Corporate Services Cabinet Member – minutes – 9 October 2009

302 (32) 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 17 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.

303 (33) 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 paragraphs 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.

304 (34) COMMUNITY PLANNING AND RESOURCES – SERVICE PLAN 2009-2012 – The Service Director Community Planning and Resources submitted a report seeking approval for the Community Planning and Resources Service Plan 2009-2012.

Going Forward Together was the council’s Strategic Plan. The plan set out the vision of the council and its partners and how the council would contribute to four shared ambitions for the area. The Strategic Plan also set out the council’s Transforming Together programme, which identified the key themes for internal transformation needed to achieve the shared ambition.

In order to deliver the Strategic Plan each service produced its own Service Plan. The plan set out how the service contributed to overall vision and how it would help deliver the shared ambitions and transformation themes.

The Service Plan was a three-year plan that helped to make the council’s Strategic Plan operational, providing teams and individuals with a clear focus for their work. The Service Plan was a ‘live’ document that would continue to be developed and improved throughout its life to reflect the progress of Community Planning and Resources.

Resolved – That the Community Planning and Resources Service Plan 2009-2012 be approved.

305 (35) FINANCE SERVICE PLAN 2009-2012 – The Service Director Finance submitted a report seeking approval for the Finance Service Plan 2002-2012, and providing an update on achievements and successes of the service during 2008-2009.

The Finance Service Plan set out the priorities, targets and areas of development for the 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 plan demonstrated how priorities would be achieved and performance measured. The plan also detailed key outcomes to show what the service aimed to achieve for the council. Progress against priorities and outcomes would be reviewed.

Resolved – (a) That the Finance Service Plan 2009/2012 be approved and adopted, and (b) that the achievements of the Finance service during 2008/2009 be noted.

306 (36) TUPE PROTOCOL – The Service Director Human Resources submitted a report seeking to consider and approve proposed changes to the council’s TUPE protocol.

Any change that could lead to the transfer of employees to external providers must be managed in accordance with the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) (TUPE) Regulations (as amended) and The Code of Practice on Workforce Matters in Local Authority Service Contracts.

Amongst other things, TUPE regulations required the existing employer to prepare and share a detailed list of employees likely to transfer, their terms and conditions of service, and any outstanding liabilities. Full and meaningful consultation with employees and trade unions was also a requirement. The new employer was required to protect the terms and conditions of transferring employees under the provision of the same or an equivalent pension scheme.

The existing TUPE protocol was approved in January 2005 and had proved adequate on the few occasions when the council had engaged in the transfer of staff.

Problems had been experienced in recent months as three schools re-tendered and outsourced their cleaning functions. In all three cases the Cleaning and Catering division of Neighbourhood and Environmental Services undertook the work, in all three cases the work was awarded to a private contractor. School governing bodies had delegated authority to determine how certain services were provided to the school. The problems had arisen in the way in which the exercises were carried out.

When all three schools disregarded TUPE requirements, despite the guidance, it became clear that further action was required. In the absence of executive authority the only way forward was to inform governing bodies of the statutory framework and encourage them and head teachers to adopt best practice. The TUPE protocol attached to the report had been written for that purpose.

Resolved – That the TUPE protocol be approved and adopted.

307 (37) FLEXITIME SCHEME – The Service Director Human Resources submitted a report seeking approval for revisions to the council’s Flexitime scheme.

The Flexitime scheme formed part of the council’s Human Resources Manual and was last reviewed in June 2004. The scheme offered short-term flexibility in working hours for the benefit of individual employees and their service. Generally, this was in circumstances where there was a need for an employee to commence work later or leave work earlier than their agreed standard working hours. Employees with access to the scheme were also able to work additional hours and take the time off at a later date as ‘flexi leave’.

However, there was a re-emphasis on flexitime being an approved and occasional arrangement rather than a means by which to simply accrue additional leave. Further controls had been included to assist managers with the consistent application of the scheme across all service areas.

Resolved – That the revised Flexitime scheme be approved and adopted.

308 (38) SPECIAL LEAVE POLICY – The Service Director Human Resources submitted a report seeking approval for revisions to the council’s Special Leave policy.

