Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 7th July, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone. View directions

Contact: Anna Taylor  03000 416478


No. Item



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The Chairman introduced the meeting and informed Members that Item B1 (Call-in of Decision 21/00044 - Reconnect: Kent Children and Young People Programme) would be considered as an urgent item, as the call-in had been approved following publication of the agenda.


Declarations of Interests by Members in items on the Agenda for this Meeting

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No declarations were made.



Minutes of the meeting held on 9 June 2021 pdf icon PDF 209 KB

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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 9 June 2021 were an accurate record and that they be signed by the Chairman.



Short Focused Inquiries - Work Programme pdf icon PDF 199 KB

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1.    The Chairman introduced the item and invited Members from across the Council to get involved with future Short Focused Inquiries.


2.    Mrs Taylor explained that the Committee were asked to agree the work programme and set out a priority order for the Short Focused Inquiries, as detailed in the report.


3.    Following a question from a Member, the Chairman confirmed that whilst there was no strict timescale for each inquiry, completing inquiries within a compact timeframe was encouraged.


4.    The Committee agreed to add an inquiry into Home to School Transport to the work programme and recognised the importance of analysing service provision, given the significant costs associated and context of KCC’s financial pressures.


5.    A Member asked that Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Home to School Transport be included the inquiry.


6.    A Member raised the environmental impact of school journeys as an area for consideration by the inquiry.


7.    The Committee agreed to add an inquiry into Section 106 (Town and Country Planning Act 1990) contributions to the work programme.


8.    Speed camera policy, including the Kent and Medway Safety Camera Partnership’s criteria for new cameras; analysis of KCC’s estate, including maintenance; and highway infrastructure, including drainage and utility policies were raised by Members as possible future areas for inquiry.


9.    The Committee agreed that an inquiry into Home to School Transport be considered first.


10. Mrs Taylor clarified that whilst any Member of the Council could be involved in Short Focused Inquiries, the Scrutiny Committee retained the decision on final reports and the work programme.

RESOLVED that that the work programme for Short Focused Inquiries was agreed and that Home to School Transport be the first inquiry to be undertaken, delegating to Officers the arrangement of the first inquiry as outlined in the report.



Call-in of Decision 21/00044 - Reconnect: Kent Children and Young People Programme pdf icon PDF 201 KB

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Mr R Gough, Leader of the Council; Mrs S Chandler, Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s Services; MrsS Prendergast, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills; Mr M Dunkley, Corporate Director of Children, Young People and Education and Mr D Adams, Reconnect Programme Director were in attendance for this item.


1.    The Chairman introduced the item and invited the proposer of the call-in, Dr Sullivan, to provide an overview of the reasons for her call-in. Mr Hook and Mr Stepto as seconders were also invited to speak.


2.    Dr Sullivan presented the reasons for her call-in. A need to scrutinise the Programme’s key objectives, allocation of funding and proposed methods was cited. She raised concerns over the involvement of children and young people in the early stages of the project and sought assurances that sufficient engagement had taken place. She sought further guarantees that children and young people would be able to reconnect as a result of the decision. Mr Stepto agreed with the reasons set out by Dr Sullivan.


3.    Mr Hook questioned whether the Programme budget of £10m would be sufficient to deliver a 16 month project across Kent; how the Programme targeted those most in need; and whether Officer provision had been appropriately allocated.


4.    The Chairman invited Mrs Chandler to outline the justification for the decision. Mrs Chandler provided context and reminded Members that the Reconnect Programme constituted a Covid-19 response programme. She recognised that children and young people had been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and that there was a resulting need to address vulnerabilities. She confirmed that the Programme would be open to all children and young people in Kent. It was noted that many other authorities and organisations in Kent had an indicated their interest to support the initiative. Reassurance was given that the Programme comprised additional fixed term provisions and did not involve a remodelling of existing permanent services.


5.    Mr Gough welcomed consideration of the decision by Scrutiny. He reminded the Committee that children in Kent were the collective responsibility of Members. He confirmed that all opposition Group Leaders were invited to Cabinet when the decision was originally considered. In relation to engagement, he highlighted the role of the Young Persons Steering Group, as detailed in 4.4 of the decision report, as a conduit for the receiving the views of young people. The Programme’s objectives were addressed, he recognised the challenge of measuring the effectiveness of delivery, when the scale and variety of contributing factors which influenced the lives of young people were considered. He provided an example of the challenge, that if the attainment gap had not returned to pre-pandemic levels, this did not necessarily mean that the Programme had failed. In relation to local and Member involvement, Mr Gough welcomed the participation of Local Children’s Partnership Groups (LCPGs) and recognised that Member evaluation at committees would be vital for judging overall effectiveness.


6.    Mr Dunkley provided further details and reassurance. He set out the differences between the Reconnect  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.