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Meeting Details

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
8 Oct 2020 - 19:00 to 21:00
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  • Attendance
  • Declarations of Interests
  • Visitors

Documents

Agenda

Standard Items
VIRTUAL MEETING - LINK TO VIEW
This meeting will be a virtual meeting and therefore will not take place in a physical location following regulations made under Section 78 of the Coronavirus Act 2020. This meeting can be viewed by following this link:

LINK HERE
1 Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

To note any apologies for absence and substitutions.


1
There were no apologies for absence or substitutions.

 

2 Urgent Matters
To consider any urgent matters that the Chair has agreed should be considered at the meeting.

2

There were no urgent matters.

 

3 Declarations of Interest
To note any declarations of interest made by members.

3

Councillor Burke declared that she was a Non-executive Director at Hillingdon Hospital, however this was not a disclosable pecuniary interest.

 

4 Matters to be Considered in Private
To determine whether items contain information that is exempt from disclosure by virtue of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

4

RESOLVED: That all items be considered in public, as proposed.

 

5 Minutes

1. To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 9 July 2020.

2. To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 6 August 2020.

5

RESOLVED: That

 

  1. The minutes of the meeting held on 9 July 2020 be agreed as a correct record of the meeting, subject to a correction on page 3 of the minutes to clarify 'the temporary closure to emergency admissions of Hillingdon Hospital's Accident and Emergency Department' instead of 'the temporary closure of Hillingdon Hospital'.

  2. The minutes of the meeting held on 6 August 2020 be agreed as a correct record of the meeting.

 

6

Gina Cole, Head of Parking Services, presented the Parking Services Annual Report for 2019-20 to the Committee. The report outlined many of the successes of the team over the previous year which included installing 100 Electric Vehicle Charging Points, introducing emissions based charging for residents parking permits and transitioning to a new parking enforcement contract. The service was also in the process of removing older parking meters that took payment in cash and moving to a largely cashless system that required payment to be made over the phone or through an app. Emissions based charging for visitors was due to be introduced over the next year.

 

The number of Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) issued had decreased compared to the previous year due to strike action, embedding the new contract and moving into lockdown due to COVID-19 in March. The revenue generated from Parking Services contributed £12 million towards concessionary fares and contributed to transport infrastructure at new developments in Southall and Acton.

 

From March 2020, due to the COVID-19 related lockdown, Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) were instructed to take a different approach by focussing on the most serious contraventions only. CEOs were also diverted to other duties, such as the food distribution in Greenford and enforcing social distancing in the Borough's parks. Over 2000 dispensations were issued to key workers to enable them to park while carrying out their duties.

 

The Committee asked the following questions relating to the report:

 

  • Was there a way for residents to pay for residents to pay for parking if they didn't have a smart phone?

  • How was the cost for parking due to be displayed for emissions based charging for visitors? It was important that visitors understood the maximum they could be charged before parking.

  • What was the projected impact on income for 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Was it possible to link emission based parking to Euro emission standards for vehicles? This had been introduced in other countries succesfully.

 

In response to the questions raised by the Committee, Gina Cole explained:

 

  • Payment for parking could be taken over the phone using a basic mobile phone without internet access. However the service was considering user feedback on strategically placing parking meters that took cash in areas where there was demand for them.

  • Clear signage would be in place for visitors as part of the plans for emissions based charging. The suggestion of ensuring the maximum charge was clearly displayed would be taken on board when designing the signs to be used.

  • The impact on income due to COVID-19 was forecast to be severe. This was because there was little enforcement activity, which in turn meant that residents didn't need to renew permits and visitors did not need to pay for parking. This mainly impacted income in the first two quarters, and the service was aiming to recover the position for the final two quarters, but the overall income for the year was projected to be substantially lower than previous years.

  • It was possible to link emissions based charging to Euro standards, however some development work was required to implement this.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Parking Services Annual Report 2019-20 be noted.

 

7

Councillor Julian Bell, the Leader of the Council, provided the Committee with an overview of the Council's preparations for a second wave of Coronavirus infections. The Committee noted:

 

  • Infection rates were increasing rapidly in Ealing, as they were across London. Ealing had the fourth highest infection rate in London.

 

  • Cases were distributed across the Borough, with no apparent hotspots.

