Agenda and minutes

Resources Scrutiny Commission - Monday, 24th September, 2018 3.00 pm

Venue: Room 1P05, 1st Floor - City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR. View directions

Contact: Johanna Holmes 

No. Item


Welcome, Introductions and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 126 KB


The Chair led welcome and introductions.


Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Cllrs Hickman and Shah

The Members wished to pass their best wishes onto Cllr Shah and his family. 



Declarations of Interest

To note any declarations of interest from the Councillors.  They are asked to indicate the relevant agenda item, the nature of the interest and in particular whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest.


Any declarations of interest made at the meeting which is not on the register of interests should be notified to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion.



There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 361 KB

To agree the minutes of the last meeting as a correct record.


The Committee Resolved:-

(i) To agree the minutes of the last meeting as a correct record.


Chair's Business

To note any announcements from the Chair


The Chair highlighted how wide-ranging the Commission’s Terms of Reference are and asked if members of the Commission have specific knowledge, or particular skills or interests to let him know.



Annual Business Report pdf icon PDF 152 KB



As per the recommendations in the report, Members agreed the following:

·       Vice Chair of the Commission: Councillor Shah; was nominated by Councillor Goulandris, this was seconded by Councillor Kent.

  • Members agreed the Commission’s two further meeting dates for 2018/19.
  • The Commission’s work programme for the year was agreed.  The Chair said that if anyone was interested in the Procurement Task Group to please let him know. 



Public Forum

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item


Any member of the public or Councillor may participate in Public Forum.  The detailed arrangements for so doing are set out in the Public Information Sheet at the back of this agenda.  Public Forum items should be emailed to and please note that the following deadlines will apply in relation to this meeting:-


Questions - Written questions must be received 3 clear working days prior to the meeting.  For this meeting, this means that your question(s) must be received in this office at the latest by 5 pm Tuesday 18th September.


Petitions and Statements - Petitions and statements must be received on the working day prior to the meeting.  For this meeting this means that your submission must be received in this office at the latest by 12.00 noon on Friday 21st September.



No Public Forum received.



ICT Systems and Strategy pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Additional documents:


(Please note that due to the confidential nature of some of the information provided to members, this item was taken at the end of the meeting and when members of the public were asked to leave the room).


The Director - Digital Transformation introduced the item.  Members asked for clarification about why the information needed to be treated as confidential.  Officers replied that some of it was still in a draft format and therefore wasn’t currently ready for public consumption.


The main focus of the discussion focussed upon the ‘IT Strategy 2018 – 2023’.


  • Members commented that there were quite a lot of acronyms within the strategy.  There were also some comments about some of the language being used within the document not being accessible.  It was suggested by a member that if a document is to be made public officers could ask someone who knows little about the content to see if they understand what the document is trying to communicate.  The Director - Digital Transformation said that there is a communication strategy attached this programme and as part of that work the strategy will be reformatted without the acronyms and the messages will be tailored for wider audiences.


  • Oversight of the ‘Future State Assessment’ programme; given the nature of some of the information it needed to be established how scrutiny will be carried out going forward, as it will not be appropriate to publically publish some of the information. 


  • It would be confirmed whether the Members would have access to the Programme Boards minutes going forward.  However, the Director - Digital Transformation did offer to Members that they would make progress reports available to the Commission. 


  • A Member commented that officer’s contact details on Outlook are very often out of date which causes various problems and delays.  It was asked if this was a resource issue. It was explained that this type of issue would be addressed as part of a ‘capabilities and deficiencies organisational assessment’ that is to be undertaken. 


  • The Chair asked why there wasn’t any mention of the role of scrutiny in the Programme Governance Diagram (in the Programme Board’s Terms of Reference contained in the confidential papers).  Officers said this was an oversight and it would be now be included. ACTION: Officers to ensure that Scrutiny is specifically identified in the information.


  • The Chair asked about the Programme Board and why Cllr Cheney was the only elected Member who sat on it. Officers said in response that it was right that Cllr Cheney was a member of the board and held officers to account; this was a key piece of work for him. Members said they weren’t completely sure that mixing up the two roles of Executive Member and Board Member was the correct thing to do. Officers said that there would also be an independent third-party sat on the board that would work as a ‘critical friend’ and provide additional strategic business and technical assurances.  Officers to confirm to members who this is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 98.


Commercialisation and Income Generation pdf icon PDF 203 KB

Additional documents:


The Director of Commercialisation gave a short presentation (the slides are contained within the meeting papers).  The following key points were stated:


  • Officers are working towards a Commercialisation Strategy but the scoping, and assessment needs to be completed before the implementation can begin.
  • For this to be effective it requires a complete culture change across many parts of the organisation.  Officers now need to be more business focussed and be ‘business ready’
  • The Council needs to be aware and measure the resources it is consuming.
  • Departmental plans need to be smart and have clear obtainable commercial objectives
  • It was confirmed that both Cllr Pearce and Alexander are members of the Commercialisation & Innovation Working Group.
  • The council would benefit from having  an incubator process in place to help further this approach
  • The role of the Director of Commercialisation was discussed. It was explained that part of it was to be a mentor across the organisation.  The efficiency savings were also being monitored across the organisation.
  • Some areas need more encouragement to embrace change than others.  But it’s a cultural change that will be cascaded down through the organisation.  


