Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 25th March, 2021 2.00 pm

Venue: Online Meeting - via Microsoft Teams

Note: Moved from 29/04/21 due to local elections 


No. Item


Welcome and Apologies

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The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting, including new members Cllr Rob Elliott from Rotherham MBC, Cllr Bryan Lodge from Sheffield CC and Cllr Sioned-Mair Richards also from Sheffield CC who was unable to attend today’s meeting.


The Chair confirmed that the meeting was quorate.


Apologies were noted as above.


Urgent Items/Announcements

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The Chair announced that the Bus Back Better; National Bus Strategy for England had been published on Friday 12 March.  Members had received a copy via email.  This would impact on the discussion at item 12 on the agenda, the Integration of MCA and SYPTE.


At the MCA meeting on Monday 22 March Mayor Dan Jarvis announced that by the end of the month £30m of additional Covid funding would have “reached the bank accounts” of businesses across the region. 


A major item on the MCA agenda had been the South Yorkshire Investment Strategy.  The proposals addressed key economic challenges faced as a result of the pandemic and to further the ambitions of the Recovery Action Plan.


One element of the of the Investment Strategy is related to utilising £32.2m of the devolution fund which was proposed to be divided up into:


  • £21.35m key infrastructure
  • £5.5m flood defences
  • £3.2m additional investment in the bus network
  • £2.4 additional investment in active travel


In support of young people, the 80p concession bus fare for 11-18 year olds was to be extended to include all those under 21 for a period of one year.


Also proposed was the establishment of an investment pot of up to £500m of additional devolved funding to invest in the long-term continual renewal of the South Yorkshire economy from 2022.


All the above proposals were agreed by the MCA Board.


The Chair commented that this was significant financial spending over the next few years and proposed that at the first meeting of the Committee in the new municipal year should have the subject as a major item on the agenda and ask officers for a presentation on the South Yorkshire Investment Strategy.


Members agreed with the proposal.


ACTION:  South Yorkshire Investment Fund to be placed on July 2021 OSC agenda. 


Also on the MCA agenda was the Budget and Business Plan 2021/22, the Capital Framework, the Assurance Framework and the Evaluation Framework, all of which were approved.


Items to be Considered in the Absence of Public and Press

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Declarations of Interest by any Members

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Reports from and Questions by Members

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Questions from Members of the Public

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Minutes of the Previous Meeting Held on 28 January 2021 pdf icon PDF 362 KB

Presented By: Chair

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RESOLVED- That the minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2021 be agreed as a true record.


Response to Recommendations in relation to SCR Website pdf icon PDF 335 KB

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Following the Committee’s recommendations on improvements to the MCA website, a letter had been received from Daniel Wright, the MCA Executive’s Head of Communications and Marketing, confirming the changes made to enable users to find relevant information about submitting questions easier.


It was noted that work was ongoing to move to a new Content Management System which would improve the search function and accessibility of the website.  Later in the year the website would undergo a full redesign and be redeveloped with user needs in mind.


A recommendation was given to Daniel Wright that when the website was redesigned a Focus Group, including members of the public, should be established to test the usability of the website before it went live.  This was agreed.


Action:  C Marriott to add the above to the action log and continue to monitor.


Matters Arising

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The Chair raised an issue for Cllr Ennis.  At the last meeting, Mayor Jarvis had agreed to look into the arrangements for elite skaters in the region.  Cllr Ennis had not yet received a reply.


Action:  C Marriott to chase Mayor Jarvis for a response.


OSC Action and Recommendation Register Update pdf icon PDF 503 KB

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The Committee received updates on actions from previous meetings.


Action 11 – All OSC members had receive a copy of the Strategic Economic Plan.


Action:  C Marriott to update the action log as ‘Action Complete’.


Action 12 – Workshop on the Assurance Framework.


Update:  The Chair had agreed that the workshop on the Assurance Framework would be deferred until June 2021 when the Assurance Framework had been signed off.


Action13 – Parking in bus lanes.


Update due in January 2022.


Action 14 – Monitoring the role of the Traffic Commissioner.


Update:  Councillor Jones would continue to monitor.


Action 15 – Evaluating Outcomes and Value for Money from Active Travel Projects.


Update:  It was noted that the report would be available late March.


Action 16 – Recommendation by OSC to include a Climate Change Impact Assessment on MCA reports.


Update:  A revised draft Board template was under development with an expected implementation of June 2021.


Action 17 – Continue to monitor public engagement on climate change issues.


Update:  Scrutiny Officer proposed that a methodology for monitoring public engagement was agreed by the OSC at the start of the 2021/22 municipal year and would form part of the OSC work programme for the forthcoming year.


Action 18 – OSC to receive quarterly performance reports regarding progress/evaluation of Mayor Jarvis’ priorities for 2021.


Update:  Further development required at the beginning of the 2021/22 municipal year to incorporate the receipt of quarterly reports into the OSC’s work programme.


Action 19 – Formal recommendation to “include information on how to submit a question to Thematic Boards on the MCA’s website”.


Update:  Response letter from Daniel Wright confirming recommendation complete.


Action:  C Marriott to update the action log as “Action Complete” and add a new action to monitor the use of a focus/user group when developing the new website.


Action 20 – Formal recommendation “the MCA website’s search function be amended to ensure that the search function be amended to ensure that relevant returns are received to the queries submitted”.


