Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Northallerton, DL7 8AD
Contact: Will Baines, Principal Democratic Services and Scrutiny Officer Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Clive Pearson, Stuart Parsons and John Ritchie, with Councillor Subash Sharma substituting.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 4 September 2023, having been printed and circulated, be taken as read and confirmed as a correct record.
Declarations of Interests
All Members are invited to declare at this point any interests they have in items appearing on this agenda, including the nature of those interests.
Councillor Kevin Foster declared a personal interest in agenda item 8 (Mayoral Combined Authority Governance).
Exclusion of the Public
Members are recommended to exclude the public
This item was not required.
Members of the public may ask questions or make statements at this meeting if they have given notice (to include the text of the question/statement) to Will Baines, Principal Democratic Services and Scrutiny Officer (contact details below) no later than midday on Wednesday 29 November. Each speaker should limit themselves to 3 minutes on any item. Members of the public who have given notice will be invited to speak:-
• At this point in the meeting if their questions/statements relate to matters which are not otherwise on the Agenda (subject to an overall time limit of 30 minutes);
• When the relevant Agenda item is being considered if they wish to speak on a matter which is on the Agenda for this meeting.
If you are exercising your right to speak at this meeting, but do not wish to be recorded, please inform the Chair who will instruct those taking a recording to cease while you speak.
No public questions or statements were received.
Verbal update from Robert Ling, Director of Transformation on LGR progress
Robert Ling, Director of Transformation, attended to update the committee:
· Following a review of service plans, meetings are now taking place to discuss the budget proposals for 2024/25 and future years.
· On the broader transformation programme, a key period of convergence is coming up, to bring service teams together.
· The challenge now is to bring these service teams together so they can work as one. Restructures are taking place to focus on how teams need to operate in the future.
· Work to bring the IT systems together to be used by one team is ongoing at pace. As the restructures move forward and teams align into one, this will become more of an issue. As this work is carried out, it will have knock on effects early next year, for example the different policies and fees and charges of the predecessor authorities not aligning, so these will need to be resolved.
· The Target Operating Model will put the customer at the heart of the process. There are elements of this that are not quite right at the moment, from the website to face to face, but work is agreed and being carried out.
· The way we work as a council, with teams located in different offices and in different ways, is another key focus for the months ahead. In some areas there are currently eight different ways of carrying out tasks, so it is important that we learn the best practice from each of the predecessor councils, agreeing the best way of working and then rolling that out across the service delivery teams
· Trying to resolve these issues is important for officers to work as effectively and efficiently as they can.
· Bringing the service teams together (convergence) and tackling the budget deficit is the biggest areas of work at this time.
· The next stage following this is aligning the resources and the approach to decide which programmes and projects move forward as part of this.
· Staff with multi-disciplinary roles is a challenge to unpick and it isn’t straightforward. Extra investment has gone into HR teams and the job evaluation process to facilitate the restructures as quickly as possible.
· The green waste and bulky waste service has been centralised at the front end, but the customer services and systems in each locality are currently using different systems to administer that.
Following this, questions and comments raised by the committee included:
· The time taken for the convergence process of bringing together staff under one umbrella was raised as a concern, and whether there was any benchmarking data available around corporate buy-in. In response, it was noted that some teams are having restructures quicker than others, but there is an understanding that colleagues want certainty. The challenge of rewriting job descriptions and making sure the new alignment of teams works is one that does take a bit of time.
· On bringing in external support, it is important to get the balance right between the improvement in the pace of delivery that extra support ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Considered – Report of the Assistant Director of Culture, Leisure, Archives and Libraries setting out the key findings from the first phase of the Strategic Leisure Review (SLR).
Some of the key points highlighted in the covering report and presentation are as summarised below:
· The work of the SLR has been supported by a cross party member working group to help shape the review recommendations with their valuable insight and perspective.
· Physical activity levels as a population are now lower than they have been in previous decades, so enabling citizens to get active is key to improving the physical and mental health of individuals.
· In North Yorkshire, there are some great leisure assets, physical facilities, skilled staff and significant programmes and outcomes, but we could do a lot more to positively impact on the health of the population and tackling health inequalities.
· The original scope of the Strategic Leisure Review was outlined, with a focus on the three pillars of ‘Built Facilities’, ‘Community Sport & Outreach’ and a wider system piece of ‘Active Environments’.
· Phase one of the SLR has been the development of a clear, long-term vision and delivery model, to shape what North Yorkshire Council want our future leisure service to look like. Recommendations are also made on the management model for how leisure services are delivered going forwards.
· Phase two (from the new year onwards) is the development of a Leisure Asset Investment Strategy, which will set out options for individual sites around future investment, rationalisation and other options (asset transfer etc).
· North Yorkshire Council has the largest local authority leisure portfolio in the country. The council leisure budget for 2023/24 is £7.1 million, with an income of around £16.1 million across all sites. The portfolio comprises 23 leisure centres and 16 pools, with a developing health and wellbeing offer alongside a strong sports development offer in some parts of the county. This shows the size and scale of the service area but also the opportunities that brings.
· North Yorkshire currently has a complex mix of leisure providers, currently consisting of five different operators. Whilst this adds complexity, the breadth of expertise, experience and good practice across the county is a real strength. The current leisure service operators across North Yorkshire are already delivering a range of universal and targeted services that are in line with the new delivery model, there is a focus on inclusion and tackling inequality, and this forms a strong foundation upon which we can build on in the coming years.
