Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale
Contact: Democratic Services 5100
You are welcome to use Welsh at the meeting, a minimum notice period of 3 working days is required should you wish to do so. A simultaneous translation will be provided if requested.
It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.
Apologies for absence
were received from Councillors
Declarations of Interests and Dispensations
To consider any declarations of interests and dispensations made.
There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.
To receive action sheet.
The action sheet arising from the meeting of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 19th November, 2019 was submitted, whereupon:-
A request was made for Members to view the quality of the images produced by the new CCTV system. The Head of Partnerships and Governance advised that this could be arranged as long as the relevant legal and data protection processes had been be followed.
Another Member referred to a visit arranged for Members to the call centre in Newport who at that time operated CCTV for the Authority. The visit allowed Members to have sight of the quality and images from all areas of the Borough. The Member recognised the need for legal and data protection check, however he advised that Elected Members are subject to confidentiality pledges when they are elected and therefore felt that Members could be trusted to view images.
The Chief Officer Resources stated that there was not an issue with trust, however due to data protection laws individuals were permitted to have their information protected. The Chief Officer added that the images were not ‘live streaming’ and could no longer be viewed at a call centre, therefore the recording would need to be downloaded to a DVD and any individuals in the footage would need to be pixilated out by IT officers before it was viewed. The Chief Officer agreed to give consideration to the request to ascertain what could be provided to Members.
This course of action was AGREED.
The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the action sheet be noted.
To consider the report of the Chief Officer
Resources and the Chief Officer Commercial.
Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Resources and the Chief Officer Commercial.
The Chief Officer Resources spoke to the report which outlined the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and provided the proposed approach the Council would undertake to address financial challenges over the next 5 years. The Chief Officer added that the MTFS was a key element in the Council’s strategic planning work which supported the Council’s financial resilience and sustainability. The MTFS together with the Bridging the Gap Programme proposed the approach the Council would take to address financial challenges over the next 5 years.
The Chief Officer Resources informed that there had been a delay in the announcement of the Local Government Settlement due to the General Election on 12th December, 2019. It had originally been expected at the end of November, however the final settlement was now due on 16th December, 2019. This delay had caused implications for the budget setting process and planning the actual budget reductions to set a balanced budget for 2020/2021, however the MTFS would be revised following the announcement.
The Chief Officer referred Members to the information detailed in the report and appendices which outlined the budget gap of £16.2m over the next 5 years. Also, the progress against the Strategic Business Reviews was noted with the overall financial achievement towards the budget gap currently assessed between £5.4m and £7.9m over the period of the MTFS. The Chief Officer further noted the estimated financial achievement of the Strategic Business Reviews would result in a residual funding gap at between £8m to £10m over the next five years. However, for 2020/2021 proposals had been developed across all portfolios to mitigate funding gaps.
A Member raised concerns around the continued reduction in the budgets and felt that the Council services and frontline staff could not be reduced any further. The Member noted the Council’s commitment to prioritise Education and Social Services and had hoped that the monies provided to schools could be increased or at least maintained. The Member further reiterated his concerns around the reductions in staff and advised that the reduced budget settlements would be a concern to staff as in some cases jobs had been lost.
The Chief Officer Resources advised that job losses were a concern to everyone, however it was paramount the Authority lived within its means and spend prioritised accordingly.
The Committee AGREED the report be accepted and Option 1; namely that the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee:-
· considered and agreed the MTFS;
· noted the forecast funding gap for the period of the MTFS; and
· agreed the proposals within the Strategic Business Reviews attached at Appendix 1 of the MTFS.
To consider report of Managing
Consideration was given to the report of the Managing Director.
The Chief Officer Commercial advised that the report outlined the high level findings of the 2019 Staff Survey along with management actions related to the results. The Chief Officer added that the Authority had undertaken staff surveys every two years since 2014 in order to ascertain levels of staff engagement with the priorities of the Council. It also provides an opportunity to monitor their levels of well-being. During 2019 the survey was carried out between January and March and it was noted that participation this year has increased. The Chief Officer Commercial further outlined the activities which had been undertaken following an analysis of the data from the results.
