Agenda and minutes
Venue: Mezzanine Rooms 1 - 2, Buckinghamshire Council, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1UA - Aylesbury. View directions
The Chairman welcomed members and officers to the meeting. He confirmed that security passes were now available for the Committee to access all the council offices and members should contact Democratic Services to collect their passes.
The Chairman confirmed that members would restrict their questions to one minute with one question per item. This would enable all members to have the opportunity to ask questions and receive a response.
Apologies For Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor L Clarke OBE, C Ford, P Jones, S Lambert and R Newcombe.
Declarations of Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
The Chairman noted that regarding minute 5, Equalities Policy Development, bullet point 5, wording in blue had been amended to reflect the correct information.
One member was concerned that comments regarding the Paralympics and the use of acronyms had not been included in the previous minutes. The Chairman confirmed that the minutes tried to reflect all points raised however not all comments could be noted. The formal Shadow Overview & Scrutiny meetings were webcasted and available as a public record via the Shadow Authority website at https://shadow.buckinghamshire.gov.uk/.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 24 October 2019 were AGREED as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Draft Corporate Plan
The Committee will received a presentation on the draft Corporate Plan. Members will have the opportunity to ask questions and provide their views to help inform the Shadow Executive.
The Committee welcomed Ms S Payne, Director of Policy, Communications & Performance, Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) who provided a presentation on the draft Corporate Plan for the new Buckinghamshire Council. Ms Payne explained that the Corporate Plan was part of a wider strategic planning framework to provide a clear direction and ‘golden thread’. This would enable staff to be able to track their objectives back up through Team Plans, Service Plans, Directorate Plans and back to the Corporate Plan. The following points were highlighted:
· This would be a 3 year plan aligned to the budget setting process and was deliberately high level. The Directorate Plans would set out a higher level of detail and would include the key performance indicators used to monitor progress.
· Continuous monitoring processes would be undertaken, including through regular financial monitoring and performance monitoring and scrutiny.
· Development work included informal engagement with members, (shaping priorities sessions open to all members), an online member survey over summer 2019, a cross-council debate to seek input from external key strategic partners and discussions with residents at focus groups. This engagement helped develop a draft set of priorities. These had been taken out to wider consultation with the public, partners, staff and other stakeholders through the Budget and Priorities consultation. This had taken place for a period of just over a month and ran until 25 November 2019.
· There had been promotion of the consultation through a number of channels including electronic channels and face to face meetings. Specific targeting for underrepresented groups such as ethnic minorities and young people had been undertaken.
· Example priorities included:
· Strong, healthy and capable communities,
· Protecting vulnerable people,
· Enhancing our environment,
· Prosperous County.
· The priorities would be developed and refined based on the consultation feedback received.
· The next steps included consultation feedback to be considered in December 2019 then the draft Corporate Plan would be brought alongside the draft Budget to be scrutinised in January 2020. The Shadow Authority would sign off the Budget and Corporate Plan at the meeting in February 2020 with further Directorate and Services Plans being signed off in March 2020.
· It was noted that partnership working would be key to achieving the strategic outcomes.
In response to members’ questions the following points were noted:
· The existing councils’ Corporate Plan priorities were used as the starting point for the work undertaken on the draft Corporate Plan.
· It was noted that partnership working would be key to achieving the strategic priorities. Key partnerships would be set out in the new Plan, examples included the Integrated Care Partnership, emergency services, town and parish councils, voluntary community sector, Growth Board, and Cultural Partnership.
· It was noted that there had been a fairly low response rate to the consultation in relation to the total population of the County; however the response rate was comparable with that received for previous budget consultations, and specific targeting had been undertaken to promote the consultation to underrepresented groups.
· The Chairman suggested that a breakdown regarding the responses received be ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Unitary Communications and Engagement Strategy Update
The Committee will receive a verbal update. Members will have the opportunity to ask questions and comment.
The Committee welcomed Ms K Walker, Senior Communications and Engagement Lead, Programme Office, who provided an update on the Unitary Communications and Engagement Strategy. Ms Walker noted that this had previously been considered by the members at their meeting in July and were provided with an update on progress and future work. The following points were highlighted:
· Work so far had included improving the understanding of the unitary programme, providing reassurance to key stakeholders, bringing five authorities together in one unified voice, and supporting and promoting the Buckinghamshire Council programme aims and objectives.
· Most of the work to date had been linked to key milestones, e.g. announcements such as the appointment of the Chief Executive and progress of the programme. It was noted that the main focus over last few months had been aimed at key stakeholders such as staff and members.
· Member communications and engagement included a dedicated shared intranet space for members, newsletters, events, and videos from events. Also using existing communications channels such as weekly bulletins. A Members Survey was being developed to help understand what members needed to know over next few months and how they would like to receive information in the future.
· Staff had received a number of communications and officers had been working with different departments such as HR and ICT. Staff communication had included regular newsletters, staff roadshows, videos from Rachael Shimmin, special news on hot topics and a shared online space.
· Existing channels of communication across the five councils were also being used such as posters, social media for work, and surveys on how staff were feeling. The feedback provided by staff was that the level of communications had been good and staff felt well informed. An internal survey was being launched on the 25 November to ask staff what communication channels they used and what they would like to see in future, also to help develop the communications strategy for Buckinghamshire Council.
· Partner communications with town and parish councils and key strategic partners included parish and town council newsletters, partner newsletters, webpages, regular meetings, workshops and regular meetings with local council associations and Local Area Forums. This work would continue over the next few months with engagement regarding proposals for planning, a Parish and Town Council Charter and a specific strategic partners’ event in January 2020.
