Agenda item - Public Involvement
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- Meeting of Tourism, Equalities, Communities & Culture Committee, Thursday, 11th March, 2021 4.00pm (Item 73.)
To consider the following matters raised by members of the public:
(a) Petitions: To receive any petitions presented by members of the public;
(i) Improve Hove and Portslade Seafront – Andrea Lewis
(b) Written Questions: To receive any questions submitted by the due date of 12 noon on the 5th March 2021
(i) Covid Memorial – Jay Butler
(ii) Minutes at Previous TECC Meeting – Roy Pennington
(iii) Libraries – Christopher Hawtree
(c) Deputations: To receive any deputations submitted by the due date of 5 noon on the 5th March 2021.
(i) Save Hove and Portslade Seafront
73.1 The Chair thanked Andrea for the petition and stated that the council fully appreciated the important role it had to influence the well-being of residents and visitors across the wide-range of services that it provided from social care to waste collection as well as infrastructure improvement projects. Significant investment takes place in infrastructure projects which has included in recent years on the Seafront the restoration of the Shelter Hall and the West Pier Arches. However, with regards to the Seafront the age of the Victorian seafront infrastructure created a particular challenge.
The council was responsible for maintenance across 13km of seafront which stretched from Hove Lagoon to Saltdean. The maintenance of assets was not divided by geographical area but was prioritised by factors such as health and safety risk, condition and level of urgency. The planned maintenance of the seafront railings and seafront furniture falls under the Corporate Planned Maintenance budget. This budget stands at £3,003,603 in 2020-21 and covers planned maintenance works as well as statutory compliance works to all civic, operational and historic council buildings across our City. The latter covers around £1m of the total allocation and relates to fabric maintenance arrangements, such as clearance of roofs and gutters, graffiti removal, mechanical and electrical testing, boiler and lift servicing and legionella controls. Furthermore, there is £700k ring-fenced to support the maintenance of historic buildings held in two lease Trust arrangements.
The remaining budget is prioritised in consultation with service Client officers to address the highest critical and most essential maintenance works using a works prioritisation matrix. Allocation is across the City as a whole and not divided between any specific geographic areas within. The aim is to ensure that statutory compliance works and higher risk Health and Safety issues are addressed. Essential maintenance includes works of a structural nature and those that keep our buildings watertight.
Like most local authorities, the council faces a backlog in its required planned maintenance, extreme budget challenges and our small and limited maintenance budgets are inadequate for the need. Financial controls applied over a number of years have meant substantial cuts in what can be achieved within the annual programme. That in turn increases our prioritised volumes of required maintenance with associated risk.
The seafront allocation for 2020-21 stands at £363,800. For holding structural repairs and health and safety works Madeira Terrace has been allocated £151,500. There is £100k for railing redecoration in Hove, £50k for shelter and bench repairs and an allocation of £37k for the Volk’s Railway.
Amount spent/allocated from Planned Maintenance Budget
Hove Promenade -seafront railings & shelters
PH Beck Ltd
Brighton Kings Rd, Madeira Drive & Marine Parade – Seafront railings
PH Beck Ltd
Hove Promenade - 2 x shelter refurbishment
Hove Promenade – Hove Lagoon – Peace Statue seafront railings & shelters
Ellis Building Contractors
Brighton – Sections of Madeira Drive, Kings Road, Marine Parade.
Ellis Building Contractors
The work is tendered to professional building contractors and decorators and overseen by council Building Surveyors – see above.
It is necessary for expenditure to be prioritised due to the pressures on council budgets across the services that are provided. If residents wished to crowdfund to support maintenance of a specific restoration project agreed with the council, then such assistance would be welcome.”
73.2 RESOLVED: That the petition be noted.
(b) Written Questions
73.3 Mr Jay Butler asked the following question, I have designed and now seek permission to install a Covid Memorial set into existing concrete on the undercliff at Ovingdean. This would require incising the design approximately 4cm into the surface then infilling with white concrete incorporating shells from the local beach. I am consulting with local community leaders, including our local vicar, who is in favour. This would be a community project requiring no material, installation or ongoing maintenance costs on the part of the council. Further I intend full consultation on Risk Assessment/ Health & Safety with the relevant authority for the installation period approximately four days.”
