Agenda item

Mid Year Chief Officer Performance Reports


(a)       That the report be noted;


(b)       That the Cabinet Member and officers be invited to take away the comments and provide responses; and


(c)       That the comments/observations of the Committee are fed back to the Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee who are responsible for the overview and monitoring of performance.


The Committee received a report to note and consider the 2014/15 mid year service performance reports produced at Chief Officer level for their respective portfolios covering the period April to September 2014.  The Chief Officers each gave a short presentation on performance, outlining work which had been undertaken to improve performance and areas where improvement was needed, as outlined within the report.


Streetscene & Transportation


Councillor Carolyn Thomas referred to an overspend of £149K reported at Month 5 due to additional overtime costs and use of agency workers as a result of vacancies within Waste Disposal & Collection Services.  Having raised concerns at the recent Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee, she felt that this should have been followed up by Cabinet and reported back to this Committee.  She sought assurance that resources were not being diverted to Waste Disposal & Collection at the detriment of other Streetscene services, such as drainage and grass cutting, as this would present further problems.  Councillor Thomas also commented on the potential for Town and Community Councils to be offered an opportunity to assume responsibility of grass cutting services in view of the current budgetary pressures.


The Chief Officer explained that following a realignment of the budget, teams within Streetscene were now generic, operating from a single depot and that despite some minor budget adjustments such as the example given, the services were being delivered as before.  He pointed out that the £149K overspend was not significant given the overall budget and gave assurance that the adjustment was not at the expense of other Streetscene services but would be accounted for by the allocation of staffing and depot overhead costs across the service.  He asked if any particular concerns on areas of the service could be reported to him but went on to say that there were now more employees in the service than before and that the work was being undertaken in line with the standards set by Members of this Committee.


In response to other queries, the Chief Officer explained that work on ‘The Nant’ had been awaiting clearance of the river and that information would be emailed to all Members on the consultation exercise on local transport priorities, with a link to the Regional Transport Plan.  A drop-in event would also be held on 15 December 2014 at Mold Town Hall to view the priorities for Flintshire.  On Highways, it was clarified that Welsh Government (WG) funding had been available for prudential borrowing, however this funding ended this year, which represented a risk to the condition of the highway network.  The centralising of Streetscene winter maintenance operations at the Alltami Depot would enable more effective control of services and there would be a future report to the Committee on new arrangements for the Council’s Household Recycling Centres.


Due to Members’ concerns around changes in Area Supervisors, the Chief Officer provided explanation on the need to balance service need and the expectations of individuals who had applied for voluntary redundancy.  He gave assurance that this was being closely managed and that those Members whose wards were affected would be advised by email by the end of the week of the interim arrangements.  The Chair suggested that the Chief Officer liaise with Councillor Thomas on her concerns around availability of teams.


Following concerns raised by Councillor Mike Peers around the lack of notification from WG on infraction charges, it was agreed that no action should be taken at present as the Chief Officer was due to meet with WG representatives.  Clarification was given on the door-knocking exercise carried out in areas where low participation of food waste had been identified.  Councillor Nancy Matthews said that Members had been told of an increase in food waste participation following this exercise.


In response to queries, the Chief Officer provided explanation on the final phase of the Fleet Review for the procurement of a single contract including a service level agreement for vehicles.


He advised that local Streetscene issues should continue to be reported to the contact number of the relevant Area Supervisor.


Councillor Paul Shotton commented on the success of the traffic light synchronisation in Deeside and thanked officers for the site visit to the food waste recycling facility at Rhuallt and for the provision of overspill car parking at Talacre.  In relation to the ‘van ban’ at six of the recycling sites, this had been instigated to address the volume of trade waste at sites and had resulted in an increase in residents’ waste recycling.  It was noted that travel time through the Deeside corridor had substantially reduced following the synchronisation work.


Councillor Peter Curtis welcomed the introduction of improved street lighting which he felt covered a wider area.  In response to comments on the installation process, the Chief Officer explained the necessity of this due to the involvement of other parties in replacing supply cables.  Around 2,000 street lights had been replaced in the programme to date, mainly funded by WG, however again there was uncertainty around future funding.


Following reports from Councillor Cindy Hinds about issues with street lighting and potholes, the Deputy Leader & Cabinet Member for Environment asked that these be reported directly to the Area Supervisors or alternatively referred to himself or the Chief Officer to investigate.


