Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission - Thursday, 19 November 2015 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Amanda Roden  01344 352253

Note No. Item



Minutes and Matters Arising pdf icon PDF 97 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 24 September 2015.

Additional documents:


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission meeting held on 24 September 2015 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.



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.



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.



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.


There were no urgent items of business.


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.



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


Human Resources pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To receive a presentation from the Chief Officer: Human Resources on the work of the Human Resources function, its current priorities, challenges and plans.


The Chief Officer: Human Resources gave a presentation and made the following points:


·         The key activities of the human resources function were; organisational development, workforce planning, policy development, employee relations, contractual and employment law advice, occupational health and welfare, corporate health and safety, learning and development and problem solving.

·         Total employee costs amounted to £164 million (£110 million accounting for schools staff). This was the single largest spend for the Council and so it was critical that the human resources function was undertaken in a cost effective way and provided value for money.

·         The Chief Officer: Human Resources had four officers directly reporting to him as well as having professional responsibility for the human resources function embedded in the three service departments. There were 33 FTE Human Resources officers in total in the Council.

·         The Chief Officer outlined the recent achievements of the human resources service, this included implementing 184 redundancies over the past four years. The roll out of the e-learning concept, the Good to Great Programme, preparing for a new HR/payroll system and developing the use of online forms and webpages. In addition, moving the workforce to a more flexible way of working, a new digitised appraisal scheme and addressing the issue of lower paid workers.

·         Some of the challenges in the future would include; operating under reducing financial resources and the need to reduce staffing resources by between 10 and 15% over the next four years. The transformation programme and the senior officer demographic ‘bulge’ and its implications. In addition, the greater use of technology, flexible and mobile working, legislative change and looking at new ways to resource the workforce.


In response to members’ queries, the Chief Officer reported that;

·         One of the particularly difficult challenges in recent times had been job evaluation and equal pay. This had proved to be difficult to tackle and officers had spent considerable time providing evidence to show that the Council’s pay and grading structure was fair. 

·         The transformation programme currently underway would review all support services and as a result all management structures could be considered and the most cost effective model adopted.

·         The Chief Officer reported that secondments internally and with other local authorities were always considered. Currently the civil service were offering three fast track graduates at no charge to the Council and this would be explored further.

·         The primary comparator for staff sickness rates and turnover were other similar sized local authorities, the private sector was considered not to be a like for like comparator.

·         Staff were being provided with e-learning opportunities as well as more traditional training opportunities. Work had been undertaken to achieve greater value for money so that staff still had access to the same level of training opportunities.

·         In terms of the senior demographic bulge, given the senior nature of the posts there would be plenty of notice that any senior officer wished to retire. In addition, implications around access to pensions may encourage officers to stay in post longer.


In response to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.


Customer Contact pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive an update on the customer contact strategy, including performance on telephone response rates in the Customer Services Contact Centre.


The Chief Officer: Customer Services gave a presentation and made the following points:


·         The customer contact strategy was first adopted in 2003, more recently the 2011-2014 strategy had been extended to 2016. A channel shift strategy had been adopted as it presented the most cost effective means of contact with the public. The savings gained from website use as opposed to face to face or telephone contact were considerable.

·         Key performance indicators included 92% of calls were answered within 20 seconds, abandoned call rates were under five percent and customer satisfaction was over 75%.

·         The Council’s website had experienced 6.3million views in the last year, providing strong evidence that this was the method that customers preferred to contact the Council in most instances. The Chief Officer had responded to this by reducing Customer Service staff and increasing website staff, who were now well established in the overall team.

·         The benefits of the CRM system included that customers could manage their own accounts and track progress themselves. It enabled a customised service, provided visibility and reduced avoidable contact. 7,500 customers had now set up an account.

·         At present the CRM system could accommodate customer online accounts, allow integration with Highway services and Capita to take payments. In addition, diary bookings.

·         The next tranche of services to be integrated into the CRM system were Registrars, Electoral, Council Tax, Licensing, Pest Control, Environmental Health and the E+ card.

·         The Chief Officer reported that it was crucial to understand customer journeys and to structure the website around that. Website redevelopment would be continual and respond to customer preferences and developments in technology.


The Chairman commended the improvements which had been achieved. In response to members’ queries, the Chief Officer made the following points:

·         The Chief Officer reported that a major project had recently been undertaken across the Council to map data flows of anyone taking payments, to ensure there was an understanding of exactly where encrypted data was being held. Suppliers including Capita had assured officers that data was being held within the EU and was very securely held. In addition, Capita would be imminently upgrading their level of security of encrypted data and a recent internal audit report had concluded there was ‘significant assurance’ over the security of web transactions.  Members requested that the Chief Officer provide a brief explanation of what each level of security meant.

·         The Chief Officer reported that whilst there were peaks and troughs throughout the year in the workload of the customer services team, it was not efficient to staff to peak levels and as a result staffing was maintained at an average level. Changes in weather and school admissions often led to peaks to customer contact. Peaks were managed by carefully managing staff leave and ensuring that staff worked to strict rules. It took six months to train customer services staff, given the wide range of calls they would be expected to deal with and as a result temporary staff could not be deployed.

·         A call back  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.


Complaints Against the Council in 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 727 KB

To receive a briefing about complaints made against the Council in 2014/15 as part of the ongoing work to be responsive to residents’ concerns.


The Head of Overview and Scrutiny reported that the number of complaints lodged at stage two and above had fallen by 25% in 2014/15. He also highlighted the changes in the Local Government Ombudsman’s treatment of complaints and that the Corporate Complaints Procedure had been streamlined from four stages to three as detailed in paragraph 5.22 of the report.


The Commission noted the report.



Quarterly Service Reports (QSRs) 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 879 KB

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


·         The Chief Executive’s Office

·         The Corporate Services Department


Please bring the previously circulated Quarterly ServiceReports to the meeting.  Copies are available on request and 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:


Corporate Services Quarterly Service Report:

In response to members’ queries, the Director of Corporate Services agreed to confirm arrangements for informing Members about schools becoming academies, in particularly St Margaret Clitherow RC as many members’ were unaware of this.


It was noted that the Catholic Diocese had taken a decision that all its schools should become academies. 


The Director of Corporate Services reported that a social landlord was being sought for the disposal of East Lodge following the withdrawal of Radian Housing Association’s offer. Planning permission had already been tested, making East Lodge an attractive proposition. The relevant Executive Member’s approval would be sought to go forward with seeking another social landlord.


The Commission noted the Chief Executive’s Office Quarterly Service Report.



Executive Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 179 KB

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

Additional documents:


The Commission noted the forthcoming items on the Executive Forward Plan of a corporate nature.



Work Programme and Panel Activity Update pdf icon PDF 759 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.


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 Chairman of the Adult Social Care O&S Panel reported that good progress was being made by the Panel. The Panel had met in September and looked at the Safeguarding Adults Annual Report. The Panel had also looked at deferred payments and the way in which payments would be claimed from clients after death and how this was managed. The Panel had also considered the Council’s Homelessness Policy.