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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 24th April, 2012.

 

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

 

 

1131   APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors K. Hatton, G. John and Mrs. A.J. Moore.

 

 

1132   MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 20th March, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

1133   DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

1134   CORPORATE IMPROVEMENT OBJECTIVES 2012/13 (REF – MINUTE NO. C1678) –

 

Cabinet had, on 28th March, 2012, considered the above and referred the same to all Scrutiny Committees for comment.  The Head of Performance and Development drew attention to the 8 Corporate Improvement Objectives as appended to the report, indicating that the report together with any comments from the Scrutiny Committees would be reported to Council on 25th April, 2012.  In response to a question as to when the residents’ survey in respect of private sector housing in the Castleland area would be undertaken, he undertook to respond direct to the enquirer.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report be accepted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To progress approval of the Corporate Improvement Objectives 2012/13.

 

 

1135   SCHOOL INVESTMENT STRATEGY: WELSH MEDIUM SEED SCHOOLS (CX) –

 

The report updated the Committee on progress to date in relation to the establishment of Welsh Medium Seed Schools in Barry (Ysgol Nant Talwg) and Llantwit Major (Ysgol Dewi Sant) as requested by this Committee in February 2011.  The report also indicated proposals for the future development of both schools.  The Head of Strategic Planning and Performance took Members through the report.  By way of background, she explained that £890,000 had been included in the 2010/11 Capital Programme in respect of the above schools to cater for the installation of demountable units together with associated groundwork, infrastructure works and fees.  Having received leasing quotations for the provision of demountable buildings, the decision had been taken to purchase the buildings outright providing better value for money in the medium to long term.  A revised capital budget estimate (subject to tender) had been reported to Cabinet in February 2011.

 

The first phase of both schools had been completed in September 2011. The main construction contract at Ysgol Nant Talwg had been awarded to Dawnus Construction Limited and it was noted that the anticipated final cost of the project for 2011-13 was £1,615,000 (£1,000 higher than the approved budget) for the reasons set out in paragraph 8 of the report.  At Ysgol Dewi Sant, the construction contract had been awarded to Raymond Brown Construction Limited and it was noted that, again, the anticipated final cost of the project over 2011-13 was approximately £858,000.  The main reasons for the final account exceeding the contract sum on the original budget figure were outlined in paragraph 10 of the report.

 

A separate report detailing the finances on both projects would be submitted to a future Cabinet meeting.

 

Attention was drawn to the fact that it was the intention that the overspend at Ysgol Nant Talwg be funded by the underspend at Ysgol Dewi Sant.

 

Pupil projections in relation to the demand for places within Welsh Medium Education demonstrated that future reception intakes into Ysgol Nant Talwg for the foreseeable future would meet the capacity of the school (30 pupils per year group).  Pupil projects in respect of Ysgol Dewi Sant showed that extra classrooms would need to be added potentially in September 2013.  Capital funding to provide additional accommodation at Ysgol Nant Talwg had been identified within the Revised band A 21st Century Schools programme and approved by Cabinet in November 2011.  Discussion would be held with the Welsh Government regarding the possibility of funding towards the design phase.  As regards Ysgol Dewi Sant, whilst the revised Band A for 21st Century Schools programme identified capital funding requirements to construct the final phase in September 2016, funding would be required before the programme started to construct two additional classrooms and extend the hall to meet increasing pupil numbers.  Once again, discussions would be held with the Welsh Government to determine the feasibility of bringing the Band A funding forward to contribute towards the additional classrooms potentially required for September 2013. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the current position and future proposals regarding the provision of the Welsh Medium Seed Schools be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To be aware of the progress to date and future proposals for the development of both schools.

 

 

1136   SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT PROGRESS REPORT (CX) –

 

The Head of Performance and Development reminded Committee that sustainability was managed within the Council’s Performance Management Framework and was mainstreamed within the Corporate Plan and the service planning process.  Sustainability was also included in all team plans and performance indicators for 2011/12 would be reported to this Committee in June.  The Sustainable Development Action Plan provided a strategic framework for the Sustainable Development Working Group to ensure sustainability was embedded in activities across the Council. 

