Places Scrutiny Panel – 3 September 2012

PRESENT:  Councillor T Foster in the chair.
Councillors Davison (vice chair), Clark, Oldfield and P Vickers.

Councillor Whiteley attended the meeting in accordance with the provisions of Procedure Rule 1.36 (b).

The panel met at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe.


No whip was declared.

169  MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the proceedings of this panel held on 8 August 2012, and the special meeting held on 20 August 2012, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and signed by the chairman.

170  PUBLIC REQUESTS TO SPEAK There were no requests received.

171  CABINET MEMBER AND SERVICE AREA PRIORITIES – The Chairman welcomed Councillor Briggs to the meeting, the council’s Cabinet Member for Asset Management, Culture and Housing.  Councillor Briggs had been invited to the panel meeting to update members on any key decisions, important business or key developments which had occurred during the last quarter.  Namely –

  • An update on the work underway to examine options for securing the future of Sport, Leisure and Culture.
  • The opening of the Courtyard Café at North Lincolnshire Museum.
  • The success of the North Lincolnshire Museum School’s Out Report Card.
  • BBC’s Great British Story event took place at Normanby Hall Country Park on Saturday 23 June.
  • Normanby Hall Country Park hosted BBC’s ‘Flog It’ television programme on Thursday 19 July.
  • The Buzz Youth Arts Festival ran from 23 July to 18 August.
  • The sale of 23 Manby Road (ex Children’s home) to New Life Church for £130,000.
  • The completion on removal of open air Scunthorpe market and its replacement 100 space car park.
  • The opening of a new Brigg Heritage Centre, in the Angel with displays on the history of the Ancholme Valley.
  • The awarding of the Constance Eastwood Challenge Cup for the best non-agricultural stand at the Lincolnshire Show.
  • The success of North Lincolnshire’s ‘moment to shine’ on 26 June, to which 37,000 people witnessed the torch pass through North Lincolnshire.
  • The launch in April of North Lincolnshire’s newest market, a quarterly Food Fair in Epworth.
  • The launch of the LEADER funded Aviation Heritage Project with interpretation across eight North Lincolnshire World War II airfields.
  • The successful receipt of £19,000 Heritage Lottery funding as one of two ‘clusters’ for the national museums at night initiative.
  • North Lincolnshire was the only local authority area in the whole of Lincolnshire to be awarded funding under the National Affordable Homes Programme.
  • That in 2011/2012, no less than 128 new affordable homes were built in North Lincolnshire – the highest total ever.
  • That a place of change had been identified to help reduce long term homelessness.
  • The handyperson service was rated 5* by Adult Services Performance Assessment.

Following the update, the Chairman invited members to question the Cabinet Member for Asset Management, Culture and Housing.

Resolved – (a) That the oral update be noted, and (b) that the Cabinet Member for Asset Management, Culture and Housing be thanked for his attendance, presentation and for answering members’ questions.

172  (12)  EMPOWER NORTH LINCOLNSHIRE – The Chairman welcomed Hayley Cullen, Empower Project Co-ordinator and peer mentors Alistair and Luke to the meeting.  Empower had been invited to the meeting to inform members of their project which was a local initiative that supported, challenged and inspired people to make changes to improve their lives.  Its mission statement was “to provide support to ex-offenders by training volunteer peer mentors to assist them to move forward in their lives”.  The Programme was located within the Crosby Employment Bureau on Laneham Street, Scunthorpe.

Representatives of Empower provided members with the following statistics –

  • Over 17% of the UK population between the ages of 18 and 52 had a criminal conviction.
  • Reoffending had been estimated to cost the UK around £11 billion per year, with each reoffending ex-prisoner potentially costing the criminal justice system alone an average of £65,000.  Prolific offenders would cost even more.
  • Reoffending rates were greatly influenced by whether a person finds work or not. Employment was often quoted as the most important factor in helping to reduce reoffending rates.
  • There was a wide range of social and economic implications of the low employment rates of people with convictions, including housing, debt and finance, health and family relations.
  • Employers perceive ex-offenders as not having soft skills, such as honesty or reliability.  These perceptions were challenged by the actual experience of employers taking on ex-offenders.

Conviction history remained one of the few areas where employers could legally discriminate against applicants when recruiting new employees.  Although discrimination was no longer acceptable in the workplace based on race, gender, age or disability, ex-offenders are often rejected throughout their search for employment due to past convictions.  This had a negative impact on the unemployment rates among ex-offenders, and caused problems not only for the individual, but for employers and society as a whole.

Members of the panel then engaged in a discussion with the representatives of the Empower Project on providing employment opportunities for ex offenders.

Resolved – That the panel write to its Chief Executive encouraging him to open a dialogue with the Empower project to determine if North Lincolnshire Council could provide work placements, apprenticeships or work experience for ex-offenders signed up to the Empower programme.

173  (13)  ADDED ITEM – HOUSING ALLOCATIONS POLICY – The Chairman welcomed Trevor Laming, Assistant Director Technical and Environmental Services and Mark Sherwood, Housing Strategy and Policy Team Manager to the meeting.  In accordance with the council’s constitution, Mr Laming and Mr Sherwood were in attendance to discuss the added item requested by Councillor Davison on the ‘Housing Allocations Policy’.

The Chairman invited Councillor Davison to introduce the item.  Following Councillor Davison’s précis of the added item, the Chairman invited Mr Laming and Mr Sherwood to deliver their presentation on the council’s Housing Allocations Policy.

Following the presentation, the Chairman invited scrutiny panel members to ask questions of the Assistant Director and Housing Strategy and Policy Team Manager.

Following conclusion of the questions/discussion on the added item, it was –

Resolved – (a) That the Assistant Director Technical and Environmental Services and Housing Strategy and Policy Team Managerbe thanked for their attendance and for answering member’s questions, (b) that the Assistant Director and Housing Strategy and Policy Team Manager be invited to a future panel meeting to update members on the outcomes arising from the consultation on the Housing Allocations Policy, and (c) that representatives of Homechoicelincs be invited to a future meeting.

174  (14)  POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONERS – BULLETIN NUMBER ELEVEN – The Director of Policy and Resources circulated the Police and Crime Commissioners Policy Briefing Number 11 for members’ information.

Resolved – That the information be noted.