Members asked the following questions:

  • Members asked about ‘best value’ as described within the report and if factors other than just the financial ones would be made explicit.  The response was yes they would be. 
  • A Member asked if there were examples of schemes that were now operating in a more ‘business like’ manner that the Commission could begin looking at.  The response was yes and the examples given were Blaise Nurseries, the built environment and fleet services).  
  • A Member asked how the Planning Team had been involved to date.  Not yet was the response but fee structures were being looked at to make sure they were in line with other authorities and that managing resources within the teams was crucial i.e. the current Government Strategy asks if/how property developers are being supported through planning processes. This now needs to be assessed.
  • A Member suggested that what was being described was more related to efficiency savings rather than generating income. In their view it didn’t sound particularly radical or seem very likely to generate cash.  They questioned whether the council was taking this subject seriously enough, especially given that the Director of Commercialisation is the only person employed to ensure this happens.
  • A Member suggested that some of the cultural changes that were being described might be difficult for some public sector workers to embrace, especially some staff that had worked at the Council for many years.  It was suggested that the council could do something more radical and go to Bristol Business School and ask the young people to help suggest some business orientated ideas and then set them some challenges about how the council could generate income.
  • It was stated by an officer that it wasn’t solely about income generation but also about ‘fitting services to fit the fee’s’ in some cases.
  • Cllr Pearce who’s a Member of the Scrutiny Commission  ...  view the full minutes text for item 99.


Resources Quarterly Performance Progress Report pdf icon PDF 145 KB

Additional documents:


The Performance Improvement Officer introduced the report to Members.

  • Members commented and officers agreed that there were rather a lot of indicators but said they are currently looking to reduce that number.
  • It was reported that 62% of indicators are below target and that 37% are above target.  This it was stated was a similar position to the previous year.
  • Agency spend as a % of total salary bill; it was confirmed that 20% of the Resources 8.4 % figure was for additional Legal Service officers and it was expected that this figure would reduce now. It was confirmed that this was for skilled agency workers in Legal Services for specific tasks that have now been completed (and not temporary unskilled work). 
  • It was asked if that figure included ‘interims’.  It was confirmed it did yes.  It was stated however that the 5% corporate target had originally been very ambitious.
  • Members asked which indicators were likely to keep Officers awake at night; the reply was the % of council tax collected.
  • The Performance Improvement Officer said that she could bring what she considers to be the most significant indicators to the next meeting.
  • There was a short discussion about whether some of the information presented was ‘disaggregated data’ i.e. cross-cutting or directorate based information.  It was said that it would be made clear in future what the source of the information was and how it was calculated ACTION: Officers agreed to make it clear whether the information presented to members is directorate based or cross-cutting in future.
  • A short discussion ensued about the Legal and Democratic Services section of the report.  Members enquired specifically about Legal Service’s spend on external barristers.  Officers stated that the actual spending is being closely monitored, has been reduced and that external legal advice was only being sought when required.  ACTION:The Chair requested a representative of Legal Services attend the next meeting. 
  • It was asked if the council still operates an internal / external charging system.  Yes was the response; there is a case management system that charges across the departments.
  • Members asked why the ‘Collection of Debt’ figures were not higher.  Officers said that overall the figure was improving but some particular times of the year were better than others for this for various reasons.
  • “Reduce the average number of working days lost to sickness (BCC)”; current Quarter 1 figure stands at 9.25 days.  Members asked if it was known how much of this was long-term illness and whether this figure is a good way to measure overall staff morale.  Officers said they weren’t convinced that this was a good way to measure staff morale but that they were doing work on getting on top of this situation.  It was reported that the HR Committee are also currently looking into this.  It was said that there is currently a lot of performance information on this subject and the performance team had been asked to produce an internal one-page report on this.
  • Members were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 100.


Corporate Risk Management Report and Corporate Risk Register pdf icon PDF 175 KB

Additional documents:


The Service Director – Finance introduced the report to Members.  The following questions and discussions ensued:


  • Brexit - the general uncertainty affecting the financial markets, levels of trade & investment. The Members asked about a ‘no deal Brexit’ and whether contingencies plans were being developed.  The Acting Director of Policy & Strategy confirmed that contingency plans were in train yes and there is also a Bristol Brexit Group coming.  The Policy Team now also have this as one their specific pieces of work.  It was agreed that an update paper would come to the following Commission meeting on this subject. ACTION: A report on Brexit contingencies plans to come to the next meeting.
  • The Chair raised the issue about ‘organisational leadership’ and if it was an issue for Resources Scrutiny or the HR Committee.  The Chair said that he would speak to the Chair of the HR Committee about this as well. 
  • The Chair asked if it would be possible to put the risks in order of high to low risk next time.  Officers said they would look into whether this re-formatting of the report is possible.
  • A Member asked if there was a disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place.  It was confirmed there is. 



Resources Period 3 Finance Information pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Additional documents:


  • Cllr Stevens (Chair of the MTFP & Budget Task and Finish Group) gave his analysis of the report and added that it was unfortunate that the Period 4 Report wasn’t quite ready for this scrutiny meeting.  The Service Director – Finance responded to Cllr Stevens interpretation and analysis of the report with some minor adjustments and points of clarification.
  • The Service Director – Finance enquired about whether the Commission were scrutinising the Resources Directorate finances only or was it also corporate finance? Members agreed that this should be confirmed.  Action: for the role of the Resources Scrutiny Commission to be defined with regards to scrutinising finance reports.
  • Cllr Stevens confirmed what the scrutiny MTFP & Budget Task Group would be looking at in depth for the next couple of months i.e. HRA, DSG, Capital resources and risks, budget consultation, how the current is standing up, Adult Social Care (ASC) 18-64 years and the whole ASC budget.  
  • The Service Director said that progress within the report was on track but it was important that this Directorate lead by example. There were still many challenges but they are being managed.
  • A Member noted that there were ‘confidential’ watermarks within the reports Appendix A.  The Scrutiny Advisor said that she would highlight this to report authors and ask that they be removed before publication.