Corporate Services Cabinet Member – Minutes – 10 March 2009

235 (102) SECTIONS 43 AND 47 LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE ACT 1988 SECTION 1 LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND RATING ACT 1997 – The Service Director Finance submitted a report considering the level of Business Rate relief to be awarded to four ratepayers in North Lincolnshire.

The Policy Committee agreed the legal position and administrative practices for dealing with rate relief on 22 January 1996.

The Corporate Services Cabinet Member on 20 February 2005 (minute 128 refers) agreed to adopt a scoring system based on set criteria for the awarding of discretionary rate relief. The Corporate Services Cabinet Member on 7 February 2005 (minute 233 refers) agreed to amend the criteria. The Corporate Services Cabinet Member on 21 December 2006 agreed to update the criteria and gave approval to the Service Director Finance to authorise relief where the level of relief remained unchanged.

There was no discretion about granting mandatory relief.

Resolved – That the level of rate relief be awarded to each applicant as set out in the schedule attached to the report.

236 (103) VIREMENTS 2008 – 2009 – The Service Director Finance submitted a report seeking approval for changes to the revenue budget for 2008-09.

On 20 February 2008 Council approved the revenue and capital budgets for 2008/2009 financial year (minute 1545 refers). Since then various developments had been approved which needed to be reflected in the budget to assist proper financial control. The report gave details of virements approved by the Service Director Finance under delegated powers and those that required Cabinet Member approval.

Resolved – (a) That the virements at paragraph 3.1 and 3.2 of the report, approved by the Service Director Finance under delegated powers be noted, and (b) that the permanent virements outlined in paragraph 3.3 of the report be approved.

237 (104) RENEWAL OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS CONTRACT – The Service Director Asset Management and Culture submitted a report setting out a summary of the procurement process for the renewal of the telecommunications contract. This was a collaborative project between North Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire councils.

The current corporate telecommunications contract commenced in December 2005 and would expire in summer 2009. The contract’s primary purpose was to provide substantial savings on the total telecommunication expenditure compared to the amounts previously incurred by the council. The savings were achieved by:

  • Improving pricing by recognising the council’s overall buying power
  • Reduction of the number of suppliers, and
  • Adopting a tactical approach to the telecommunications network’s design by tendering for a ‘like for like’ replacement of the core.

The contract offered an opportunity to review the council’s telecommunications network. This would take into account the council’s wish to improve its resilience following the flood of summer 2007 and the council’s strategic IT needs over the next five to eight years.

The report gave details of the proposed procurement process.

Resolved – (a) That the findings in the report be noted, and (c) that option three, as set out in the report, be adopted.

238 (105) QUARTERLY WORKFORCE MONITORING OCTOBER TO DECEMBER 2008 – The Service Director Human Resources submitted a report considering the quarterly workforce monitoring report for October to December 2008.

A number of key workforce indicators were included in the report, these covered:

  • workforce profiles
  • employee turnover
  • sickness absence
  • recruitment and selection
  • learning and development

Detailed workforce information covering these areas was provided to all service areas on a quarterly basis. The information was designed to support service area quarterly performance reviews (QPRs), as well as assisting managers to carry out workforce planning.

The issues raised within the report were addressed through actions included in the Human Resources (HR) Service Plan. Service specific issues were considered as part of QPRs, with individual service areas taking appropriate action to improve performance in key areas, HR continued to support service areas to do this.

Resolved – That the Quarterly Workforce Monitoring report for October to December 2008 be considered and key issues noted.

239 (106) ASSET MANAGEMENT AND CULTURE SERVICE PLAN 2008/11 – The Service Director Asset Management and Culture submitted a report seeking approval for the Asset Management and Culture service plan 2008/11.

The service plan set out the priorities, targets and areas of development for the Asset Management and Culture service over the next three years. It identified the service’s contribution to the council’s priorities and how the service aligned with the ambitions of the council.

The service plan demonstrated how priorities would be achieved and how performance would be measured, it also details outcomes to show what the service aimed to achieve for the council.

Resolved – That the Asset Management and Culture Service Plan 2008/2011 be approved and adopted.

