Agenda and minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 4th September, 2018 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Lucy Tricker, Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committeemeeting held on 5 June 2018, and the extraordinary meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 4 July 2018.

Additional documents:


The minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 5 June 2018 were approved as a correct record. The minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 4 July 2018 were approved as a correct record.



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.


There were no items of urgent business.


Declaration of Interests


There were no interests declared.


Communications Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Additional documents:


The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services presented the report and explained that the current Communications Strategy had been agreed in October 2017 and centred on the principles of digital first, targeted messaging, and brand promotion. She went on to say that the report outlined the progress that had been made on implementing the strategy focused on the last 6 months, including the increased use of social media such as a new Instagram account, and the success of specific campaigns such as recruiting new foster carers. The Chair opened the debate by asking about the changes to the size and structure of the Communications team. The Director explained that the team was led by the Strategic Lead for Communications, but that there were also three senior communications officers, as well as two communications officers and an apprentice that reported to them. In addition, there was now a new structure in place in which the team worked flexibly so everybody covered all aspects of communications including media and marketing. The Chair then asked a follow up question regarding how successful the flexible working had been. The Director answered that it was key to delivering success, as previously the team had been too reliant on individuals leading on one aspect of communication. She went on to state that in the new system everyone shared responsibility, which improves resilience and maximises skills as officers can apply a range of tools to different situations.


The discussion then turned to the Digital First approach as the Chair asked what measures were in place to ensure residents who did not have access to the internet, still had access to the council. The Director of Strategy, Communications and Customer Services replied that the council was using a wide range of tools for different messages including posters, libraries, the side of bin lorries, and posting information through letter boxes to keep every resident aware. She explained that every resident was encouraged to seek services online, but there were still non-digital channels. The Chair then asked if a methodical audit had been done on different services to see if they were as easily accessible non-digitally. The Director explained that lots of work had been carried out on the services provided both online and through more traditional methods as part of developing the Customer Services Strategy, and cited the example of the new self-scanning options in the council’s reception so documents such as for parking permits could be scanned by residents if they could not do so online.


The debate was then opened to Member’s and Councillor Duffin started by stating that he felt that over the past six months the content of social media posts had gotten much better as there were now a range of media including videos, and better targeted messaging. He felt that there were sometimes difficulties in communications between the council and the local media as response times could be quicker in some cases. He queried the processes of the sign-off channels as he  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.


Quarter 1 Corporate Performance Report pdf icon PDF 136 KB


The Strategy Manager opened the report and stated that this was the first corporate performance monitoring report for 2018/19. The report detailed the statistical evidence the council uses to monitor its progress and performance against the council’s priorities. The report provided a progress update in relation to the performance of those KPIs. She also stated that there were no longer any amber KPIs, and that targets had either been achieved (green) or had not (red). The Chair opened discussions by pointing out the KPI on page 41 regarding the proportion of bins emptied on the correct day, as this target had also not been met during the previous winter period. The Director of HR, OD and Transformation replied that this quarter, the lower collection rate coincided with the strike ballot, which had restricted the council’s ability to access agency staff, and therefore there were reduced staffing levels. The Chair then queried the large missed target regarding the satisfaction of housing tenants as the target was 75% satisfaction, and only 65% had been achieved. The Corporate Director of Adults, Housing and Health responded that if ‘fair’ answers had been recorded the satisfaction rate would have been 88%, but he felt it was disappointing the target had not been hit. He went on to say that the survey was run by an external provider, and chose people at random. He stated that he had seen the figures for July & August which had been almost 70% satisfaction rates, so an improvement had been made. He also said that there had been an issue this quarter with how operatives and housing staff communicate with tenants, and that the service were looking to improve this to ensure the council explain processes better to tenants.


The Chair then raised the failed KPI of timeliness to the response of complaints as the target had been 95%, but only 86% had been reached. The Director of HR, OD, and Transformation responded that the team were constantly working with services that they had already seen a positive direction of travel. She mentioned that complaints were escalated to senior managers more quickly if they did not hit deadlines. The Director confirmed that the target had remained the same at 95% despite reducing the deadline to 7 days. She went on to say this is now very ambitious, and whilst services strive to respond as quickly as possible, the nature and complexity of some complaints means that longer is required, and that the appropriateness of the overall target will need to be kept under review.


Councillor Duffin stated that he was happy to see the KPI regarding apprenticeships was now green, but asked a question regarding how many apprentices stayed on once their apprenticeship had finished. The Director of HR, OD and Transformation replied that it had been a positive change as 2017 was the first year of the apprentice levy and strategy. She stated that the council had run an apprentice recruitment day in which all the services had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 47 KB


Members had no updates on the Work Programme.