- Download the Agenda (Download Agenda. 61.32 KB)
- Download the Report - Gas and Electricity Contract Prices (Download Report. 50.75 KB)
- Download the Agenda - Provision of information relating to the ‘Education’ element of Children’s Services Budget (Download Report. 50.41 KB)
- Download the Report - Mackie Mayor Archive Project (Download Report. 82.99 KB)
- Download the Report - Manchester Education Partnership (Download Report. 37.18 KB)
Minutes: Read the Minutes
22 June 2006
- Councillor Priest - In the Chair
- Councillors Andrews, Hassan, Isherwood, Sandiford, Trafford, Trotman and Watson.
- Councillor P Murphy, Executive Member for Direct Services
- Councillor S. Murphy, Executive Member for Finance and Human Resources
- Councillor Swannick, Executive Member for Planning and Environment
- Councillor Morrison
In relation to Minute FGP/06/20 the City Treasurer reported that subsequent discussions held with the joint venture partner had secured a positive response to the future role of the scrutiny process in relation to the work of the joint venture company.
1. To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 25 May 2006.
2. To appoint Councillors Andrews, Isherwood, Priest Trafford and Watson as members of the Human Resources Sub Group, with Councillor Sandiford as substitute member for Councillors Isherwood and Trafford.
FGP/06/24 Gas and Electricity contract prices
The City Treasurer presented a report updating members on the performance of the commercial gas supply contract and other energy procurement arrangements. The report also summarised the development of an energy procurement strategy for the Council which would embrace 'green' energy elements. The City Treasurer reminded members of the volatility of gas and electricity prices over the winter period.
Members noted that there was no specific mention of energy saving measures in the recommendations. A member also queried why the contracts were being procured for a term of 4 years. Further queries were raised regarding the possibility of the Council becoming an energy producer, and the control of the temperature levels in public buildings. Members also suggested looking to other methods of energy provision, for example through heat pumps, which were commonplace in Scandinavia, and resulted in a greater heat output than energy input.
Responding to these points, the Group Leader of the Energy Management Unit indicated market fluctuations mitigated against longer contracts, for example 5 year contracts, which would result in larger costs to reflect the volatility of the market and the risks associated with predicting prices so far in advance, moreover, the length of contracts was also restricted to 4 years by EU legislation. He advised the Committee that renewable energy in public buildings was being given increased emphasis as part of all new build and refurbishment projects, as exampled in the Building Schools for the Future initiative, and that an officer team was being assembled to investigate practical energy saving measures across the Council. He further advised that temperature in public buildings was set to the lowest acceptable levels except in case of local difficulties. Recommendations from the Energy Management Unit suggest a move towards 100% Green electricity, which is exempt from the climate change levy of 0.43p per Kilowatt-hour.
1. To welcome the recommendations and particularly the priority being given to energy saving measures.
2. To note the continuing work that the Physical Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee is doing in relation to energy conservation, and the importance of that Committee being kept abreast of the work of the officer team that is investigating practical energy saving measures across the Council.
FGP/06/25 Postal Services
The Head of Regeneration presented a verbal update on the New Economics Foundation (NEF) review. The Head of Regeneration presented a summary of the outcome of the Post Office Sub-Group Meeting held on 15 June 2006, for which minutes were circulated.
Members noted that a report would be brought forward to the Committee towards the end of the calendar year, enabling the Committee to review the implementation of the recommendations emerging from the Postal Services Inquiry report considered by the Committee on 9 March 2006, and in particular those that are feeding into the development of a corporate financial inclusion strategy
1. To agree to monitor the implementation of executive actions arising from the Postal Services Inquiry report that appeared before the Committee on 9 March 2006.
2. To thank all members and officers who had been involved with the review.
FGP/06/26 Planning Enforcement
The Head of Planning presented a report to the Committee relating to changes in the Planning Enforcement Service. Members were updated on the staffing concerns facing the team, and were informed that a Team Leader had now been appointed to start in July. The team would then be in a position to adopt a pro-active stance towards enforcement, supported by a new system for logging complaints and an intensive training programme for all staff involved.
