Meeting documents

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 13th June, 2017 10.00 am

Date: Tuesday 13th June 2017 Time: 10.00 a.m. Place: Executive Room, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale

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

PresentAndReport toReport of
COUNCILLOR L. ELIAS (CHAIR)
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (175K/bytes)
Noted
2. SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.

Noted
3. APOLOGIES

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and introductions were made.

The following apologies for absence were reported:-

Councillor K. Hayden
Councillor N. Daniels, Executive Member for Corporate Services
Councillor C. Meredith, Executive Member for Education

Temp Lead Corporate Director/Head of Paid Service
Corporate Director of Education
Corporate Director Environment & Regeneration
Corporate Director of Social Services

Noted
4. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

The following declarations of interest were reported:-

Councillor G. Paulsen - Item No. 9 Shared Resource Service Partnership Working - Half Yearly Monitoring Report

Councillors L. Elias & J. Wilkins - Information Pack (Business Rates Relief - High Street Rate Relief - 2017/18)

Noted
5. CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes (223K/bytes)
Cofnodion (182K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 27th February, 2017 were submitted.

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

Agreed
6. ACTION SHEET
Action Sheet (50K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Action Sheet of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee meeting held on the 27th February, 2017, whereupon:-

Welsh Language Promotion Strategy 2017/2022

The Head of Policy & Performance referred to the update on the Standard investigation provided in the Action Sheet, and confirmed that the Council would work with Aneurin Leisure Trust to prepare an action plan to mitigate any future issues of non-compliance.

The Chair expressed concerns regarding the cost of the Welsh Language Promotion Strategy as there were other priorities that could benefit from that funding, and asked that a report be submitted to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee on the overall cost to the Authority of implementing the Welsh Language Promotion Strategy.

The Head of Policy & Performance confirmed that this piece of work would form part of the Forward Work Programme for the Scrutiny Committee.

Town Centre CCTV - Assessment of Current Position

In response to a question raised by a Member the Communications, Marketing & Customer Access Manager confirmed that BT had commenced work on the cameras and would hopefully be completed shortly.

A Member referred to the Authority's SLA with BT and asked whether it was possible to claim compensation for the delays experienced in undertaking the works.

The Officer said the SLA related to connectivity and not camera faults. Unfortunately the system in place was out of date and had lacked investment for a long time.

A discussion ensued when the Head of Policy & Performance confirmed that a systems review report would be submitted to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.

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

Agreed
7. TRANSFORMING BLAENAU GWENT PROGRAMME - UPDATE ON FINANCIAL EFFICIENCY AND MAJOR PROJECTS - QUARTER 4 - APRIL 2017
Report (456K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (119K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (77K/bytes)

Consideration was given to report of the Strategic Transformation Team which provided Members with the quarterly monitoring information of 2016/17 financial efficiency projects.

The Head of Organisational Development spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein. She said in March 2014 a Programme Steering Group was set up to monitor financial efficiency and other major projects ongoing across the Council. The Group now formed part of the Wider CMT and met on a six weekly basis.

In February 2016 the Council agreed a range of savings options to help set a balanced budget for 2016/17 and these were then developed into financial efficiency projects. The scope of the programme planned to achieve 4.8m of savings, however, the final position at the end of the financial year was showing that this savings target would be exceeded by 38,360, which was a very positive position moving forward.

The Officer pointed out that Appendix 2 provided a list of the projects with financial information the current BRAG status.

In response to a question raised by a Member regarding the minor variances listed at Appendix 2, the Temporary Head of Public Services said these were due to inflationary changes through the year.

Appendix 2 Project Ref CEX331 - Reduction of one post in Strategic Asset Management Team

A Member expressed concern regarding the reduction of a post in such a small Team and the implications in dealing effectively with community asset transfer applications etc.

The Temporary Head of Public Services explained that this particular post was responsible for delivering the Strategic Asset Management Plan. There was a very small Team focussing on CAT's and strategic asset management, and reduction of the post would impact on the Team when bringing forward the revised Strategic Asset Management Plan.