  • Around a third of the schools in the Borough had reported positive tests which had led to 902 pupils and 72 staff members self isolating. Messages had been strengthened to pupils and parents around hand hygiene and mask wearing around school and at pick up and drop off times.

  • 4 care homes were closed to new admissions and 11 had had an outbreak in the past and were on the watch list. Care homes had reported success sourcing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the national portal.

  • The Council had retained 10 weeks supply of PPE in case of emergencies, but since the launching of the national portal there had been few requests.

  • The Ealing Together referral line had stayed open and there were plans to increase staffing and the opening hours of the line if the situation escalated.

  • A third permanent test centre had been opened at Gurnell Leisure Centre to serve the North of the Borough.

  • All Council Leaders were receiving updates via London Councils. There was discussion around moving to a regionalised three tier system. In this system London would be placed in tier 2 which restricted interactions between households.

 

The Committee asked the following questions of Councillor Bell:

 

  • Across London, was there a preference for localised lockdown or city-wide restrictions?

  • How meaningful were the testing figures? And how were those who want a test but can't get one accounted for?

  • What will the Council do to raise the issue of the delay in issuing government funded laptops to children, due to the system requiring the children to be self isolating before funding is released?

  • What powers did the Council have to close care homes and schools if there are known to be issues and action is not being taken?

  • What was the status of students who attended University of West London (UWL) and were living in the Borough. Were there any reported outbreaks or issues?

 

In response to the questions raised by the Committee, Councillor Bell confirmed that:

 

  • There was a consensus that a London-wide approach was best for any new restrictions.

  • There were concerns about testing availability, due to testing capacity being diverted from London to elsewhere in the country that had higher infection rates. However since London had been recognised as an area of concern testing capacity had increased again. It was clear that there was a significant undercounting of infections due to the low testing capacity. Other data sources such as 111 calls, GP consultations and hospital admissions confirmed this.  

  • The issue of a delay in issuing laptops to pupils self isolating was not an issue Councillor Bell was previously aware of, and he confirmed he would raise it with the government.

  • The Council did not have the power to close schools and care homes, however the schools, trade unions and care home providers had all been co-operative so far during the pandemic.

  • The Council had worked closely with UWL to ensure its premises were COVID safe for the return of students. No major outbreaks had been reported but the Council and the UWL leadership were in contact with each other should this happen.

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Bell for his update and directed the Committee to consider the recommendations as a result of the COVID-19 scrutiny that had been undertaken during July 2020. The Committee was asked to suggest areas for the COVID-19 scrutiny panel to consider as part of its ongoing review throughout 2020/21. The following suggestions were made:

 

  • How could the council maintain the community spirit in the response to restrictions that was evident in the first lockdown, and how could the knowledge and skills of Councillors better be utilised.

  • Restoration of services at Ealing Hospital was important, but the Health and Adult Social Services Standing Scrutiny Panel would keep an overview of this issue.

  • There were some data quality issues around the number of tests undertaken and availability of testing. The panel should consider this issue going forward.

 

Resolved: It is recommended that:

 

  1. Thanks are extend to the staff in education, children’s services and community safety for the work they have done in a difficult situation.

  2. The individual risk assessments of school staff should be more than tickbox exercises and they should give staff, particularly BAME staff, the ability to raise issues and concerns. The assessments should also be available to staff as a matter of routine.

  3. Pupils should have access to the internet to use online learning services, this has not been possible in all families as there is an uneven access to technology.

  4. There is controversy surrounding DfE and its alleged refusal to reimburse schools that did not use Edenred to issue vouchers to pupils who have free school meals. This issue should be revisited to ensure schools are not left with a large bill after the pandemic.

  5. Education services should continue to work with schools to increase parent confidence in returning their children to school.

  6. The Council should hold on to those new ways of working, particularly as highlighted in the domestic abuse presentation, which have had a positive impact.

  7. A further meeting to review the area of education should be held at a later date.

  8. The Council should introduce training for staff who are on the phones, to better prepare them in the case of a second spike.

  9. The Council should ensure that all of Ealing's town centres have pre-identified community spaces which can be used by voluntary groups for food storage/packing in the case of a second spike.

  10. The Council engages with community groups on our communications strategy and on its website interface to understand how this can be improved. 

