Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission
Thursday, 24 September 2015 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Fourth Floor, Easthampstead House, Bracknell

Contact: Amanda Roden  01344 352253

Items
Note No. Item

None

17.

Apologies for Absence/Substitute Members

To receive apologies for absence and to note the attendance of any substitute members.

Minutes:

The Panel noted the attendance of the following substitute member:

 

Councillor Thompson for Councillor Allen

None

18.

Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 9 July 2015.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 9 July 2015 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

None

19.

Declarations of Interest and Party Whip

Members are requested to declare any disclosable pecuniary or affected interest, including the existence and nature of the Party Whip, in respect of any matter to be considered at this meeting.

 

Any Member with a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or an affected interest in a matter should withdraw from the meeting when the matter is under consideration and should notify the Democratic Services Officer in attendance that they are withdrawing as they have such an interest. If the Disclosable Pecuniary Interest is not entered on the register of Members interests the Monitoring Officer must be notified of the interest within 28 days.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs Birch declared an interest as the spouse of the Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing. Councillor Mrs McCracken declared an interest as the spouse of the Executive Member for Culture, Corporate Services and Public Protection. There were no indications that Members would be participating under the party whip.

None

20.

Urgent Items of Business

Any other items which, pursuant to Section 100B(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, the Chairman decides are urgent.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items of business.

21.

Public Participation

To receive submissions from members of the public which have been submitted in advance in accordance with the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.

Minutes:

There were no submissions from members of the public in accordance with the Council’s Public Participation Scheme for Overview and Scrutiny.

22.

Council Budgetary Position pdf icon PDF 134 KB

To discuss with the Executive Member for Transformation and Finance, and the Borough Treasurer the current budgetary position, in preparation for scrutiny of the 2016/17 budget proposals.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Transformation & Finance and the Borough Treasurer presented the Council’s current budgetary position, in preparation for scrutiny of the 2016/17 budget proposals.

 

The Government pledge was to eliminate the national deficit by 2019/20, and most would be achieved through reductions in public spending. Health, education and overseas aid had been protected in the past. Defence would be protected as well in future. Real term reductions of 25% or 40% over 4 years were being explored, and this followed 5 years of austerity. Local government and Bracknell Forest needed to play its part.

 

Budget Strategy: Underlying Principles: Recognition of political priorities, for example, ‘clean and green’; Efficiencies and savings would be taken as early as possible and would not be constrained by financial years; Savings would be focussed on efficiencies and the back office with the impact on front line services to be minimised; Twin track immediate savings and transformational change; Reserves and balances would be used in a measured way to facilitate the implementation of savings; and Business rates from the regenerated town centre and council tax from housing growth would help to bridge the budget gap.

 

Key planning assumptions included: a grant reduction in 2016/17 of £3m; a reduction of 6% in government support for each of the remaining 4 years; a pay award of 1% each year; general inflation (CPI) to be below 2% throughout the period and only approaching this level in 2-3 years; pressures consistent with previous years (£2.0m); and a Council funded core capital programme of £8m each year. There was a budget gap of £25 million over the next 5 years.

 

Bridging the gap for the 2016/17 budget would involve taking a firm line to limit future year’s pressures but, they reflected demographic changes and increases in demand for services; increasing Council Tax by 1% would generate £0.5m; a referendum for excessive increases (2%+?); Utilising balances such as £7.0m of accumulated business rates surplus plus £10.0m of general fund balances; £4.0m minimum prudent balance; £13.0m available but only delay the need for alternative measures

Identifying savings such efficiencies, back office or front line services; reducing or stopping non-statutory services.

 

Budget risks included: Local government finance settlement; New Homes Bonus/Referendum criteria; Waste Tonnages; Looked After Children; Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards; Business rate appeals and revaluation in 2017; and the impact of the living wage. There was a contingency of £1 million but this would be reviewed following the settlement received.

 

Budget Timetable

 

24 September 2015    Overview & Scrutiny Commission – Budget Prospects

25 November 2015     Spending Review

15 December 2015     Executive – approves budget package for consultation

Late December 2015  Provisional Finance Settlement

28 January 2015         Overview & Scrutiny Commission – review budget proposals

End January 2015      Consultation Closes

9 February 2015         Executive recommends budget to Council

24 February 2015       Budget and Council Tax agreed

 

In response to Members’ questions, the following points were made:

 

23.

