Corporate Services Cabinet Member – minutes – 9 March 2010

354 (84) 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 6 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.

355 (85) VIREMENTS 2009 – 2010 – The Service Director Finance submitted a report seeking approval for changes to the revenue budget for 2009-10.

On 25 February 2009 Council approved the revenue and capital budgets for 2009/2010 financial year (minute 1690 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 of the report, approved by the Service Director Finance under delegated powers be noted, and (b) that the permanent virements outlined in paragraph 3.2 of the report be approved.

356(86) REVISED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) DOCUMENTS – The Service Director Human Resources submitted a report seeking approval for revisions to the Probation and Learning and Development policies.

The Probation policy had been revised following the review of the council’s corporate induction process. The corporate induction process was now much more detailed and the revised policy supported a more structured approach for employees joining the council.

The Learning and Development policy was last amended in 2005 and was out of date in several areas. It had been amended to take account of changes within the council and changes to legislation. The policy outlined the council’s approach and commitment to developing its employees. It also now concurred with the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009, which gave employees a statutory right to request time off to train.

Resolved – That the revised Probation and Learning and Development policies be approved and adopted.

357 (87) REVISED HUMAN RESOURCES (HR) DOCUMENTS – The Service Director Human Resources submitted a report seeking approval for revisions to the council’s Pay policy and new Types of Worker guidance.

The Pay policy had been revised to incorporate specific elements of the National Joint Council for Local Government Service National Agreement on Pay & Conditions of Service. There had been no significant changes to basic pay and conditions but the revised policy provided useful clarity and aided consistency on the application of starting salaries, increments, overtime and enhancements.

The revised policy also addressed salary supplements, amending the conditions for the payment of such supplements where the council was unable or unlikely to recruit to a post in defined circumstances.

The Type of Worker document had been developed following an audit, which highlighted that there was insufficient guidance for managers about the appropriate use of fixed-term employees and casual and agency workers. The guidance advised managers of the most suitable method of filling a vacancy, the procedures for doing so and any specific arrangements to apply to the various types of worker, including procedures for termination.

Resolved – That the revised Pay policy and new Types of Worker guidance be approved and adopted.

358 (88) INTERNET AND E-MAIL ACCEPTABLE POLICIES – The Service Directors Asset Management and Culture and Human Resources submitted a joint report seeking approval to formally adopt the proposed council Internet and E-mail Acceptable Use policies.

Internet access and the Lotus Notes e-mail system were first introduced across the council in 1999. Initially this was limited, however, over subsequent years the widespread use and reliance on the facilities had increased dramatically. Following the initial introduction of the facilities, guidelines on the correct use of the systems were written and circulated, but not formally adopted as council policy.

The Internet and E-mail system was used by over 2,500 officers and elected members, and was now also available through mobile devices such as Blackberries. As the Internet and websites had developed, many other innovative functions and facilities were becoming available. The council required a fit for purpose policy to ensure that all employees were aware of the acceptable use of facilities available to them. The policies also advised individuals and line managers of the correct use.

A new software system called Policy Matters was recently introduced to distribute policies to all council officers and members. The system would enable Human Resources and IT Services to monitor and report on the status of officers understanding and accepting the contents of the policies.

Resolved – That the new Internet and E-mail Acceptable Use policies be approved and adopted.

359 (89) QUARTERLY WORKFORCE MONITORING – The Service Director Human Resources submitted a report giving details of the workforce monitoring statistics for December 2009.

A number of key workforce indicators were included in the attached quarterly workforce monitoring report. These covered:

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

Detailed workforce information covering the areas was also provided to services on a quarterly basis. The information supported aspects of service area quarterly performance reviews, as well as assisting managers in carrying out workforce planning.

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

The appended workforce report showed links with key lines of enquiry that would be used as part of the CAA Use of Resources assessment on workforce due to take place in 2010. The assessment would focus on the council’s approach to planning, organising and developing its workforce to support the achievement of strategic priorities.

Resolved – That the Quarterly Workforce Monitoring report for December 2009 be accepted and key issues noted.

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).

360 (90) 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.

361(91) RENEWAL OF APPROVED LISTS OF CONTRACTORS FOR CONTRUCTION RELATED WORKS PROJECTS – The Service Director Asset Management and Culture submitted a report seeking approval for the arrangements for the adoption of a new Approved List of Contractors to undertake a range of property related construction work on behalf of the council in the future.