240 (107) REGISTRATION SERVICE – The Service Director Legal and Democratic submitted a report to update the Cabinet Member on developments in the Registration Service, and to seek approval for an increase in fees for ceremonies in Approved Premises and for other Non Statutory ceremonies.

General Register Office (GRO) computerised system (RON)

The GRO computerised system, RON, for the registration of births and deaths had been the subject of review after the initial failure of the system in 2007. A national phased programme of return was now underway. The Superintendent Registrar and representatives from IT were meeting technical experts from GRO on 4 March, with a view to confirming the system was ready for a return to RON.

Accounting arrangements

Registration staff had become council employees on 1 December 2008. The change had certain impacts on the methods of accounting. Up to that date, a manual system had been in place, and an annual account was submitted to the Registrar General. Since the staff transfer the council was responsible for accounting. An electronic method of accounting had been developed, along with systems to record stock control and weekly and monthly reconciliation of certificates issued against income.

Nationality checking service

A licence from the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner had now been granted for the Nationality Checking Service. Three staff had passed the relevant tests and were approved as Level 1 Immigration Advisors with capacity to deliver the service. The service had been extensively publicised and the first customer had been received.

On-line certificate service

The on-line search and order facility had been operational since November 2007 and was proving a success. The public were now able to search all birth, marriage and death indexes from 1837 to 2008.

Tell Us Once

A Steering Group had been formed to look into the feasibility of providing a ‘Tell Us Once’ service for all those registering deaths within North Lincolnshire. Once a death had been registered, it was then up to the relatives to contact every single council department which could have been involved with the deceased person. There was currently a national Tell Us Once cross government programme being developed. This was exploring whether information could be passed securely to other relevant departments in central and local government, suchas Department of Work and Pensions, Passport Agency, DVLA etc. and there were a number of pilot schemes in operation.

Offering a North Lincolnshire Council Tell Us Once service would help relatives and reassure them that all relevant council departments had received notification of the death. There were a number of legal issues being currently resolved but as the registration of a death is a legal formality, informants had to attend the register office in person and this would be the optimum time for taking details. Work was being carried out to try to identify every service which may need to be notified of a death.

Bereavement conference

The registration service was a member of the Le Henry regional training group. A Bereavement Conference on behalf of Le Henry was due to be held on 7 May 2009 at Pittwood House.

Statutory and non-statutory fees

Statutory fees were not set at a level to recover the full cost of delivering the service but by a complex formula based on returns submitted by councils to the Department for Communities and Local Government. It had become clear in recent years that despite rising costs in local government, the formula was not resulting in fee increases and did not cover the cost of running the service. Statutory fees were last increased in 2003. A National Fees Review working group had been established and it was hoped that the results would be used to reset statutory fees.

Each local council was responsible for the setting of fees for weddings/civil partnerships in Approved premises, and for setting fees for non-statutory ceremonies. There had been no increase in fees since 2006, therefore, it was proposed that the current fees for these items were amended. The report gave details of proposed amended fees, to take effect from April 2009.

Resolved – (a) That the developments outlined in the report be noted, and (b) that the proposed fees be approved.

241 (108) BUILDING SCHOOLS FOR THE FUTURE (BSF) – EARLY WORKS ARRANGEMENTS – The Service Director Learning, Schools and Communities submitted a report seeking approval for early works to be carried out on the two sample schemes in the BSF project.

The dialogue with bidders for the North Lincolnshire BSF contract was now complete. Submissions from both bid teams were now being evaluated and the preferred bidder would be announced on 24 March 2009. At this point the preferred bidder would be in a position to start planning the construction programme.

Following selection of the preferred bidder, the council would submit its final business case (FBC) to the government for approval to release funds and start the construction at the two sample schools. These were Melior Community College and Brumby Engineering College. Approval for the FBC was expected in July 2009.

The steps needed to ensure that construction could begin after approval of the FBC were set out in the report.

Resolved – That the BSF early works arrangements, as set out in the report, be approved.

242 (109) CREATION OF 14-19 TRANSPORT AND ACCESS STRATEGY MANAGER – The Service Director Children, Strategy and Partnerships submitted a report seeking approval for the establishment of a fixed term post of 14-19 Transport and Access Strategy Manager.