73.4 The Chair thanked Mr Butler and replied, your suggestion sounds very interesting and I’m glad to hear you’re working on this with the local community. In terms of any consents you might need – I am advised you may need planning permission. I would suggest you send the details to the planning service and officers will provide you with informal advice. The email address for this will be sent to you after the meeting.
Given the potential for causing long term maintenance problems by drilling or removing significant depths of concrete from the seawall and associated structures on the undercliff, the Council’s Coast Protection Manager would need to be satisfied by the design and installation specification. He will be happy to make contact.
73.5 Mr Butler asked a supplementary question and enquired if Councillor Mears could forward the design to Members of the Committee for further information.
73.6 The Chair stated that the designs should be sent to officers in Planning, however he welcomed Councillor Mears’ extra details and asked that they be sent to the relevant officers.
73.7 Mr Roy Pennington asked the following question, TECC 19/11/2020 will be changed to reassure and respect tenants with indefinite agreements (see item 40 PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT (b) Written Questions (i) Beach Chalets Report Removal) and that the qualified decision made 14 January 2021 was thus made on inadequate and misleading data and must still require legal advice before implementation, how could the committee make such an wholly unreasonable and irrational decision to evict tenants with indefinite agreements without not revisiting the matter properly?
73.8 The Chair replied, thank you Mr Pennington for your question and for bringing the matter to our attention. There was an error in the minutes of TECC on 19 November 2020 when they were presented for approval on 14 January 2021. Your question related to the failure to record the comment from the Chair, when it was said that there would be a report to the January TECC Committee. The Chair’s comment was ‘we will listen to your concerns and the many valuable points made by people with indefinite licences.’
When the committee on the 14 January was asked to approve the minutes of the November meeting, Councillor Amanda Evans raised the issue on behalf of Mr Pennington, who had emailed her, that there was an inaccuracy in the minutes and the Democratic Services Officer agreed to review the minutes. It was therefore clear to the Committee on the 14 January that the minutes were not accurate in one area.
The committee did reconsider the matter in January and made a decision based on the officer report presented to them. The decision on the 14 January 2021 was not made with inadequate and misleading data. Our legal advisor has considered Mr Pennington’s question and has no concerns about the decision made by the committee on this date.
73.9 Mr Pennington asked a supplementary question and enquired if the Committee had taken expert Counsel’s opinion and if so when the public would be informed.
73.10 The Chair noted the question and requested that the Legal Advisor provide a written response.
73.11 Mr Christopher Hawtree asked the following question, over two years ago I was told at this Committee, in a reply to a supplementary, that there would be a report on the current system of selection and allocation of book stock in our libraries. About a year ago I asked at this Committee when this report would appear but did not receive a reply. Can the Chair please tell us about securing this report forthwith, what with the failure of wholesalers Bertrams?
73.12 The Chair thanked Mr Hawtree for his question and stated that the issue of selection and allocation of book stock will link to our wider Libraries Strategy. Consultation and development of the strategy was halted last year because of the Covid pandemic but as outlined elsewhere on the agenda, it is recommended that this process now restarts . If the recommendations are agreed, the Libraries Stock Policy will be considered alongside the Libraries Strategy at the November TECC committee.
The council procures library stock and bibliographic services through the Jubilee Library PFI contract and this contract is unaffected by Bertrams going into administration. The council’s PFI partners have secured alternative suppliers to replace the sub-contract they had with Bertrams.
It is worth noting that the council’s library staff already retain the responsibility for book selection and carry out this role in several ways. This includes creating purchasing profiles for obvious book-buying such as getting the latest publications from top-selling authors, as well as selecting some of the more esoteric or locally focused stock themselves.
