Agenda and minutes

Performance Monitoring Panel - Tuesday, 3rd December, 2013 6.30 pm

Venue: Meeting Room 1, Council Offices, Priory Road, Spalding

Contact: Christine Morgan  01775 764454

Items
No. Item

31.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To sign as a correct record the minutes of the following meetings:

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the special joint meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel and Policy Development Panel held on 14 October 2013, and the meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel held on 15 October 2013,  were both signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

32.

Declarations of Interest.

(Members are no longer required to declare personal of prejudicial interests but are to declare any new Disclosable Pecuniary Interests that are not currently included in their Register of Interests.

 

Members are reminded that under the Code of Conduct they are not to participate in the whole of an agenda item to which they have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest.  In the interests of transparency, members may also wish to declare any other interests that they have, in relation to an agenda item, that supports the Nolan principles detailed within the Code of Conduct.)   

 

Minutes:

There were none.

33.

Proposed ICT Improvements for Councillors pdf icon PDF 38 KB

To improve Councillors’ ease of access to Council systems via their existing laptops (report of the ICT Director, Compass Point Business Services (East Coast) Ltd enclosed).

 

The Managing Director of Compass Point Business Services (East Coast) Ltd, the ICT Director (Compass Point Business Services (East Cost) Ltd, the ICT and Customer Services Manager and the Portfolio Holder for Internal Services, Performance and Business Development will be in attendance at the meeting.

 

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the ICT Director, Compass Point Business Services (East Coast) Ltd, which proposed ICT changes to improve Councillors’ ease of access to Council systems via their existing laptops.

 

At its meeting on 11 December 2012, the Panel had raised concerns regarding members’ IT provision, and had received updates from the IT Director at meetings on 29 January 2013 and 26 March 2013, from the Service Desk Manager on 24 July 2013, and the ICT and Customer Services Manager at its last meeting on 15 October 2013.  At the last meeting, the following points had been agreed:

 

·        That the IT Working Group meet to consider relevant policies, laptop builds and current issues;

·        That all issues raised be escalated to the Director of CPBS;

·        That detailed issues be discussed with members;

·        That an action plan be put together, along with a timeline, addressing issues raised by the Panel.  The action plan and timeline to be circulated within two weeks (by the end of October);

·        That the ICT and Customer Services Manager attend the next meeting of the Panel in December, together with an officer from CPBS; and

·        That if no results were seen from the action plan/timeline over the ensuing few weeks, the Portfolio Holder for Internal Services, Performance and Business Development also be asked to attend the next Panel meeting in December.

 

The Managing Director of Compass Point Business Services (East Coast) Ltd, the ICT Director (Compass Point Business Services (East Coast) Ltd), the ICT and Customer Services Manager and the Portfolio Holder for Internal Services, Performance and Business Development were all in attendance to answer any questions on this item.

 

Members were advised that a new way to access Council systems was being proposed, know as Remote Access Point.  The device was small and only required to be plugged in to a power supply and plugged into the councillor’s existing broadband router.  It could be connected to councillor’s laptops by a fixed cable or by wireless connections as required.  Each Councillor would also be provided with a telephone handset, if required.  The handset would plug into the side of the laptop, telephone numbers could be dialled directly or councillors could link into the Council’s phone directory.  This would allow Councillors to be assigned a direct dial number from within the range currently assigned to SHDC, together with voice mail.

 

The new system would have the following benefits:

 

·        It would require only a single password to log on to Council systems;

·        Where the Remote Access Point was being used on a council laptop, Councillors would no longer need to use secure tokens to access their emails and any other Council system available to them;

·        It would be quicker to log on;

·        Councillors would be able to phone up if they experienced a problem with their laptop and an ICT Help Desk team member would be able to remotely log on to their machine;

·        Laptops could be updated with the latest security and software, which was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.

34.

Questions asked under Council Procedure Rule 10.3.

Minutes:

There were none.

35.

Tracking of Recommendations

To consider responses of the Cabinet to reports of the Panel.