Introductory Briefing - Transformation and Finance

The Executive Member for Transformation and Finance has been invited to set out his priorities over the next four years, the differences which are to be achieved, and goals for 2015/16.

Minutes:

The Executive Member for Transformation & Finance gave an introductory briefing on his priorities over the next four years, the differences to be achieved, and the goals for 2015/16. This was dominated by the need to achieve savings of £25 million over the next five years, which meant that change was essential.

 

Overarching priorities were: Climate of austerity; Government policy and legislative changes; and changes in size and shape of the Council to reflect this.

 

Areas of responsibility included: Finance, Human Resources, and Property, which were all required to support Transformation.

 

There was an IESE workshop in November 2013. Innovations could be transitional, transformational, or mould breaking.

 

A Transformation Board had been established with the Executive Member for Transformation (Sponsor), the Leader, Chief Executive (lead Senior Officer), Corporate Management Team, and supported and challenged by IESE and Activist.

 

Projects to cover included: cost reviews, alternative provider models, shared services, major property reviews, policy/principle reviews, structure reviews, and service reductions.

 

Mechanisms to be included were: innovative procurement/ commissioning, business process improvements, service review/redesign, shared services/collaborative working, shared/pooled budgets, benchmarking, social enterprise, working with the voluntary sector, asset sharing/reduction, technology driving change, workforce changes, energy consumption, and customer focus.

 

Priority actions for 2015/16 were to: support town centre property transactions; support key projects with a property dimension, for example, Coopers Hill youth facility, school sites, Binfield Learning Village, Bridgewell & Ladybank; utilise some Council sites for affordable housing; carry out a property review; and improve the health and wellbeing of staff through health checks and employee engagement groups. Implement a new HR/Payroll system and Learning Management system; implement a new appraisal process and improve; performance management; update the Medium Term Financial Strategy; and develop the Council’s annual budget.

 

In response to Members’ questions, the following points were made:

 

  • Activist was a small consultancy which had operated around the public sector for a while  in relation to managing change.
  • The Transformation Board would report to the Executive for changes and decisions requiring approval.
  • Playing fields would not be disposed of. A detailed property review was in progress.
  • A comprehensive property review had not been undertaken for some time but property was reviewed regularly as property issues arose.
  • There were a number of properties but not much change could be made to school or leisure sites. All property usage was driven by service provision. Consolidation and co-location would be considered, along with opportunities to reduce costs, such as selling the site Easthampstead House was on, and reviewing big opportunity costs such as the Depot site. Some small car parks were poorly used and could provide a better revenue stream or be sold.
  • A Member suggested that Human Resources (HR) senior functions within the Council could be amalgamated to create efficiencies as the Chief Officer: Human Resources was due to retire at the end of the year. The devolved staff budget would be reviewed.
  • Figures would be requested by the Transformation Board to show how different options could create savings and efficiencies.
  • The Adult Social Care, Health  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.

None

24.

Quarterly Service Reports (QSRs) pdf icon PDF 677 KB

To consider the latest trends, priorities and pressures in terms of departmental performance as reported in the QSRs for the first quarter of 2015/16 (April to June 2015) relating to:

 

·         The Chief Executive’s Office

·         The Corporate Services Department

 

Please bring the previously circulated Quarterly ServiceReports to the meeting.  Copies are attached to this agenda if viewed online.

 

The Chairman has asked that any detailed or procedural questions arising from the Quarterly Service Reports should be referred to either the Assistant Chief Executive or Director of Corporate Services in advance. Except in cases of urgency, only issues of strategic importance or of wider implications should be raised at the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Commission noted the latest trends, priorities and pressures in terms of departmental performance as reported in the Quarterly Service Reports for the first quarter of 2015/16 (April to June) relating to the Chief Executive’s Office and the Corporate Services Department.