73.13 Mr Hawtree asked a supplementary question and noted the emphasis on top selling authors and esoteric books over the importance of books that reflected the interests of communities and requested that the libraries report being authored due in November be brought forward.
73.14 The Chair stated that this could not be brought forward as consultation was to be undertaken over the coming months.
73.15 Ms Imogen Casebourne asked the following question, Does the Council agree that the document entitled Land Contamination: Risk Management, mentioned by the Council Leader in his reply to the deputation of 22/10/20, does not give details of safe remediation techniques?"
73.16 The Chair thanked Ms Casebourne for her question and stated that as the Gas Works site is contaminated and requires remediation work - any future planning application on the Gas Works site will require detailed information to be submitted in accordance with national guidance called: Land contamination: risk management.
The Chair further qualified that the document was new and that “Remediation is highly technical, regulated and is licensed and overseen by the Health and Safety Executive” In terms of your question about the Land Contamination: Risk Management (LCRM) guidance, no we don’t agree. It does give details of safe remediation techniques.
He noted that the document was recently revised by the Environment Agency and published on 8th October 2020. The council must refer to this guidance, issued and agreed by central government, when considering contaminated sites. The revised guidance fully details options and steps to be carried out to ensure there is effective remediation proposed for contaminated sites.
73.16 Ms Casebourne asked a supplementary question and requested a follow up meeting to look at how land risk management had been undertaken on sites.
73.17 The Chair stated that a meeting with officers could be arranged.
73.18 Mr Stephen White asked the following question, in the interests of democracy, the council rightly encourages developers to engage with local communities concerning their planning applications prior to submission. But what happens when a developer fails to provide plans that are clear and sufficiently finalised for residents to be able to assess the full potential impact of the development on their own lives and on their neighbourhood and what effect, if any, might such a failure to provide a proper public consultation have on the council’s attitude to the developer’s planning application?
73.19 The Chair thanked Mr White for his question and stated that he had been advised that the proposal for the Gas Works is at pre-application stage and this is the early stage at which we ask developers to engage with residents on big schemes like the Gas Works. For this reason, however, often the detail of the scheme hasn’t been fully worked up yet – particularly where the developer is still in early discussions with our planning officers. I understand this is the case in this instance.
I appreciate this can be frustrating – but what it means is that some of the early comments received from residents can still help to shape the final proposals. I’m advised the planning application is due in the summer and I can assure you that residents will be consulted once it is received. The full details will be available, and you’ll be given time to look at these and make your comments.
73.20 Mr White asked a supplementary question and enquired what could be done to deter developers from using the public consultation period as nothing more than a tick box exercise.
73.21 The Head of Planning assured Mr White that while it was very difficult for developers to provide details, BHCC would push to provide as much information as possible. It was further noted that there was still an opportunity to influence and change proposals.
73.22 Mr Pip Tyler asked the following question, the City Plan Part One was adopted in March 2016 and Policy DA2 covered major development in East Brighton. The gasworks site was designated for 2,000 sqm of workspace and a minimum of 85 residential units. Providing a mix of dwelling type, tenure and size the design should positively contribute to the character of existing buildings in the area, creating an attractive urban environment.
The current proposal is for around 700 dwellings - nearly 10X that in the City Plan – where did the changes to the Plan happen to encourage developers to think in this scale and mass?
73.23 The Chair thanked Mr Tyler for his question and stated that the number of residential units allocated in the City Plan is expressed as a minimum. The reason for this is that there is a significant shortfall in meeting housing needs in Brighton & Hove. In terms of the proposal, it is the decision of a developer as to what they propose in their planning application, but they will be required to respond to all policies in the City Plan. These include design, sustainability, amenity and transport policies. Planning Officers with scrutinise the proposals once the planning application is submitted. It is expected to be received in the summer and residents will be consulted.
73.24 Mr Tyler asked a supplementary question and enquired if residents will have a chance to have input on building plans in the city.
73.25 The Chair confirmed that there would be opportunities for residents to submit their input to consultations that would be undertaken in future.
