Agenda Item No.










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.




(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.”



Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 15th October, 2013