Venue: Cabinet Suite - Shire Hall, Gloucester. View directions
To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 19 April 2023.
The minutes from the meeting held on 19 April 2023 were agreed as a correct record.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Members of the Committee are invited to declare any pecuniary or personal interests relating to specific matters on the agenda.
Please see note (a) at the end of the agenda.
No declarations of interest were received.
To consider the attached presentation on consultation and engagement.
4.1 Adam Barnes, Head of Communications, presented this item. Members noted the following points:
· Engagement and consultation were two complementary processes but were very different in terms of their legal standing. Engagement was more about developing thinking and ideas, whereas consultation was a formal process to provide data to help inform decision makers.
· There were 4 main circumstances where a duty to consult may arise which included a legal requirement (e.g., the planning process) and where obvious unfairness would result if not carried out.
· The Gunning principles outline 4 key requirements against which a legal challenge would be assessed . In addition, the Chartered Institute for Consultation outline 7 best practise principles to follow when carrying out public consultation.
· GCC used a multichannel approach, tailored to the specific stakeholders group/s, to raising awareness of consultations such as: local media, multiple social media platforms, an E-newsletter portal, as well as more traditional methods such as library advertisement, face to face meetings and letters.
· GCC is a member of The Consultation Institute where advice and support could be sought on any consultation to ensure the right approach was being taken.
· There was currently a review underway of the Charter between GCC and Town and Parish Councils – a key area of development here was to extend its reach to those areas in Gloucestershire which were unparished, linking in instead with key local organisations to help improve engagement and response rates.
· GCC would also be adopting the Local Government Association’s guide to engagement which offered more support in terms of case law, guides, templates, and future thinking to continue to improve the Council’s approach and processes.
· Ideas from members were welcome on how GCC could better communicate and raise awareness within their communities. Some engagement would be carried out in the coming months.
4.2 A member raised concern that a lot of GCC’s consultation could not be said to be carried out at a formative stage of the decision-making process. Although strictly speaking the decision had not been made, it was unlikely much, if anything, would change as a result of the consultation and the Council should consider doing some consultations earlier. An example was given of the Council budget.
4.3 In relation to integrity and disclosure, a member felt that the consultation questions were not always as open as they should be, and often did not raise the issues residents actually wanted to engage on. Questions could also be very leading, rather than asking residents to give their opinion on different options, for example, ‘do you think it’s a good idea we plan to spend money on X’, rather than asking ‘what do you think we should spend money on’.
4.4 Officers recognised that this could not be disputed at times, but there were also times where consultation was very good and maybe these examples were less visible. The feedback was helpful and noted for further development.
4.5 Another member supported comments that the general public perception of most consultation was the ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
5.1 Rob Ayliffe presented this report and members noted the following:
· There had been a recent recruitment to key positions within the Climate Change team which would help to mitigate the risk around capacity to deliver and were really crucial in continuing good progress to date.
· There remained a strong performance on highways safety defect repairs, and this had been sustained over a good period of time. It was noted that a lot of the dissatisfaction expressed in communities was in relation to ‘other’ defects that were not safety related. There was an Improvement Programme in place to look at how focus could be rebalanced to ensure the ‘other’ defect repair rate could better meet the community expectation.
· Road safety in the county continued to be a concern, the KSI rate for the last quarter remained high. There was ongoing work to produce a more coordinated programme, looking at all aspects and tackling root cause.
· GCC had secured £0.5m revenue funding from Active Travel England to drive on completion of the Gloucestershire Cycle Spin, progress on the M5 Junction 10 project remained on track and officers were progressing on a business case for a Mass Rapid Transit scheme in Gloucestershire.
· Children’s Services would be undergoing a Joint Targeted Area Inspection (JTAI) over three weeks which was a joint response to safeguarding across organisations. Once the Inspection was complete, members would be updated on its outcomes. The performance data was showing healthy signs in terms of quality of social work where repeat child protection plans had reduced significantly. Challenges remained around volume of activity and retention of staff. Contact to the front door remained extremely high but the overall picture was heading in the right direction.
· Significant pressure remained around SEND assessment delays, which was resulting in an unprecedented level of complaints and Ombudsman referrals. The Council was responding with significant in-year investment and had an improvement plan in place. By next month there would be 11 new case workers and a Peer Review was undertaken in April to help identify what else could be done.
· GFRS were experiencing an increase in their attendance time to accidental dwelling fires. This was a risk of having a rural county and a high level of retain fire fighters, which was an effective way of delivering a fire service in a rural county.
· Challenge remained on recruitment and retention of staff across the council but there was a clear plan in place to address this. Completion of PDRs was improving quarter on quarter with 71% completed on time across the council. The Corporate Peer Review had been delayed due to the JTAI but would be rescheduled when possible.
5.2 A briefing note would be provided on the Mass Rapid Transit proposal.
ACTION: Rob Ayliffe
5.3 In response to a question, it was advised that the risk register brought to Corporate Scrutiny reflected a director level view of where the Council was performing against its priorities, these reports were quality assured through Corporate Leadership Team ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
6.1 Rob Ayliffe presented this report and members noted the following:
· The PDR completion rate for Corporate Resources had improved to 94.4%. With recruitment and retention continuing to be a challenge, this was one way to show staff that they are valued.
· There continued to be a high reliance on Locum and Agency within Legal Services and Strategic Procurement. Members were reminded of the ‘grow our own’ programme within legal which would have its first cohort of trained children’s lawyers holding their own caseloads by September. The new Head of Service for Procurement was due to start at the end of August and similar conversations would be had to seek to address the same issue in this service area.
· Continuing work on agile working had identified the need for a Lone Working Policy to support colleagues who worked alone on a daily basis and to ensure their safety when doing so.
· There had been an increasing number of referrals to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman due to the backlog issues with SEND and Education, Health, and Care Plans (EHCPs), and an increasing number of appeals being upheld. This reflected a growing national trend both locally and nationally, and while this remains a concern, the rate of complaints upheld against Gloucestershire appeared similar to that of other Councils. Without these, complaint referrals had never been lower across other services.
· There had been a slight increase in the time taken to respond to Freedom of Information Requests, but this was being managed effectively.
6.2 It was noted that feedback from staff was generally positive in terms of the new working environment and improved equipment. The IT survey was due to close the day of the meeting which would provide further feedback on IT challenges for staff and then there would be a more general employee survey at the end of the year.
6.3 Officers advised that when there was sufficient data on the rollout and embedding of the National TOMS procurement framework, its progress would be tracked in the Performance and Risk Report for Corporate Resources. It was noted that it had taken better in departments where the core social value was within the contract itself, but it was more challenging where the value was as a result of the action taken within the contract. It was compulsory for contracts over a certain value.
Members to review the work plan attached and discuss any additional
items. There are three items in red which were requested at this month’s
Lead Members meeting.
Forthcoming Executive Decision List
A member requested the future item on cyber security be scheduled as a priority.