Agenda and minutes

Virtual Meeting, Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday 8 December 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online. View directions

Contact: Daksha Ghelani, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1881 E-mail:

Link: View the meeting online


No. Item


Attendance by Reserve Members

To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.


Reserve Members may attend meetings:-


(i)            to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;

(ii)          where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and

(iii)         the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;

(iv)         if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.


RESOLVED:  To note that there were no Reserve Members in attendance.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 223 KB

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:


(a)          all Members of the Committee;

(b)          all other Members present.


RESOLVED:  To note that


(1)          the Declarations of Interests published in advance of the meeting on the Council’s website were taken as read;


(2)          Members of the Committee and Co-opted Members who had declared interests remained in the virtual meeting whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 130 KB

That the minutes of the meeting held on 20 October 2020 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

Additional documents:


RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 20 October 2020 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.


Public Questions

To receive any public questions received in accordance with Committee Procedure Rule 17 (Part 4B of the Constitution).


Questions will be asked in the order in which they were received.  There will be a time limit of 15 minutes for the asking and answering of public questions.


[The deadline for receipt of public questions is 3.00 pm, Thursday 3 December 2020.  Questions should be sent to  

No person may submit more than one question].


RESOLVED:  To note that no public questions were received.



To receive petitions (if any) submitted by members of the public/Councillors under the provisions of Committee Procedure Rule 15 (Part 4B of the Constitution).


RESOLVED:  To note that no petitions had been received.


References from Council/Cabinet

(if any).


RESOLVED:  To note that no references were received.

Resolved Items


Update on the Implementation of New IT services


Additional documents:


Members received a presentation on the transition to the new IT service.  The Committee welcomed the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Resources to the meeting.


In making the presentation, the Director of ICT reminded Members of the timeline of the transition to the new IT service and outlined the planned service model, client side structure and the self-service customer portal.  The portal provided customers with the ability to report issues 24/7 and whilst the feedback so far had been largely positive any negative feedback was followed up ‘in person’.  He explained that the ICT team consisted of approximately 30 members of staff with a focus on customer service and that the previous large single source contract had been replaced with multiple smaller expert suppliers which he hoped would be more cost effective.


The Director of ICT reported on the deployment of Windows 10 devices and that the new telephony solution was currently being rolled out.  He outlined the next steps in terms of ensuring that Forward Drive was fitted out with the necessary kit/ solutions.  The presentation also addressed Cloud Infrastructure Migration and cybersecurity.  The Portfolio Holder commended the Director of ICT and his team, the current IT supplier and partners for what had been achieved, particularly in such a short timescale against the back drop of a global pandemic.


Following the presentation, Members made comments and asked questions including the following:-


·                     A Member noted that he understood that there were issues with the technology behind webforms and problems with the Planning Portal. Members were advised that the Planning system was managed by the Planning service as it was a ‘devolved application’.  It was accepted that there had been problems especially when workload was extremely high, as had been seen recently.  However, this was as much to do with the devolved planning system and associated processes as it was to do with the web interface.  The Portfolio Holder reported that the Council had put a lot of effort into developing its web and ‘front end’ experience and, in his opinion, the Council’s website was now one of the best in terms of interaction.  The Chair added that the scrutiny sub-committee and Leads would be considering this issue and noted a Member’s comments that one of the main complaints received was that webfoms needed to be simplified;


·                     in response to a Member’s question as to the efficiencies delivered by the cultural shift in ways of working, the Director of ICT explained that Harrow had made rapid progress in adopting new tools such as Teams during the Covid pandemic, but there was still more to do.  In the coming six months further support would be provided to officers and Members in their use of Teams collaboration, OneDrive and other new technologies now available;


·                     a Member sought clarification as to how efficiencies and savings were measured, stating that a project should not be undertaken without this information.  The Portfolio Holder responded that the situation on costs and budgets was complicated by the move  ...  view the full minutes text for item 144.


Quarterly Crime Report December 2020 pdf icon PDF 259 KB

Report of the Director of Strategy and Partnerships


Additional documents:


Members received the quarterly Community Safety update which provided the latest position on Harrow’s priority crime areas, as agreed with the Mayor’s Office for Crime and Policing (MOPAC).  The Committee welcomed the Portfolio Holder for Community Cohesion and Crime and Acting Chief Inspector Ed Baildon, Neighbourhood Partnerships, to the meeting.


The Director of Strategy and Partnerships introduced the report and explained that all Community Safety Partnerships were required by law to conduct an annual assessment of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour within the borough and that this was known as the Strategic Assessment.  The capacity to complete the Assessment had been significantly impacted by the pandemic.  The Portfolio Holder then provided Members with some background to the report and figures and advised that Harrow continued to have the second lowest crime figures in London.  He encouraged Members to attend the Safer Neighbourhood Panel meetings and welcomed community led intelligence via social media such as whatsapp groups.


In terms of community safety, a Member commented that year on year Harrow appeared to have lower figures in terms of crime and suggested that whilst this may be a result of the pandemic, there might be lessons that could be learned.  The Director of Strategy and Partnerships stated that this year had been a unique set of circumstances and that there was a correlation between economic factors and crime.  Acting Chief Inspector Baildon added that burglars were opportunistic and with more people staying at home such opportunities were reduced.  As the country returned to normal it was likely that crime figures would increase.


Members made comments and asked a number of questions including the following:-


·                     it would be useful to be provided with information in relation to the reporting of domestic violence as it had been well documented that there had been a rise in this crime during the pandemic.  An officer explained how these figures were reported in terms of comparison with the previous year and undertook to provide further information via his contacts within the BCU;


·                     tags were appearing outside houses and the Member questioned whether residents should be alerted.  Acting Chief Inspector Baildon advised that he would speak to the relevant Safer Neighbourhood Team to send out alerts via OWL;


·                     concern was expressed at the levels of victim satisfaction with the police and Members were advised that this matter would be considered alongside the Mayor of London’s recently released Plan.  An officer undertook to follow this up and to provide Members with details on satisfaction rates;


·                     a Member stated that a reduced visible police presence in some neighbourhoods was a cause of concern to residents.  Acting Chief Inspector Baildon advised that there were now more dedicated ward officers than there had been at the beginning of the year and he sought to reassure Members that the turnover of police constables was due to an influx of officers.  The Portfolio Holder advised that whilst the Council was working to build good relationships with police teams this was difficult as teams  ...  view the full minutes text for item 145.