Agenda and draft minutes
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The minutes were approved as a correct record.
Declarations of Any Interests
Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any pecuniary interest in respect of matters contained in this agenda.
If you have a pecuniary interest you must withdraw from the meeting. Normally you should leave the room before the business starts to be discussed. You do, however, have the same right to speak as a member of the public and may remain in the room to enable you to exercise that right and then leave immediately. In either case you must not seek to improperly influence a decision on the matter.
No declarations were made.
To receive and consider the report of the Deputy Chief Executive.
Councillor Beverley Murray Executive Member - Early Intervention, and Jennifer Mullin Director of Communities attended virtually to present the report.
There was an underspend for the quarter, primarily due to the vacancies within the Directorate which included; Housing Solutions Team, Communities Service, and Environmental Health.
The leisure centre performed well, with increased visit numbers from the last quarter. As with other areas within the Council, there had been issues with recruitment. Focus had been placed on providing good customer service and it was believed that there was a positive atmosphere and culture for both employees and customers.
The leisure centre had its own budget as it was a separate company. Matters that related to finance were improving, but Covid-19 had an impact. It was expected that by the end of March, without any additional or continuation of restrictions, opening times would be as they were before the Covid-19 pandemic.
There was no inclination to sell the leisure centre, but the option would not be ruled out. Investment had been made to upgrade and modernise facilities. It was recommended that a Member Learning Session was held for Members towards the end of March 2022.
It was confirmed following a question from Members that the leisure centre still allowed staff to use time credits in exchange for gym and swim sessions.
Disabled Facilities Grants completion was worse than the previous quarter. At present, delivery was under the base line of 10 weeks at 6.8 weeks.
In reference to the 262 people waiting for an assessment by the Occupational Therapist, the Council considered employing its own to decrease waiting times. The timeframe required to complete the 262 Assessments was uncertain due to the variety of possible needs. Those that required minor adjustments such as handrails, or stairlifts took less time than substantial requirements such as building extensions, wet rooms, or door adjustments.
Members acknowledged the issues in place but did not want a reoccurrence of those on the waiting list to die before their modifications were installed. It was added that the Occupational Therapists were being used to assess hospital discharges due to bed blocking however, Members raised that were aware of residents who had been discharged home without an assessment, which had significant impact on their quality of life.
New and existing community groups continued to be supported. Activities included but not limited to; providing food and provisions across the borough and confidence building for those impacted by Covid-19. Support for young people (defined as people aged 25 and younger) with coaching, mentoring, mental health, employment, and education support. There was uncertainty as to when community support activity would return to pre pandemic levels, it was noted that the number of residents that benefitted from opportunities created by the Communities Team was better than expected, but was far below target.
From Housing Solutions, there had been a decline in the performance indicators. The new Housing Manager was currently reviewing processes and procedures, work delivered and in progress. It was expected that following ... view the full minutes text for item 21.OSP.19
This item has been withdrawn from the agenda.
The item was withdrawn from the agenda
Adele Hayes, Service Lead – Planning, attended the Performance Panel to provide clarity to the planning system and how performance was recorded.
She highlighted that the Government set the target to determine planning applications which were either 8 weeks or 13 weeks.
Within the Planning Department at Chorley Council, a culture of good performance had been cultivated. There was good communication with applicants and agents. The process of Planning and Development was predicated on the presumption of sustainable development and the starting point was approval. Frequently extra time was needed to secure added value, this could include alterations to the designs or waiting for the response of technical consultants.
Reasons varied as to why some applications took longer, time extensions allowed positive and proactive decision to take place. Time extensions were never used to prolong the process.
The applicant is the customer, and within the process there were others that fed into the process with technical matters. Third parties such as residents were only notified to make comments.
Response times from external consultants varied, there was a good working relationship with the County Council. The Council had seen the volume of applications increase substantially over the previous 18 months.
Non-determined items were not counted in the figures of determined figures. Over the 18 months of the pandemic, three appeals were made against non-determination. Two of which were in safeguarded sites with applicants not agreeing to an extension of time. The third appeal was against non-determination of a certificate of lawfulness.
There were two systems parallel that provided figures, Performance Management and Outside the Scope. Figures were not always 100% but was the goal.
Applications were categorised as either minor or major. Major applications were not always controversial, the erection of a garden shed would be considered a major application.
Extensions were provided for a variety of reasons included, but not limited to the application going to Committee, while awaiting technical responses, amendments sought, and if the applicant wished to change part of the application.
The time limit does not start until the application had been submitted and accepted. It was not uncommon for miscommunication between agent and applicant regarding the timing of the submission of applications. Inadequate applications would need to be resubmitted to be accepted, and although this may take a significant amount of time, the clock wouldn’t start until the application was accepted.
It was not the place for Planning Departments to liaise with residents as the applicant was the customer. Advice could be provided on the application while it was pending. For any enquiries relating to any application, contact the assigned case officer directly. Any issue or delay in communication could be raised to Adele.
Adele stated that she was happy to meet with residents to talk about any sites that they held concerns with. It was understood that the process was long, stressful and anxiety inducing but due process was required. The five-year housing supply needed to be resolved, and the overarching principal of development proposals ... view the full minutes text for item 21.OSP.21