  11. A single point of contact for emails should be monitored and responded to by a team. The residents and volunteers need to know what they can get and from where.

  12. The Council’s website needs to be developed so that it can match potential suppliers with those requiring goods.

  13. An emergency rollout plan be built in order to involve the whole community in responding to a second wave.

  14. Given the greater number of volunteers than those needed to volunteer, it is important moving forwards to address this with regular communication with those who had volunteered and focus on long term active citizenship to support to the recovery.

  15. A workable software solution in relation to process the shielding user data efficiently, without the need for as much labour-intensive activity in processing the data.

  16. In a second wave, the Council should be more active in promoting voluntary and community sector grants.

  17. An alternative provider be found to run the Council's food fulfilment operation in order to maximise resilience. The type of provider (private, voluntary and community sector or public sector) should not matter, as long as the service provides a value for money for the Council and a good standard of service for residents. 

  18. The approach taken by the Council in responding to the needs of the residents and businesses during the pandemic as well as the preparation for the recovery phase of the pandemic is highly commended.

  19. The financial impact the pandemic has had on the Council’s finances and the measures proposed by the Chief Financial Officer to avoid the issuing of a Section 114 notice is noted. 

  20. Cabinet lobbies Central Government for material funding to address the likely ongoing budget shortfalls.

  21. The breakdown of the distribution data for the discretionary support grants be circulated to the Members.

  22. The Council is recommended to simplify the application process for discretionary support grants.

  23. The Council should amend the turnover threshold for business grants so that businesses are not excluded unnecessarily.

  24. The Council should enhance the role of Councillors in the response to the pandemic as local champions to help support the businesses in their wards. 

  25. The hard work of Council staff and volunteers in responding the crisis be noted.

  26. The report on the Council’s strategic response to the COVID-19 Pandemic be noted.

  27. The Impact of Covid-19 on Public Health and Adult Social Care Services report be noted.

  28. Officers provide the following requests for information in writing:

 

  • From the 1700 people who had needed support, the number of those people would already have been receiving support and the number of people who would require ongoing support.

  • The number of home tests carried out in Ealing.

  • The impact on the use of the NHS 111 call system for care home staff from those homes using the Argyle Care Service.

  • Context and comparative data for the Care Home Testing in Ealing figures.

  • Telephone response times for the Councils emergency out of hours (OOH) services.

 

8

The Chair introduced the final panel reports from 2019/20 and asked the Committee to provide comments on the recommendations before submission to Cabinet.

 

The Chair of Scrutiny Review Panel 1 (Education) highlighted that the issue of party blind nominations for Local Authority School Governors would be raised with the whips.

 

The Chair of Scrutiny Review Panel 3 (Local Effects of National Issues) made the Committee aware that recommendations 9 & 11 needed clarification with Officers before submission to Cabinet.

 

Resolved: That

 

  1. The final reports of Scrutiny Review Panels 1, 2, 3, 4 and the Health and Adult Social Services Standing Scrutiny Panel from 2019/20 are agreed.

  2. For the reports of panels 1, 2 and 3; officer responses to recommendations be circulated to the Committee by email prior to submission to Cabinet.

  3. The Head of Democratic Services, in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, provide challenge to the officer comments on recommendations (if required) before submission of the final reports to Cabinet.

9

Sam Bailey, Head of Democratic Services, presented the Work Programme to the Committee. It was noted that the report on inequalities within the Council's workforce would be brought to the February meeting of the Committee.

 

The Chair updated the Committee that a review of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods would be brought to the Committee's December meeting.

 

Resolved: That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme is agreed.

 

10 Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting will be held on 5 November 2020 to consider call-ins only. If there are no call-ins from October's Cabinet meeting the meeting will be cancelled.



10

The date of the next meeting was scheduled to be 5 November 2020, but only if a call in was received.

 

Additional Meeting Documents

Attendance

Name
No other member attendance information has been recorded for the meeting.
NameReason for Sending ApologySubstituted By
No apology information has been recorded for the meeting.
NameReason for AbsenceSubstituted By
No absentee information has been recorded for the meeting.

Declarations of Interests

Member NameItem Ref.DetailsNature of DeclarationAction
No declarations of interest have been entered for this meeting.

Visitors

Visitor Information is not yet available for this meeting