The Chairman mentioned that she needed to make a couple of comments, this has been a topic of great debate, Scrutiny in conversation, of which she was one of the main voices in, and she will have to declare an interest that she is on the Board of Dacorum Sports Trust, who are one of the local sports providers, who will be affected by some of this. After some quite lengthy conversations with the CEO of Dacorum Sports Trust, The Chairman was pleased to report back that she, as of this year, has been very happy with the action plan meetings and very much felt that she was, and a number of other providers, were effectively on the project board and they felt that they had a good opportunity to challenge and scrutinise and their input was valued, so I would open up with that.
The Chairman said that as a preface to the item, an email was circulated earlier to Officers and Members by Councillor England, after reviewing some of the contents of it, the Chairman felt that some of it was inappropriate in terms of the language. While Members have to robustly scrutinise, we do need to remain professional and polite, when dealing with each other and dealing with Officers. In particular the Chairman referred to the spreadsheet that was attached where work was referred to as being lazy, super nebulous, waffle and fodder and that’s aimed at Officers that us as Members have never met. The Chairman said she knows we have not met them because it’s the first time they are coming to this Committee and they are quite new to the Council and it also indicates that Members have arrived with pre-conceived ideas before presentations have met, and that’s not the way to make new Officers feel welcome or to give them the kind of confidence they need to effectively deliver their reports and to answer any questions that we raise during the Scrutiny. The Chairman said in light of that, she would call upon Cllr England to withdraw his comments and tender his apology at this meeting please.
Cllr England said he would like to clarify how that happened. Certainly it wasn’t his intention to leave in the comments which were in the spreadsheet. Cllr England said he did ask for a copy of the official spreadsheet, because it would have been far easier for me and I think others to measure their reflections on what they were looking at and unfortunately that wasn’t possible, so what I did instead as my method, was recreate the spreadsheet. Cllr England didn’t offer this as a defence, but it did wind me up the fact that I couldn’t just get a read only copy of the spreadsheet, save it as my version and then use it as my work pad to be set my thoughts down. So it’s possible that I was in a state of relative agitation when I was putting the comments down, but also it was fully my intention to use that as a work pad and then to remove those comments because actually I am shocked as I sit here now that I didn’t pick those up. I went back to the spreadsheet and specifically sought to remove anything that I thought was likely to be offensive in that way and I certainly apologise for the fact that it was in there. What I’d like Officers and guests to take from that is that I wasn’t seeking to criticise anyone in particular it was just literally as I say my work pad, to express forthrightly as I intend to do at this meeting, my feelings about how the project board has delivered a spreadsheet which purports to be the completion of this Council’s strategy, and is in itself massively incomplete. I’m afraid that there are only KPI’s from Everyone Active. I congratulate Everyone Active for their diligence in following through on their entries in that spreadsheet but I would have expected every line to have some element of a KPI and I’m disappointed and I think we all should be disappointed that it doesn’t. I’m not going to shy away from saying that, I’m very sorry if anyone is upset but I’m sure we’re all big boys and girls in this room and whilst it is my intention to be respectful and I am respectful of all the work that the officers do and the fact that you’re still here at this time of night. I think it’s my duty, our duty and scrutinisers to be forthright sometimes and to say what we think and I hope that we can do that in an atmosphere where officers won’t be upset by that. So I’d like to re-iterate my apology, it wasn’t my intention to leave that column in there but it’s happened so I have to apologise.
The Chairman clarified that earlier on the issue with the spreadsheet, I’ll take questions after the presentation, this is a statement I’m making about inappropriate behaviour. The issue regarding the spreadsheet, this set of papers has been delivered in the same format that every set of papers at this Committee is delivered, none of the KPI spreadsheets are ever shared like that, especially the ones that are in the public domain, because we need to have a tamper proof document that’s in the public domain and that stands as a record for all of us to scrutinise at a later date if we need to, so it’s highly inappropriate for you to be winging about this in particular not being in the standard format because it is in the standard format, so I do not accept that particular comment saying that it was unfair that you can’t get it in the unusual format that you’d requested on this particular occasion. We’ll start with agenda item.
The Chairman asked Cllr Wyatt-Lowe if it was a declaration or a statement. Cllr Wyatt-Lowe said please bear with me, that there is something called the Code of Conduct which covers Officer Member relationships and from what you said at this meeting tonight, then that clearly has been broken. Cllr Wyatt-Lowe declared an interest in that she is Chairman of the Standards Committee, if it goes that far, then clearly I need to make that known now at this meeting.
