Agenda and draft minutes

Westminster Scrutiny Commission - Monday 21st June, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP

Contact: Artemis Kassi, Senior Committee and Governance Officer  Email: Tel: 078 1705 4991

No. Item



To note any changes to the membership.


1.1       Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Nafsika Butler-Thalassis. Cllr Pancho Lewis substituted for Cllr Butler-Thalassis.


1.2       In advance of the agenda, the Chairman invited the chairmen of the Policy and Scrutiny Committees to give a brief update on what matters had been discussed at their respective Committees.


1.3       The Commission heard from Cllr Gotz Mohindra that the Finance, Smart City and City Management Policy and Scrutiny Committee had worked in recent months on scrutinising the Oxford Street District works, including the Marble Arch Mound project. The Commission was pleased to hear that the upcoming meeting of the Committee would focus on procurement.


1.4       The Commission also heard from Cllr Iain Bott that the Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Adults and Public Health had received an update on the closure of the Gordon Hospital, which was a matter of concern for the members of the Committee. The Committee had also had updates regarding the Integrated Care System (ICS) and the impact that COVID-19 had had on integrated care. The Commission was advised that the Committee’s next meeting would focus on scrutinising Mental Health provision and care in the context of the ongoing pandemic.


1.5       The Commission was concerned to hear that proposed central Government legislation had the potential to remove the power of referral to the Secretary of State from local Government scrutiny, resulting in a loss of local accountability. The Commission agreed that it would write to the Secretary of State in opposition of this proposed change.


1.6       The Committee also heard from Cllr Andrew Smith that the Policy and Scrutiny Committee for Communities, Regeneration and Housing had taken on valuable input from the Metropolitan Police regarding crime in Westminster and emerging trends as lockdown restrictions eased. The Commission was pleased to hear that another focus had been engaging with community members to determine local priorities.





To receive declarations by Members and Officers of the existence and nature of any pecuniary interests or any other significant interest in matters on this agenda.


2.1      There were no declarations of interest.



MINUTES pdf icon PDF 312 KB

To approve the minutes of the Commission’s meeting held on Tuesday 20 April 2021.


3.1      RESOLVED: That the minutes of the Commission’s meeting held on 20 April 2021 be approved as a correct record of proceedings.




To receive an update on current and forthcoming issues from Stuart Love, Chief Executive of the Council.


4.1       The Commission received an update report from the Chief Executive, Stuart Love, who responded to questions on the following topics:


           the current vaccine rollout in Westminster. Over 80% of adults over 70 and 55% of adults over 18 had been vaccinated. Stuart Love confirmed that there was a focus on improving Westminster’s positioning in the overall league table. Additional services such as pop-up vaccination sites in local pharmacies and a roaming vaccination bus were welcomed as positive developments.

           the forward plans that the NHS had for the future of the vaccine rollout, and what campaigns or efforts were in store to increase the numbers of vaccinations given in Westminster.

           the vaccination bus, including what vaccinations were on offer from the bus.

           the long-term implications of the data that the Council had in hand regarding vaccinations and the process of cleansing and itemising this data.

           the work that the Council had done to deliver the Al Fresco dining scheme in Westminster.

           the contingency plans for the Full Council meeting in September, regardless of central Government plans to re-open the nation in July, in case COVID-19 restrictions were implemented again before that date. The Commission was pleased to hear that the Council was working closely with the London Business School so that it could enable a hybrid style of meeting for Full Council in September.

           the unemployment rate in Westminster, and in particular youth unemployment. The Commission noted that benefit claimants had trebled since last year, but that Westminster was lowest with regards to claimant count in London. There were also issues around unemployment recovery around the 50+ age group. The Commission was informed about the supported employment approach which was Westminster’s focus, and the inclusive recruitment and employment policy being adopted by the Council.


           the potential need for a vaccine booster campaign in the Autumn, and if the Council had plans in place for this eventuality.

