Agenda and minutes
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Apologies for absence
Apologies of absence were received from Cllr Leslie Hills and Cllr Emma Morley. Cllr Dakota Dibben and Cllr Sarah Gow substituted respectively.
The minutes of the meeting of the Overview Scrutiny Board held on 11 June 2020 were signed by the Chair.
To declare any interests which members may have on the items contained on this agenda. When declaring an interest members must state what their interest is.
Cllr Jordan Meade and Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox both declared an interest in item 5B – Youth Concordat 2020 as they were both previously Chairs of Gravesham Youth Council
Items called in from the Cabinet meeting of <DATE>
(Please bring the Cabinet agenda for <DATE> previously circulated to Members).
Further to minute 15 (Cabinet 29.06.2020) Cabinet made an executive decision (reference 14/C/2020) with regard to the Corporate Debt Strategy which was called in for scrutiny by this Committee.
The Committee was presented with a report which sought Cabinets agreement to endorse the principles of the Corporate Debt Strategy (attached in full at appendix two to the report) and asked Cabinet to note the Vulnerable Persons Policy and Vulnerable Persons Assistance Groups documents that accompanied the strategy (attached in full at appendices three and four).
Cabinet had resolved that:
· the principles of the Corporate Debt Strategy across the Council as set out in appendix two to the report be endorsed
· the supplementary information on Vulnerable Persons as set out in appendices 3 & 4 to the report that accompanies the Corporate Debt Strategy be noted
The Director (Corporate Services) introduced the report informing Members of the Corporate Debt Working Group and the development of the Corporate Debt Strategy. The Strategy was also submitted to the Performance & Administration Cabinet Committee where it was discussed in detail and amended before being submitted to Cabinet where it received executive approval.
The Chair thanked the Director (Corporate Services) for her introduction and asked her to further elaborate on the recovery process, how officers engaged with residents in debt and the methodology used by officers to determine if a resident was choosing not to pay or physically couldn’t make the payments due to extenuating circumstances.
The Director (Corporate Services) further explained the process behind debt recovery and she drew attention to the following:
· Before any formal action is taken, an informal route is followed once a resident has missed their first payment; an informal reminder will be sent to the resident informing them of the payment they missed. During the COVID-19 pandemic, due to the difficult situations many residents faced, it was intended to issue ‘soft reminders’ before the recovery process was started, encouraging those owing monies to the Council to actively make contact and enter into a dialogue regarding payment.
· Following the informal reminder if no further engagement was received from the resident or they were clearly demonstrating no intention to pay the money owed then they were formally followed up through the debt recovery process
· Where officers have information on certain resident’s situations, they will take that into account when dealing with any missed payments and work towards a solution that works best for the resident and the Council. A number of options are available to assist residents struggling with debt; the Council can issue a variety of payment methods to suit the resident’s situation such as a payment instalment plan or an arrangement to pay their most recent arrears off first. The Council regularly reviews its available payment methods.
· In addition to support with payments, officers will also review the resident’s situation and offer advice or signpost them to organisations such as Citizens Advice that offer specialised advice for different debts and how to prioritise debt repayments. Officers will also highlight to the ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
Call In - Youth Concordat 2020
Further to minute 19 (Cabinet 29.06.2020) Cabinet made an executive decision (reference 18/C/2020) with regard to the Youth Concordat 2020 which was called in for scrutiny by this Committee.
The Committee was presented with a report which sought Cabinets agreement to renew the Concordat pledge and contact the other representatives identified in the report to ensure they were also committed to the updated concordat.
Cabinet had resolved that:
· The Council committed to the renewal of the Youth Concordat pledge and that the other representatives identified in the report be approached to commit to the updated Concordat.
The Director (Communities) introduced the report and advised that the 20th anniversary of the Youth Concordat is this month but many of the planned celebrations had to be cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19. However, a Youth Recognition Award has been created for the event and a ‘Where are they now’ scheme which looks at previous Members of Gravesham Youth Council. Plans will be put in place, in agreement with the Cabinet Member for Community & Leisure, to mark its signing at an appropriate time to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Youth Council. When it is suitable, it is the aim of the Council that the planned programme of events will resume.
The Chair thanked the Director (Communities) for the introduction and stated that the reason for calling in the report were not negative; the Chair agreed with the work being undertaken and felt that the signing of the Youth Concordat 2020 was very important.
Member of the Committee asked their questions to Cllr Shane Mochrie-Cox and he explained the following:
· A number of informal conversations between the partnership organisations and the MP have already been initiated but the majority have remained informal due to the limitations caused by the pandemic and officer time being redirected to more urgent areas. The conversations that have already been had were positively received and the notion was clear that the voices of young people needed to be celebrated and supported as much as possible. When operations start to go back to normality, more formal arrangements will be followed up
· The new Chair of the Youth Council, George Duffort, has re-established the Youth Council and changed their image by using social media and enhancing the relationship between the young people of Gravesham and the Council. The Youth Council will be monitored closely by Cabinet to ensure the youth receive the utmost level of support; Gravesham Youth Council has already accomplished far more than other Youth Councils
· The Youth Council have a long standing invitation to attend all meetings of Community & Leisure Cabinet Committee and the new Chair of the Youth Council was recently reminded of that invitation. Back in February 2020, the participants in the Local Councillor Shadowing Award were invited to the Community & Leisure Cabinet Committee and gave their insightful views on the agenda items
· The organisations that were approached were part of the original signatories twenty years ago; that body has evolved over the ... view the full minutes text for item 12.