Meeting documents

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 9th January, 2017 10.00 am

Date: Monday 9th January 2017 Time: 10.00 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

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

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

Apologies for absence were received from:-

Councillors P. Baldwin, B. Sutton, B.A., Dip.Ed., and D. Wilkshire.

Noted
2. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

Noted
3. CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes (188K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Minutes of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 14th November, 2016 whereupon:-

Welsh Language Standards

A Member referred to the recommendation on the Welsh Language Standards and requested that the paragraph read:-

  • The Leader and Executive Member Corporate Services consider writing to the Auditor General for Wales regarding the annual spend on the Welsh language since 1993, 23 years since the Welsh Language Act came into being, and consider the outcomes achieved in relation to the Welsh Language Standards and register Members concerns regarding the small percentage of Welsh speakers living in Blaenau Gwent.

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

Agreed
4. ACTION SHEET - 14TH NOVEMBER 2016
Action Sheet (47K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Action Sheet of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 14th November, 2016, whereupon:-

Maintenance of Estate Footpaths

A Member asked for clarification in relation to the on-going dialogue with Tai Calon regarding maintenance of footpaths. The Head of Technical Services informed Members that there was now new personnel at Tai Calon and discussions were moving in a positive direction.

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

Noted
5. TRANSFORMING BLAENAU GWENT PROGRAMME - UPDATE ON FINANCIAL EFFICIENCY AND MAJOR PROJECTS - QUARTER 2 - OCTOBER 2016
Report (108K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (102K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (62K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Strategic Transformation Team, which was presented to provide Members with an opportunity to scrutinise and challenge the current position of the financial efficiency and major projects programme as at 31st October, 2016.

The Team Leader - Strategic Transformation Team spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein.

A Member commended officers on a good report with many efficiency savings having been reached. The decision to keep the Callio project until it was fully embedded was welcomed.

Online Payslips

Another Member raised concerns regarding the delays with the iTrent HR/Payroll system. The Head of Financial Services explained that the iTrent system had been successfully implemented three years ago and it was the further development of the software that had caused difficulties. The Officer explained that the provider of iTrent was one of the leading companies offering HR / Payroll solutions within the public sector, however the system could be configured to individual specifications and as a result it was difficult to compare with other users to ascertain whether they had experienced similar issues. The issues continued to be unresolved at this time despite the work undertaken by Consultants from the company and had caused issues and delays with the implementation of online payslips and other areas. Although the situation was frustrating the Officers were working closely with the company to resolve the issues and a resolution was expected shortly.


Renegotiate Banking Contract

A Member expressed disappointment that the renegotiation of the banking contract had resulted in a shortfall of 3,000. The Head of Financial Services commented that the contract had been reduced by 10,000 and the Resources Directorate were looking to fund the 3,000 shortfall.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and the information contained therein be noted.

Councillors Nigel Daniels and Garth Collier joined the meeting at this juncture.

Agreed
6. PROGRESS REPORT TO MEMBERS FOR CONTRACTS OVER 500,000
Report (101K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (106K/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:-

Demolition of Abertillery Leisure Centre - the project works had been suspended due to the presence of asbestos hidden in cavities which had not been identified by the specialist consultant's pre demolition survey report. It was likely that substantial costs would be incurred in relation to the removal of the asbestos and a methodology statement to reduce these costs was awaited from the consultants. Approval from the Health & Safety Executive for the removal of the asbestos was also awaited. Negotiations were on going with an independent asbestos surveying company with a view to resolving the issue.

A Member requested that a report be prepared in relation to Consultants fees to enable the Council to hold them to account in such circumstances.


Members expressed concern that such an important substance had been missed. The Head of Technical Services explained that only a small amount of asbestos had been detected but removal had to be stringent due to air borne fibres.

In reply to a Member's question regarding recovery of costs, the Head of Technical Services said that the extent of the liability for the inaccurate survey information had been discussed with the consultants and a solution needed to be agreed before any costs could be challenged.

Highway Maintenance Improvements - a Member commented that it was pleasing to note the significant improvements made in the Authority's A & B roads throughout the borough. It was noted that unclassified roads were not in such good condition. The Head of Technical Services confirmed that a report had been submitted to the Environment, Economy and Infrastructure Scrutiny Committee and awaiting final endorsement by the Executive Committee and a copy would be forwarded to Members.

Demolition of Primary Schools - Briery Hill, Penycwm and Garnlydan - with regard to the disposal of assets the Head of Technical Services commented that empty buildings could cost the Authority in excess of 100,000 in relation to rates, security etc. and confirmed that Briery Hill and Garnlydan sites would be auctioned and Penycwm would be demolished and retained for future educational use.

Members raised concerns with the capacity in the Legal Division in dealing with the disposal of assets and the issue of achieving budget savings in one area only to be utilised to balance the budget in another area. The Head of Technical Services explained that in relation to capacity in the Legal Division in dealing with the disposal of assets, in most instances issues would be resolved by internal meetings with Engineers and would not need legal input.

Demolition of Nantyglo Leisure Centre - another Member enquired if the asbestos found in Nantyglo Leisure Centre had been overlooked by the same surveyor, the Head of Technical Services explained that in relation to Nantyglo Leisure Centre there had been a small implication and the costs had been covered in the original budget. The Officer confirmed that it had been the same company but would explore if it was due to the actions of the same surveyor as this may have an impact on the Council's procurement process.

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

  • the information contained therein be noted; and
  • the report be recommended for approval to the Executive Committee to action where progress of contracts had been affected by additional costs or time over-runs.
Agreed
7. AGENDA ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING OF THE CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Agenda Items (74K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the list of draft agenda items for the next meeting to be held on 20th February, 2017.

Following a discussion it was

RESOLVED that the Corporate Approach to Public and Staff Engagement report be deferred to a meeting of the Committee post May 2017.

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

  • CCTV Review of System
  • Treasury Management - Half Year Outturn
  • SRS Partnership Working - Half Yearly Monitoring Report
  • Welsh Language Promotion Strategy
  • Violence Against Women Domestic Abuse and Sexual Violence (VAWDASV) - Meeting Local Responsibilities of Legislation

A Member requested a further item be included on the agenda:

  • Progress Update on Paperless Environment Task and Finish Group
Agreed