Agenda and minutes

Venue: Warspite Room, Council House

Contact: Hannah Whiting  Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interest

Councillors will be asked to make any declarations of interest in respect of items on the agenda.


The following declarations of interest were made by councillors in accordance with the code of conduct in respect of items under consideration at the meeting:



Minute Number



Councillor Stoneman


Family member worked for Plymouth City Council in the team involved at the time of the meeting.




Minutes pdf icon PDF 135 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 26 July 2023.


The Committee agreed the minutes of the meeting held on 26 July 2023 as a correct record.


Chair's Urgent Business

To receive reports on business which in the opinion of the Chair, should be brought forward for urgent consideration.


There were no items of Chair’s urgent business.


Finance Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 712 KB


Councillor Mark Lowry (Cabinet Member for Finance) introduced the report and highlighted the following points:


a)    There had been little change in the report from month 3 to month 4 and the forecast directorate overspends were shown including an overspend in children’s social care, adult social care and homelessness, where ‘deep-dives’ were taking place in order to better understand what was happening and to implement measures to address the overspend.


In response to questions, with support from David Northey (Interim Section 151 Officer), it was explained that;


b)    With regards to homelessness, the volume had increased significantly since 2022 and therefore the budget allocation was insufficient and so the team were working with housing providers to look for solutions such as the possibility of converting Midland House to provide accommodation where it would become a capital provision to convert the building ensuring the council got a return on investment over the period of use;

c)    Following the improvement notice being served to the Council with regards to Children’s Services, an improvement board had been set up, chaired by an independent person from Dorset County Council, and attended by the Chief Executive, Leader, Deputy Leader and other senior officers;

d)    Areas of overspend and how issues are being tackled could come to the panel for pre-decision scrutiny;

e)    David Northey had been working closely with the Chief Executive Department to look at ways of saving to cover the costs of 3 unexpected by-elections, that had taken place in 2023, but had not been budgeted for, and there was the possibility of more funding;

f)     It would be possible to add an indication in Section B where there had been changes month on month;

g)    The cost implications of the improvements required in Children’s Services were yet to be determined in their entirety, and due to past actions, there was a higher number of children needing support, and when this passed, it would be easier to understand the ongoing costs for that directorate, and the overspend in Children’s Services was expected to get worse before it improved;

h)    Children’s social care, adult social care and homelessness were issues at different council’s across the country.


The Committee agreed to:


1.   Note the forecast revenue monitoring position at Period 4 as set out in the report in the sum of £7.5 million;

2.   Note the Capital Budget 2023-2028 had been revised to £562.416 million as shown in Table 1 of the report.


Draft Corporate Plan Performance Report pdf icon PDF 156 KB

Additional documents:


Councillor Chris Penberthy (Cabinet Member for Housing, Cooperative Development and Communities) introduced the report and highlighted:


a)    The report was in draft form as some changes were to be made;

b)    It covered the end of the previous administrations corporate plan and the beginning of the new plan;

c)    The report showed which scrutiny panel was responsible for each of the indicators and which Cabinet Member was leading on each indicator;

d)    The Cabinet wanted to be as transparent as possible in order to help with management and scrutiny, as well as work with partners, as the KPI’s indicated a direction not just for the council but for the city;

e)    The report included an additional 10 indicators compared to the previous report, and more could be added moving forward;

f)     26 of the indicators were in the previous corporate plan’s performance reports, so the report had some continuity and some development;

g)    Review work for the report would ensure that the data not only showed month-on-month changes, but also the parameters that the council worked within as ‘normal’ good practice in order to focus on the things that were abnormal on a long-term basis;

h)    Notable findings included the fact that there had been an increase of 50% in anti-social behaviour interventions, a marginal decrease in the number of children with repeat child protection plans and considerable work had been done to reduce levels of homelessness;

i)     Homelessness was the biggest priority for him as Cabinet Member for that area, and work had begun to bring numbers of those in B&B’s down, so they were in Airbnb’s, so it was somewhere more suitable for them to be staying and solutions to common issues like not being able to stay with family due to storage issues, being solved with purchases of sheds, or bunk beds, whilst trying to support all to find a more permanent solution with their own home and he welcomed the opportunity of bringing an item on tackling homelessness to a future Committee meeting;

j)     He was interested in benchmarking against other local authorities in the report in the future.


In response to questions it was further explained:


k)    If Members of the Committee had more technical questions on a specific KPI and was able to let the Chair know before the meeting, Councillor Penberthy would do his best to have a response at the meeting;

l)     Members of the Committee were welcome to suggest further KPI’s if they felt they were useful;

m)  The administration would continually review whether new technologies were purchased to complete work to free up staff time and resource;

n)    Carriageway defects would continue to be reported on with the data to be reviewed in relation to the use of velocity in repairs;

o)    Councillor Penberthy wanted to look in more detail at the KPI on the number of households prevented from becoming homeless or relieved of homelessness, in order to understand if less people were coming to the council for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Petition - Plympton District Car Parks pdf icon PDF 151 KB

Additional documents:


