Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Value for Money & Customer Service - Monday, 16th September, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming

Contact: Amy McNulty  Democratic Services Officer

No. Item


Appointment of Chairman

To confirm the appointment of Cllr Peter Martin as Chairman of the Value for Money and Customer Service O&S Committee for the remainder of the 2019/20 council year.


Cllr Peter Martin was confirmed as Chairman of the Value for Money and Customer Service O&S Committee for the remainder of the 2019/20 Council year.


MINUTES pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 24 June 2019 (to be laid on the table 30 minutes before the meeting).


The Minutes of the Meeting held on 24 June 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed.


In relation to the discussion at the last meeting regarding income from the Brightwells development Kelvin Mills, Head of Commercial Services, circulated a spreadsheet setting out the current financial position. There was a slight drop from initial estimates but no further variations were expected.



To receive apologies for absence and note any substitutions.


Members who are unable to attend this meeting must submit apologies by the end of Monday 9 September to enable a substitute to be arranged, if applicable.


There were no apologies for absence.



To receive Members’ declarations of interests in relation to any items included on the agenda for this meeting, in accordance with Waverley’s Code of Local Government Conduct.


There were no declarations of interests in connection with items on the agenda.



The Chairman to respond to any written questions received from members of the public in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.


The deadline for receipt of questions is 5pm on Monday 9 September.


There were none.



The Chairman to respond to any questions received from Members in accordance with Procedure Rule 11.


The deadline for receipt of questions is 5pm on Monday 9 September.


There were none.


Draft Commercial Strategy pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To introduce and seek comments on the new draft Commercial Strategy which will form an integral part of delivering the Medium Term Financial Plan.




It is recommended that Overview and Scrutiny comment on the draft strategy to feed the Committee’s thoughts to the Executive for consideration.

Additional documents:


Kelvin Mills, Head of Commercial Services, presented the draft Commercial Strategy to the Committee. He explained that this Strategy was designed to sit alongside the council’s Medium Term Financial Plan and Business Transformation Strategy. It identified a number of areas with the potential to generate a greater income for the council, including Careline, Waverley Training Services and Building Control. Cllr Mulliner, Chairman of the Budget Strategy Working Group, states that the Group had looked into these areas and agreed that they did have potential, although some were more limited than others.


The Committee noted that there was a substantial financial gap to fill, which would increase year on year up to £3.9m. In view of this, the Committee asked to have regular updates on the progress of the work being carried out as part of the Commercial Strategy. It also requested that timescales with clear milestones be added for each project set out within the strategy.


Cllr Hesse also highlighted that a strategic review of parking was under way which could also lead to a greater income for the council through more innovate charging methods. The Committee therefore asked that the outcomes of this review be added to its work programme for consideration in due course.


Cllr Martin highlighted that a new Corporate Strategy would be received by Council later in the week and, given the importance of this emerging Commercial Strategy, he felt that the council’s commercial aspirations should be more explicitly referred to in the new Corporate Strategy.


The Committee agreed that the draft strategy was a good starting point, which could be improved by drawing out the key projects most likely to bring the largest income, as well as looking at more creative angles to expand the existing customer base. The Committee therefore agreed to request that a more developed draft of the strategy be brought to its next meeting in November.


Income Generation Projects Update

To discuss the income generation projects contained with the draft commercial strategy (item 7).


Having reviewed the draft Commercial Strategy, the Committee agreed that an update on income generation items be should included as a standing item on the Committee’s agendas for future meetings. Careline, Building Control and Waverley Training Services had been identified as areas with particular potential to generate increased income and the Committee looked forward to hearing more about progress in these areas.


Corporate Performance Report Q1 2019-2020 (April-June 2019) pdf icon PDF 151 KB

The Corporate Performance Report provides an analysis of the Council’s performance for the first quarter of 2019-20. The report, set out at Annexe 1, is being presented to each of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees for comment and any recommendations they may wish to make to senior management or  the Executive.




It is recommended that the Overview & Scrutiny Committee considers the performance of the service areas under its remit as set out in Annexe 1 to this report and makes any recommendations to senior management or the Executive as appropriate.

Additional documents:


The Chairman invited each Head of Service to summarise the Quarter 1 performance for their service area.


Business Transformation


David Allum, Head of Business Transformation, advised that the main focus for this service area over the last quarter had been developing the business transformation programme, including the customer service project. With regard to the two outstanding service plan actions, he explained that he was still awaiting the outcome the ‘One Public Estate’ funding bid in relation the review of the council office accommodation; and work was progressing more slowly than anticipated on the IT systems for Building Control and Planning.


In response to further questions from the Committee, David advised that the Planning IT system that this action related to was a new back-office system, not the documents portal on the website. He was, however, aware of some issues with this system too and advised Members that the IT team was working with the supplier to address these problems. The Committee therefore requested an update on when these would be resolved. Members agreed that the IT issues in Planning needed to be prioritised, and the Chairman agreed to liaise with the Chairman of the Environment O&S Committee via the O&S Coordinating Board, to ask for more details about the time and cost implications for the delay in implementing the new back-office system.


Finance and Property


Peter Vickers, Head of Finance and Property, summarised the highlights for the first quarter of 2019/20. The final accounts had been approved and published, achieving the 31 July deadline despite a last minute change to the external audit team. The majority of KPIs and service plan actions were green; Peter advised that action F7.1, relating to the Agresso financial IT system, had been transferred to the Business Transformation Programme. The finance summary was showing an adverse projection due to a void property in the council’s investment portfolio.


