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Contact: Bathsheba Mall Email: Bathsheba.Mall@lbhf.gov.uk
There were no apologies for absence.
Declarations of Interest
If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.
At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest or other significant interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter. The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken.
Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.
Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Standards Committee.
Councillor Trey Campbell-Simon declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 4, Annual Performance Report for Law Enforcement Team as an employee of the Barons Court Project.
(a) To approve as an accurate record and the Chair to sign the minutes of the meeting of the Social Inclusion and Community Safety PAC held on Tuesday, 22 November 2022; and
(b) To note the outstanding actions.
The minutes of the previous meeting held on 22 November 2023 were agreed as an accurate record.
Change of agenda order
Members agreed a variation to the published order of business to take Agenda Item 7, Medium Term Financial Strategy first.
This report sets out proposals for the 2023 Medium Term Financial Strategy for the Policy and Oversight Board to consider.
Cabinet Member Overview
Councillor Rowan Ree (Cabinet Member for Finance and Reform) introduced the Medium Term Financial Strategy 2023 (MTFS) presentation by thanking member colleagues for their collective input, and commended officers for all their hard work and commitment to preparing the council’s budget proposals. This was a remarkable piece of work as final figures from the Local Government Financial Settlement were released two days before the parliamentary Christmas recess. This was also the fifth consecutive year of having a single year financial settlement and many assumptions had informed the MTFS.
This was a balanced budget, in response to the difficult financial future predicted by the Bank of England, a 10.5% inflationary rate, and interest rates of 3.5%, all of which were expected to have a significant impact on council finances. Despite this, high quality services had continued with free home care, free breakfasts for primary school children, maintaining weekly refuse collection and the introduction of Law Enforcement Team (LET). These were significant achievements and continued to be part of a package of proposals designed to protect frontline services for residents. Approximately £1 million in ring fenced funding had been provided as part of the council’s cost of living response to support residents.
Head of Strategic Planning and Investment - Corporate Finance Overview
Andre Mark provided a corporate overview of the 2023/24 MTFS strategic operating environment. The annual local government settlement had made it difficult to develop budget proposals, particularly given the demographic changes and an older population. Key principles underpinning the budget and shaping priorities against planned borrowing were explained. Demand led services such as school transport and social care had added further pressure and the strategy would protect frontline services and create resilience. H&F had one of the lowest council tax payments of £832 for a Band D property, meaning that a 1% rise for example, represented an increase of £8.30 per household. Savings of 2.9m had been proposed, and to place this in context, £40 million in efficiencies had been identified in the past of five years through better management of hospital discharges, and children’s services commissioning. A new waste management contract had been implemented, and in addition £1 million was to be invested in homelessness services.
In terms of financial resilience, reserves were on par with the London average and in line with Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy recommendations. Earmarked reserves were ring fenced to protect business contingency planning and to fund a planned IT upgrade to ensure greater service resilience. Particular risk factors included demographic changes such as an aging population and the increased numbers of cases with complex needs. Additional pressures also included major regeneration projects such as the Civic Campus and free home care services, which could be impacted by the current financial climate.
About 53% of households paid full council tax, with the remainder benefiting from the council’s generous council tax relief scheme. The local government financial settlement expected local authorities in England to increase council tax by 3%, ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
This report presents annual performance data and achievements since the formation of the service in April 2021.
Neil Thurlow presented the report which set out performance data for the Law Enforcement Team (LET). The report also included an update on actions arising from previous updates presented to the committee.
Councillor Omid Miri welcomed the update and thanked officers for a response provided to his request about the number of female LET officers recruited, and that this had increased by 2. He also welcomed the ongoing commitment to recruit more women to the LET. Councillor Dinsmore also welcomed the progress to increase female representation within the LET and asked what measures were being implemented to support this. Mo Basith responded that there was engagement work undertaken within the H&F community, encouraging the interest of residents who are keen and interested in the work by highlighting vacancies. There was significant value in recruiting officers with local knowledge and awareness.
Councillor Miri sought further details about the frequency of priority patrols, the localities in which they were deployed and the eligibility criteria that determined whether a priority patrol was warranted. There was a concern that the frequency and intervention of patrols depended on officer availability. Mo Basith explained that the priority patrol list consisted of a list of 20 locations, identified out of approximately 900-1000 roads in the borough, and which would increase by up to a maximum of about 25, when necessary. A daily report as to the locations on the list was provided at the start of the day shift, and the relevant ward officer paid particular attention to that area. Close working with council and police colleagues, and residents ensured that the priority list was well informed by reported intelligence on issues such as anti-social behaviour, housing or environmental concerns. This was included as part of the handover to the night shift at 8pm. An area remained on the priority list until officers were satisfied that any problem was resolved. It was confirmed that officers would share the list with members, with the caveat that it was subject to change.