Minutes:

There were none.

36.

Items referred from the Policy Development Panel.

Minutes:

There were none.

37.

Key Decision Plan pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To note the current Key Decision Plan

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the current Key Decision Plan which had been issued on 21 November 2013.

 

Members asked for clarity with regard to the item on the Spalding Gypsy and Traveller Site, as a number of sites had been identified within the location.  The following was requested: a) Clarity as to which site(s) were to be used for the Spalding Gypsy and Traveller Site; and b) as a number of sites had been identified at the location, had consideration been given to using any not chosen for the Spalding site as an alternative to the third transient site at Sutton Bridge (thus saving on infrastructure costs)?  Members requested that a response to these questions be circulated to the Panel in due course.

 

AGREED:

 

a)     That the current Key Decision Plan be noted;

 

b)     That with regard to Spalding Gypsy and Traveller Site, answers be sought on the following, with responses to be circulated to the Panel:

 

  • Clarity as to which site(s) were to be used for the Spalding Gypsy and Traveller Site; and
  • As a number of sites had been identified at the location, had consideration been given to using any not chosen for the Spalding site as an alternative to the third transient site at Sutton Bridge (thus saving on infrastructure costs)?  

 

38.

CSU update pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To update the Performance Monitoring Panel on progress made at the CSU (report of the CSU General Manager enclosed).

 

 

 

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the CSU General Manager which updated the Panel on progress made at the CSU. The update provided a brief overview on the vehicle contract, IT, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), customer services and the management structure.

 

The Panel had also requested a timescale for when a full inventory of appliances within properties would be available to the CSU.  Within the report, it stated that a capital bid had been submitted for an integrated asset management system, that a number of systems had been investigated and a sum of £105.000 had been requested to purchase the new system.  Property Services would be able to use the system as a means of asset identification and to advise of the life span of individual assets.

 

The CSU General Manager advised that he was now responsible for the CSU and Property Management, on a 12 month trial.  On the positive side, one person having responsibility for both areas allowed for greater coordination.  On the negative, there was more work for one individual to undertake, however, a new technical officer role had been created to pick up some of this work.  The role was at a lower level to that of the CSU General Manager, and provided assistance at a slightly reduced cost.

 

Members were satisfied with the continued progress being made.

 

AGREED:

 

a)     That the report and update provided by the CSU General Manager be noted;

 

b)     That the CSU General Manager attend a meeting of the Performance Monitoring Panel in six months time to provide a further update on progress.

 

(The CSU General Manager left the meeting following discussion of the above item).

 

 

 

 

 

39.

Annual Inspection of Planning Files

To consider how any potential gaps in the recording of planning advice can be rectified.

 

The Planning Manager will be in attendance to provide information on verbal planning advice and how this is recorded.

 

Please refer to minute number 28 of the minutes to the Performance Monitoring Panel meeting held on 15 October 2013, attached at agenda item 2b.

Minutes:

At its last meeting, the Panel had considered the report of the Assistant Director, Democratic Services which reported on the annual inspection of Planning files.  It had agreed that the systems that were in place appeared to be working well however, the following issues had been raised:

 

·        By only recording on file details of emails and letters, the full picture was not being seen.  The lack of recording of verbal advice was an issue.

·        The Authority could not afford to have any gaps in the advice that it recorded – non recording of verbal advice was a flaw in the system.

 

It had been agreed that a way forward needed to be found of gaining a fuller picture of all advice given for each planning application, and to that end, the Development Manager was in attendance.  The Panel were advised as follows:

 

Very general enquiries and questions could be dealt with by a Duty Officer,  and this verbal advice was not formally recorded.   Where an individual required a more specific response or advice, or wished for formal consideration to be given to an application, they would be advised to submit a request in writing, and a case officer would be assigned to the application.  All formal pre-application advice such as this was recorded.

