The Director of Commercialisation, Citizens and Shareholder Liaison introduced the report and gave a short presentation (slides to be published with the minutes). It was stated there was a Commercialisation and Innovation Working Group Away Day on 7th August where a Commercialisation Programme was endorsed for the period 2019 – 2022. The following points were also highlighted:
· The first major project selected to focus on was the Harbour Review and working towards the Harbour becoming cost neutral in future.
· The Harbour has an aging infrastructure and needed investment but there are however a number of medium term projects such as new pontoons which will also help to increase revenue.
· Part of the process will be to review the harbour ‘provision’
· Some of the work could attract external funding, supported by the Commercialisation Development Team Bidding and Funding Analyst to secure any such available funding as the council doesn’t have a consistently strong track record on this.
· Perennial issues of culture change: there are some officers who still continue to want to do things in a certain way and are resistant to change. And some officers are just not commercially minded. There’s also the need to make efficiency savings. It would appear surprisingly often that officers don’t know about in-house services that are available and we therefore need to make sure they are using the resources the Council already has.
· The previous Harbour Revision Order was produced in 1998.
· The launch of the Harbour Strategy would tie in with the 50th Anniversary of the Harbour Festival in 2021.
· The focus throughout much of the work will be on ‘stakeholder engagement’. The Neighbourhoods and Communities Team are now part of the Commercialisation, Citizens and Shareholder Liaison Division which will enable more meaningful community engagement on projects.
The following points were raised and questions asked:
· A Member stated they agreed with projects being staff-led, this it was said was important. But she was interested in how this linked to jobs and how the community engagement aspect was brought into ‘business as usual’. So often the council brought in consultants and then tried to retro-fit instead of doing it this way. The Director responded that part of her role was to embed certain principles within the council. She said she wanted staff to learn and retain the required skills. Undertaking peer-led work provides the opportunity to ‘hand-hold’ and so isn’t quite so scary for people, as well as helping to build individual and team confidence.
· A Member said he’d received complaints from residents who say that they haven’t been consulted about recent activity in the Harbour. He asked if residents would be part of the consultation process. The Director responded that yes that was definitely the case but that recent works related to addressing an identified need to bring in some new facilities. There is now a dedicated email address for people to link in if people provide their contact details.
· It was asked if / where ‘social value’ was factored in this? The Director confirmed it was a certainly an important factor and the right officers were involved to ensure that it was properly reflected.
· It was said that Bristol City Council is a very powerful local brand and people look toward the local authority and gravitate toward it but was there also a strategy for attracting customers? The Director responded that it depended which service they were talking about but she used the example of the Translation Service which provides a robust and good service. An effective pricing strategy was important - a brand could be devalued by making it too cheap. The Member used Bristol Waste as an example and said it had potential to expand into commercial waste collections. He said that businesses were asking about it all the time. So the communication was important because opportunities existed to exploit markets because the Council was a trusted brand.
With regards to the Council’s Translation Service it was asked if the Council ever asks employees which other languages they speak as it could be useful to know this. The Director agreed that it was an interesting thought, but expressed a degree of caution: different levels of fluency were required for activities such as jobs and health care.