Agenda and draft minutes

Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny
Tuesday, 5th September, 2017 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

Items
No. Item

48.

Minutes

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting

Minutes:

The minutes of the Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 4 July 2017 were agreed by the Committee, and signed by the Chairman.

49.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were sent by Cllr Collins and Cllr Fethney

50.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest

 

A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered -

 

(i)            must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent

 

and, if the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest, or a personal interest which is also prejudicial

 

(ii)           may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter (and must withdraw to the public seating area) unless they have been granted a dispensation.

 

A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Members’ Register of Interests, or is not the subject of a pending notification, must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.

 

Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal and prejudicial interests are defined in Part 2 of the Code of Conduct For Members

 

[If a member is in any doubt as to whether they have an interest which should be declared they should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer before the start of the meeting]

 

Minutes:

Cllr Douris noted that a company which he owned was a tenant of a commercial property owned by DBC.

51.

Public Participation

An opportunity for members of the public to make statements or ask questions in accordance with the rules as to public participation

Minutes:

None.

 

52.

Consideration of any matter referred to the committee in relation to call-in

None

Minutes:

None. 

 

53.

Action points from the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 34 KB

Minutes:

Cllr Chapman introduced the Action Points found at page 3-4 of the agenda pack.

 

Cllr Tindall noted item 3 , DBC’S rank within Hertfordshire in terms of income, received through the Alternative Financial Model, and the outcome, namely that Dacorum ranked first in Hertfordshire for total income received, and second in Hertfordshire for income generated per property. He asked what was the context of these figures. He said that the size of DBC meant that this figure could be misleading. He asked if this figure was per thousand per population, was it per council tax, per capita? He wanted some context so that they could judge DBC’s performance in comparison to other district borough’s within Hertfordshire. C Baker said that the officer who had provided this response had now left DBC, however they would return to the team and ask for some further context behind this figure.

 

Action Point: Chris Baker to ask Financial Services to provide context to DBC’s ranking within the AFM

 

Cllr Douris noted the layout of the action point table and asked if a further column could be inserted noting the minute number that the action point related to. This would enable members to find the action point more easily. Cllr Chapman agreed.

54.

Legal Governance & Democratic Services Q1 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(The Chairman brought forward this agenda item as the lead officer for the scheduled item was running late)

 

Cllr Chapman introduced the report, and invited the officers to offer any comments on it.  J Doyle noted that Cllr Harden was not yet at the meeting to introduce the item; he also offered his apologies on behalf of Mark Brookes, Solicitor to the Council. He said that he had no comments on the Democratic Services section of the report. B Lisgarten also confirmed that she had no comments on the Legal Governance sector; both officers said that they were happy to take any questions on the report. (Cllr Harden also arrived at 7:35pm)

 

Cllr Chapman said that he had no questions for either officer, however he noted with some concern point 13 of the report (pg 24 of the agenda pack), regarding the Councillor attendance of in respect of Member Development sessions - specially that 40 Councillors had not attended any sessions, 8 attended one session, and that 3 had attended both sessions. He said a significant amount of time went into organising these sessions for members; he thought that this should be brought to the attention of Councillors, and that they should all make an effort to attending such sessions.

 

Cllr Taylor thanked the Chairman for these comments; he noted the Modern Slavery session, emphasising its particular importance. He noted that Hertfordshire had its own dedicated Detective Sergeant in charge of Trafficking and Slavery. Cllr Taylor said that he was one of the three individuals that had attended both the member and staff session, and it was just as chilling the second time. He noted point MS01 of pg 26 (which stated ‘No Data’), and said that this data was contained in point 13. He said that as Chairman as Member Development, the group was looking at ways of encouraging greater member attendance at these training programmes. Cllr Taylor said that group had reviewed the Constitution, however this did not allow the mandatory attendance of Councillors to these events. Cllr Taylor noted that there were a number of members on this committee that were also members of the steering group; he invited Cllr Douris to add any comments. Cllr Douris noted that there were some external facilitators that were engaged by DBC to provide member training at some cost. He said that when calculated in terms of the number of people attending training events, the cost per head was not insignificant. He echoed Cllr Taylor’s comments, with the need to engage and encourage members to attend these events.

 

Cllr Douris referred back to the Modern Slavery Training event. He said that he had been at a meeting that day, where the Chief Inspector of that particular district had produced a very interesting set of information and targets. Cllr Douris said that he would share this information and concept with Cllr Harden, as it would be useful to replicate and bring to the Community Safety partnership. Cllr Taylor asked Cllr  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.

55.

Performance, People & Innovation Q1 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 108 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(The Chairman brought forward this agenda item as the lead officer for the scheduled item was running late)

 

Cllr Chapman introduced the report, and invited Cllr Harden to offer any comments on it. Cllr Harden confirmed that he had no further comments, however there were a team of officers to answer any questions.

 

Cllr Tindall noted points 2.2 and 2.3 at pg 55 of the report; he asked for some further explanation why the move to a new complaints system had resulted in two indicators dropping into the red zone. R Smyth said that a new complaints policy had been introduced, with a streamlined approach of two stages instead of three; there were also a number of new rules and conditions. This was with the intention of improving the complaints system. He said that a lot of work had been completed developing this new system, with the business rules and business processes as well improving the way DBC monitor, record and collect data. R Smyth said that during the transition from the three stage to two stage there had been a ‘bedding in’ period for staff and managers as they got used to the new responsibilities and time limits. As a result, there had been a few complaints that had been responded a couple of days outside of the new time targets. R Smyth said that training to staff had been provided as part of the  roll out of the new process, however he said that the introduction of any new system brought teething problems. As part of the continued learning, they were working with each group manager to understand the types of complaints that they received, and if there was anything further that could be done to assist them in responding to complaints. R Smyth said that this had been a positive process; he said that the figures contained within the report were for Quarter 1, and already there had been a much improved service. Cllr Tindall asked if, given this, there would be any red indicators at Quarter 2. R Smyth said that he would expect the performance to be improved.