Update: Response letter received from Daniel Wright confirming recommendation complete.  The website would undergo a full redesign later in the year.


Action:  C Marriott to update the action log as “Action Complete”.


Review of latest Forward Plan of Key Decisions pdf icon PDF 724 KB

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The Forward Plan of Key Decision was emailed to Members on the day of publication and presented for information today, to give Members the opportunity to ask questions.


No questions were raised by Members.


Integration of MCA and SYPTE pdf icon PDF 404 KB

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The Committee received a report on the progress and next steps for the integration of the MCA and PTE.


Members were reminded that following the publication of the Clive Betts Bus Review Report, the MCA agreed a 7-point plan.  The plan included the decision to fully integrate the PTE with the MCA to ensure the governance of operational transport in South Yorkshire was politically led via the governance structures of the MCA.


The legislative route to undertake the integration was under discussion with MHCLG but would require a Statutory Process and an Order of Parliament to formally merge the two bodies.


Since the decision to integrate, a high-level plan had been developed, detailing workstreams and work packages to be progressed.  An update by workstream was provided in section 2 of the report.


In addition to this, an independent Strategic Partner (PwC) had been appointed.  This partner, with expertise in corporate and public integrations, would advise on the efficacy of the planning and implementation to ensure that the MCA implemented an assured process.


Cllr Lodge asked how much confidence there was that the integration would deal with previous deficiencies in attitudes and approach to complaints in which the Bus Review Report had highlighted.


R Adams replied that although the details of policies and processes had not yet been decided a significant change to governance would be through the Transport and Environment Board. This Board was co-chaired by Cllr Chris Read and Peter Kennan, a LEP Board member.  Membership also included a Cabinet Member from each authority.  This meant that the proposed new governance structure would be politically led.


Concerns were expressed regarding the potential culture of the new organisation.  The Chair commented on the handling of a petition which had been received by the Mayor at the MCA meeting in January 2021 - after the criticisms contained within the Bus Review Report.  He requested that the Committee be provided with the steps taken in response to the petition so they could form an understanding of how the process worked and be satisfied that the concerns of the public were being treated seriously and a change in culture was already beginning to take shape.


ACTION:   C Marriott to request information regarding the above petition from SYPTE which will then be circulated to the Committee.


D Smith commented that he would only be confident in a change in culture when it was ‘live’, and differences could be seen.  The whole principle of the integration was that, as a new organisation, best practices were adopted in terms of customer care.


Cllr Lofts asked for details of the newly appointed Strategic Partner, what their expertise was, how long the contract was for and the cost.


R Adams replied that the Strategic Partner was PwC who had been engaged following a procurement process.  They would provide technical expertise, if required, on matters such as VAT issues or merging bank accounts.  The team also included a local government expert.  Timescales were tight to complete the initial planning  ...  view the full minutes text for item 85.


Devolved Adult Education Budget Commissioning pdf icon PDF 406 KB

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A report was submitted to the Committee which provided an overview of the Adult Education Budget and the context in which the Authority was commissioning delivery of the devolved budget from August 2021. The report explained the budgets, the provider landscape, the nature of provision and how that related to learner needs.


H George informed the Committee that South Yorkshire would receive a 3% share of the national Adult Education Budget (AEB) which equated to approximately £39.3m.  The budget came with a number of statutory responsibilities which were included in an Annex to of the report.


In addition to the AEB there was £2.79m of Adult Skills Offer funding which was ring-fenced for adults aged 24+ studying towards an approved Level 3 qualification.


The Committee noted that the provider base is currently large and varied.  It includes nine South Yorkshire based grant funded providers.  In June 2020 the Education, Skills and Employability Board had decided that the grant funding arrangements should roll forward for these nine providers but not for other grant funded providers based outside South Yorkshire.  This was part of the approach to rationalise the landscape.  At the moment there are 347 providers which means there is a risk of additional work in terms of management and administration.  The aim was to reduce these costs and secure greater accountability and outcomes.


A procurement exercise was underway against Lots with an indicative value of £10.2m.  Details of each Lot were set out in Annex 1 to the report.


2021/22 will be a transition year, to ensure a smooth transition to devolved arrangements, making progress towards achievements, signalling priorities and building towards further achievements in future years that supported the MCA’s programme of priorities.


Cllr Lofts asked how much work had been done to define the skills that would be needed in a post-pandemic, post-Brexit world.


H George replied that the work done when developing the Recovery Action Plan had been used to identify broad areas where focus was needed   It was known that young people and the hospitality and retail sectors would be particularly affected.  The Education, Skills and Employability Board had also identified people losing jobs later in their careers as a concern.  A full mapping exercise had not been done as the present focus was on transition.


The Education, Skills and Employability Board were looking more deeply into the future labour market and other skills programmes and funding streams to assist people back into employment, noting that not all come under the remit of the AEB.


Cllr Ennis noted that the provider base was 75% direct provision and 25% sub-contracted and asked what the nature of the sub-contracting was.


It was explained that arrangements varied considerably. As the move was made into devolved funding, sub-contracting would not be ruled out but all providers who wanted to sub-contract would be asked who and what would be delivered and the rationale behind the sub-contracted provision.


The Chair commented that 347 providers was a very large number which made quality  ...  view the full minutes text for item 86.