 

The Panel asked whether the Officer was satisfied that the annual review could be undertaken satisfactorily now that the majority of information was electronic.  The Development Manager advised that making the information available electronically was being rolled out even further, but that this should not affect the review.  All information was scanned to the Ocella planning system.  With regard to pre-application, application forms asked whether pre-application advice had been received. Recording of information was now even more rigorous.

 

Members commented that they were still of the opinion that not all advice given was recorded.  As explained by the officer, written and email correspondence was recorded, but any informal advice was not.  This verbal advice could not be reviewed as recorded information was, but it was agreed that it was difficult to think of any way in which this could be recorded and checked.

 

AGREED:

 

a)     That the information provided by the Development Manager be noted; and

 

b)     That the Panel continues to undertake its Annual Inspection of Planning Files and that following discussion of areas to be inspected, that it continue in its current format.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40.

Review of Implemented Planning Decisions

To consider changes and improvements to the next review.

 

The Planning Manager will be in attendance to consider with the Panel how the review process can be improved in the future.

 

Please refer to minute number 29 of the minutes to the Performance Monitoring Panel meeting held on 15 October 2013, attached at agenda item 2b.

 

Minutes:

At its last meeting, the Panel had considered a report by the Planning Manager which provided an update on the response to the Panel’s recommendations, following the Review of Implemented Planning Decisions, by the Planning Committee.

 

After the tour had taken place, a report had been submitted to the Panel on 24 July 2013, detailing the conclusions drawn from the review, and the following recommendations had been made to the Planning Committee:

 

·        That it be recommended to the Planning Committee that the Review of Implemented Planning Decisions tour continue on a biennial basis.

·        That for future tours, a more consistent method of scoring be devised and a more structured way of reflecting Members’ comments be considered.

 

The conclusions had subsequently been presented to the Planning Committee on 25 September 2013, where members had a wide ranging discussion which questioned the usefulness of the process.  Specifically, concerns were expressed regarding outcomes that influenced planning decisions or resulted in changes to planning policies.  The Planning Committee had decided that the tour, in its current format, to have outlived its usefulness, and to this extent had served its purpose.  Should the review continue, it needed to focus on areas where planning decisions were falling short and look at areas where the Planning Policy Team should be looking to add policies to the Local Plan.

 

At its last meeting, the Panel had considered these views, and the following comments had been made:

 

·        The main failing of the most recent tour was felt to be the way in which the day was planned.  Insufficient member suggestions had been forthcoming and it had been left to the Planning Manager to provide suggestions.

·        The opinions of members on the day were not sufficiently reflected in the report.  Members had provided comments verbatim on the comments form, it had not been made clear to members that this information would form part of the report, and as such the final version of this had not completely reflected their opinions.

·        A different approach was required.  Perhaps members could meet before the tour to decide which sites should be visited.

·        Members needed to be more proactive with respect to the tour and its outcomes.

·        Consideration of the Planning Protocol was required, to ascertain and clarify the remit of the tour.

·        Previous tours had been very valuable, and members wished for the review to continue.

·        The Planning Manager should be asked to attend the next meeting of the Panel to discuss with members a way forward with regard to improving the tour.

 

The Development Manager was in attendance at the meeting to discuss the way forward with members.  He commented that members could take more ownership of the review by providing their own suggestions for sites to be visited and by devising a scoring sheet that accurately reflected their views on individual properties.

 

Member made the following comments and suggestions:

 

·        Part of the problem with lack of suggestions for the last review was the lack of development, resulting in a very limited  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Scrutiny Action Plan pdf icon PDF 31 KB

To agree a Scrutiny Action Plan following the Away Day held on 16 October 2013 (report of the Assistant Director – Democratic Services enclosed).

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Assistant Director, Democratic Services which requested that the Panel agreed a Scrutiny Action Plan following the Scrutiny away day held on 16 October 2013. 

 

At the away day, members considered the following areas:

 

·        What Councillors wanted from Scrutiny and how that should be achieved

·        Task Groups

·        Budget Scrutiny

·        Training

 

The following issues were identified for inclusion in an Action Plan:

 

·        Effective scrutiny information was required for new members and officers

·        It took a long time for issues to reach a conclusion and meetings were far apart

·        How to assess suitability of items for scrutiny

·        Did the names of the Scrutiny Panels tell the public or Officers what they did?

·        Scrutiny did not get Officer feedback

·        Scrutiny needed to be informed that action had been taken or the matter resolved if personnel issues had been reported to the Head of Paid Service

·        Some meetings were too long and had too many agenda items

·        For Scrutiny to be effective it needed to be able to require contractors to attend or support scrutiny

·        Task Groups sometimes took too long

·        Information requested by Task Groups of Officers was sometimes not forthcoming

·        Clarity was required regarding the role of the Task Group Lead Officer

·        Budget Scrutiny – timing meant it was too late to influence

 

These items had been included in the draft Action Plan appended to the report, for Members’ consideration.

 

Members discussed the Action Plan and were in agreement that it was a reflection of issues raised at the away day.  However, it was felt that the issue of officer engagement with the Scrutiny process and how this could be improved was not addressed specifically enough within the Action Plan and it was therefore agreed that an additional action be added to reflect this.

 

AGREED:

 

a)     That the report of the Assistant Director – Democratic Services be noted; and

 

b)     That an additional action be added to the Scrutiny Action Plan to address the issue of officer engagement with the Scrutiny process and how this could be improved.

 

42.

Performance Monitoring Panel Work Programme pdf icon PDF 53 KB

To set out the Work Programme of the Performance Monitoring Panel (report of the Assistant Director Democratic Services enclosed).

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Assistant Director (Democratic Services) which set out the Work Programme of the Performance Monitoring Panel.  The Work Programme consisted of two separate sections, the first setting out the dates of future Panel meetings along with proposed items for consideration, and the second setting out the Task Groups that had been identified by the Panel.

 

In May 2012, a proposed Task Group ‘to look at the decision to review the position with regard to leisure facilities in two years time and whether the business plan on which the decision was based was robust’ had been added to the Panel’s Work Programme. Earlier in the year, it had been agreed that the Task Group should be a joint one, made up of members of both the Performance Monitoring Panel and the Policy Development Panel.  At its meeting on 30 April 2013, the Policy Development Panel had considered membership, and agreed that the following be members of the Task Group:  Councillors G R Aley, D Ashby, S Slade and A R Woolf.

 

The Chairmen and Vice Chairmen of both Panels had met in July and had agreed that the area for scrutiny was large and that the Task Group’s scope should be very clearly defined. 

 

The Performance Monitoring Panel agreed that this Task Group should now move forward as follow:

 

·        The Task Group would be a high profile one with a potentially wide ranging scope.  It was important that it was clear in which direction it was going and it was therefore felt that the first meeting of the Task Group should deal solely with agreeing a scope.

·        The first meeting should be attended by the Chairmen of both the Performance Monitoring and Policy Development Panels to ensure that they were comfortable with the scope.

·        A Lead Officer and a CMT sponsor for the Task Group to be agreed prior to the first meeting.

·        To add to the membership from the Policy Development Panel, the following Performance Monitoring Panel members be part of the Task Group – Councillors R Perkins, E Sneath and S Wilkinson.

 

AGREED:

 

a)     That both sections of the Panel’s Work Programme, as set out in the report of the Assistant Director (Democratic Services) be noted;

 

b)     That a joint Task Group to look at the decision to review the position with regard to leisure facilities in two years time and whether the business plan on which the decision was based was robust be set up, membership to consist of Councillors G R Aley, D Ashby, S Slade and A R Woolf from the Policy Development Panel and Councillors R Perkins, E Sneath and S Wilkinson from the Performance Monitoring Panel;

 

c)      That a Lead Officer and CMT sponsor be agreed prior to the first meeting;

 

d)     That the first meeting of the Task Group be held to agree a clear scope; and

 

e)     That the Chairmen of both the Policy Development Panel and Performance Monitoring Panel attend the first  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.