DRAFT Minutes

of the Meeting of the

Community and Corporate Organisation Policy & Scrutiny Panel

Tuesday, 22nd September 2015

held at the Town Hall, Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.


Meeting Commenced:  2.30 pm     Meeting Concluded: 4.40pm




P  Terry Porter (Chairman)

P  Jan Barber (Vice-Chairman)


P  Mark Canniford 

P  James Clayton 

P  Sarah Codling 

A  Peter Crew 

P  Bob Garner 

P  John Ley-Morgan 

P  Richard Nightingale 

A  Jerry O'Brien 

P  David Oyns 

P  Ann Harley (substituting for Jerry      O’Brien)

    David Shopland 



P: Present

A: Apologies for absence submitted


Other Councillors in attendance: Chris Blades, Charles Cave, Andy Cole, Jill Iles, Ruth Jacobs, David Jolley, Reyna Knight, Ian Parker, David Pasley, Roz Willis, Deborah Yamanaka


Officers in attendance: Kieron Kilbride, Paul Morris, Philippa Penney, Mike Riggall, John Wilkinson






 Declarations of Interest by Members







 Minutes of the Meeting held on 16th June 2015 (Agenda Item 4.1)


            Resolved: that the minutes of the meeting be approved as a correct record.






 Members’ ICT (Agenda Item 7)


The Panel welcomed this report, capturing councillors’ views on ICT services, with an aim to agreeing a short, medium and longer term action plan to improve the functionality of the ICT service for elected members. 


Members further welcomed reassurances regarding a number of issues that had been raised, including: removal of the shutdown limit; increase in file and email retention capacity; and the ability to print via air printers provided in various areas of Council premises.


It was confirmed that new iPads were to be issued to members, enabling greater storage capacity and fingerprint recognition, thus largely negating the need for password usage.  These devices were at no additional cost to the council beyond the planned investment in mobile technology for officers, enabling redeployment of the currently used devices.


It was agreed that good communication and user instruction for members was key to future success.  Drop-in sessions were being arranged for members, to be aligned with the timetable for iPad deployment, and members also asked for a basic user guide to be made available.


The Executive Member confirmed that the action plan would be prioritised and progressed via the ICT Steering Group, for which he was the Chairman.  This group would continue to consult with the Panel on a timely basis.


Concluded: that

(i)    the Panel received and discussed the comments from the canvassing of members’ opinions on ICT services, as detailed in the preamble above;

(ii)   Members were provided with a brief user guide for the new iPads.





 The Corporate Plan, vision and ambitions (Agenda Item 6)


The Head of Transformation and Policy gave a presentation, a copy of which is filed in the minute book, outlining the context behind the vision and ambitions for a revised Corporate Plan.  Whilst the Corporate Plan is no longer a government requirement, it remains a valuable overarching document focusing efforts and resources throughout council tiers.


North Somerset population growth was projected to increase more rapidly in proportion to the rest of the South West or England.  It was also noted that this growth applied across the complete age spectrum.  Members discussed the challenges and opportunities that such growth could bring.   Whilst the number of jobs was increasing in the area, the majority were for small businesses, and out-commuting remained an issue.


Reliance on government grants was diminishing over the coming years, with a shift towards greater funding from sources such as New Homes Bonus and retention of business rates.


Comment from members included either the removal of the phrase ‘to live’ or the inclusion of ‘visiting’ to reflect the inclusion of tourism, and emphasising the enabling role of the council as partnership and business engagement was key to success.  Members asked for further information as to current and anticipated joint working with local and regional partnerships, other local authorities and the scheme of business ambassadors.  Members also discussed whether the ambitions for a thriving town centre were realistic given the current economic climate, and considered some of the implications in the event of Weston becoming a university town.


Members asked for further information regarding the timetable for consultation and finalisation of the Corporate Plan, and it was confirmed that it would be signed off alongside the Medium Term Financial Plan in February 2016.  The Head of Transformation and Policy asked for any further comments be submitted to him by 30th October 2015.


Concluded: that

(i)    Members’ comments regarding tourism and the council’s enabling role be considered in the development of the Corporate Plan;

(ii)   Members provide any further comments to the Head of Transformation and Policy by 30th October 2015;

(iii)  Members receive further information regarding current and anticipated joint working arrangements with local and regional partners, other local authorities and the scheme of business ambassadors.





 Digital Transformation (Agenda Item 6)


The Chairman introduced the recently appointed Digital Transformation Manager who presented the report.  Digital transformation could be witnessed in many aspects of life, such as use of email, cashpoints, on line car tax renewal.


The Digital First programme was aligned to the Target Operating Model and the Corporate Plan, maximising on the benefits of digital being fast, flexible and easy to use.  Members discussed the five projects forming the programme, namely: web refresh; Agilisys Digital; mobile working; ePayments; and digital office.  £1m of savings had been identified for the Medium Term Financial Plan accordingly.  However, it was also emphasised that Digital First did not mean digital only.  The aspiration was for digital to be as inclusive as possible, providing help for users to become more skilled and confident, whilst retaining the backstop of other sources for use if necessary.


Members referred to paragraph 6.1 and sought reassurance that engagement with Ward Councillors via the Panel would be included within the scrutiny process.


In response to concerns that local shops and post offices may be placed at threat because of the growth of digital, members were reminded of the role digital could play in building thriving town centres such as use of technology as replacement for blackboards cluttering the pavement.


There was an acceptance of the value of user testing from the earliest stages in the development process.  There were real opportunities for councillors to get involved in testing as individuals and via focus groups and town and parish councillors, and members agreed to establish a working group to enable this activity.


Concluded: that the Panel considered the Digital Transformation Programme and agreed to form a working group to further testing and development of the concept.





 The Panel’s Work Plan (Agenda Item 9)


The Scrutiny Officer presented the work plan and provided further information as follows:

·        Waste Working Group - updated terms of reference, Chairmanship and membership;

·        Support Services Contract – updated detail on implementation is being brought together for members next month, inviting comment for any specific areas;

·        Community Response – there was an excellent workshop which was well attended in advance of the Week of Action last week.  A meeting of the working group will review next month;

·        Budget Scrutiny – a reminder of the three sessions scheduled for October, November and December to which all members were invited;

·        Community Access Review – scrutiny engagement with the review of community based front facing services in response to financial challenge, changes in user demand, and changes in technology;

·        Transformation Programme – further engagement in the development of the ‘one council’ approach.  Business Intelligence is the lead example so is to be case studied for members following the commencement of the new Head of Business Intelligence in November


Additional discussion points:

·        Members asked for further information on the consideration being given to waste collection facilities at communal residences;

·        Finance monitoring – Members asked for a consolidation of the various financial monitoring and reporting arrangements and suggested a meeting with the Executive Member and Head of Finance and Property to agree future process

·        Community response – members asked for further information regarding the tasking and prioritisation process

·        Volunteer contracts – concern was raised regarding the application of the disciplinary process for volunteer workers and whether it was fairly applied.  It was agreed to undertake initial scoping to understand the current arrangements;

·        Scrutiny of community access arrangements for the Winter Gardens was to be included on the work plan.


The work plan would be updated in accordance with today’s Panel meeting


Concluded: that the Panel agreed and updated the work plan.