Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: County Hall Worcester

Contact: Alison Spall/Samantha Morris  Overview and Scrutiny Officers

No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


Apologies were received from Mr A D Kent, Mr J A D O'Donnell and Prof J W Raine.


Additionally, apologies were received from Ms K J May, Cabinet Member with Responsibility for Transformation and Commissioning.


Declarations of Interest and of any Party Whip




Public Participation

Members of the public wishing to take part should notify the Head of Legal and Democratic Services  in writing or by e-mail indicating the nature and content of their proposed participation no later than 9.00am on the working day before the meeting (in this case 6 November 2018).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.




Libraries Re-Modelling pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel received a presentation from the Assistant Director of Families, Communities and Partnerships which set out the next phase in the Council's Libraries Transformation Programme. She explained that since 2011/12 over £3.7m of efficiency savings had been achieved through a range of approaches including co-location and re-modelling of mobile library. Building on this progress, further substantial change was required to meet the new £1m savings target identified in the 2017/18 Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP), £200,000 of which was on target to be met for this financial year.


Building on the previous transformation work, the Cabinet at its meeting on 18 October 2018 agreed to add an additional theme to the Strategy for library change set by Cabinet in 2011, which was to encourage individuals and communities to do more to promote greater self-reliance.


The Panel was informed of the detailed Needs Assessment which had taken place based on 4 key characteristics, namely deprivation, service isolation, exclusive use of home library site and library activity levels. Each library had then been given a ranking with an aggregate score which placed them in order of level of need. The ranking had then been used to identify an initial transformation option for each library for the Consultation exercise. It was highlighted that the Needs Assessment had also taken into account the demographic groups using each library, the need for value for money and the feedback received from over 2,000 residents via the customer survey which took place over the summer.


As a result of the Needs Assessment and the resultant recommendations for library transformation, the Cabinet had received 6 transformation options to shape library transformation going forward, including two new options: Open Libraries and Community Managed Libraries.


Having visited other local authorities to explore how Open Library systems operated, the Service Improvement Manager - Libraries explained what an Open Library system would involve and how it might work in practice. She advised that the option for Worcestershire would involve the system operating for parts of the day, rather than whole days and that this would allow libraries to be accessible for longer periods with reduced staffing costs. The system would build on the current self-service approach in libraries and would require users to be separately registered and supplied with access cards for their use.


In terms of Community Managed Libraries, the Assistant Director explained that local communities already played an important role in libraries, there was over 400 volunteers currently working in libraries across the County. She highlighted that Welland and Martley were run as library links and were currently hosted in village halls and fully run by volunteers on a day to day basis. There was also community supported libraries at Broadway, Hagley, Upton, Pershore and Catshill  and the plan was to build on the community supported libraries scheme, but going forward on the basis of services being provided entirely by volunteers.


The Assistant Director led the meeting through the various 6 different options set out in the Consultation and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 236.


School Library Service pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Additional documents:


Following concerns expressed by some Members, it was agreed at the Overview and Scrutiny Performance Board (OSPB) on 25 October 2018, that the Panel would invite the Assistant Director of Families, Communities and Partnerships to its meeting to discuss and clarify the detail of the Officer Executive Decision relating to the School Library Service (SLS).


The Assistant Director explained that an Officer Executive decision had been taken on 4 October 2018 to discontinue the SLS. The Panel were referred to the three Member Briefings included in the Agenda which provided details of the history of the service and the process leading up to this decision being made. The SLS had always been a traded service and because of the lack of usage, it was currently being run at a deficit. Previously, 216 schools had bought the service but only 22 schools were now buying it.


The Panel was informed of the many initiatives that had been tried to stimulate business, including raising the profile of the service and attempting to move into new markets. All schools had been written to several times, including encouraging further use of the service and formally consulting them on the future of the service. All this had had very little impact on demand. 


The Assistant Director explained that the formal process of de-commissioning the Service had been paused, to allow for the Panel meeting and the consideration of the Notice of Motion to Council the following day to be dealt with.


Discussion points:


·       Schools' lack of interest in the service was mainly due to the significant financial pressures they were facing and as a consequence some schools had sought to provide their own libraries or on a shared basis. Many schools also made effective use of digital technology. The Assistant Director confirmed that discussions had taken place with other local authorities and Babcock to gauge whether there was any interest in providing the service to the remaining schools.


  • 5 members of staff would be affected by the change to the Service.


  • Some schools had indicated that they would interested in buying the book stock of the SLS.


  • A Member highlighted that in some local authority areas, the SLS was able to be provided on a profitable basis.  The Assistant Director acknowledged that there were lessons to be learnt from this in terms of looking at opportunities for a commercial approach for service delivery.


  • A Member asked why the decision on the SLS had not been included in the Libraries Re-modelling Consultation process. The Assistant Director explained to the Panel that as the SLS was not a statutory service, the Officer Executive Decision making process had been followed, all options had been explored and as the service was losing money, it was important to avoid delays in making the decision.


·       The total cost of the SLS budget was £182,000, which included five members of staff. The service had been losing money and despite best efforts the level of demand had not been able to be increased.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 237.


Budget Scrutiny: Reviewing the 2018/19 Budget Position for Corporate and Communities pdf icon PDF 73 KB


As Part of the Council's development of the 2019/20 budget, the Panel was asked to review the current 2018/19 Budget position at this meeting, prior to consideration of the 2019/20 draft budget at its meeting in January.


Commercial and Change Directorate


The Director of Commercial and Commissioning led the meeting through a presentation which set out the financial update on Period 6 (September 2018) for areas relevant to this Panel and highlighted that:


  • There was currently a predicted overspend of £350k in Property Services relating to Place Partnership Limited (PPL), although the Panel were reassured that the situation was improving.


  • Although there was £150k of non-achievement of transformation savings in Property Services which related to capitalisation and property costs, the Director advised that capacity had been added to the Team and it was anticipated that the gap would be narrowed this year.


  • The ICT Budget for this year had a forecast overspend of £250k due to delayed insourcing of the DxC contract. The Director explained the staffing situation and how some staff had been transferred under TUPE arrangements and new staff had been recruited. Insourcing the Service had gone well and significant savings will achieved. Work was now progressing to reach the original savings target for 2019/20.


Discussion Points


  • In response to the question about why there had been a £350k overspend on the PPL contract, the Director explained that since March there had been a focus on re-invigorating the contract and providing more challenge to PPL, which was now showing signs of improvement.  Additionally, it was noted that some partners had withdrawn from the PPL partnership.


  • The Director also confirmed that there was now more investment in the contract management of PPL to ensure spend was being managed effectively and that there was better value.


  • It was questioned why the projected saving on the 2017/18 IT Budget had not been achieved.  Although, a specific answer would be provided, the Panel was reassured that with the insourcing of IT Services, savings would be achieved.


  • The Head of Strategic Infrastructure Finance and Financial Recovery clarified that the HR Budget consisted mostly staffing costs, with some other costs, such as learning and development, training and general office expenditure and the £175k saving related to holding non-essential posts vacant.


  • Members were informed that Managers were being asked to look at every budget heading, justify the expenditure and to ensure savings were made at every opportunity. Money continued to be well managed in the borrowing and lending markets, which meant that less savings were required elsewhere.


  • The Panel was informed that the Fire Insurance Earmarked Reserve had been reduced by £0.5m to £1m, which was seen to be prudent measure.


  • There was a projected saving of £300k from the Self-sufficient Council – Optimising Income Generation, which would be achieved through traded services to other organisations and fees and charges, along with forecast additional  £575k income through Council Tax and Business Rates.


Communities – Discussion Points


The Head of Strategic Infrastructure Finance and Financial Recovery  ...  view the full minutes text for item 238.