Agenda and draft minutes

Resources Scrutiny Commission - Thursday, 22nd September, 2016 9.30 am

Venue: City Hall

Contact: Louise deCordova 

No. Item


Welcome, Introductions and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 91 KB


The Chair led welcome and introductions.


Apologies for Absence


Apologies were received from Cllr Gollop (Cllr Weston in attendance as substitute), and Cllr Shah.


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 214 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.


Action Sheet pdf icon PDF 116 KB

To note the progress of actions from the previous meeting.


The Committee noted the progress of actions from the previous meeting.


The following points were raised in discussion:


  1. Business Change Directorate had been restructured to a team of three Service Director Posts. The Interim Service Director Policy, Strategy and Communications and the Interim Service Director for Change had left or were due to leave the Council before the end of September.  The remaining work would be covered within the team.


  1. An updated organisation chart would be circulated which comprised the transitional arrangements that were in place for the relevant portfolios.


Action: Anna Klonowski


  1. There were no proposals to move Procurement back to Business Change. However, there was an opportunity for the Strategic Director for Business Change to act in a matrix management role alongside the Service Director for Strategic Commissioning, to influence and shape some of the work, although responsibility would lie with the People Directorate.



Chair's Business

To note any announcements from the Chair


  1. The Chair thanked members for attending the Scrutiny Planning Workshop and commented that it had been a successful and robust piece of work. Councillors were asked to feedback any other items of interest to Scrutiny Officer, Johanna Holmes.

Action: Councillors/Johanna Holmes


  1. The Business Change Budget item for October would clarify the in-year savings required for the current budget period 16/17 and those proposed for next year 17/18.  Officers to facilitate the budget scrutiny discussions over two meetings divided on a per service basis. 


Action: Anna Klonowski


  1. Confirmed that the Mayor’s budget would be public, week ending 14 October 2016.


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 on Friday 16 September 2016.


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 Wednesday 21 September 2016.


The Committee received a Public Forum Statement from Cllr. Negus regarding IT Support for Councillors.


The following points were raised in discussion:


  1. The IT Support project was an example of a systemic breakdown of project governance within the Council to manage and monitor outcomes, which could result in reputational damage to the Council.


  1. Questioned whether legal action could be brought against external parties in order to address the cost and resource implications related to the service failure, or otherwise to hold people to account.  Officers confirmed that investigations were underway but at present the issues appeared to be due to internal governance structures.


  1. The Change programme had failed to deliver the planned savings. Members considered that the loss of the key staff responsible for this and the use of interim staff left the Council with a lack of continuity, reliability, rigour and many unanswered questions.


  1. The Chair agreed that there may be an opportunity for Business Change to scrutinise projects in more detail to identify what went wrong and identify future learning opportunities so that there was not a repeat of the same mistakes.


  1. A project team, headed up by the Service Director, Legal Services, had been set up to address the ICT Support issues experienced by councillors, including the recent problems with access to email via the iPads. An internal compatibility issue had been identified with the Council’s virus protection software, and not related to a third party. A paper had been prepared for Party Group Leaders, and would be shared with Members at the next meeting.

Action: Shahzia Daya


  1. The Strategic Director suggested that there had been a focus on speed over ‘getting it right’ and confirmed that there were learning points for the team about having a joined up approach, and interacting with members to understand how they work. 


  1. Members were concerned that the audio systems in the Council Chamber had not been sufficiently tested before being opened to the public.  Officers confirmed that it had been difficult to anticipate the issues experienced in the Chamber as they had been different each time. ICT staff would be on site to provide support for future meetings.


  1. It would cost £40K to enable Microsoft 365Office on the iPads.  Members questioned the Council’s reluctance to employ the owner usage policy. Officers to look at the option to add finance to members allowance to enable them have personal licences as required.

Action: Shahzia Daya


  1. Whilst some Members were happy with the new system, others needed different technology to enable them to carry out their civic duties effectively. Some Members experienced difficulties in using the new mobile equipment and questioned whether the organisation needed an occupational health review update.


  1. Some Members advised that the induction to the new system had been inadequate.  Members had never been asked what they needed for their role or what might be required in Members rooms.



