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Agenda Item No.

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 17TH NOVEMBER 2014

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES): 15TH OCTOBER 2014

 

 

          TRANSPORT SAVINGS PROGRAMME UPDATE (REF) -

 

Cabinet, on 8th September, 2014, were provided an update on the work being undertaken to review the Council’s current transport arrangements.  Cabinet had also been requested to determine what actions and resource profile was required for the introduction of a comprehensive transport savings programme.  The Cabinet, in accepting the report’s recommendations, had also referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for consideration as the Lead Committee for the service area and separately to the Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) for information.

 

The Scrutiny Committee (Economy and Environment) considered this matter at its meeting held on 7th October, 2014 and subsequently recommended to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) the following:

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the above comments of the Scrutiny Committee be relayed to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) in time for its meeting on 15th October, 2014.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the contents of the report and the comments made at the meeting.

 

The report was considered in conjunction with tabled item Agenda Item No. 9.

 

The catalyst for the review of vehicle transport had been highlighted in the Council’s 2012/13 Medium Term Financial Plan, subsequently, in December 2013, a diagnostic project review of transport arrangements had been commissioned by the Corporate Management Team in order to identify what process improvements and significant cashable savings in relation to the Council’s transport operations.  The project had been sponsored by the Director of Visible Services and Housing and project managed by the Senior Business Improvement Partner.  Following a competitive tendering process, EDGE Public Solutions had been selected to perform the diagnostic review supported by a member of the Council’s Business Improvement Team.

 

The resulting document entitled Vale of Glamorgan Transport Review’ was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and provided a detailed assessment of the current transport arrangements and scope for improvement across the service areas culminating in a series of recommendations for improvement. 

 

The Review recommended that increased use of available technologies in the garage in order to improve both customer and management information.  The report also highlighted the need for a fully integrated Fleet Management Information Technology System if a co-ordinated approach to Fleet Management was to be achieved. 

 

The Review had also recommended proposed that a review of the current operating process and competences for Fleet Management and Administration was made available within the report in order to ensure that both administrators and managers were able to efficiently prioritise and manage workloads.  An overarching criticism of current transport arrangements related to the review of the option that service managers acted in isolation regarding transport arrangements with varying degrees of co-ordination and communication between departments when arranging similar transport provision.  The Review concluded that no single team or service was able to achieve an holistic view of transport decisions being made across the authority and in order to achieve such an approach recommended that a central Integrated Transport Unit (ITU) be set up in order to transform the current management of transport arrangements, positively change their relationship between client and provider and effectively adjust levels of autonomy and control.  The review document also provided the Committee with details of both an assessment of the existing transport related savings plans and a high level road map for savings and processing improvements.  In general the review had been complementary of the staff and services currently provided by the Council and an assessment of the management of individual services relating to transport was found to range from adequate to excellent.  However, concern was expressed in the report relating to the fragmentation of current transport arrangements within the Authority. 

 

The creation of the diagnostic review and the accompanying resource profile had provided the Council with a documented series of objectives regarding information management.  The Council would also require a co-ordinated and timely approach to the implementation of the accepted recommendations if it was to achieve the savings and service improvements identified within the required time periods. 

 

The Committee welcomed Mr. Brian Cotter of EDGE Public Solutions (EDGE) who provided the Committee with a comprehensive presentation on the findings of the review of the Council’s transport arrangements commissioned by the Director of Visible Services and Housing.  It provided the Committee with details of the high level findings and recommendations in regard to the Council’s Fleet, Social Services vehicles, Education vehicles, Community/Bus Service transport, staff travel arrangements and the management and tendering arrangements in relation to the Council’s supported transport arrangements provided by buses and taxis.  Mr. Cotter also referred to matters relating to the establishment of Integrated Transport Unit Regional, Collaboration and savings potential.  Following the presentation, a question and answer session took place in respect of the following matters:

 

·               The need to standardise the Council’s Fleet. 

·               Consideration should be given to greater contract hire. 

·               Matters in relation to the Alps Garage Workshop and stock control identified by the review raised questions regarding management competency levels.

·               The review had identified vehicles standing idle when there could be a dual use.

·               How crucial was the establishment of an Integrated Transport Unit (ITU) in effecting savings identified by the review.

 

In response, the Director set out the context for appointing EDGE as they had been identified by the Welsh Government as exemplar given their recent work with Neath/Port Talbot Council.  He sought to provide the Scrutiny Committee with an assurance that the matters raised by the review would be taken on board by the Steering Group and acknowledged also that there were weaknesses with current management arrangements.  However, he invited Mr. Cotter to comment on the current arrangements of the Council when compared against reviews undertaken at other Councils by EDGE.  Mr. Cotter referred to recent work at other Councils and indicated that the Council was in a far better starting position.  He referred to the number of examples where the Council’s current arrangements were adequate when compared to other Councils where he felt costs were out of control.  He acknowledged that there were some management issues as identified by the review, but with the right support the outlook for the Council was good.  The Director in referring to the review findings and to some of the points raised by the Committee, also acknowledged that the Council lacked certain specialist knowledge around reverse tendering exercises and this would require further work to develop staff expertise in this area.  He would also consider looking at private sector involvement with a view to challenging current arrangements.

 

Discussion ensued with a number of points being made by the Committee regarding the associated benefits of establishing an ITU.

 

The Director of Visible Services and Housing advised that the Transport Savings Steering Group whilst recognising the potential value for a central Integrated Transport Unit, expressed concern at the cost which was deemed prohibitive in establishing such a unit albeit the Group had agreed to a number of recommendations from the Review and recognised the benefits of co-ordinating several aspects of transport management and considered the potential transfer of additional learning needs post 16 and Social Services Transport Management and administration functions to the existing transport function within Development Services.  Further work was now required to quantify whether such a proposal was viable.

 

The Director also took the opportunity to advise Members of the Committee that prior to the transport review being undertaken, £690,000 worth of savings had already been identified by service managers for the financial years 2014/15 and 2015/16.  The recommendations provided by EDGE identified an estimated £900,000 of additional savings.   

 

Discussion ensued with the Committee welcoming the findings of the Review.  A number of points were made by the Committee regarding the establishment of an ITU, linked to spend to save initiatives.  Points were also raised relating to collaboration opportunities with public / private sector, the practical application of certain aspects of the Review findings, raising awareness of public to allow better access to rural transport services and revenue streams in relation to existing policy charging arrangements.

The Director gave an assurance that Members would continue to receive regular reports to the Scrutiny Committee on Fleet Management for their consideration. 

 

Having considered the report and related matters it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the recommendations of Cabinet be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider requesting quarterly reports from the Transport Savings Steering Group that outline initiatives introduced, how they are progressing and the saving achieved against those anticipated.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure appropriate monitoring arrangements were in place to ensure that savings proposals were actioned, monitored and achieved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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