Agenda item

Resourcing within the Planning Department

To provide the Panel with an update on staffing levels, Development Management performance standards and Local Plan timetabling (report of the Executive Director Place enclosed)

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report of the Executive Director Place, which provided the Panel with an update on staffing levels, Development Management performance standards and Local Plan timetabling.

 

Updates had previously been received at Panel meetings on 25 November 2014 and 3 March 2015, and a further update on the current position was provided within the report. 

 

The recruitment of a range of permanent and temporary staff had facilitated an improvement in performance.  Current statistical performance was detailed in a table within the report.  Performance across the board had improved since January 2015 and continued to do so in line with a managed approach to meeting with the increasing range of performance targets set by government, as detailed in sections 1.12 and 1.13 of the report.

 

In relation to the emerging Local Plan, the current timetable was effectively being maintained.  The Draft Joint Local Plan had been presented to the South East Lincolnshire Local Plan Steering Group, and the formal Joint Committee for final approval.  The Draft Local Plan would be subject to a six week public consultation exercise, beginning in early January 2016.

 

The Panel considered the information within the report, and the following issues were raised:

 

·         Councillors asked why the role of Planning and Building Control Manager was still vacant.

o   The Shared Executive Director Place advised that the Authority was finding it difficult to recruit to this position.  It was looking at potential interim solutions, such as working with neighbouring authorities. 

 

·         Was salary an issue with regard to recruitment?  Was the salary being offered for this position on a par with other authorities?

o   Salary was a factor, but this was not the only issue.  The difficulty in recruitment was not unusual, as many other authorities around the country were having similar difficulties in recruiting to similar vacancies.  More planners were now choosing to work in the private sector, rather than with local authorities.

 

·         How was the vacancy affecting the department?

o   The Shared Executive Director Place advised that the Place Manager (who was the former Planning Manager) was providing support for the interim period, but this was not a long-term solution.

 

·         Was the department benefiting from the input of the Place Manager?  Was his main role suffering as a result?

o   The Shared Executive Director Place advised that the department was benefiting however, his role was as Place Manager and this was being affected somewhat by his assistance in the Planning Department.  The Place Manager could not cover the role of Planning and Building Control Manager full time and the situation was not ideal as he was filling another post.  Both posts needed to be filled. 

 

·         As the Place Manager’s role was only confirmed until March 2016, could there  be problems after this date if the role of Planning and Building Control Manager had not been filled by this point?

o   The Shared Executive Director Place advised that the permanent position of Planning and Building Control Manager was currently being advertised.  In the interim, the Place Manager would continue to assist.  Filling the role was proving a challenge, and the difficulties around it were being taken seriously.  The Authority had until March to either fill the position permanently or, if this was not possible,  to develop an interim solution.

 

·         It was stated that if performance suffered as a result of the recruitment issue, this could have serious implications, as laid out in the risk detailed in section 1.12 of the report.

o   The Shared Executive Director Place agreed that it was important to recruit to the position, that it was proving a challenge however, the Authority was working hard to ensure that this happened.

 

The Panel was pleased to see improvements in the performance of the Planning department however it expressed concern at the lack of time available to get a new Planning and Building Control Manager in place, and urged that the situation should be resolved by March 2016.

 

AGREED:

 

a)    That the report of the Executive Director Place be noted;

 

b)    That the Panel was pleased to see improvements in the performance of the Planning Department as a result of actions taken over the last year; and

 

c)    That the Panel’s concerns be noted with regard to the vacant post of Planning and Building Control Manager, the impact that this may be having whilst the Place Manager undertook some of these duties, and the longer term risks if a solution was not found by March 2016.

Supporting documents: