Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: The Forum, Moat Lane, Towcester, Northants NN12 6AD

Contact: Emma Faulkner / Lesley Farrell, Democratic and Elections  Email: emma.faulkner@cherwellandsouthnorthants.gov.uk. 01327 322043 / Email: lesley.farrell@cherwellandsouthnorthants.gov.uk, 01295 221591

Items
No. Item

61.

Declarations of Interest

Members are asked to declare any interest and the nature of that interest which they may have in any of the items under consideration at this meeting.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

62.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 20 February 2019.

 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 20 February 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

63.

Urgent Business

The Chairman to advise whether they have agreed to any items of urgent business being admitted to the agenda.

 

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

64.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive communications from the Chairman.

Minutes:

The Chairman thanked the Committee for their attendance and contributions to scrutiny during the 2018/2019 municipal year.

65.

Customer Services Improvement Plan pdf icon PDF 353 KB

Geoff Kent - Assistant Director Customers and Corporate Services,

 

Attached for information is a briefing note on the Customer Service Improvement Project.

 

The aim of this briefing note is to provide an overview of the “Customer Services Marathon” which is a project to improve the performance and effectiveness of the Council’s Customer Services function.

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)          That the briefing note and presentation be noted.

 

(2)          That a further update be provided to the Committee in December 2019.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director Customers and Corporate Services gave a presentation on the improvement plan that was in progress for Customer Services. It was called the “Customer Services Marathon” to energise the team, emphasise the scale and length of the improvement and also used the 26 mile marathon distance to make a point of reference as the “Customer Services Marathon” was a 26 week journey that had started in October 2018 and was due to conclude in May 2019.

 

The Assistant Director Customers and Corporate Services explained that whilst the team were already showing high standards of customer service and wanted to offer the best service, they were hampered by systems used in the team and its culture. There was also a lack of praise and recognition for great customer service. The Customer Services Marathon was focussed on four themes: Customer Service Excellence; Maximise capacity; Staffing; and, Using IT.

 

The Assistant Director Customers and Corporate Services advised the Committee that an additional major project was the separation of South Northants and Cherwell District Council. The Customer Services team was currently fully integrated both in terms of service delivery to customers and staffing. As incremental changes were made, customers would not see any difference as existing telephone numbers, email addresses and service delivery approach would remain tailored to the two Councils as was currently the case. The priority was to ensure excellent customer service was delivered as the service is separated over the coming months.

 

In response to members’ comments regarding the length of time it took to get through to South Northamptonshire Council on the telephone the Assistant Director Customers and Corporate Services explained that this was due to many factors which were being looked at and improvements were continuously being made which was resulting in reducing waiting time. 

 

Members suggested that giving callers an indication as to where they were in the call queue would be a good addition so customers had an idea as to how long they may have to wait.

 

In response to members’ comments regarding the compatibility of the new telephone system with the other councils who would be part of the West Northamptonshire Unitary Council, the Assistant Director Customers and Corporate Services explained that telephone systems would be integrated from day one and that the objective was to provide the best service now and going forward.

 

The Committee was advised that all methods of communication were being improved to enable customers to choose how they communicate with South Northamptonshire Council.  This included self-service, email, telephone and a staff facing service, as it was acknowledged that residents had differing needs when communicating with the council.

 

With regards email contact, Members supported the benefits this offered but suggested that the advised response time of ten days given the auto reply should be shortened to five working days as customers would then be less likely to seek an alternative form of contact.

 

The Committee requested the Assistant Director Customers and Corporate Services to attend a future meeting  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.

66.

Towcester Relief Road pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Report of Executive Director: Resources

 

Purpose of report

 

To update Members on the proposed Towcester Relief Road and work to bring its delivery forward; and to clarify that it is part, and not the whole, of the transport and planning policies and strategies that seek to improve some of the transport and air quality issues in Towcester.

 

Recommendations

            

The Scrutiny Committee is invited to:

 

1.1      Consider the current status of the work by South Northamptonshire Council to progress the Towcester Relief Road

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the current status of the work by South Northamptonshire Council to progress the Towcester Relief Road be noted. 

 

(2)      That a further update be provided to the Committee in December 2019.