Cllr Hollinghurst declared that he has a statement to make. I’ve got a copy of this spreadsheet, I’ve got the comments that were made and these were made to me and that was part of a group by the Lead on this Committee and there is nothing in these comments to which anybody ought to take exception, but I take exception from you madam Chairman talking about us winging, I think you should withdraw that because that I think is exceeding the role of the Chair, if you don’t my saying so, it seems an attempt to intimidate and bully members of this Committee and that is something for the Standards Board if anything.
The Chairman advised she was happy to withdraw the use of the word winging, it is not an attempt to bully any member of this Board. People messaging me at 9pm at night insisting that I take immediate action when the Council is closed, however, is inappropriate and that is exactly what Cllr England has done on occasions in this term, which clearly you, Cllr Hollinghurst, are not aware of. Now this is not going to turn into an argument, we accept your apology Cllr England, but I have to make it known that actually you cannot dictate what people decide to be upset or not offended about, Cllr Hollinghurst, Cllr England has himself apologised for the language that was used in it and he has stated that he did not intend for it to be in the public domain, however it is. So we accept his apology and I state that’s it’s not for you to decide what people are offended about. Now we will move to agenda item 9.
Cllr Hollinghurst said please don’t tell me what I should or should not think about being offended. The Chairman said no not at you being offended, you cannot decide what I or the Officers decide to be offended about and that was the statement that was opened up with, we are going to move to the presentation. We will take appropriate questions however the spreadsheet that was delivered this evening, we will timetable separate time for Officers to go through that and provide you with all of the answers that you want. It will not be today but we will do.
Questions arising from the presentation on the Sports Strategy and Physical Activity Action Plan, introduced by Cllr Banks, were as follows:
S Cox confirmed he will circulate the presentation.
Action: S Cox
Cllr England said that in the Sports Strategy at point 1.3 it says in collaboration with our partners and stakeholders we will develop a detailed annual action plan to deliver this strategy. The action plan will give a clearer more in depth actions with outcome measures which will be governed by a project board. It says it’s going to be clearer and it says it will be in depth and measurable. The question is why hasn’t the Project Board either asked for or asked itself for consistency in setting KPI’s, it’s understandable that there are some outcomes and impacts, but frankly the reason why I’ve used the word waffle is because if it isn’t quantified how are we supposed to measure it. L Roberts confirmed that it is important to understand what the term KPI actually means and from our perspective KPI’s are used when there is a contract involved, so quite rightly because we have a contract with Everyone Active there are KPI’s resultant to that, lots of the other initiatives are with the partners and partner organisations and we work in partnership with them to agree what needs to be done, so we won’t put in KPI’s, what we do seek to achieve is what needs to be the measurable outcomes and they are discussed at the Project Board, they’ve not been reflected in that particular spreadsheet, because for each of those individual line items, is a separate piece of work to manage those projects, which Claire is the only full time Officer working on this and Alex part-time, all of us get involved in this. We are not in KPI’s with voluntary organisations because it’s not a contractual relationship and we’ve put in a summary report and we can’t measure things because this is the first one and they’ve not even been commenced.
Cllr England said that he sympathised with the staffing, because it’s perfectly obvious that you haven’t got enough staff to do what you need to do. L Roberts replied that she disagreed.
Cllr England commented that as a Scrutiny Committee if we are to look at this document as being something which gives more in-depth actions and with outcome measures, because it does in the Strategy that this is what the action plan will do and asking how come the action plan doesn’t do what the strategy said it would do. L Roberts clarified that this is a summary of the overall work that’s been done, to put together an action plan of every single line item in the spreadsheet is onerus and will take advice from Scrutiny and from the administration, that if that’s what you require us to produce, something with more detail, then that’s what we will do, but we hoped for Scrutiny purposes this would give you the opportunity to see the type and range of projects. If for example we could make changes to the spreadsheet to add extra columns, then that’s fine, but it’s more to give you a flavour.
The Chairman highlighted that as a Board Member of Dacorum Sports Trust, knowing the breadth of their offer I would say it was unrealistic for single sporting activity that’s going on in Dacorum to be listed on an individual spreadsheet, if there are specific columns that Members want adding, that would be reasonable, but for all of the sports providers in Dacorum to report and have a working spreadsheet with every single activity on is not going to be possible or beneficial.
Cllr England said that with respect that’s not what was being asked. There is an existing spreadsheet with 49 rows, but some of those columns don’t have any information in them, so I’m simply suggesting that we should put some information in each of the columns. L Roberts mentioned that not all of them have started and where we are able to we have, but it’s a working document, so we’ve not got the information.
