The Committee will receive a presentation from Julian Osgathorpe, Corporate Director for Transformation and Resources on the current status of the transformation programme. Following this there will be an opportunity for questions from members of the Committee.
Please note that it is possible that discussions on this item may require that the Committee needs to make a decision to hear part of the item in exempt session due to the the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part I of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act and that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs such interest in disclosing the information.’
The Corporate Director for Transformation and Resources gave a presentation to the Board a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix B to these minutes in the Minute Book. Following the discussion there were a number of comments and questions raised by members of the committee and responded to by Officers, including:
· A Councillor commented that the redevelopment of the Christchurch Library Hub was impressive, and it was wonderful that libraries were being used in this way.
· A Councillor suggested that a major part of transformation was getting the customer service offer right and asked what the timeline was for this. It was noted that there was a need to identify and transform all of the processes which sat behind the customer service offer. There was provision through the website to report issues but there were 29 different applications sitting across the Council currently supporting fly-tipping and fly-posting. It had been agreed that transformation would work with the Housing and Environment Teams first and these had significant amounts of customer interaction. It was expected that it would be approximately ten months before a noticeable improvement would be evident for these areas. In response to a query, it was confirmed that none of the preceding systems were able to be expanded on a wider basis.
· A Committee member raised concerns with recruitment and retention and that if grants were received for a particular purpose staff would need to be appointed within a specific time frame or grants would be lost. There had been concerns that there would be staff loss as a consequence of the pay and reward review. The Council wanted this to have a positive effect and make BCP Council an employer of choice. There had been significant consultation with Unions, who would not have supported the implementation of the review when it presented a weaker offer to staff. The deferment of the implementation of the plan to 2024 allowed more time to model impacts and present a better offer for staff. There were delays in recruiting staff over the short term. There was a need to ensure that arrangements were in place to address this moving forward. It was noted that there was a difficulty in recruitment at the lower end of the scale
· A Committee member asked, in relation to the current rates of inflation, whether any consideration had been given to the price settings of chargeable services. It was noted that some consideration should be given to where service charges could be increased. It was confirmed that the budget was set back in January and February, inflation was about 3-4 times higher now and was running ahead very quickly. This would be considered where it was a possibility.
· A Councillor raised concerns that in some instances with regards the utilisation of technology, efforts were being blocked by primary legislation, particularly in terms of Council meetings which currently needed to be attended in person, having an impact on both time and the climate change agenda. There could also be some cost savings involved. The Councillor asked how this could be promoted to central government. The Chief Executive advised that this issue was already on the agenda and had been raised by local government bodies, including through the LGA. However, at present it was not a priority on the government’s agenda. The Chairman officially requested that the Chief Executive raised this issue on behalf of the Committee.
· In response to a request that the Council did not forget those residents who were unable to access digital channels it was confirmed that the digital programme was intended to compliment other communication avenues. The Council was also working with appropriate community organisations to ensure means of contact were appropriate. In response to a specific enquiry, it was confirmed that the core functionality of the current system would not allow multiple accounts, although this function was expected to be developed soon.
· A Councillor raised an issue regarding Future Places and what was being done with the Poole Civic Centre. It was suggested that the committee make a recommendation to Cabinet that the future of Poole Civic Centre should be prioritised. The Committee was advised that Cabinet and Council had already approved the plans for the refurbishment for the Council Chamber within the BCP Civic Centre and it was expected that the works in this location would be completed in quarter 4 of this year. It was confirmed that in the interim there would be a dedicated committee suite within the annex building of the BCP civic centre. However, this issue was outside the remit of the transformation programme. The Chief Executive confirmed that the Future Places report was due to be received this summer.
· A Councillor advised that the purpose of LGR was to produce savings to enable the authority to sustain its services. The output on one of the rag reports said this was green at present. The Councillor asked what the timeline was for achieving the predicted savings and what the current risks were in terms of achieving these targets. The Corporate Director advised that the Council had exceeded the local partnership estimate of benefits which would arise purely through transition. Arrangements were now in place to deal with the transformation benefits which were anticipated through Price Waterhouse Coopers, the high case of these benefits being £43.9m. The current situation was intending to exceed this by around £7m. In response to the issue around risks it was noted that there were significant decisions which the Council would need to take in order to realise those financial benefits.
· A Councillor asked what the implications were for transformation if the Beach hut SPV terms did not go ahead as approved in the MTPF. The Director confirmed that they were currently reviewing the future profile of spend and commitments that the transformation program required in order to be completed. They were considering the current financial strategy for the Council as a whole, not just transformation if some of the financial risks which were identified by the S151 officer materialised.
· A Councillor asked about a previous suggestion that there would be oversight of the transformation agenda by a cross-party steering group. The Director advised that he would raise this at the next possible opportunity with the Leader as Portfolio Holder for Transformation.
The Chairman offered his thanks to the Director and Chief Executive for the presentation and responses to questions and to the teams working on transformation. The Chairman suggested that there should be another review in the autumn and that the attendance of the Chief Financial Officer should be requested.
Cllr G Farquhar left the meeting at 7:57pm and Cllr J Butt – left the meeting at 8:01pm