Agenda item

Scrutiny Workplan Item - Proposed Conversion of Seating Shelter at Promenade Park Maldon into a Service Kiosk

To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance (copy enclosed).

 

Minutes:

TheCommittee considered thereport ofthe Director of Strategy,Performance and Governancethat required the Committeeto receive and considerinformation in responseto theagreed scrutinyquestions tobe addressed in relationto the proposedconversion ofseatingshelter atPromenade ParkMaldon into a service kiosk.

 

TheChairman introduced thereport and deferred tothe Programmes,Performance and GovernanceManager to present the detail. She tookthe Committeethrough the reportand advised that the Committeehad agreed to include thisin the Overviewand Scrutiny workplan inOctober 2021.  The Corporate Governance Project Officerhad since conducted an investigation, andthis was set out in 2.2 ofthe report.  Thefindings confirmedthat Officers acted within delegated powers.

 

It was noted that whilst the informationprovided assurance that Officersacted appropriatelythe reportalso highlighted a wider findingthat ‘morecould be doneto improve thetransparency ofdelegated decisions’. A new internalprocess for recordingdelegated decisionshad been introduced, with the aim ofpublishing aquarterly list tothe website by April 2022.

 

A lengthy debate ensued where Members discussed both the emotional and financial dimensions to be considered when managing assets.  Further issues were raised about the status of various management plans and whether this item of business was appropriate for closure at this point in time or further scrutiny was required.

 

Inresponse to issuesraised by Members, Officers provided thefollowing information:

·                 That therecommendation on thisitemwas thatit be closed ascovered in Section 2.2 ofthe report. Officerswere happyto bring a separatereport backto Committee toclarify the delegated decision process.

·                 That the Annual Report to theOverview and Scrutiny Committee will include an overviewof progresson all actions takenacross the year.

·                 Thatshould theoutstanding workon themanagement plans, namely, Promenadepark, Riverside park and Cemeteries Servicesrequire external supportdue to capacity issues,additional funding would be sought through the Strategy and Resources Committee.

 

CouncillorLagan who had originally submittedthis scrutinyitem thenaddressed theCommittee. He said he was disappointed at the level of communication with Members during the delegated decision-making process and felt that with earlier and better interventiondifferent decisionsmay have come about. It was agreed that transparency was paramount.

 

In response to concerns expressed Officers responded as follows:-

·                 That Officers were acting within the scheme of delegation, no procurement process was required therefore there was no need to go out to tender.  Decisions were taken within the delegated powers process, above market valuation was reached, thus achieving best value for money.

·                 That whilst communication could have been better, it was noted that Member briefings and one to one briefings were organised, however attendance was low due to a lack of availability.

·                 That the work being undertaken on this and other assets was supporting the Council’s Commercial Strategy that Members have signed up to.

·                 That the delegated powers had been followed correctly, an approach had been made by a local successful business operator which had now resulted in an income generating project for the Council.

·                 As previously mentioned, Officers reiterated that they were happyto bring a separatereport backto Committee tohighlight the delegated decision process.

·                 That an update on the delegated decisions, as well as other actions that have come out of workplan items of the committee will be included in the annual report of overview and scrutiny that is delivered for the municipal year.

 

There being no further discussion the Chairman put the recommendation, duly seconded by Councillor Mayes, to the Committee and it was agreed by assent.

 

RESOLVEDthat theresponses tothe specific scrutinyquestions tobe addressed provided sufficient assurance and understanding ofthe background tothis matterso as to enablethe Committee toconclude its work onthis item.

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