Cllr England advised that if something is significant to be on the spreadsheet, it’s significant enough to have an estimation of what you think it’s going to achieve otherwise why is it there. A Care replied that an example of one of the lines on the action plan is s106 money, we don’t know what that amount is going to look like, we don’t know what the projects will look like, we don’t know what the criteria is until we delve into each planning application to find out what that is, so we can’t put any information on what we think that might look like, how much money we might be able to achieve or where we can spend that money, because we simply don’t know. It’s an ongoing project at the moment but it will take an awful lot of time to delve into to get information on the action plan. It’s made it on to the action because it’s a project which is underway but at the moment we just simply don’t know where it’s going to take us or what it’s going to lead to.
Cllr England commented that he completely understands that this is very difficult to actually do this when the first line of the spreadsheet, which is a very important piece of work, to understand what the estate is and what you’re dealing with, but doesn’t seem to already exist. Cllr England asked how did we get to the point where we did a tender for leisure management contract without knowing that information so how come we don’t know it now. M Rawdon queried if this related to the indoor and outdoor feasibility study. Cllr England said no. M Rawdon replied that it’s been led by our planning department. A Care confirmed that it’s the way that planning are doing it. M Rawdon also commented that we haven’t had the information.
The Chairman wanted to clarify that this document is not about revisiting the tender or the strategy, this is an action plan and it’s noted that it is an update for information for Members. What has been presented is the working document of all the things they want to remain on the radar, which is often done to ensure things are not forgotten. The understanding is that’s what this document was hence you have a copy that you could bring back in six months time and say that block is still blank or do you now have a timescale for it. If it wasn’t on there you wouldn’t be able to do that and as the officers have said it is a working document. As you know concerns were raised with the tender process but we are not in a position to review that. At a later date when it comes up for review, then yes.
Cllr England clarified that he was not rehearsing the contract, he’s referring to the contract because it’s clearly the point at which we should have known this information. If we didn’t, and it’s unbelievable if we didn’t, I’m not wanting to go back over that ground but I’m simply asking how we are in a position where we have a document that we can’t move forward on a lot of stuff because the first line of the document is not where it must be. We need to update it after a period of time, but having been so recently somebody must have looked at the estate and said this is where we are and if not then, then how about after the big meeting in January 2018 when we realised as a Council that we didn’t have a Sports Strategy. Cllr England added that it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t an issue then to actually say that we need a strategy, so what’s the first thing you do, you find out what you’ve got, so it was still difficult to understand why we’re in a position where we are now. Cllr England apologised for getting a bit aeriated, it’s not personal, it’s purely frustration with the process which all the way along has been incomplete and not quantified and we can’t see what we’re supposed to be aiming at and we’ve been consistent in saying that, Cllr Imarni has been saying that, it’s been a big issue, a big flashing light that says please can we have something that we can quantify and that’s why it’s upsetting that we are still in the position that we are looking a document that we can’t quantify.
Cllr Wyatt-Lowe commented what we have before us is an update of what progress has been made as regard the Sports and Activity Action Plan. By its very nature of such an update is that it will change continually and it will require more detail in some points as it goes along. What would be more concerning is, I’m treating this as a baseline document, if after we move forward there are still gaps in that information then yes it would be very concerning. At the moment we’re actually being held back by actually looking at what has been achieved in this and whether it in fact meets the objectives of the action plan.
The Chairman asked Cllr England to clarify, line 1 where it says a study is being undertaken and estimated completion date of July 2019, so although you would have liked it to be ready for this committee, I think it is clear that it is being worked on with a deadline, or have we misunderstood your question.
Cllr England, said no, it’s due to come to fruition but what I’m really asking how come we don’t already have sufficient of an understanding of what our facilities are to be able to move forward on some of the other items.
The Chairman mentioned that meetings that we have had with L Roberts, it would be beneficial for the Committee to hear, how you inherited this work and how you’ve gone about thing and that should clear up Cllr England’s question.
L Roberts confirmed that she had been here one year, she arrived after the deal was completed and inherited a document that was tabled in June, which had issues, so it was agreed with the Portfolio Holder, that the Strategy would be broad ranging and the action plan was there to support. This is the first time this action plan has come to the meeting, there are things that are being worked on. L Roberts added that we did know what the estate was at the time of the contract, but the point about this action plan is to say what it is now, because we are already further on into the contract. We need to keep an update on what the facilities are and also where we want to go with them. The focus was to engage with the partners, which I’m pleased to say with the level of staffing we have, we can do that, we have generated interest which has resulted in a number of these activities. What we might want to do is look at this action plan and perhaps change it to a number of different tabs, where we put more strategic stuff like the s106 money, separate to individual project where we are working with partners to deliver a sporting outcome. This is a working document, it’s just a way for us to keep a track on what’s happening, there is a lot more underneath this where we are managing things on a day to day basis, but this felt as though the best way to show the range and the breadth of what we’re actually working on at the moment.