 

In response to Members’ questions, the following points were made:

 

  • The level of media interest could depend on how benchmarks were defined. There had been much media coverage of the town centre generation and it was thought that the Council was receiving good coverage.
  • A second electric vehicle had been ordered, an electric courier van which would replace an existing vehicle. The cost savings of using an electric vehicle were requested.
  • There had been issues during the trial of the Blackberry service, as part of the ICT Members’ implementation arrangements, but a range of devices had been fully tested with Members. Planning demonstrations were due for Members in October with a view to rolling out devices after this training session.
  • One or two shop units had been sold to individuals and this had hampered some of the Council’s work. An opportunity arose to purchase two shop properties in Wildridings and this was taken as the properties provided a good rate of return and gave the Council a more strategic foothold.
  • 23 car parking spaces had been allocated to Oxford Innovations to support their running of  an Enterprise Centre in Ocean House. The car parking spaces were offered on flexible terms in the form of passes.

None

25.

Corporate Performance Overview Report pdf icon PDF 618 KB

To consider the Chief Executive’s Corporate Performance Overview Report for the first quarter of 2015/16 (April to June 2015).

 

The Chairman has asked that any detailed questions arising from the report should be referred to the Assistant Chief Executive or the relevant departmental officers in advance and only raised in the meeting if you consider the issue requires wider discussion.

Minutes:

The Commission considered the Chief Executive’s Corporate Performance Overview Report (CPOR) for the first quarter of 2015/16 (April to June).

 

In response to Members’ questions, the following points were made:

 

  • Further information would be sought for Members on additional temporary accommodation not completed in Quarter 1 of 2015/16.
  • Figures would be provided on the number of visits to all libraries in Bracknell . There were different ways to approach people regarding the use of libraries and school libraries were used for this purpose.
  • Statutory duties in relation to libraries were clearly defined.
  • Further information would be sought for Members in relation to the number of households and nights spend in Bed & Breakfast across the Quarter and figures for Quarter 2 would be sought.
  • Staffing figures were reported in Departmental reports and the CPOR.
  • Overview and Scrutiny had previously reviewed library provision and other provision under the area of culture.
  • The difference between corporate and statutory complaints was that statutory complaints were defined by a regulator and corporate complaints were defined by the Council’s complaints process.

 

26.

Work Programme and Panel Activity Update pdf icon PDF 74 KB

To note the progress against the Overview and Scrutiny work programme for 2015-16, and the reports from Overview and Scrutiny Panel Chairmen on each Panel’s progress against the work programme.

Minutes:

The Commission noted the progress against the Overview and Scrutiny work programme 2015-16, and the reports from Overview and Scrutiny Panel Chairmen on each Panel’s progress against the work programme.

 

The covering report referred to the two working groups on Economic Strategy and The Draft Council Plan (Formerly Medium Term Objectives), and the work of these two working groups had both been completed.

 

In response to Members’ questions, the following points were made:

 

  • Concerns raised in relation to the Francis Report being finalised could be raised at the Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel meeting on 1 October 2015. The actions from the working group were of a continuing nature or a one-off, with the remaining actions being a combination of the two. It was thought that this work would be finished before there was a review on GP capacity. The Chairman of the Commission would speak to the Chairman of the Health Overview and Scrutiny Panel to ensure that this was co-ordinated.
  • Over the coming 12 – 18 months comments were expected over work programmes and work needed to be undertaken flexibly.
  • The Chairman of the Commission had met with Heathwatch representatives regarding a member of Healthwatch possibly being an observer on  a number of Overview and Scrutiny Panels. Healthwatch would review their position regarding this.
  • The Vice-Chairman of the Commission reported that a visit to Elmbridge Council was being arranged and would be discussed at a working group at the end of September. There would also be a look at the legal input into Section 106 agreements.
  • The Chairman of the Commission advised that a working group was looking at planning policy and procedures. If there were any comments or observations, these could be put forward.

None

26.

Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 46 KB

Forthcoming items on the Executive Forward Plan of a corporate nature are attached for consideration.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Commission noted the forthcoming Key and Non-Key Decisions of a corporate nature.

 

Item: I056132Comensura Contract Retender Procurement

 

This was an example of effective procurement over five years involving bundled agency workers contracts to handle all contracts for agency staff. Comensura had the highest use of agency workers, and there was a need to retender for the contract for 3 + 1 + 1, which would make a five year term.