 

Paragraph 6 of the report highlighted recent developments which, in brief, included:

 

·         all services had continued to work to maintain an appropriate level of the Green Dragon Environmental Standard

·         four nominations had been accepted as part of an Environmental Good Practice Scheme, details of which had been included on StaffNet and in the Core Brief to encourage others to be more environmentally friendly

·         the sustainability checklist had been included in the Project Management toolkit

·         the Local Service Board had agreed a target to reduce energy use annually by 3%

·         the Community Strategy included as one of its ten priority outcomes that “Vale residents and organisations respect the local environment and work together to meet the challenge of climate change”

·         there had been a reduction of 2.4% in building related carbon emissions for 2010/11 compared to 2009/10

·         the Council was continuing to deliver its commitments within the Carbon Management Plan

·         53 energy efficiency improvements installations had been installed to date

·         the Council had signed up to the World Wildlife Fund’s “What Wood You Choose” Campaign.

 

All service plans included a cross-cutting objective to “meet and respect the needs of customers, colleagues and future generations” and the actions completed as part of the 2011/12 service plans included those set out within paragraph 7 of the report.  It was noted that the service plans for 2012/13 included a range of activities to promote all aspects of sustainable development and that some of those actions would be undertaken in 2012/13 detailed in paragraph 8 of the report under the following headings:

 

·         ensuring a strong healthy and just society

·         achieving a sustainable economy

·         living within environmental limits

·         promoting good governance.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the actions taken across the Council to promote sustainable development be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the draft Sustainable Development Action Plan 2012/13, as appended to the report, be noted.

 

Reasons for decision

 

(1)       To be aware of progress across the Council.

 

(2)       To enable the Sustainable Development Working Group to proceed in delivering the Action Plan for 2012/13 and that actions continue to be taken forward to progress sustainable development.

 

 

1137   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:

 

Recommendation

Progress to Date

Status

Recommendation 4

 

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

 

 

Considered at Cabinet on 14th March and at Council on 16th April, 2012

 

 

Completed

Recommendation 5

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

 

This has been built into the final 2012/13 budget which was approved by Council on 7th March 2012, Minute. No. 951.

Completed

Recommendation 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 the Task & 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.

 

 

Many targets have been achieved although the three Directorates shown below have not achieved some of their targets for the reasons set out in the report:

·  Learning & Development - Lifelong Learning

·  Social Services - Adult Services

·  Environmental & Economic Regeneration

 

 

Ongoing

Recommendation 9

 

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

                         

 

A report titled Council Insurance Review 2011/12 was reported to this Committee later in the meeting.

 

 

Completed

Recommendation 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. Work continues on a joint project with Bridgend for training with a draft structure being developed and, the Head of Accountancy and Resource Management notified Members, an up-date report would be submitted to a future meeting to take account of changing circumstances.

 

 

Ongoing

Recommendation 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 & Transportation, Policy & 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. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ongoing

Recommendation 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 program for workforce planning.

 

 

 

 

 

Financial Procedure Note introduced for use of Council/ external facilities for events; project team established by ICT to introduce new print strategy from 2012/13, moratorium on non-essential expenditure re-emphasised during 2012/13, including a review of car mileage payments.

 

Protocol for use of agency staff developed by internal Audit in place including procedures for recording and monitoring: draft protocol for engagement of management consultants will be reported to Corporate Management Team.

 

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 (ongoing).

 

Information has been collated and a workforce plan will be presented by the Head of Human Resources in the near future.

 

 

 

 

Ongoing

 

 

 

 

 

 

Completed

 

 

 

 

 

Ongoing

 

 

 

 

Ongoing

Recommendation 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 working with the Vale Centre for Voluntary Services in order to identify overlaps in Council funding of third sector social care services. The work is ongoing with the third sector to identify services and funding of services.  Work has progressed in relation to service for older people and is now starting in relation to adults with a learning disability.

 

 

Ongoing

Recommendation 16

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

 

 

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

 

Ongoing

Recommendation 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

Recommendation 18

 

The Director of Finance, ICT & 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 fourth of such reports.

 

 

Ongoing

Recommendation 19

The progress on the actions identified with ** in section 3.6 of the (Task & Finish Group) report be reported to Scrutiny Committee as part of the usual recommendation tracking process:

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Director of Legal, Public Protection & 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 during 2012/13 by Head of Human Resources.

 

Memorandum of Understanding signed with RCT, Bridgend and Merthyr on 23rd December 2012. Collaboration to commence 1st April 2012.