Introductions from Service Directors


The Interim Service Director Finance (S151 Officer) introduced Finance Services.  It was confirmed that a permanent S151 Officer, Denise Murray had been recruited and would start in November. The Interim Service Director for Policy, Strategy and Communications had left the Council.



Q1 Finance Monitoring for Business Change pdf icon PDF 41 KB

That the Commission consider and comment on the relevant Business Change extracts detailed below taken from the Q1 Finance Report that went to Cabinet on 6th September 16.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered the report of the Interim Service Director, Finance. The report set out the relevant Business Change extracts taken from the Q1 Finance Report that went to Cabinet on 6th September 2016.


The following points were raised in discussion:


a.         The costs related to the data centre had not been accounted for under one heading. Officers confirmed this was to clearly identify the difference between the one-off cost related to the move from Romney House and the ongoing revenue costs related to the Councils new ways of working.  Officers confirmed that the Business Case for this had not been robust and had therefore not calculated the ongoing costs associated with the move.


b.         Clarification sought regarding how the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) had been measured. Officers confirmed that a three year budget framework had been set out at a specific moment in time and had not been revisited to update it with new information as it arose. There had been a number of assumptions made within ICT Services which had proved to be incorrect and had resulted in delivery failure. It was suggested that the October meeting should bring ICT managers from individual areas to provide the context and detail around this.  It was confirmed that an annual review of the MTFP would be conducted in future.

Action: Anna Klonowski


c.         Questions raised whether the council had achieved a) a revenue saving or b) a capital receipt in the release of Romney House, and questioned whether the sale of Romney House had been intended to support Bristol Workplace costs.  Officers to provide the background to the business case and an update report on Romney House current position.

Action: Anna Klonowski


d.         Business cases needed to be rigorously tested, and the impact of a decision assessed to ensure it joined up with the rest of the organisation, which had not appeared to be the case with the decision to release Romney House as a capital asset.


e.         The Mayor intended to commission a review of how the Council had got to its current financial position.


f.          The three year budget framework should be refreshed regularly and performance tracked.  The Programme Management Office should have the ability to track money and actions, attached to a risk register which could regularly investigate slippage in projects.


g.         Concern raised regarding the commissioning of third party services and the use of contractors. There appeared to be a lack of knowledge management and knowledge transfer to the Council, when contractors left the organisation.  Members were assured that the Interim Service Director for Business Change would leave a detailed handover to the team.


h.         Concern raised that the Vision HR contract renewal had been unanticipated.  Officers confirmed that they had needed to run a legacy payroll system alongside Vision HR for longer than anticipated in order to manage a risk of delivery failure.  An option appraisal was being carried out to consider other methods of delivery such as shared service arrangements, using another public  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


Q1 Performance Report for Business Change pdf icon PDF 184 KB

To note the Business Change Outturn Performance Report for Quarter 1 of 2016/17 and to identify a suite of performance indicators for future reporting (Q2 onwards) from the list provided.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered the report of the Service Director, HR, presented by the Performance Improvement Advisor. The report set out the Business Change Outturn Performance Report for Quarter 1 of 2016/17 and provided a suite of performance indicators that could be selected for future reporting (Q2 onwards).


The following points were raised in discussion:


a.         Performance indicators needed to be relevant, and sufficient in number to cover the breadth of business that the Commission expected to scrutinise.


Digital Services and Customer Insight

b.         A Member suggested that the availability of the council website and digital services targets did not need to be monitored by the Commission.  Officers suggested that this provided an ability to monitor the trajectory of citizen shift to digital channels which was a key objective for Business Change.


BU356 Reduction during the year in opening balances of general debtors

c.         Confirmed that this indicator needed review.  A more useful and challenging indicator would be around collection of debt and collection of income.  Officers to reset the definition so the performance could be monitored and reported.


Action: Anabel Scholes


BU395 The number of Council owned properties recovered for letting

d.         Concern raised that business continuity had not been managed effectively in relation to this target.


e.         Members requested the ability to monitor Agency spend and overtime on a council wide basis, with enough detail to understand how this was managed.  It was understood that use of agency staffing could sometimes save money.  Officers to provide the numbers and narrative requested.


