Agendas, Meetings and Minutes - Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Venue: County Hall Worcester

Contact: Alison Spall/Samantha Morris  Overview and Scrutiny Officers

No. Item


Apologies and Welcome


Apologies were received from Mrs A T Hingley, Prof J W Raine and Mrs L C Hodgson.


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 2 September 2019).  Enquiries can be made through the telephone number/e-mail address below.




Confirmation of the Minutes of the Previous Meetings


The Minutes of the Meetings held on 9 July and 16 July 2019 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Employment Policies and Procedures - Bullying and Harassment pdf icon PDF 73 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel received a report and presentation from the Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development (H of HR&OD) which provided details of the County Council’s Employment Policy and Procedure relating to bullying and harassment. The key issues highlighted were:


·         The Bullying and Harassment Policy had been introduced in September 2018 as part of a raft of new core employment policies. In keeping with the ACAS Code of Practice on Discipline and Grievances, a separate policy had been developed for bullying and harassment, whereas previously, these issues had been dealt with through the Council’s grievance procedures.

·         The importance of the Council’s statement of commitment which set out a clear, strong message in simple language which was easy to understand.

·         The Policy outlined clear definitions and examples of behaviour that might constitute bullying or harassment. It also set out sources of support for employees; ways in which a complaint could be taken forward and the potential consequences of any action.

·         The employment policies were easily accessible with clear signposting from ‘Our Space’ (the Council’s intranet).

·         The results of a recent in-house Pulse survey, completed by about a third of staff, showed that 74% of respondents indicated that they would ‘strongly agree’ or ‘tend to agree’ that they would feel confident to raise concerns about harassment at work.

·         The H of HR&OD reported that at a previous Panel meeting, he had indicated that he would also report the results of a Trade Union survey. He had, however, discovered that this survey related to workplace violence and therefore not directly relevant to the Panel’s discussions.

·         In response to a Member’s question, it was confirmed that violence was covered under the gross misconduct disciplinary procedure.


The Corporate Equality and Diversity Manager (CE&DM) advised that she was keen to put together an e-learning module to compliment the Bullying and Harassment Policy. This would include background information and examples of scenarios, detail sources of support for employees receiving or witnessing bullying or harassment and demonstrate to employees the importance of this issue and reinforce an appropriate organisational culture. Occasionally, the CD&EM would also work informally with a team of employees, where it was felt the culture was not as it should be. The H of HR&OD stressed that wherever possible, issues would always be resolved at an informal stage.




During the ensuing discussion, the following points were made:


·         A question was asked about the support available to staff who were accused of bullying or harassment, before it was determined whether they were guilty. The H of HR&OD acknowledged that it was an anxious time for both employees involved and managers had a responsibility to support both employees through this process.  If necessary, they could suspend an employee if this was deemed appropriate, but the HR team always aimed to ensure that the matter was dealt with as quickly as possible to reduce stress as much as possible.

·         A Member enquired about what a member of staff should do if they  ...  view the full minutes text for item 239.


Performance and In-Year Budget Monitoring pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel received details on performance and financial information for services relating to Corporate and Communities, specifically:


·         Performance Information (PI) for Quarter 1 (April to June 2019)

·         Financial Information on Revenue and Capital Budget monitoring for Quarter 1 2019/20.


The Director of Commercial and Commissioning provided an overview of the performance and financial data, indicating that it was generally a very positive performance with an improving set of services being operated within budget. He reminded the Panel that this data provided feedback to the Strategic Plan. He added that the data was not however a replication of the Balanced Scorecard, but instead, was in a much more detailed format, and used to identify specific areas which required improvements in performance.


The Director guided the Panel through some of the PI areas, which required improvement. The Panel also focused attention on other areas of interest. A summary of deliberations is shown below:


·         Death registration and still birth registration appointments within 2 working days were currently rated as ‘red’ and deteriorating. The Director explained that customers were nearly always offered an appointment within the required timeframe, but that they did not always accept the appointment, as the timing did not necessarily meet with their preferences. Also, occasionally the delayed receipt of medical documentation could slow the process. Members were very concerned that this PI had deteriorated over the last two quarters and asked what was being done to address the issue. The Panel was advised that there was no specific underlying cause, and that staff were continuing to offer as many alternative appointments as possible to ensure an appointment within the timeframe could be achieved. It was acknowledged that certain times of the day were likely to be less popular than others for relatives and it was suggested that the staffing pattern may need to be more reflective of the service demands.  The Director suggested that he would arrange for a ‘deep dive’ to be carried out to look at the reasons for the deterioration. This was agreed with a report back to the Panel at its next meeting in November.

·         Stage 2 Children’s Social Care complaints in 65 days. The Director explained that there had been some improvement in this area, but an issue which impacted this indicator was that recruitment of the Independent Reviewing Officers with sufficient expertise to deal with these cases was a challenge.

·         Stage 2 Corporate complaints in 25 days. This area was rated as ‘red’ and deteriorating.  Members commented that the latest data provided in the graph was from March 2018. The Director advised that the performance trend for the complaints data was currently very static, but that he would look at providing more recent data.

·         The Panel was interested in finding out more detailed information about the Council’s Complaints procedures in general, including the range of statutory targets and how well they were being met. The Director advised that there was a wealth of detailed data available on complaints, and compliments, which Members could explore.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 240.


Commissioning including the Development of the Procurement Strategy pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel received a report and presentation from the Director which provided an update on the Council’s commissioning processes including the development of the Procurement Strategy. The following were the key areas covered:


·         The strategic vision which set out the Council’s business approach and which drove forward commercial excellence

·         The development of the Procurement strategy to enable a more efficient and effective approach to contract management.

·         The Strategy to develop the skills of the current employees, which was being realised with some of the Procurement Team having now achieved the level 4 qualification. This investment in staff, blending qualifications, alongside practical experience was deemed to be the best way forward to ensure individual employees’ personal development and the development of the Service. The CMR advised that it would also help with staff retention in the longer term.

·         As well as their Team Manager, the staff in the Procurement Team were also being supported in their roles by a few external fully qualified and experienced practitioners who were being used on a short term basis to bolster the Service.

·         The Panel was informed that 12 months’ notice had been given on the Civica contract. The Director outlined some of the issues, which would be considered in developing the Strategy for managing customers. It was agreed that the Director would advise in due course, how the Panel could be involved in the development of this new Strategy.


The Head of Commercial provided a demonstration of the Power BI management tool which captured every contract on the system and allowed detailed data analysis. Currently, the dashboard was being used to report on issues including contract liquidity and spend. 


·         The Panel was advised that the system was driven by spend and provided information which posed questions rather than providing answers. It would allow systems to be more efficient and effective and enabled a challenge of spending.

·         All contracting was now carried out on an electronic basis through the Intend system, with contractors being required to register and submit bids electronically.

·         The Intend system currently had 845 contracts and allowed detailed analysis of spend for instance by category management or for a particular time period.

·         In response to a question on performance management, the Head of Commercial advised that KPI data on public health was the first to be populated on the system and would enable assessments of value for money on the public health contracts to be carried out next year, when performance graphs and trends would become available.

·         The Council’s policy of no payment of invoices without a purchase order was eliminating bad practice

·         Due to much tighter control, the amount of spend on purchase cards had reduced significantly since last year, from £2.6m to £1m.


The Panel were very impressed with the new system, its capabilities and future potential. They could see how it would transform the Council’s procurement work, allowing Officers to view trends, compare performance and have all the current data readily available to inform their work.


Further discussion  ...  view the full minutes text for item 241.


Work Programme 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 74 KB

Additional documents:


The Panel received details of their current work programme for review.


Following a suggestion from a Panel member, it was agreed that the Gypsy service would be added to the work programme.