Top

Top

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 15th October, 2013.

 

Present: Councillor M.R. Wilson (Chairman); Councillor Mrs. P. Drake (Vice-Chairman); Councillors K.J. Geary, H.C. Hamilton, K. Hatton, H.J.W. James, P.G. King, R.A. Penrose, G. Roberts and A.C. Williams.

 

 

497     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 10th September, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

498     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

Councillor H.C. Hamilton declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 7 – Governor at Oakfield Primary School. 

 

 

499     REVENUE MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2013 TO 31ST AUGUST 2013 (MD) –

 

The projected outturn for the 2013/14 Revenue Budget was set out in Appendix 1 to the report and overall was a forecast for the Council to have a balanced Revenue Budget.  Similarly, there was a forecast estimated balanced budget on the Housing Revenue Account. 

 

The report detailed the current variances within each of the Directorates’ budget.  In presenting the report, the Head of Financial Services made reference to the continued volatility of the budget in respect of Children and Young People Services with the Residential Placements for Looked After Children projected to overspend by £353,000.  This was an increase of £121,000 from July’s position which was mainly due to one young person moving into residential placement.  In addition, he also referred to the position of Adult Services and as reported to previous meetings of the Scrutiny Committee this budget continued to project an overspend by the year end in the sum of £1,169,000.  Reference was made to areas of savings which had been identified in the current year in the amount of £293,000 over the required target.  This would be used to offset the overspend on Adult Services resulting in a projected overspend for Social Services at year end of £876,000.  He indicated that the budget in respect of both Children and Young People and Adult Services would continue to be closely monitored. 

 

Reference was also made to the current favourable variance of £225,000 in respect of the Housing General Fund.  This was due to a reduction in the number of homeless individuals requiring emergency accommodation due to a long term increased focus on prevention by the homeless team.  As indicated in the previous report to the Scrutiny Committee it was considered prudent to retain this provision in the anticipation of potential implications of the changes in Welfare Reform. 

 

During consideration of the report the Committee sought clarification in respect of the following matters:

 

·                paragraph 22 Waste Management – the reason behind the late notification of grant allocation in respect of Sustainable Waste Management grant

·                paragraph 14 Catering – a breakdown was required of how the £64,000 favourable variance was achieved.

 

During discussion reference was also made to paragraph 23 Grounds Maintenance and, in particular, matters relating to maintenance arrangements at Rhoose Point and the need to establish a dedicated budget for the future management of Rhoose Point and the nature reserve, specifically in regard to the management of the site and potential future risks for the Council in the event that future funding was not available for the management and maintenance of the area. 

 

In addition, the Committee also expressed a general view in regard to the future budgetary underspends within the various budgets reported, that these underspends should be utilised to offset overspends in other service areas of the Council.  The Committee suggested that where possible departments be encouraged to increase the rate of underspending and where services had indeed underspent that they should be commended for their prudency.  The Chairman, in referring to the issue of underspends, enquired whether the Cabinet should give consideration to incentivising services by allowing the retention of a percentage of the underspend as opposed to current arrangements which allowed the total amount of the underspend to be carried forward into the next financial year.  The Committee, whilst acknowledging that certain services were demand led and / or seasonal, felt it was imperative that budgets were viewed from the point of the need to ensure that either they outturned on target or they were underspent.

 

The Head of Financial Services sounded a note of caution in that the profiling of budgets at the start of each financial year was very difficult but given recent announcements by the Welsh Government in regard to budget settlements he acknowledged that it would be difficult for services in the future to carry forward underspends in an effort to reduce funding pressures.  He felt that it was an appropriate time to suggest that the Scrutiny Committee give consideration to how the Council would be able to cope in the future with future financial settlements from the Welsh Government and whether it was now the right time to seek Cabinet’s consideration on how the Scrutiny Committee could assist them in overcoming the impending budgetary challenges.

 

Discussion ensued with the Committee expressing concern at the ongoing position of Adult Services and agreed that future reports to the Scrutiny Committee should contain monthly actual breakdown of overspends for this service.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the Authority’s 2013/14 Revenue Budget be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Cabinet be requested to consider the ongoing maintenance commitment of Rhoose Point and the nature reserve (in particularly the management of the site) and to establishing an appropriate budget.

 

(3)       T H A T the Committee receives a further report in respect of any future liabilities in respect of the maintenance of Rhoose Point and the nature reserve.

 

(4)       T H A T the Committee receives a further report on the breakdown of the underspend in Catering Services.

 

(5)       T H A T the Head of Financial Services be requested to ensure that future Revenue Monitoring reports contain a monthly breakdown of actual overspends in respect of Adult Services.

