A Member noted that, as a result of the financial pressures on the City’s ability to fund capital projects, two responses had been initiated – the first being the formation of the Operational Property and Projects Sub-Committee (OPPSC) and the second being the Capital Review process. He stated that he did not believe that the terms of reference of each of these had been circulated to Members which had led to a lot of confusion and unnecessary questions/debate. This had certainly been the case in the most recent meeting of the Streets and Walkways Sub-Committee. The Member therefore questioned whether Officers might provide an overview of both areas and how these were coordinated. He also sought assurances that when Planning and Transportation projects were being reviewed, that Members of this Committee would be able to provide informed input. Finally, he sought assurances that there had been no avoidable increase in Planning and Transportation related project costs because of delays incurred by these processes. He added that he was particularly referring to the latest Bank project where it was hoped that a decision could be secured under urgency in order to place orders for materials.
Officers responded to highlight that there had been a resolution passed by the Resource Allocation Sub Committee (RASC) about the need to review all projects that the City Corporation was delivering across its entire portfolio in relation to the medium-term financial pressures that the organisation is facing. They highlighted a particular need to focus on strengthening financial discipline and to consider whether there was sufficient financial allocation to meet the needs of the projects that were being proposed and to ensure that the projects that are moving forward are aligned with the Corporation’s strategic priorities. Officers went on to report that there was particular concern around inflation costs impacting projects across the board in terms of construction. For this Committee, it was clarified that those projects relating to S278 contributions from developers were excluded from this process. However, it the process did include all projects funded from central Corporation funded sources such as Community Infrastructure Levy. In terms of meeting this resolution from RASC, the Environment Department had looked at approximately 75 projects, many of which sat under the purview of this Committee. It was reported that this initial assessment of projects was moving at pace as there was a desire not to hold up the existing ability to deliver projects. With regard to Bank works, it was reported that Officers were looking to commence these very soon and that they had had reassurances from colleagues in Chamberlains Project Management office that this could be progressed through the urgency process. The expectation was that this short delay should not result in an increase in costs and it was reported that Officers had built in capacity through the Capital Bid process for an increase in costs in relation to the change in contractors. The Member responded by asking for an update on this particular matter as soon as possible. Officers stated that it was hoped that the outcome of this would be known by the end of the week.
It was reported that discussions around the need for broader engagement in terms of any decisions affecting spending committees had been widespread and that the initial assessment of and affordability/prioritisation of projects had now been completed by the Chamberlain and the Project Management Office and had been reviewed by Chief Officers ate last week. Recommendations were to be presented to the Finance Committee later today and would then be considered by RASC. How spending committees might be better engaged in terms of priorities and impact would form part of the discussions here.
The Chairman thanked Officers for all of their work on this to date, noting that it was yet another demand upon existing resources within the Department. Officers stated that they appreciated the need to progress this at pace and to bring together a considerable amount of information to help inform how this process would work.
In terms of the broader remit of the OPPSC, Officers reported that this Committee were also leading a review of the governance process of Gateway Projects which would also be a key aspect of this piece of work.
A Member remarked that she had passed Stanley Cohen House earlier this week and seen public consultation notices posted in relation to the Crescent House application stating that the consultation period ended on 17 May and others advertising a July deadline. She questioned who was responsible for removing these notices and why this had not happened in relation to this particular application. The Chief Planning Officer reported that this was the responsibility of his team and undertook to action the removal of these particular notices without further delay. He added that these were ordinarily removed around a month after the consultation period had ended.
A Member reported that several of her constituents had reported disturbances from those operating pavement licences over the past weekend. This had been reported and Officers had responded to state that pavement licences were up for renewal on 1 October and that residents had the opportunity to feed into this process with comments by no later than 27 September. The Member questioned whether this was being widely advertised amongst residents so that any issues could be addressed quickly and efficiently. It was reported that this process was managed by the Public Protection Team who took any complaints of this type very seriously and addressed them as they arose as opposed to awaiting a licence review period. Officers undertook to report back to colleagues in the Public Protection Team and ask that they respond to the Member in full with regard to the public consultation process on these licences.