73.26 Ms Ali Ceesay asked the following question on behalf of Ms Jean Calder, recent decisions regarding RISE suggest Council officers may have less of an understanding than they once had of the discrimination, harassment and violence suffered by the city’s women and girls and the legal protections that exist to protect their sex based rights. This creates a de facto equalities ‘pecking order’ which leaves the city’s females languishing near the bottom. What will councillors do to ensure that institutional sexism within the council is identified and challenge and that council personnel (and wherever possible partner agencies) are adequately trained and equipped to protect the sex based legal rights of women and girls?
73.27 The Chair thanked Ms Ceesay for her question and stated that at Brighton & Hove City Council our commitment to equality and inclusion is unwavering. Our vision is for a more equal city where no one is left behind. We are proud to support the rights of women and girls in the work that we do.
It is our shared priority to end domestic and sexual violence and abuse across the county and keep people safe. To support our work in this area we co-produced the Pan-Sussex Strategic Framework for Domestic and Sexual Violence and Abuse 2020-24. This sets out our vision for Brighton & Hove and East Sussex and aims for a future where everyone can live safe lives, without the threat or experience of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.
Alongside our partners across Sussex we are working together to break down barriers between sectors and services, in neighbourhoods and communities, recognising that Domestic and Sexual Violence is everyone’s business; and that responsibility for tackling the issue is truly shared.
The Council undertakes Equality Impact Assessments when designing or redesigning services which explores impacts on every protected characteristic, including sex. We believe in both meeting and going beyond the legal minimum set by the Equality Act to champion truly inclusive and intersectional practice.
We took a leading role in supporting residents and communities in our city in the context of COVID-19 crisis – recognising the disproportionate impact on women and girls. Throughout the pandemic we have responded to local and national gender-based research and are working in partnership with our Community and Voluntary Sector and to ensure that issues impacting women and girls are understood and addressed throughout the crisis. We have also taken huge steps to support children and families – including creating new food banks and giving direct individual support.
The council also commissions and provides focused activities and events for women and girls in the city in areas where women are underrepresented, such as in sport. 58% of council staff are women, not including school’s staff. We have a higher representation of women in senior positions. 61% of staff being paid at the upper pay band are women. As a result, our gender pay gap is the opposite of the national gender pay gap, with on average women being paid more than men across our workforce.
Women may be attracted to the council due to our generous flexible working opportunities and support. We deliver workshops and development opportunities to support women – such as ‘support during the menopause’ and ‘active bystander’ training.
We also have a range of policies in place to support and educate staff including ‘Support for Employees experiencing Domestic Violence & Abuse or Sexual Violence’ and guidance on addressing domestic violence abuse, sexual violence and other violence against women and girls crime types in commissioning and procurement activity.
Finally, we also celebrate women with annual events as part of International Women’s Day. This year we asked council staff to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality and actively celebrate women's achievements. Our fantastic Women’s Network put on a day of activities for women focused on self-care and have provided peer to peer support for women throughout the pandemic. Our Women’s network provides a place for staff to seek support and ensure we’re able to consider the needs of women in everything that we do.”
73.28 Ms Ceesay asked a supplementary question and requested that the Committee considered all survivors as relevant stakeholders in all issues going forward.
73.29 The Chair agreed that it was vital for survivors to be involved in issues and that efforts were being undertaken to look at service user involvement.
73.30 Ms Farnell asked the following question, When the current commission for Domestic Abuse services in the city started, six years ago, RISE were asked to set up The Portal as a very important central referral point for everyone who needs to access support. Now that this website is up and running, why has the council decided to scrap it and replace it with a ‘Victim Hub’?
