Agenda item

Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Service structure

A new Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) staffing structure is required after a Dorset Council change of direction with shared partnership line management.

Over the last couple of years a Dorset Wide Partnership to tackle the issues of Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk was set up in response to encouragement from the Environment Agency wanting to see more projects delivered, as well as recognition of the success of FCERM Partnerships in other authorities.

On that journey, BCP have employed key skills able to create that model, both from a managerial perspective as well as technical. Dorset Council, although wanting to have independent teams, still wish to work collaboratively and it is recognised that many of the skills required to deliver Dorset based projects are employed by BCP. Also, the increase in capability has resulted in requests for collaborative support for other authorities (Devon, Cornwall, New Forest and the Environment Agency).

Formation of an independent BCP Council Centre of Excellence is recommended, building on existing reputation and allowing delivery of collaborative working opportunities.

The business model changes to FCERM over the last couple of years have demonstrated the ability to deliver more projects, increase income, attract quality staff and reduce reliance on consultancy support. Not only does this direction achieve more on the ground, it will result in longer term savings.

The basics of the business model with a broader team (either via Partnership or Centre of Excellence):

·       Key skills can be targeted

·       More attractive in the market for quality staff

·       More able to bid for grant funding (under permissive powers, so many authorities don’t realise they could be bidding to do more)

·       More able to deliver the projects in-house

·       Grant funding provides income offsetting the staff costs

·       Communities get more projects delivered making them more resilient to climate change

·       Reputation increases ability to recruit and retain staff

·       Reputation also gives confidence to our funding partners who support our delivery (Environment Agency

These key facts have already been demonstrated very clearly. Employment has seen staff joining who are very well recognised in the industry sector. This in turn has led to project funding following them, or other authorities requesting support where once they sought it from consultancies.

Grant funding has increased considerably, e.g. Poole Bay Beach Management (£36m), Poole Bridge to hunger Hill (£12.5m), Christchurch Bay and Harbour Strategy (£450k – will lead to £m’s on project delivery). At a recent national funding meeting, the EA’s Area Flood Risk Manager described BCP as ‘best in class’ for the Wessex region also demonstrating the reputation that has built with our funding partners.

This proposal sets out a new FCERM service structure that delivers a much higher quality of service, able to address the increasing risk from climate change and at no additional cost to the Council. 

On the face of the tabulated budget figures in section 11, the salary expenditure has risen. However, the budget for the Surface Water Team sat separately (£290k) which has now been moved into the salary pot. Also, considerable expenditure on consultancy support has historically been spent directly against capital budgets, the cost of which is not shown within salaries. The new model reduces that need by employing staff where appropriate. Not only does that increase income, it also retains the skills and knowledge. The FCERM team increased their income from £40k to £400k last year. Employing internally also drastically reduces the staff costs on the projects.

The proposal to change the model at no extra cost is conservative and the FCERM team are confident it will lead to bigger savings in the longer run. Nationally, the budgets for Flood Defence Grant in Aid have doubled from £2.6bn to £5.2bn over the next 6 years. The new model will give us the best chance of bidding for those funds and preparing ourselves and our communities for climate change.

Decision:

RESOLVED that: -

(a)     Approval be given for the proposed FCERM service structure; and

(b)     Support be given to the principle of a ‘Centre of Excellence’ approach and taking up requests to support neighbouring authorities and FCERM delivery bodies for the South West region.

Voting: Unanimous

Portfolio Holder: Environment, Cleansing and Waste

Reason

To allow formation of an independent FCERM service in BCP Council, no longer recognising a single line management structure across BCP and Dorset Councils, but facilitating a collaborative working arrangement.

To enable decisions to be made to take on additional external income related work for regional authorities and the Environment Agency.

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Environment, Cleansing and Waste presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'F' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.

Cabinet was advised that a new Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) staffing structure is required after a Dorset Council change of direction with shared partnership line management.

In relation to this Cabinet was informed that over the last couple of years a Dorset Wide Partnership to tackle the issues of Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk was set up in response to encouragement from the Environment Agency wanting to see more projects delivered, as well as recognition of the success of FCERM Partnerships in other authorities, and that on that journey, BCP have employed key skills able to create that model, both from a managerial perspective as well as technical.

Further to this Cabinet was advised that Dorset Council, although wanting to have independent teams, still wish to work collaboratively and it is recognised that many of the skills required to deliver Dorset based projects are employed by BCP, and that also, the increase in capability has resulted in requests for collaborative support for other authorities (Devon, Cornwall, New Forest and the Environment Agency).

Cabinet was therefore advised that the formation of an independent BCP Council Centre of Excellence is recommended, building on existing reputation and allowing delivery of collaborative working opportunities, and that the business model changes to FCERM over the last couple of years have demonstrated the ability to deliver more projects, increase income, attract quality staff and reduce reliance on consultancy support. Not only does this direction achieve more on the ground, it will result in longer term savings.

Cabinet was informed that this proposal sets out a new FCERM service structure that delivers a much higher quality of service, able to address the increasing risk from climate change and at no additional cost to the Council, in relation to this Cabinet was advised that the proposal to change the model at no extra cost is conservative and the FCERM team are confident it will lead to bigger savings in the longer run, nationally, the budgets for Flood Defence Grant in Aid have doubled from £2.6bn to £5.2bn over the next 6 years, and that the new model will give the council the best chance of bidding for those funds and preparing ourselves and our communities for climate change.

In presenting the report the Portfolio Holder read out a letter of support from the Environment Agency a copy of which is appended to these minutes as Appendix ‘G’.

The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board addressed the Cabinet advising that at their recent meeting the Board were supportive of the paper.

RESOLVED that: -

(a)     Approval be given for the proposed FCERM service structure; and

(b)     Support be given to the principle of a ‘Centre of Excellence’ approach and taking up requests to support neighbouring authorities and FCERM delivery bodies for the South West region.

Voting: Unanimous

Portfolio Holder: Environment, Cleansing and Waste

 

Supporting documents: