(a) Notice invoking the Call-in;
(b) Minutes of the Cabinet Meeting held on 27 May 2021 (see pages 19-28);
(c) Report submitted to Cabinet on 27 May 2021.
The Sub-Committee received the papers in respect of the call-in notice submitted by six Members of the Council in relation to a decision made by the Cabinet on 27 May 2021 on the Council’s Accommodation Strategy and New Harrow Civic Centre.
The Chair advised the Sub-Committee that as the Cabinet report contained confidential appendices, if there were any questions in relation to that part of the report the meeting would need to move into private session. The representative of the signatories confirmed that he did not intend to raise any questions on the confidential appendices.
The Chair invited the representative of the signatories to present his reasons for the call-in. The representative referred to the call-in notice which set out six grounds for the call-in of the Cabinet decision and went on to emphasise a number of points in relation to each of the grounds as follows:
Inadequate consultation with stakeholders prior to the decision
There had been no meaningful consultation with Harrow residents as to where the Council would operate from or with those residents that lived in proximity of the Forward Drive site.
With reference to Council staff, there had been no mention of the proposed move to Forward Drive in either of the two staff Pulse surveys. There now appeared to be an expectation that staff would work 50% at home and 50% in the office which was a shift from the previous proposal. There had been no examination of where staff would be based, how they would travel to the office or the impact of the reduction of car parking spaces.
In terms of partners, for example the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), there was no evidence of consultation on the proposals. The representative stated that there had been no consultation with councillors in terms of where Council meetings would be held or details of how it was envisaged that Members, staff and residents would travel to and from meetings safely as they often ended late in the evening.
The absence of adequate evidence on which to base a decision
A key dependency of the Accommodation Strategy was the ‘flexible futures’ scheme which had not been agreed. There was no evidence in the Cabinet report of the parking requirements for either the new Civic Centre or the Forward Drive site. There had been no consideration of where staff travelled to work from or whether they were required to travel around the borough as part of their role.
The concerns in relation to the safety of Members, staff and residents at the end of late evening meetings had not been addressed in the Accommodation Strategy. There had been a suggestion that Committee meetings be held during the day, but this was not a suitable option as many councillors worked.
In terms of the Strategy for the new Civic Centre, no business plan had been presented and the representative questioned how the Cabinet made the decision without this in place.
The action is not proportionate to the desired ... view the full minutes text for item 13
Report of the Chief Executive.
Having noted the confidential appendices to the report and the points raised by Councillor Stephen Greek as Vice-Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in relation to the reference submitted (at Appendix 9), Cabinet
(1) the Council’s accommodation strategy be based on Forward Drive Depot and a new Harrow Civic Centre at Peel Road, Wealdstone;
(2) the proposed new Harrow Civic Centre be at around 20,000 sq. ft floorspace at an estimated cost of £21.899m (this was broken down into £17.073m for the New Civic Centre and £4.826m for 40 units of basement parking, with the exact dimensions and costs determined following detailed design);
(3) a further report to agree the final design and costs be submitted to Cabinet for approval;
(4) the report on final design and costs be included in the draft business plan for the proposed Harrow Strategic Development Partnership together with the 40 units of basement car parking and the proposed construction of 46 units of affordable housing;
(5) the fit out of Forward Drive Depot at an estimated cost of £8.415m (£7.690m capital expenditure and £0.725m revenue requirement), be approved;
(6) the award of the fit out works to Kier, the principal contractors at Forward Drive Depot, be approved, by variation to the existing contract with the necessary waiver to the Council’s Contract Procedure Rules;
(7) the estimated financial impact for the Council of the Harrow Strategic Development Financial Viability Model as detailed in the financial implications section of the report, be noted;
(8) within the 2021/22 Capital Programme a virement of £7.690m in 2021/22 be approved from the ‘Poets Corner’ scheme to a newly created scheme titled ‘Accommodation Strategy’ to fund the fit out of the Forward Drive Depot;
(9) within the 2021/22 Capital Programme a virement of the balance of £0.429m be approved from the ‘Poets Corner’ scheme into the ‘Investment in 3 core sites’ scheme to support the capital requirement for the new HNC and basement parking;
(10) the Chief Executive, following consultation with the Director of Finance, the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Finance & Resources , be authorised to make decisions pertaining to procurement and contractual issues, including the approval of further variations to the fit out of the Forward Drive Depot, and the authority to issue further variations to the contract with Kier.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected: As set out in the report.
Conflict of Interest relating to the matter declared by Cabinet Member/Dispensation Granted: None.