Cabinet, on 1st June, 2015 was provided with an update on developments in the Building Cleaning and Security Service as part of the Reshaping Services Project.  At this meeting, Cabinet approved changes to the Cleaning and Security Services provided at corporate office buildings.


The report was presented by the Director of Visible Services and Housing who was joined by the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety.


In providing a background summary, it was noted that in total the Cleaning and Security Service was resourced by 299 individual members of staff. The Council operated an internal cleaning and security service within the Visible Services and Housing Directorate.  Services were provided to schools and the Council’s other public buildings, including Council offices.  The Council’s Facilities Management Team undertook the client role (purchased services from the Cleaning and Security Service) and managed the budget associated with cleaning and security at office buildings.  Schools could choose to make arrangements under Service Level Agreements with the Cleaning and Security Service for cleaning within schools. 


Over recent years, the Building Cleaning and Security Service had seen a reduction in the number of schools and office sites procuring cleaning services.  This had reduced to 84 from 99 over a five year period.  With a reducing number of clients, the Building Cleaning and Security Service was now apportioning overheads over a small number of customers and this was eroding its overall financial viability, necessitating the fundamental examination of the service.  It was noted that the service scored highly in terms of customer satisfaction, measured by regular client surveys. 


The Cabinet report set out proposals to change the level of office cleaning and security provision at Council office buildings in order to assure appropriate service levels and to achieve the approved savings contained within the Council’s Final Revenue Budget proposals for 2015/16 associated with building running costs.  It was also proposed that the review of Cleaning and Security Services (which was to be undertaken as part of tranche 2 of the Reshaping Services Programme) should ascertain the long term viability of the service and, where appropriate, identify alternative ways of delivering these services.


Security and Cleaning Services commissioned by the Council’s Facilities Management Team and provided by the Council’s internal Cleaning and Security Service were provided at the following buildings:

  • Civic Offices
  • Town Hall
  • Docks Office
  • Alps Depot
  • Court Road Depot
  • Provincial House.

The Council also operated on a wide range of other locations.  A review of these assets was currently underway in order to identify opportunities for rationalisation and further efficiency savings and would be reported to Cabinet as a separate point.


Appendix A, illustrated the current and proposed number of working hours at each of the in-scope corporate office buildings.  Currently there were a total of 29 posts working a total of 1083 hours per week. The proposals would result in there being 15 posts working a total of 565.5 hours per week employed by Building Cleaning and Security Services.  In addition, proposals were being developed for there to be one employee employed for a total of 37 hours by Learning and Skills directly.  The proposed number of employees was subject to change in line with consultation outcomes.


It was recognised that the changes being proposed would have an impact for a range of stakeholders.  Financial cost, equality and employment implications had and would continue to be fully considered and revised as appropriate.  Details of these implications and the impact on Building Services provision and users could be found within paragraph 20 and other relevant sections of the report. 


In summary these included, for the Civic Offices, removal of the car park attendant with access to the car park via a security pass. The Committee noted that some issue with this proposal had been identified and a review of car parking arrangements at the Civic Offices and Barry Leisure centre was underway.


The proposals included the removal of on-site security guards from all corporate buildings, with the exception of the Alps and Court Road depots.  This was due to the need to maintain a 24 hour presence for both operational and insurance purposes.


Opening hours of buildings (and therefore shift patterns) had been derived based on an analysis of the usage of these buildings, including the times when the buildings were used for Council meetings.  These shift patterns included an allowance, where appropriate, for the time required to ensure buildings were secured before being alarmed and locked overnight.


It was further proposed that the existing service at Provincial House continued unchanged in terms of number and pattern of hours worked.  This would be subject to review depending on the future need to retain this building.  The security provision at this office would therefore be contracted on a temporary contract basis.


It was also proposed that there should be a Building Assistant role based at the Town Hall site, reporting to and paid for by the Learning and Skills Directorate.  This role would predominantly provide support to the Library service, but also provide a degree of security/porter function to Art’s Central and the Mayor’s Office, with a contribution towards the costs being made by Arts Central and Mayor’s Office.


The remaining security (porter) roles at the Civic and Docks Offices would be updated to reflect the range of duties now required from these posts and these posts would be re-designated as ‘Premises Assistants’.  Also there would be changes to porter cover and night time security with Premises Assistant Cover from 7am till 3:30pm on Saturdays with closure of the building on Sundays.


The current mobile guard service would continue unchanged across all corporate buildings, offering a mobile presence on weekdays between 8pm and 8am and for 24 hours a day at weekend


Changes to Cleaning Services was shown at Appendix D, which detailed current and proposed staff profile (number of employees and number of working hours) at each of the in-scope buildings.  At present, there were 42 employees working a total of 614.5 hours per week.  Proposals would see there being 26 employees working a total of 330.5 hours per week.


Current vacancies within each service area had been analysed and could be found at Appendix E. Within the security service there were four vacant posts across a number of sites, offering a total of 148 weekly hours.  Within the cleaning service there were 31 vacant posts again over a number of sites, offering a total of approximately 329 average hours each week.