In response to comments around the change in Area Supervisors and the voluntary redundancy policy, the Chief Officer referred to the financial pressures and the need to make alternative arrangements to meet the wishes of individuals who wished to leave the Council.  Concerning further remarks, the Cabinet Member for Waste Strategy, Public Protection & Leisure said that finalising the structure would avoid the need to revisit again in a year’s time.


Following comments from the Deputy Leader, Councillor Matthews said it was her understanding that no area would be exempt from cuts and efficiencies.  The Deputy Leader responded by saying that elements of statutory services such as Social Services and Education must be retained and therefore decisions had to be made on savings elsewhere.


Concerning comments from Councillor Chris Dolphin, the Chief Officer said that the footway resurfacing programme was available on the Council’s website and would check that sufficient cover was in place at recycling centres over lunchtime periods.


Councillor Haydn Bateman queried the drop in risk score for fleet operations.  The Chief Officer said that this represented a single example relating to an issue with vehicle markers and that the process would not allow a return to ‘Green’ status for two years.  He went on to refer to a recent audit of the methods in place for recycling sales and the sharing of best practice with an all-Wales group.  On the proposed changes at UPM Shotton, the Chief Officer said that the current contracts were not under threat.


Planning & Environment


In response to queries raised by Councillor Ian Dunbar, the Chief Officer (Planning & Environment) advised that the results of the Local Development Plan (LDP) candidate site process were due to be reported to the Planning Strategy Group and that the outcome of planning permission for the Deeside Solar Farm was awaiting the signing of a Unilateral Undertaking for the generation of energy to UPM Shotton.


On the areas of concern highlighted in the report, Councillor Mike Peers made reference to delayed responses to questions and concerns raised by Members.  The Chief Officer gave assurances that he would be analysing the evidence currently being collated by the Democracy & Governance Manager to establish any trends.  Councillor Peers drew attention to the slight downturn in the percentage of enforcement cases resolved within 12 weeks and following a recent incident, suggested that slow progress on follow-up action may be a contributory factor.  The Chief Officer referred to the impact of an employee’s long-term absence and said that detail on closed cases (where no follow-up action was required) had previously been reported to the Committee.  He said that the situation would be monitored and that officers were working on information for Members on active cases within their wards.


The Chief Officer also advised Members of changes to performance indicators proposed by WG as part of the emerging Planning Bill.


Councillor Thomas stressed the importance of providing cover for departments deploying agile working.  In response to queries, the Chief Officer provided clarification on Wrexham Council’s departure from the Minerals & Waste shared regional service and said that an update on the Flintshire Coastal Path would be reported to the next meeting of the Committee.


Concerning resources in Building Control, the Cabinet Member for Waste Strategy, Public Protection & Leisure said that income streams were dependent on developments proceeding.


In response to a question from Councillor Bateman, information was given on the joint post of Ranger between the Council and the Amphibian Reptile Conservation Unit.


Councillor Curtis made reference to errors in the ‘project closure report’ which had been circulated to Members.


Community & Enterprise


Councillor Shotton welcomed the positive outcomes from the report such as the Council house building programme, and thanked the Green Team for work on enhancing areas of the county.


Information was sought by Councillor Thomas on a Flintshire Connects centre for Mold.  The Chief Officer (Community & Enterprise) said that this was under the remit of the Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee and would discuss further outside the meeting.


The Chief Officer suggested that a report on the success of Flintshire Business Week 2014 could be brought to the meeting in February 2014.


In response to comments from Councillor Dunbar, the Economic Development Manager spoke of the country-wide challenges around high street regeneration.  He said that opportunities were there for businesses to benefit from local industry and new housing developments and that the programme of work included early intervention steps such as helping to improve shop frontages, utilising empty space above shops and improving the physical appearance of areas for commercial investment.  The Enterprise Manager gave an update on progress with the rollout of Superfast Broadband across Wales with the aim for Flintshire to be 97% enabled by Spring 2015.


Councillors Matthews and Thomas highlighted the importance of Broadband access in all areas of the county as opposed to a ‘hit and miss’ approach.  The Enterprise Manager spoke of regular communication channels with BT and the identification of areas where Broadband support was most needed.  She agreed to discuss further with her contact at BT and would email this contact information to Councillor Dolphin as requested.




(a)       That the report be noted;


(b)       That the Cabinet Member and officers be invited to take away the comments and provide responses; and


(c)       That the comments/observations of the Committee are fed back to the Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee who are responsible for the overview and monitoring of performance.

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