The Committee will receive an update on the Implementation Plan. Members will have an opportunity to discuss, ask questions and comment.
The Committee were provided with an update on the progress of the implementation programme for the new authority.
Mr R Goodes, Programme Manager, presented the report and noted that there were 27 days until the new council would go live on 1 April. He was confident that all the key work had been undertaken ahead of vesting day.
The following points were noted:
· The Shadow Authority had met on 27 February and agreed the budget and Constitution for the new council; these were major milestones for the programme.
· The Shadow Executive had also made a number of decisions in January on policies to help vulnerable residents, including how Discretionary Housing Payments would be allocated.
· Also the Shadow Executive had approved housing polices which included a new housing enforcement policy and approved a common housing grant policy.
· Strategies for residents had been agreed which included support for residents with learning difficulties and the importance of working with partners had been identified.
· It was noted that grants agreed by the sovereign councils for voluntary groups had been approved for the next two years under the new authority to provide certainty for the groups in the near future.
· It was reported that the Senior Appointments Committee had met to consider the applicants for the position of Corporate Director of Resources and had not been able to make a permanent appointment. However, it was reported that Sarah Murphy-Brookman would move to the role of Corporate Director for Resources on an interim basis and John McMillan would be covering Sarah’s post as Service Director for HR & OD.
· Also it was confirmed that Ian Thompson, Corporate Director for Planning Growth and Sustainability had started on 25 January 2020. There was now a full management team at a corporate level for the 1 April.
· Mr Goodes thanked staff and members for all their work and support on the progress made to deliver the programme. It was noted that there were now 114 critical deliverables; one regarding the Town and Parish Charter had been moved into business as usual and this would be launched at a conference in June.
· 50 deliverables had been completed at the time of the meeting and there were 39 to deliver in March. It was noted that 25 would be after 1 April, such as the election in May, closure of the accounts and members induction programme. There was nothing critical outstanding and all remained on track for 1 April.
· The programme’s ‘critical friend’ Ameo had reviewed customer service scenarios and no major issues had been identified. Training would continue with staff and mystery shopping would continue through April.
· It was noted that there was a positive attitude with staff regarding the new council and the can do attitude towards making the new council a success.
· As members and staff had been advised previously most staff would continue in their current roles on the 1 April.
· It was noted that there would be some changes such as the new SAP finance and HR system, and IT for staff. Support staff would be available in all the major offices to help staff and members with any day 1 issues.
· Over the next month awareness of the new council would be raised with updates on social medial, posters, adverts, information in local magazines, radio adverts and leaflets would be made available to households across the county.
· A new shared online space for members and staff would go live from 1 April.
Mr Goodes noted that work was on track for 1 April and this was due to the hard work of staff and the support of members. He was confident that the council would be launched successfully on the 1 April.
In response to member queries the following points were noted:
· There had been changes at the senior management level, however the majority of staff would be TUPED across to the new council, and there were no redundancies at this stage. Staff had received a letter from their new service director and where changes had been made staff had been informed.
· The Chairman suggested that clarity was required for staff regarding being transferred across to the new council on their existing terms and conditions on the 1 April. He suggested that the Chief Executive could send a message to staff to reiterate this matter.
· The new policy regarding houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) was based on existing schemes and by harmonising policies to focus on tenant protection. Mr Goodes confirmed that details regarding the policy could be circulated to the Committee and he would be able to provide further detail if requested.
· The policy regarding residents with learning disabilities and mental health reflected the work of partners and this would also be circulated to the Committee.
· Thanks were given to all staff for the progress made with the programme and it was noted that staff had been working hard towards creating the unitary council whilst also undertaking their current roles.
· The information regarding current turnover of staff would be reviewed and shared with the Committee. By the end of December there were no significant peaks in turnover.
· There was concern regarding staff turnover in finance and planning, and it was suggested that the monitoring of staff turnover be reviewed, with a fortnightly report.
· A member raised concern that the new council would not be able to retain staff and it was requested that something be provided to boost staff morale and prevent them from leaving the organisation.
· There was also concern regarding new teams working together for the first time and as there were a lot of changes taking place, it was suggested that this should be monitored carefully. Mr Goodes noted that workshops were being arranged with new teams to meet on an informal basis. Senior officers were committed to enable staff to work together and this would be monitored on a regular basis.
· Concern was raised that communication to the public regarding the new council had so far been low key. Mr Goodes confirmed there was a lot going on including radio adverts, waste collection vehicles had been rebranded and there were now posters in public places, promotion on social media and in local papers. He confirmed that there was a lot to do over the next few weeks and into April.
· It was suggested that members of the public mainly wanted to be able to get in contact with the council and that this was the priority. Mr Goodes confirmed that there would be new ways of contacting the council but the existing contact numbers, email addresses and web links would still be available. The new number and website would be promoted but the current contact links would still be in place.
· A member suggested that councillors would also be able to inform residents of how to contact the council.