Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: VENUE CHANGED TO: Mezzanine Room 1, Buckinghamshire Council, Walton Street, Aylesbury, HP20 1UA

Contact: Leslie Ashton 


No. Item


Apologies for absence / Changes in membership


The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and advised that unfortunately due to an unexpected late change to the meeting venue which was caused by an unforeseen facilities issue with the previous venue and despite best efforts, this meeting would not be webcast. An audio recording would, however be placed on the Council’s website. The Chairman thanked those in attendance for their understanding and efforts in making it to the new venue at such short notice.


Apologies were received from Councillors T Dixon, T Egleton, G Harris and W Raja. Councillor N Hussain was present as substitute for Councillor T Dixon, whilst Councillor P Cooper was present as a substitute for Councillor W Raja.


Apologies had also been received from Councillor M Tett, Leader of the Council in respect of item 7. Councillor J Chilver, Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources, Property and Assets would present this item.


The Chairman reported that Councillor T Dixon had become a member of the Committee since the last meeting, replacing Councillor S James.



Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 490 KB

The minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 2021 to be confirmed as a correct record.


The minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 2021 were noted as an accurate record.


Public Questions


No public questions were received.


Chairman's update


The Chairman reported that the Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group would be holding its sessions with individual portfolio holders from 10th to 14th January 2022 and that Members should have received invites for these dates. Should members know that they would be unable to participate in the meetings they were asked to advise the Chairman or Scrutiny Officer at the earliest opportunity. Confidential briefings with members had also been arranged for 17 and 18 November for the portfolio areas of Children’s and Education and Health and Wellbeing, respectively. These sessions would provide members with a greater understanding of the budgets within these services ahead of formal budget scrutiny sessions commencing in January.



Customer First pdf icon PDF 1 MB

The Committee will receive a report on Customer First, the proposed new Customer Experience framework for Buckinghamshire Council.



John Chilver, Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources, Property and Assets

Tim Butcher, Deputy Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources, Property and Assets

Sarah Murphy-Brookman, Corporate Director for Resources

Lloyd Jeffries, Service Director for Business Operations



Customer First Framework and Customer Service Centre report


The Committee received a report which detailed the proposed Customer First Vision and Promises and Behaviours as a whole Council approach to the delivery of the corporate plan and Customer Experience ambition. Further, Members received information onthe current Customer Service Centre (CSC) Performance, the operating context that impacts current performance levels and the improvements in progress.


Cllr J Chilver, Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources, Property and Assets and Cllr T Butcher, Deputy Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources, Property and Assets introduced the report highlighting the following points:


  • The Customer First approach had been approved by Cabinet and the principles of the vision could be seen on the Council’s website. Customer champions were in place across service areas and the Customer First Board had been set up and had started to meet. The Customer First principles had been embedded in to the Better Buckinghamshire service reviews to ensure the customer was kept at the forefront and built in to service delivery. Key deliverables within the action plan were noted on pages 14-15 of the agenda pack.
  • Recognising the importance of customers, the Customer Service Centre review had been accelerated and a number of key findings identified, as can be viewed on page 20 of the reports pack.
  • The Council ordinarily receives a large number of calls each day, however for the period April to August 2021, call volumes had seen a 10% increase which had impacted call wait times.
  • Having legacy council systems in place presented a challenge, and meant that CSC tools could not consistently be integrated. A suite of performance metrics identified where issues were and where unusual spikes in call volume / customer activity occurred. Progress on reviewing and consolidating the website content from the five legacy systems in to one was being made.
  • The Council had recruited a product owner to review and improve all customer message and signposting for the FixMyStreet digital access channel, which was provided by a third party.


During the ensuing discussion, questions and comments raised by the Committee included:


  • The Committee identified that improvements to the Council website’s search function were important in helping customers find what they were looking for efficiently and in turn preventing telephone calls. It was explained that the five legacy council systems being in place was having an impact on searches and this would be improved as work was underway to condense and simplify the website to avoid duplication whilst continuing to meet Government accessibility standards. An example was given of the planning service having recently removed 700 pages of content which was no longer necessary. It would not be financially viable to move to a higher specification ‘google’ type search function. The Deputy Cabinet Member invited members to send over areas that they were aware of that had been particularly difficult to access through the search function.
  • In response to a question on anticipated changes to call volume in the next six to nine months, the Cabinet Member advised that there was confidence that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


6 Month Review of Recommendations from the 2021 Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group pdf icon PDF 479 KB

The Committee will consider a six month review of the recommendations made by the 2021 Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group.



Martin Tett, Leader

Richard Ambrose, Service Director for Corporate Finance (Section 151 Officer)



Six month update report


Additional documents:


The Committee received a six-month update report to the fifteen Budget Scrutiny Inquiry Group recommendations that had been recommended to the Executive in January 2021. The table appended to the report gave an update against each recommendation, together with the timetable for actions to be completed.


Cllr J Chilver, Cabinet Member for Finance, Resources, Property and Assets introduced the report, highlighting the following points:


  • As the recommendations were made whilst the 21/22 budget remained in its draft format, many of these were picked up and included within the final budget itself. A number of recommendations related to individual portfolios and members were invited to contact the specific portfolio holders if they had any queries on these.
  • A four-year revenue budget would be produced for 2022/23, following the one-year budget having been produced for 2021/22 due to the uncertainties arising from the covid-19 pandemic.
  • It was highlighted that following budget scrutiny comments on the aspirations of the capital programme, a ten-year strategic programme was being developed, from which a formal four-year programme which identified those projects fully funded would be produced for Council to agree in February 2022.


Questions and comments raised by the Committee included:


  • The six-month update was received positively with many of the recommendations having been completed and the more strategic capital programme was welcomed by the committee.
  • The zero based budgeting approach was discussed and it was explained that this style of budgeting was not only to focus on savings but also to ensure that the budget was robust and through undertaking assessments areas would be identified that needed additional budget set aside. The importance of the role of this committee in testing proposals during the budget scrutiny process was noted.
  • Affordable housing was said to remain a priority, with Tatling End, Denham having been completed, Horns Lane, Wycombe having received planning permission and seven further potential sites identified. Councillor Chilver advised that he was working closely with the portfolio holder for housing, homelessness and regulatory services in delivering these projects which were also key considerations in the development of the Buckinghamshire Local Plan. A task and finish group were meeting regularly.
  • Members were advised that key worker housing remained a priority and a number of sites were being explored. Councillor Chilver advised that the committee would be welcome to have more details on schemes as they progress.
  • The committee was informed that the contingency set aside for property income loss had been adequate and had been required, particularly for the hard hit retail and hospitality sectors. Members were advised that these areas were now starting to recover.
  • A member recommended that further emphasis be placed on climate change in the draft budget for 22/23 and it was suggested that a key line of questioning to every portfolio holder during the budget scrutiny sessions could be around what their plans were to address climate change. Members asked where possible, could portfolio holders budget submissions define climate change actions and costings to allow greater visibility and understanding.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 669 KB

The Committee will discuss the work programme and agree the items for the next meeting.



All Committee Members



Work Programme attached

Additional documents:


The Committee received a draft work programme to cover this municipal year. Members were advised that items had been scheduled for the most appropriate meetings where member input would be most valuable. The Committee was advised that there were no items provisionally scheduled for the April meeting as yet, and there was agreement that the budget scrutiny sessions in January may highlight areas that should be looked at in April.



That the 2021/22 work programme be noted.



Date and time of the next meeting

The next meeting will take place on Thursday 9 December 2021 at 2 p.m.


Thursday 9 December 2021 at 2 p.m.