Agenda and minutes

Venue: Boardroom - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ. View directions

Contact: Gayle Fentiman, Democratic Services Officer  020 8937 4617, Email: gayle.fentiman@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of personal and prejudicial interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting any relevant financial or other interest in the items on the agenda.

Minutes:

Councillor Lorber advised that he was a member of Barham Park Library campaign

2.

Deputations (if any)

3.

Minutes of the last meeting held on 10 July 2013 pdf icon PDF 80 KB

The minutes are attached.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on 10 July 2013 be approved as a correct record.  

4.

Matters arising

Minutes:

An update was sought on the progress achieved in recruiting to the post of Strategic Director for Health, Education and Social Care. Members of the committee subsequently noted that councillors had previously been provided with written notification of new senior appointments and requested that this practice be revived. Cathy Tyson (Assistant Director of Policy) advised that she did not know the timescale for recruitment to this post.

 

It was further noted that several pieces of requested information had not been provided to the committee and that officers would seek updates in respect of the following:

 

·         The provision of a seminar on the impact and actions of the Welfare Reforms;

·         Clarification regarding targets and spending figures if over and above, or in line with the previous borough plan;

·         Information on the spend on consultants and agency staff.

 

5.

Performance and Finance report Quarter 1 2013/14 pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cathy Tyson (Assistant Director of Policy) presented a report to the committee introducing the Performance and Finance review for quarter 1 (Q1), 2013-14. Members were advised that the performance element of the full report, which was attached as appendix 1, reflected a transition towards revised performance reporting. It would be redesigned to centre on the key performance indicators highlighted in the new Corporate Plan which was currently in development. Members’ attention was subsequently drawn to the executive summary of the performance element of the report and it was noted that at present 39 per cent of all indicators were rated either Green or Amber, with 13 per cent categorised as Red. It was explained that the remainder were indicative only, and whilst useful did not measure service performance but rather provided information on subjects against which targets could not be set, such as the number of children on the Child Protection Register. It was intended that there would be a reduced number of indicative-only indicators in future performance reporting.

 

An overview of each service area was given by Cathy Tyson, highlighting the recent or planned introduction of new indicators and any concerns or anticipated pressures. It was noted that one of the new indicators introduced for this quarter for Children and Families reflected the Ofsted judgements for Brent’s Schools. At present, this indicator was rated Red and it was explained that this was due to the target being set at zero for the number of schools judged inadequate. Performance against recycling targets was addressed and it was emphasised that there had been a lot of improvement in this area over recent years. The alerts for these indicators were currently red but this was subject to potential change as the figures regarding residual waste and recycling were provisional due to the time lag. The impact of the Welfare Reforms was evident across departments. The number of households in temporary accommodation had been increasing since Q1 2012/13 but this remained within the forecasted rise due to the implementation of a comprehensive package of mitigating actions. Performance against the national indicator N181, time taken to process all new Benefit claims, had dipped, in the first quarter of 2013/14 due to exceptionally high demand on the Benefits Services. Performance against this target was significantly better in July 2013 and it was anticipated that there would be considerable improvement against this indicator during Q2. Turning to the finance element of the report, Cathy Tyson advised that the council was currently forecasting an overspend of £714,000 but that actions were in place to mitigate this.

 

In the subsequent discussion members raised several issues. It was queried how schools judged inadequate by Ofsted would be supported to improve and a suggestion was made that monitoring be similarly undertaken of Ofsted judgements for Brent’s Children’s Centres. A member noted with concern that Pupil and Parent services had an overspend of £929,000 and queried what measures were in place to ensure that this was kept under control. Further explanation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Parking update pdf icon PDF 58 KB

Minutes:

 

Michael Read outlined the paper update on the three borough joint Parking Enforcement Contract to the committee. The contract went live in Brent on 4 July 2013 and encompassed the adoption of an industry-standard IT system, SiDem, moving away from a traditional model of enforcement. The technological innovations on which the new model was predicated included the use of an online database to allow the automatic identification of vehicles likely to be illegally parked, via Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) devises. The new model also relied upon the implementation of new customer channels of contact, with transactions taking place online, by phone or by text. Brent’s Parking Shops, which had previously allowed transactions to be conducted in person, had been closed in May 2013.

 

Members were advised by Michael Read that the complex mobilisation phase of the contract had been successful overall, with effective staff transfer and enforcement operations, migration of historic data to SiDem and the successful transfer of CCTV functions to the civic centre. The contract was on track to deliver the anticipated full year savings of over £850k per year.  It was possible that there would be some further savings achievable through reduced mobilisation and set up costs and these would be considered via the open book contract management process.  Serco’s performance regarding on-street enforcement had been satisfactory but it was acknowledged that there had been significant problems during the implementation of the new system. The online permit processing system had been inherited with significantly reduced operational functionality from the previous contract, leading to a decreased ability to deal with permit applications online and subsequently, a far greater volume of telephone calls received. In turn this had resulted in unacceptable call waiting times, call abandonment rates and poor customer experiences. These issues had since been addressed through remediation plans for the permitting software and contact centre performance. Good progress had been made, evidenced by the reduced call waiting time and number of calls reporting difficulties with the online system.  New call handling menus would also be implemented to improve the customer experience.

 

During members’ discussion, the committee noted the difficulties experienced by residents in using the new online system and sought an explanation of why an interim system combining both the new and old systems was not considered. Concerns were raised regarding the capacity of the new system to cope with the volume of use and a breakdown of call centre performance and type of calls received across peak and non-peak times was requested. Noting that an additional call centre had been established to manage the high volume of calls, it was queried what impact this had on achieving the targeted savings. Confirmation was sought that there was sufficient numbers of ANPR vehicles and Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) to ensure effective enforcement. Members queried how anomalous increases in non-compliance would be understood by the system.  Queries were also raised regarding potential abuses of the system and how these would be identified and dealt with.  The committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

One Council Programme update pdf icon PDF 503 KB

Minutes:

Irene Bremang (Programme Management Office Manager) introduced the report before the committee and delivered a presentation updating members on the One Council (OC) Programme. This programme was launched in 2009 and aimed to provide a framework for  delivering organisational change and improved service delivery to limit the impact of budget reduction on Brent residents. The targeted savings for the four year programme period was up to £100m from the base budget by 2014/15..

 

The committee was advised by Irene Bremang that since the last update to the committee in May 2013, five projects had been completed and closed. A new project, Working with Families Phase 3, had also been brought into the programme, whilst two existing projects had been removed to be pursued as separate initiatives. The removal of these projects had required a reduction of £2.2m in the targeted savings for 2014/15 as these savings would now be delivered by departments outside of the OC programme. Currently, there were ten live projects left to deliver, encompassing some of the larger and more complicated projects. The Brent One Oracle project which had been rated Red in May 2013, due to risks relating to internal resourcing, had now progressed to Amber. This was being delivered in partnership with five other councils and timescales and scope of work remained challenging. The Parking Enforcement Review project was at present the only project with a red status. This red rating reflected the difficulties with the introduction of the new online service. It was noted that the project delivery had been strengthened and Brent staff were working closely with the new service provider to address the issues.  

 

Irene Bremang explained that new internal governance arrangements for the OC programme had been established in June 2013, following changes to the senior management structure of the council. The interim Chief Executive was now the OC Programme Sponsor and the Corporate Management Team (CMT) now acted as the OC Strategic Programme Board. Portfolio projects and general programme matters were the responsibility of a refreshed OC Programme Delivery Board chaired by the Strategic Director of Environment and Neighbourhoods. The committee was further advised that the programme was on track to deliver the additional £10.2m savings targeted for 2013/14 and this was being robustly monitored by the Programme Board. The costs of the programme had decreased, reflecting the focus on using internal resources to delivery projects and only making use of consultants when specialist input was required.  The costs were also reduced as there were fewer live projects (10 projects) still be completed in the programme. 

 

During Members’ subsequent discussion it was noted that the council had to deliver significant savings in the forthcoming years and a member queried how these would be achieved. Further details were also sought on the impact of the reduction in programme costs on the delivery of the remaining live projects.  In response, the committee was advised that the One Council Programme would deliver approximately 70 per cent of the required savings. There were other  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

One Council Overview and Scrutiny work programme. pdf icon PDF 56 KB

The work programme is attached.

Minutes:

Councillor Jones outlined an issue to the committee regarding the application of incorrect council tax banding of converted properties, advising that it warranted further investigation.  She explained that council tax banding was determined by the assessment of the Valuation Office and that where one property had been converted into multiple dwellings, a new assessment was required before the correct council tax banding could be applied. Councillor Jones highlighted that this issue resulted in a loss of council tax income and suggested that a small team of officers be directed to look at this issue.

 

Cathy Tyson explained that a cost-effective solution was required and noted that a similar stream of work was being undertaken by the licensing teams. The committee welcomed Councillor Jones suggestion and advised that she raise the issue with Andy Donald, Director of Regeneration and Growth, for further consideration.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the work programme be noted.

9.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the One Council Overview and Scrutiny Committee is scheduled for 26 November 2013.

Minutes:

The committee noted that the next meeting was scheduled for 26 November 2013.

10.

Any other urgent business

Notice of items raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Democratic Services Manager or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 64.

Minutes:

None.