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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 11th October, 2011.

 

Present:  Councillor J.F. Fraser (Chairman); Councillor E.T. Williams (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. P. Drake, K. Hatton, G. John, Mrs. K.A. Kemp, Mrs. A.J. Moore, N. Moore, Mrs. A.J. Preston, A.C. Williams and Miss. S.J.C. Williams.

 

Also present:  Councillors R.F. Curtis, A.D. Hampton, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, F.T. Johnson, G.C. Kemp and Mrs. M. Randall.

 

 

510     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 13th September, 2011 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

511     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

512     REVIEW OF THE CORPORATE PLAN 2010-14 (REF) -

 

Cabinet had, on 7th September 2011, considered the above matter and referred the same to all Scrutiny Committees for comment (Minute No. C1411).  Cabinet had endorsed the Plan as appended to the report which would be submitted to Council in December 2011 for final approval.  The Head of Performance and Development indicated that a more comprehensive review of the Plan would be undertaken following the local government elections in May, 2012.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

To have regard to the position and facilitate the progression of the Plan.

 

 

513     FIVE MILE LANE HIGHWAY IMPROVEMENT SCHEME UPDATE (REF) -

 

Cabinet had, on 21st September 2011, been informed of progress in relation to the above, together with details pertaining to the expenditure and activities on the project to date (Minute No. C1440).  Cabinet had noted the progress made and referred the report to this Committee given that this Committee had expressed concerns in February 2011 and requested a further report.

 

The Operational Manager (Highways and Engineering) indicated that the then Welsh Assembly Government had asked this Council to submit a bid for funding to undertake the above scheme given WAG’s other interests in the vicinity, for example, the Defence Academy at St. Athan.  Details pertaining to the expenditure and activities on the project to date were contained within the report.  The Operational Manager drew attention to the fact that the biggest delaying factor had been the appointment of ARUP Consultants by WAG to undertake a wider traffic study and to work commissioned by this Council to include the Five Mile Lane traffic study as part of their investigations.  It had been anticipated that the traffic data would have been delivered at the end of October 2008 but, in fact, that information was not made available until July 2009.  In addition, WAG had required the Council to contribute to an Interim  Scheme Assessment Report (ISAR), the finalisation of which took longer than anticipated.

 

The current position was that no future funding for the Scheme had been identified in 2011/12.  The Operational Manager indicated that, should funding become available in the near future, the preparatory works already undertaken would not be wasted and the Scheme could continue to be progressed.  He pointed out, however, a concern that the environmental investigations and reports could become redundant should any length of time ensue and would, therefore, require review.  Following further discussion on the above and related matters, it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Welsh Government be notified of the Committee’s disappointment at the current lack of funding and any clarity as to the prospects of future funding for the Scheme, together with the view of the Committee that further development would take place in the area which would benefit from the improved transport links the Scheme would provide and the hope that the necessary funding would be made available at that time.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To inform the Welsh Government.

 

 

514     FIRST QUARTER PERFORMANCE MONITORING REPORTS -

 

Monitoring reports in respect of the following were presented to the Scrutiny Committee: Chief Executive’s Department, Customer Relations, Human Resources, Legal Services, Democratic Services, ICT, Finance and Property, and Accountancy and Resource Management.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the quarterly performance monitoring reports in respect of the above be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To have regard to the information presented.

 

 

515     THE IMPACT OF THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN ON THE COUNCIL AND ITS SERVICES - UPDATE ON PROGRESS OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE TASK AND FINISH GROUP (DFICTP) -

 

The Head of Accountancy and Resource Management provided the quarterly update on progress as indicated above.  In brief, progress was noted as:

 

Recommendations

Progress to Date

Status

(1)   The Strategy as set out in Section 4 of the report be adopted

 

Deemed completed by Committee in June 2011.

(2)   Directors' savings targets for the period to March 2014 be set as follows - £12.617 million.

 

Deemed completed by Committee in June 2011.

(3)   Directors ensure that all specific measures required to achieve the above are identified by June 2011 to be included in the Medium Term Financial Plan.

Included in the Medium Term Financial Plan reported to Cabinet on 20th July, 2011 and Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) on 26th July, 2011.

