Agenda and minutes

Finance and Resources Overview and Scrutiny
Wednesday, 11th September, 2019 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 9 July 2019 were agreed and then signed by the Chairman.

 

2.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Claughton and Symington.

 

3.

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:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

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:

There was no public participation.

5.

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

Minutes:

None.

6.

Action points from the previous meeting

There are no outstanding action points from the previous meeting.

Minutes:

There were no outstanding action points from the previous meeting.

 

7.

Parking Enforcement Contract pdf icon PDF 335 KB

Report to follow.

Minutes:

B Hosier introduced the item and explained it was requested that the performance of this contract was reported to this committee every six months for the first two years of the contract. He drew member’s attention to section 2 of the agenda where the ten KPI’s could be found. He advised there were three KPI’s that the contractor had failed on which were highlighted in red. He explained that there was a high turnover of staff in that industry due to the nature of the role and the abuse they can receive.

 

Councillor Tindall asked if there was a plan in place in case the staffing issue wasn’t resolved. B Hosier said the contractor has held open days at the Job Centre and have attended job fairs so they’re actively trying to resolve the issue. Councillor Tindall then asked what the risk was to us if the contractor continues to lose money trying to fulfil their obligations and then can’t continue with the contract.  B Hosier said they were in constant dialogue with the contractor to ensure that doesn’t happen and they had discussed some options to consider. He added that the number of PCN’s had increased recently so that could either mean that more people are parking inconsiderately or more are being caught.

 

Councillor Tindall said he had noticed members of the public parking in the upper deck of the Water Gardens during the working week when it is permit holders only. He asked whether we had considered increasing the signage. B Hosier advised there was a sign on the approach to the upper deck and further two signs within the upper deck. The machines have signs on them and also won’t allow you to make payment during the week. B Hosier said despite that, they were considering more signage to make it clearer for the public.

 

Councillor Stevens asked how many civil enforcement officers they should have according to the contract.  B Hosier replied it was the hour’s equivalent to 6.8 people; this has decreased due to new technology.

 

Councillor Chapman asked how long the contract was. B Hosier advised it was a 5 + 5 year contract which included a break clause.

 

Councillor Chapman referred to the KPI’s and asked if we could review the contractor’s performance if they weren’t achieving their targets. B Hosier advised that from April 2019, the second year of the contract, they have added a further 5 KPI’s making it 15, and that will increase to 18 in the third year. He said all the KPI’s were relevant to the service delivery and was a standard form of contract from the British Parking Association which was used all over the country. 

 

The Chairman asked if the contractors used electric vehicles. B Hosier advised they used a very small and economic vehicle. However as part of the council’s commitment to a sustainable environment they were meeting with the contractors tomorrow to discuss the potential of using electric vehicles.

 

The Chairman asked if we  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Quarter 1 Budget Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 227 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

N Howcutt introduced the report and highlighted that there was a general fund pressure of £121k, the HRA has a surplus of £391k and there was a small capital slippage of £1.5m.

 

Councillor Tindall referred to paragraph 3.2 and noted £90k additional income for the Leisure Management Contract identified as a reduction in business rates. He asked if that meant the income from business rates will be impacted by this. N Howcutt advised as part of the contract with SLM we agreed that if they met the criteria for charitable status they would have a reduced business rates bill and if that happened we would reduce the management fee we pay to them or increase the management fee they pay to us. They met that criteria and therefore they made that payment to us.   He explained that in terms of the way that business rates work, they make the payment to us and 100% of the reduction they get in business rates is beneficial for us so this is a far better way for the council to operate.

 

Councillor Tindall referred to paragraph 3.3 relating to the additional £50k income from the HRA. He sought clarification on whether it saved us money to use our own staff and if so how do we justify the contract. N Howcutt advised it related to small elements of work that Clean, Safe and Green carry out such as clearing gardens or storage spaces which is outside of the usual service agreement.

 

The Chairman referred to the previous question and asked if other areas were being neglected due to Clean, Safe and Green working elsewhere. N Howcutt replied their core business comes first and this was additional work if they had the capacity.

 

Councillor Townsend referred to 7.2 regarding the capital variance of £400k on Bunkers Farm and asked how that was signed off in terms of governance. N Howcutt explained that we had no option but to do the works that were required to pass the planning consent so they had a Portfolio Holder update and assessed all options. He said these things dont happen very often but they reported to Cabinet at the first available point to get the approval.

 

Councillor Stevens referred to 3.3 and asked if there was scope for using Sunnyside Rural Trust instead of Clean, Safe and Green. N Howcutt advised we can procure for any works and look for alternative providers but this happened to be ad-hoc and only lots of small pieces of work.

 

Councillor Barrett referred to 4.3 and the £90k pressure on commercial waste. He asked when the findings of the review would be reported. N Howcutt explained that Plan B had built the review of the service and fed back some initial findings and options that the service needs to take forward to the Portfolio Holder and agree some decisions on the way ahead for that service. Councillor Barrett asked what the £90k  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Quarter 1 Finance and Resources Performance Report pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Report to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

N Howcutt introduced the report and drew attention to the KPIs. He explained that collection of debt and overdue CIL payments had caused red scores but they had reacted to the KPIs and were back on track.

 

Councillor Tindall referred to page 13 regarding the processing of benefit claims. He asked if there was any indication whether benefit recipients are meeting problems due to Universal Credit. N Howcutt said that Revenues and Benefits werent seeing a huge negative impact and Housing werent seeing an increase in arrears. He added that it was still very early days and time will tell. Councillor Tindall asked if we could keep a close eye on this.

 

Councillor Townsend asked where the CIL arrears were coming from. N Howcutt said it was primarily large developments and advised there is often difficulties with where the invoices go and who to chase. He said they were looking at their systems and implementing a more robust mechanism of chasing.

 

Councillor Barrett asked if we could introduce penalties for those that dont pay the invoices on time. N Howcutt said he wasnt sure of the specific details but generally it was down to cash flow and is often overlooked due to their programme. He added that his expectation was to get this under 40 days and hoped the better systems will help achieve that. Councillor Barrett asked if they could look into the possibility of penalties. N Howcutt said he would investigate and come back to him.                                                                                                                   Action: N Howcutt

 

The Chairman asked N Howcutt to split the risks in the KPI. N Howcutt confirmed he would.                                                                                            Action: N Howcutt

                                                                       

Outcome:

The committee noted the report.

 

10.

Quarter 1 Corporate and Contracted Services Performance Report pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

M Brookes advised that the KPIs were at an acceptable level and there were no reds to note. He drew members attention to the successful delivery of the Local and European Elections which dominated most of the first quarter for many members of the council. He was happy to answer questions.

 

Councillor Tindall asked if the KPIs relating to SLM had been resolved as there were no targets to work with. B Hosier said the report had been presented in June and was very well accepted. He advised we had two aspects to the KPIs; one was the commercial and contractual performance which will be presented again in January 2020, and the other aspect sits with Linda Roberts and related to satisfaction and outcomes. Councillor Tindall felt the other aspects werent as important as the income and funding. M Brookes said the payments were contractual and werent performance related so we didnt need to rely on the KPIs.

 

The Chairman said we needed to make sure the customer satisfaction KPI was monitored as that was just as important as the financial aspect. M Brookes said that information was presented to the Housing and Community OSC so it was monitored.

 

Councillor Chapman asked for the timescale on completing the garage surveys. Councillor Elliot said it was due in the autumn and the report and strategy will be decided from those findings.

 

Councillor Tindall asked if the garage survey findings would be reported to the Housing or Finance Committee. N Howcutt advised the full report would go to the Housing Committee but some of that would fit into the budget monitoring reports. Councillor Tindall asked that if they felt that it was relevant to this committee would it be possible to discuss the financial implications. The Chairman agreed that was a reasonable ask.

 

Councillor Barrett asked how we marketed the sale of the garages. N Howcutt said an independent valuation was carried out and we used local agents to market them for us. Councillor Elliot added that theyre marketed without planning permission.

 

Councillor Taylor asked what the price differences were for garages sites. N Howcutt advised that it varied so much between sites it was impossible to give him any figures. He suggested speaking to the team directly for more information.

 

The Chairman congratulated the legal team on winning three cases in quarter one. He asked if we had lost any cases. M Brookes advised we hadnt lost any this quarter.

 

The Chairman drew attention to the members training figures and asked what we were doing to increase attendance. M Brookes said training figures had increased this year compared to last year. He said it was probably due to mandatory training being introduced.

 

Outcome:

The committee noted the report.

 

11.

Quarter 1 Performance People and Innovation Performance Report pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

L Roberts introduced the report and advised that they continued to monitor and manage sickness carefully. She said they had seen a rise in musculoskeletal injuries which has led the health and safety team to run some courses. Staff turnover remained the same and the ICT services were in a good position in terms of performance and the website users have significantly increased.

 

Councillor Tindall referred to the performance indicator failure to effectively and proactively manage all aspects of employee relations and highlighted that the last 2 or 3 JNC meetings had been cancelled due to lack of business. He asked how the employee/employer relations were conducted if not through the JNC (Joint Negotiating Committee). L Roberts advised there were a number of employee forums for engagement and they had regular staff engagement sessions. She said she could investigate why the JNC meetings had been cancelled recently.

                                                                                                Action: L Roberts

 

Councillor Chapman asked for the percentage breakdown for long term and short term sickness. L Roberts said she could send them to him. Councillor Chapman added that the mentoring had been well received and congratulated them.

Action: L Roberts

 

Councillor Tindall referred to the robotics article in the local paper and asked if there would be reports coming to us on exactly what is expected to happen. L Roberts explained that it was all part of the New Normal and looking at the new ways of working, new technology and new working processes. She said they were looking at ways of taking information from one system to another to save people doing jobs that may be considered boring and allow them more time to be doing important jobs. She said once they had looked at the processes and been through tendering she would come back with an update for the committee.

 

Councillor Tindall asked for more detail on the new HR system. L Roberts said she could send something to all members. She summarised that it was a system used by many other authorities and it had a full suite of functionalities which links to the New Normal. Councillor Tindall asked if the system would be accessible to members. L Roberts said she would need to check and understand the definition of a user before she could confirm.                                                                       Action: L Roberts

 

Councillor Taylor asked what the process was for robotic adoption. L Roberts said she would send it procedure to the committee.              Action: L Roberts

 

Councillor Adeleke referred to his previous question about the problems with recruiting staff. He asked if they felt staff were happier and more comfortable working here. L Roberts said there would always be turnover and turnover isnt necessarily a bad thing but from the most recent staff survey people appeared to be happier and were recognising that were continuing to try to improve their prospects which is another part of the New Normal. She added that she wasnt overly concerned about our retention figures.

 

The Chairman  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 106 KB

Minutes:

There were no changes made to the work programme.