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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room A, Town Hall, Blackpool FY1 1GB

Contact: Sharon Davis  Scrutiny Manager

Items
No. Item

1.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members are asked to declare any interests in the items under consideration and in doing so state:

 

(1) the type of interest concerned either a

 

(a)   personal interest

(b)   prejudicial interest

(c)    disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI)

 

and

 

(2) the nature of the interest concerned

 

If any member requires advice on declarations of interests, they are advised to contact the Head of Democratic Governance in advance of the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest on this occasion.

2.

MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING HELD ON 11 JULY 2023 pdf icon PDF 450 KB

To agree the minutes of the last meeting held on 11 July 2023 as a true and correct record.

Minutes:

The Board agreed that the minutes of the last meeting held on 11 July 2023 be signed by the Chair as a true and correct record.

3.

CHANNEL SHIFT SCRUTINY REVIEW - UPDATE ON RECOMMENDATIONS pdf icon PDF 461 KB

To consider the updated Channel Shift Scrutiny Review action tracker, identifying areas of good progress and actions still requiring focus.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Philip Welsh, Head of Tourism and Communication and Ms Kate Aldridge, Head of Corporate Delivery Performance and Commissioning provided an update on the progress made in implementing the recommendations from the Channel Shift Scrutiny Review Panel.

 

Recommendation 1

 

It was noted that work continued on creating a single sign on for Council services and that an ICT related solution would be required. With regards to the development of a brand/slogan for Channel Shift at Blackpool further work was needed and it was agreed that the Chair would meet with Mr Welsh outside of the meeting to discuss this further.

Recommendation 2

Ms Aldridge advised that work with the third and community sector was cohesive and services were working well together. The FYI Directory was regularly updated with a good system developed within the resources available. The Board noted the good progress made in implementing the recommendation.

Recommendation 3

The importance of educating people to stay safe when using social media was noted. The support had continued in order to improve levels of digital literacy. It was considered that the next steps would involve consideration of data access.

Recommendation 4

Mr Welsh advised that the Council website had been completely refreshed, links to the wholy-owned companies had been included with the parks information fully developed by the service. The importance of ensuring the information was regularly updated and refreshed was noted.

 

The Board noted the work undertaken to date and requested that the information regarding the wholly-owned companies, the work they do for the benefit of the town be expanded.

Recommendation 5

The update was noted and it was agreed to meet with Blackpool Coastal Housing outside of the Board meeting.

Recommendation 6

It was noted that a regular staff newsletter incorporating a blog by the Chief Executive was now being distributed. Members considered it important that staff also benefited from Channel Shift.

Recommendation 7

Ms Aldridge reported that Covid had impacted the implementation of the recommendation. It was noted that the number of systems used by services, even with the NHS itself, made the situation complex. The focus was on ensuring that adult social care and health services had access to the information they needed to support a patient. Staff were more integrated than ever and were often co-located to promote information sharing.

Recommendation 8

It was noted that the cost of bin-tags was currently prohibitive.

Recommendation 9

Work was continuing on the Adopt and Alley scheme.

Recommendation 10

It was reported that resource had been put into developing a staff newsletter and an e-newsletter version of Your Blackpool. The newsletters were content rich and offered opportunities to engage and interactivity. There was still a market for the paper version which would continue to be circulated.

 

The Board agreed:

1.      To note the updates provided on the recommendations.

2.      That the Chair hold individual meetings with Mr Welsh and Blackpool Coastal Housing to progress some of the recommendations further.

3.      To receive a full update on the recommendations to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

ANNUAL CUSTOMER FEEDBACK REPORT pdf icon PDF 463 KB

For Scrutiny to consider the Annual Customer Feedback Report covering the period 1 April 2022 – 31 March 2023.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ms Anna Fothergill, Customer Relations Manager and Mr Jonathan Pickup, Head of Information Governance presented the Annual Customer Feedback Report to the Board. It was noted that the comments, complaints and compliments information relating to waste services had not been included in the annual report for 2022/2023. This was due to the services now being provided by Blackpool Waste Services Limited, a wholly-owned company which had its own procedures and reporting mechanisms for feedback received. It was noted that complaints related to waste services totalled approximately 20% of all Council complaints in the previous year.

 

Ms Fothergill advised that the Ombudsman had indicated that the focus should not be on the number of complaints but rather the number upheld in some way and what could be learnt from those experiences. She advised that the Ombudsman was changing the way in which upheld complaints were recorded and all would be described as upheld if they were so in any small part.

 

Members noted the importance of having open channels of communication with residents and encouraging feedback in all forms.

 

The Board discussed the future reporting of feedback in detail, suggesting that the elements relating to Children and Young People, Adult Social Care and Health, Levelling Up and Climate Change and Environment be submitted to the individual scrutiny committees in future years. It was noted that the focus would not be on the specific complaints, but any themes that could be identified in order to ascertain service improvement and learning. The Committees would look at how well feedback was responded to and how confident services were regarding changes made to practice.

 

The Board agreed:

That the Chair meet with Ms Fothergill and Mr Pickup to explore the future reporting of feedback to the Scrutiny Committees.

5.

FINANCIAL PERFORMANCE MONITORING AS AT MONTH 4 2023/24 AND MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL PLAN 2024/25 - 2026/27 pdf icon PDF 449 KB

To report the level of spending and exposure against the Council’s Revenue budgets and reserves and balances for the first 4 months to 31 July 2023.  The report also includes an update on the Medium Term Financial Plan 2024/25 – 2026/27.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Mark Golden, Head of Accountancy (Deputy S151 Officer) provided an update on the financial performance monitoring as at Month 4 and the Medium Term Financial Plan 2024/25 – 2026/27. He noted the improvement in the overspend by £627k from Month 3 and that there had been early indications of a further improvement in Month 5.

 

There were encouraging signs in Children’s Social care with a reduction in residential placements and a lower level of agency staff. It was also reported that Council Tax and NNDR collection rates were up year on year.

 

The Board was informed that working balances had reduced to cover the in-year pressure and that these would need to be reinstated to the target level of £6m.

 

It was also reported that Earmarked Revenue Reserves (ERR) had fallen in-year mainly due to the planned use of £9.9m to set the 2023/24 budget. ERR remained relatively high at £33m.

 

In response to a question on the impact of the projected overspend of £4m plus in Children’s Services, Mr Golden explained that this would be covered by working balances. These were set aside to provide a cushion for in-year pressures and had been reinstated to £6m at the start of 2023/24.  However, he advised that it was imperative to try to reduce the overspends across Directorates which in turn would boost working balances. The Leader of the Council added that work was ongoing to review high cost placements and to bring placement costs down. The innovative work being undertaken in this area by the Council was highlighted.

 

The Board queried the projected position at the end of the year. In response, Mr Golden advised that an overspend of £5.1million was forecasted with working balances at £1.7million at the end of March 2024. He advised that financial procedure rules stated that overspend should not exceed 1% of the gross revenue budget and that working balances should not be below £3million. If the projections were correct the overspend would be marginally below the 1% allowable, however, working balances would be lower than in the rules. Council services were working hard to identify potential savings and reduce costs in year in order to improve the position. He noted that should the position not improve and working balances remain less than in the rules then a revised emergency budget would need to be produced by the end of the financial year. However, he reiterated that he hoped this would not be required due to the ongoing work.

 

In response to further questions, Mr Golden advised that the budget process for 2024/2025 had commenced in April 2023. Meetings were being held fortnightly with the Corporate Leadership Team in order to identify savings proposals for the next year. It was noted that the Scrutiny Leadership Board was due to feed into the budget process in December 2023 and January 2024 and that a focus on the assumptions being made in the budget would be helpful with any ideas for budget savings welcomed. Mr Golden  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

SCRUTINY LEADERSHIP BOARD WORKPLAN pdf icon PDF 460 KB

To confirm the workplan for the 2023/2024 Municipal Year and consider the update to previous Committee recommendations.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Board noted its workplan for the remainder of the Municipal Year.

7.

DATE AND TIME OF NEXT MEETING

To note the date of the next informal Scrutiny Leadership Board as 6 December 2023, commencing at 6.00pm.

Minutes:

The Board noted the date and time of the next meeting as the informal meeting on the Wednesday 6 December 2023, commencing at 6.00pm.