Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee
Friday, 16th April, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: virtually via Microsoft Teams - if you would like to attend this meeting live via Microsoft Teams please contact committee.services@blaenau-gwent.gov.uk

Contact: Democratic Services  5100

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Simultaneous Translation

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.

Minutes:

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

 

2.

Apologies

To receive.

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor
G. Collier.

 

3.

Declarations of Interests and Dispensations

To consider any declarations of interests and dispensations made.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

 

4.

Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee Minutes pdf icon PDF 253 KB

To receive the Minutes of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 5th March, 2021.

 

(Please note that the Minutes are submitted for points of accuracy only)

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee Meeting held on 5th March, 2021 were submitted.

 

A Member advised that he had not received a response to the request he made at the last meeting. The Member was disappointed that the Corporate Director Regeneration and Community Services had not responded to his request and felt that it was unacceptable.

 

The Corporate Director Regeneration and Community Services apologised to the Member and advised that he would contact him direct at a mutually convenient time as it was information outside of the report presented at the last meeting.

 

The Committee AGREED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

 

5.

Action Sheet - 5th March 2021 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To receive Action Sheet.

Minutes:

The action sheet arising from the meeting of the Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee held on 5th March, 2021 was submitted; whereupon:-

 

CCTV

 

A Member asked when the report to review the equality of provision of CCTV could be expected.  The Interim Chief Officer Commercial advised that data would be gathered over a period of time and needed to include intelligence gained from meetings with Members. These findings would then be presented as part of the annual monitoring report.

 

The Member felt that these issues needed to be addressed sooner rather than later as communities needs continually change.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Commercial advised that a period of monitoring before a progress/update report could be presented.

 

The Member reiterated that Nantyglo Ward had no cameras and therefore he felt it was important to this Ward that updates are more regular than annually.

 

Another Member concurred with the concerns raised and advised that Members wanted to see progress. The Member added that other local authorities in Gwent had direct links to the Cloud and therefore Police had footage as it happened and this was what was required by residents and Members. It would demonstrate the Council working in partnership with the Police to assure our residents are safe.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Commercial advised that following further contact with the PCC their position remained unchanged there was no funding available. The Member noted the benefits of being linked to the Cloud, however if there were no cameras in certain locations then there would be no benefit to those areas. The Member looked forward to future reports to monitor progress of this matter.

 

The Committee AGREED that the action sheet be noted.

 

6.

Corporate Communications Strategy - Quarterly Update pdf icon PDF 424 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Chief Officer Commercial.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Interim Chief Officer Commercial.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Commercial advised that the report provided progress as at Quarter 4 against the Corporate Communications Strategy. The Interim Chief Officer spoke to the report and advised that the pandemic had resulted in the delivery of the strategy being entirely focused on the communication related to Covid-19. The importance of digital and social media became even more significant during the pandemic to ensure our communities were kept informed.

 

It was noted that the Corporate Communications Team was a key member of the Gwent Local Resilience Forum Warning and Informing Group. The Group was responsible for aligning communications and communicating key information to the residents of Gwent during the pandemic. The Interim Chief Officer Commercial noted the importance of the Team ensuring a consistent approach between local partners, PHW and Welsh Government. The continually changing nature of the Pandemic had required a constant flow of information and which needed to be clear and effective as well as coordinated between all sectors.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Commercial further outlined the aims of the Communication Plan in respect of the Covid-19 response as detailed in the report.

 

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and endorse Option 1; namely that Corporate Overview Scrutiny Committee considered the Quarter 4 (January to March 2021) update against the Communication Strategy prior to it being presented to the Executive Committee.

 

7.

Commercial Strategy Quarterly Performance Monitoring pdf icon PDF 594 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Chief Officer Commercial.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Interim Chief Officer Commercial.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Commercial spoke to the report which outlined Quarter 4 of the Commercial Strategy. The Interim Chief Officer advised that the Council’s commercial activities were driven by the ambitions as detailed in the Strategy. The pandemic continued to have an impact on the delivery of the Strategy, however substantial progress had been made in Quarter 4 and referred Members to the key activity which was summarised in the report in line with the Council’s key themes and ambitions.

 

The following questions were raised at this juncture and responded to accordingly:-

 

Strategic Commissioning and Commercial Board – it was confirmed that the Board was made up of the Corporate Leadership Team, Legal, Resources and Procurement officers.

 

Welsh Government Digital Democracy Fund – it was informed that the fund was in relation to user research with 16 to 25 year olds to gain an understanding of how young people access the democracy and obtain feedback on their experiences.