· A number of consultations had been undertaken which included the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, Community Boards, and Budget and Priorities which Ms Walker confirmed had received 2600 responses. It was noted this was 800 more than the BCC budget consultation last year. There had also been public drop in sessions held across the county. Further budget engagement would be held in January.
· External communications focused on using existing and new channels including user testing groups for the new website, social media, shadow authority website, newsletters, posters, press releases and officers had attended external events.
· Work would continue to engage with staff and members using information sessions, increased communications, staff roadshows in January and ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
The Committee will receive a report providing an update on the Implementation Plan. Members will have an opportunity to ask questions and comment.
Mr R Goodes, Programme Manager, provided the Committee with an update on the progress made on the implementation programme for the new Buckinghamshire Council.
The following points were noted:
· The Corporate Management for the new Unitary Council had been appointed. Service Director interviews were taking place and would be announced during December 2019.
· Work was being undertaken on the branding strategy and from 1 January 2020 an advertising and marketing campaign would begin for the day one launch.
· Pay scale for employees had been agreed. It was noted that all staff would be TUPEd across to the new council. Only staff in new roles would move to the new scheme and new recruits.
· A devolution pilot would be undertaken during the first year of the new Unitary with a 3 year programme.
· It was noted that throughout the implementation programme work was built on existing good practices across the councils.
· A shadow Buckinghamshire Growth Board had been established that would help manage the growth agenda across county.
· The current number of critical ‘Must Haves’ was at 116, these were continued to be reviewed.
· Further work on the ‘Must Haves’ would be undertaken by the programme boards led by the new Directors and a fuller report on the review would be available in December 2019.
· It was noted that February and March were busy periods and these would continue to be reviewed.
· It was reported that there were over 300 milestones underneath the ‘Must Haves’ and a lot of work would be done through the milestones which was expected for this type of programme.
· Regarding the 10 Amber ‘Must Haves’ these all had plans in place and there was nothing noted as red with the rest, green.
· Regular meetings were taking place with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to go through progress and issues. The MHCLG had worked with other authorities going through the transition process and had reassured the Programme Office that work was on track.
· An implementation budget of £12.8m had been agreed and a small underspend had been forecasted but this was continuing to be reviewed.
· The aim was for minimal service disruption for residents on 1 April 2020. It was noted that 17 council access points had been agreed and a new website and telephone number would be available with the existing contacts also available on vesting day.
· Confidence was strong that the new Council would be established on 1 April 2020.
In response to members’ questions the following points were noted:
· Regarding recruitment of Service Directors this would be done in two stages. The first stage to be done internally to provide current senior managers the option to apply for the new roles. If any roles were unfilled then these would then be advertised externally.
· The five ‘access plus’ centres would be based at the current council offices. There would be work in the future to review these.
· Regarding the current pay scales it was noted that the cost of living across ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Task and Finish Group Updates
The Committee will receive verbal updates from the Chairman of the task and finish groups:
Implementation Plan T&F – Councillor Barbara Gibbs.
Budget T&F – Councillors John Gladwin.
Regarding the Implementation Plan Task and Finish Group, Councillor B Gibbs confirmed that the 128 ‘Must Haves’ had been reduced to 118.
Councillor Gladwin reported that Budget Task and Finish Group members had been requested to view their accounts at their councils and share risks with other members of group. This would enable an understanding of large risk at other councils.
One Committee member requested information on the end of year accounts for all the councils. Councillor Gladwin noted that the Budget Task and Finish Group had received the consolidation of budgets for the previous year and members would be considering the latest set of accounts to see how councils were performing against their budgets.
It was noted that there were issues regarding the costs of planning at some councils, the Budget TFG were aware of these issues and had been discussed at a previous meeting.
The Budget TFG would be considering a detailed breakdown regarding changes in the budget at their meeting in December 19. The Budget TFG would be scrutinising the portfolio holders and each TFG member would provide expertise in at least one portfolio area.
To consider the Shadow Executive Forward Plan.
The Chairman noted that there were a large number of items for the future Shadow Executive meetings. Mrs S Ashmead, Monitoring Officer, noted that this was expected due to policies and plans that required Executive decisions.
One Committee member that had attended the meetings noted that the Shadow Executive were dealing with a large number of items and discussions were taking place. It was noted when considering exempt items members that were not on the Shadow Executive were asked to leave the meetings during the exempt session.
Following a query regarding whether the Armed Forces Covenant was a critical decision for the Shadow Executive agenda, it was noted that currently the County Council had a Silver Award and the decision was needed so that this status could be transferred to the new council.
The Council Tax setting would be considered as part of the budget setting at the Shadow Executive meetings on 7 January and 18 February 2020 for recommendation on to the Shadow Authority.
The Committee will consider the work programme and agenda items for the next meeting.
It was noted that the formal meeting on the 16 December had been cancelled.
This would now be replaced by informal private Budget Task and Finish Group and Implementation Plan Task and Finish Group meetings. Meeting invitations had been sent to the TFG members. Both meetings would be taking place at the same time so that members could go between the meetings if required. An email confirming the arrangements would be provided to the members.
The parking arrangements would be confirmed by email to the members.
Action: Democratic Services
Meetings of the Committee
To note the next meeting dates as follows:
· Monday 3 February at 6.30pm
· Tuesday 3 March at 6.30pm
It was noted that the public Budget Task and Finish Group meetings would be taking place from Tuesday 14 January 2020 to Friday 17 January 2020.
The next formal Shadow Overview and Scrutiny meetings would take place on Monday 3 February 2020 and Tuesday 3 March 2020.