Meeting documents

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 12th March, 2018 10.00 am

Date: Monday 12th March 2018 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 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 (174K/bytes)
Noted
2. CONDOLENCES

The Committee stood in silence as a mark of respect as the Chair reported the sad death of Marie Jones former Borough Councillor and Brynmawr Town Councillor who had served the community of Brynmawr for over 30 years.

Noted
3. SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

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

Noted
4. APOLOGIES

The following apologies for absence were reported:-

Councillors: J. Collins

M. Day

K. Pritchard.

Noted
5. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

The following Officers declared an interest in Item No. 11 - Senior Management Review:-

Chief Finance Officer
Corporate Director of Social Services
Head of Organisational Development
Head of Technical Services
Head of Policy & Performance
Head of Public Services

Noted
6. CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes (202K/bytes)
Cofnodion (142K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee Meeting held on 8th January, 2018 were submitted.

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

Agreed
7. ACTION SHEET
Action Sheet (43K/bytes)
Attachment 1 (41K/bytes)
Attachment 2 (43K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Action Sheet of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee Meeting held on the 8th January, 2018; whereupon:-

Action Sheet - 27th November, 2017

The Head of Public Services confirmed that the Member Briefing Session on the Vacant Units had been scheduled for 17th April 2018 and that a confirmation date was awaited from the Welsh Government in relation to the Members Briefing session regarding the Enterprise Zone.

Progress Report Contracts Over 500k

Trinity Chapel, Abertillery - a Member raised concerns in relation to funding and proposals for the end use of the building. The Executive Member commented that Lower Ebbw Fach Members had recently met with Coalfields Regeneration Trust and had raised similar issues in relation to funding and the proposals for the community shop element within the building. Options for the end use of the building had been extensively debated and were ongoing. In relation to Members concerns regarding funding, any proposed spend would be presented to Council for approval.

The Head of Public Services would provide Members with a further update on future use of the building.

Workplace Transformation Update - Anvil Court, Abertillery - in relation to the internal refurbishment works, a Member enquired if written permission had been obtained from the Landlord for alterations to the internal structure of the building. The Head of Technical Services said he would check on this issue and report back to Committee in due course.

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

Agreed
8. STRATEGIC EQUALITY PLAN 2016 TO 2020 - ANNUAL REPORT COVERING 2016 TO 2017 (STATUTORY DUTY)
Report (138K/bytes)
Appendix (5M/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Policy & Performance and the Policy, Partnerships and Engagement Manager which presented the Annual Report of the Strategic Equality Plan 2016 to 2020 covering the period April 2016 to March 2017.

The Head of Policy & Performance spoke to the report and highlighted the main points contained therein. As agreed in last year's meeting the Annual Report had been presented in a new format to better capture and view the information. Members were informed that a review would be undertaken of how Education related actions were reported to ensure appropriate accountability i.e. through the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee.

With reference to Appendix 2 and the contents page it was noted that there was a spelling error in the Objective 1 title.

In relation to the four equality objectives, a Member commented that the wording on Objective 3 'Do our best' should be deleted as it did not appropriately reflect the Council's commitment. The Head of Policy & Performance said that the four Objectives had been agreed by Council. Some groups within the agreed protected characteristics were hard to reach and engage with, and stressed that the Council were not being complacent.

A Member enquired regarding sexual harassment and bullying policies for staff. The Head of Organisational Development said that the Council had a raft of policies in place to support these issues all of which were widely published.

The Head of Policy & Performance commented that procedures were also in place to support Members on these issues.

In response to the Chair's question regarding a Transgender policy, the Head of Policy & Performance commented that pupils at a local school had developed a LGBT+ support group and through the Corporate Equality Network the Council would be working with schools to develop a Transgender policy.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report be accepted and Option 1 be supported; namely that the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee:

- Note that future reporting of Education related actions included in the SEP 2016 to 2020, was currently being reviewed to ensure appropriate accountability. This will be reported through the appropriate Scrutiny Committee.

- Provided comment on the SEP Annual Monitoring Report (attached at Appendix 2) and recommends it to the Executive Committee for endorsement by 31st March, 2018.

Agreed
9. QUARTER 3 (OCTOBER TO DECEMBER) FINANCE AND PERFORMANCE REPORT
Report (121K/bytes)
Appendix (370K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Policy & Performance which was presented to provide Members with the Finance and Performance Report for Quarter 3 covering the period October to December 2017.

The Head of Policy & Performance spoke to the report and highlighted the main points contained therein.

Corporate Services

Public Engagement - the two recently held public engagement events had been successful with over 1,000 people participating, the accompanying online survey had over 500 responses.

Staff Attendance Management - the Head of Organisational Development thanked Members of the Task & Finish Group for their input. Arrangements would be made for the Group to visit other local authorities to view what policies and processes were in place to improve staff attendance and what recommendations Blaenau Gwent Council could introduce to promote staff attendance and reduce sickness absence.

Comparable information for sickness absence across local authorities in Wales placed Blaenau Gwent in the lower quartile. Reducing sickness absence remained a key priority for the Council.

Member attendance - in relation to Member attendance at formal Scrutiny Committees, a Member commented that more information was needed on the downward trend. The Head of Policy & Performance said that Member attendance was monitored through the Democratic Services Committee and discussions could also be held with Group Leaders on the downward trend.

Another Member enquired if the reasons for absence were recorded. The Head of Policy & Performance said that apologies for absence were noted but not the reason for the absence. As Head of Democratic Services this issue could be presented to the Group Leaders with a view to implementing this procedure.

Company Shop, Tredegar - a Member requested an update on the Company Shop, Tredegar. The Head of Technical Services said that a meeting was due to be held within the next 6 weeks. Potentially there was an opportunity to acquire the site but this was at a very early stage.

Environment & Regeneration

Waste - in relation to a Member's question regarding the increase in waste being sent to landfill in quarter 3, the Head of Public Services said that the contractor Viridor had a 2 week planned closure for maintenance, however, the closure went beyond the two weeks and the company did not have the capacity to store the waste so the waste had to be sent to landfill. Four other local authorities used the same contractor and the Team would look at the impact on these authorities. If recycling targets were not achieved this could lead to financial penalties for the Authority.

Fly Tipping - a Member enquired regarding the decline in fly tipping incidents cleared in 5 days. The Head of Public Services said that the 5 day target was challenging and this performance indicator was being reviewed to extend to 30 days.

Social Services

Child Protection Review Conferences - in answer to a Member's question regarding the decline in the number of reviews held within timescale, the Corporate Director of Social Services said that there could be a number of reasons such as the meeting not being quorate or partner organisations not being able to attend so reviews could not go ahead. The Team dealt with high level and complex cases and always strived to meet deadlines.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 2 be supported and the information contained in the report be accepted.

Agreed
10. TREASURY MANAGEMENT - TREASURY STRATEGY STATEMENT, INVESTMENT STRATEGY & MRP POLICY STATEMENT 2018/2019
Report (114K/bytes)
Appendix A (350K/bytes)
Appendix B (34K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Financial Services and the Principal Accountant which was presented to provide Members with the opportunity to scrutinise the Treasury Strategy, Investment Strategy and Minimum Revenue Provision Policy to be adopted for the 2018/2019 financial year.

The Chief Finance Officer spoke to the report and highlighted the salient points contained therein which included that for 2019/20 onwards the revised Prudential and Treasury codes of practice introduced a new requirement for all local authorities to prepare a Capital Strategy report.

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

- Members support the Annual Treasury Strategy Statement & Annual Investment Strategy & MRP Policy Statement for 2018/2019 financial year and the Treasury Management Prudential Indicators contained therein (Appendix A) prior to submission to Council for formal approval.

- Members note that a Capital Strategy will be developed for the 2019/2020 financial year, as required by the revised Prudential and Treasury Codes.

Agreed
11. EXCESS MILEAGE SCHEME
Report (122K/bytes)
Appendix (635K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Organisational Development which was presented to provide Members with the updated Excess Mileage Scheme prior to submission to Council for approval and adoption.

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

Consultation had been held with the Trade Unions in November who had endorsed the proposal.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and Option 1 to approve the amended mileage rate in the Excess Mileage Scheme be supported for approval and adoption at Council.

Agreed
12. AGENDA ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING OF THE CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Agenda Items (56K/bytes)

AGENDA ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING OF THE CORPORATE OVERVIEW SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

Consideration was given to the Agenda Items for the next meeting to be held on 9th April, 2018.

