Agenda and draft minutes

LCR Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 12th April, 2022 2.00 pm

Venue: Authority Chamber - No.1 Mann Island, Liverpool, L3 1BP. View directions

Contact: Lisa Backstrom 

Media

Items
No. Item

38.

INQUORATE MEETING

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Steve Radford advised that the meeting was inquorate.  He advised that he was supportive of continuing with the meeting as an informal discussion and asked the Chief Legal and Monitoring Officer, Jill Coule to advise on how the meeting would proceed. 

 

            Jill Coule explained that any decisions or recommendations made by the meeting would be on an advisory basis only and would be re-considered at the next meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in the new Municipal Year.

 

            Councillor John Abbott expressed his disappointed regarding the level of attendance by members and felt that there should be some recourse to challenge non-attendance.  He praised the work of Democratic Services who did everything possible to ensure that meetings would be quorate.

 

            The Chair, Councillor Radford, concurred with Councillor Abbott’s disappointment and asked Jill Coule, Chief Legal and Monitoring Officer to respond.

 

            Jill Coule advised that this was a problem experienced by all Mayoral Combined Authorities due to the high level of quorum. Representations had been made on this issue on several occasions, including a recent conversation with Government on the issue. 

 

            The Chair, Councillor Radford expressed his gratitude for the support he had received in his role and acknowledged that Officers had made tremendous effort to ensure that meetings were quorate.  He suggested that members may wish to feedback informally to their own Authority on the issue.

 

            Councillor David Burgess-Joyce thanked the Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram for taking the time to attend Committee meetings and he acknowledged the problem with the high level of quorum required.  He referred to the selection process for membership of the Committee and felt that a formal request should be sent to Local Authorities to nominate members who are able to attend and participate in meetings of the Committee.

 

            The Chair, Councillor Radford requested that Jill Coule write to the six Local Authority Chief Executives to reiterate the high level of quorum and ask that discussions take place with prospective nominees regarding the importance of attendance at Committee meetings to ensure that decision making can take place.

 

            Councillor Pat Moloney asked if it would be beneficial to supply Local Authorities with details of member attendance for this past year for inclusion within the papers for their Annual Meetings where representatives are appointed to serve on this Committee.

 

            The Chair, Councillor Radford advised that attendance information was available to view publicly on the Combined Authority website.

 

39.

Apologies for absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Edna Finneran, James Hansen, Adrian Jones, Julie McManus, Tricia O’Brien, Geoff Pearl, Carran Waterfield and Sir Ron Watson CBE.

 

40.

Declarations of Interest

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Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest received.

41.

Minutes of the meeting held on 20 January 2022 pdf icon PDF 184 KB

To consider the minutes of the last meeting of the Liverpool City Region Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 20 January 2022.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The inquorate meeting noted the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 20 January 2022.

 

 

 

42.

Verbal Update from Metro Mayor S Rotheram

The Committee will receive a verbal update from Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, acknowledged the discussion regarding attendance and quorum and reiterated the importance of the Scrutiny function within the Combined Authority. Whilst it was disappointing that the meeting was inquorate, the Metro Mayor reaffirmed his commitment to attend to provide the opportunity for Committee Members to ask questions on his update.

 

            The Metro Mayor provided an update on recent activity including:-

 

·           The Combined Authority’s decision regarding bus reform on 4 March 2022 and how a franchise model could transform bus travel in the City Region;

·           The successful bid for City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement;

·           The outcome of the bid for the Bus Service Improvement Plan and ongoing discussions with Government to improvement the settlement;

·           The City Region Trade delegation visit to Ireland along with Greater Manchester Mayoral Combined Authority to push forward investment in key sectors such as low carbon transport, freight logistics, advanced manufacturing, and the green Industrial Revolution;

·           The ‘Good Business Festival’ that had taken place a few weeks earlier, one of the focuses being the importance of Ethical Investments and ethical businesses being attracted to the City Region;

·           The inaugural meeting of the Freeport Board that had taken place the day before; and

·           The next round of funding for the ‘Community Environment Fund’ was open for applications to enable high impact Community environment projects.

 

            The Metro Mayor concluded his presentation and invited questions/comments from members of the Committee.

 

            Councillor David Burgess-Joyce enquired about the hydrogen plant that had been discussed at a previous meeting and requested an update on the current situation. In addition, Councillor David Burgess-Joyce noted previous discussion of a cashless London-style transport methodology such as the Oyster card and raised concerns with how this might affect people who were on low incomes. Councillor David Burgess-Joyce raised the bush branch out and asked what fail safes were in place given what had been expressed regarding government funding, overrun, and overspend, and the system being new technology.