The Head of Organisational Development said in terms of the Programme, she assured that detailed business cases were submitted to Members for consideration. However, the reality was that looking forward many of these business cases would impact on staffing levels, but it was about planning and being mindful of the risks associated with the reduction of staffing levels on the services provided.

A brief discussion ensued when the Head of Policy & Performance confirmed that this area now came under the remit of the Environment & Regeneration Directorate, and reported through the Environment, Regeneration & Economic Development Scrutiny Committee. She confirmed that Members' concerns regarding the risks and implications for the Strategic Asset Management Team would be referred to the relevant Scrutiny Committee.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the final position of the 2016/17 Financial Efficiency Programme against the planned 4.8m saving be acknowledged.

Agreed
8. QUARTER 4 JOINT FINANCE AND PERFORMANCE REPORT
Report (130K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (483K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (888K/bytes)

Consideration was given to report of the Corporate Performance Team which provided the joint finance and performance information for quarter 4, covering the period January to March 2017.

The Head of Policy & Performance spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein. The Joint Finance and Performance Report was a key report and monitoring tool for the Council and was reported on a quarterly basis.

The report identified improvement actions from within the period, and Appendix 2 reflected performance from January to March 2017. The actions have been identified from Directorate business plans and also proposals for improvement from the Wales Audit Office. The business plan priority updates provided by Directorates that have been BRAG rated red were included in Key Areas for Improvements.

A brief discussion ensued when a Member asked why Blaenau Gwent had received a reduced settlement figure from Welsh Government.

In response the Head of Policy & Performance confirmed that this would be passed to the Chief Finance Officer for comment.

The Chair referred to the fact that sickness absence had increased during 2016/17, and the Head of Organisational Development confirmed that there had been an increase in stress related sickness. However, she assured that sickness absence was reviewed every year, and a Corporate Sickness Absence Task Group had been established, led by the Corporate Director of Education, to look at ways of reducing the figure and a report would be submitted to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee in due course.

The Officer also reported that the Authority's occupational health provider had recently changed, and the Authority would work in partnership with them in order to reduce sickness absence, as it was a concerning issue for the Authority which impacted on managerial and OD capacity.

However, in terms of the increase the Officer pointed out that the Authority had been through a period of change in some service areas which had impacted on staff, and a piece of work was currently being undertaken to obtain comparative data with other Authorities in a similar situation with service changes and employee related issues.

A brief discussion ensued when Members asked that a Scrutiny Task and Finish Group be established to look at sickness absence levels.

RESOLVED accordingly.

The Head of Organisational Development said the ITrent system had been launched recently which would allow more detailed information in relation to sickness absence, and would be beneficial for the Task and Finish Group to evaluate. She suggested that a report be deferred until September to allow Officers time to obtain the relevant information.

A Member asked whether the information was linked to the staff surveys undertaken, and the percentage of surveys completed.

The Head of Organisational Development said the Authority had established a Corporate Engagement Group and engagement events had also taken place with wider CMT and Members, which linked to CMT performance reviews, and the staff survey results also formed part of CMT leadership appraisals. She said the response rate for staff surveys was positive, and a follow-up spot survey was undertaken when areas of concern had been identified, with another full staff survey in 2 years.

The Officer referred to the Corporate Services Critical/High Risk detailed in the report, and said that the increase in the number of disciplinary cases over the last 3 years should be amended to 181%. She confirmed that schools were now included within the OD remit, and a number of case management reviews contributed to this figure.

Members requested that a 'Glossary of Terms' be included in future reports.

FURTHER RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and:-

i. The information contained therein be acknowledged; and

ii. A Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee Task and Finish Group be established to look at sickness absence across the Council.

Agreed
9. PROGRESS REPORT TO MEMBERS, 'CONTRACTS OVER 500K'
Report (126K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (70K/bytes)

Consideration was given to report of the Property Services Manager which provided Members with updated information on the progress of capital projects over 500k.

The Head of Technical Services presented the report and confirmed that there were two current contracts valued over 500k, and of these the risk assessed performance showed that one was RAGB rated green, which the project was completed within the budget and time allocation. The other project was the Demolition of Abertillery Leisure Centre and this was currently RAGB rated red.

