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Disclosures of Interest and Whipping Declarations
In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, councillors are reminded that it is a requirement to declare interests where appropriate.
Councillors must also declare if they are subject to their party group whip in relation to any items under consideration.
No disclosures or whipping of interests were made.
To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 25 September 2023.
The minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 25 September 2023 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Public Question Time
To answer any questions or hear brief statements from the public which are relevant to the items on this agenda. The period will end after 15 minutes or later at the Chair’s discretion.
No questions from the public were asked.
To consider report CEX/066 of the Chief Executive.
Commission Members considered report CEX/066 A B. The Commission has within its function to review the council’s transformation programme, measures, and performance information (including budgetary information) together with service reviews.
The Transformation Plan had been revised a number of times since 2020, and the latest version aimed to reflect the completion of major items like the New Town Hall whilst incorporating new projects driven by more recent ambitions and a changing landscape. The Transformation Board monitored progress at regular intervals reporting back through the organisation.
· Channel Shift - The Channel Shift group and Digital Services team continued to work with services to make transactions available online, allowing customers to complete tasks quickly and easily which could improve the customer experience. Significant progress had been made in this space as the ratio of manual transaction had fallen to 47%. The shift to self-serve had resulted in more capacity for staff to spend with those customers with a greater need.
· New Ways of Working - This encouraged greater flexibility and efficiencies in how work was being delivered, particularly around technological changes such as enabling IT infrastructure, largely aligned to the new town hall and improvements at the satellite sites. Further work was progressing around Information Management and Mobile Working Phase 3.
· People Strategy – The People Board, with staff and Unison representation continued to meet regularly to create options for the organisation. An appraisal system, Plan, Do, Review (PDR) had been launched alongside a suite of HR training for managers. The HR policies were currently being reviewed in light of the transformation achieved by the council and new ways of working. The recruitment offer continued to be developed along with the current managers’ training programme.
· Service Redesign - The 2020 plan identified a number of corporate policies and services to be reviewed to ensure increased efficiencies and introduce more effective ways of working and those in progress would be delivered shortly with new service reviews being included in the revised plan.
· Commercialisation (PIPES model) - The Commercialisation (Profit, Income, Productivity, Efficiencies, Savings) model crossed all of the work on the Transformation Plan and provided the platform to do things differently. Many initiatives to assist with budget pressures had been implemented (such as Tilgate Park weddings).
· Assets – This stream ensured that the council’s land and property assets were utilised in the most efficient and effective way. The main focus had previously been on Metcalf Way and the depot which was now in progress. Other elements included the marketing of the commercial office space for the Create Building.
Following the discussion with the Chief Executive, Head of Digital and Transformation and IT & Transformation Programme Manager, Councillors asked the following questions:
· Clarification sought and obtained on the number of transactions and transaction type. It was confirmed that activities needed to be fully integrated into back-office systems, removing the need for double handling of data and ‘ ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Councillor Rana has been invited to attend the Commission for a general discussion on the Resources Portfolio and their duties. A copy of the Cabinet Member’s responsibilities, as set out in the Council’s Constitution is attached.
The Commission noted the update given by Councillor Rana and questioned her on a variety of issues relating to the portfolio.
The following topics were discussed:
· Acknowledgement that the Resources Portfolio covered three divisions of the council and multiple service areas: assets and people, IT and data, performance, customer services and complaints, democracy and governance, legal and health and safety.
· Noted that the major milestone had been the completion of the new town hall and one commercial tenant had signed and it was anticipated they would be in place prior to Christmas. Negotiations were taking place with other potential tenants.
· Recognition that whilst the council received a significant amount of complaints, (the majority relating to Crawley Homes), very few complaints proceeded to the Local Government Ombudsman and those that did, did not generally succeed.
· Acknowledgement that the work within Governance, People and Performance continued and it was noted that the first recording of a Full Council meeting in the new town was undertaken in October and was available to view. Furthermore, the Data Team handled a large volume of Freedom of Information and Subject Access requests. No data breaches had been significant enough to report to the Information Commissioner.
· Noted that there were challenges with recruitment and retention, which was an issue in local government and in the wider public sector. As featured in the Transformation Plan, work was underway to improve the ‘Crawley offer’.
· Recognition that the Legal team had made progress in recent years to modernise and change its working arrangements by implementing a case management system. Digital signing and document sealing would be introduced shortly.
· Noted that last year was the first full year of the external arrangement for Internal Audit and regular progress reports were received. The council’s Risk Strategy was also updated last year, and this was frequently reviewed.
· Noted that the installation of the self-pay kiosks had enabled the council to still accept cash payments.
· Confirmation provided that currently the focus and challenges had been on the new town hall, Transformation Plan, together with HR matters. It was felt the most impactful had been the new town hall in addition to the Transformation Plan, as a result of the projects and modernisation journey.
That the Overview and Scrutiny Commission thanked Councillor Rana for attending and for the informative discussion that had ensued.
Forthcoming Decision List - and Provisional List of Reports for the Commission's following Meetings
To consider any requests for future items. Thise highlighted items have already been referred.
The Commission confirmed the following reports:
1. 2023-2024 Budget Monitoring – Quarter 2
2. Budget Strategy 2024/25 – 2028/29
3. Treasury Management Mid-Year Review 2023-2024
4. Station Gateway - Phase 1
5. Western Boulevard Scheme - Crawley Growth Programme
6. Crawley Innovation Centre - Proposal to Allocate Additional Towns Fund Monies– PART B