Meeting documents

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 3rd October, 2016 10.00 am

Date: Monday 3rd October 2016 Time: 10.00 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndWithReport toReport of
COUNCILLOR M. CROSS (CHAIR)
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from:-

Councillors P. Baldwin, K. Hayden, R. Jones, B. Sutton and D. Wilkshire

Noted
2. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

Noted
3. SPECIAL CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes (177K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Special Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 22nd June, 2016 were submitted.

RESOLVED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Agreed
4. ACTION SHEET
Action Sheet (53K/bytes)
Appendix (44K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Action Sheet of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 22nd June, 2016, whereupon:-

Abertillery 3-16 Learning Community

A written response to a Member's request regarding concerns on any implications for the future delivery of the Abertillery 3-16 Learning Community had been provided, but a Member expressed his concern that this information was insufficient and a more comprehensive response was required which incorporated staffing elements.

The Corporate Performance Manager confirmed that a more detailed response would be sought from the Education Directorate and reported back to the Committee in due course.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Action Sheet be noted.

Noted
5. CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes (147K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 11th July, 2016 were submitted, whereupon:-

Attendance


It was noted that Councillor John Morgan had been in attendance at the meeting.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Noted
6. ACTION SHEET - 11TH JULY 2016
Action Sheet (46K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Action Sheet of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 11th July, 2016, whereupon:-

Member Briefing Session - Capacity and Cost of Buying in Services

A Member raised concerns regarding the delay in confirming the date for the briefing session in relation to the workload of the Legal Section and financial implications, due to an increase in the outsourcing of work as a result of the increase of Looked After Children within Social Services.

A discussion ensued when it was agreed that a briefing would be arranged as a matter of urgency.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Action Sheet be noted.

Noted
7. SPECIAL CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes (170K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Special Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 18th July, 2016 were submitted, whereupon:-

Attendance

It was noted that Councillor Keith Chaplin had been in attendance at the meeting.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Agreed
8. ACTION SHEET - 18TH JULY 2016
Action Sheet (41K/bytes)

There were no actions arising from the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on the 18th July, 2016.

Deferred
9. ORDER OF AGENDA

The order of the agenda was reordered and Item No. 10, the Customer and Digital Update Report was considered at this juncture.

Noted
10. CUSTOMER AND DIGITAL UPDATE
Report (209K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (222K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (166K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Revenue, Benefits and IT, which was presented to provide Members with an update on progress of the Customer Contact/Customer & Digital programme.

The Head of Revenue, Benefits and IT spoke in detail to the report.

In reply to question relating to the reason the Customer Services Strategy had not been presented to Scrutiny, the officer explained that the document had been presented to the Scrutiny Committee a few months earlier. Since that time feedback had been received from officers from across all departments but this feedback had not included any fundamental changes that would require the strategy to be amended since the original version.

The Member pointed out that the front sheet of the report had not been signed off by the Scrutiny Chair and stated that the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-Chairs would need to discuss this at their next meeting.

In reply to a Member's question regarding the in year savings, the Chief Finance Officer advised that the bulk of the savings associated with the project would be realised within the 2017/18 financial year. 2015/16 had benefitted from quick wins associated with the project.

A discussion ensued regarding savings and the Chief Finance Officer pointed out that the Council would not be putting forward any saving proposals that would be unable to be realised during the next financial year.

The Chief Finance Officer commented that the project spanned more than one financial year and confirmed that no funding would be sought from additional reserves.

A Member commented that it was pleasing to note that with the implementation of the mobile worker element in the Cleansing Teams quicker response times on clearing waste would be fed back to the public.

Another Member commented that an item could be included in a future issue of Blaenau Gwent's CONNECT magazine to promote this service, particularly the mobile application element of the project.

A Member raised concerns regarding registering on the customer portal and the low usage for the mobile app. The Head of Revenue, Benefits and IT commented that the mobile app had only recently been launched and Members were requested to promote the new website and mobile app to their constituents to encourage usage. With regard to the difficulties encountered regarding the search engine used for payment of bills, the officer undertook to investigate the matter.

In response to a Member's question regarding the cost of the mobile app and its uses, the Head of Revenue, Benefits and IT commented that considerable investment had already been committed for 2017/18 and gave an example of how the new waste management module could be used to provide information on collection dates etc. and the team were currently looking into sending notification reminders via mobile devices in respect of waste collections.

A Member commented that online digital services was the way forward for the Authority to deliver more effective ways for customers to access Council services. However, the cost of the application would have to be monitored and in order to promote the project he suggested that engagement take place with groups such as tenants and resident associations.

A further discussion ensued when it was

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted; and

  • that Members comments on the report be noted;
  • that Members views on marketing the new website and mobile app be supported;
  • that Members encourage constituents to register on the customer portal and refer constituents that require assistance in using the internet or mobile apps to the Digital Inclusion Officer; and
  • progress of the Customer Contact/Customer Digital programme be noted.

The Members added to the recommendation to hold a Member Briefing in November to provide details regarding the new website and mobile application and to:

  • make suggestions about the direction of the programme;
  • consider if there are any groups or individuals that Members feel would be willing to identify customer journeys to improve Council customer services; and
  • for Members to register themselves onto the customer portal and encourage constituents to do the same.
Agreed
11. PROGRESS REPORT TO MEMBERS FOR CONTRACTS OVER 500,000
Report (99K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (99K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Property Services Manager, which was presented to provide Members with updated information on the progress of capital projects over 500,000 in cost undertaken within the Authority and, where appropriate, seek the necessary approval required under the Contract procedural Rules to additional expenditure incurred on particular projects.

The Head of Technical Services spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein, whereupon:-

Highways Maintenance Improvements - it was noted that a report had been prepared for consideration by the Executive in relation to this issue and the report did include comments made via the scrutiny process.

Trinity Chapel, Abertillery - In response to a question raised by a Member regarding the end use of Trinity Chapel, the Head of Technical Services informed Members that an organisation had been identified as the end tenants. The Authority was working towards negotiating a lease arrangement with a view to a Community Asset Transfer.

Members expressed concern over the limited information available to them to keep the public informed of the progress of this project. The Head of Technical Services undertook to provide further information in respect of the proposed Community Asset Transfer and report back accordingly.

Waste Transfer Station at Silent Valley - in response to a Member's question regarding funding, the Head of Technical Services confirmed that additional funding had been secured.

It was noted that arrangements would be made for Members to visit the site on a ward by ward basis.

Demolition of Nantyglo & Abertillery Leisure Centres - in response to a Member's question regarding the decision and cost to demolish both Leisure Centres, the Head of Technical Services commented that a report had been submitted to Executive for funding to demolish the buildings as empty properties could cost the Authority in excess of 200,000.

In reply to a further question by a Member regarding disposal of assets the Chief Finance Officer commented that the decision to demolish both buildings had been made by Council in February 2016 as part of the Revised Capital Programme.

Waun Pond Reservoir Works - in response to a question raised by a Member regarding funding, the Head of Technical Services informed Members that a report would be submitted to Executive in due course. The issue of pursuing the owners for funding was currently unresolved.

Demolition of Primary Schools - Briery Hill, Penycwm and Garnlydan - in reply to a question regarding the disposal of the sites, the Head of Technical Services commented that some sites had access issues that made them unappealing to developers. When genuine bids were received they were not always economically viable, the Estates Section ensured that the best possible financial arrangement was achieved for the Council.

It was requested for a report to be brought to a future meeting on plans for demolitions sites.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted; and progress made against the contracts be noted.

Agreed
12. ATTENDANCE TASK GROUP - ATTENDANCE MANAGEMENT PERFORMANCE 2015/16
Report (4M/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the HR Manager, which was presented to provide Members with the opportunity to scrutinise, challenge and give views on attendance management within the Council, including:

  • A review of the 2015/16 overall Council absence management statistics including analysis by Directorate and individual services;
  • An outline of the current and proposed actions and measures to deliver improvements in attendance.

The Head of Organisational Development spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein.

The Head of Organisational Development informed Members that the HR/Payroll system iTrent, had been delayed due to IT technical issues in regard to the absence control policy which was being resolved by the system supplier.

The Head of Organisational Development also informed Members that an alternative provider for the Occupational Health Service had been secured. The new provider, Workforce Wellbeing had been in place since July 2016. A Staff Engagement & Wellbeing Group had been established to improve communication between staff and senior managers and the creation of a short term dedicated post in the Organisational Development Section was proposed to coach managers and help shape leadership and corporate engagement with staff to reduce sickness absence levels.