He reported that the main demolition project was suspended due to the presence of asbestos hidden in cavities, which was not identified by the specialist consultant's pre-demolition survey report. However, a tender for the removal of the asbestos was awarded and a preferred contractor had been selected, and a reassurance check of the asbestos removal methodology to be adopted on site was currently being undertaken under controlled conditions, prior to notification of the HSE under the control of asbestos regulations.

A Member asked whether it was intended to recover costs of asbestos removal works from the specialist consultant.

The Officer confirmed that discussions were taking place with the company regarding financial liability of failure to identify the asbestos.

In response to a question raised by a Member the Officer said asbestos was a historical problem, as it was commonly used in the construction of buildings many years ago, and could be found in the majority of Council owned buildings. However, he assured that there were robust plans in place to manage and monitor asbestos where it had been was identified in our buildings.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and progress against the contracts listed at Appendix 1 be acknowledged.

Councillor L. Winnett left the meeting at this juncture.

Agreed
10. SHARED RESOURCE SERVICE PARTNERSHIP WORKING - HALF YEARLY MONITORING REPORT
Report (129K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (118K/bytes)

Councillor G. Paulsen declared an interest in this item, and remained in the meeting but took no part in the discussion.

Consideration was given to report of the Chief Finance Officer which was submitted to enable Members to challenge the performance of IT services provided to the Council from the Shared Resource Service (SRS).

The Head of Benefits, Revenues & ICT spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein. In January 2016 the Council agreed to the transfer of Corporate ICT Services to the SRS, becoming a fourth partner alongside Torfaen CBC, Monmouthshire CC and Gwent Police.

The SRS has engaged with Newport City Council, with the Council producing a business case to assess the merits of becoming a fifth partner in the SRS, and following a period of due diligence assessment, the SRS Public Board was able to recommend to all partners that Newport City Council become a fifth partner from April 2017, and Caerphilly CBC were also in the process of producing a business case to become a partner in the SRS.

In terms of performance, the Officer explained that the SRS produced monthly performance indicators for all its partners in a combined report, and an extract from the latest performance report was attached at Appendix 1.

She pointed out that the transitional issue in relation to the logging of BGCBC calls had prevented a trend analysis over time. However, on the basis that April would now be the base position, monitoring of trends going forward would be more meaningful.

The Officer then referred to the performance information at section 2.3 of the report and confirmed that both issues would be taken up with the SRS for resolution.

A Member asked whether there was comparative data available for the other partners and the Officer said this information could be included in future monitoring reports.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the information contained therein be acknowledged.

Agreed
11. TIME OF FUTURE MEETINGS

RESOVLED that meetings of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee be held at 10.00 a.m.

The Chair reported that he had been notified by the Leadership and Temporary Lead Corporate Director/Head of Paid Service that correspondence would be sent to all Members giving an update position on the availability of IT for Members.

Agreed
12. EXTENSION OF ABAVUS CONTRACTUAL ARRANGEMENTS
Report (122K/bytes)

Due to the need to consider the following item as a matter of urgency, the Leader of the Council has confirmed that the following matter could be considered under the Provisions of Paragraph 4(b), Section 100(b) of the Local Government Act, 1972.

Consideration was given to report of the Head of Revenues, Benefits & ICT which was submitted to consider a report for an extension of the contractual arrangements with Abavus, the Authority's provider of 'My Council Services'.

The Head of Revenues, Benefits & ICT spoke to the report and highlighted points contained therein. The Council required an extension of the contractual arrangements to maintain its systems to meet customer services demands in the Contact Centre and via self-service channels.

In response to a question raised by a Member regarding training for Members on the 'My Council Services' app, the Head of Policy & Performance confirmed that a short session was provided at the Members' Marketplace event, and provision of a further session would be considered.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and the Scrutiny Committee recommend to the Executive Committee to extend the current contractual arrangements with Abavus who supply the Council's contact centre, self-service forms module and mobile worker application for 10 months starting on 1st July, 2017 to allow a full tender and procurement exercise to be completed in collaboration with Torfaen and Monmouthshire Councils in 2017-18.

Agreed