 

            The Metro Mayor responded that the HyNet project was an exciting opportunity for the City Region and formed a part of creating an infrastructure that would support the production of green hydrogen. Non-green, or blue, hydrogen would be used in the meantime. Hydrogen buses could be used in corridors where there was congestion or poor air quality and would reduce emissions in those areas, despite the carbon footprint of blue hydrogen being questioned at the current time. Part of the solution to this was the metro card. The metro card was not smart technology enabled and so a tap in tap out system was not applicable, and there had been some concerns raised by service users who bought tickets online, and so focus was being given to eradicating all the of complexities around the ticketing system. A cap would be introduced to the metro card. At the current time a separate charge would be made for using the stagecoach, rail and ferry. If these journeys were made several times a day this would become very expensive  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

43.

Apprenticeship Task and Finish Group - Final Report pdf icon PDF 219 KB

To consider the report of the Statutory Scrutiny Officer.

 

                                                                       

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The inquorate meeting considered the report of the Statutory Scrutiny Officer which set out the report of the Apprenticeship Task and Finish Group for consideration and endorsement ahead of submission to the Combined Authority.

 

            As the meeting was inquorate, the Committee were informed that the report and recommendations of the Task and Finish Group would need to be considered at a future quorate meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee before it could be formally endorsed and submitted to the Combined Authority for consideration.

 

            Rob Tabb, Policy Lead for Employment and Skills provided an overview of the short review undertaken in April 2021, at a time when there was a great deal of uncertainty as Covid restrictions were easing and economic circumstances looked unclear. At that time the country had been coming out of the second and third lockdowns and there were real concerns about unemployment, redundancy and effects on the labour market. Prior to that pandemic there were approximately 12,000 vacancies in the city region, but in the current week there were around 18-19,000. Significant growth in apprenticeships was being created and the challenge was now to find quality applicants to fill vacancies.

 

            The Task and Finish group had provided focus to communications, promotion and publicity.  There were still many employers, residents, parents and young people who did not understand or appreciate the benefits of an apprenticeship. This highlighted the need to communicate what an apprenticeship looks like today and the range of apprenticeships that were available. In 2021 there had been 100 Paediatric Nurse Degree Apprenticeships receiving hundreds of applications, and the Ford transmission plant was in the process of creating Degree level Apprenticeships. There was a lot of high quality, sustainable apprenticeship opportunities available and these needed to be communicated to the right people at the right time.

 

            There was now a requirement for schools to open up to allow colleges, training providers and other organisations to promote apprenticeships but there was still work to do to reach teachers and others working around schools. Focus also needed to be given to workers aged 50 or over, as it had been noted that half of the apprenticeship vacancies created were filled by workers aged 25 and over.  Consideration needed to be given to how to reach those people, especially those who were considering retraining following changes to the labour market over the last 12 months. 

 

            There had been questions regarding the provision of support to people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties and young people with special educational needs, and it was noted that there was an increase in supported apprenticeships coming through. This was something the Task and Finish group suggested should receive an increase in promotion. There had been some additional European funding to promote apprenticeship which had helped to fund apprenticeships, graduation events and outreach teams that visit schools, however this funding would come to end later in 2022. The Committee may wish to give this area more focus as further investment was being sought going  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.

44.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Self-Assessment pdf icon PDF 195 KB

To consider the report of the Statutory Scrutiny Officer.

 

                                                           

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The inquorate meeting considered the report of the Statutory Scrutiny Officer which advised on the proposal to conduct a self-assessment of the function, activities and impact of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

            Jill Coule, Chief Legal and Monitoring Officer explained that the proposed format for self-assessment was a different way of progressing.  In previous years, a survey had been conducted with varying degrees of engagement, response and feedback and this process was similar to the approach undertaken by the Audit and Governance Committee.

           

            Jill Coule informed the meeting that Appendix One to the report provided information on the framework for evaluation mechanism developed by the Centre for Public Scrutiny which would be used as part of this process.  It was proposed that a draft self-assessment report would be presented to the first available meeting of the Committee in July 2022 with a final report in Autumn 2022.

 

            Councillor Kai Taylor commented that the supplementary agenda was only published and circulated to the Committee on Friday evening which didn’t provide much time to review the papers.  He asked if papers could be provided as early as possible in future.

 

Jill Coule apologised for the late circulation which was due to staffing issues.

 

            RESOLVED – That the inquorate meeting note the proposal to conduct a self-assessment of the function, activities and impact of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

 

45.

Chair's Closing remarks

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Steve Radford took the opportunity to thank Officers for the support he had received in his role as Chair of the Committee and the support provided to Members of the Committee.  He added that he wasn’t expecting to become the Chair at the first meeting and had thoroughly enjoyed the role.