Agenda and draft minutes

Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 3rd September, 2019 7.00 pm

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

Contact: Lucy Tricker, Democratic Services Officer  Email: Direct.Democracy@thurrock.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

6.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 77 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committeemeeting held on 11 June 2019.

Minutes:

The minutes of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 11 June 2019 were approved as a correct record.

7.

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.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

8.

Declaration of Interests

Minutes:

There were no interests declared.

9.

Apprenticeship Strategy Update Report pdf icon PDF 420 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Lead – HR, Resourcing & Improvement introduced the report and explained that it showed the progression of the apprenticeship strategy now it was entering its third year, and the impact it was having. She stated that the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) target had been exceeded in 2018/19 with 60 new apprenticeships, which had been an increase since 2017/18. She commented that the KPI target for 2019/20 was to have 59 new apprenticeships, and this figure had been based on 2.3% of the current workforce headcount. She commented that the good work of apprenticeships had been recognised at this year’s Staff Awards. The Strategic Lead – HR, Resourcing and Improvement then detailed the introduction of the annual Apprenticeships Recruitment Day and described how in 2018, 15 new starters had been recruited through this, and in 2019, over 25 offers had been made. She also drew Members attention to Appendix 1 of the report, which was a breakdown of the 60 new starters in 2018/19, describing how 50% were up-skilling within the Council, and 50% were new apprentices. She felt that the apprenticeships being offered were diverse across subject and level. She summarised and stated that the council were committed to retention of apprenticeships, with 50% of the 2017/18 being retained, and 6 permanent roles offered for the 2018/19 cohort so far.

The Chair welcomed the report and felt it was positive. He asked if the retention rate for apprentices was aspirational enough, and if the council could create roles for apprentices when their apprenticeships ended. He also asked a question on the source of apprentices, as he felt it would be good to see more apprentices coming into the council from outside the current workforce. The Strategic Lead – HR, Resourcing and Improvement replied that 50% was a good retention rate, but those that did not stay at the council often took other roles within the borough. She added that the council wanted to see apprentices fulfil their career aspirations wherever they maybe, although the council offered a good support package and therefore had a good completion rate. She added that the council had embedded Directorate ‘Apprentice Champions’ to ensure apprenticeships were offered across the whole council, and described the success of the Apprentice Recruitment Day. She stated that the 50% of apprentices that were classed as up-skilling within the council also included those new-starters that had completed their first apprenticeships and were moving up a level.

The Chair drew the Committee’s attention to page 16, point 3.7 and asked how the levy funding to small/medium enterprises (SMEs) would work. The Strategic Lead – HR, Resourcing and Improvement answered that this was a new priority, which was in the early phase of scoping. The Director HR, OD and Transformation added that this was a project that was being looked at regionally and nationally, although Thurrock Council was spending a good proportion of its levy, but would assist local SMEs if the opportunity arose. She stated that the council were identifying  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Grays South Regeneration: Civic Offices Project Position Statement pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Minutes:

The Interim Director Place introduced the report and stated that it had been born out of a Full Council motion in July 2019, which had proposed the cancellation of the Civic Offices project, and a request from the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee for additional information. He stated that the report set out the current status of the project and the rationale behind it, as well as why the project was the best value option, both financially and for the wider regeneration benefits. The Interim Director Place felt that the Civic Offices project would encourage other investment in Grays and would improve the customer experience. He drew the Committee’s attention to 2.1 and 2.2 in the report that detailed how the project would meet the wider regeneration ambitions and improvements for Grays. He commented that £200million was being invested into Grays regeneration, which included the proposed investment from New Rivers in the town centre. He also highlighted point 2.3 that summarised development in Table A, and the financial benefits of the project compared to refurbishment of CO1. He then highlighted 2.9 in the report that stated a Preconstruction Services Agreement contract had been signed in April 2019, and the Planning Committee had deferred the item until its September meeting. He added that land availability negotiations had taken place, so Thurrock Council had now acquired the freehold for properties in New Road and the High Street. He stated that early investigations had found that the CO1 site could yield 80 residential units, but with investment from New Rivers, this figure could be more ambitious. He also highlighted 2.13 and the proposals for Thameside, which had been de-coupled from the Civic Offices project, and stated that a separate report on this would come before the Committee at a later date. He summarised and added that recommendation 1 would have to be changed as Cabinet had moved from 4 September to 11 September.

