy.


There was a discussion held and the following issues were raised;


Targets and Steps Going Forward - A Member commented that they had previously raised a number of concerns and was fearful that the Council would not be ready to meet its 2030 targets.   It was also believed that the Council was already in possession of a range of useful data and needed to be as forward thinking as other local authorities in meeting their own 10-year targets.


Other concerns included planning brownfield site developments in areas causing pollution through additional traffic.


Members were assured that real action was being undertaken and work was taking place with Leeds University, who had experience around this subject.  It was explained that the Commission would help set out what the next 10 years would look like.


It was acknowledged that there was a real opportunity presented through Doncaster’s new Borough Strategy, which would help set the tone going forward alongside a 10 year Environmental Strategy and provide an opportunity to embed it in the wider policy agenda.


A Member commented that more could have been done to involve residents to make small changes in the 4 months since the emergency was declared.  It was felt that although this may only make a small difference, it would help residents feel more empowered.  It was acknowledged that effective and immediate action already undertaken to date had involved trees, peat bogs and rewilding.   It was explained that making most of our natural assets would be moved forward over next few weeks through working with the Doncaster Nature Alliance.


It was recognised that to enable small changes, the right resources needed to be in place without limiting ambitions.  It was noted that the strategy needed to take account of investment opportunities and that effective communication with residents was important.


A Member expressed their desire to gain more confidence that what was outlined in the COSSHH document (that had been available since 2012) would be taken forward.


Concern was also raised around what was not being done by Streetscene to support this agenda.


Achievements - It was explained that recognising and celebrating what the Council was already achieving would form part of the strategy.  As an example, Members were reminded about  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Street Scene Rapid Improvement Plan Update pdf icon PDF 321 KB


The Panel was provided with a report and a verbal update about the Street Scene Rapid Improvement Plan by the Director of Regeneration and Environment (in the absence of the Assistant Director of Housing).  It was noted that due to the floods  that had occured mid-November 2019, the work had been paused in order to deal with them and mobilise the longer-term recovery (resulting in a significant backlog).  It was reported that following a review of achievements and priorities, the improvement plan was recommenced earlier this month.


The Chair informed the Director of Regeneration and Environment that it would have been helpful to have had a written report prior to the meeting. 


The Director of Regeneration and Environment explained how over Summer 2019, grass cutting and litter picks had not met with the appropriate standards.  As a result, a full strategic service review was being undertaken called the Rapid Improvement Plan (RIP). 


It was also noted that a significant amount of work had already taken place and involved targeted site interventions in the midst of an independent Association of Public Service Excellence (APSE) review.  It was explained that the outcome of this review would be due February 2020 and would help provide an independent view and steer on areas of focus for improvements. It was added that the APSE review would help identify the optimum method of working, relevant performance indicators and the steps required to be an industry exemplar of best practice.


It was also reported that governance arrangements had been established and a commitment had been made to ensure the deliverability of a number of key actions and accountability to the Executive. 


There was a discussion held and the following issues were raised;


APSE Review - Concern was raised around the use of a consultancy (APSE) and the costs incurred from the independent review.  Members were informed that APSE had experience from predominantly working within the public sector and formed a good understanding of the practice.


Recruitmentand Qualifications - Members were informed that recruitment had been an issue in filling vacancies.  Concern was raised around what impact the Councils recruitment problems was having on current productivity.  It was confirmed that there were presently 17 vacancies going through a recruitment exercise.  It was felt that more needed to be done to make employment in this area more attractive and to maintain staff in those posts.  It was noted that staff had commented that working in the locality model would be better, with greater knowledge and commitment and would therefore provide better job satisfaction.


Members were informed that both internal and private recruitment routes had been used (of which both had experienced minimum success) and the latest recruitment drive had returned better applicants.  It was stated that more was being done to drive training down and enable those better qualified to rise through the service.  A Member questioned how performance management was being addressed through appraisals, although it was acknowledged that they had been impacted by staff shortages.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Overview and Scrutiny Work Plan and the Council's Forward Plan of Key Decisions. pdf icon PDF 559 KB

Additional documents:


The Senior Governance Officer presented the 2019/20 Scrutiny Work Plan for consideration and informed Members of the current Forward Plan of key decisions.  The Panel was reminded about the annual meeting of the Panel as the Crime and Disorder Committee and that meeting would be taking place on the 13th February 2020.


RESOLVED that the Panel note the report.