To consider the report of the Chief Officer
Commercial and Customer.
Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Commercial and Customer which was presented to provide the quarter 2 (July to September 2021) progress update against the Commercial Strategy.
The Chief Officer Commercial and Customer spoke to the report and highlighted the main points contained therein.
In response to a Member’s question regarding private discussion rooms within hubs, the Chief Officer Commercial and Customer said this had been addressed and there was an area within the libraries that was removed from general space for the public to use for private discussions if they wished.
A Member referred to the 924 residents who had been unable to self-service at the hubs, the Chief Officer Commercial and Customer explained that there was a significant proportion of residents who were unable to self-serve and these were supported by Community Hub staff. There was also the need to ensure that delivery of digital services was clear and easy for residents to use. The Officer agreed to feedback to Committee details of the support provided for those residents who were unable to self serve.
A Member referred to residents who lived outside town centres and were unable to travel to the hubs and enquired regarding the possibility of introducing a system whereby Community Hub staff could contact those residents when necessary. The Chief Officer Commercial and Customer said they were looking at ways to develop the hub approach and agreed to explore this option with the team, whilst also taking into account confidentiality issues.
In response to a Member’s question regarding funding and expanding the number of days some hubs operated, the Chief Officer Commercial and Customer clarified that the funding was in relation to the locality response teams which operated during the first phase of the pandemic and this funding may end in March 2022 but would not affect the Community Hubs. In relation to the expansion of operating days for hubs in Blaina, Cwm and Llanhilleth Institute, they were monitoring footfall and reviewing demand in the areas to look at how to manage this within existing staff resources. The Officer said she would ensure that the operating days of Community Hubs was clearly communicated to residents.
A Member felt that good practice should be shared amongst Community Hubs within Blaenau Gwent. The Chief Officer Commercial and Customer advised Members that staff had been extremely proactive and had created a strong network where they share information to develop a level of consistency throughout the hubs.
The Member felt that it would be beneficial for a member of the team to attend the scrutiny Committee to give more detail. The Chief Officer Commercial and Customer said that a Members briefing session could be arranged sometime in the future for Members to gain a better insight of some of the issues being addressed.
The Chief Officer Commercial and Customer responded to questions raised by a Member. She advised that in relation to the increasing footfall numbers the team were comfortably able to support the number of residents visiting the hubs. The Officer was looking at locality teams to ensure there was appropriate coverage across the hubs, this included officers who could step in for periods of sickness absence or annual leave.
The Officer said she was not aware of any complaints regarding interaction with the hubs, however, feedback from residents had been received regarding how the interaction had helped them with issues and questions. Feedback from Members had included scheduling and marketing.
With regard to improved contact between the public and the Council, the Officer felt that the hubs covered a wide range of face to face discussion to support residents to interact with the Council and navigate through specific issues.
A Member commented that she had referred residents to the Community hub in her area and had received feedback that it was a fantastic service with knowledgeable staff and felt it was important to pass these comments on to the whole team who had helped develop the service.
The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and endorse Option 1; namely that Members considered and provided comment on the quarter 2 progress update against the Commercial Strategy, prior to the report being presented to Executive Committee.