Action: Richard Billingham


BU134 Number of working days lost due to sickness absence (Business Change)

f.          Members congratulated Officers on the sickness performance, but questioned whether there was duplication if was already being monitored by the HR Committee.


BU205 Number of Knowledgebase Hits to Advice Centre Calls

g.         Confirmed that the Knowledgebase was the guidance placed on the Source for managers. The indicator was a measure of internal channel shift.  It had been recognised that most calls received by the call centre related to a failure demand rather than a value demand. The increase in people using self-service had not been predicated to date but was required to deliver future savings. Concerns raised that self-service could be perceived as an undue burden on people managing services, with questions over the skills and ability of managers to be self-service customers.  Officers confirmed that HR Services no longer had capacity to pick up the slack. The Strategic Director confirmed that this was a business discussion to be had with the Senior Leadership Team. During a period of transformation and organisational change, HR Services would normally provide the support that helped an organisation transform.


h.         Members raised concerns regarding broken links and out of date information on the Source. The Strategic Director asked councillors to email her assistant with details as they found them so that each instance could be resolved. Officers to circulate the contact details to members.


Action: Anna Klonowski

BU355 Percentage of invoices paid on time

i.           Concern  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Business Change Directorate Risk Register pdf icon PDF 926 KB

To review and scrutinise the Directorate Risk Register as at 22 September 2016 (attached to this report.)



The Commission considered the report of the Service Director, HR. The report set out the process for review of Directorate risks and the issues arising from the Directorate Risk Register and the mitigation to manage the risks going forward.


The following points were raised in discussion:


Risk 4 Effects of ICT under-delivery on business confidence and knock-on effect to in-flight projects.

a.         The Chair welcomed that the risk had been acknowledged and commented that this was evidence of projects not being managed well enough in the organisation.


Risk 2 The ongoing availability and stability of core Finance and HR/Payroll systems

b.         Clarified that the risk related to a combined failure of both finance and payroll systems at the same time. Although they were two separate systems, Audit had classified them under the heading of Core Systems. Members suggested that greater clarity might be provided if the risk of failure was assessed separately. Members understood that there was a priority project to upgrade the finance system. There was a risk of the finance product being unsupported if the upgrade was not completed to time.


c.         Confirmed that regular meetings were held to monitor risk. The risk schedule to be updated to reflect changes in personnel.

Action: Richard Billingham


d.         Officers to provide an update on the progress of the finance upgrade project and the status of the current mitigation.

Action: Richard Billingham



         (i)         To note the report, discussion points and progress the actions arising



Legal Services Directorate Performance pdf icon PDF 49 KB

To consider and comment on the update regarding the performance of the Legal Services Directorate for Q1 16-17.

Additional documents:


The Commission considered the report of the Interim Head of Legal and Democratic Services, which set out the Legal Services Performance: Quarter 1 (April to June) 2016/17 for income, spend, productive hours; and costs awarded to and against the Council.


The following points were raised in discussion:


a.         The Chair commented that the report had been useful. Legal Services was recognised as a key income generating service for the Council.  It was important to continue to get this area of the business right and consider ways to grow it.

b.         The profile of the legal service had been raised through word of mouth referral and through the publication of legal journals by the team, which in turn generated more interest.  It was important to keep the website up to date with the new work the team was doing.


c.         Members congratulated Legal Services for the success of staff in being nominated for Bristol Law Society Awards.


d.         Service Level Agreements were in place with Bristol Waste Company and Bristol Energy. They had the option to use external legal services, but were encouraged to use the in-house team who were able to meet their needs the majority of the time.  There was a capacity issue around the need to deliver company secretarial work in-house and at pace.


e.         Confirmed that the Interim Head of Legal and Democratic Services was the Company Secretary for all Bristol companies bar the Holding Company.


f.          In-house HR and Finance teams provided services to the Bristol companies.



         (i)         To note the report

Meeting Closed at 11.45am



CHAIR  __________________