Safer and Stronger Communities Scrutiny Panel – 21 July 2009

PRESENT:  Councillor Davison in the Chair.

Councillors Ali, Barkworth, Clark, Ellerby, England and T Foster.

Councillor Smith attended the meeting in accordance with the provisions of Procedure Rule 1.37 (b)

The panel met at Pittwood House, Scunthorpe.

169  DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS AND DECLARATIONS OF WHIPPING ARRANGEMENTS (IF ANY) – There were no declarations of personal or personal and prejudicial interests.

No whip was declared.

170  MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the proceedings of this panel held on 23 June 2009, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and signed by the chair.

171  PUBLIC REQUESTS TO SPEAK There were no requests received.

172  (6)  LOCAL STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP – THEME QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE REPORT FOR SAFER AND STRONGER COMMUNITIES – QUARTER FOUR – The chair welcomed the Service Director Community Planning and Resources and the council’s Performance Manager to the meeting to discuss quarter four performance of the Local Strategic Partnership Safer and Stronger Communities theme.  The Service Director was also the vice-chair of the Safer Neighbourhoods Strategy Board who had ownership of the performance data.

The Service Director explained the issues that were identified by the performance team as needing addressing, the key actions and milestones delivered by the Safer Neighbourhoods Strategy Board (SNSB) as well as the key actions and milestones to be delivered by the SNSB.  In addition, the Service Director outlined the current position with regard to the Local Area Agreement and Sustainable Community Strategy indicators where the lead responsibility was with the SNSB.

The Service Director also elaborated on the indicators where the trend was showing concern, namely National Indicator (NI) 20, NI 16 and NI 15.

Members of the scrutiny panel then engaged in a question and answer session with the Service Director and council’s Performance Manager.

Resolved – (a) That the position be noted, and (b) that the Service Director Community Planning and Resources and the council’s Performance Manager be thanked for their attendance at the meeting and for answering members’ questions.

173  (7)  LEADER OF THE COUNCIL’S FORWARD PLAN – JULY TO OCTOBER 2009 – The Service Director Legal and Democratic circulated the Leader of North Lincolnshire Council’s Forward Plan for July to October 2009.

The plan contained details of all matters and issues likely to be the subject of key decisions for a period of the next four months, updated on a monthly basis.  Members discussed various items on the Forward Plan.

Resolved – That the Leader of the Council’s Forward Plan for July to October 2009 be noted.

174  ADDED ITEM – There was no added item for discussion at this meeting.

175  LOCAL ACTION TO MANAGE FLOOD RISK IN NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE – The chair welcomed the Service Director Highways and Planning to the meeting.  The Service Director had been invited to discuss with the panel how they could approach their next review into the ‘local action to manage flood risk in North Lincolnshire’.

The Service Director informed the meeting that since the summer floods in 2007, the council had put in place a number of arrangements to mitigate the impact of any future flooding incidents.  Between June 2007 and January 2008, over 700 properties in North Lincolnshire were affected by flooding.  Although the rainfall was of an extreme nature, it had been a ‘wake up call’ for the council and its partners to work together in putting arrangements in place to mitigate the impact of any future events.

Sir Michael Pitt was invited by the Government to lead a review team to consider the floods of June 2007 and make recommendations for improvements in surface water management.  The resulting report included some 92 recommendations which had been endorsed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

This had resulted in the preparation of a Draft Bill on Water and Flood Management which was currently in the consultation stage.

The Pitt Report recommendation 90 stated:

“All upper tier local authorities should establish Oversight and Scrutiny Committees to review work by public sector bodies and essential service providers in order to manage flood risk, underpinned by a legal requirement to co-operate and share information.”

Recommendation 91 stated:

“Each Oversight and Scrutiny Committee should prepare an annual summary of actions taken locally to manage flood risk and implement this Review, and these reports should be public and reviewed by Government Offices and the Environment Agency.”

Recommendation 92 stated:

“Local Resilience Forums should evaluate and share lessons from both the response and recovery phases to inform their planning and future emergencies.”

This was supported by the draft Flood and Water Management Bill:

“Responsibility for scrutiny and accountability would continue to lie locally, and local authorities were already required to have at least one overview and scrutiny committee to cover all of their services.  These committees had powers to review and scrutinise decisions made by the authority or its executive, to make reports and recommendations to the authority/executive on the discharge of its functions, and on anything which might affect the authority’s area or inhabitants.

Once the relevant provisions of the Local Government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 are in force, those bodies under a duty to co-operate in the development of Local Area Agreements, would also be obliged to co-operate with overview and scrutiny committees.  This list of bodies does not currently extend to Internal Drainage Boards and water companies.

The Government was considering whether all county and unitary local authorities should be required to produce annual reports by the local authority executive on local actions to manage flood risk.  Any such report could then be reviewed by the relevant overview and scrutiny committee.  We would welcome views on whether the production of annual reports should be a legal requirement on local authorities and whether the Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (as set out in Section 2.7) might be involved in peer-reviewing these reports and offering feedback to the councils.”

The council had been very proactive in dealing with the flooding of 2007/8 and had taken a regional and national lead on some of the arrangements put in place.  In particular these include:

(i) The establishment of a Flood Forum which consisted of many different agencies involved in surface water management.

(ii)  The development of emergency plans at both local and area level.

(iii)  The development of a recovery plan which was incorporated into the council’s Flood Plan.

(iv)  Resolving many drainage infrastructure problems.

The Service Director informed the meeting that as part of the scrutiny panel’s review, they may wish to consider involving the following organisations in the process –

  • North Lincolnshire Flood Forum council Staff
  • Environment Agency (Midlands and Anglian)
  • Severn Trent Water
  • Anglian Water
  • Internal Drainage Boards
  • Humberside Fire and Rescue
  • Government Office for Yorkshire and Humber
  • Humber Emergency Planning Service
  • Town and Parish Councils
  • Emergency Plans
  • Members of the public who have experienced flooding

Members of the scrutiny panel then engaged in a question and answer session with the Service Director on flooding in North Lincolnshire.

Resolved – (a) That the report be noted, (b) that the Chair and Vice Chair meet with the Service Director Highways and Planning to map the review, and (c) that the Service Director Highways and Planning be thanked for his attendance and for answering members’ questions.