Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday 1 December 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Ben Evans and Terry Hale.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 107 KB

To agree the attached minutes from the meetings on 29 September 2021 and 13 October 2021.

Additional documents:


The minutes from the meeting held on 29 September 2021 were agreed and signed as a correct record.


Declaration of Interests


No declarations were made by members.


Work Plan pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Members to discuss any items for the work plan


Forthcoming Executive Decision List


Council Strategy


Members requested that an item be included on the ICT transformation programme, including the move to Office 365, to allow them to have a better understanding of progress to date.  


It was noted that the Budget Scrutiny day on 6 January 2022 would provide an opportunity for Cabinet Members and Directors to cover the refreshed Council Strategy alongside detailed Budget proposals.


Asset Management Strategy pdf icon PDF 1 MB


Neil Corbett, Assistant Director of Asset Management and Property Services, provided an overview of the Council’s Asset Management Strategy including landholdings, the rural estate and retained assets. He said that the underlying plans and policies were the Corporate Asset Management Plan 2019-2024, Rural Estate Strategic Plan 2016-2030, Policy for the Disposal of Property 2012 and Property Acquisition Policy 2017.  The PowerPoint presentation circulated with the agenda papers set out the objectives, actions and achievements relating to the plans and policies.


A total of £108 million in capital receipts had been achieved since 2011 with close to £4 million in One Public Estate grant funding received from Central Government to support the One Gloucestershire Estate Programme.  The Shire Hall complex had been refurbished and redeveloped including the new Barbican Reception for Children’s Services and the new Quayside House where two GP Practices were located alongside other services.  The County Rural Estate amounted to more than 7,000 acres with 89 lettings including 60 equipped farms.  Opportunities were being taken to reduce energy consumption and generate renewable energy and this would be an important part of the Council’s plans moving forward.


A member expressed concern that there was a tendency for new recruits to the Council being drawn from places well away from Gloucestershire.  He said that people who lived and worked in the county understood it better and were better able to design and deliver services that meet local needs.  He called for a report on agile working to allow members to understand the approach being adopted by the Council.


Steve Mawson, Deputy Chief Executive and Executive Director: Corporate Resources, stated that the approach to agile working had been discussed by the Cabinet and the Corporate Leadership Team.  Although the position was unclear at present due to the ongoing pandemic, it was likely that eventually between 40 and 60 per cent of the workforce would be back in the office.  This would vary between service areas.  It was intended that the office space would be reconfigured to allow more collaboration between teams and provide meeting areas.


Another member referred to the success of agile working at Gloucester City Council particularly for hard to recruit professions such as Planning.  He said that they came into the offices one or two days each week and were based at home the remainder of the time.  A member noted the value of agile working for women in the workplace.


A member believed that it was important for the Council to balance financial return when disposing of assets against social value including climate change.  Although the District Councils were housing authorities, the County Council could help in providing homes for local people.  Mr Corbett explained that the Council was working with Planners in the District Councils to see how more affordable housing could be developed.  He recognised, however, that it was a challenge to persuade developers to provide certain types of housing tenure and ensure that proposals were not changed later.


The member also referred to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Overview of the Corporate Performance Dataset pdf icon PDF 104 KB


In presenting the report, Rob Ayliffe, the Director of Policy, Performance and Governance, explained the process for selecting the measures that formed  the corporate performance dataset.  He said that they reflected the Council’s priorities and helped to track performance of key outcomes.  He noted that the dataset would be reviewed following approval of the new Council Strategy at the Budget Council meeting in February 2022.


Local authorities took different approaches to performance reporting with some not reporting any indicators to scrutiny.   Others took just a small number of key indicators while others followed the County Council’s approach in taking a set of around 100 indicators.  It was felt that this gave members a good insight into performance across the Council.  Some indicators could be compared against other local authorities and gave an indication of how the Council was performing nationally.


Answering questions, Mr Ayliffe explained that in some instances data that was generated locally was sent to Central Government and there was delay while it was analysed and released.  He said that new software was allowing the Council to improve the speed and accuracy of data collection.  He noted that new indicators around climate change would form part of the new dataset when it was reviewed after adoption of the new Council Strategy.


Review of Highways Performance Indicators pdf icon PDF 76 KB


Rob Ayliffe, the Director of Policy, Performance and Governance, presented the report which included information on the new dataset for highways. The new dataset reflected the concerns raised by members and provided a more rounded view of performance.  He assured members that the figures were audited to ensure that they were accurate. 


Responding to members’ concerns around repeat repairs, Mr Ayliffe explained that new indicators on underlying road condition, including unclassified roads, should allow this to be monitored more effectively. 


Some members stated that residents’ satisfaction in their areas was not in line with the 53% quoted in the report.


Strategic Performance Management Report - 2nd Quarter 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 622 KB

Additional documents:


Rob Ayliffe, Director of Policy, Performance and Governance, presented the report.  He said that 11 indicators were below target as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 


Members noted that a number of indicators were off target in Children’s Services.  Mr Ayliffe explained that targets had been set at good or excellent but the Council had not reached that level yet on its improvement journey.


Members also raised concern that the Council would not be able to achieve the targets in its Climate Change Strategy.  Mr Ayliffe said that the risk in the report reflected the existing strategy and had been elevated for a short period due to the absence of a key officer but the risk had been reduced now that the officer had returned to work.


Answering further questions, Mr Ayliffe recognised that domiciliary care was a major concern and people were having to be put into respite beds due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Corporate Resources Performance Report pdf icon PDF 168 KB


Steve Mawson, Executive Director: Corporate Resources, introduced the report.  He provided background information on changes to the ICT Service and the steps being taken to improve the service for staff and members. 


A member asked about feedback from users and how is was acted upon? They enquired what steps were being to remove the cumbersome security layers and move to single sign-on.  Mr Mawson advised out of 3,000 calls over the period 600 staff had provided feedback, 85% of which said that they had a positive experience.  He said that single sign-on presented security challenges and was not easy for all systems but efforts were being made to move in that direction.  Responding to a member he undertook to re-establish the Member ICT Working Group to allow member specific ICT issues to be discussed.


Answering questions, he advised that the ICT-related issues for Children’s Social Workers had been addressed.


Members questioned the levels of risk identified in the report when 73 per cent of targets were not being met.  Concern was also raised regarding the lowering of the risk level for Adult Social Care given national concerns around funding.  Rob Ayliffe, the Director of Policy, Partnerships and Governance, explained that risks around corporate governance were much wider than performance indicators and covered a number of other areas. Referring to Adult Social Care, Mr Mawson advised that the Council was involved in wider discussions with the Local Government Association, County Council Network and County Treasurers.



Finance Update pdf icon PDF 138 KB


In presenting the report, Paul Blacker, Director of Finance, advised that spending on Covid-19 had been contained within the funds received from the Government.  In overall terms, the estimate of the year end revenue position against a budget of £483 million was an overspend of just over £4 million which represented less that 1 per cent.  The biggest area of overspend was Children’s Services and steps were being taken to address and achieve a balanced position by year end at 31 March 2022. 


Answering questions, he provided more information on the recovery plan for Direct Schools’ Grant (DSG).  The overspend related to the High Needs Block. He said that the plan involved working with school leaders to manage the growth in numbers alongside more funding from Central Government.  



Budget Scrutiny - plans for 6 January 2022 pdf icon PDF 82 KB


The timetable for the session was noted.