Agenda and minutes

Special Meeting, Overview Select Committee - Tuesday, 16 March 2021 4:00 pm

Contact: Kalvaran Sandhu, tel: 0116 454 6344, email:  Angie Smith, tel: 0116 454 6354, email:


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Apologies were received from Councillors Halford and Joel. Councillor Gee was present as the appointed substitute for Councillor Halford.


The Committee noted that Councillor Thalukdar was present as a substitute Member.



Members are asked to declare any interests they may have in the business to be discussed.

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There were no declarations of interest.



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The Chair conveyed the continued support and thanks of the Overview Select Committee to all the workers who were supporting the Covid-19 relief effort, to those working in the front line, and also to all residents in the lockdown. The Chair added that thoughts also remained with those that had fallen ill and to those who had lost loved ones during the difficult time.


The Chair also raised the issue of women’s safety following the death of Sarah Everard and offered condolences to Sarah’s family and friends. The Chair noted the many issues highlighted following Sarah’s death and how women did not feel safe walking through streets of their neighbourhoods or anywhere, which was clearly unacceptable. The Chair acknowledged the whilst there was a pandemic, there was a right to peaceful protest, and that there needed to be a better way of policing planned vigils rather than some of the scenes witnessed on screens over the weekend. The Chair asked that a report on the Council’s local position and how it was reacting to ensure women’s safety go to either the Neighbourhood Services Scrutiny Commission or brought to Overview Select Committee.


Councillor Rita Patel, Assistant City Mayor for Communities, Equalities and Special Projects, offered condolences to Sarah Everard’s family and friends and said the tragic event highlighted an ongoing issue. She added the objectification of women and girls needed to be tackled, with a report of two women every week murdered in their homes.


Councillor Patel said she and the City Council sent out the message that the incessant humiliation of women would not be tolerated. It was noted that recommendations in the report Women Talking, City Listening previously brought to Committee on 3rd December 2020 were being worked upon and would be included in the Equality Action Plan to be reported to the Committee in due course.



The minutes of the meeting of the Overview Select Committee held on 4th February 2021 are attached and Members are asked to confirm them as a correct record.

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Minute Item 137 – Apologies for Absence

Councillor Dawood asked that his apologies as sent prior to the meeting on 4th February 2021 be recorded.



That the minutes of the Overview Select Committee held on 4th February 2021 be confirmed as a correct record subject to the amendment above.




To note progress on actions agreed at the previous meeting and not reported elsewhere on the agenda (if any).

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The Committee noted reponses to questions were provided by the Chief Accountant to Members of the Overview Select Committee following the meeting as follows:


Minute Item 147 – Draft Housing Revenue Account Budget (Including Capital Programme) 2021/22


Councillors asked how many housing tenants are currently in arrears.

At the end of December there was 5,470 tenants in arrears, with total rent arrears of £1.7m.  This figure only includes housing tenants and does not include debt relating to hostels or non-dwellings. 


Councillors asked about Border House and whether it was made clear in February 2020 that Border House may close, an extract from the February 2020 minutes is provided below. 

“Councillor Porter noted that Border House was owned by the Council, but the staff, who were employed by the Council, had been told that it would close, as it was not fit for purpose and funding was not available to improve it. However, asylum seekers were being housed there, which was a concern if the building was not fit for purpose.


At the invitation of the Chair of the Committee and the City Mayor, the Director of Housing addressed the points made, explaining that Border House remained a hostel for families, as there had been no change in its use. There were no asylum seekers there. There had been a proposal that Border House would close eventually, as the Council moved to a “Homes for the Homeless” approach, as this would remove the need for a hostel. The policy also would mean that there was more likelihood that homeless people could stay in their preferred area.”


Minute Item 151 – Investment Strategy 2021/22


Councillors asked what the estimated opening date and when the lease payments would start for the Travelodge. 

The lease payments will start from May 2021.

The website for the hotel is showing as taking bookings from 3rd March 2021.



The Monitoring Officer to report on the receipt of any questions, representations and statements of case submitted in accordance with the Council’s procedures.

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The Monitoring Officer reported that no questions, representations or statements of case had been received.



The Monitoring Officer to report on any petitions received.

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The Monitoring Officer reported that no petitions had been received.



The Monitoring Officer submits a report that updates Members on the monitoring of outstanding petitions. The Committee is asked to note the current outstanding petitions and agree to remove those petitions marked ‘Petitions Process Complete’ from the report.

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The Monitoring Officer submitted a report updating members on the monitoring of outstanding petitions.



That the petition marked ‘petition complete’, namely 20/12/01 be removed from the Monitoring Report.



A verbal update will be given at the meeting on the current position regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. The Committee is recommended to receive the update and comment as required.

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Julie OBoyle (Consultant in Public Health) and Alison Greenhill (Chief Operating Officer (COO)) provided an update on the Covid-19 data in Leicester.


The Consultant in Public Health reported:


·         Positive progress was being made in the fight against the virus, but the rate in the city remained double the national average, at currently 135.5 per 100k people.

