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Chiltern District Council
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    Agenda and minutes

    Venue: Room 6, South Bucks District Council, Capswood, Oxford Road, Denham UB9 4LH. View directions

    Contact: Mathew Bloxham  01494 732143; email:  mbloxham@chiltern.gov.uk

    Items
    No. Item

    1.

    Minutes pdf icon PDF 57 KB

    To agree the minutes of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 24 July 2017 and 11 September 2017.

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The minutes of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on 24 July 2017 and 11 September 2017 were agreed by the Committee and signed by the Chairman as a correct record.

     

    2.

    Declarations of Interest

    Minutes:

    Councillor P Kelly declared a personal interest in item 5 on the agenda and would withdraw from the meeting for the duration of the item. Nature of interest - Councillor P Kelly was a Councillor at Slough Borough Council.

    3.

    Update on the Local Plan pdf icon PDF 133 KB

    Minutes:

    The Planning Policy Manager informed Members that there were three purposes to the report. Firstly, for Members to consider a revised Local Development Scheme (LDS) and secondly, to inform Members of the direction of travel for the Local Plan. It was noted that the Committee would not be making a decision on the direction of travel at this meeting. The final aspect of the report asked that the Committee support incentives to recruit and retain Planning Policy staff.

     

    With regards to the LDS timetable, Members heard that the current timetable for the Local Plan could not be met due to matters set out in the report and on the Councils’ websites.  Further evidence base work was needed, as well as duty to co-operate issues to be progressed. This included continuing discussions on the infrastructure delivery schedule with Bucks County Council (BCC) for highways and education, the Chiltern Clinical Commissioning Group (CCCG) and utilities companies. It was noted that further work was to be done on transport modelling and a strategic flooding assessment. The Planning Policy Manager informed the Committee that there was also a need to ‘future proof’ the timetable due to anticipated central government introduction of a national methodology for determining housing need and changes to the National Planning Policy Framework in spring 2018. Members were advised that the revised LDS timetable was challenging but realistic.

     

    The report also provided an update on the Local Plan, and Green Belt Preferred Options which were detailed at Appendix 1 of the report. It was noted that further evidence base documents were being prepared and would be published on the Councils websites to provide a direction of travel for the emerging Local Plan as soon as they were available. It was reiterated that no decisions were to be made on the direction of travel or preferred options sites at this meeting.

     

    The Committee received an update on staffing, and that the aim of recommendations 4 and 5 of the report was to retain and attract staff.

     

    Members questioned as to whether green belt land could be safeguarded within the green belt, and were informed that land could only be safeguarded for development once it was taken out of the green belt. Members asked for further clarification of the meaning of the term safeguarding in relation to planning policy and were advised that this was terminology used by central government. Safeguarded land was said to be land taken out of the greenbelt that would be suitable for development at a point in time in the future. In response to a question on the continuing infrastructure delivery work with the CCCG, Members were advised that officers were looking at where there may be a need for additional health facilities and land that could be used for these facilities if necessary. The Committee recognised the difficulty of staff retention in the service, an issue which had been exacerbated by the number of local authorities developing Local Plans and demand for planning policy experts.

     

    RESOLVED:

     

    1.

    That a revised Local Development Scheme for both Councils’ be approved so that:

     

    a)    Regulation 19 public consultation aims to commence in June/July 2018;

    b)    Submission is aimed to occur in December 2018;

    c)     Examination be sought in June 2019; and

    d)    Adoption is aimed in November 2019.

     

    2.

     

    That the revised Local Development Scheme timetable be published on both Council websites.

     

    3.

     

    That the following documents contained on both Council websites as part of the emerging Local Plan evidence base and how these inform the ‘direction of travel’ for the Local Plan, be noted:

     

    a)    Green Belt Development Options Appraisal: Post Preferred Green Belt Options Consultation

    b)    Draft Infrastructure Delivery Schedule: Post Preferred Green Belt Options Consultation

    c)     Duty to Co-operate Position Statement

    d)    Summary Responses to Green Belt Preferred Options Consultation

     

    4.

    That the current Retention Bonus for Planning Policy officers be amended to be as follows:

     

    “Offer officers within the Chiltern/South Bucks Planning Policy team as at 19th December 2016 a retention bonus of up to £5000 each and any new staff an appropriate bonus of up to £5000, to be paid in June/July 2018 provided that they remain in either Council’s employment in the Planning Policy Team until 31 May 2018 and provided that the Council is able to avoid Local Plan intervention by the Government at that point in time.  The payment to be pro rata from any point or period from 1 January 2016 for:

     

    -         any part-time staff;

    -         staff who have performed unsatisfactorily;

    -         staff who have only been employed for part of the  qualifying period in 2016/17 subject to the terms of their appointment;

    -         staff who have been on long term absence during the qualifying period.”

     

    5.

     

    That the principle of incentivising retention of Planning Policy officers beyond 1st June 2018 be supported, and the Joint Staffing Committee be asked to consider how best to achieve this in the light of existing and anticipated market conditions at the time. 

     

    Note 1: Councillor P Kelly left the meeting for the consideration of agenda item 5 (minute item 3).