The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) had recognised that rural areas faced distinct challenges in implementing the reforms which offered students the chance to attend diplomas at schools and colleges other than those at which they were on roll. Therefore, they were providing support for the 40 most rural authorities, which included North Lincolnshire, this included funding a post to develop the 14-19 transport and access strategy for an 18 month period from 2008-2010.

From September 2009 four diplomas would be offered to pre-16 students at three of the council’s secondary schools and North Lindsey College. These would be available to students at any secondary school, which would present access problems, as the present public transport network was unlikely to be able to provide solutions to meet all students’ needs.

The post was needed to review, plan and advise on the transport solutions to allow the 14-19 education reforms to be applied effectively in North Lincolnshire. The post holder would also review the provision of transport to further education colleges, schools 6th forms and alternative learning placements for Key Stage 4 students.

Resolved – That the creation of the fixed term post of 14-19 Transport and Access Co-ordinator, with effect from 1 April 2009, be approved.

243 (110) STAFFING ARRANGEMENTS FOR STUDY UNITED AND STUDY HESLAM – The Service Director Learning, Schools and Communities submitted a report seeking approval to establish new posts at Study United and Study Heslam.

‘Playing for Success’ was part of the Government’s National Framework for Study Support. The national initiative provided funding from the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF), in joint partnership between councils and professional sports clubs. The project aimed to use the vehicle of sport and the physical environment of the stadia to provide an innovative and highly exciting location for learning.

The council hosted two ‘Playing for Success’ study support centres which were highly successful and acknowledged by the DCSF as leading centres in terms of innovation. Provision was offered to all schools throughout North Lincolnshire and over 1000 children and young people per year accessed a range of learning programmes at the centres.

Demand for provision was increasing and consultation demonstrated the need to increase staffing levels at the centres. It was proposed that two new posts be created, Driver/Mentor and Learning Coach.

Resolved – That the establishment of the posts of Driver/Mentor and Learning Coach, as set out in the report, be approved.

244 (111) APPOINTMENT OF POSTS TO MANAGE THE RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME FOR ENGLAND – LEADER PROGRAMME – The Acting Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development submitted a report seeking approval to establish two temporary posts to develop and manage the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) LEADER Programme.

Previous LEADER funding was part of the European Union (EU) structural funding programme. The funding from 2007-2013 was now part of the EU’s rural development programme, named the European Fund for Agriculture and Rural Development (EAFRD). The English programme to deliver the EAFRD was the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

The RDPE had four elements to it called ‘Axis’

  • Axis 1 – Improving the competitiveness of the farming and forestry sectors
  • Axis 2 – Improving the environment and the countryside
  • Axis 3 – Rural quality of life and diversification of the rural economy
  • Axis 4 – The LEADER approach

The LEADER approach was to deliver a grass-roots regeneration programme by identifying local issues and opportunities and tackling these from within the local communities. This would be delivered through Local Action Groups (LAG) made up on representatives from rural partners and local communities.

The council, working with North East Lincolnshire Council and rural partners, submitted a Local Development Strategy to Yorkshire Forward for funds from the LEADER programme for the rural areas across both North and North East Lincolnshire. This was successful.

A total of £2.4m had been secured over five years and would operate until 31 December 2013. This included up to 20% of the allocation for administration of the programme. A contract from Yorkshire Forward had been received for this. Two posts were required to ensure the programme was compliant with the EU’s grant conditions: an RDPE LEADER Programme Co-ordinator and an RDPE LEADER Support Officer.

Resolved – That the proposal to create the posts of RDPE LEADER Co-ordinator and Support Officer, as set out in the report, be approved.

The following items contain exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

245 (112) RESTRUCTURE OF INTEGRATED YOUTH SUPPORT SERVICES – The Service Director Learning, Schools and Communities submitted a report seeking approval for the second tier management structure for the Integrated Youth Support Service.

The council created the Integrated Youth Support Service (IYSS) in the review of North Lincolnshire Children’s Services. This brought together the range of services identified by local and national policy.

A review was currently taking place in order for the IYSS to be able to deliver an excellent service and transform youth work in North Lincolnshire. The framework appended to the report showed the proposed management structure, which would sit immediately below the Head of Integrated Youth Support Services. The structure reflected the three main functions of the IYSS.

Resolved – That the management structure for the Integrated Youth Support Service, as detailed in the report, be approved.

246 (113) RESTRUCTURE OF CHILDREN IN CARE SERVICES – The Service Director Children, Strategy and Partnerships submitted a report seeking approval to restructure services for Children in Care (CiC).

The council had a statutory responsibility to provide services to children who required care. These were outlined within law and strengthened by the Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA) 2008.

Services within North Lincolnshire currently included:

  • Adoption and Fostering
  • Children Leaving Care
  • Children in Care, Case Management
  • Children’s Homes
  • Children’s Home Short Breaks

The CYPA 2008 required the council to demonstrate that they had both sufficient and a choice of placements for children who required accommodation, that they managed and reviewed children in care, that children and young people were actively engaged in the planning process, and that all services met regulatory requirements.

In order that the council achieved the CYPA 2008 requirements it was proposed that the current service was restructured to provide a more robust Children in Care operational management team.

Resolved – That the restructuring of the Children in Care service, as set out in the report and accompanying appendix, be approved.

247 (114) REGRADING OF CURRICULUM LEADERS AND CURRICULUM MANAGERS – The Service Director Learning, Skills and Communities submitted a report seeking approval of a regrading for Curriculum Leaders and Managers within the Adult Education Service.

The Adult Education Service had a locally agreed set of pay and conditions for teaching staff. In 2007 job descriptions were revised to take account of changed roles and responsibilities, particularly at Development Tutor (redesignated as Curriculum Leader) and Senior Tutor (redesignated as Curriculum Manager) level.

In July 2008 it was agreed that Curriculum Leaders be offered an incremental pay rise in lieu of taking a reduction in annual leave, and in taking a greater involvement in aspects of quality assurance. It was also seen as an opportunity to address inequalities of the pay scale.

As it was not possible at the time to implement an incremental rise without this impacting on other grades, Curriculum Leaders accepted the reduction of annual leave as of 1 September 2008.

Following issues highlighted in an Ofsted Inspection report, Curriculum Managers agreed to take line management responsibilities for tutors delivering provision within their subject areas from 1 March 2009.

Resolved – That the proposal for incremental pay awards for Curriculum Leaders and Curriculum Managers, for implementation on 1 March 2009, as set out in the report, be approved.

248 (115) REGRADING OF TECHNICAL ADMINISTRATION ASSISTANT POSTS HPBC0014 AND HPBC0015 (BUILDING CONTROL) – The Service Director Highways and Planning submitted a report seeking to regrade the two Technical Administration Assistant Posts HPBC0014 and HPBC0015 to reflect the additional marketing and web authoring duties.

One of the key new roles for Building Control was to undertake marketing activities to win work against competition from the private sector. This was particularly relevant in the current recession, as Building Control made a loss in 2007/2008. This role had previously been covered by two different members of staff. It was now clear that two posts were required to undertake marketing duties and it was suggested that a Technical Administration Assistant post also included this in their duties.

In addition, a regional Yorkshire and the Humber Local Authority Building Control website had been set up on 1 December 2008, to promote Building Control and compete for work. A Technical Administration Assistant was acting as web author for the South Yorkshire and the Humber Authorities to manage the site on their behalf, together with acting as web author for Building Control in respect of the North Lincolnshire Council website.

Both Technical Administration posts had been reassessed under the job evaluation process to reflect the additional duties.

Resolved – That the regrading of the two Technical Administration Assistants, as set out in the report, be approved with immediate effect.

249 (116) PROPERTY TRANSACTION SCHEDULE – The Service Director Asset Management and Culture submitted a report for consideration, and where necessary approval, of a schedule containing the terms of all recently negotiated property transactions.

Resolved – That the schedule appended to the report be approved.

Note: Reports are in Portable Document Format (PDF) and therefore require a suitable reader to view them. A reader can be downloaded free from the Adobe website (full instructions for downloading the reader are provided on the site).

Where there is no report this is because it is exempt, as it contains information which is considered to be of a confidential nature, as detailed in the Local Government (Access to Information) Act.