The Special Leave policy formed part of the council’s Human Resources Manual and was last reviewed in July 2005. The policy addressed the provision of time off work both paid and otherwise outside the provisions of annual leave and family leave with a statutory basis, such as maternity, adoption, paternity etc. The policy now encompassed compassionate leave to support employees in time of bereavement and where there were emergencies, unexpected or sudden problems involving an employees dependants.

The revised policy attempted to address common management concerns about employees taking advantage of paid time off and the extent to which employees could be absent from work as a result.

Resolved – That the revised Special Leave be approved and adopted.

309 (39) VOLUNTEER ENGAGEMENT POLICY – The Service Director Human Resources submitted a report seeking approval for the council’s new Volunteer Engagement policy.

The introduction of the Volunteer Engagement policy was to address the recruitment and co-ordination of volunteers across the council. Volunteers played a vital role in many areas of the council and the new policy had been written to provide a framework for the consistent treatment of the volunteers.

As a result of the work of the council’s recession group, it was anticipated that increased demand for volunteering opportunities could arise as a result of the recession. The council could offer opportunities to widen the skills base of those wishing to volunteer.

The policy supported the council’s attempts to increase the third sector participation more broadly, in line with the requirements of the Corporate Area Assessment. The policy also linked to the revised Special Leave policy, which now included the provision of paid leave for volunteering by council employees.

Resolved – That the Volunteer Engagement policy be approved and adopted.

310 (40) QUARTERLY WORKFORCE MONITORING APRIL TO JUNE 2009 – The Service Director Human Resources submitted a report giving details of the workforce monitoring statistics for April to June 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.

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

311 (41) APPOINTMENT OF PROGRAMME OFFICER FOR THE LOCAL DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK CORE STRATEGY – The Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development submitted a report seeking approval for the establishment of a fixed term post of Programme Officer.

The council were progressing quickly towards the production of the publication version of the Core Strategy Development Plan Document (DPD) as part of its Local Development Framework (LDF).

To adopt a DPD it must first be subjected to independent examination by a Planning Inspector appointed by the Planning Inspectorate. The purpose of the examination was to consider whether the DPD met the requirements of the relevant legislation and was ‘sound’. Soundness was tested by considering whether the DPD was justified, effective and consistent with national policy.

As part of the independent examination it was a requirement of the Planning Inspectorate that the local planning authority appointed a Programme Officer whose role it was to organise and administer the cost effective and efficient running of the public examination under the direction and guidance of the Inspector, who was like a judge in a court case. It was essential that for the duration of their appointment, the Programme Officer was seen as an impartial officer of the examination process.

Resolved – That the creation of the 12 month, fixed term post of Programme Officer be approved.

312 (42) RURAL RENAISSANCE TEAM – The Head of Strategic Regeneration, Housing and Development submitted a report seeking approval of the establishment of the Rural Renaissance Team to deliver the Rural Renaissance Programme and the development and implementation of individual schemes.

A Rural Renaissance Manager post was established in 2007 to deliver the former Isle of Axholme Renaissance Programme and work with the former Brigg Market Town Initiative.

Despite a national recruitment campaign the council were unable to recruit to the post. An attempt was made to appoint through a consultant/agency but that also proved unsuccessful. This had placed significant pressure on existing staff to deliver the support to the renaissance partnerships and implementation of individual schemes, and could no longer be sustained.

A review of the role had been undertaken and there were two clear functions – the implementation of capital schemes and a secretariat/support role. The indication was that this was a considerable factor in the unsuccessful recruitment to the post. The role was so diverse it required an individual that had high-level skills yet would also undertake administration and organisational tasks.

The post was funded externally through Yorkshire Forward’s Rural Renaissance Programme. The council was renegotiating with Yorkshire Forward and it had agreed to establish a Rural Renaissance Team to ensure that the council were able to recruitment two individuals with the appropriate and necessary skills to undertake both technical and support elements of the roles to deliver capital schemes arising from the Rural Renaissance Programme. The posts would initially be offered on a fixed term contract till March 2011 with a view to extending once confirmation of extended funding was obtained (up to March 2015).

Resolved – That the creation of the fixed term roles of Rural Renaissance Implementation Manager and Rural Renaissance Support Officer, as set out in the report, be approved.

313 (43) CONTRACT AWARD INFORMATION 2008 – 2009 – The Service Director Finance submitted a report summarising the contracts tendered and let by the council and partner organisations procuring on its behalf during the financial year 2008-2009.