The report stated that the implementation of changes would require a clear communication and engagement strategy with staff and the recognised Trade Unions from across the Council.  To ensure a consistent approach was adopted, it was proposed that changes to both Cleaning and Security functions be progressed following a timeline of key activities as detailed in the report.  As part of the consultation arrangements, the service would progress these proposals in accordance with the Council’s agreed policies and procedures.  In particular, the Change Management and Avoiding Redundancy Policy and Procedures. 


Implementation of the proposal for both the Security and Cleaning functions was estimated to realise a total budget saving of £308,037.  Based on the project plans, these savings would be realised from 1st December, 2015 which would equate to an estimated budget saving of £120,000 in 2015/16 and the remaining £187,000 in 2016/17.  This would contribute to the £500,000 saving set out in the Council’s Final Revenue Budget proposals for 2015/16 for a review of Council wide property costs including running costs, as formally approved by Council on 4th March, 2015 (Min. No. 941).  The remainder would be realised from further property related savings initiatives. 


Supplementary information regarding an analysis of overheads was provided at the meeting.  Members noted that in relation to Building Cleaning services, overheads were currently around 12% of the turnover level of Building Cleaning services.  Within the current review it was anticipated that the Building Cleaning turnover would reduce by £154,000 by making changes to the level of service provided at Council offices.  Using the 12%, this turnover would have made a contribution to overheads of around £18,000. 


For the Security Services, whilst reviewing the costs of the Security Service the same level of overheads had been attributed to the new revised service and therefore this cost had already been factored into the revised charge to the corporate office accommodation budget for these services.


The Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety commented that this was the hardest and most difficult report that she had brought to Committee, which affected some of the lowest pay staff in the Vale.  She stated that there had been a top-down approach in respect of rationalisation but it had now become vital to now implement these proposals.  Cabinet had had many conversations around these proposals and the decision had come down to the amount of funding available which had left Cabinet with no choice.  She went on to state that she was confident that the Council could work with the staff involved, such as those close to retirement and that there was always a natural turnover of staff which meant that posts could become vacant as proposals progressed.  She praised the effort and work of the Director of Visible Services and Housing in ensuring that the Council talked to staff and communicated proposals prior to anything being decided and that it was important for these proposals to now go out for consultation.


The Committee felt that it was important for the Council to retain proportionality and to ensure that all areas were taking the necessary strain. Members raised a number of queries regarding overhead costs, consideration of ‘client costs’ and with the loss of schools, whether the Council was seeking alternative clients.  The Director of Visible Services and Housing  advised Members that a further £200,000 savings would be required for 2016/17 and that ‘client costs’ would be addressed as part of the Reshaping Services programme.


Further to these points, the Chairman commented that the Council needed to be cleverer around who was offered services. The Chairman briefly alluded to the adoption of new approaches to fund services such as the use of the ‘Contribution Model’ where the direct cost was accounted for but there would be a contribution to indirect cost often referred to as “overheads”.  He explained that there was a need for a marketing strategy to promote services to outside organisation such as Banks and other private sector businesses. The chairman recommended that the response from the cleaners who were looking to retain their jobs even with less hours be considered and he was pleased that the Director for Visible services was actively looking at this, in any forthcoming Cabinet report.


As a follow up to the Chairman’s comments, the Director of Visible Services and Housing stated that a Marketing Officer would shortly be appointed on a temporary basis. Their role would be to look at attracting new business and to promote the range of services available. He alluded to the consideration of a Council-owned company that would be able to operate in a different fashion to the Council service and be able to attract greater income.  He offered a word of caution; as such a company would need to consider staff terms and conditions which were bound by agreements with trade unions.


The Director also advised that there was a need to look at relationships with schools and the way that Service Level Agreements with schools were devised.  He stated that the loss of a number of school contracts was a blow and the service needed to a plan to ensure that there was closer working arrangements with them.


A Committee Member queried whether the intruder alarm system installed at the Town/Hall and the Civic Offices was linked to the Police. In response, the Director of Visible Services and Housing explained that he wasn’t entirely sure but he suspected that they were. He would clarify this and would advise Members accordingly.


As a final point, Members requested that the next follow up report to Cabinet also be referred to this Committee.




(1)    T H A T Cabinet’s decision to approve the proposals for changes to cleaning and security services at the corporate buildings be endorsed.


(2)    T H A T the views and opinions of the Committee, as outlined within the body of the minutes be referred to Cabinet for consideration.


(3)    T H A T the Committee receive a follow up report once presented to Cabinet.


Reasons for recommendations


(1)    To endorse the Cabinet’s decision.


(2)    To inform Cabinet on the views of the Scrutiny Committee in relation to ways of attracting new clients such as private sector businesses and the need to consider the Council’s relationship with schools.


(3)    To ensure that the Scrutiny Committee be kept informed of developments around the proposals for changes to cleaning and security services.