Members raised concerns on the cost implications of the new post and the rationale behind the proposal and commented that the Corporate Attendance Task Group was overseen by Corporate Directors, and Managers should be capable to effectively deal with sickness absence within their teams. A Member commented he could see no great benefit for the proposed short term post and questioned what impact this would have on reducing absence figures. It was also noted that the report recommendation did not refer that it would be a short term appointment i.e. for a period of 6 months. Also, Members were not in favour of utilising funding from the budget contingency fund for this post.

A Member requested for information to be brought back on the costs of sickness absence on the Authority.

The Head of Organisational Development commented that there were a number of hotspots where capability issues had been highlighted and the proposed new post would help to address these issues.

A Member commented that senior managers needed to recognise any competency issues within their teams and resolve these issues accordingly.

Members also raised concerns regarding the level of sickness absence in the Authority and that this issue had been on going for a number of years and had an unacceptable impact on the Council to deliver services effectively.

In response to a Member's question regarding comparison with other local authorities, the Head of Organisational Development said that Blaenau Gwent had similar sickness absence policies and procedures as other neighbouring authorities.

Another Member commented that it was a very comprehensive report and the Authority did have appropriate procedures in place but questioned if the Authority could afford the proposed new post in the current financial climate. The Member also pointed out varying targets within the report and with regard to IT, the Head of Organisational Development commented that this was due to the service change, IT were now part of the Shared Resource Service with other authorities.

Councillor John Morgan left the meeting at this juncture.

The Head of Revenue, Benefits and IT commented that the current high sickness levels being experienced within the section should reduce shortly. It was noted that 27 members of staff had transferred to the SRS Service.

In response to a Member's question the Head of Organisational Development advised that Directorates set their own individual sickness targets.

Another Member commented that he did not support the proposal to employ a dedicated short term post to coach managers to efficiently address sickness absence within their teams.

The Head of Organisational Development reiterated that the Authority had appropriate policies and procedures in place and commented that as a Council this needed to be addressed collectively.

In reply to a Member's question regarding the Attendance Management Policy, the Head of Organisational Development commented that the policy had been revised annually since 2008 but absence triggers within the policy had remained the same. The policy was fit for purpose and had improved at tackling capability issues but big change programmes carried a high risk of sickness absence for the Council. Members were requested to feedback any suggestions they had to help reduce sickness absence within the Authority.

A Member commented that local government changes had impacted on many staff with regard to job security and asked if any incentives for attendance had been considered. The Head of Organisational Development commented that this had been debated but decided against as staff were contractually paid to work but she would take this matter back to the Task Group. She also informed Members that other authorities were looking to review their sick pay policy but this matter would have to be discussed with the trade unions and this course of action was not currently recommended.

Chair

Councillor Malcolm Cross left the meeting at this juncture and in the absence of the Vice-Chair and upon a vote being taken it was unanimously RESOLVED that:

Councillor Malcolm Dally take the chair at this juncture.

In response to a Member's question regarding sick pay for staff, the Head of Organisational Development commented that the Occupational Health Service prepared sickness reports but there was a different process for staff falling within the Disabilities Discrimination Act.

A further discussion ensued when it was proposed that Recommendation 3.3 i.e. the employment of a dedicated post to reduce sickness absence be not supported. This proposal was seconded.

Upon a vote being taken the above proposal was unanimously agreed.

FURTHER RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted; and

  • the performance information in relation to sickness absence contained in the report be noted;
  • that Members comments on the report be noted;
  • that the plan to employ a dedicated post to reduce sickness absence be not supported; and
  • Corporate Directors develop action plans to reduce sickness absence in their Directorates.
Agreed
13. ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY DELIVERY PLANS
Report (131K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (268K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (199K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the HR Manager, which was presented to provide Members with progress against the Organisational Development Strategy Corporate Delivery Plan 2015/16.

The Head of Organisational Development spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein.

A Member commented that excellent progress had been made.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and

  • progress against the 2015/16 Organisational Development Strategy Delivery Plan be noted; and
  • the Delivery Plan for 2016/17 be endorsed ensuring it aligned to and supports the delivery of corporate objectives.
Agreed
14. AGENDA ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING OF THE CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Agenda Items (56K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the list of draft agenda items for the next meeting to be held on 14th November 2016.

RESOLVED that the following items be presented to the next Corporate Overview Committee, namely:-

  • Welsh Language Standards
  • Service Change - Transformation Programme
  • CCTV Review of System
  • Information Management Monitoring Report
  • Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act
Agreed