Agenda and draft minutes

General Services Committee
Monday, 29th July, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, New Road, Grays, Essex RM17 6SL

Contact: Matthew Boulter, Democratic & Governance Services Manager and Deputy Monitoring Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 51 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of General Services Committee meeting held on 8 October 2018.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the General Services Committee held on 8 October 2018 was agreed as a correct record.

2.

Items of Urgent Business

To receive additional items that the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency, in accordance with Section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair informed the Committee that he had received an exempt item of urgent business for tonight relating to Tolerance Policy for Unauthorised Travellers. The Committee agreed to consider this item in exempt session at the end of the meeting.

3.

Declarations of Interests

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

4.

To Consider Options for the Future of the Director of Children's Services Role pdf icon PDF 220 KB

Minutes:

Officers introduced the report stating that its contents included the costings, timescales and relevant details relating to the current recruitment scenarios for the Director of Children’s Services. Officers wished for an open discussion on the options available to the Council for permanently replacing the role of the Director of Children’s Services.

 

Councillor Halden believed that a former attempt under a Labour administration to merge the Adult and Children’s Directorate under People’s Services had not been successful and wondered why the decision to merge had been taken now. The Director of HR, OD and Transformation explained that the merged People’s Services Directorate had been in place for some time in previous years and was not perceived as a failure at the time. Children’s Services had not deteriorated in that period and the merged services had not been abandoned because of poor performance or management.

 

Councillor Halden stated that the Conservatives had not been happy with the merged service at the time and recalled that children’s services had ‘required improvement’ under OFSTED. The Chief Executive replied that in September 2015 Children’s Services had been rated ‘Good’ and had only slipped into ‘Required Improvement’ when the assessment regime changed.

 

The Chief Executive stated that the current decision to merge roles was not based on financial savings but reflected the current state whereby Adult and Children Services were becoming more integrated in Thurrock. It was added that all money saved from merging the posts was being reinvested into the support network around the merged post to ensure proper discharge of business. There was the added consideration that the market for recruiting a director of children’s services was very busy. As of today both Stoke on Trent and Trafford Councils had advertised for a similar position.

 

Councillor Halden highlighted a 2016 report relating to the temporary appointment of David Archibald as Director of Children’s Services in which it was stated that an acting interim arrangement was not good for building capacity in light of a forthcoming OFSTED inspection. The Chief Executive responded that the current situation was not comparable because Mr Harris was a very experienced and capable officer and he was not acting up as he had demonstrable experience and capability.

 

Councillor Okunade felt there were too many directors being created and queried what their creation did to enhance the effectiveness of the directorates. The Chief Executive stated that the changes were not simply changing the job titles. Newly created directors had more expectations put upon them to participate and take responsibility for Scrutiny committees, work more strategically and have more accountability for other areas of work. It was added that the old job title of ‘Head of’ had been replaced with ‘Assistant Director’. Councillor Okunade felt the structure did not look right with the merged Adult and Children’s post and felt that given time the Council could find the right candidate for a Director of Children’s Services.

 

The Chief Executive reminded the committee they had a freedom of choice in the recruitment process  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.