Agenda and minutes

Performance and Finance Scrutiny Sub-Committee - Thursday 26 March 2015 7.30 pm

Venue: Committee Room 6, Harrow Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2XY. View directions

Contact: Miriam Wearing, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1542 E-mail:

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 the attendance at this meeting of the following duly appointed Reserve Members:


Ordinary Member


Reserve Member

Councillor Adam Swersky

Councillor Mrs Chika Amadi



Declarations of Interest

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 Sub-Committee;

(b)               all other Members present.


RESOLVED:  To note that no interests were declared.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 86 KB

That the minutes of the meeting held on 6 January 2015 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.


A Member of the Sub-Committee requested clarification regarding the question on the fifth question of Minute 29.  The Chair responded that the Member’s question should be forwarded to the Environmental Leads for further information.


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting of 6 January 2015 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.


Public Questions, Petitions and References from Council and Other Committees / Panels

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 notice of them was received and there be a time limit of 15 minutes.


[The deadline for receipt of public questions is 3.00 pm, Monday 23 March 2015.  Questions should be sent to  

No person may submit more than one question].


RESOLVED:  To note that no public questions, petitions or references were received at this meeting.



Revenue and Capital Monitoring pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Report of the Director of Finance and Assurance.

Additional documents:


The Sub-Committee received a report of the Director of Finance and Assurance, which had previously been considered by Cabinet on 19 February 2015.  The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Major Contracts assisted the Director in delivering the report.


Following a brief overview of the report by the Director of Finance and Assurance, Members asked the following questions and received responses from the Director and the Portfolio Holder:


·                     Q:  What plans were in place to deal with the introduction of Universal Credit, and the implementation of the Care Act 2014?


A:  Some money from the Better Care Fund had been set aside for the implementation of the Care Act.  The total cost was as yet unclear, but Officers would be watching the cost carefully once the Act was implemented.  There had been discussions about different boroughs being part of a pilot scheme for a small number of recipients of Universal Credit, and contingency funds were there for the pressure of this.


·                     Q:  How did the demolition of Grange Farm stack up as a mitigation of the costs of housing people in bed-and-breakfast accommodation?


A:  Properties that had been bought back from leaseholders were being used as short-term accommodation for people who were being housed in bed-and-breakfast accommodation, and almost every vacant property that had become available in Harrow was being used for homeless families.


·                     Q:  Was this not being considered in 2013?


A:  This had been proposed by the Portfolio Holder for Housing, and was featured in the manifesto.  Arrears had risen by a third due to benefits cuts and a 40% cut in the Discretionary Housing Fund.


·                     Q:  How many houses had been built by this administration?


A:  No houses had been completed, but the building process was underway for a number of homes.


·                     Q:  Had rent increases above inflation affected arrears?


A:  Most rental arrears had come from the private sector. Benefit cuts and a 40% reduction in the Discretionary Housing Fund were the main contributors to arrears and homelessness.


·                     Q:  Will the Council receive money from the Home Office at the end of the Council’s financial year?


A:  The Council had budgeted to receive money from the Proceeds of Crime Act, but the amount received would probably be less than in previous years.  The money would usually come from large fraud / wholesale crime.


·                     Q:  At what stage in the year did the bed-and-breakfast problem become apparent?


A:  The increase in people who require bed-and-breakfast accommodation had risen in a linear fashion, and was a big issue for the Council.


·                     Q:  Had the option of moving people who couldn’t afford rents in Harrow out of the borough been explored?


A:  There were a few initiatives, but these tended not to be taken up by families whose children were at an important time in their education such as their GCSEs.


·                     Q:  If the Council is in reach of 62% of the total capital programme, what progress has been made towards being better at spending?


A:  A scrutiny panel had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.


School Travel Plans Update pdf icon PDF 159 KB

Report of the Corporate Director of Environment and Enterprise.


The Sub-Committee received a report regarding School Travel Plans.


Following a brief overview of the report by the Traffic and Road Safety Team Leader, Members asked the following questions and received responses from the Team Leader:


·                     Q:  Was there enough enforcement activity taking place for the School Travel Plans?


A:  Two CCTV vans were being used around the borough, and they were effective as a deterrent to stop people from parking where they are not allowed to.  Several “walking buses” had also been set up.


·                     Q:  Has there been mapping to see if the plans had been having any impact?


A:  Surveys had been undertaken, and the Traffic and Road Safety Team knew where people were coming from and could see when people change their behaviour.


·                     Q:  Were complaints mapped so problem areas could be identified?


A:  Complaints were recorded on a system that was searchable.


·                     Q:  Was there capacity for schools situated close together to cooperate in the implementation of the plan?


A:  Schools were encouraged to communicate and work together, and the Traffic and Road Safety Team had reviewed satellite images and introduced zebra crossings, which schoolchildren had been encouraged to use.


·                     Q:  Regarding schools that did not have a “star” accreditation, was this because they had not tried to implement the plan yet?


A:  There had been high staff turnover in some schools which had made ongoing engagement difficult, but this was starting to improve.  Some schools were not aware of the benefits in taking part in the scheme and attaining the “star” accreditation.


·                     Q:  Were the timescales for schools to adopt the Travel Plans realistic?


A:  One of the objectives behind the Travel Plans is to change the culture of the school, and this was achievable as new children start the school every year.


·                     Q:  Is help available for schools that have a ‘silver’ accreditation, but need help to achieve the ‘gold’ accreditation?


A:  The main priority was to engage with schools that don’t have any accreditation, but there are resources within the team to support schools that had committed to implementing their Travel Plans.


·                     Q:  How are the accreditations managed, and is the “bronze” target a realistic one?


A:  Transport for London awarded the accreditations. “Bronze” was awarded when 40% of pupils were using alternative methods of travelling, “silver” for 50% and “gold” for 60%.  The targets were achievable if parents, teachers and pupils were engaged with the plan.


·                     Q:  Is delivering communications to parents via their children a reliable and effective method of engaging with parents?


A:  There were also newsletters, forums, and ambassadors for the scheme who work with teachers to try and get all parties engaged.  The budget for the scheme was £80,000, and £50,000 of this was allocated for physical measures such as zebra crossings.


·                     Q:  Are the targets different for each school?


A:  The target for a school would be one step above their current level, so schools with no accreditation would have a “bronze” target, schools with a “bronze”  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.