Completed

(4)   One of the measures to be to reduce senior management structures achieving a minimum saving of £200,000 by 2012/13.

Proposals for a senior management reduction reported to Cabinet in September 2011 and being considered by this Committee later in the evening.

Ongoing

(5)   Where inflation exceeds 2%, Directorates' savings targets be increased accordingly.

This formed part of the Medium Term Financial Plan as reported to Cabinet in July 2011 and this Committee on 26th July 2011.

Ongoing

(6)   Should a housing stock transfer take place, the balances transferring to the General Fund from the HRA be used to cover the consequential increased costs falling on the General Fund until measures to reduce it can take effect.

 

Deemed completed by Committee in June 2011.

(7)   On the strict proviso that mitigating actions identified in the Service Implications are implemented, the areas for savings as detailed at Appendix F to this report (of Task and Finish Group) be progressed by the relevant Directors and that the year indicated be regarded as the latest in which the saving could be realised.

Work is ongoing with some areas having achieved target and others still in progress.  Two Directorates were not expecting to achieve their savings in the areas set out originally, namely Social Services and Environmental and Economic Regeneration. 

Ongoing - further report requested in respect of the situation in Social Services.  (See Rec. (2) below).

(8)   Any savings which exceed the overall required target for 2011/12 (estimated at £900k) be invested in highways to improve the infrastructure and assist in repairs.

 

Deemed completed by Committee in June 2011.

(9)   The Director of Finance, ICT and Property carry out the following and report back to Cabinet:

- Consider the merger of the schools IT service into the Council's ICT Division to achieve 10% savings.

 

 

 

  

- Review insurances within the Council to consider ways the Council can reduce the cost.

 

 

 

- Discussions held between the Head of Strategic ICT and Head of Strategic Planning and Performance in Learning and Development had concluded that a 10% saving could not be made by combining the two teams.  Further meetings are to take place with BPR to look at other opportunities and a report prepared for Cabinet.

- Property insurance had been obtained at a lower price than renewal and the rate is available for 5 years. £1m. cost avoidance over 5 years is on track.

 

 

 

Ongoing - further report  requested.  (See Rec. (2) below).

 

 

 

Ongoing

(10)   The Chief Executive carry out the following and report back to Cabinet:

- Consider an amalgamation of services for Cabinet Support, Scrutiny and Committee Services, Improvement and Development Team, Mayor's Office and Members' Services to achieve savings in the region of 10%.

- Review the Equalities Team in order to ascertain future savings and whether the responsibilities for the staffing aspects should transfer to the Human Resources Division.

 

 

- Significant savings have already been made and good practice suggests that little value would be gained from merging Scrutiny, Cabinet and other teams.  The external auditor’s expectation is that work will increase in this area.  

- A meeting has been held with the Head of Human Resources and Operational Manager (Corporate Policy and Communications.  Further discussions to be held.

 

 

Ongoing – further report requested.

(See Rec. (2) below).

 

 

 

Ongoing

(11)  The Director of Social Services incorporate within his Change Plan a review of the service areas under Business Management and Innovation and a review of the possibility of shared training on a regional basis.

The restructure has been completed, staff are in post and the changes are working well.  Staff in posts identified for deletion have been found alternative position.

Ongoing

(12)  The Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration carry out the following and report back to Cabinet:

- Investigate the rationalisation of the service areas of Planning Policy and Transportation, Policy and Conservation, Road Safety and Public Transport to achieve savings.

 

- Investigate the rationalisation of the service areas for Urban Regeneration, Business Development and Town Management to achieve savings.

 

 

 

- Both of these recommendations are currently under way in. Savings have been factored into this year’s savings from not filling posts and looking at other means of undertaking essential areas of work within the staff structure remaining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ongoing

(13)  The following areas be pursued by the Corporate Management Team:

- Eliminating non-essential expenditure (e.g. printing, publications, furniture, conferences, use of non-Council buildings for training purposes etc.).

 

- Developing a protocol for engagement of consultants and agency staff.

 

- Seeking further ways to reduce the pay bill (e.g. voluntary reduction in working hour, use of the voluntary/third sector).

 

- Building upon the current work to develop a robust programme for workforce planning.