 

Cllr Douris asked when the new system had come into play; did it come into play before it went into red, or after? R Smyth confirmed it had been introduced in April. Cllr Douris then asked if with the benefit of hindsight, a greater level of attention should have been paid to the transitional arrangements, to protect the public from a less good service. R Smyth said that the biggest change to the process had seen managers having to take greater responsibility for the investigation into a complaint; he said that this had been a learning curve for all involved, and that ongoing lessons had been learnt for the continued management of the new system.

 

Leading on from this, Cllr Tindall referred to point 2.5 of the report (pg 55 of the agenda pack), which stated “Three Stage 2 complaints were unresolved”. This, he said,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.

56.

Budget Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 124 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Chapman introduced the report, and invited the officer to offer any comments on it.  David Skinner began by offering his apologies for arriving later than expected; he wanted to draw the Committee to a number of key items; he said that there was continued success from the previous financial year, a lot of the same areas that were delivering surplus income continued to forecast surplus income. D Skinner went onto highlight a number of key points that were set out in full within the report. The Chairman also asked Cllr Elliot if he wished to add any comments at portfolio holder; he confirmed that he did not.

 

Cllr Tindall noted 1.13 of pg 8, that there was a pressure on the budget for the Parking Enforcement contract. He asked what this pressure was. D Skinner said that when they were setting the budget for 2017/2018, a review had been conducted by consultants who identified that there was scope for some savings in the parking contract. However, following detailed negotiations with Watford Council about the parking contract, it became apparent that these savings were not available. However, savings had been identified elsewhere; these savings, along with the surplus income meant that the overall net position is what had been planned, however the detail behind this had slightly changed. D Skinner added that DBC were currently out to tender to renew the parking contract, so he hoped that further savings could be made with the assistance of technology, although this may require some capital expenditure to enable this.

 

Cllr Douris noted 1.14 of pg 8, that parking income was forecast to exceed budget by £125k. He asked the following three part question in relation to this point: (a) How much of this was generated by tickets, and how much was generated by Penalty Charge Notices; (b) what was the percentage of appeals upheld by the Traffic penalty tribunal; and (c) is the parking contract a stand-alone contract, or were DBC partnering with another authority?

 

B Hosier said (a) that the revenue generated from PCN’s was on a downward trend. The available information indicated that the number of sessions were the same, but the income had increased – the assumption was that people were paying to stay longer in car parks; 

(b) he confirmed that he would return to the Committee with information to this question; and (c) B Hosier also confirmed that the parking contract was solely DBC contract; there was no partnering with other organisation.

 

Action Point: B Hosier to confirm the percentage of appeals to PCN’s upheld by the Traffic Penalty Tribunal

 

Leading on from this, Cllr Tindall asked if with the new contract, the intention was to have more ‘smart’ machines’ that would be able to analyse trends more effectively; if this was the case, Cllr Tindall asked if consideration would be given to return to free parking on Sundays (if analysis demonstrated that the enforcement costs were greater than the revenue generated). B Hosier said that they  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.

57.

Finance & Resources Q1 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Chapman introduced the report, and invited the officer to offer any comments on it.  D Skinner began by saying that this would be the final quarter that CSU performance was reported, before it was moved to Performance, People & Innovation. He then went onto highlight a number of key points that were set out in full within the report.

 

At the invitation of Cllr Harden, R Smyth referred the abandoned call rate; he said that there were some initial IT issues that had now been resolved. He also noted that there had been a significant increase in face to face contact with DBC; work was being undertaken to encourage customer to use self-service options. This related to the broader vision of customers experience of contact with the Council.

 

Cllr Tindall noted the comments at CP02 on pg 31 “One tenant is having a strong effect on arrears here” – he asked if they were not paying and so needed to be evicted. N Brown confirmed that the tenant was very slow creditors. He said there were continues efforts to recover the arrears, however pressure continued to be applied to ensure its payment.

 

Cllr Douris noted from pg 40 the following; “As at the end of quarter 1 forecast slippage for Capital schemes for the general Fund is 27%”. He expressed concern that slippage had developed to this percentage. D Skinner accepted that slippage was an issue and had become more important to DBC, given the capital programme and the need to borrow. He said that there was a need to try and balance competing areas and try and develop a reliable cash flow forecast to work with. He said that DBC had improved, but also accepted there was more to do. One of the options being looked at was staggering borrowing so that it did not take place all at once.

 

Following this, Cllr Adeleke wished to add although slippage was a concern, officers at DBC had delivered an excellent programme and projects. He felt that this slight setback should not take the focus on all the good work that had been achieved. Cllr Chapman echoed these comments and was sure that the rest of the Committee did.

 

Outcome: At the invitation of the Chairman, the Committee agreed the contents and recommendations of Finance and Resources report for Quarter 1 2017/2018.

58.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Minutes:

The Chairman noted that there were very little items on the work programme for the next meeting, but would see what was forthcoming.