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Agenda item

Update on the Business Plan

To update the Committee on performance against the aims of the business plan agreed on 14th March 2017.


The Committee considered a report (Agenda Item 7) to update Members on performance against the aims of the business plan agreed on 14th March 2017. Paul Anstey also tabled a document entitled Performance Information which he explained was a live document.

Sean Murphy gave a presentation to provide an overview of the Public Protection Partnership’s Activities since the Business Plan was adopted by the Committee in March 2017. He noted the role of the Committee and the Joint Management Board which was a monthly officer meeting which took forward the business of the Committee. There had been changes to the senior leadership at West Berkshire and Wokingham Borough Councils and regeneration in Bracknell Forest.

Sean Murphy then provided an overview of the Committee’s previous and upcoming agenda items, explaining how they aligned with the business plan.

The Committee received information on the staff structure of the Partnership and the current vacancies. Teams now operated on behalf of all three Councils, for example the Licensing section had one team which dealt with licensing applications on behalf of all three Councils and one team which handled the governance and regulatory committees for all three Councils.

Thought had also been given to workforce planning and the PPP would aim to ‘grow it’s own’ staff. They would be maximising the opportunities arising from the Apprenticeship Levy in creating a regulatory services trainee role. This would enable the PPP to access some of the funding for apprenticeships and ensure that new staff had the necessary competencies for working across a broad partnership.

The PPP was undertaking work on behalf of neighbouring local authorities and public sector organisations.

Paul Anstey provided a summary regarding accommodation of the PPP. Officers wanted to ensure that the staff could reap the benefits of coming together into one shared service so they could share their experiences and work as a team. It was intended to begin by collocating the frontline teams in one building to act as a hub for the PPP. The Committee had previously heard that there were conversations with the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) to share a building but unfortunately the timescales were such that progress had been slow. Officers had therefore sought an alternative solution in the meantime, namely the former library building in Theale. This building could be used for two years while talks with RBFRS continued.

Councillor Jorgensen asked whether there was a risk that the PPP would be paying twice to kit our buildings, once for the Theale building and again in two years time. Paul Anstey advised that the ‘worst case scenario’ cost of furnishing the building would be £30k. The PPP would have to pay £27k per annum in rent to West Berkshire Council.

Steve Broughton offered reassurance that West Berkshire Council’s Chief Executive would be meeting with the Deputy Chief Fire Officer in October 2017 to help progress collocation between RBFRS and the PPP. There would still be scope to move other PPP staff in with RBFRS if timescales gathered pace.

Returning to the plans to hire apprentices, Councillor Firmager enquired whether officers were confident about their ability to retain staff they had trained. Paul Anstey advised that all three Councils had a good track record of staff retention. The PPP would be in the fortunate position of being able to offer new staff a variety of experiences and could offer existing staff mentoring opportunities. Sean Murphy praised the Bracknell model of employing regulatory services officers.

In response to a question from Councillor McCracken, Paul Anstey advised that it was intended that teams would operate from the same locations and not be spread out over the three Council areas.

Councillor Allen asked if there would be an underspend as a result of the unfilled vacancies. Paul Anstey advised that some funds had been diverting to other projects in year as officers had deemed this to have the most benefit. For example they had been able to invest in improving case management IT systems with the headroom created by the vacancies. It was possible there would be a small underspend at year end. Sean Murphy confirmed that some vacancies had been filled like-for like but the overall needs of the partnership had been prioritised.

Councillor Jorgensen enquired how staff felt about the possibility of being located in Theale. Paul Anstey responded that the move was being explained to staff as a transitional arrangement and no changes to contracts were been proposed in the short term. Informally, the proposal had not been controversial and some staff would benefit from a change in office location in terms of their personal commuting time and costs.

Councillor Jorgensen noted that the report stated that of the 23 risk profiles listed, one was marked red and this related to workforce. Steve Loudoun invited the Committee to note the progress against the business case so far.

Councillor McCracken requested that the presentation slides and risk register be circulated to the Committee (SM/ JR to action).

Councillor McCracken acknowledged that he and Councillor Emma Webster were also members of the Fire Authority and enquired whether they were required to take any role in conversations regarding collocation at this stage. Steve Broughton confirmed that conversations were positive and the delay had been caused by trying to find a suitable time for both parties. Members were not required to intervene at this stage.

RESOLVED that the report and presentation be noted.

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