Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall, Worcester

Contact: Emma James/ Jo Weston  Overview and Scrutiny Officers

No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting. Apologies had been received from Cllrs Brandon Clayton and Paul Denham, and from Cllr Ken Pollock, the Cabinet Member for Economy and Infrastructure.


Declarations of Interest and of any Party Whip




Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Assistant Director for Legal and Governance in writing or by email indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 22 January 2020).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/email address below.





Confirmation of the Minutes of the previous meeting

Previously circulated.


The Minutes of the meeting on 21 November 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman. The Chairman advised that some action points were outstanding from the previous meeting, and these were being followed up.


New Developments and Efficiencies in Highway Maintenance which could benefit Worcestershire Residents pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Additional documents:


In attendance for this item were:



Richard Fryer, Divisional Director


Directorate of Economy and Infrastructure

Ian Bamforth, Highways Operations and Public Rights of Way Manager and Nick Twaite, Infrastructure Asset Manager


Cllr Alan Amos, Cabinet Member with Responsibility (CMR) for Highways


The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting. He was very proud to have a representative present from Ringway at the Panel for the first time, which was important since the Council spent over £30m per year on highway maintenance and roads and pavements were a number one priority for residents. The aim of the discussion was to hear about innovation and best practice in highway maintenance from Ringway.


The Council’s Infrastructure and Asset Manager referred to the presentation slides previously circulated, which included an overview of the Term Service Maintenance Contract with Ringway, innovations and improvements in highway maintenance, the impact and benefits and responses to some specific questions which had been raised prior to the meeting.


It was important to understand certain aspects about the contract with Ringway, for example that the specification was based on outcomes, a collaborative culture, and that it incentivised both the contractor and the Council. The contract was for 6.5 years, with a possible addition of 6 years. The contract included clarity of costs and risks, target pricing involving both parties, flexibility and opportunities to remove cost and to drive efficiency. The Contractor’s Plan provided a strong management and planning tool for the Service. The total value procured each year was around £31m, of which around £6.5m was for Core Services (yearly tasks such as cyclic drainage, verge maintenance, road marking etc) and around £24.5m for Task Orders (planned carriageway and footway works, drainage schemes, public realm).


The Directorate’s Officers were aware of the request for a separate briefing on the highway maintenance contract itself, and this would be arranged in due course.


The Panel Chairman asked whether, over the last 6 years, the contract’s efficiency factor had been met and was advised that it had, apart from the previous year, and it was confirmed that the previous year costs had been higher than the target price and absorbed by Ringway. Year on year it became more difficult to find further efficiencies.


It was confirmed that the contract was audited externally and internally every year.


The Chairman queried the effect of inflation increases and whether they were automatic. It was explained that prices were subject to increases in inflation although. this was not automatic and varied since service areas were differently orientated in terms of materials and labour.


The presentation included the contract KPIs (key performance indicators). A Panel member queried the detail of the KPIs and how they were measured, and it was explained that there was a mass of information behind each of the headings shown. The Highways Operations and Public Rights of Way Manager pointed out that based on his experience, highway maintenance was equally about people and processes as well as KPIs. He explained how KPI data was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 367.


Budget Scrutiny: In-Year Performance and Draft 2020/21 Budget and Medium Term Financial Plan Update 2020-22 for Economy and Environment pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Additional documents:


In attendance for this item were:


Michael Hudson, Chief Financial Officer

Steph Simcox, Head of Finance

Paul Smith, Transport Operations Manager


The Chief Financial Officer set out the main headlines of the 2020/21 draft budget from the Agenda, including movement in budget expenditure, achieving a balanced budget in 2019/20, council tax 2020/21 and reserves. Regarding the budget planning timeline for 2020/21, figures had been slightly revised due to changes to the adult social care formula grant and recharges as a result of directorate restructuring and the new Directorate of People.


The Head of Finance referred to the headlines for economy and environment (E&E) growth which were taken from the 20 December 2019 report to Cabinet – these included pay and contract inflation, waste tonnage estimated increase, a £0.3m one-off funding to further progress of the North Cotswold Line rail development, additional £200k to support the Worcestershire Public Transport Strategy and £100k to support a woodland planting scheme.


Work was ongoing in the Economy and Infrastructure Directorate to make savings. Regarding E&E revenue savings, the £830k directorate organisational re-design was around staff.


Scientific Services had closed although there remained a budget to purchase services and information would still be provided to this Panel.


The £30k efficiency saving against County Enterprises was the last stage of the Service becoming fully self-funding.


Regarding the E&E current Capital Programme, before any further adjustments the budget for the year was £125m. As set out in the report to Cabinet, the Council was looking to invest further in capital, for example in footways and streetlighting.


Main discussion points


In relation to the woodland planting scheme, the Panel Chairman pointed out that Heart of England was also engaged in planting trees, which could present an opportunity for shared working and efficiency.


It was confirmed that it was not yet known how the £830k savings would affect Directorate operations, however further information would flow through to the Panel as part of performance and finance monitoring.


Regarding streetlighting costs and savings, Cllr Kent (Chairman of the Corporate and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Panel (C&C Panel)) highlighted that some scrutiny was being carried out through the C&C Panel to look at energy costs.


The Chairman believed the budget information for E&E showed that the budget was well managed and on target, however he did not feel that the Council’s budget was subject to effective Scrutiny, for which more detailed figures and comparisons were needed. Rationalisation of cost codes also made it difficult for the Panel to compare like for like.


A discussion ensued about the Budget Scrutiny process. The Chief Financial Officer said that he was keen to understand the information needs of the Scrutiny Panels. He referred to service budget information included in the 20 December Cabinet report (appendix B) and advised that further comparative information could be provided for the previous three years but it was important to understand the purpose.


The Chairman pointed out that the Panel needed an understanding of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 368.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 81 KB

Additional documents:


There were no additions to the work programme.