Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee
Tuesday, 24th March, 2015 7.30 pm

Venue: Civic Offices, Shute End, Wokingham RG40 1BN

Contact: Kevin Jacob  Principal Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

57.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 203 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on 26 January 2015

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 26 January 2015 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

The Chairman commented that there were a number of points arising from the minutes that he wished to follow up as follows:

 

·           Minute 50: Had the resolved actions under 2) and 3) been implemented.  Kevin Jacob confirmed that the Head of Development Management and Regulatory Services had been contacted in respect of 2) and that the Director of Children’s Services had been contacted in respect of 3);

·           Minute 53: Had the resolved actions under 2), 3) and 4) been implemented.  Kevin Jacob confirmed that they had and were covered as part of Item 71.00 of the Agenda - Broadmoor Hospital Sirens Update

·           Minute 54: The Committee had requested further information on the number of errors made by the former Berkshire County Council in incorrectly registering land on the Register of Town and Village Greens.  Kevin Jacob responded that the response from Officers suggested that it was not possible to provide an answer until a request to correct the register was received.

58.

Apologies

To receive any apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted from Councillors Parry Batth and Pauline Helliar-Symons.

59.

Declaration of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest

Minutes:

Councillor Norman Jorgensen stated that he had a potential personal and non-pecuniary interest in Item 67: Balanced Score Card and Item 68: Council Plan Performance Monitoring on the grounds that he was a Non-Executive Director of Wokingham Holdings Limited and that discussion of the those items might include Wokingham Holdings Ltd or the other Council owned companies.

 

Prue Bray stated that she had had a potential personal and non-pecuniary interest in Item 67: Balanced Score Card and Item 68: Council Plan Performance Monitoring on the grounds that her daughter was an employee of Children’s Services and the discussion of the items might include performance management targets relating to Children’s Services.

60.

Public Question Time

To answer any public questions

 

A period of 30 minutes will be allowed for members of the public to ask questions submitted under notice.

 

The Council welcomes questions from members of the public about the work of this committee.

 

Subject to meeting certain timescales, questions can relate to general issues concerned with the work of the Committee or an item which is on the Agenda for this meeting.  For full details of the procedure for submitting questions please contact the Democratic Services Section on the numbers given below or go to www.wokingham.gov.uk/publicquestions

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

61.

Member Question Time

To answer any member questions

Minutes:

There were no Member questions.

62.

Balanced Scorecard - 2014/2015 Quarter 3 Report pdf icon PDF 137 KB

To consider the current Balanced Scorecard for the 3rd Quarter of the 2014/2015 financial year.  The report sets outs the Council’s performance against a series of indicators by exception. (15 minutes)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report on Agenda pages 17 to 20 which set out details by exception of the Council’s performance as measured by a series of performance indicators for Quarter 3 of the 2014/2015 financial year.  Members were reminded that this was last time that the report would be presented to the Committee in its present format and that the new format was the subject of the following item.

 

Julie Holland, Service Manager Business Improvement, presented the report and highlighted that of a total of 41 performance indicators, 34 were had a ‘green’ status and were meeting the agreed target, 4 were at ‘amber’ and 3 had a ‘red’ status and were below target. 

 

The Committee was also updated on a number of outstanding questions arising from its consideration of the Quarter 2 report in November 2014.

 

·           Indicator 42: Housing Rents Collection Percentage.  Members had asked for assurance on the accuracy of the performance data within the Quarter 2 report.  Julie Holland commented that a new system for performance management for housing via Northgate was to be introduced in the new financial year;

·           Indicator 44: Percentage of calls answered – Members of the Committee had queried why performance in answering calls had dropped.  Julie Holland commented that the manager for the area had indicated that this was because of a turnover of staff during that reporting period and the recruitment of new staff that had needed time to become more experienced.

 

The Committee then discussed the current Quarter 3 report.

 

With regard to Indicator 5: Children subject to a Child Protection Plan for a second or subsequent time.  Councillors noted that based upon the Quarter 3 data, the target for this indicator was not being achieved.  However, it was acknowledged that the indicator covered a very small number of children and that a result one child becoming subject of a Child Protection Plan for a second or subsequent time made a big percentage difference.  It was also acknowledged that given the information was several months old it was likely that the level of current performance was significantly different.

 

Kevin Jacob reminded the Committee that this and other safeguarding indicators were considered with a higher level of detail and explanation at the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  Members felt that the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee should be asked to seek assurance that the performance of the indicator had improved when it next considered performance management information.

 

RESOLVED:

1)     That the latest scorecard of performance indicators be noted.

 

2)     That the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee be asked to seek assurance at its next meeting that the performance of Indicator 5 – Safeguarding had improved from the Quarter 3 levels.

63.