Members commented that the statistics revealed very few cases of formal action being taken, and that some cases had been allocated to a category entitled 'not expedient to take action,' queries were raised regarding the criteria upon which such decisions were made. A member also queried whether retrospective enforcement is more expensive than other types of enforcement.
The Head of Planning advised that effective enforcement was often best achieved through negotiation, where major elements of work undertaken without approval would have been approvable, and cases like this tended to form the majority of those categorised as 'not expedient to take formal action', and he undertook to circulate to members some typical examples Formal enforcement was rarely cost-effective given the opportunities to appeal and the uncertainty of outcomes where planning inspectors became involved.
To note the progress being made.
FGP/06/27 Review of Core Budgets for Children's Services and Adult Services and Review of Manchester Education Partnership
The Director of Children's Services presented two reports, the first relating to information relating to the Education section of the Children's Services Budget, with a focus on Council managed funds, rather than delegated or devolved funding. The second report was delivered in conjunction with the Manchester Improvement Programme Director, on the subject of the progress to date of the Manchester Education Partnership review. The two reports were considered together on account of their joint focus on scrutinising the impact that budget areas had on children and the services that are available to them.
Members raised concerns regarding the allocation of youth and community block funds to schools, and how the Council could effectively examine the effect that devolving that funding was having in terms of provision of youth services, and the extent that some schools were using it to plug holes in other areas of their budget. The Director of Children's Services stated that the Youth and Community budget was now ring-fenced in the dedicated schools grant and there was no facility for centrally influencing how it was used.
Reference was made to the budget provision for early retirement and members asked if the budget trend here was upwards. The Head of Finance and Human Resources for Children's Services advised members that this allocation covered the cost of ongoing pension arrangements and salary protections. She advised that the service was committed to minimising new cases of salary protection. Members followed this up by asking what proportion of the salary budget was allocated to supernumerary posts, and whether this information and a list of all supernumerary posts could be brought to the Committee (Human Resources Sub Group) subsequently.
Turning to look at the emerging recommendations from the review of the Manchester Education Partnership the Director of Children's Services outlined the focus upon raising the attainment of young people and equipping them with skills that would be valued by employers, for example IT and teamwork, so that they can share in the economic success of the city. Part of this approach had to focus on ironing out all the things that impede young people from achieving their full potential and co-ordinating services to create better linkages between school and the workplace. She advised that a report on the Manchester Education Partnership would be appearing before the Children's and Young People Overview and Scrutiny Committee early in the autumn, following the business process reviews.
1. To note the reports
2. To refer scrutiny of matters elating to supernumerary posts, and specifically issues from the Manchester Education Partnership review that may increase the number of such staff to the next meeting of the Human Resources Sub Group for further consideration.
FGP/06/28 County Records Office
The Assistant Chief Executive for Cultural Services presented a report relating to a Heritage Lottery Fund application to restore the Grade II Mackie Mayor Building in the Northern Quarter to become the -Manchester Heritage Centre. She advised members that £1.6M capital had been secured from the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA), which should aid the bid for lottery funds. The building was scheduled to be completed after 2010.
Members questioned the reasons for the 2-stage application and whether 25 years future capacity was sufficient to cover the future expansion of records. Members also asked whether digital storage had been considered, and how the funding deficit would be allocated after the lottery bid. A member also queried whether the cost estimate was 'future-proof', and about provision for visitor parking.
The Assistant Chief Executive stated that the consultants had first considered the prospects of a successful bid before completing it so that the bid would compete well against other submitted projects. She stated further that in order to make the most use of the space available the Council would ensure that storage was limited to those records that they are obligated to keep or those that the public most want to access. This would free up considerable space in the building. Some of the records in the building would be digitialsed, however this would not always negate the need to retain the source documents. It was envisaged that the project will break even when considered against the costs associated with the existing site.
The Assistant Chief Executive further advised members that they had only included AGMA funding in the budgeting that they had actually received, but that they did anticipate more. Regards the cost estimate of the building, she indicated that a contingency of £0.75M had been included, and an equal amount for inflation. Only disabled car parking would be available on site but adequate visitor parking was available in nearby multi-storey car parks.
To unanimously support the proposals.