Corporate Services Policy and Review Panel - Thursday, 12th November, 2015 7.00 pm - Agenda and minutes

Venue: Concorde Room, Council Offices, Farnborough

Contact: panel Administrator: Lauren Harvey  Email: Tel: 01252398827

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 83 KB

            To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 4th June, 2015 (copy attached).


            The Minutes of the meeting held on 4th June, 2015 were approved and signed by the Chairman.


Council's Website

The Panel to receive a presentation from the Council’s Corporate Communications and Website Managers on the Council’s website. There will be a discussion on key performance indicators and future development.


The Panel had invited the Corporate Communications Manager, Ms. Gill Chisnall, and the Website Manager, Mr. Paul Cowell, to the meeting to discuss the progress of the Council’s new website since it had been launched in 2012. It was explained that while the website had only been live for three years, work had begun on the development of the improved website in 2010.


Prior to the launch of the new website, customers had found it difficult to understand the old site and often experienced technical issues. There had been a reduction in the number of pages and the developed site had also allowed staff to update their service pages. As well as improving the design and management, staff had started to ensure that the content of the website was more customer focused.


Members heard that regular improvements had been made and were shown a number of the developed pages. Customers had been given the ability to look up more information, including their bin collection dates and polling stations. The main improvements had included software updates and the ability to view the website easily on mobile devices. The introduction of feedback forms had been important in the development process as it enabled customer views to be collected. The improvements had resulted in a 50% increase in users.


The Panel had been provided with data that showed how the customers used and accessed the Council’s website. It was noted that 57% of the website traffic came out of hours, when the offices were closed. It was also heard that in 2012, 87% of website visits had been made on a desktop computer, whereas 2015 statistics showed this had reduced to 46%, while the remaining percentage of visits had been made on tablets or mobile devices. The common popular pages included rubbish and recycling, council tax, job opportunities and parking, however, there had been seasonal popular pages where the number of visits had spiked at different times throughout the year, for example, fireworks, elections and the Lido.


It was explained that there had been a focus on the development of the elections pages during 2015, there had been a live update feed during the count and there had also been an increase in the promotion of the elections pages through social media. Social media had also been used to promote other Council news and events.


A facility had been developed that enabled staff to see what customers did when they visited the website, although, it had also been felt necessary to find out the reason the customers had visited. Feedback had been received from the Society of IT Management (SOCITM), customers, staff and councillors. SOCITM had completed a number of tasks and scenarios during their review and assessed mobile and desktop use. As a result, Rushmoor’s website had been rated three out of four stars. The Council had been offered some suggestions on how the website would be improved, for example, the removal of outdated phrases, ‘do it online’ or ‘report  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Financial Update / Treasury Management

The Head of Financial Services will provide the Panel with an update on the Council’s current financial positon and an update on treasury management.


The Head of Financial Services, Ms. Amanda Fahey, had been invited to the meeting to provide the Panel with an update on treasury management. The presentation outlined the current economic background and the UK’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) data. Members were updated on the Council’s current financial position and were informed of some key financial issues, these included the Autumn Statement and the predicted financial cuts, the possible devolution deal and the financial implications of this, the uncertainty around the new homes bonus and future changes to the business rates scheme.


The Panel was reminded that treasury management was underpinned by the adoption of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s code of practice. It was noted that three treasury management updates were provided to the Licensing and General Purposes Committee each year. Members heard that while Arlingclose Limited had provided advice to Rushmoor, all investment decisions had been made by the Council’s Treasury Team. It was noted that the Team also made the decisions regarding the Council’s pooled funds that were managed by external fund managers. The Panel was then briefed on the current situation of the Council’s pooled funds and provided with a summary of deposit and investment activity during the six month period to 30th September, 2015.


Members noted the internal investment credit score, of which the aim had been A- or higher for average credit rating and an average credit score of 7 or lower. It was explained that the credit score had been good and explained that this had been due to solid counterparties.


Ms. Fahey concluded that, whilst 2015/16 had been challenging for the Council, the estimated interest receipts were £849,000 which was an increase on previous estimates for the year. The Panel was informed that the Council had started to look ahead and was considering the possibility of becoming a ‘borrowing’ authority. However, this would be dependent on the level of investment and the ability to attract external funding.


            The Panel NOTED the update.


Performance Reporting pdf icon PDF 3 MB

To receive an introduction to the Council’s approach to performance management reporting. This will include an overview of the corporate planning and performance cycle supported by the Quarter Two Monitoring Report (copy attached). Members to consider whether they wish to undertake follow up scrutiny work in any of these areas.


The Panel welcomed the Strategy, Performance and Partnerships Manager, Mr. Jon Rundle, to the meeting who had been asked to provide a presentation on the Council’s approach to performance reporting. A copy of the Strategic and Performance Management Updates from the second quarter of 2015/16 had been distributed prior to the meeting. An overview of the approach allowed the Panel to assess whether any issues should be scrutinised in more depth at a future meeting of the Panel.


Members were reminded of the Council’s purpose, ‘working with others to improve the quality of people’s lives’, and heard how the 8-Point Plan and Organisational Development Programme was influencing the sustainability of the organisation.


The Strategic Planning Process 2015-2018 was explained to the Panel through a diagram. It was noted that this process was a continuous loop and had begun with horizon scanning, followed by a number of tasks including budget projections, finalising business plans, finalising the budget, agreeing the Corporate Strategy and finishing with performance monitoring and public feedback.


Following discussions with the Cabinet and other Members, the Panel was advised that improvements to the corporate planning process had been pursued. For example, it was suggested that there would be an increase in the work with Members, a focus on priorities and allocating resources where they had been needed most and an introduction of more opportunities to feed in resident and customer consultation. Improvements had also been made to the monitoring documents, which had started to include an overview of the budget.


The Panel were informed of the key elements for the Corporate Plan and quarterly monitoring reports that had been presented to Cabinet during 2015/16. It was explained that broader issues relating to the local community had continued to be included, such as population, crime, education, economy and health. The document had started to include more emphasis on the 8-Point Plan and Organisational Development. There was also a focus on key priorities under the five themes; people and communities, prosperity, place, leadership, good value services.


It was heard that feedback on the monitoring documents had been positive and Members agreed that it was a sophisticated report.


The Panel NOTED the presentation and ENDORSED the approach to performance monitoring.


Customer Services Member Review Group pdf icon PDF 306 KB

To note the minutes of the Group’s meeting from 17th June, 2015 (copy attached).


Members received a copy of the minutes from the Customer Services Member Review Group meeting that had taken place on 17th June, 2015.


The Panel NOTED the minutes of the meeting.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 178 KB

            To note the Panel’s work programme for the 2015/16 Municipal Year (copy attached).


The Panel NOTED the current work programme.