Council Plan Performance Monitoring 2015/2016 pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To discuss the updated report format to be used in 2015/2016 for performance monitoring against the Council’s key priorities. (15 minutes)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report on Agenda pages 23 to 41 which set out a draft updated format for performance monitoring against the Council’s key priorities.  This format was to be introduced from the 2015/2016 financial year.

 

Julie Holland, Service Manager Business Improvement, introduced the report and commented that feedback from the Committee had been taken into account in designing the revised format which had also been thoroughly considered by the Council’s Extended Corporate Leadership Team.

 

Members were reminded of the reasons why it had been decided that the current reporting format needed to change.

 

·           It was not easy to see an overview of performance, and how the reported indicators linked with the Council’s vision and priorities;

·           Linked with the point above, there was a lot of information and data making it difficult to interpret;

·           Timeliness is an issue;

·           It is time consuming to produce the report; and

·           The format was different from the standard model of a balanced scorecard and as such the naming convention could lead to confusion.

 

A key objective in the design of the new format was to create a document that focused on the Council’s priorities and underpinning principles, including the Council’s major projects.  Individual service areas had determined the actual indicators to be included within the document which had been separated into a number of headline areas.  The Committee was informed that the final document would include icons to show the direction of travel of a performance indicator and the Red, Amber and Green, (RAG) icon would also be represented in order for the reader to able to identify key information quickly. 

 

The proposed revised format of the proposed document was acknowledged by the Committee.

 

Members of the Committee expressed serious concern regarding the proposed 2015/2016 timetable for the consideration of the report by the Committee.  It was noted that the first quarter report was not due to be considered by the Committee until November 2015, some five months after the close of that quarter which reduced the Committee’s ability to effectively hold the Executive to account for the Council’s performance.  It was felt that in order to be meaningful, the data had to be up to date and concern was also expressed regarding the delay in the Executive considering the information.

 

Julie Holland acknowledged that there were delays because of the meeting schedule and outlined the process by which the reports were considered by the Council’s Corporate Leadership Team, (CLT) prior to consideration by the Executive and the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.  Under the process that was followed, performance management reports could not be released to the Committee until they had been considered by the Executive at the Executive Briefing meeting.

 

It was highlighted to the Committee that below the high level of the new Balanced Scorecard services would have their own regularly produced and more detailed performance management information and there would be arrangements in place for monitoring this information, both within the service areas and between the relevant  ...  view the full minutes text for item 63.

64.

Open Green Spaces - Update

To receive a further update on the management of the Council’s Open Green Spaces. (15 minutes)

Minutes:

The Committee received a verbal update from Josie Wragg, Head of Community Services and Councillor Angus Ross, Executive Member for Environment on the review of the Council’s arrangements for the maintenance of the Borough’s open green spaces. 

 

Josie Wragg reminded the Committee of how the combination of warm and wet weather in the spring and early summer of 2014 had led to the extremely fast growth of vegetation. This had presented a challenge to the Council in managing the Borough’s green open spaces and a significant number of complaints had been received from residents regarding grass cutting.

 

The particular challenges of that period had revealed some issues with the current specification of the Council’s contract with its grass cutting contractor and some areas where improvements could be made in the way the Council communicated with residents around grass cutting and grass cutting schedules. 

 

As a result a review including a public consultation had been undertaken.  The results of the consultation had been supplied to the Committee at its meeting in January 2015.  Points of particular note were that there was support for the prioritisation of the maintenance of some areas of open space like play areas over grass verges and the introduction of measures that would increase flexibility in future contract provision.  The Committee was informed that the Council had been involved in useful and detailed negotiations with the current contractor to explore the maximum possible flexibility within the current contract. As a result it had been possible to look at measures that would allow for the greater prioritisation of areas of highest need and to develop different grass cutting regimes that had more focus and represented different ways of working.  The Committee was informed that taking the Bio-Diversity Action Plan into consideration the intention was to establish around three to four pilot areas where wildlife meadows would be trialled.

 

Looking ahead to the renewal of the grass cutting contract in April 2016, work had already started to develop an updated specification that reflected the need to building in flexibility and outcomes, not output based methodology.  A customer service focus would be central.  The Council was also looking to implement a similar approach to that successfully used within the Waste Service to improve the information available to residents in a timely manner.

 

Councillor Angus Ross commented that the green open spaces team was now fully staffed and improvement had already been made in respect of customer service as the majority of enquiries about grass cutting and green open spaces were handled at the first point of contact by the Council’s customer contact centre which freed up specialist staff for other duties in support of the service.  He also updated the Committee on appointments to the senior management team of the service which was shared with the Waste Service. 

 

It was emphasised to the Committee that in areas of open space included within the pilot areas there would still be appropriate paths for people to walk even if some parts of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.

65.

Highways and Transport Service Review pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To brief the Committee on a review of the Council’s Highways and Transport services. (20 minutes)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a briefing paper on Agenda pages 45 to 46 which set out the background of a review into the options for the delivery of the Highways and Transport Service post April 2018.  The paper also invited the Committee to give initial views on the review.

 

Sarah Hollamby, Head of Development Policy and Planning and Matt Davey, Head of Highways and Transport attended the meeting and presented the briefing paper.

 

The Committee was informed that the review was a major project that was being project led by Andrew Moulton, the Head of Governance and Improvement Services with additional input from various Council service areas including Finance.  The paper had been brought to the Committee to make it aware that this significant project was taking place, to inform Councillors of the arrangements to involve stakeholders through stakeholder meetings and to seek the Committee’s general comments.

 

The current provision of services through the Council’s contracts and partnership arrangement with WSP and Balfour Beatty Living Places was outlined to the Committee as were the possible options for future service delivery set out on page 45, a to f.

 

The following points were raised in discussion:

 

·           A number of members of the Committee felt that Option A - the outsourcing of the service to the private sector was problematic in that there was a need to retain enough in-house expertise in order to successfully manage the client interest;

·           Separate contract provision existed for the maintenance of existing traffic signals.  The contract was held by Siemens through a pan-Berkshire contract with the other five Berkshire unitary authorities and this contract would also be subject to renewal in the near future.  New traffic signal schemes within the Borough were progressed through Balfour Beatty and it was a common practice for the work to be sub-contracted by them to other providers including Siemens;

·           The Committee was informed that the various contracts had a value of several million pounds.  The contract with WSP was approximately £2.5m.  The Council currently had contracts with Balfour Beatty in respect of highways maintenance, bridge works and street lighting with a combined value of approximately £8m.

·           It was explained to the Committee that in looking at the future contract options it was considered to be necessary to invest in bringing in outside experience and expertise through an external consultant;

·           It was suggested that there might be an opportunity to commission services on a pan Berkshire basis or further afield.  The Committee was informed that this was something that could be considered;

·           A number of Members commented that they felt that current arrangements between the Council and WSP were working well in that the integration of the different teams into one service had been successful and they had not personally experienced any issues or differences in dealing with Officers from WSP in comparison to those directly employed by the Council;

·           It was felt that the cost implications of insourcing the whole contract would need careful consideration.  It was confirmed that this task  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.

66.

Broadmoor Hospital Alert Sirens Update pdf icon PDF 143 KB

To consider an update on proposals from the West London Mental Healthcare Trust regarding the hospital’s escape alert sirens and an update on the operation of the school’s cascade system. (20 minutes)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered an update report on the future of the Broadmoor Hospital escape alert sirens and supporting information as set out on Agenda pages 47 to 55.  

 

Kevin Jacob, Principal Democratic Services Officer presented the report to the Committee.

 

Members’ attention was drawn to:

 

·           A copy of a letter from the Steve Shrubb, Chief Executive of the West London Mental Health Trust, (WLMHT) to Councillor Ian Leake dated 27 January 2015 which stated that the WLMHT had decided to retain all of the current community based sirens until the completion of the new Broadmoor Hospital site and realignment of the perimeter fence in 2019.  After that the community sirens were to be decommissioned and a new siren installed on the entrance building to the new hospital;

·           A copy of a letter from Steve Shrubb to Kevin Jacob, Principal Democratic Services Officer in response to an enquiry about an Independent on Sunday article concerning security at the hospital in 2013.  The letter stated the WLMHT categorically refuted the claims made in the newspaper and that the article was inaccurate;

·           Additional responses received from schools in response to a request for information of when schools had last received a test escape alert through the schools cascade system. Two schools had confirmed that they had received test alert calls, but two schools could not confirm this;

·           A copy of the school’s cascade as shown on Agenda page 55;

·           That discussion was planned to review the school cascade system, but the outcome of the discussions were not yet known.

 

Various Members commented that they were pleased that the WLMHT had taken the decision to retain the existing community sirens until the completion of the new hospital and it was felt that this was a successful outcome in the circumstances that would allow for other work to continue on alternative alert mechanisms to be developed, for instance through the Community Safety Partnership.  It was not felt that given the Trust was able to take the final decision itself that it would be appropriate to seek to take the issue any further.

 

Members of the Committee who had undertaken a visit to the hospital again commented how useful and reassuring the visit had been in terms of the security of the hospital.  In many areas the security at the site was felt to be state of the art, but it remained important for the hospital to work with and support its local community in accepting the eventual withdrawal of the community sirens.  It was suggested that it might be useful to have the opportunity to revisit the new hospital on its completion to see the new facilities and security arrangements.

 

With regard to the allegations about governance raised about the WLMHT in The Independent on Sunday article it was felt likely that the Department for Health would be monitoring the situation.

 

In discussion it was suggested that an update report be sought from Officers after 6-12 months on progress in developing alternative  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.

67.

