This paper is to follow
13. Property Assets Strategy
The Chair of the Scrutiny Commission began the item by asking officers why the draft Property Strategy wasn’t being presented to Members at this meeting as she had been led to believe it would be and asked what the situation was. The Director: Economy of Place said in response that a recruitment process had been undertaken to fill the post of Head of Property. But she said the process had not been successful because an offer of employment had not been taken up by the individual it had been offered to. This meant the recruitment process would now need to be repeated. This had already and would cause further delays.
The Chair pointed out that it had been quite some time ago that the former Scrutiny Assets Task and Finish Group had highlighted the number of issues being caused by the temporary nature of senior property staff. She also pointed to the “huge amount of money’ this had cost and was still costing the Council.
The Chair enquired about the whereabouts of the Draft Property Strategy again. The Director said that it was still being refined and it was currently being socialised across the council by officers who work in other areas as well as property because of the wider implications across the Council. She said the work hadn’t stood still and had kept progressing though the correct channels. It had been taken to the Strategic Property Group and the Corporate Leadership Board (CLB) and that substantial work had already began, including work on the Corporate Landlord Model.
The Director said she would send the draft version to the Strategy to the Commission Members as soon as she was in a position to do so. The Property Strategy would be presented to Cabinet in February 2020 and a new Director of Property would be in post in December. ACTION: for the draft Property Strategy to be sent to the Commission as soon as is possible
The Director: Commercialisation and Citizens and Shareholder Liaison said that it was clear that they were addressing some systematic errors that had been there for a long time. They had been addressing a range of issues over the past 12 months including preparations for the Corporate Landlord Model. The Chair stated that she was had still expected the Draft Property Strategy to be brought to the meeting as had been agreed and she still didn’t understand why it hadn’t been, especially when she had just been informed that it was now being socialised throughout the council.
The discussion then moved on to the Baseline Assessment that had previously been undertaken using the Property Asset Management Capability Assessment Model (PAMCAM) approach. PAMCAM is a self-assessment tool that was first developed by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and is designed for use by public sector organisations to measure their corporate property asset management capability and highlight areas for improvement. The Director: Economy of Place took Members through some slides about the PAMCAM Assessment and the Councils current position on these (both the Assessment Document and the details of the Councils current position will be up-loaded with the minutes of the meeting). It was said that if the Assessment was carried out again today the Council would score higher than it had previously.
A Member commented that in his view the results of the assessment were quite shocking and he didn’t feel very assured that the results would now be better than awful. Some Members suggested that this assessment should be carried out again and bench-marked against the previous one.
The Chair emphasised that the Assessment Report had also highlighted a lack of leadership in the Council on this subject. Officers said that was fair point because at that time the officers in question were interim officers.
The Chair said that she had contacted the relevant Cabinet Member for this item and asked that they attended the meeting to respond to Members questions that evening. She said it was unfortunate they hadn’t attended because it meant that all of the questions had been directed towards Officers instead, which she said wasn’t really fair.
Another Member commented about how low the assessment rating had been. She said that she had previously been part of the Scrutiny Assets Task and Finish Group and they had been assured they would receive information previously such as a data-base or inventory but it hadn’t ever emerged. Officers said the property database information was now on Pinpoint and they would send the link to Members so they could find it. ACTION: Property Officers to send the Pinpoint web link so it can be forwarded to Commission Members.
It was highlighted that the majority of the language on the final ‘Progress to Date’ slide of the PAMCAM presentation was in future tense. The Chair said that she would have preferred to see it written in the present tense so Members could be confident that things were really happening.
Officers reassured Members that communication on this would improve. Members suggested providing a timeline in future so they could understand what is happening and when.
The Chair said that she would like this to be brought back to scrutiny in January before it goes to Cabinet.
ACTION: for the Asset Management Strategy is to be added to the January 2020 meeting agenda.