Asset Management and Culture currently operated and administered the council’s Standing Lists of construction contractors that were used when procuring property related construction projects. North East Lincolnshire Council operated similar lists. These had operated in both councils since 2000. The lists required renewal to satisfy the requirements of Contract Procedure Rules. The list operated by the council currently contained 232 contractors eligible to undertake work of a value exceeding £50,000.

The existing Standing Lists required renewing with a new Approved List. This was achieved via a formal application process. This ultimately provided a list of properly vetted companies from whom tenders were invited in the future to undertake construction related work on behalf of the council in the range between £50,000 up to the European Union Procurement threshold for works contracts as set out in the Public Contracts Regulations 2006.

In accordance with joint procurement arrangements with North East Lincolnshire Council and the Joint Procurement Strategy approved by Cabinet on 14 October 2009 (minute 838 refers), it was decided to jointly renew the current arrangements for both organisations in a single procurement process using a single set of documentation, thereby minimising any unnecessary duplication for applicants. To these ends, companies were recently invited to express their interest in working for the two councils on any future construction related project covering the period January 2010 to December 2013. The list would be subject to review thereafter as required under Contract Procedure Rules.

It was proposed in the future to explore putting in place a joint construction alliance arrangement covering both property and highways related works. The current Highways Alliance was due for renewal after 2012.

Resolved – (a) That the companies listed in Appendix 1 to the report be approved to form the Approved List of Contractors for the council, and (b) that the a suspension of Contract Procedure Rule 2.2.1 to allow the Approved List to operate as an ‘open list’ containing more than 15 contractors, be approved.

362 (92) REGRADING OF OPERATIONS MANAGER (CLEANSING AND WASTE) – POST NO. NESL0001 – The Service Director Neighbourhood and Environment submitted a report seeking approval for the regrading of the post of Operations Manager (Cleansing and Waste) in the Streetscene and Landscapes division.

In 2006 the council was visited by an inspector from the Health and Safety Executive who undertook an inspection of the Cottage Beck Road depot and yard. His findings led to a review of how operations were undertaken. It was clear that the way refuse collection and vehicle maintenance operated was leading to congestion within the yard. The inspector raised concerns over this.

It was decided to demolish the transfer loading station to allow a full redevelopment to take place. This had coincided with the vehicle maintenance operation moving to a new site.

The future of the Cottage Beck Road site was as a cleansing depot only. The expansion of the fleet of refuse collection vehicles warranted a depot solely for that purpose, and together with it, a postholder who had sole responsibility for the entire site.

As a consequence of the above, the job description of the Operations Manager (Cleansing and Waste) post had been redrafted and evaluated.

Resolved – That the regrading of the post of Operations Manager, with effect from 1 March 2010, as set out in the report, be approved.

363 (93) SAFER NEIGHBOURHOODS CRIME ANALYST – The Service Director Community Planning and Resources submitted a report seeking to change the employment status of the Safer Neighbourhoods Crime Analyst from a fixed-term contract to a permanent post in line with employment law.

Safer Neighbourhoods (formerly the Community Safety Partnership) had employed a crime analyst since 2002; the post was unique and required a high level of skill and training. The post played a vital role in providing analytical support to many of the partnership’s strategic bodies and operational delivery groups.

Recognising the continued need for analytical support, the Safer Neighbourhood Strategy Board agreed at its last meeting to the continuation of the partnership’s 50% funding contribution to support the post.

The Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations (2002) directed that the maximum duration of successive fixed-term employment contracts was four years. As a result, the council was not permitted to offer the postholder a further fixed-term contract, and must, if the role was to continue, offer a permanent post in order to comply with employment law.

Resolved – That the contractual change, as detailed in the report, with effect from 1 April 2010, be approved.

364 (94) MANAGING WORKSMART – The Deputy Chief Executive submitted a report seeking to approve the creation of the posts of Programme Director WorkSmart and Assistant Director Human Resources, and the deletion of the post of Service Director Human Resources (HR).

WorkSmart was one of the council’s four transformation themes. A three to five year programme had been agreed during which time WorkSmart principles would be rolled out across the council to improve efficiency in the use of buildings, IT and working practices.