Cllr Griffiths could not understand how Cllr England is referring is this back to just EA because that is a review of all the indoor and outdoor facilities and also the local authorities around this area, so how is that do with EA only, it’s nothing to do with the contract. Things are moving on, for instance, Longdean have had a lot of work done on the outside of their school, they are now not providing necessary what they were before. We were looking to move the athletics track, there’s lots of things all the time, different local authorities and organisations within Dacorum, that are doing different things, so this will always be a moving feast. Cllr Griffiths wondered if she was missing the point but the review is about what the facilities are in Dacorum and the surrounding areas that we can tap into and perhaps leverage in more uses for our residents than just literally putting money in within Dacorum and the other way round, perhaps other authorities might want to make use of our facilities.
A Care wanted to reiterate that it is for community halls, it is for looking at demand, so the facilities study has spoken with local clubs, where they are talking about their waiting lists and whether they have enough football pitches or courts or whatever it is they need for their sport. Also as it’s being led by the Planning department, looks at the new planning coming in and then we can take a strategic overview of what do we need, taking an holistic approach, this community is coming what would be better and the most effective use of the minimum amount of money. It’s the wider concept of facilities we have both indoors and outdoors.
Cllr Adeleke mentioned that he was finding it hard to grasp the reason why Cllr Enlgand is holding on to a leaf instead of holding onto a branch. The point was made an accepted and this has been presented as a working document. The purpose of this committee is to scrutinise, to point out things, but from what has been explained, the contract has been signed and it should be our purpose here to work with the new team to make sure we deliver the best for the borough, this is a working document, they are not hiding behind anything, some of the things are work in progress. We have to accept the points raised, draw a line under it and move forward.
Cllr England accepts the advice, this is not a time for trying to go back in time and continue conversations that have finished, but would like to point out that he is asking a question about KPI’s in an action plan and the only thing said about EA is they are the only ones that have done their KPI’s.
The Chairman said that the document has KPI’s and impacts/outcomes, this is because people that we don’t have a contract with, we can only agree impacts and outcomes, we cannot set them KPI’s, that’s why there’s no KPI’s in certain columns. We can only have KPI’s in the columns that relate to EA.
Cllr England mentioned that we can set ourselves KPI’s. We should be looking at this, the project board should be looking at this spreadsheet and saying okay, it’s not a contract, but what are we trying to achieve. What does success look like.
The Chairman confirmed this was the impact and outcomes column, we just haven’t called it KPI’s.
Cllr England said it needs to be quantifiable and asked if something could be put down that says did that happen or not.
The Chairman advised that it was already included. Impact and outcomes are for people you don’t have a contract with and KPI’s for people you have a contract with, so that’s what has been done.
Cllr Griffiths said you could put in anything you want but KPI’s are normally a key performance indicator that means you have some influence on how that will perform. I could say that the KPI is going to be 20 but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t have any impact on how that KPI performs. In other words it’s a voluntary organisation that’s delivering 20 sessions a year. The KPI’s have to have a point to them, they have to have an outcome, but it’s not necessarily a figure.
The Chairman invited Cllr England to put something in writing and the Portfolio Holder and the Officers involved to sit and make sure that we fully understand what is required and if it’s already on the sheet or something we need to pick up.
Cllr Hollinghurst mentioned the indoor and outdoor facilities study is important and will provide us with a comparator with other ways in which EA are delivering sports facilities in other authorities. Cllr Griffiths mentioned this is not an EA facilities report, this is Dacorum’s. Cllr Hollinghurst understood that it’s our facilities, and also those of Watford and Three Rivers, so it would be a very good comparator between the facilities that are available to each authority compared and how they manage to achieve delivery of good sports provision. Cllr Hollinghurst asked when will it be received and also highlight that if it had been named and interim action plan it would have saved a lot of grief.
The Chairman confirmed that it was a working document.
A Care confirmed that Planning are leading on it and it’s estimated for completion at the end of July. A Care will speak to Planning and update the Committee via email.
Action: A Care
Cllr Oguchi wanted to add to the estimate date it’s usually when it says July 2019 we should expect it at the latest 31st July 2019.
The Chairman advised that she was very pleased that C Foster has been employed, that was one of the concerns about a year ago, that there was no in house specialist on sports, so was pleased to see that’s moved on, clearly we have been listened to and hopefully you will be very happy here and we look forward to working with you.