Contract Procedure Rules detailed that Service Directors must report annually on all contracts let over £100,000. A total of 42 tendering exercises were conducted in financial year 2008/09 resulting in the award of 69 contracts to 56 companies. The table at Appendix 1 appended to the report set out the name of the successful tenderers, where they were located and the number of unsuccessful tenderers for each tender exercise.

A successful Supplier Engagement Programme was helping local companies to compete for council and wider public sector contract opportunities.

Resolved – That the findings set out in the report be noted.

314 (44) EXTENT AND EFFECTIVENESS OF CONSULTANT USAGE ANNUAL REPORT 2008 – 2009 – The Service Director Finance submitted a report on the extent and effectiveness of consultancy usage across the council.

In September 2007 Cabinet approved an action plan produced by the Economic Development and Corporate Issues Scrutiny Committee regarding consultant usage (minute 635 refers). The principal recommendation and action required the submission of an annual open report on the extent and effectiveness of consultancy usage across the council.

The key points in the report were that around £2.072 million was spent on consultancy in 2008/2009. Expenditure on consultants had reduced by around 20 percent compared to 2007/2008. Service areas have reported that the use of consultants overall has been effective.

Detailed information was set out in the report.

Resolved – That the findings set out in the report for 2008/2009 be 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).

315 (45) 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.

316 (46) REVIEW OF HUMAN RESOURCES – The Service Director Human Resources submitted a report seeking approval for a recent review of Human Resources (HR).

The structure of HR had not been reviewed since the reshaping of the council exercise in 2003. Many job descriptions had remained unaltered for considerably longer. Opportunities had been taken to reduce or adjust the establishment of the service on a number of occasions in the intervening period as posts had become vacant but there had been no overall review.

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

Resolved – That the options outlined in the report be approved and adopted.

317 (47) REGRADING OF EDUCATION WELFARE SERVICE CLERICAL SUPPORT OFFICER – The Service Director Children and Young People (Director of Children’s Services) submitted a report seeking approval for the regrading of the post of Education Welfare Service Clerical Support Officer.

The role of the Clerical Support Officer within the Education Welfare Service had changed and developed in order to meet the changing demands placed on the service. The post supported the work of the Education Welfare Service in undertaking its legal duties on behalf of the council.

New demands on the administrative function included the Education Welfare Services delivery of National Strategies plans including the reduction of persistent absenteeism across the authority and the legal duties relating to this work.

Resolved – That the regrade of the post of Education Welfare Service Clerical Support Officer, as set out in the report, be approved.

318 (48) REDUCTION OF STAFFING LEVELS IN THE SEN TEACHING TEAM (SENTT), PART OF THE EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY AND SPECIALIST TEACHING TEAMS WITHIN LEARNING SERVICES – The Service Director Children and Young People (Director of Children’s Services) submitted a report seeking approval for the reduction and reallocation of teaching posts within the SEN Teaching team.

SENTT delivered specialist individual and small group tuition to children and young people who attended North Lincolnshire maintained schools and who experienced special educational needs in the form of a general or specific learning difficulty, including dyslexia. The teachers worked within the SEN Code of Practice at ‘school action plus’ and with children and young people with a Statement of SEN. They could also: assess the needs of children and young people; monitor the progress of pupils they are involved with; and provide advice and training for school staff, especially Teaching Assistants and parents.

SENTT was funded by Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with individual North Lincolnshire maintained schools. The SLA pricing arrangement was an hourly rate for actual time delivered in schools. In addition, some schools that were not in an SLA with SENTT purchased one-off specialist assessments, usually focused around dyslexia, and assessments and reports for special exam arrangements.

The numbers of schools signing up to an SLA with SENTT had fallen steadily each year for several years. Until the start of this financial year the fall in demand had matched the number of SENTT teachers wishing to move to another post, reduce their hours or retire.

The SLA take-up for Autumn Term 2009 and the Spring Term 2010 was 45% of the available teacher time. The service would therefore run with staffing capacity over the number of teachers that could be funded by the projected income. Therefore it was proposed that two FTE teacher posts be reduced by 31 December 2009.

Resolved – That the reduction and reallocation of two FTE teaching posts in SENNT, as outlined in 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.