The relevance and justification of implementing weapon sweeps was raised by Councillor Andrew Dinsmore, in relation to employment statistics set out at page 21 of the agenda pack. 864 weapons were conducted, removing 10 weapons, indicating just over a 1% efficiency rate. He asked how this could be improved, although he recognised that the weapons removed represented one less life that could be lost. A second question sought clarification about for example, screwdrivers and how it was possible that these were classified as weapons and assumed that they would be used for any purpose other than domestic. Matthew Hooper responded that items included in the weapons list had been concealed, in places and locations where it was known that weapons were likely to be concealed. It was a reasonable assumption that they could be regarded as weapons due to the nature of the concealment. Referencing his answer to the same point raised at the July meeting, he acknowledged that the find rate was not huge, which ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
This report describes the application of Public Space Protection Orders and how they should focus on identified problem behaviours rather than targeting specific individuals, properties or objects.
Charis Champness provided a statutory overview of what Public Space Protection Orders (PSPOs) were and how they should focus on problem behaviours that must be evidenced as either persistent or detrimental to the community. There were four PSPOs in place across the borough and two PSPO consultations had recently taken place. The first concerned responsible dog ownership. The second concerned the use of bikes on the Thames towpath and had been extended following the concerns of residents that a restriction on the use of peddle bikes should not be included in the PSPO.
A member of the public explained that her daughter used a bike that included a carriage for her children, which added significantly to the weight of her e-bike. She asked officers and committee members to consider carefully the implications of any restrictions on the towpath as the impact on e-bike users was not uniform and unfair. In this case, her daughter would be unable to navigate pavements and roads due to the weight and width of the bike carriage, which was significantly easier as an e-bike, and safety issues in navigating parked cars.
Charis Champness explained that the purpose of the PSPO consultation was to ensure that all the views of residents were taken into account before any agreement on the parameters of the PSPO were reached. The results and analysis of the consultation would inform the PSPO. In addition, an Equalities Impact Assessment would also be undertaken to understand the impact of a potential PSPO on different user groups, particularly those with protected characteristics. If introducing the PSPO will create a negative impact, for example, increased car usage, this would be taken into consideration. Residents will be informed of the consultation outcomes and Charis Champness agreed to email the member of the public once the outcome of the consultation was known which would be widely communicated by the council to residents using a range of mediums including a resident newsletter. Neil Thurlow welcomed feedback from the member of the public about cyclists riding on pavements along Fulham Palace Road and also on the Peabody Estate. It was explained that the aim of the PSPO was to address anti-social behaviour so parameters of any restrictions would be appropriately considered.
That the report detailing an update on Public Space Protection Orders consultation activities was noted.
This briefing outlines how police and partners are using practical evidence and academic research to target the areas of the Borough most at risk of violent crime.
Chief Superintendent Craig Knight of the Metropolitan Police gave a presentation on the use of geospatial mapping to target violent crime reduction in the borough.
Councillor Omid Miri asked if the Shepherds Bush Green Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) had been effective and when it was set to expire. Chief Superintendent Knight said the PSPO was time limited, lasting 6 months and could be extended for a further 3 months. He said it had been effective, with crime and anti-social behaviour reducing. It had given the police additional powers, though if crime had reduced in that period, it would be hard to justify extending the order.
Councillor Miri asked if the hexagon activity zones were time limited and if they came with any additional police powers. Chief Superintendent Knight said the hexagon process looked at where the crime rate was highest across the three boroughs and was reviewed fortnightly. There were no additional powers, but the approach meant targeting of resources.
Councillor Miri asked if knife threats at and around Hammersmith station had led to a larger TfL police presence. Chief Superintendent Knight said knife related crime in the borough had reduced and the Met had been working closely with the British Transport Police (BTP) to improve safety at tube stations. He added that he was keen to work with any team that acted to reduce crime. High uniform visibility was an effective deterrent so alignment between the Met, BTP, and LET teams was critical.
Councillor Andrew Dinsmore said it would be useful if the police could provide additional LET training to target the key issues that the team faced. Chief Superintendent Knight said he was happy to offer advice and training to support the LET. Neil Thurlow added that the LET team had worked with the Met on carrying out weapons sweeps safely, improving radio training, violence against women and girls, modern slavery, ASBO powers, and problem solving.
Following a comment about the hexagon approach diverting resources away from other areas, Chief Superintendent Knight clarified that the hexagon process was a response to Home Office funding put in place to address consistently higher rates of crime in specific areas. It helped the police prioritise limited assets. Assets were applied based on the seriousness of the crime. The Mayor of London and Commissioner were looking to identify priorities over the next two to three years.
The Committee noted the report and presentation.
The committee to discuss future items for inclusion in the work programme.
The work programme was noted.
Date of Next Meeting
Tuesday, 21 March 2023
The date of the next meeting, 21 March 2023, was noted.