·         A fall had been seen in the rate in the over 60s at 94.9 per 100k people.

·         Patient numbers in hospital were falling, as was the number of people dying within 28 days of a Covid-19 diagnosis.

·         Vaccination rates were increasing across the city, with 28% of the total population having had their first dose.

·         The rates of vaccinations were positive in the older population and care homes.

·         As well as symptomatic testing across the city, six testing centres were delivering the lateral flow test with good uptake.

·         Schools had reopened. Secondary school pupils were required to take three lateral flow tests in schools supervised and then test kits at home twice a week for pupils and people in their bubble.

·         The R-rate was at its lowest since the end September 2020, a much-improved picture.


The COO reported:


·         With the contact tracing programme, there had been 97.5% successful contact. People were being contacted early and the right advice being given to people to protect themselves and their families.

·         DHSC were calling it the ‘Leicester model’ and it was being used as an exemplar model.

·         Business grants were complex, difficult and time consuming. The authority was running various business grant schemes. The Council’s website provided information on the additional restrictions grant which had some flexibility as to who it could be given to.

·         There were a range of targeted schemes looking at small and micro non-essential businesses, such as those in the city affected by footfall, for example, dry cleaners, market traders, garages, charity offices, places of worship, driving instructors.

·         Officers were keeping business’ eligibility under review and would look at any convincing argument as to why people should have the grant.


In response to questions from Members, the following points were made:


·         There had been an issue about vaccination take-up a few weeks previous in St Peters and St Matthews. There had been an increase in figures of take-up based on registered GP population.

ACTION: Figures for people eligible in the city to be provided to Members.

·         In terms of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, there had been widespread reports on an increased risk of blood clots. It was reported that over 11 million doses had been given in the UK and with no blood clot cases reported. It was noted that blood clots became more common as people got older, overweight, smoked and were associated with a sedentary lifestyle. There was no evidence currently the vaccine caused blood clots but might be a compounding factor between people being vaccinated and risk factors. Information had been sent out to cancel the myths in circulation and included information form GPs encouraging people to take up the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 165.



A verbal update will be given at the meeting on Manifesto Commitments.

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The City Mayor introduced a presentation. He informed the meeting that despite the difficulties faced over the last year, the Executive were determined to deliver the manifesto commitments first brought forward two years previously, and it was hoped to be delivered successfully over the following two years. The Executive Team were also present to talk about the particular pledges they were taking forward.


Councillor Danny Myers, Assistant City Mayor, with responsibility for Jobs, Skills, Policy Delivery and Communications proceeded to deliver the presentation, and updated on the 96 pledges contained within the document, which covered economic development, transport, sustainability, housing, health and social care, equalities, lifelong learning, culture, tourism and community safety.


Progress to date was outlined with key points highlighted below:


·         The meeting was informed there were seven pledges that were foregrounded, the headline of which was to continue to protect services which had been achieved, and those services had been valued more than ever over the past year, such as parks which had been vital to people’s mental health during the pandemic.

·         Significant progress had been made to build over 1,500 homes built for social and council housing, and significant progress had been made on tackling homelessness.

·         Also noted was the improved green transport infrastructure that had been put in place during the past year.

·         Council tax support had been maintained, and a huge range of financial support for people across the city over the past year provided

·         It was further noted that though schools had been shut, work to generate more school spaces had continued and was on course to meet targets previously set.

·         Covid-19 had amplified pre-existing inequalities which the council was determined to tackle.

·         34 of the 96 commitments have been impacted or delayed because of Covid-19 or the lockdown. Members were confident that 88 of the commitments would be delivered over the next two years. Seven had specific issues before Members could commit to deliver, and one would not be delivered. In relation to the consideration of a local lottery, the Neighbourhood Services Scrutiny Commission recently recommended the Council did not pursue a local lottery, which had been agreed by the City Mayor and Executive.


Each of the Executive Members proceeded to introduce the relevant commitments to their portfolio throughout the presentation.


Following the presentation, the City Mayor thanked the Executive Members and said there were still lots of challenges, but he hoped everyone could recognise that the team were absolutely determined to deliver pledges.


The Chair said there had been presented a thorough review on what the Council had promised and was half-way through and was the sign of a progressive council to be able to continue to deliver on the commitments throughout the Covid-19 crisis. He suggested the commitments be reviewed in 2022, and that individual sections of the manifesto be taken to the relevant Scrutiny Commissions so they could discuss in depth progress on the manifesto commitments and give feedback and advice to the Executive.


The City Mayor and Executive agreed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 166.



The Director of finance submits a report on performance against the revenue budget for the year. The Overview Select Committee is recommended to consider the overall position presented within the report and make any observations it sees fit.

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The Director of Finance submitted a report on performance against the revenue budget for the year. The Overview Select Committee was recommended to consider the overall position presented within the report and make and observations as it saw fit to the Director of Finance.