73.31 The Chair thanked Ms Farnell for her question and stated that there will be a single point of contact telephone number for the commissioned community-based domestic abuse service provided by Victim Support from 1st April. This will be promoted in advance of the contract going live. The Victim Hub is a multi-agency team based in the MASH (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) for ease of liaison with specialist safeguarding teams, incorporating Sussex Police, IDVAs (Independent Domestic Abuse Advisors), ISVAs (Independent Sexual Violence Advisors) and Stalking and Harassment Support Workers. The Victims Hub model has been co-designed with cross-sector partners involved in risk assessment, referral and initial assessment, to improve victim experience and outcomes through focus on service pathways and being trauma informed. The more we can reduce the number of times a victim has to tell their story, the more likely they are to remain engaged with both support and criminal justice services.
73.32 As a supplementary Ms Farnell noted that the vast majority of users didn’t see themselves as victims and sought contact details regarding victim hubs.
73.33 The Chair offered to provide a written response.
73.34 Ms Alice Strutt addressed the panel and gave the following question:
"The UN’s Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women recommended in 2017 that “States should allocate adequate financial and human resources for the adequate implementation of integrated policies, measures and programmes to prevent and combat gender-based violence against women, including appropriate financial and human resources for the establishment and running of shelters, including those operated by non-governmental organizations.” Does the committee think that services for survivors of domestic abuse in Brighton & Hove are more, or less likely to be integrated after April 1st, given there are to be three organisations delivering them instead of one?"
73.35 The Chair thanked Ms Strutt and stated that with Victim Support also taking on the higher risk referrals from 1st April, we expect the pathways into services to become even more integrated for victim/ survivors. As part of our social value evaluation of tender submissions, successful bidders were required to set out their approach to working collaboratively across the system, and in that spirit, Stonewater Ltd and Victim Support are already working closely to ensure that pathways into and out of refuge provision are integrated.
73.36 As a supplementary Ms Strutt enquired why the cross-party working group had not been set up previously and noted that the post for Commissioner had been filled by 2 people and was in the process of rehiring. A written response was further requested.
73.37 The Chair affirmed commitment to setting up a Working Group to consider this issue and agreed to provide a written response.
73.38 Ms J Parnwell addressed the Committee and gave the following question, The Brighton & Hove City Council Social Value Framework states that “Every tender will have considered social value and have at least one outcome included, unless there is a legitimate reason not to”. It also says, “In considering the social value outcomes, commissioners and procurement officers will need to work out the weight given to social value, which in Brighton & Hove will range from 10-30%”. Please can you tell me what the social value outcomes were for Lots 1 and 5 of the procurement process for Domestic Abuse Services, how much weight these were given in the scoring process?
73.39 The Chair thanked Ms Parnwell for her question and stated that the tender specification and quality questions were drafted in line with the Brighton and Hove Social Value Framework and the Social Value Act. Social value was embedded in the quality questions which bidders were asked. Social value is referred to in the report which will be discussed later in the agenda. The report confirms that the Council met its obligations in relation to social value. The Member Working Group which we will discuss later in the agenda may consider the Council’s approach to social value.
I am sorry I am not able to provide detailed information about the evaluation. As I said at the outset, we have to protect the council and follow the legal advice we are given so that is why I cannot give you more precise information about the evaluation.
73.40 Ms Parnwell referred to the report and enquired if BHCC would publish the equality impact assessment, tender document and evaluation documents to provide an explanation on how social value and equalities were included in this decision. Further clarity was sought on the points system used and if this was moderated by an external party.
73.41 The Chair stated that the Working Group would look at many issues, it was requested that the legal team provide a written response.
73.42 Ms A addressed the Committee and asked the following question, the Strategic Assessment of Crime and Community Safety, brought to this committee in May 2020, showed that 335 RISE clients expressed a need for housing in 2018-19, but the refuge only had capacity for 58 people. Calls to the helpline and referrals of people at high risk have increased since the start of the Covid pandemic.
Will this committee make a commitment to ringfence the £600,000 of additional government funding so that local specialist organisations can create additional refuge places provided separately from the generic contract awarded to Stonewater Ltd?
73.43 The Chair thanked Ms A for her question and stated that the council welcomed MHCLG’s decision to provide additional funding to support victims of domestic abuse. We welcome the Domestic Abuse Bill which is making its way through parliament. For the first time local authorities will be under a legal obligation to provide safe refuge for vulnerable women. MHCLG have provided strict requirements for this funding which the Council will need to meet. The funding provided will be subject of a future report to this committee.
