Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Yardley District Committee - 26 July 2012

A largely administrative agenda for this inaugural meeting of the new Yardley district committee, which is still controlled by the Liberal Democrats, but now has four Labour councillors. The range of powers devolved thus far to the district is interesting to the geeks amongst us - I questioned whether we had the new powers to define Dog Control Areas under the Clean Neighbourhood and Environment Act 2006, which repealed the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996, although the existing areas continue until replaced by a new control area. Anybody who knows what s78 of the Public Health Act 1936 says about scavenging in alleyways - without looking it up - deserves a prize. It actually refers to the authority being able to clean up any courtyard or alley that is owned by two or more people and charge them for the privilege, so might actually prove more useful than you think.

There was some cross-party agreement on the need to get localised performance information on housing - Cllr Willis (LD, S Yardley) and I both serve on the Contract Performance Committee and we had the pleasure of the housing contractors attending our last meeting and it is fair to say that the performance indicators need some work as assessments of how well our contractors are performing across the city for our tenants. Cllr Anderson (LD, Sheldon), newly elected as ward chair, agreed to continue as corporate parent champion for the district - a part of the role of councillors is as a 'corporate parent' to all looked after children.

Almost finally, we moved on to the outturn of the 2011/12 financial year, which sees the district ending with an overspend of £741,000 on a controllable budget (outside the fixed service level agreement costs for things like waste collection) of around £4.1 million. This was supposed to be reduced by the inclusion of Community Chest "underspends" from 2011/12 of about £166,000, but that figure did not take into account any commitments made in 11/12 that had not been paid within that financial year. Acocks Green was supposed to have an underspend of £32,000 for last year, but I know that the real figure is closer to about £10,000 - due to some projects not proceeding and some other underspending within projects not requiring the full grant - and I would expect similar figures for the other wards. The Labour group objected to this use of funds, especially as this would reduce any money left in this year's spending and this part of the report was rejected by the committee.

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