Agenda and minutes

Extraordinary Meeting, Joint Meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 6th February, 2023 2.00 pm


No. Item


Apologies for absence

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    Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Ben Green, Councillor Hannah Westropp and Councillor Robert Reid.


    Councillor Helen Crawford acted as a substitute for Councillor Ben Green.


    Councillor Phil Dilks represented Alliance SK at this meeting.


    Councillor Nikki Manterfield acted as Chairman at this meeting.


    Councillor Gloria Johnson acted as Vice-Chairman at this meeting.


Disclosure of interests

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    Members are asked to disclose any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting.

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    There were none.


Minutes from the Joint Meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 15 November 2022 pdf icon PDF 112 KB

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    The minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2022 were proposed, seconded, and AGREED as a correct record.


    Councillor Helen Crawford clarified that she had abstained from the vote due to not being present at the last meeting.


Conclusion of the Grounds Maintenance Options Appraisal pdf icon PDF 228 KB

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    To provide information to Members on the results of the grounds maintenance options appraisal undertaken, and in consideration, provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the preferred way forward.


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    This report was presented by Councillor Mark Whittington, Cabinet Member for Waste Services and Climate Change. 


    To ensure a high level of service can be delivered, a review of the grounds maintenance service had been undertaken with a view to establishing whether the current method of delivery was the optimal model, or whether there were alternative options which better align with the Council’s vision and priorities.


    Three options for the future provision of grounds maintenance services had been identified, these being:


    ·       To retain the services of EnvironmentSK Ltd

    ·       To secure an external provider under a contract arrangement

    ·       To insource the grounds maintenance service, including integration with wider Council services.


    At a joint meeting of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 27 June 2022, Members considered and approved the three options, and recommended to Cabinet a procurement exercise be undertaken to assist an assessment of the future delivery options.  At a subsequent meeting of Cabinet on 12 July 2022, Cabinet approved the following:


    ·       The commencement of a procurement process in order to seek proposals from providers of grounds maintenance services, to assess the future delivery options.


    ·       The commencement of a full appraisal of alternative delivery models of the grounds maintenance service, in order that a final option could be presented to Cabinet that delivers the right quality for the best value to the Council and its housing tenants.


    The provision of Grounds maintenance was a high profile service and residents expected a high quality of service delivery and for the service to be efficient.  The challenging financial situation was at the forefront of decision making.


    It was proposed and seconded that Grounds Maintenance be insourced back into the Council as soon as possible. 


    Clarification was sought on the status of the £571,000 loan, how much had been repaid and what may happen to the loan if Grounds Maintenance was insourced back into the Council.


    The Chief Finance Officer clarified that the amount of the loan was in the public domain but the amount to be repaid was not.


    A Member asked what would happen to the outstanding loan if the grounds maintenance programme was brought back in-house.


    The Chief Finance Officer informed the Committee that the loan was a consequence of other decisions yet to be taken.  It was explained that EnvironmentSK Ltd could possibly stay as a dormant company, operating in a slightly different way.  The loan would be written off if the company ceased trading.


    A Member queried that within the report, it was confirmed that options were being explored to introduce charging for HRA assisted gardens.  Given the past decision to not recommend charging in this way, it was queried as to whether this would be considered by an Overview and Scrutiny Committee.


    The Cabinet Member for Waste Services and Climate Change confirmed that proposed changes required full consultation with tenants.  Policy decisions may possibly be changed in the future as part of the process and would always  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.


Any other business which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstances, decides is urgent

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    There was no other business.


Close of meeting

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    The Chairman closed the meeting at 15:40.