The Chair began the debate and felt that this topic was of much interest to people across the borough. He asked what the £9.78million cost covered, and how this figure had been predicted. The Senior Project Manager replied that the figure of £9.78million included all build costs and professional costs for the development of the CO2 site. He stated that the CO1 site would be self-funded and would give a separate return. The Chair then asked how the figure of £2.8million for the return on CO1 was predicted. The Director Finance and IT replied that the figure of £2.8million was based on a Thurrock Regeneration Limited approach, which was a proven model as it had been used for the St Chads site. He stated that £2.8million included all of the ground preparation works, construction, rented income and finally capital receipts. The Chair questioned the assumption he felt was made in the report that vacating CO1 would reduce costs, due to plant being at end-of-life. He asked what impact this would have on day-to-day running costs and savings. The Interim Director  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Collaborative Communities - Thurrock's Approach to Community Engagement pdf icon PDF 99 KB

Minutes:

The Strategic Lead – Community Development and Equalities introduced the report and stated that community engagement covered a broad spectrum, but the introduction of a new consultation portal increased residents inclusion, although it was only in early stages of development. She felt it was the right time to introduce a new community engagement approach, which could galvanise best practice and work across council departments. She added that all council departments should be working with communities to deliver joint outcomes and enable community action, without encountering too much bureaucracy. She summarised and stated the purpose of this report was to gauge Members views and increase community conversations.

The Chair welcomed the report and felt it was crucial to engage communities. He asked about the process of moving community engagement forward, for example by mapping community groups, and ensuring harder to reach communities were included. The Strategic Lead – Community Development and Equalities answered that the team were currently organising a conference with CVS that would display best practice and how the council were effectively managing services. She clarified that the new framework would not just consult residents, but would actively engage them. She mentioned that the council had a good understanding of voluntary, faith and community groups, and had an ‘asset map’ on a variety of groups. She stated that the new portal was digital and interactive to help harder to reach groups get involved and feel a part of their community.

The Chair asked if new digital engagement was being considered as part of this approach, such as community Facebook pages. The Strategic Lead Community Development and Equalities replied that the consideration of social media was included as part of the strategy, and the portal was becoming a way to increase traction on social media. She added that the portal was not just for surveys, but also for residents to make suggestions, comments and showed visual maps. She stated that it also had a participation budget tool, so a council department could show residents how much money they could spend on a project and residents could get involved by deciding on certain aspects within that budget. She commented that the purpose of this report was to get Member agreement and then every department would sign up to this proposal, so all services could think about the community and say yes to community action.

Councillor Duffin commented that he wanted to see consultation and petition successes pushed on social media, so residents could see the feedback from their participation. He felt that residents often felt disenfranchised as they were consulted on topics, but the outcomes did not change. He wanted to see community engagement leading to definitive change. The Strategic Lead Community Development and Equalities agreed that residents often felt like decisions had already been made, so the new proposal would help to convince people their participation does matter. She added that new portal would give feedback to residents on consultation, and gave the example of the library consultation that highlighted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.

12.

Quarter 1 Corporate Performance Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 162 KB

Minutes:

The Strategy Manager introduced the report and stated it was the first Corporate Performance report in 2019/20, and followed a similar format to previous years. She mentioned that following comments made previously at the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee, a ‘route to green’ was now included for any Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that had missed target, and provided additional commentary.

The Chair felt it was good see the new ‘route to green’ as it was helpful to see concrete plans that were being undertaken for KPIs which had not reached target, for example the percentage of waste recycled or reused. He felt that some KPIs ‘route to green’ was not as detailed as he would like to see, but understood this was the first review using this system. He added it was good to see the KPI regarding bins collected on the correct day had met its target, and was now measured in a different way, so the Committee could see month-on-month targets, rather than an overall view.

Councillor Duffin added it was good to see the ‘route to green’ and felt it was a good change in formatting.

RESOLVED: That:

1. The Committee noted and commented upon the performance of the key corporate performance indicators in particular those areas which are off target

2. The Committee identified any areas which require additional consideration

13.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 49 KB

Minutes:

No Members or officers had any items to add to the Work Programme.