A WorkSmart Board comprising the Deputy Chief Executive, five Service Directors and relevant supporting officers had been set up. The Board had been working with Turner and Townsend plc to develop plans for the WorkSmart programme. The Outline Business Case advised the establishment of a programme office to deliver the programme. The report proposed the establishment of a fixed term post of Programme Director WorkSmart to lead the programme office, having responsibility for the development and roll out of WorkSmart across the council in its first critical period. The proposed post would be required for a period of 18 months in the first instance but with an option to extend it for a further six months.

It was recommended that the post of Service Director Human Resources be deleted to release the postholder to undertake the new role. To maintain leadership of the HR Service the creation of a temporary post of Assistant Director HR was proposed.

Resolved – (a) That the proposal to create the posts of Programme Director WorkSmart and Assistant Director Human Resources, as set out in the report, be approved, and (b) that the deletion of the post of Service Director Human Resources, as set out in the report, be approved.

365 (95) EXCHEQUER SERVICES REVIEW – The Service Director Finance submitted a report seeking approval to proposed changes to the Exchequer Service.

The Finance Service was conducting a review of the services it provided and the structure needed to deliver those in the ever challenging environment the council faced. The current structure within elements of the service had remained unchanged for a number of years.

Initially, worked started in the Sundry Debtors Section, with a review of working practices/processes. Subsequently, a similar exercise had begun in the Payments Section. A small reallocation of work into the Payroll Section was also proposed.

Full details of the review, including financial implications, were set out in the report and accompanying appendix.

Resolved – (a) That the early retirement of the Payments Supervisor, as set out in the report, be approved, (b) that the Payments and Sundry Debtors sections merge, and that the Car Loans/Leasing duties be transferred to the Payroll Section, as set out in the report, and (c) that the proposal to reduce the section by one Creditors/Debtors Officer post, at some time in the future, when workloads permit, be approved.

366 (96) 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, other Non Statutory ceremonies and certificate administration charges, along with approval for a staffing review and restructure.

General Register Office (GRO) computerised system (RON)

The GRO computerised system, RON, for the registration of births and deaths was relaunched nationally on 29 June 2009, and aside from a few issues, the system was now working well. RON Marriages module (Phase 1) was introduced nationally on 16 November 2009 and was proving successful. Work is ongoing at the GRO to develop phase 2 of the module, the expected implementation date was likely to be 1 January 2011.

Staffing Review

As a result of the national modernisation agenda, the demands on the registration service had changed considerably over the last few years. New initiatives had been introduced with no increase in staff or budgets. It became clear that a full review of staffing was required to ensure that the service was fit for the future, and the review had now been completed. Full details of the review, including financial implications, were set out in the report.

Nationality Checking Service and Citizenship Ceremonies

The Registration service began offering a Nationality Checking Service (NCS) in February 2009 with great success. Over 50% of applications for British citizenship now followed the NCS route. To accommodate the increase in numbers, ceremonies had been taking place in the Council Chamber at Pittwood House and the venue was proving popular as it lent a dignified and formal air to the ceremonies.

New Governance

The introduction of the Registration Good Practice Guide led to the option for councils to adopt revised governance arrangements for the delivery of the registration service. The formal governance agreement between the Registrar General and the council enabled the local service to plan, develop and deliver the best possible service which met fully the needs of the local community.

The council’s registration service were one of the first authorities to follow that route and were required to submit an annual stewardship report to the Registrar General. The first report was submitted in 2009 and the service was able to demonstrate that all minimum key performance targets were either met or exceeded.

Tell Us Once

Work continued on the Tell Us Once initiative. The Superintendent Registrar was heading a project team to implement the programme. Pilot schemes had passed information securely to other relevant departments in central and local government. Lessons learned from the various pilots had been incorporated into the development of an integrated service model, which was intended to be rolled out nationally.

The possibility of the council being an ‘early adopter’ of the scheme was being pursued with a view to implementation as soon as possible after 1 April 2010.

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. Recent indications from the GRO were that the matter was still being considered by the Treasury.

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. It was proposed that the current fees for these items, along with certificate application charges, were amended. The report gave details of proposed amended fees, to take effect from 1 April 2010.

Resolved – (a) That the developments outlined in the report be noted, (b) that the proposed staffing review, as set out in the report and accompanying appendix, be approved, (c) that the proposals for the Tell Us Once scheme be agreed, and (d) that the proposed fees be approved.

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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.