    4.

    Customer Experience Strategy Outline Business Case pdf icon PDF 138 KB

    Minutes:

    The purpose of the report was for the Joint Committee to consider the outline business case for change, following agreement of the Customer Experience Strategy in April 2017. The Committee received a presentation on the outcome of the outline business case stage of the programme.

     

    The outline business case highlighted that one of the elements of the programme would be the opportunity for each customer to have a Customer Account if they wished, which would be accessible at any time from any device. From this account, the user could receive news and information relevant to them, report an issue, and make an application. By way of example, the customer would be able to make an application online for housing benefit via a webform. The account would also mean less use of back office systems and staff time in that customer data could be stored, accessed and analysed by staff as part of developing customer insight, to tailor services to the customer’s needs. The Head of Customer Services informed Members that they could have their own Councillor Account to see for example reported incidents in their ward.

     

    Several benefits of the programme were outlined which included a channel shift to lower cost contact channels; achieving the channel shift target as per the report was said to potentially deliver financial benefits of £165,000 per annum. A further benefit reported was the centralisation and transformation of customer contact, with a large focus on the customer query being resolved at the first point of contact. It was projected that 9.5 FTE would move across to the Customer Services Team and that there would be a reduction of 14.8 FTE across all service areas for both Councils. Through achieving this centralisation, it was reported that the Councils would make an estimate of £351,000 savings per annum, making the total potential savings in excess of £500,000. The anticipated costs of the development of the full business case, as well as delivery, were detailed in the report.

     

    Members were advised that the programme plan was a three phased approach with the programme scheduled to be completed in autumn 2019. The Committee were informed of the next steps for the programme which, following the decision on the outline business case by the Joint Committee, would include staff and Member communications, and the development of a full business case which would look at further data analysis and the full requirements for technology going forward with a view to procurement. The full business case would then be brought to the Joint Committee to make a decision on procurement and implementation of the programme. During the full business case development, a Joint Member Working Group would be set up to support the programme.

     

    In response to a question as to whether Members would be able to see planning applications outside of their neighbourhood, Members were advised that the finer details of the Councillor Account would be looked into in the full business case stage. Members were concerned that the implementation of the programme would conflict with the progress of the Local Plan, and it was reported that the programme plan was currently in its draft stage and Members were assured that the programme timescale would be assessed to best fit with other Council projects. A further concern was raised regarding customers without access to a computer and the Committee were advised that the Councils would not close down any of the current channels of contact. It was heard that the channel shift would encourage those who were able to access services online to be able to do so, which would subsequently free up staff time to support customers that prefer to visit the Council Offices. Nobody would be left behind by these changes.

     

    RESOLVED:

     

    1.     That the outline business case and potential benefits and costs be noted.

     

    2.     That the development of a full business case be approved and the associated costs of £88,962 be funded from the Councils’ reserves.

     

    3.     That a total £417,000 be added to the Capital Programmes for 2018/19 for the costs of technology and the implementation team.

     

    4.     That the costs of support and maintenance for the software procured be included in future years’ revenue budget.

     

    5.     That it be noted that Management Team have agreed an exemption to the Joint Contract Procedure Rules to enable 4OC to be commissioned to support the full business case stage.

     

    Note 2: Councillor P Kelly re-entered the meeting at 18:48 for the consideration of agenda item 6 (minutes item 4).

     

    5.

    Joint Working Annual Report 2017 and Programme Update pdf icon PDF 297 KB

    Minutes:

    It was agreed by the Committee that items 7 and 8 on the Agenda be considered together.

     

    The report presented to the Joint Committee was the fifth joint working annual report. The report described the achievements of the last year and the key features of the planned joint working in the coming year. Throughout the last year, the Councils had seen the completion of all service reviews. This included the largest service, planning, which was now in the implementation phase. Total savings for the Councils following the programme of service reviews were over £1.9M. It was noted that all staff were now on harmonised terms and conditions.

     

    The Director of Resources informed the Committee that a number of the Councils’ joint teams had been nominated for a number of national awards. Members were pleased that the hard work and achievements of staff had been recognised nationally.

     

    Members were advised that the next phase of joint working was the transformation phase and that the customer service programme would bring this transformation to life. The mobile working programme was at Appendix 1 to the report. It was noted that flexible home working had been successfully rolled out to three service areas, namely, Legal and Democratic Services, Human Resources and Building Control. Regarding the accommodation project, it was noted that the project would come to a conclusion in December 2017 once planning staff had moved from Capswood to King George V House, and operations at Capswood had slimmed down to a single building.

     

    The Director of Resources advised the Committee that all members of staff were at the heart of the success for the joint working programme, supported by the Values & Behaviours and Unwritten Ground Rules that staff had helped develop. This was helping establish and embed a single culture across the organisation.

     

    Members enquired as to the current progress of mobile and flexible working in the services where mobile working had been rolled out, and were informed that staff could work at either Council office or at home and that the virtual desktop would be introduced imminently. The Committee commended the hard work of staff for making the joint working programme a huge success.

     

    RESOLVED:

     

    That the Joint Working Annual Report 2017 and the Joint Working Programme Update be noted.