The Council will establish a fair and transparent process to determine how the funding is allocated.
73.44 Ms A referred to the corporate plan 2020 goal of buying goods services locally and requested BHCC promise to make a commitment that allocations would be in line with this, and asked that a written response be provided.
73.45 The Chair noted that this was in the corporate plan and that the Member Working Group would look at this.
73.46 Ms Nicola Benge addressed the Committee and asked the following question, A report to the NICE Committee in October 2018 said: “RISE and its subcontracted partner, Survivors Network, raise and invest significant funds in their own right to deliver services for victims and survivors outside The Portal and should be noted as key contributors to the funding landscape.” If RISE is no longer the main provider of refuge and casework services, it will be much harder for them to raise these additional funds, given that many dedicated grants rely on match funding. How will the council act to prevent this decision from destabilising RISE and therefore endangering their self-funded community services?
73.47 The Chair thanked Ms Benge for her question and stated that the Council is grateful for the service which RISE has provided. The Council has allocated additional funding to support the organisation and many members of the council have met with RISE. I would like to take this opportunity to thank RISE for working with new providers to ensure a smooth and safe transition so that services for very vulnerable users are not disrupted. Staff are having TUPE meetings, premises will be transferred.
We would also like to take this opportunity to express support for the incoming providers.
73.48 As a supplementary, Ms Benge noted that Rise was at the heart of the community of survivors who also provided serious and vital contributions and enquired no audit had been conducted into this issue.
73.49 The Chair requested that Legal Team provide a written response.
73.50 Ms Emily West addressed the Committee and asked the following question, how will the voice of service users be heard as part of the monitoring, evaluation and review of the new Domestic Abuse contracts?
73.51 The Chair thanked Ms West for her question and stated that the contracts will be monitored against a suite of outcome key performance indicated. These KPIs included:
90% feel safe from external risks whilst living in the refuge
90% leave feeling safer.
In relation to the community-based services:
80% report increased resilience and ability to cope.
73.52 Ms West enquired if BHCC would commit to setting up an ongoing service user panel so that users were given a voice.
73.53 The Chair stated that the Members Working Group would consider this and that this may need a report in future due to resource implications.
73.54 Councillor Nemeth requested that all written responses be included and provided to members as a single document.
73.55 The Chair agreed.
73.56 Mr Tancred presented his deputation.
73.57 The Chair thanked Mr. Tancred and replied, with regards to the matters that you raise:
1) Beach huts and beach chalets are different entities and therefore it is appropriate that the policies are specific to the requirements of beach huts and beach chalets separately. The beach huts are owned by local residents who pay a licence fee to place their hut on Council land. Beach huts are bought and sold on the open market. The beach chalets are owned by the Council and are let to local residents under a Chalet Licence Agreement.
2) Consultation – the council wishes to listen to the views of residents and therefore an on-line consultation portal has been developed to enable that to be achieved as easily as possible. The council has limited resources and it is acknowledged that any consultation exercise can only be as accurate as the information submitted by consultees.
3) Allocations of beach chalets – Beach chalets are allocated according to waiting lists and an individual is allocated to that waiting list if it is open to new applicants.
As you will be aware the committee have agreed to a further report on the feasibility of providing new Beach Chalets, which will be considered at a future meeting of the committee.”
73.58 RESOLVED: That the deputation be noted.
- Andrea Wilson Petition, item 73. PDF 205 KB View as HTML (73./1) 24 KB
- Public Questions, item 73. PDF 188 KB View as HTML (73./2) 13 KB
- Addendum 1 Public Questions, item 73. PDF 204 KB View as HTML (73./3) 20 KB
- KTancred Deputation, item 73. PDF 110 KB View as HTML (73./4) 16 KB
- Addendum 2 Public Questions, item 73. PDF 181 KB View as HTML (73./5) 11 KB