B Hosier presented the report, particularly noting the red KPI on car parking income and that this is running 20% below target as at the end of quarter 2. Usage is yet to pick up since Covid, suggesting that customer behaviour has changed.
Cllr Symington referred to pages 34-35 regarding procurement activity and asked how the information could be presented if they are still going out to tender.
B Hosier confirmed that the values have been taken to the contract register, which is published online. Once it goes out to tender, the amount may change as this will depend on the market and what is required, so the value provides an indication for the committee on the value of the contract.
Cllr Symington asked what price inflation they are expecting to see on the values indicated.
B Hosier stated that he would not know until they have been through the commissioning process. Whilst inflation will impact the value, it will also depend on how the requirement is packaged. There is a budget in place and commissioning must be within that.
Cllr Symington commented on non-compliant expenditure, noting that this was raised in the audit report. Cllr Symington asked why commissioning didn't take place before a contract expired and why this wasn't being reduced.
B Hosier advised that a commissioning and procurement period are built in, and there can be slippage in terms of client officers and workloads. A commissioning plan has been developed, and any activities that are 2-3 years overdue are flagged, though there will be some slippage.
Cllr Freedman asked for further information on the tree maintenance service contract and the facilities management services contract.
B Hosier stated that the current facilities management contract is due to expire and recommissioning has commenced where they assess the level of service required. On the tree maintenance contract, B Hosier noted that it was reported in quarter 1 that there were standing orders to award a direct contract on the basis that one contractor was struggling post-Covid and therefore a direct contract was offered rather than going out to tender. The tree maintenance service is split between rural and woodland.
Cllr Freedman made reference to the maintenance work provided to other Councils on behalf of HCC and asked if this was being carried out by the internal team or by outsourced teams.
B Hosier stated that he would need to confirm this, though he would assume that work is carried out by both. Action.
Cllr Freedman asked if procurement decisions are benchmarked against bringing the work in-house.
B Hosier advised that this would be undertaken as part of the commissioning stage where there is an assessment on whether the council has the capacity and capability to bring work in-house. Typically, the approach to market is only done once a decision is made that the service can't be delivered in-house.
Cllr Freedman commented that he would like to see the decision-making process and asked for reassurance that there is a review taking place.
B Hosier confirmed that they look at the capability of the market to help make a decision on whether to go out to tender and to better understand the capacity of the market. It was noted that a full tender evaluation would take place at the end of the process and if it was found that the value coming back from the market was considerably different than the one assumed during commissioning then a review would take place.
Cllr Guest commented on nurse-led absence management and asked what professional will provide the service if an in-house service is provided.
M Rawdon advised that the nurse-led system gives an opportunity for staff to contact a nurse if they are unwell, and if staff require advice then they can contact the Occupational Health service, though they are finding that people will get similar advice when calling 111, and they are therefore looking at the costs of this option.
Cllr Guest asked what profession the Occupational Health service would be.
M Rawdon confirmed that Occupational Health advisors are qualified nurses.
Cllr Guest asked if work is being done to compare costs of a nurse-led versus an in-house service.
M Rawdon confirmed that a paper is being taken to the strategic meeting this month.
Cllr Adeleke commented on the car parking income and that they are unlikely to return to pre-Covid levels. He asked if they had contacted other councils to find out what measures they were looking into to counteract this reduction.
B Hosier advised that he had not done this research but agreed that it would be worthwhile contacting other local councils to identify their shortfalls and the actions they are taking.
Cllr Freedman commented that part of the mitigation should be around EV charging points as this will help encourage people to use spaces. The Chairman noted that some of these items would be brought to the March committee meeting.
Cllr Symington referred to the reduction in car parking income, noting that the biggest drop was for on-street parking, and that the place strategies should be looking at ensuring people are coming into these areas. Cllr Symington continued that the quarter 2 figures for PCNs (penalty charge notices) were down nearly 60%, noting that they are due to go to tender for a £4m contract for parking enforcement. She asked how this would work in terms of financial return.
B Hosier advised there is a shortage of Civil Enforcement Officers, which is causing a drop in PCNs, and that the number of on-street parking sessions has also dropped, which is where PCNs are typically issued. Whilst there is cost to the parking enforcement contractor for not providing sufficient staff, this does not cover the loss of revenue generated through PCNs. Regarding a new contract, it is difficult to put a value on the performance of a contractor based on income, as covering an area with officers will deter illegal parking and the streets would be safer, and whilst the council would not receive any income, the purpose of enforcement is to make people safer. The council has looked at introducing technology to reduce the cost of enforcement, though this isn't currently possible.
Cllr Symington observed that the garage service has not moved on and requested that this be discussed at a later date.
In relation to PCNs, Councillor Stevens asked if the annual monitoring report was still produced.
B Hosier confirmed that the annual report was still produced. Last year we were highly commended by PATROL for how the report was written. The latest report is available on the website, and the 2021-22 report is due to published in the coming weeks. The Chairman asked that the link be circulated to members when available. Action.
The report was noted.