Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Advisory Board - Communities and Place - Friday, 12th March, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Teams

Contact: Lorraine Davis  Email:

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.



Members and officers confirmed their attendance at the meeting. 




To note any changes in membership of the Board.



There were no changes in membership to note.




Members are invited to disclose any disclosable pecuniary interest they have in any item on the agenda which comprises:-


1          Details of any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.


2          Details of any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by you in carrying out duties as a member, or towards your election expenses.  (This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.


3          Details of any contract which is made between you (or a body in which you have a beneficial interest) and the authority


            (a)    Under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be executed; and


            (b)    Which has not been fully discharged.


4          Details of any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the authority. 


5          Details of any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the authority for a month or longer. 


6          Details of any tenancy where (to your knowledge).


            (a)    The landlord is the authority; and


            (b)    The tenant is a body in which you have a beneficial interest.


7          Details of any beneficial interest in securities of a body where


            (a)    That body (to your knowledge) has a place of business or land in the area of the authority; and


            (b)    Either –


                     (i)         The total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or


                     (ii)        If that share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.


In addition, you must also disclose other non-pecuniary interests set out in the Code of Conduct where these have not already been registered.




A “disclosable pecuniary interest” is an interest of a councillor or their partner (which means spouse or civil partner, a person with whom they are living as husband or wife, or a person with whom they are living as if they are civil partners).



There were no declarations of interest made at this meeting.




To consider whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of any item on the agenda.



There were no items of business that required the exclusion of the press and public.



MINUTES pdf icon PDF 290 KB

To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Board held on 17 November 2020 (copy enclosed).



RESOLVED,that the minutes of the meeting held on 17 November 2021 be agreed as an accurate record.


Further to minute 63, the Chair informed members that follow up work on the environmental impact from the plastic roads pilot scheme had been requested. 



Covid-19 Response: Customer and Community Services pdf icon PDF 189 KB

To consider a report by the Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services (copy enclosed).


Additional documents:


Members received a presentation from the Assistant Director – Customer and Community Services (the officer) on Covid Response.  The officer outlined the services that the directorate had responsibility for which included the service centre, area/community teams, libraries and archives, policy, registration and refugees.


The officer outlined various key dates and phases throughout the pandemic.  Members were informed of the introduction of the Covid 19 emergency support helpline and area support hubs within 10 days of the first lockdown being announced, both of which had been vital in helping thousands of vulnerable people.  The emergency helpline had received an average of 200 contacts a day to help with medication, shopping and concerns from family members worried about elderly loved ones.  The officer informed members that, in the latest lockdown, the contacts made were mostly about the financial and economic impacts of the pandemic. Members noted the redeployment of staff, together with the combination of volunteers’ resources and the systems and processes that were put in place.   In discussion, the officer agreed to provide information on the number and location of refugees in Cumbria.


An update on the library service was given with key dates of closing, reopening and the decision, in the second lockdown, to use the provision in the legislation to allow limited services.  The officer informed members that resources and online offers had been developed and delivered throughout the pandemic, as well as stay in touch calls to housebound customers.  It was noted that digital access was up by more than 70%.  In answer to a question raised by a member, the officer confirmed that arrangements had been put in place, with the required safety measures and the introduction of a booking system, to allow residents to have digital access.  It was noted that a dedicated member of staff was working on improving digital access for customers.  


The Assistant Director informed members of the continuation of services such as Test and Trace, Blue Badge, Waste, Highways Hotline, Purchase to Pay and providing support for the vaccination rollout.  To conclude, members were informed of the lessons learned and future thinking of the ways the services were delivered. 


Members discussed future meetings, with a recognition that a mixture of face to face, hybrid and remote meeting settings were needed.  Members thanked the Assistant Director and the teams for all the hard work undertaken and commented on the excellent work carried out at community level.  The continued work necessary to mitigate the post Covid impacts was acknowledged.



Response to concurrent events in the Covid era pdf icon PDF 227 KB

To consider a report by the Chief Fire Officer (copy enclosed).


Additional documents:


The Chief Fire Officer gave a detailed presentation on Cumbria’s response to concurrent events in the Covid era.  Members noted that one of the key focus areas for the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) had been on how to respond to concurrent events, as it was recognised that Covid-19 was going to continue to degrade emergency response capabilities in both public and private sector organisations, as well as in communities.  A comprehensive report had been produced and was appended to the Board’s report.  The Chief Fire Officer informed members that Cumbria had developed its approach to concurrency over the past 10 years, learning from past incidents worldwide.  Members noted that the two biggest risks during the pandemic were loss of power or a cyberattack.  The Chief Fire Officer highlighted the approach taken by the LRF in planning for concurrent events and outlined the six key recommendations that were listed in their final report to be taken forward. 


Members discussed the evolving issues arising from the pandemic and the need to mitigate and support them.  The Chair informed members of an article which suggested vaccines could help some people recover from long covid.  In answer to a member’s questions, the Chief Fire Officer gave an explanation of Heuristic Traps, which were an unlikely combination of events, and clarified some of the acronyms that were contained in the report.  The Chair queried whether power could be utilised from electric car batteries in cases of emergency, however the Chief Officer informed members that fire service vehicles carried their own power generators


In discussion, the Chief Fire Officer agreed that a member of the Service would meet with the Local Member for Dalton South to address emergency vehicle access on a road in Dalton and that a representative would take up the Service’s position on the Barrow Highways Sub-Group.


In answer to a question on hospital evacuations and the possibility of utilising Nightingale hospitals to be used as evacuation centres, the Chief Fire Officer informed members that hospitals were legally obliged to have evacuation plans in place and these plans will have been adapted during Covid19.  The Chief Fire Officer informed members that all emergency plans were adaptable and tailored to suit the emergency.  Members noted the regulations that allowed exceptions for evacuation, in the current circumstances.


The Chief Fire Officer responded to a question on Brexit and reported that the effects of this were still being measured.  The Chief Fire Officer confirmed that Cumbria’s risk assessment mirrored the national one for space weather and was under continual review.


The Chief Fire Officer was thanked for his very informative presentation and all the work undertaken by the Service.


RESOLVED,that more emphasis needed to be given to flooding events in the report’s recommendation as flooding was an ever-present threat in the county.



To consider a report by the Executive Director – Corporate, Customer and Community Services (copy enclosed).


This report informs members of new and updated items of significance to the Board (including relevant aspects of the Council’s Forward Plan and Key Decisions).


Additional documents:


A report was received by members on the Board’s work programme, together with the Council’s Forward Plans of key decisions.


In discussion of the work programme, members requested a Task and Finish Group on Sewerage Overflows.  This request arose from a continual problem on Walney Island and was backed by the Local Member for Walney South and Barrow members on the Board.  It was further agreed that a Green Recovery item, to include naturalising rivers and upstream flood prevention, be considered for inclusion on the work programme.


A member drew attention to the proposed establishment of a Cabinet Working Group on Transport and encouraged members to consider representation on this Group.


Members noted that the Task and Finish Group report on the Provision of Infrastructure to Support New Development had been deferred from the Cabinet agenda in February but would be presented to the Cabinet meeting in March.


The Strategic Policy and Scrutiny Advisor invited the Board to contribute to progress the Scrutiny Development Plan which had been approved by the Scrutiny Management in September 2020 and would inform members of developments.




(1)  the Board’s current work programme be noted, to include the items raised at the meeting;


(2)  a brief be developed for all items on the work programme;


(3)  the Forward Plan of Key Decisions for 1 March 2021 – 30 April 2021 and 1 April 2021 – 31 May 2021 be noted;


(4)  the update regarding the Provision of Infrastructure to Support New Development Task and Finish report to Cabinet be noted;


(5)  the update regarding the Scrutiny Development Plan be noted.




To note that the next meeting of the Board will be held on 4 June 2021 at 10.00 am.



It was noted that the next meeting of the Board will be held on 4 June 2021 at 10.00 am.