Venue: Newton Room - Guildhall Arts Centre, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions
The Committee was notified that Councillor Linda Wootten would be substituting for Councillor Sandall for this meeting only.
An apology for absence was received from Councillor Bellamy.
Disclosure of interests
No interests were disclosed.
Recording of meetings
Reference was made to an e-mail that had been received by some members of the Council that advised them of another Member’s intention to film the proceedings and distribute them to social media outlets and members of the public. Two members stated that they did not wish for their images to be posted on any form of social media.
The member who had given the notification referred to legislation, the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014, which introduced a rights to film, record and photograph public meetings of local authorities.
Officers stated that they would seek legal advice on whether it was possible for a Councillor to “opt out” of being filmed or photographed. Until legal advice had been provided any member wishing to film, photograph or record the meeting was asked to respect the wishes of those Councillors who had indicated that they did not wish to be filmed or their image shared on social media.
The attached decision taken by the Cabinet Member for Finance on 12 April 2019 has been the subject of a call-in request by Councillors Ashley Baxter, Mike Cook, Nick Craft, Phil Dilks and Paul Wood, in accordance Article 6.19 of the Council’s Constitution.
Reasons for call-in given by those Members who called-in the decision:
· There has been inadequate/insufficient consultation
· Insufficient consideration of all options/relative weighting of options
· The planned procurement has not been subject to due diligence and may well be ‘ultra vires’.
With regard to the ‘Financial Services Review’, it is requested that more clarity be given to the scope of the review and also the identity of the external partner.
With regard to the ‘Internet of Things Initiative’, it is requested that the external partner should be identified and also more specific information regarding the likely costs and scope of the project.
With regard to the ‘Advertising and Sponsorship Initiative’, it is requested that more details be provided concerning the Council’s [work] with Publitas Consulting. Publitas Consulting appears to have web-presence limited to a single web-page with a mobile phone number. Currently, the only Companies House listing for Publitas Consulting refers to an LLP which was dissolved in 2016. We are therefore concerned that the Council is attempting to procure services from a company which does not exist!
The Chairman set out the procedure that would be followed and outlined the options that were available to the Committee after hearing the call-in request. He also thanked those Members who had submitted questions in advance of the meeting. A schedule of responses had been circulated and Members were advised that there would be a short adjournment to give them an opportunity to read the questions and answers.
Those Members who called-in the decision were invited to set out their reasons for doing so:
· They did not consider that the report included sufficient detail about any of the proposed projects
· Questions over why the three items were dealt with in a single decision rather than a separate decision for each theme
· Concerns about the status of Publitas, the organisation that had been identified to deliver the advertising and sponsorship initiative
Those Members who had called-in the decision said that they had approached officers for additional information before calling-in the decision but the information that had been provided had not sufficiently addressed their concerns.
10:51-10:57 – the meeting adjourned to allow Members the opportunity to read the pre-submitted questions and their answers
Members considered and debated each of the proposed projects in turn:
Financial Services Review
The Assistant Director, Resources gave an overview of the Financial Services Review. He explained that as part of the budget preparation process for 2019/20 the Council was continuing its transformation programme, one element of which was service reviews. Financial Services was the first service to be fundamentally reviewed. The officers, working with the Cabinet Member, felt that peer support to deliver the review would be valuable and so secured external support on a fixed-term basis.
During the review the consultant spent time with each member of the Financial Services Team to understand their skills, experience and how they were currently deployed. Following the review, an action plan had been drawn up to ensure the needs of the authority aligned with resources.
It was anticipated that the review would result in savings from the alignment of resources and identification of commercial opportunities to raise income. An example was given of how the Council could provide payroll services to other companies and organisations. Members asked about the demand for providing services to other companies and organisations, noting that the Council already provided services to SKDC’s companies. Using the payroll example, Members expressed some concern that organisations would have arrangements in place. Conversations had been undertaken with academies and contact would coincide with the expiration of their existing contracts.
Members asked about the objectives for the review and the outcomes that had been identified. One Councillor suggested that these should have been shared with Members.
Discussion turned to potential risks associated with the review, which were not identified in the non-key decision report. Specific concern was expressed about the impact on staff involved in the review. Members were advised that staff members were fully engaged and informed but it was not an appropriate time to specify how ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
The Committee noted that it was next scheduled to meet on 16 July 2019, when items included the outturn and performance information for 2018/19 and discussion on the Committee’s remit.
Committee required an additional meeting to consider quarter 1 financial and performance reporting; it had been agreed that this would be held on Thursday 5 September 2019 at 10:30am.
Close of meeting
The meeting was closed at 13:14.