Agenda and minutes

virtual meeting, Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 4th March, 2021 6.00 pm

Venue: Online via the Zoom app

Contact: Sarah Jenkins, Democratic Services Officer  01395 517406; email


No. Item


Public speaking

Information on public speaking is available online



There were no members of the public wishing to speak


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 213 KB


The minutes of Scrutiny Committee held on 4 February 2021 were confirmed as a true record.


Members noted that the figure stated in minute 128, the supplementary question to question 9 was incorrect.  The Chair read out a statement on behalf of the Service Lead – Streetscene stating that the costs to East Devon District Council was closer to £75,000 and not £250,000 advising it was a joint beach management plan covering Dawlish and Sidmouth, led by the Environment Agency.


Declarations of interest

Guidance is available online to Councillors and co-opted members on making declarations of interest



Minute 137. Report on staff morale.

Councillor Ian Hall, Personal, Member of GMB Union.


Minute 137. Report on staff morale.

Councillor John Loudoun, Personal, Receives a pension from Unison.


Minute 139. Forward Plan.

Councillor Andrew Colman, Personal, Exmouth Town Councillor.


Minute 139. Forward Plan.

Councillor Chris Wright, Personal, Director of Exmouth Rugby Club, a tenant of East Devon District Council.


Minute 139. Forward Plan.

Councillor Iain Chubb, Personal, Devon County Councillor.


Minute 139. Forward Plan.

Councillor Olly Davey, Personal, Exmouth Town Councillor.


Minute 139. Forward Plan.

Councillor Vicky Johns, Personal, Ottery St Mary Town Councillor.



Matters of urgency

Information on matters of urgency is available online



There were no matters of urgency.


Confidential/exempt item(s)

To agree any items to be dealt with after the public (including the press) have been excluded. Thereare no itemswhich officersrecommendshould be dealtwithin thisway.



There were no confidential/exempt items.


Decisions made by Cabinet called in by Members for scrutiny in accordance with the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules

There are no items identified


There were no items called-in.


Report on staff morale pdf icon PDF 303 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed Mark Everdon from Unison to assist Members with their discussions and reminded Members that discussions of employment matters including staff morale should remain general and individuals should not be identified in any way.


The Chief Executive addressed the reasons for the report which followed expressions of concerns made by Committee Members and said in response to those concerns a Health and Safety survey was undertaken of all staff over a 10 day period.  Members noted 67% of staff had responded.  In response to queries raised by Members about the choice of survey the Chief Executive confirmed it was a recommended form of survey with a proven methodology for analysing work related stress focusing on the last six months at work. 


He asked Members to be mindful when considering recommendations, advising that he had a duty of care and a legal obligation to keep all employees safe from harm and addressed the difficulty of fulfilling his duty and obligation when the harm resulted from Members behaviour towards staff.


The Chief Executive gave a detailed overview of his report and referred Members to the LGA Peer Review report and the Investors in People report.  He felt it was important to note that both reports were independent external validations of the quality of this organisation and that this was very important to staff morale.


Members noted the key issues identified in the survey included:

·        Staff morale/sickness during Covid-19 - challenges of homeworking, work load, depression and stress and anxiety.

·        An overall increase of 66% in all absences related to depression and stress during April 2020 to January 2021 compared to the same period of the previous year.

·        42 employees (8.4% of the workforce) had given depression or stress as the reason for absence.

·        6% of employees in the last six months had experienced bullying and 11% had seldom been bullied.

·        38% of employees had stated they were seldom, sometimes, often or always subject to personal harassment in the form of unkind words or behaviour.

·        The two lowest scores related to demand and change which included:

Ø  Having to work intensively.

Ø  Having to work very fast.

Ø  Having to neglect some tasks.

Ø  Different groups demanding things that are hard to combine.

·        Priority for further assessment was required in Housing, Streetscene and Planning Departments.

·        Appendix 3 comprised of a total of 164 employees leaving comments. 

·        The most positive comments included:

Ø  Colleagues / my team is supportive.

Ø  My Manager i supportive.

            The most common negative comments included:

Ø  Our already large workload has increased significantly recently / my / my team’s workload is overwhelming / too large.

Ø  We need more staff / previous staff or managers have left and not been replaced.

Ø  Conduct of some Councillors.

Ø  Home schooling children and working is hugely stressful.


The Chief Executive reminded Members that the Council had regularly carried out staff surveys and that the results had always been treated with respect to help build up a picture of a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 137.


Quarterly Monitoring of Performance - Quarter 3 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 308 KB

Additional documents:


Members agreed to postpone this item until the next meeting.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 229 KB

Proposal forms received:

1.     The production of the Local Plan 2013-31 and Goodmores Farm

2.     Playing Pitch Strategy

Additional documents:


Members agreed to postpone this item until the next meeting.