Presentation to follow.
The Commission considered a Bristol Workplace Programme project review, led by the Service Director Human Resources. The presentation detailed Bristol Workplace Programme (BWP) as a series of projects that set out to change ‘how we work’, whilst also delivering significant savings. There were three themes of work, Assets, Technology and People. The presentation slides reviewed the scope, delivery headlines, delivery challenges and programme transition.
Officers responded to the following questions and comments raised in the discussion that followed:
Business Case and Scope
a. A Member raised a question regarding the ‘continued use of Parkview’. As a member of Cabinet under the previous administration, it was not clear that this had been a decision reached by Cabinet and suggested that this change in direction may have amounted to a key decision. The Service Director, Property advised that the Council were tied in to the Parkview lease until 2020. The Strategic Director, Resources advised that a revised business case needed to be brought to cabinet to reflect the changes. Action: Robert Orrett
Scope: significant changes to scope WITHIN the overall funding envelope
b. Officers confirmed that despite increases in programme scope, these had always been contained within the overall budget envelope. The Interim Strategic Director, Resources advised that some changes in scope would be expected in a capital programme of £72m.
Asset rationalisation assets in scope and annual savings
c. The thinking around neighbourhood touchdown locality offices were not specified in the business case, it had been expected the thinking would grow as the programme progressed.
d. Avonvale Road was an example of a Council Service demonstrating alternative use for a site earmarked for disposal. The Education Capital Programme had transferred a capital receipt to BWP and had found the budget to take on operating costs.
e. It was confirmed that the ‘annual savings’ referred to in the slide captured the total annual cost including rent.
f. Officers confirmed that the anticipated Romney House savings under Bristol Workplace programme had seen a shortfall due to contributing revenue savings having already been ringfenced to other services.
g. A Member questioned whether there had been enough engagement with the workforce, to understand the specific needs or concerns of some teams in moving to a new location. Officers confirmed that the programme had engaged with teams through a discovery process and assumptions had been challenged to identify what needs were generic and where BWP needed to work with services to provide exceptions.
h. A Member asked whether there was sufficient support of staff disability needs, for example where individuals required voice activated software. Officers confirmed that identification of support need started with the discovery exercise and an occupational health assessment. Managers to provide ongoing monitoring and support to individuals based on occupational health reports and individual feedback. Officers confirmed that where individuals found the workspace challenging, BWP worked with individuals and their managers to find spaces that could work. Officers confirmed that the Disability equality group had identified some unforeseen consequences to the move but officers were continuing to engage to resolve outstanding concerns
i. Officers confirmed that a workforce survey provided a mixed picture where City Hall had received positive feedback from some staff whilst some others had felt it was not working for them.
j. A Member commented that there were still problems with noise at Temple Street. Officers confirmed that this was being addressed by the Corporate Health and Safety Manager.
Capital Receipts over business case period (note 3)
k. A member questioned why KPMG had not been kept on as a tenant of Temple Street as the rental income could have been of value to the Council. Officers confirmed that the space had been required for staff to move into, in line with the project plan.
l. There was some discussion over the current status of disposals on some properties. Action: Officers to provide an update on the disposal of properties, identifying where capital receipts had equalled or exceeded those outlined in the business case for BWP. Action: Officers
Risks to Delivery
m. There was a discussion over the implications of scope changes and business case changes and whether this had been impacted by changes in personnel. In response to members questions the Interim Strategic Director confirmed that there had been an impact in terms of good internal governance and procedures, which could be attributed in part, to the way project had evolved and suggested that a project business case should be revised as and when the scope changes. The project had however, been delivered within the original business case cost and this was a testament to the workforce managing scope changes to always bring the project back on budget. It was confirmed that project governance was under review within the constitutional cross party working group. In addition, the Council had commissioned an internal audit review in order to get an independent prospective. The interim finance director would specify the scope of the review before the end of December.
n. A member agreed that the business case had remained the same and with exception of the status of Park View, which was a significant change, delivery was as expected. The Cabinet had received 6 monthly Change Programme reports which were in the public domain to enable scrutiny of the issues. The member commented that there had been vast immeasurable, intangible benefits to the programme, resulting in an organisation that works very differently now. The ability for internal communications works significantly better than the way it used to work between 17 different buildings.
o. A member questioned whether outreach staff would have access to mobile technology in order to reduce the need for them to return to the office when out on site. Officers confirmed that mobile staff had not previously been within the scope of the project and some staff were still out of scope. It was understood that ongoing service redesign work would address some of the issues.
p. A member sought clarification about the impact of Fire Regulations for the building. Officers confirmed that the fire safety management of City Hall is dependent on monitoring occupancy at all times. Due to stairways being unequal in the building, Fire Officers are satisfied that the building can safely hold up to 1600 people, current numbers of staff are around 1200, and well within regulations.
q. A question was raised about the plans for Neighbourhood touchdowns. Officers confirmed that locations for these had never been nailed down and were now looking at possibilities for colocation of services across partner organisations which may attract government funding under the One Partnership Estate initiative.
r. Members asked whether consideration had been given to renting out the buildings that had been released for sale. Officers advised that this had been considered but most were small sites in non-central locations and not really marketable. AvonQuay had been the only site considered advantageous due to redevelopment type options available.
s. Questions were raised regarding the continuation of the Enterprise car scheme. Officers advised that the scheme was under review as part of a more general discussion about the Council’s transport fleet. Pool cars to be part of how transport demand was managed.