Agenda and draft minutes
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Election of Chairman and Vice Chairman
To elect a Chairman and Vice Chairman for the new municipal year.
Councillor Sharpe nominated Councillor Targowski to be Chairman, which was seconded by Councillor Haseler.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Councillor Targowski was elected as Chairman of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Panel for the 2021/22 municipal year.
Councillor Sharpe nominated Councillor Haseler as Vice Chairman, which was seconded by Councillor Targowski.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That Councillor Haseler was elected as Vice Chairman of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Panel for the 2021/22 municipal year.
Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence.
An apology for absence was received from Councillor L Jones, Councillor Hill was attending the meeting as substitute.
To receive any declarations of interest.
There were no declarations of interest received.
To consider the minutes of the meeting held on 19th April 2021.
RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY: That the minutes of the meeting held on 19th April 2021 were approved as a true and accurate record.
To consider the report.
Adele Taylor, Executive Director of Resources, explained that the Q4 performance report was responding to the councils strategy and was effectively a progress update against the interim strategy. Of the nine targets in the report:
· Four were green – succeeding or achieved.
· Three were amber – near target.
· Two were red – needed improvement.
It had been a challenging year to meet the needs of residents during the global pandemic. Covid had a significant impact on the performance of the council, for example lockdown restrictions had affected the number of visits to libraires. Home based learning had been encouraged and there were increases in visits starting to be seen but these were at lower volumes. The number of calls which had been received by RBWM had increased substantially in Q2 due to the waste problems, with the target of the percentage of calls answered within 60 seconds finishing amber. The revenues and benefits targets had exceeded the expected position, but the percentage of business rates collected had been impacted.
The Chairman commented on the targets for the percentage of calls answered and the number of digital forms received. He asked what metric was used by officers to show that residents queries were being dealt with and if residents were satisfied with the response that they received. The Chairman also asked if there was anything that was a concern to officers or if the general performance of RBWM was good.
Adele Taylor said that the website system was being worked on and improved. For the digital forms, it was something that officers wanted to improve, particularly to see if there were a number of repeat requests from residents. Responding to the question from the Chairman if there was anything to be concerned about, Adele Taylor said that there was a dip in performance in Q3 but this was to be expected. It had been a challenging year for the revenues and benefits team with some of the targets being particularly difficult to achieve.
The Chairman asked if RBWM had a good contact management system.
Adele Taylor said that there was a contact management system but work was ongoing to improve it.
Councillor Hill asked if performance reports in future would contain metrics against RBWMs net carbon pledge using the climate strategy and would it be aligned to the corporate plan. He also asked if Cabinet would be open to recommendations from the Panel on what metrics should be used to monitor performance going forwards.
Adele Taylor said that for the climate strategy, the metrics fell under a different Overview and Scrutiny Panel. The metrics would be on the new corporate plan and officers would be reviewing metrics to ensure that they reflected the performance and development of the corporate plan.
Councillor Hill asked if there was any further breakdown on digital forms and how often they were used by each department. The search bar on the website was not working as well as it should and was something that needed to ... view the full minutes text for item 135.
To consider the report.
Nikki Craig explained that the workforce profile was an annual survey of the make up of the council. The first section of the report included things like a head count and pay grades, while it also made comparisons to the previous year so that trends and patterns could be identified. There had been a reduction of 55 employees over the last year, mainly due to a transfer of staff to Achieving for Children. A full time monitoring officer had also been appointed. The second section of the report considered the protected characteristics. One positive was the comparison between starters and leavers profile in ethnicity and disability, which showed a larger percentage of starters than leavers. At a senior management level, no employees were from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background. The final section of the report highlighted the councils commitment to improvement and also employee initiatives like the diversity, equality and inclusion network. The network had recently surveyed staff on their diversity related experiences. The report had been compared with the Census 2011 results, next year the report would be produced using the new Census 2021 data.
The Chairman noted that there were no employees from a Black, Asian or Ethnic Minority background in senior management at RBWM and asked what was being done about it. Protected characteristics were part of the report but there was nothing on the socio-economic background of employees, which would be good to know.
Nikki Craig said that RBWM was keen to nurture talent from within and it was important that senior management identified who was keen to progress and develop. The diversity, equality and inclusion network survey had recently been completed and it would be interesting to see those results which would reveal how staff felt.
Vanessa Faulkner, Service Lead – HR People Services, said that the diversity, equality and inclusion network had recently completed the survey. Once the results had been collated, the network could then move forward and see what they wanted to do.
Nikki Craig suggested it would be possible to look at socio-economic information of staff and said that she would discuss this idea with her team. However, this would depend on staff being comfortable to share this with the council.
Councillor Werner asked what resources were being used by the council to help those with a disability. He noted that the figures in the report did not include companies owned by RBWM, for example RBWM Property Company Ltd, and asked why they were not included. Councillor Werner asked if RBWM was interested in the diversity of the various contractors which the council worked with.
Nikki Craig said that the provision of equipment in relation to disabilities would always be provided to any employee who required it to undertake their role. RBWM Property Company Ltd and external contractors were separate entities to RBWM and therefore officers did not see any of the data, as they were not RBWM employees.
Councillor Werner asked how the process could be changed, it ... view the full minutes text for item 136.
To consider the Panel’s work programme for the remainder of the Municipal year.
To include consideration of items scheduled on the Cabinet Forward Plan.
The Chairman said that he had asked Panel Members at the last meeting to send him suggestions for items to include on the work programme, but he had not received any. He asked if residents would be able to submit suggestions for topics to be scrutinised.
Mark Beeley, Democratic Services Officer, confirmed that residents were able to submit topic suggestions on the website. Messages would go out on social media to advertise this and any items that were received would be added to the work programme. Mark Beeley said that a suggestion had been received a few months ago on an RBWM App and a report was currently being drafted. Once this was ready, it would be brought to the Panel for consideration.
The Chairman asked if this could be added into the ‘items suggested but not yet programmed’ section of the work programme.
Councillor Werner suggested having a finance update come to the Panel for the meeting in October 2021. He suggested having an item on procurement and whether it was possible to add in equalities as a requirement for any contract which RBWM entered in to.
The Chairman suggested to wait until Nikki Craig had asked the question and reported back to the Panel on the discussion that had taken place around equalities in the previous agenda item. The Panel could then determine whether it needed to be added to the work programme.
Adele Taylor confirmed that the Panel would be seeing the finance updates and they would be added to the work programme.
Councillor Hill suggested performance monitoring against the corporate plan and the customer journey. Councillor Hill said that RBWM was carrying a lot of debt and suggested a task and finish group on how the council would clear the debts, also looking at developer contributions from development sites. He asked what changes needed to be made to scrutiny to make it more effective, Cabinet needed to welcome challenge from scrutiny.
The Chairman said that the suggestion on the scrutiny process was a statement rather than a suggestion to be added to the work programme.
Councillor Hill explained that scrutiny should make written statements and suggestions to Cabinet which should be answered in public forums.
Adele Taylor said that developer contributions were picked up as part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy and so was not sure of how a specific task and finish group on the topic would work. Adele Taylor suggested that the topic could fall under the remit of the Audit and Governance Committee, she would be happy to discuss the potential scope with Councillor L Jones.
Councillor Sharpe said that he believed the equalities issues discussed were already part of the procurement process but thought it would be best to wait and see what Nikki Craig came back with before deciding to add it as an item on the work programme.
The Chairman suggested that the clerk could take the suggestions away and work with the Panel and officers after the meeting ... view the full minutes text for item 137.