 

Contact Centre – concerns were raised around the Contact Centre, particularly ‘Out of Hours Service’ being sourced outside of Blaenau Gwent as it was important that operators knew the local area. It was also asked that if there are any changes that Elected Members be informed.

 

An Officer confirmed that a local based service provision would be pursued. The Officer further advised that a number of actions were being taken forward with SRS to address issues raised.

 

Closure of the Civic Centre – concerns were raised around the services offered at the Civic Centre via the Receptionist and asked if these services, such as Blue Badge applications would be available at the Community Hubs.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Commercial advised that all these aspects of the services available at the Civic Centre are being looked at in order to understand the needs of the customer. The data would be collected and communicated to Members to ensure they are informed accordingly.

 

Bilingual Contact Centre Message – it was advised that residents had raised concerns with Members that Welsh was first for the Contact Centre greeting. It was a long message and in some cases costly to the resident. A Member asked if the English could be first, which was practice in some other local authorities.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Commercial reminded Members that the Council had an obligation to the Welsh Language Act and advised that this request could be investigated, however it was important that the Council operated within their responsibilities to the Act.

 

Calls Times to the Contact Centre – in response to concerns raised in relation to the cost of the sometimes lengthy wait times to the Contact Centre, the Interim Chief Officer Commercial advised that waiting times are monitored as part of the service performance arrangements and improvements such as a que system would be developed.

 

Officers Mobile Numbers – due to agile working arrangements it was pointed out that some officers were hardly in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Test Trace and Protect Service pdf icon PDF 424 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Chief Officer Commercial and Service Manager Customer Experience and Transformation.

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Interim Chief Officer Commercial and the Service Manager Customer Experience and Transformation.

 

The Interim Chief Officer Commercial provided an overview of the report and invited the Service Manager Customer Experience and Transformation to provide an update on the current position and performance of the service as detailed in the report. It was noted that performance of Gwent TTP service as a region was in the top quartile.

 

A Member advised that he had requested this report as he had been monitoring the report issued by Monmouthshire County Council who provided these details on a Ward by Ward basis. The Member appreciated the excellent work of the NHS and the Local Authority, however as an Elected Member he felt that this level of detail was needed for Blaenau Gwent. It was hoped that Covid-19 numbers would now continue to reduce and thanked the Officers for an informative report.

 

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and endorse Option 1; namely accepted the progress update.

 

9.

Proposed Agile Working Policy pdf icon PDF 414 KB

To consider the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Organisational Development.

 

The Head of Organisational Development presented the report which provided Members with the opportunity to scrutinise, challenge and make suggestions on the proposed Agile Working Policy for the Council’s workforce further to the report that was approved at Council on the 25th March, 2021 on the New Council Operating Model & Working Arrangements

 

The Officer advised that the introduction of a new model of agile working would bring modern working practices, enhance employees’ working experience, maximise performance and productivity and realise financial gains. The Agile Working Policy being key to delivering the future working model and linked to the Council’s vision for sustainable development including sustainable economic growth and decarbonisation.

 

The Head of Organisational Development further spoke to the report and noted the responsibilities as detailed in the Policy. The Officer noted that Unison, GMB and Unite trade unions had all been fully engaged in the development of the and the draft Agile Working Policy.

 

The Draft Policy had been sent to trade unions for formal consultation and two requests had been received from Unison for consideration, as follows:-

 

·        Unison would like to see a £16 allowance for Agile workers not £12. The Corporate Leadership Team discussed this proposal and support a figure of £15.60 to recommend to Members for their consideration (pro rata figure which would be fair to all workers); and

 

·        all current employees that are designated as home or agile workers be able to utilise an allowance of up to £200 to cover the cost of a chair and desk that would be able to fit in within the home environment. The allowance to be used with an approved council supplier. The Corporate Leadership Team support the choice for the workforce from approved suppliers/including recycled equipment. Unison also requested that any future workforce (new recruits) be given the option of the allowance if they are paid scale 6 or below.

 

The Head of Organisational Development referred Members to the options and noted the preferred option.

 

The Officer invited questions/comments from the Members at this juncture.

 

A Member asked that following approval of the New Working Arrangements which formulated this Policy had any members of staff left the Council sighting agile working as the reason.

 

The Member stated that he had made his point clear at the Council meeting and reiterated that he was totally against the new way of working at this time. The Member had many concerns which included employee’s mental health. The last year during the pandemic had been horrendous which saw people confined to their homes. The Member wanted assurances from the Council that if an employee did not wish to work from home for a specific reason that this would be accommodated.

 

The Head of Organisational Development advised that as part of the Policy there were a number of documents to be completed with the employee and their manager as part of 1-2-1 consultation meetings to be undertaken. The individual’s circumstances, their  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.