Policy and Governance


Robin Taylor, Head of Policy and Governance, explained that the focus of Quarter 1 had been on the Borough, Town and Parish elections, as well as preparation for the European elections. The induction programme for new councillors had also been successfully delivered. The implementation of the HR Strategy continued well, with the digitisation of HR paperwork. The KPIs showed an increase in sickness absence across the whole organisation but Robin assured the Committee that steps were being taken to address this.


Members were very concerned by the trend in long term sickness and the Committee agreed that this should be highlighted to the Executive. It was noted there had been an increase in mental health related issues, and Robin advised that the council was currently delivering a number of health and wellbeing initiatives to help address this.


Cllr Davidson highlighted that absences could sometimes be linked to low morale. The Committee noted that a staff survey had recently been undertaken and suggested that this might provide some insight into reasons for absence. Robin advised that the results of the survey had been generally  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Customer Services Project Update pdf icon PDF 109 KB

This report gives the Committee an update on the Customer Services Project and includes the results of the Customer Demand survey carried out earlier in the year and referred to in the Corporate Performance Report elsewhere on this agenda.




It is recommended that the Committee notes the contents of the report.


David Allum presented the report which provided the Committee with an update on the Customer Services Project. He explained that the aim was to deliver £300k in cashable savings by reducing the amount of direct customer contact through more self-service and by reviewing processes to eliminate ‘waste’.


The first step of the project had been to get better information about the most common areas of customer demand. Over a three-week period, staff had logged all of their enquiries from customers in order to identify the top 35 customer requests. The project team was now mapping out these ‘customer journeys’ in more detail to see how they could be better delivered e.g. through automation or via a single customer service centre.


A master data management (MDM) system had been procured to link together back-office systems and a customer relationship management (CRM) was also being investigated. The aim was to bring together the dispersed customer service teams from across the organisation.


The Committee was concerned about the reliability of the data collected by staff over the three-week period as the amount of information collected had decreased in the second and third weeks. Members were also concerned that the sporadic data could be indicative of poor buy-in from staff, which would be essential for the project as a whole. David responded that it was important to maximise staff buy-in, and this had been the core theme of a recent all staff briefing from the Chief Executive.


Cllr Heagin noted that council tax billing was the top item on the list, and queried whether this was due to the time of year the exercise had been carried out. David responded that this had potentially affected the results, but much of the council’s work was cyclical, so there would never be a perfect time to do it. Similarly, Cllr Hyman felt that important decisions shouldn’t be taken using data from only one month, as areas such as grass cutting, which was a very popular topic in the summer, had not made the list at all.


The Committee therefore asked that David review the validity of the data that had been collected, and assess the implications of the timing of the data collection exercise and of the decreasing staff buy-in to determine whether this affected the reliability of the data. The Committee agreed that this summary should be circulated by email, but that if there were any concerns arising from the information, that these should be brought back to the Committee at a formal meeting.


Budget Strategy Working Group Update

To receive a verbal update on the progress of the working group.


Cllr Mulliner, Chairman of the Budget Strategy Working Group, advised the Committee that the work stream 3 meetings with Heads of Service had now commenced. These provided an opportunity for the Group to ask detailed questions about how their services were delivered and to explore any potential options for increased income. Cllr Mulliner advised that the Group would provide a written report to the Committee’s next meeting.


Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 88 KB

The Value for Money and Customer Service Overview and Scrutiny Committee, is responsible for managing its work programme.


The work programme includes items agreed at previous meetings and takes account of items identified on the latest Executive Forward Programme (Annexe 2) as due to come forward for decision.


A Scrutiny Tracker has been produced to assist the Committee in monitoring the recommendations that have been agreed at its meetings. The Tracker details the latest position on the implementation of these recommendations and is attached as Part C of the work programme.




Members are invited to consider their work programme and make any comments and/or amendments they consider necessary, including suggestions for any additional topics that the Committee may wish to add to its work programme.

Additional documents:


The Committee reviewed its work programme which set out items due to be considered at future meetings. Members also reminded themselves of the items discussed earlier in the meeting where a request had been made for a further update.


It was agreed that the items for the November meeting would include:

  • Standing items (Corporate Performance Report and Quarterly Property Acquisition Report)
  • Budget Strategy Working Group update
  • Updated Commercial Strategy
  • Complaints annual reports
  • Property Investment Strategy update – it was suggested that the Portfolio Holder be invited to attend for this item and for an update on Brightwells Yard
  • Staff Survey results and links to staff absence


It was agreed that whilst the Economic Development Action plan and cost implications of planning appeals were important items for Scrutiny they may need to be deferred due to November’s very heavy agenda. The Committee agreed that the Chairman would decide offline when these items should come to the Committee.



To consider the following recommendation on the motion of the Chairman:




That pursuant to Procedure Rule 20 and in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during the items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information (as defined by Section 100I of the Act) of the description specified in the appropriate paragraph(s) of the revised Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act (to be specified at the meeting).


At 8.35pm, it was RESOLVED that pursuant to Procedure Rule 20 and in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during the items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information (as defined by Section 100I of the Act) of the description specified in paragraph3 of the revised Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.


Property Investment Strategy Acquisitions Quarterly Update

The (exempt) report, attached, details the performance of property acquired under the property Investment Strategy.


The Committee received an update on the latest position with properties purchased under the Property Investment Strategy. No new investments had been made recently; an opportunity had been investigated but had not fulfilled the investment criteria so had not been pursued.


Members requested that an additional section be added to the report to set out when the rental period for each property would end or be due for review.