Venue: Finance, Assets and Performance Scrutiny Committee - Virtual Meeting - Conference. View directions
Contact: Geoff Durham 742222
There were no apologies.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
There were no declarations of interest stated.
To consider the Minutes of the previous meeting held on 16 January, 2020
Resolved: That the Minutes of the meeting held on 16 January, 2020
be agreed as a correct record.
Consideration was given to a report providing the Committee with a Covid-19 update in terms of the issues arising and actions taken within the service areas that fall under the Committee’s remit.
Members’ attention was drawn to the appendix to the report which was a discussion paper with Covid-19 implications for this Scrutiny Committee.
The Leader, Councillor Simon Tagg introduced the report which covered the following areas:
Customer and Digital Services:
Prior to the lockdown, the Council had already invested to ensure that staff could work remotely if necessary. During lockdown, applications such as Teams and Zoom were utilised to enable remote meetings. The Leader praised the IT section for the work that they had done in setting up the meetings facility, customer helplines and ensuring that staff could work from home effectively. Members’ attention was drawn to paragraphs 3 to 5 of the appendix which referred to the Contact Centre, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction.
People and Organisational Development:
New policies had been developed to ensure fair and consistent practice across the workforce and to ensure everyone’s safety. There had also been discussions with the Trade Unions.
Legal and Democratic Services:
The Group Leaders had met early on in the pandemic and had made a commitment to reconvene committee meetings virtually and Newcastle had been one of the first Council’s in the country to hold a virtual Planning Committee.
There had been three Cabinet meetings and further meetings with Group Leaders to discuss the way forward.
The Council’s financial position had been impacted upon by the pandemic, through a combination of lost income and additional costs. Car parks were now open and J2 would be re-opening some of its activities shortly which would help with the recovery process.
The Council had received almost £1.3m from the Government to help to support Covid related activity and the impact of the pandemic on the Council’s income. The Council was lobbying the Government for further support.
The Cabinet had endorsed a recovery plan – ‘Back on Track’ to get the economy back to its pre-lockdown position as quickly and as safely as possible.
The Leader thanked all officers of the Council for the work that they had done throughout the pandemic and for what was being done for the recovery process.
The Chair echoed the Leader’s comments and also thanked Council staff for how they had responded to the crisis.
Councillor Pickup stated that the waste operatives had done a great job and asked if there had been any Covid cases amongst them.
The Leader confirmed that there had been no Covid-19 cases amongst the operatives. Some had self-isolated, either because they had displayed symptoms themselves or a member of their family had displayed symptoms, but none had contracted the virus.
Councillor Pickup referred to paragraph 20 of the appendix and asked why the Council was losing £65,000 per month.
The Portfolio Holder for Finance and Efficiency, Councillor Stephen Sweeney stated that the Council had to hire more ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To consider any business which is urgent within the meaning of Section 100B (4) of the Local Government Act 1972
There was no urgent business.