Councillor Patrick Nicholson and Councillor Mrs Terri Beer presented the petition to the Committee and highlighted the following:


a)    The petition had been formally submitted to council in March 2023 following a decision made by Councillor Mark Shayer (Cabinet Member for Finance and Economy at that time) to review and modernise car parking;

b)    Consultation began in August 2022 and representations were made, including by Councillor Nicholson, but there was never a response or any engagement from the council following the consultation;

c)    Asked there be a recommendation to ask the council to publish the risk assessment that was conducted at the time, prior to implementation of the revised arrangements, because he did not believe it had been carried out, particularly in relation to the impact on the facilities around the car park, as well as impact on local schools and local residential areas;

d)    Asked that whilst such a risk assessment was carried out the current cabinet member, Councillor Mark Coker (Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport), suspend the current arrangements until such a time that there had been proper and adequate scrutiny of the risk assessments at a meeting of the Committee in 2024;

e)    The car park served one of the best and most successful shopping centres in Plymouth, Plympton Ridgeway, and it was vital to its continued success;

f)     Suggested that since the implementation of the decision, there had been an impact on the number of people accessing the Ridgeway shopping centre, as well as an impact on how people were accessing it;

g)    This decision had been done to the community by the, conservative at the time, administration, rather than being done in communication with;

h)    Nurses working at the nearby clinic were having to park in the main car park because the spaces at the clinic were being taken up by members of the public who did not want to have to park in the main car park and put their registration into the machine;

i)     The machines were often faulty, and complaints were being made by residents to Councillors Nicholson and Mrs Beer that they were being fined by the machines, but they had no way of proving that they could not enter their registration;

j)     When Councillor Mrs Beer had spoken to local business owners, the response on the new car park machines had been mixed;

k)    One of the worst issues was people who could not return to the car park same-day were then parking outside schools, in other car parks, such as a the local clinic, or parking on double yellows on the Ridgeway itself.


The Chair explained at the beginning of the item that the petitioner would get 5 minutes to speak, and then Councillor Coker would receive 5 minutes to speak. In his discretion as Chair, he allowed Councillor Mrs Beer to speak, and asked for a brief summary of what she had prepared.  


Councillor Mark Coker (Cabinet Member for Strategic Planning and Transport) then spoke on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Risk 25 - The Council having insufficient statutory senior leadership capacity and resilience to deliver the required to meet statutory obligations


Tracey Lee (Chief Executive) began by highlighting the following points:


a)    She had added the risk to the risk register because of the number of posts that were vacant of permanent post-holders in the top 3 tiers of management, and this was a risk to the council in terms of having the capacity to deliver its programme of work and work well with partners across the city;

b)    The reasons why people had left the positions had been looked at and there was no pattern, but rather a wide range of different reasons;

c)    She agreed that the levels of interim cover within the organisation was too high, but needed to be in order for the Council in order for the statutory posts to be covered;

d)    The interim recruitment market was very aggressive and the pay levels were high, but the roles had to be covered whilst a permanent candidate was found;

e)    When roles need to be covered the Chief Officer Appointments Panel had not only looked at interim candidates but also at ‘acting up’ arrangements for existing staff;

f)     There were six senior posts out to advert at that time, but the market was extremely tight and the team were using recruitment agencies to try and fill the posts, and it was the second time that the roles of Service Director for Education and the Director of Resources roles had been advertised;

g)    Pamela Moffat (Interim Service Director for HROD) was looking at a more appropriate approach for succession planning, which the council had been good at in the past, but it needed to be far more intentional within a balance of growing talent and looking for fresh ideas from new people;

h)    Part of the new approach to recruitment had been recording of videos with members of staff on why they enjoyed working for Plymouth City Council.


Councillor Sue Dann (Cabinet Member for Customer Services, Sport and HR & OD) added:


i)     The team were working with Destination Plymouth to look at the wider picture across the city, as Plymouth City Council was not the only large organisation that was experiencing recruitment issues.

In response to questions, it was further explained:


j)     There was not a direct comparison between the figures on how much interim post holders were paid compared to if the roles were filled permanently,  as interim post holders were not paid when they didn’t work and were not part of the pension scheme;

k)    Interim post holders were working well within the organisation, and their work was valued, but it was important to fill the posts permanently as soon as possible;

l)     Tracey Lee would provide the Committee with information on the amount interim posts were costing in comparison to if the posts had been filled for the month of either August of September following the meeting, as she did not have the data to hand, but this information would not include acting up arrangements as they were being paid the difference between  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Policy Brief pdf icon PDF 222 KB


The Committee agreed to note the briefing report.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 199 KB


Ross Jago (Head of Performance, Governance and Risk) explained:


a)    A proposal for budget scrutiny had been circulated to members at the beginning of the meeting for their approval, it outlined the approach to the meeting, due to be held across two days in early December 2023;

b)    He explained some small changes that had been made from previous years based on feedback from both the Centre for Public Scrutiny feedback and LGA Peer Review feedback.


In response to a question, it was explained:


c)    The contents had been based on the strategic risk register, but some flexibility had been built in to allow for additional sessions;

Councillor Darcy proposed the Committee agree the approach to budget scrutiny, which was seconded by Councillor Tofan.


The Committee agreed unanimously to the approach for budget scrutiny.


The Committee agreed to add homelessness to the agenda for November 2023, and development of staff to the agenda February 2024.


The Committee agreed to add IT provision to the work programme as an item for a Select Committee.




Tracking Decisions pdf icon PDF 184 KB


The Committee agreed to note the tracking decisions document.