Update Report on the Meeting between the Chairman of the Committee and Chairman of the Audit Committee pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To receive the notes of the meeting of the Chairman and the Chairman of the Audit Committee on 19 February 2015. (5 minutes)

Minutes:

The Committee considered a short report setting out the main points of a meeting between the Chairman of the Committee and the Chairman of the Audit Committee on 19 February 2015.  The Chairman commented that the one of the key purposes of the meeting was to reduce the likelihood of duplication between the two Committees.

 

RESOLVED: That the update report be noted.

 

 

 

68.

Consideration of the current Executive Forward Programme pdf icon PDF 12 KB

To consider the current published version of the Executive Forward Programme.

(5 minutes)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the published version of the Executive Forward Programme which set out decisions expected to be taken for the period March 2015 to June 2015 as set out on Agenda pages 61 to 72.

 

The Chairman referred to the list of the changes made to previously published versions of the Executive Forward Programme as set out on Agenda page 70.  He referred to reports Ref No WBC726 scheduled for January 2015 and WBC735 scheduled for March 2015 concerning the business of Council owned companies.  Whilst noting the explanation given that the reports had been deleted as there had been no information to report he expressed concern that no formal reports would have been reported the Executive on the companies’ activities between the end of January and May 2015.

 

Members of the Committee commented that whilst they appreciated the opportunity for Councillors who were Non-Executive Directors of the companies to address meetings of Council, they shared the Chairman’s concerns and surprise at the lack of reportable business.  It was felt that there had been events which had occurred since January involving the companies that might have arguably have been expected to be reported formally to the Executive including changes to the senior management structure at Optalis.

 

Councillor Prue Bray commented that in the interests of transparency the reports did need to take place on a regular basis and that if they were repeatedly cancelled it was more likely that a negative perception would form around the activities of the companies. 

 

It was suggested that the Chairman of the Committee should write to Councillor Keith Baker, the Leader of the Council to express the Committee’s concerns and ask him to respond.

 

RESOLVED:

1)     That the Executive Forward Programme be noted;

 

2)     That the Chairman of the Committee write to the Leader of the Council to express the Committee’s concerns regarding the cancellation of the reports on Council Owned Company business from the February and March Executive meetings and ask him to respond.

 

69.

Committee Work Programmes 2014/2015 pdf icon PDF 6 KB

To discuss the work programme of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee and Overview and Scrutiny Committees. (10 minutes)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered its work programme and that of the other Overview and Scrutiny Committees including prospective work programmes for 2015/2016 as set out on Agenda pages 75 to 91.

 

The Chairman referred to page 85 of the Agenda which set out items marked as ‘Potential Items for Review Referred from the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee 2014/2015’ to the Community Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  In response to a question, Kevin Jacob stated that the potential topics had all been covered as part of other reviews and pieces of work and should now be removed from the Committee’s work programme as they were no longer required.

 

RESOLVED:

1)     That the report be noted

 

2)     That the items marked as to be confirmed be removed from the work programme of the Community Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

70.

Update reports from Chairmen or Nominated member of the Overview and Scrutiny committees pdf icon PDF 6 KB

For the Chairman or nominated Member of the Committee to report back in its activities including any requests to undertake reviews. (10 minutes)

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered update reports on the last meetings of their committees from the Chairman of the Children’s Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Community Partnerships Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committees as set out on Agenda pages 93 to 100.

 

Councillor Shahid Younis commented that it was encouraging to note the apparent success of the Council’s recruitment and retention strategy for posts within Children’s Services as set out in the Children’s Services report. 

 

Councillor Norman Jorgensen in presenting the report of the Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee referred to the decision by that Committee to undertake a scrutiny review of problems with commuter and other parking at, or near, railway stations.  Members were informed that the Committee had considered draft terms of reference for the review at its meeting. 

 

An amended draft set of terms of reference as amended in light of discussion at the Corporate Services meeting was circulated to the members of the Management Committee for information and further comment.  Councillor Jorgensen also invited Members to consider joining the review subject to the need to observe political balance. The Committee was informed that it had been decided to undertake the review as a task and finish group and that it was expected the review would begin in June 2015.

 

In discussion, the Committee felt that the issue was an appropriate subject for a scrutiny review and an issue that was becoming more pressing as rail passenger numbers increased.

 

RESOLVED: That the reports of the Overview and Scrutiny Chairman be noted.

71.

Any other items which the chairman decides are urgent

A Supplementary Agenda will be issued by the Chief Executive if there are any other items to consider under this heading

Minutes:

At the invitation of the Chairman, Kevin Jacob provided feedback from a meeting of the Corporate Leadership Team, (CLT) he had attended earlier that day.  He commented that the meeting was one of the regular liaison meetings that took place as part of his role as Statutory Scrutiny Officer and that the meetings were an action arising from the internal audit review of the Council’s overview and scrutiny arrangements in 2014.