· There is a varied condition of facilities, but condition surveys have indicated the portfolio overall is not bad, with asset condition and maintenance liabilities lower than in other similar local authority areas.
· Extensive consultation has been undertaken with elected members, communities and key stakeholders through a range of methods, such as workshops, surveys, focus groups and reviews of previous consultations.
· The consultation feedback has shown strong stakeholder support for a health and wellbeing approach, with the significance of community sports and volunteers also ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Considered – Report of the Assistant Chief Executive – Legal and Democratic Services to update the committee on progress with creating the Combined Authority (CA) for York and North Yorkshire and the associated governance issues.
Some of the key points highlighted in the report and presentation are as summarised below:
· The benefits of the Devolution Deal for York and North Yorkshire were outlined. Creating a Combined Authority provides a platform to bid for additional funding and provide a voice for the region.
· The Order that creates the Combined Authority was laid before Parliament on 7th November 2023, it will be debated in the House of Commons and House of Lords, with the current working assumption that Government will approve the Order in the week commencing 8th January 2024.
· The planned timetable for the Combined Authority is that once the Order has been signed and the Combined Authority created, Mayoral Capacity Funding will then be received, along with half of the money from the Annual Investment Fund, the Brown Field Housing Fund, Net Zero Fund, Housing Capacity Funding and the Transport Capacity Funding. The other half of the funding will be received when the new Mayor is elected.
· The inaugural meeting of the Combined Authority is planned to take place towards the end of January 2024, to approve the Constitution, appoint external auditors, approve the committee structure (including appointments) and agree the budget.
· Mayoral elections will take place on 2nd May 2024, followed on 7th May with the move of the PFCC powers and functions across to the now fully functional MCA, along with the rest of the funding entitlements.
· The Mayor will Chair the Combined Authority, along with two members from each of the constituent councils involved (City of York Council and North Yorkshire Council) as voting members, of which one will act as the Lead Member for their authority. A non-voting representative of the Chair of the LEP/Business Committee will also sit on the Combined Authority.
· A proposed committee structure was included in the Scheme that was consulted upon, although the final decision will sit with the Combined Authority. This includes an Overview and Scrutiny Committee (6 members from each constituent council), Audit and Governance Committee (4 members from each constituent Council and 1 independent person), a Business Committee (consultative body set to be integrated from the LEP) and potentially a separate Transport Committee (TBC).
· The proposed structure includes a Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, but the decision on whether to proceed with this set up will be for the Mayor once elected. Currently a Joint Independent Audit Committee/Panel for Policing and for Fire and Rescue will sit underneath this to provide checks and balance.
· The Devolution Deal devolves functions to the Combined Authority into two strands: those exercisable solely by the Mayor (e.g. Housing, Planning, Finance, Transport and PFCC functions) and those exercised by the Combined Authority (e.g. Economic Development, Adult Education, Skills, Transport – Key Route Network, Housing functions (related to CPO) and the power to ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
Considered – Presentation from the Assistant Chief Executive – HR and Business Support on the progress of the service restructures so far.
Some of the key points highlighted in the report are as summarised below:
· The approach to the restructures so far has been starting from the top and then moving down through the organisation.
· The Heads of Service recruitment is almost complete. The next stage will see more service areas move into consultation phases in the new year.
· Work is continuing at pace, with feedback from staff that they want certainty over jobs and structures. The process for a restructure is a long one, from developing a business case, writing job descriptions and carrying out job evaluations all taking place before going out to consultation. However, it is key to give staff the opportunity to contribute and shape the proposals put forward and to get the new structures right.
· An excellent relationship exists with the trade unions and they’re involved at all stages of the restructures and form part of the consultation process.
· There is continuous engagement and support for staff to help manage change.
· Where staff are at risk of redundancy, then redeployment support measures are well established.
Following this, questions and comments raised by the committee included:
· There was a query about whether the large number (121) of Heads of Service posts would be revised in the future. It was noted in response that this was a rationalisation from the number of posts as part of the predecessor councils. Following service transformation and system changes this may be looked at again but it is uncertain at this early stage.
· How many ‘Risk of Redundancy’ notifications have been issued so far?
· It was asked how corporate buy-in to the new authority is being achieved to create a new ‘Team North Yorkshire’? In response, it was felt by bringing teams together as part of a new structure and getting to know new colleagues will help in this regard, with a lot of organisational development and staff values work also going on to change the culture.
· The pace of the service restructures was felt to be faster than other new unitary authorities have carried them out, in order to give clarity as soon as possible, with May 2024 an initial target date.
· Information on the financial savings generated from staff restructures would form part of the quarterly HR performance reports during the next financial year.
· The importance of keeping valued and experienced staff within the organisation was highlighted and the retention of them was important for the future of the new authority moving forwards.
The Chair summed up by reiterating that staff are the most important asset for North Yorkshire Council and the progress made to date with the service restructures is encouraging. Alongside this, the huge amount of work undertaken by HR colleagues to support the service restructure process and the challenges that change management will bring in the months ahead was acknowledged. The Committee were keen to be ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Discussion on committee name change
This item was deferred.
Standing items update
The updates received on the standing items (Customer Services and the Finance system) were noted.
That the Work Programme be noted.
Any other items
Any other items which the Chair agrees should be considered as a matter of urgency because of special circumstances.
There were no further items.