 

(6)       T H A T the Cabinet be invited to examine the feasibility of introducing incentive schemes to maximise value for money from allocated budgets.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that Members were aware of the projected revenue outturn for 2013/14.

 

(2)       To establish an appropriate budget.

 

(3&4)  To keep Members informed.

 

(5)       To ensure that Adult Services overspend was closely monitored.

 

(6)       To address the impending budgetary challenges.

 

 

500     CAPITAL MONITORING REPORT FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST AUGUST 2013 (MD) –

 

Appendix 1 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st August 2013.  Appendix 2 provided non-financial information on capital construction schemes with a budget of over £100,000.  Where a budget shown in Appendix 1 was more than £100,000 that was made up of several schemes that individually were less than £100,000 these were not included in Appendix 2.

 

The Head of Financial Services further updated the Committee on progress in respect of the following schemes:

 

·                Llanmaes Flood Management Scheme

·                Gileston to Old Mill

·                Sustainable Waste Management

·                Skate park at Paget Road, Penarth.

 

As indicated in previous monitoring reports the Cabinet had previously agreed to further information being provided where schemes had a value of £500,000 and showed a variance of 20% or more between actual spend and profile, the following schemes met this criteria:

 

·                WHQS Works – during August, works on central heating / boilers and roofing works were behind profile whilst asbestos management costs had exceed the initial profile

·                Disabled Facility Grants – expenditure was behind profile due to a higher than usual dropout rate from applicants, thereby reducing the level of approvals.  There was currently a predicted shortfall of £200,000 on the annual budget.  The Head of Financial Services indicated that a further update report on this position would be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee in the coming months.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Committee endorse the following recommendations and refer the same to Cabinet and Council for approval:

 

(1)       Llanmaes Flood Management Scheme – reduce the budget to £100,000 and include any future Welsh Government grant allocations for this scheme in the Capital Programme.

 

(2)       Sustainable Waste Management scheme – increase the Capital Programme by £82,000 – funded from WG grant.

 

(3)       Skate park at Page Road, Penarth scheme – reduce 2013/14 budget to £50,000 (carry forward £124,000 to 2014/15).  Amend title of scheme to 'Paget Road Public Open Space Improvements'.  In addition include a further sum of £100,000 for this scheme in the 2014/15 Capital Programme upon receipt of the next tranche of S106 funding for Penarth Heights (Council approval required).

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-3)     To allow schemes to proceed in the current or future financial years.

 

 

501     BUILDING SERVICES – A PLAN FOR CHANGE (REF) –

 

The above matter had originally been considered by the Cabinet at its meeting held on 29th July 2013. 

 

At that time the Cabinet had been apprised by the Head of Housing and Building Services of the operational response to the Building Services Audit Report which had been presented to the Council’s Audit Committee on 8th July 2013. 

 

In summarising the report the Head of Housing and Building Services made reference to the areas of concern identified in the report to the Audit Committee which were:

 

·                idle time being charged to jobs

·                operatives not being where they should be or claiming to be therefore clients being overcharged on jobs

·                large gaps on the Opti Time calendar which were unaccounted for resulting in staff not working where staff were

·                extended lunch breaks which were not honestly recorded on time sheets

·                operatives visiting the Alps Depot without need

·                operatives using vans for non-work related activities

·                Building Services staff operate private businesses possibility within Council time.

 

In referring to the above points the Head of Housing and Building Services indicated that a robust audit investigation had been carried out, the results of which were set out in the Audit report attached to the report under consideration. 

 

In response to the findings, the Head of Service had a series of actions which were incorporated into a 'plan for change' and the 'plan for change governance structure'.  In alluding to the new governance arrangements the Head of Service indicated that the first meeting of the Cabinet Working Group had been held as recently as two weeks ago.  She also made reference to a recent amendment to the governance structure by the inclusion of the WHQS Quality Design Forum to take account of tenant engagement.

 

Her attention then turned to the challenges for the future and she acknowledged that there were some fundamental issues which required to be addressed and indeed were currently being addressed in regard to organisational culture, leadership and capability of middle managers to undertake their roles and responsibilities.  A number of audits were currently being undertaken to ensure systems were fit for purpose and improvements were being made.  She referred to the biggest ongoing challenge which related to responsive repairs and there was further work required in building relationships with internal clients to ensure that work to public buildings could be undertaken by Building Services in the future.  In conclusion she indicated that a growth strategy would be developed during the next 18 months and it was hoped to report the same to a future meeting of this Committee.