           the issues around football fans and litter in Leicester Square and the West End. The Commission was relieved to know that efforts were being made to claim compensation from UEFA and/or the Scottish Football Association, meaning that residents would foot less of the bill for the cleaning efforts, which were undertaken to an extremely high standard in short order.

           the Commission was pleased to hear that given the successes of the Westminster Connects programme, it had now been made part of the service offer of the Council and would function in support of residents and local communities going forward.

           the Oxford Street District project and the Marble Arch Mound. The Commission was informed that the Council was aligning itself with the Great Estates and other key stakeholders and had liaised with businesses in the area directly to support them.

           the increase in numbers of City Inspectors and the need for increased resource in general, particularly over the summer months.

           the Commission was advised that more information would be provided on traffic  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.



To receive and review a report on the Council’s City for All strategy, following its refresh in March 2021.


5.1      The Commission received a report from Pedro Wrobel (Executive Director, Innovation and Change) on the Council’s City for All strategy, which was refreshed in March 2021. The Commission requested that Policy and Scrutiny Committees be involved early in the decision-making process to allow the Committees to achieve their full function.


5.2      The Commission was pleased to hear from the Chief Executive, Stuart Love, that his ambition was that all bodies of work included in the City for All strategy would be put before their relevant Policy and Scrutiny Committees before being finalised.


5.3      The Commission welcomed Pedro Wrobel, who answered questions on the City for All strategy, including:


·       the Council’s plans to encourage entrepreneurship amongst young residents and tackle youth unemployment.

·       the success of the Westminster Connects programme, and how the project would be implemented in future Council activity.

·       the state of tourism in Westminster, and Council efforts to revitalise Westminster as an attractive destination for tourists and visitors.

·       the health inequalities in the City.

·       the success of Westminster Connects and its unique opportunity for engaging with residents.

·       the datasets and intelligence on which the Council was basing its strategy, including mobile phone GPS tracking data and MasterCard purchase data.

·       the data used in analysing health and care in Westminster. The Commission heard that sources included GP data, PHE datasets, and open-source data.

·       the Commission welcomed the implementation of the new pillar of the City for All strategy – Thriving Economy.

·       the support that could be offered to businesses to help them recruit people local to Westminster to fill existing gaps in capacity. The Commission heard that the Council was working closely with the Department for Work and Pensions with this aim.

·       the ‘Cleaner and Greener’ pillar of the City for All strategy.

·       the ambitious goal of becoming a ‘Net Zero (Zero Carbon Emissions) City, and what mechanisms the Council would have to hold the Government to account to reach this target.

·       the Commission was informed that the City for All strategy was currently operating under an annual review process, which did not guarantee that changes would be made.

·       the Commission was pleased to hear that the Chief Executive planned to converse with the Leader of the Council on whether the overarching vision of City for All could be brought before the Westminster Scrutiny Commission, so that the Policy and Scrutiny function could impact on decision-making at an earlier stage.


5.4       RESOLVED: that the Commission note the report.


5.5       ACTION: The Commission requested that a short briefing note be provided regarding the data sources on which the Council was currently basing its understanding of inequalities in the City, as well as in its approach to supporting economic recovery.




To discuss the work programme for 2021 to 2022.

Additional documents:


6.1      The Commission received a report on the work programme from Artemis Kassi, the Lead Scrutiny Advisor. The Commission discussed items suitable for the November meeting’s agenda. The Chair noted that a report on emergency preparedness should be included in the agenda for the Commission’s next meeting.


6.2      The Commission requested inclusion of the Council’s consultation process as an item to be included in the work programme. COVID-19 and forward planning regarding the pandemic were also proposed as a standing item for the work programme.


6.3      Given the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference, hosted in Glasgow, Climate Emergency and the Council’s Climate Change work were also suggested as a standing item in the Commission’s work programme.


6.4      It was noted that the next meeting of the Westminster Scrutiny Commission was currently planned for 22 November 2021.