The Chief Officer Commercial further noted the headline findings from the survey as detailed in the report which included an improved response rate, improvement in staff satisfaction with staff feeling more motivated in their role and more informed. There was an increase in communication across the Authority, staff felt they were more able to strike a work/life balance and staff felt more inclined to speak positively about the Council to others outside work.
The Chair asked the reason there were some signs of a reduction in frequency of staff 1-2-1s and team meetings.
The Chief Officer Commercial advised that the 1-2-1s should be recorded and therefore there was a need for managers to be aware that when performance conversations are carried out that they are recorded. Part of the employment deal with employees is that they are entitled to have those discussions.
A Member referred to the high number of staff within the Regeneration & Community Services and Social Services Departments who would not have access to email to participate in the survey and asked how these employees were encouraged to complete the survey.
The Corporate Director Regeneration and Community Services advised that the Department had a number of the workforce on split work patterns and discussions had been undertaken on how these employees could be engaged. The Corporate Director Social Services added that it was difficult to reach some staff that were not office based and a number of ways in which both Departments could engage with these employees were being considered.
The Chief Officer Commercial added that although the survey suits some staff there was a need to look at how it could be offered in different ways to accommodate all staff.
The Vice-Chair welcomed the positive report and was encouraged to see that staff were happy and empowered. He asked if the Authority engaged with school based staff.
The Chief Officer Commercial advised that school based staff were not included at the moment, however there was no reason they could not participate and added that discussions could be undertaken with schools to ascertain best way to circulate the survey for completion.
The Committee AGREED, that the report be accepted and endorse Option 1; namely the Committee endorsed the report prior to the report being presented to the Executive.
To consider the report of the Head of
Governance and Partnerships.
Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Governance and Partnerships.
The Head of Partnerships and Governance advised that the Joint Finance and Performance report outlined quarters 1 and 2 which covered April to September 2019. The Officer advised that the report had been enhanced to provide a more user friendly format and it would continue to be a ‘live’ document to take into account feedback received.
At this juncture the Chair went through and the following questions/points were raised accordingly.
A Member referred to the alignment of the Public Service Board and Regional Partnership Board and asked if the Public Services Scrutiny Committee had been aligned appropriately to give the appropriate timelines for matters being considered.
The Head of Partnerships and Governance advised that the cycle of meetings had been developed to align the Scrutiny Committee with scheduled Public Service Board meetings which were held on a quarterly basis this gave a coherent reporting path. The alignment of Public Service Boards and the Regional Partnership Boards were around how their work streams being aligned to the Integrated Well-Being Programme. This was a good example of where two boards could come together and discussions would progress via the Public Service Board and once approved be presented to the Scrutiny Committee.
The Member further noted the collaborative work in the report which referred the joint working arrangements of the SRS and advised that this was not the only collaborative work being undertaken across the Council.
The Managing Director advised that the report captured work for quarters 1 and 2 and did not document all partnership work only areas where work had been carried out in the specific quarters. The Managing Director added that there was a great deal of collaborative work across the Council and in all services including City Deal, Tech Valleys and the Valleys Task Force. It was felt that it would be beneficial to report all collaborative and partnership working, however it was noted that progress reports on the City Deal were regularly presented to Scrutiny a report was scheduled to be presented to the next Council meeting on 12th December, 2019.
Further to a request made for a Members Briefing on collaborative and partnership work arrangements across the Council, it was advised that a regeneration member briefing session could be arranged, to discuss collaborative work undertaken by the Directorate. A further request was made for late morning start and the Head of Partnerships and Governance agreed to accommodate this request.
A Member noted the capital bid achieved for Social Services and asked if a report would be presented to inform Members on the project being pursued.
The Corporate Director Social Services advised that the capital bid had been around the childcare offer and schools had been identified to work with in their existing settings. The Corporate Director confirmed that a report would be presented to the Social Services Scrutiny Committee at the appropriate time.
The Member recognised the amount of good work undertaken in ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To receive the report.
Consideration was given to the report of the Chair of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee.
The Chair reported that the meeting scheduled in January 2020 would be cancelled, therefore the items presented on the Forward Work Programme would be presented to the February Committee with the exception of Organisational Development Policies which was scheduled to be presented to the March meeting.
The Committee AGREED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted.