Agenda and minutes

Venue: Boardrooms 3-5 - Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ. View directions

Contact: Bryony Gibbs, Governance Officer  020 8937 1355; Email: bryony.gibbs@brent.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence and clarification of alternate members

Minutes:

None.

2.

Declarations of interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, the nature and existence of any relevant disclosable pecuniary, personal or prejudicial interests in the items on this agenda and to specify the item(s) to which they relate.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

3.

Deputations (if any)

To hear any deputations received from members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 67.

Minutes:

None.

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 68 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meetings held on 3  July 2018 and 16 July 2018 as correct records.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the previous meetings held on 3 July 2018 and 16 July 2018 be approved as accurate records subject to the following amendment: Councillor Butt (Leader of the Council) to be referred to as Councillor M Butt to distinguish from Councillor S Butt, member of the committee. 

 

5.

Matters arising (if any)

To consider any matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

There were no matters arising.

6.

Chair's Report pdf icon PDF 71 KB

This report summarises the work carried out by the committee and outlines  why the items on the agenda for this meeting were chosen.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee considered the Chair’s report which provided comment on the committee’s work-planning and the research and investigative work undertaken by members in preparation for the meeting.

 

RESOLVED: that the observations made by the Chair in his report to the committee be noted.

7.

Highways Contract Performance pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Brent entered into an eight year contract on 1 April 2013, finishing on 31 March 2021, to provide a range of highway services, including reactive maintenance works, through the London Highways Alliance Contract (LoHAC). The appointed contractor is Conway Aecom. This report outlines the contractual arrangements in place at present, the measures for auditing the contractor’s performance and what the current performance levels are and how the contract is linking in a practical way to the Council’s Highways Asset Management Plan.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning) introduced the report to the committee which outlined the contractual arrangements in place, the measures for auditing performance, current performance levels and how the contract was linked to the Council’s Highways Asset Management Plan.

 

The report detailed that the existing, eight year contract with Conway Aecom was due to finish on 31 March 2021. The contract covered the provision of a range of highway services through the London Highways Alliance Contract (LoHAC), including safety inspections, planned and reactive maintenance, drainage, scheme implementation, and highways structures inspections and maintenance. A key feature of the contract was a lump sum “Find and Fix” mechanism where the contractor delivered the inspection service and rectified high priority defects. A variation to the contract was currently being implemented to exit this arrangement to improve consistency and responsiveness of service. There were a suite of performance indicators which were monitored monthly and were tied in to the payment process to ensure that the monthly amounts certified for payment were directly linked to performance. Auditing by Officers was carried out across all activities of the contract; the on gully cleansing had improved but timeliness of medium priority repairs remained a concern. A range of repair types were being used in a targeted way as part of the council’s Highways Asset Management Programme to improve the longevity of Brent’s roads and pavements and make limited resources go further.

 

Councillor Tatler advised that Andy Best (Contract Manager, Conway) was in attendance to assist in addressing the committee’s queries, alongside Jonathon Westell (Highways Contracts and Delivery Manager), Chris Whyte (Operational Director, Environment Services) and Amar Dave (Strategic Director, Regeneration and Environment).

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Tatler for her introduction and welcomed everyone to the meeting, inviting Andy Best to reflect on his experience of the current contract and on working with Brent Council.  The committee subsequently queried what factors contributed to delays in repairing defects, what action plans were in place to improve performance and the timescales for improvement against red rated performance indicators. Members expressed concern regarding the time it took for repairs to be made to some Category 2 (medium priority) defects. It was subsequently emphasised the self-monitoring Find and Fix mechanism of the contract created a situation in which it was in the interest of the contractor to categorise defects as Category 2, as the council was required to provide additional funds to the contractor for the repair of such defects. In exploring this issue, members noted the number of defects miscategorised. The committee then questioned the financial and other risks faced by the council as a result of not repairing potentially hazardous paving stones. Comment was sought from the Deputy Leader on the potential increase in the cost of a highways maintenance contract in the future, given the existing state of Brent’s highways and in view of the likely increase in extreme weather conditions.

 

Andy Best explained that on joining Conway he had identified issues  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Digital Strategy progress and outcomes for vulnerable people pdf icon PDF 4 MB

This report provides an update on the progress of the Brent Digital Strategy from its launch in June 2017 to date. It includes details of key projects and workstreams related to channel shift and the initiatives designed to support vulnerable residents, as well as wider work within delivery of the strategy to secure positive outcomes for vulnerable people.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair informed the meeting that the committee had recently undertaken a visit to the Harlesden Hub, during which members had had the opportunity to learn about how the council was supporting vulnerable residents. At the invitation of the Chair, Councillor McLennan (Deputy Leader) advised that Sadie East (Head of Transformation) and Peter Gadsdon (Director Performance Policy & Partnerships) were in attendance to introduce the report and assist in addressing members queries.