 

An initial review has been carried out with the Building Cleaning & Security Manager, a full review will be undertaken following the Senior Management Restructure, during 2012/13.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ongoing

 

 

 

Ongoing

 

 

 

 

Completed

 

 

 

Ongoing

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the progress to date be noted and further quarterly update reports presented to the Committee.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

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

 

 

1138   COUNCIL INSURANCE REVIEW 2011/12 (DFICTP) -

 

Members were notified of the progress made in reviewing the Council's insurances following a recommendation from the Budget Task and Finish Group (Recommendation 9).  The Head of Accountancy and Resource Management explained that the Council managed insurance risk through its own internal fund (the Insurance Fund), and by paying premiums to external insurers where the financial consequences of the risks could not be borne in-house.  The Council was looking to reduce its spend on insurance at a time when market rates were increasing. 

 

He took Members through the report drawing attention to specific issues as outlined below:

 

·         Tendering -

          Ø    as a result of the need to go out to tender in respect of property insurance, the Council had realised a cost avoidance of £1m. over the 5 year term

          Ø    the increase in premium in respect of the Council’s Employer’s and Public Liability insurance had been negotiated from that requested down to 10%.

·         Alternative Risk Transfer (ART) - as the use of an ART mechanism in Wales was currently unavailable, risk management measures at an operational level had been introduced.

·         Highways - external training had been delivered to the Highways Inspectors on ways to enable robust defences of the Council’s Highway Policy and the Council had recently successfully defended a number of cases in the courts.

·         Fraud - the Council took a robust approach towards insurance fraud.

·         Property Claims - the introduction of an internal excess of £250 had been introduces on contents/electronic all risks in an attempt to promote more care being taken by employees.

·         School Holiday Site Management Plans - schools had been encouraged to take a more active role in the risk management of their buildings.

·         Metal Theft - stolen items had been replaced with non-metal materials.

·         Proposed Action Plan - which included the continued promotion of low/ no costs risk management measures.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position regarding the Council's insurances and further actions proposed be noted and the officers involved thanked for the comprehensive report.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To keep the Scrutiny Committee informed and to recognise the work undertaken.

 

 

1139   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 2011/12, 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:

Welsh Medium Seed Schools

 

 

Report considered earlier in the meeting.

Completed.

11 October 2011

Min. No. 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) - Recommended

(2)   That 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 Social Services Charges (Wales) Measure 2010 states that individuals cannot be charged for Transport costs.  Alternative savings options are being considered.  This was reported to Cabinet on 16th November 2011 as part of the budget report on Social Services.

Completed.

24 January 2012

Min. No. 819 - Member Development Strategy, Member Induction Programme 2012 and Related Matters (CX) - Recommended

(9)   That recommendations (1) to (8) above be referred to Cabinet on 1st February, 2012.

 

 

 

Cabinet adopted the recommendations on 1st February, 2012 (Min. No. C1598)

Completed

Min. No. 822 - The Impact of the Economic Downturn on the Council and its Services - Update on Progress on the Recommendations (DFICTP) - Recommended

(2)   That an update on the current position in relation to collaborative working be forwarded to all Members of this Committee.

 

 

 

 

Update e-mailed to all Members of the Committee on 26th January, 2012

Completed

21 February 2012

Min. No. 910 - Local Government (Wales) (Measure) 2011 (DLPPHS) - Recommended

(2)   That Cabinet be notified of the Committee’s view that the only matter within the draft Guidance meriting comment related to the timing of Council meetings and that the current practice of, generally, holding evening meetings should be continued.

 

 

Cabinet, on 29th February, 2012, noted the comments of Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) (Min. No. C1627 refers)

Completed

20 March 2012

Min. No. - Leisure Centre Partnership Project - Call-In from Councillors N. Moore and M.R. Wilson (DEER) - Recommended

(2)   That a full update on the position in relation to the Penarth Youth Forum be submitted to a future meeting.

 

 

 

Information provided by the Principal Youth Officer and forwarded to all Members of the Council on 2nd April 2012.

Completed

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To maintain effective tracking of the Committee’s recommendations.

 

 

1140   THANKS -

 

This being the last meeting prior to the local government elections in May, the Chairman thanked Members and officers for their contributions over the last four years.  Members reciprocated.

 

 

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