 

During the Committee’s general discussion on the matter the following concerns were raised:

 

·                travel time to and from the Alps Depot to fuel vehicles and whether it was more appropriate to introduce a fuelling card policy

·                the need for an up to date fleet management system to include the facility to track vehicles when they were deployed to site

·                the existing capabilities of the Opti Time / e-Consol system and whether this system was still fit for purpose

·                the need for appropriate disciplinary action to be taken against employees in cases of alleged misconduct

·                culpability of senior managers who were in a position of responsibility for overseeing the management of the service

·                there appeared to be a deficiency in training provision borne out by the apparent failure of managers / supervisors to follow established procedures i.e. capability procedure

·                ongoing concerns in regard to operatives in Building Services / Grounds Maintenance carrying out unauthorised practices.

 

In summing up the Chairman thanked the Head of Housing and Building Services for her work to date.  He also referred to the implicit responsibility of Members to report any incidents of alleged misconduct that they become aware of to an appropriate officer.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the report be noted and that action taken by the Cabinet to date be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the Cabinet be satisfied that an appropriate investigation into areas of alleged misconduct by employees is carried out.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of action taken to date by Cabinet and the Audit Committee.

 

(2)       To ensure appropriate disciplinary action is undertaken.

 

 

502     SCHOOL REORGANISATION PROPOSALS FOR WELSH MEDIUM PRIMARY SCHOOL PLACES IN BARRY: YSGOL GWAUN Y NANT AND OAKFIELD PRIMARY SCHOOL (REF) –

 

The above matter had been considered by the Cabinet at its meeting held on 23rd September 2013 whereupon at that time approval was sought to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant in order to provide sufficient Welsh medium primary school places in Barry. 

 

At that time the Cabinet resolved to undertake the following:

 

'(1)      T H A T the preferred option to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant from one to two form entry and to provide a new building for Oakfield Primary school on the current site be approved.

 

(2)       T H A T consultation on the expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant from a one to two form entry school be approved.

 

(3)       T H A T the report be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and from there onto the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for consideration.

 

Reasons for decisions

 

(1&2)  To enable the expansion of Welsh Medium education to meet increasing parental demand.

 

(3)       That Scrutiny Committees (Lifelong Learning and Corporate Resources) are aware of progress with school re-organisation.'

 

The School Organisation and Buildings Manager in outlining the report referred to the preferred option which was to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant from one to two form entry and to provide a new building for Oakfield Primary School on the current site. 

 

In discussing the matter the Committee made reference to the necessity for such a project given the significance of the School Surplus Places report considered by the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) earlier in the year.  Reference was also made to officers’ proposals contained within this report in regard to Oakfield Primary School. 

 

Separate concerns were also raised in relation to the existing catchment area of Oakfield Primary School being a deprived area and the potential impact of introducing a Welsh medium school on the site which may have a detrimental unforeseen impact on current and future parents’ decisions to place their child at the school.  The Committee also expressed concern that the report under consideration lacked detail and made no reference as to why the existing Welsh medium education sites in the county had not been suitable for expansion to include the above proposals.

 

Certain Members expressed the view that the Council’s effort should be concentrated on further support to Oakfield Primary School in raising educational standards.  The school should be seen as an aspirational asset for local community benefit.  The co-location as proposed on the same site of a Welsh medium education may run counter to the efforts to attract and increase pupil numbers at Oakfield Primary School.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) on 14th October, 2013 be supported.

 

(3)       T H A T the further report requested by the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) on the matter be also submitted to this Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of options considered by the Cabinet and the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).

 

(2)       To support the stance taken by the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).

 

(3)       To monitor proposed expenditure in relation to proposed options.

 

 

503     CORPORATE PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (HHR) –

 

The appendix to the report set out performance data for the first quarter 2013/14 in relation to employee sickness and Council leavers. 

 

The Head of Human Resources indicated that the average number of working days / shifts lost per full time equivalent employee to long term sickness ranged from 0.00 days in Corporate Services, Development Services Support, Leisure Services, Democratic Services, Human Resources and Resource Management) to 3.82 days (in Visible Services).  He also alluded to the average number of working days / shifts lost per full time equivalent employee to sickness absence which ranged from 0.00 days (in Democratic Services) to 4.67 days (in Visible Services).  He also referred to the average number of working days / shifts lost per full time equivalent employee to short term sickness which ranged from 0.00 days (Democratic Services) to 1.09 days (in Adult Services).

 

As for the percentage of employees who left during the quarter, the Head of Human Resources indicated that this ranged from 0.00% (in Housing Services, Human Resources, ICT, Leisure Services and Development Services Support) to 11.11% (in Democratic Services).