Alison Greenhill, Chief Operating Officer (COO) informed those present that the report was not dissimilar to the report at Period 6. The report included estimated additional cost arising from the pandemic. Section 1 of the report presented the overall position of a forecast overspend of £37million through a combination of reasons, such as, additional spending on testing and tracing programme, loss of income for services being closed, the cost of overtime because it was difficult to recruit to posts under current conditions.


The COO reported that budgets had not been adjusted mid-year as it was thought to be appropriate to show the true additional costs and loss of income. It was acknowledged that significant government funding had been received, but there was still an impact on services and costs. The authority had received £33million of additional grant funding and the authority would continue to put claims in for loss of income. It was noted there was continued uncertainty as government grant funding was one-off, and uncertainty over the longer-term economic recovery which would significantly impact on future budgets.


In response to questions from Members, the following points were made:


·         The authority’s debt tended to be fixed rate at the point the debt was taken out. Interests rates were low, and as a cash-rich authority, the large cash balances were not earning as much money as they would have done three to four years ago, but the mantra was that the safety of the money was most important. The situation was looked at on a daily and weekly basis to try to mitigate the amount of financing costs with the amount of interest the authority earnt. It was noted that at a previous meeting of the Committee there had been a specific recommendation to include in future revenue budget monitoring reports the impact of treasury decisions on daily revenue budget.

·         It was noted in the report at Appendix B, Para 11.4 that there was an increase in the number of voids with staff having had to work differently during the pandemic to bring houses back into use. Members would be informed in writing of the financial impact of shortfall of rental income and council tax.

·         It was asked if issues being faced now would affect how the authority managed three to four years in the future. It was reported the authority was in a good position and previous actions taken over a number of years to make sure it had good levels of reserves meant the authority had been able to be resilient during the pandemic.


The Chair added that it was been the careful management of finances over the years had helped the authority survive the current situation and would be the right foundation for moving  ...  view the full minutes text for item 167.



The Director of Finance submits a report showing the position of the capital programme for 2020/21 as at the end of period 9. The Overview Select Committee is recommended to consider the overall position presented within the report and make any observations it sees fit.

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The Director of Finance submitted a report which showed the position of the capital programme for 2020/21 as at the end of period 9. The Overview Select Committee was recommended to consider the overall position presented within the report and make any observations it saw fit.


Amy Oliver, Chief Accountant, provided an update on the progress of capital projects and programmes. She reported there had been a significant slippage of the delivery of programmes due to Covid-19, which had been taken into account when considering the budget for 2021/22 previously reported to the Committee.


Members were asked if they had any questions on the report, and the following information was provided:


·         £3million was spent on the Haymarket on DDA works on the lift to improve disabled access to people going into the theatre, some additional work to the lift area to improve DDA access into the main car park and some minor work to the ticket office.

·         There had been some contractual issues with the Extra Care capital build which officers were addressing. The Council had been contractually committed to the schemes but the Government had then changed housing benefit rules, so issues were being unpicked arising from the schemes. Talks were progressing positively and were hoped to be rectified, following which the position would be firmed up. Ward Councillors were asked to be kept informed of Extra Care schemes.

·         The last planning application for St Georges Church Yard had had an interesting suggestion to meander the path to improve sight lines. It was note that Cultural Quarter capital funding once associated with St Georges Church Yard was being looked at. Ward Councillors would be sent the design once known.

·         Members were interested to see the filling in of the underpass in Beaumont Leys, particularly in reference to tragedy of Sarah Everard. It was asked of there were any plans to fill in the St Margaret’s underpass. The City Mayor agreed and was mindful of the fact the underpass was  unpleasant and in most need of being filled in with a better crossing to take its place. it was hoped the scheme could be brought forward in the near future and was on the priority list of works.


The Chair thanked officers for the report.




1.    The report be noted.

2.    Ward Councillors be kept informed of Extra Care Schemes.

3.    Ward Councillors be provided with the design of St Georges Church Yard once known.





The City Mayor will answer questions raised by members of the Overview Select Committee on issues not covered elsewhere on the agenda.

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a)    Councillor Porter asked the City Mayor who would be his choice to replace him as Labour Party candidate at the next election.


The City Mayor responded it was his hope to be reselected and serve another term, but it would be the choice of the Labour Party and electorate. He added there were many months before a decision would being taken and he had many things to do as the city moved out of pandemic and to deliver the manifesto commitments.


b)    Councillor Thalukdar had a request to the City Mayor as Bangladesh celebrated its 50 years independence on 26th March 2021. Because of the pandemic in the city and around the world, people were not celebrating outdoors. He said it had been an achievement for the Bangladeshi people in 1971 when a lot of people had sacrificed their lives. Councillor Thalukdar asked if the City Mayor could send a message to the Bangladeshi people in the city of Leicester of the eve of 26th March 2021.


The City Mayor said he would be delighted to do send a message to the Bangladeshi community that had brought and given so much to the city, and that there would be some degree of celebration but some memories of pain.





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There being no items of urgent business, the meeting closed at 7:39pm.