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

- Draft Corporate Plan
- Corporate Communications Strategy from 2018
- Customer and Digital Progress


The following Officers declared an interest in Item No. 11 - Senior Management Review and left the meeting whilst it was under discussion:-

Chief Finance Officer
Corporate Director of Social Services
Head of Organisational Development
Head of Technical Services
Head of Policy & Performance
Head of Public Services


Agreed
TO RECEIVE AND CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING REPORT(S) WHICH IN THE OPINION OF THE PROPER OFFICER IS/ARE AN EXEMPT ITEM(S) TAKING INTO ACCOUNT CONSIDERATION OF THE PUBLIC INTEREST TEST AND THAT THE PRESS AND PUBLIC SHOULD BE EXCLUDED FROM THE MEETING (THE REASON FOR THE DECISION FOR THE EXEMPTION IS AVAILABLE ON A SCHEDULE MAINTAINED BY THE PROPER OFFICER)
13. SENIOR MANAGEMENT REVIEW
Report (410K/bytes)
Appendix 1a (37K/bytes)
Appendix 1b (92K/bytes)
Appendix 2a (47K/bytes)
Appendix 2b (141K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (52K/bytes)
Appendix 4 (46K/bytes)

Having regard to the views expressed by the Proper Officer regarding the public interest test, that on balance the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information and that the report should be exempt.

RESOLVED that the public be excluded whilst this item of business is transacted as it is likely there would be a disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraphs 12 & 14, Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

Consideration was given to the report of the Managing Director which was presented to provide Members with the outcomes of the Senior Management Review for consideration of the proposed new Senior Management Structure.

The Managing Director spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein and also outlined the approach and consultation undertaken throughout the process.

The Managing Director informed Members that since writing the report the Independent Remuneration Panel had confirmed that the proposals within this report did not fall within the remit of the panel.

Risk 2 - in relation to Risk 2 the Chair commented that it was essential that the Council make the right appointments in order to effectively manage the challenges ahead. The Managing Director said there would be tough decisions ahead and the Council needed to ensure that any arrangements put in place were resilient and provided the capacity and capability to deal with future challenges.

Financial Implications - In response to a Member's question regarding financial implications, the Managing Director clarified that whilst some posts remained unchanged there would be a reduction in Corporate Directors and Head of Service posts. Where significant changes have occurred to a post there would be a recruitment process which would involve Members. Officers who were currently in temporary positions would also be subject to the internal recruitment process.

A Member commented that he welcomed the discussions with neighbouring councils to explore the feasibility of regional working on legal services across two or more councils which would help relieve financial pressures within the Council especially in relation to the increased demand for children's services. There were some concerns in relation to collaboration regarding the SRS service but trusted that this would improve with the appointment of the Chief Officer (Commercial).

The Managing Director commented that the creation of the two new posts of Chief Officer (Commercial) and Chief Officer (Resources) would work well together to bring new ideas to promote Blaenau Gwent and provide financial resilience. The Chief Officer (Commercial) post would have responsibility for income generation.

Timescale - in relation to a Member's question regarding timescales for appointments, the Managing Director said that those posts that remained largely unchanged would be filled by slotting in existing post holders which would be a quick process. New and temporary filled posts would be appointed through the Council's internal recruitment process.

The HR Manager commented that any posts advertised through the external recruitment process would have a longer timescale and potentially also involve formal notice periods.

A Member commented that it was important for Members to be updated on progress in relation to appointments.

RESOLVED to recommend that the report which related to staffing matters and information relating to the financial and business affairs of any particular person (including the Council) be accepted and Option 1 be endorsed, namely:-

- the proposed Senior Management Structure and grades detailed in Section 6.1 and Appendix 2a and 2b, subject to the Independent Remuneration Panel for Wales with effect from 1st April, 2018; supporting the redesign of roles and agreeing the recruitment principles for recruiting to the new structure;

- work continued on the feasibility of developing a regional legal service in partnership with other councils, as detailed in paragraph 6.3, with a further report back to Council in due course, and that in the interim the Head of Legal & Corporate Compliance reports to the Managing Director; and

- that, as detailed in paragraph 6.4, the current temporary arrangements for the Head of Adult Services and Head of Public Services be retained, until the recruitment process into the new posts in the structure were concluded, and that the Chief Finance Officer be granted Flexible Retirement upon appointment of the new Chief Officer (Resources).

Agreed