 

He further alluded to the overall Council figures for sickness absence and leavers which were reported under Objective 2 of the Resources Services quarterly performance report and in this regard the average number of working days / shift per full time equivalent local authority employee lost due to sickness absence during the first quarter was 2.36 days.  The percentage of employees, including teachers and school based staff, who left the employment of the local authority, whether on a voluntary or involuntary basis during the quarter was 1.54%.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the corporate performance indicators for Quarter 1 in respect of sickness and leavers within each service area be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendation

 

(1)       To ensure that the Council effectively monitored and improved its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement and comparison, outlined in the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

(2)          To enable the effective monitoring of data in relation to employee sickness and Council leavers.

 

 

504     QUARTER 1 CORPORATE AND CUSTOMER SERVICES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2013/14 (MD) –

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the service performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address service underperformance be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2013/14 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure the Council is effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

(2)       To consider the Quarter 1 Corporate and Customer services performance results as at 30th June 2013 in order to identify service areas for improvement work.

 

(3)       To meet the Auditor General, Wales’ improvement proposal to ensure that:

 

·                intentions are expressed in a way which allows progress to be measured; and that

·                reporting arrangements consistently provide Members with an evaluation of performance in the context of the objectives the Council is aiming to achieve.

 

(3)       To enable the Council to demonstrate achievement of its objectives and identified outcomes.

 

 

505     QUARTER 1 RESOURCES PERFORMANCE REPORT 2013/14 (DR) –

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the service performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address service underperformance be noted, subject to it being further noted that performance indicator RS01/M004Q (previously L443Q) – percentage of information laid in court for criminal prosecutions within 15 working days of receipt of full instructions, that the Quarter 1 actual performance figure was 100% with all 27 prosecution matters laid in court within the prescribed period.

 

(2)       T H A T the progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined the Corporate Plan 2013/17 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2013/14 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure the Council is effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

(2)       To consider the Quarter 1 Resources performance results as at 30th June 2013 in order to identify service areas for improvement work.

 

(3)       To meet the Auditor General, Wales’ improvement proposal to ensure that:

 

·                intentions are expressed in a way which allows progress to be measured; and that

·                reporting arrangements consistently provide Members with an evaluation of performance in the context of the objectives the Council is aiming to achieve.

 

(4)       To enable the Council to demonstrate achievement of its objectives and identified outcomes.

 

 

506     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING – QUARTER 2 (DR) –

 

The report updated Members on the progress in relation to uncompleted recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee for the first quarter April – June 2013 (Appendix A) and the second quarter July – September 2013 (Appendix B). 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the following actions detailed below be accepted as completed: 

 

16 July 2013

Min. No. 238 - Capital Monitoring Report for the Period 1st April to 31st May 2013 (MD) – Recommended

(3)   That the following recommendations be agreed and referred to Cabinet and Council accordingly:

·         Schools’ IT Loans – increase the budget to £200k. (funded initially from the IT Fund, repayable by the schools) (refer to Cabinet)

·         Cashless Catering and Management Information System – reduce the budget to £140k. (carry forward £160k. into 2014/15) (refer to Cabinet)

·         Section 106 Cogan Hill / Plassey Street junction phases 1 and 2 – reduce the budget to £30k. (carry £227k. forward to 2014/15) (refer to Cabinet)

·         Carbon Management Fund – increase the budget by £125k. to £213k. (funded from the Energy Management Fund) (refer to Cabinet)

·         Ewenny Road Bridge – reduce the budget to £100k. (carry forward £900k. to 2014/15) (refer to Cabinet and Council).

 

 

 

Recommendations agreed by Cabinet on 29th July 2013 (Min. No. C1425 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 239 - Closure of Accounts 2012/13 (MD) – Recommended

(1)   That the information as detailed above be forwarded to Members when available.

[Detailed breakdown on the overspend of £73k on the employee budget for Grounds Maintenance and details on the purpose of the Miscellaneous Building Services Technology reserve via email.]

 

 

Information e-mailed to all Members on 10th September 2013.

Completed

10 September 2013

Min. No. 390 – Revenue Monitoring for the Period 1st April to 31st July 2013 (MD) – Recommended

(2)   That the Committee receive a further report in respect of the Social Services overspend.

 

 

 

Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 399 - Scrutiny Committees’ Draft Annual Report: May 2012 to April 2013 and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme (MD) – Recommended

(2)   That this Scrutiny Committee's Work Programme for 2013/14 attached at Appendix 2 to the report be confirmed and uploaded to the Council's website as appropriate.

 

 

 

 

 

Work programme uploaded to the website.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the progress against the remaining recommendations identified as ongoing as detailed within the report be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T a further report be presented to this Scrutiny Committee in respect of options for how the Council could best utilise the “Jobs Growth Wales†initiative in the future.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To apprise Members of progress with Scrutiny Committee recommendations.

 

(3)       To further examine the opportunities for utilising the initiative.

 

 

 

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook