This is an update report setting out the Q2 performance outturn for the Corporate Plan and Service Delivery Plan performance indicators for the period 1 July 2021 to 30 September 2021.
In the absence of the Group Head of Policy, the Chair invited the Interim Chief Executive to present this report. He outlined that this was a standard report that was presented to the Committee identifying the key performance indicators that the Council gathered and how they had performed over the last quarter being 1 July to 30 September 2021.
A range of comments and questions were asked by the Committee which have been set out below:
· SDP 1 [Major Applications determined in 13 weeks] – the issue of Extension of Time agreements was an issue of concern raised previously at meetings as this SDP showed the Council overachieving this target when in fact it was underachieving due to a constant reliance on Extension of Time agreements (EOTA). Three paragraphs from the Hannaby Review of the Council’s Planning Service were read to the Committee to remind Members of what the review had identified. How was the Council going to address this matter? The Director of Place responded referring to the commentary in the report demonstrating what the position was without the use of (EOTAs) and with them. This showed that the Council was being as transparent as it could in terms of how this had an impact on its performance indicators. The Group Head of Planning was working through an exercise looking at why they had and were being used and had given further instructions to the team to ensure that (EOTAs) would only be used when necessary. The Director of Place explained the circumstances for their use which had been down to a significant increase in the overall workload in terms of a major increase in the number of planning applications submitted coupled with ongoing staffing issues. This matter had also been discussed by the Planning Committee at briefings held to discuss the recommendations contained in the Hannaby review.
· Concerns were still expressed as the indicators SDP1 and SDP3 still confirmed an overachievement of target which was not accurately being reported. The Director of Place confirmed that indicator was being reported exactly as the Government required. Further explanation was provided setting out examples for when it was necessary to use (EOTAs).
The Chair asked for further clarification as to when the Council would see a reduction in using (EOTAs). It was explained that this was down to a range of factors that had already been identified. The Chair stated that a date to achieve reducing the use of (EOTAs) needed to be set.
· SDP5 [Occupied Retail Units in Bognor Regis] – it was pleasing to see this performing so well at 95% and that Bognor Regis was comparing favourably with other Towns. The changing nature of the high street was acknowledged in that it was becoming ever increasingly important for social activities with a gradual move away from retail.
· CP10 [Total Rateable Business Value for the Arun District] looking at the Saltbox development – what else was there in the pipeline that could assist this figure? The Director of Place explained that this indicator more of a health check helps to provide a sense of what is the economy as a whole in the Arun area. There were other employment areas within the broader Bognor Regis area and the Council continued to work with landowners to bring this forward to allow for more Saltbox types of development in the future. It was confirmed that there were still some areas of land on this development to bring forward.
· CP11 [Household Waste sent for refuse, recycling and composting] referring to the green waste issues experienced earlier in the year, was a compensation scheme planned to compensate for the lack of service delivered? The Director of Services confirmed that this service was fully back on track and that the entire waste collection service was running well. The only risk to date was the risk of Covid-19, with Biffa having combated the driver shortages of earlier. Biffa had placed an invitation on the website for individuals to contact them to discuss concerns over the green waste issues experienced. There was no global compensation scheme on offer, however, Biffa was proposing some green initiatives that would be of benefit to the community as a form of compensation. The Chair confirmed that he had attended several meetings with Biffa and had strongly made his views known on the points raised. He was looking forward to seeing the initiatives that would shortly come forward.
· CP7 [Homelessness applications where homelessness is prevented], CP8 [Number of new council homes built or purchased per annum] and SDP 18 [Cost of emergency accommodation per annum] issues surrounding these indicators were raised in terms of vulnerable housing situations and the situation now that evictions by landlords were no longer banned out of lockdown. Following recent Government announcements around Covid-19, what forward planning was in place to deal with this situation and how could the Council improve the situation? The Director Place reminded the Committee at how effectively the Council had dealt with homelessness during the pandemic, reacting very quickly to Government stipulations. In terms of forward planning, the situation could worsen, and the Council would plans in place to mitigate this. The Council had a good supply chain of social houses purchased; it had a range of commercial deals in place to tackle the cost of emergency accommodation. The Council continued to work well with the homeless and the number of those sleeping on the streets was very low. Work would continue with the voluntary sector and funding was dedicated to this as this was a massive priority for the Council.
The Chair raised a concern over CP11 [Household Waste sent for refuse, recycling and composting] which was not achieving its target. He asked what interventions were in place to improve it. The Director of Place reported the successful outcome of the Food Waste Trial and confirmed that a report would be submitted to the next meeting of the Environment Committee on 20 January 2022 to update Members on the results of the trial.
As this was an update report there were no recommendations for the Committee to consider.