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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 28 April, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services

 

Home to Work Transport Policy

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek the approval of Cabinet to introduce a corporate policy to control and manage the use of Council vehicles for home to work purposes.

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet approve the new 'Home to Work Transport Policy' for implementation from 1st May 2014.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To provide a consistent approach to home to work transport across all Council Departments and to ensure that there is a robust business case arrangement in place for any such use in future. 

Background

2.         The existing provision of ‘home to work’ transport for employees is largely historic, and for a range of reasons, some of which may provide tangible service benefits.  However the current arrangements in almost all cases lack sufficient controls for a business case to be made with any certainty and the evidence required to be put forward to prove any such case is not always available due, in part, to the absence of real time recording data for the vehicles concerned.

3.         The Council's audit section were requested to undertake a review of the vehicles that were being taken home to establish the extent of the arrangement and to estimate the savings that could be realised by ceasing the provision.  A briefing note on this prepared by the audit team is attached at Appendix A.

4.         The proposal to introduce a new policy to manage home to work transport is one of a number of fleet management improvements that will be considered by Cabinet within the next 12 months and is part of a Council wide review of transportation and fleet management that is currently being undertaken. Cabinet considered a report on vehicle based Telemetry at its meeting of 18th November 2013 (Minute C2094 refers). Telemetry units, that provide real time data for vehicle location, speed, fuel consumption and driver ID etc, are now being fitted to all vehicles in the Council's fleet.

5.         The introduction of the new policy is based on three guiding principles; the establishment of an appropriate home to work policy based upon business need, the cessation of non-essential transport and a reduction in overall transport spend.  Establishment of a robust policy to achieve a corporate "baseline" is critical to ensure that the council can effectively manage the use of its vehicles in future.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.         The 'Home to Work Transport Policy' proposed is attached at Appendix B. The policy provides a framework for consistent and fair practice for employees using Council vehicles back and for to work.

7.         In certain circumstances there may be a need to permit employees to take their vehicles home and where a business case can be made to justify this provision then the employee will be authorised to do so. Any arrangement must be consistently applied with consideration given to fairness and equity, in addition to value for money and probity.  Also any provision must be regularly reviewed using standardised and accurate vehicle use data.

8.         In summary the policy requires that all Council vehicles be returned to the relevant Council depots, or land areas, initially, with business cases then drafted by the employing Chief Officers for the staff concerned if necessary.  All staff would be given 12 weeks notice in writing of the requirement to return the Council vehicles, to permit alternative home to work transport arrangements to be made.

9.         Staff who have the use of specific Council vehicles on paid standby arrangements will be exempt from the requirements of this policy for the time they are on standby as it is assumed that a business case has already been made for the emergency standby provision.

10.      The business cases, which should be made on a vehicle by vehicle basis, must be submitted by the employing Chief Officer to the department accountant for agreement and, when agreed by both parties, sent to the employing Director and Cabinet Member for Environment and Visible Services for authorisation.  A copy of the authorised business case must be sent to the fleet management section for monitoring purposes and to ensure that a central record is maintained.

11.      All vehicles for which a business case has been agreed must be fitted with a real time tracking device in order to enable monitoring of the vehicle operation against the submitted business case.

12.      The Chief Officer will be required to complete a business case form VHW1 (copy attached at Appendix C), detailing the full terms of the home to work provision, including routing arrangements to and from work, arrangements for the storage of tools and other such equipment, and the location of the vehicles when parked overnight.

13.      Key responsibilities of both employees and managers are detailed within the policy, and acceptance of the policy will form part of the conditions of service for employees who are permitted to take vehicles home.

14.      The policy applies to all employees of the Vale of Glamorgan Council with the exception of employees on paid stand by staff directly employed by Schools.

15.      The Director of Visible Services and Housing or his appointed representative can temporarily suspend the requirements of the policy in any emergency, such as periods of extreme weather.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

16.      The estimated savings per annum of this policy (assuming the return of all vehicles) is circa £100k per annum.  This sum includes the possible savings detailed in Appendix A and an amount for fleet size reduction.

17.      There are likely to be some contractual employment issues raised by certain employees when the home to work transport provision is removed and these will all have to be considered and addressed individually and on their relative merits.

18.      Whilst use of a Council vehicle is a factor considered under job evaluation, the fact that certain staff take vehicles home is not classed as an additional factor in the evaluation process.  There will therefore be no changes in pay grade or spinal column point as a result of the introduction of a new policy for home to work transport.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

19.      The new policy will reduce the carbon emissions associated with the use of commercial vehicles for home to work provision.  It will also ensure that frontline services are better supported by reducing operational costs.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

20.      As with the majority of proposals which come before Cabinet there are potentially legal implications attached to the changes.  For example as set out above there may be some contractual employment issues which arise.  In respect of such issues, legal advice in respect of these changes will be sought if necessary and appropriate via the Council's in house legal department.

Crime and Disorder Implications

21.      As the majority of vehicles will be returned to either the Alps or Court Road Depot where there is a 24 hour security presence, it is likely that any vehicle related crimes could reduce.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

22.      The policy will ensure that there is a clear well documented reasoning behind any vehicles that are allowed to be taken home.  This is a significant improvement on the current 'ad hoc' arrangement in terms of equal opportunity and fairness in general.

Corporate/Service Objectives

23.      To manage the Council's workforce, money, information and assets efficiently, effectively and securely.

Policy Framework and Budget

24.      This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

25.      The Trade Union Secretaries of GMB, Unite and Unison have been consulted on the introduction of this new policy and have indicated a wish to be consulted on any successful business cases for 'home to work transport' under the new policy, to assist in satisfying their members that the new policy is being fairly implemented.  They have also requested that the vehicle telemetry system installation for vans be delayed until this policy is agreed by Cabinet.  This was detailed in the report to Cabinet on Vehicle Telemetry on 18th November 2013 and the fitting of telemetry units to vans is towards the end of the installation programme for this reason.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

26.      Economy and Environment.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing

Tel: 02920 673 101

 

Officers Consulted

Business Improvement Team - Resources

Accountant - Visible Services

Operational Manager - Human Resources

Operational Manager - Legal

Director of Development Services

Head of Services Carys Lord

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing

 

 

 

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