 

 

- Financial Procedure Note introduced for use of Council / external facilities for events; print strategy being reviewed by ICT to include details of publications, moratorium on non-essential expenditure re-emphasised by CMT via StaffNet.

- Protocols are currently being developed by Internal Audit and look to be completed by October.

- To be considered by individual services as part of the identification of target savings and a key factor within the progress of workforce planning within the Council.

- Information has been collated and a workforce plan will be presented in October.

 

 

Ongoing

 

 

 

 

Ongoing

 

 

Ongoing

 

 

 

Ongoing

(14)  Consideration be given by Cabinet to the Citizens' Panel response to an incremental increase in council tax over a reasonable period in order to bring the Vale in line with the Welsh average.

 

Deemed completed by Committee in June 2011.

(15)  The Director of Social Services engage with the Vale Council for Voluntary Services and Citizens Advice Bureau on their ideas for more efficient and effective involvement of the voluntary sector, eliminating any areas of duplication and identifying savings, as part of the new Social Services Change Plan and report back on progress in this regard to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources).

Social Services Change Plan work stream entitled Co-Production of Services targets engaging with the Vale Centre for Voluntary Services and Citizens Advice Bureau on their ideas for more efficient and effective involvement of the voluntary sector and with the Vale Centre for Voluntary Services to identify overlaps in Council funding of third sector social care services. Further to the meeting in June 2011, CAB agreed to produce a paper identifying proposals in respect of the above.  This paper is expected in October, 2011.

Ongoing

(16)  Equality Impact Assessments for each proposed area of saving be undertaken by the relevant chief officer.

Equality Impact Assessments are being prepared for each individual saving listed in Appendix E of the Cabinet report prior to implementation where relevant.

Ongoing

(17)  Consultation is undertaken with the recognised trades unions.

A change forum has been set up with the trades unions to help co-ordinate the consultation process and deal with cross-directorate issues associated with the areas for savings.

Ongoing

(18)  The Director of Finance, ICT and Property bring a regular quarterly monitoring report, commencing in June 2011, to Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee on progress against the recommendations in the report.

This agenda item constitutes the second of such reports.

 

Ongoing

(19)

- An assessment of the continued need to obtain external legal advice in order to realise possible savings.

 

 

- Reviewing the two administrative sections within Public Protection and Housing Services in relation to duplication of service.

 

- Consideration to the sharing of services with other local authorities e.g. occupational health, training and development, health and safety.

 

 

- Reviewing the Arts Development role and considering working with private partners or other local authorities.

 

 

 

 

- A business case in respect of proposals regarding waste collection re-arrangement be considered.

 

- Revisiting the service area of Building Cleaning Services following the conclusion of the Housing Stock Transfer ballot.

 

- The Director of Legal, Public Protection and Housing Services in conjunction with the Director of Finance, ICT and Property is preparing a joint report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

- Meetings have continued to take place with Bridgend to explore collaboration opportunities in occupational health.  To be reviewed at the end of the financial year.

 

 

- Draft legal agreement between Bridgend, RCT, Merthyr and Vale of Glamorgan is under way.  There will be a shadow merger of staff from 1st October and full merger due April 2012.  Staff will be seconded to RCT and substantive posts to remain with “home” authorities.

 

- The report to Cabinet in July approved the change to co-mingled recycling collection from 19th September, 2011.

 

- An Option Appraisal is currently being undertaken and should be completed by the end of the financial year.

 

 

Ongoing

 

 

 

 

Deemed completed by Committee in June 2011.

 

 

 

Ongoing

 

 

 

 

 

Ongoing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completed

 

 

 

Ongoing

 

(20) The recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) on the initial budget proposals for 2011/12 be referred to Cabinet for consideration as part of their deliberations on the final budget proposals.

 

Deemed completed by Committee in June 2011.

 

(21)  That Cabinet be requested to ensure that saving options E16 and C1 (Appendix F of the Task and Finish Group Report) are not implemented until the financial year 2012/13.

 

Deemed completed by Committee in June 2011.

 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the progress to date be noted and a further quarterly update report presented to the Committee in December.

 

(2)       T H A T further reports be submitted to this Committee in respect of the following:

  • the implications of Welsh Government regulations requiring transport to day services remaining free to clients (Rec. 7)
  • the saving to be achieved in respect of the reconfiguration of staffing structures in residential care and the reorganisation of day care services (Rec. 7)
  • the reasoning behind it being suggested that 10% saving could not be made by the merger of the schools IT service into the Council’s ICT Division (Rec. 9)
  • the reasoning behind it being suggested 'that little value would be gained from merging Scrutiny, Cabinet and other teams' (Rec. 10).

Reason for recommendations

 

To assist the Committee in monitoring the implementation of the approved recommendations of the Budget Task and Finish Group.

 

 

516     REVENUE MONITORING: 1ST APRIL TO 31ST AUGUST 2011 (DFICTP) -

 

The projected outturn for the 2011/12 Revenue Budget was for a balanced Council Revenue Budget.  The forecast on the Housing Revenue Account was also for an estimated balanced budget.  Overspends still continued at the same level in the Education and Schools and Social Services Directorates.  It was noted, however, that there was an additional pressure on Children’s Services as a result of the National Minimum Allowance for Foster Carers and Residents Orders as introduced by the Welsh Government.  Members noted that the impact thereof was currently being quantified and that they would be informed at a future meeting.

 

Discussion ensued on the current situation, particularly within Social Services, it being noted that further reports would be submitted to both this and the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health).  In response to questions as to the issue of care home fees and implications of the Pembrokeshire case for this Council, the Head of Accountancy and Resource Management indicated that he was aware that officers within Social Services had met with a number of care home providers and that a toolkit had been developed to deal with any such eventualities.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the Authority’s 2011/12 Revenue Budget be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Members are aware of the projected revenue outturn for 2011/12.

 

 

517     CAPITAL MONITORING: 1ST APRIL - 31ST AUGUST 2011 (DFICTP) -

 

Appendix 1 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st August 2011.  Further details were contained within the report as outlined below:

 

(i)         Director of Learning and Development:

  • Foundation Phase Grant 2011/12 – Cabinet requested to approve the inclusion of the grant in the capital programme.

(ii)        Director of Environmental and Economic Regeneration:

  • Barry Island Addizone – Cabinet requested to approve the inclusion of the Section 106 funding in respect of the residential development at Jackson’s Quay, Barry Waterfront in the capital programme.

Schemes having a value of over £500,000 showing a variance of 20% or more between actual spend and profile were shown as:

  • Housing Improvement Programme (Central Heating) where expenditure was slightly behind profile but a full spend anticipated by year end
  • Castleland Renewal Area expenditure behind profile but a full spend anticipated.

Councillor N. Moore then referred to the potential withdrawal of a police presence at Cadoxton House and to the fact that both the Welsh Government and this Council had invested significant sums in bringing the building into use and refurbishing it to meet the requirements of the police.  He also made reference to the continued viability of the Community Safety Partnership and the need to keep a watching brief on developments.  He indicated that he was aware that the Cabinet Member for Housing and Community Safety was actively pursuing the matter and that he himself had written to the First Minister amongst others.  At the invitation of the Chairman, Councillor G.C. Kemp referred to the fact that he (being one of this Council’s representatives on the South Wales Police Authority) had already raised those issues directly with the Police Authority. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the Authority’s 2011/12 Capital Programme be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To have regard to the information presented.

 

 

518     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DLPPHS) -

 

Having considered the progress to date in respect of those uncompleted recommendations made during 2009/10, 2010/11 and the update in respect of the period April to June 2011, it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the following actions detailed as completed in the report be accepted:

 

15 February 2011

Min. No. 906 - Capital Monitoring: 1st April - 31st December 2010 (DFICTP) - Recommended

(2)   That reports in relation to the following be submitted:

·        Penarth Learning Community

·        Welsh Medium Seed Schools

·        Five Mile Lane.

 

 

 

 

 

·          Five Mile Lane - Considered earlier in the meeting.

Completed.

28 June 2011

Min. No. 139 - The Impact of the Economic Downturn on the Council and its Services - Update on Progress of the Recommendations of the Task and Finish Group (DFICTP) -

Recommended - That the progress to date be noted and a further quarterly update report presented to the Committee in September.

 

 

 

Considered earlier in the meeting.

Quarterly update report scheduled in the Committee’s forward work programme.

Completed.

Min. No. 140 - Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations (DLPPHS) - Recommended

(2)   That Corporate Management Team be asked to agree that the heading “Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)” within all Council reports be amended to read “Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change if appropriate)”.

 

 

Template revised.

Completed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To maintain effective tracking of the Committee’s recommendations.

 

 

519     PURCHASE OF TIMBER AND WOOD PRODUCTS (DFICTP) -

 

Councillor R.F. Curtis had submitted a request for consideration “To allow Scrutiny to investigate whether the Vale of Glamorgan Council should sign up to WWF Cymru’s pledge to help stop the trade in illegal and unsustainable timber and improve the way we buy wood products”.  Councillor Curtis, with the consent of the Committee, welcomed the opportunity to amplify his reasons for bringing the request before the Committee and the positivity of the report.

 

The Sustainability Working Group had recently discussed the issues raised by Councillor Curtis , concluding that the Council’s current approach to timber procurement was compatible with the aims of the WWF and that a pledge at Bronze level would be consistent with work already being undertaken within the Council.  Members, having considered the contents of the report and the comments raised in the course of discussion, unanimously

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Council’s current arrangements for the procurement of timber and wood products be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider signing up to the WWF Bronze Pledge to stop the trade in illegal and unsustainable timber.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To advise Committee of the current process within the Council for the procurement of timber and wood products and to subscribe to the WWF pledge scheme.

 

 

520     EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 4 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Act, the relevant paragraphs of the Schedule being referred to in brackets after the minute heading.

 

 

521     SENIOR MANAGEMENT REDUCTION (EXEMPT INFORMATION - PARAGRAPH 15) (HHR) -

 

No. C1446 had been “called-in” by Councillors Mrs. M. R. Randall and N. Moore to allow more detailed consideration.

 

Cabinet had resolved that:

 

(1)       the proposed senior management changes be endorsed

(2)       whilst accepting in principle the proposals for the Directorate of Learning and Development, a further report relating to the timing of implementation be submitted to Cabinet having regard to progress made in setting up the Regional Education Consortium

(3)       a further report be submitted on the detailed implementation of the changes (timescale, appointment process, salaries, job descriptions) and such amendments to the Council’s Constitution as may be appropriate

(4)       the position of any senior management displaced be referred as appropriate to the Early Retirement / Redundancy Committee

(5)       the Monitoring Officer be a permanent member of the Corporate Management Team reporting directly to the Managing Director.

 

Councillor Mrs. Randall was invited to the table at this juncture but declined the offer to speak pending the presentation by the Head of Human Resources of his report as contained with the agenda. 

 

Councillor Moore indicated that his prime concern in calling-in the decisions of Cabinet was the need to ensure that the proposals relating to the senior management were subject to appropriate scrutiny.  He commended the report of the Head of Human Resources, commenting that the report, inter alia, drew attention to the procedures that would be adopted to bring about a reduction in the senior management and the need for those processes to be seen to be open and transparent in order that any misconceptions as to the way in which the issues were being dealt with could be quashed. 

 

Particular discussion ensued in respect of the proposals for the Directorate of Learning and Development and the makeup of the Corporate Management Team.  Councillor Randall also referred, in particular, to the need for the proposals to be scrutinised and the proposals for Learning and Development being possibly premature.  With the consent of the Committee, the Leader addressed the issues raised above.  He drew attention, inter alia, to the fact that matters such as job descriptions and pay scales together with those relating to the Directorate of Learning and Development would be submitted in due course, including a report to the Council in December.    

 

During the course of subsequent discussions reference was made to the need to give further consideration to the proposed designations of posts within the revamped management structure. 

 

Having considered the above and related matters, it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T resolutions (1) to (4) of Cabinet minute C1446 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider amending resolution (5) to read “That the proposals be amended to reflect the need for the Section 151 Officer to attend the Corporate Management Team in addition to the Monitoring Officer, both officers to attend to provide advice but not as part of the Council’s Director (First Tier) Management Structure”.

 

 

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