 

Sadie East presented the report on the progress of the Brent Digital Strategy from its launch in June 2017. The report provided details of key projects and workstreams related to channel shift and the initiatives designed to support vulnerable residents, as well as the wider work within the delivery of the strategy to secure positive outcomes for vulnerable people. Sadie East provided a brief overview of these key workstreams, noting the initial successes of the roll out of the Microsoft Dynamics Platform to the Housing Management Service which had already resulted in improvements in customer service and quality of response. Work to support residents’ to improve their digital skills had included the impending launch of a digital skills curriculum by Brent Start (Brent’s Adult Education service) and the introduction of cutting edge technology to a classroom of the Stonebridge Learning Centre. Progress had been made in securing ultrafast fibre broadband for Brent’s social housing stock and more widely for residents and business in the borough. By 2020 new broadband networks were anticipated to provide coverage to up to 80% of the borough. The committee further heard that a report recommending approval to expand the hub model was due to considered by Cabinet at its meeting on 12 September 2018.

 

The Chair thanked Sadie East for the introduction and invited questions from the committee. Members sought details of how success was measured with regard to supporting residents’ digital skills, including whether a one-off lesson could be offered for those engaging with a service digitally for the first time. The committee also questioned whether the council could enhance the profile of the My Brent service to encourage greater take up. Questions were raised regarding how support was provided for those who either did not have internet access or were not in the habit of using it, how the council identified users requiring special assistance and how this information was deployed across the organisation. A member questioned why council officers working at the Harlesden Hub did not access the library’s free wi-fi. Further queries were raised regarding the Client Index, its current use in the council and whether it could support targeted roll-out of the council’s digital offer. In concluding their questioning, members expressed that they had been very impressed with the Harlesden Hub and asked officers to reflect on any pitfalls that may have been identified and resolved via the pilot.

 

Responding to members’ queries, Sadie East drew the committee’s attention to the draft outcomes framework  attached at Appendix E to the report. This outlined the key objectives around modernising online  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Area Based Working Update pdf icon PDF 137 KB

The paper provides an update on the significant progress that is being made by Town Centre Managers and Neighbourhood Managers, leading on the council’s new area based approach.  The report summarises the achievements in the first 6-15 months of operation for X4 Town Centre Managers (TCMs) and in the first 7 months of operation for X5 Neighbourhood Managers (NMs). It also provides a summary of the objectives and deliverables for 2018/19 for TCMs and NMs, and a summary of medium-long term plans.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

At the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Tatler (Lead Member for Regeneration, Highways and Planning) introduced the report on the progress made by the Town Centre Managers and Neighbourhood Managers leading on the council’s new area based approach. The report before the committee summarised the achievements made in the first six to fifteen months of operation of four Town Centre Managers (TCMs) and the first seven months of operation for the five Neighbourhood Managers (NMs). The report also summarised the objectives and deliverables for 2018/19 and the medium-long term plans. Councillor Tatler emphasised that the approach described recognised that each area had different needs and requirements. Councillor Krupa Sheth (Lead Member for Environment) highlighted that there had been lots of positive feedback from residents, businesses and community groups regarding the new area based approach and work of the NMs and TCMs.

 

The Chair welcomed Shirley Holmes (NM), Rubina Charalambous (TCM) and Richard Hay (TCM) to the meeting, alongside officers Matthew Dibben (Head of Employment Skills and Enterprise), Simon Finney (Head of Neighbourhood Management) and Rosalyn Flowers (Economic Growth Senior Manager).

 

In the subsequent discussion, the committee questioned whether NMs and TCMs would develop closer working relationships with the ward councillors for their areas, noting the scope for both strategic and resident level working. Clarification was sought regarding the working relationships between NMs and TCMs, noting that certain issues impacted across the remits. The committee further noted that some NMs made greater use of social media, for instance to engage with resident forums, and questioned how the council could support NMs in developing social media skills. The committee asked the NMs and TCMs to comment on whether there were any additional resources or tools that would help to increase the productivity of their roles. The committee subsequently queried what support was available to NMs and TCMs.

 

Councillor Krupa Sheth advised that it had recently been determined that  monthly meetings would be held with NMs, TCMs and ward councillors. Councillor Tatler added that the TCMs had been established for a longer period and there was an expectation that they involved local councillors in any developments for their areas. Furthermore, action plans had been developed in consultation with ward members and were regularly reviewed. Going forward, TCMs would be asked to involve ward members in the review of these plans.

 

Clarifying the roles and expected working relationships between TCMs and NMs, Councillor Tatler advised that they worked jointly across their respective remits to achieve improvements for their areas. NMs’ primary focus was public realm issues and addressing these would deliver outcomes that would support the work of TCMs. Discussing the use of social media, Simon Finney agreed that training could be provided to encourage greater use by NMs and TCMs and advised that challenge would be provided going forward on this issue. Responding to the committee’s queries regarding resources, Richard Hay advised that a lot of the necessary tools were already in place to support his role as TCM and commented on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Committee work programme 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 106 KB

This report updates members on the committee’s work programme for 2018/19.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the work programme for 2018/19 as set out at Appendix A to the report be agreed.

11.

Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Head of Executive and Member Services or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 60.

Minutes:

None.