Minutes:

The Executive Director, Resources submitted a report on the Towcester Relief Road which updated Members on the proposed Towcester Relief Road and work to bring its delivery forward. The report clarified that it was part, and not the whole, of the transport and planning policies and strategies sought to improve some of the transport and air quality issues in Towcester.

 

The Executive Director, Resources explained that talks were taking place with Northamptonshire County Council to see what else could be done as the road was only part of the answer. South Northamptonshire Council would continue to lobby Highways England but de-trunking the A5 was not within their current plans.

 

The Committee asked the Executive Director, Resources to attend the December meeting of the committee to provide a further update.

 

Resolved

 

(1)       That the current status of the work by South Northamptonshire Council to progress the Towcester Relief Road be noted. 

 

(2)       That a further update be provided to the Committee in December 2019.

67.

Brexit Planning

Verbal update from the Executive Director – Operations.

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the verbal update be noted.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director Communications, Engagement and Transformation gave a verbal update on the contingency planning South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) was involved in relation to the UK’s exit from the European Union.

 

The Assistant Director Communication, Engagement and Transformation explained that the risks were moderately low as SNC did not rely on overseas services.  He also explained that many risks had been covered in continuity planning but asked Councillors to be the eyes and ears of the council and advise the senior management team of any issues that were brought to their attention.

 

The Committee suggested that the Economic Development team might be able to provide advice to local businesses on Brexit planning.

 

Resolved

 

(1)       That the verbal update be noted.

68.

Scrutiny Annual Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 60 KB

Report of Executive Director: Resources (Monitoring Officer)

 

Purpose of report

 

This report presents the draft Scrutiny Committee Annual Report for 2018/19. 

 

Recommendations

            

The meeting is recommended:

 

1.1       To consider the draft Scrutiny Committee Annual Report 2018/19

 

1.2      To delegate authority to the Executive Director – Resources (Monitoring Officer), in consultation with the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee, to finalise the areas highlighted in the report prior to its submission to Council

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the draft Scrutiny Committee Annual Report 2018/19 be noted.

 

(2)      That authority be delegated to the Executive Director – Resources (Monitoring Officer), in consultation with the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee, to finalise the areas highlighted in the report prior to its submission to Council.

Minutes:

The Executive Director Resources submitted a report which presented the draft Scrutiny Committee Annual Report for 2018/19. The final version of the report would be submitted to the Annual Council meeting on 15 May.

 

The Democratic and Elections Officers gave an overview of the Report, explaining that parts were still to be completed to incorporate the items under discussion at this meeting.   The Democratic and Elections Officers explained that there would also be an appendix to the report which would list the topics that had been suggested by Committee members as possible topics for scrutiny review and any outcomes of those suggestions

 

Resolved

 

(1)       That the draft Scrutiny Committee Annual Report 2018/19 be noted.

 

(2)       That authority be delegated to the Executive Director – Resources (Monitoring Officer), in consultation with the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee, to finalise the areas highlighted in the report prior to its submission to Council.

69.

Review of Committee Work Plan pdf icon PDF 46 KB

Democratic and Elections Officers will give an update on progress regarding subjects raised at previous Committee meetings (appendix 1, attached).

 

The Committee to consider the indicative work programme for 2019/2020 (appendix 2, attached).

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the progress of the Scrutiny topics work programme be noted.

 

(2)      That Fast Food Outlets near Schools be added as a possible Scrutiny topic for the 2019/20 Municipal Year.

 

(3)      That it be noted that the items listed on the topic sheet and the work programme would be reviewed as part of the work programme planning at the first meeting of the 2019/20 Municipal Year.

 

Minutes:

 

The Democratic and Elections Officers updated the Committee on progress of topics raised at previous meetings advising that this was the last meeting of the municipal year and all topics and work programme items would be considered by the Committee at their first meeting of the 2019/20 municipal year.

 

In response to a request that Eating Premises near Schools be added to the list of Topics, the Governance and Elections Manager explained that a report had previously been considered by the Planning Policy and Regeneration Strategy Committee but would be added to the list of topics and information reported back to the committee. 

 

The Committee had requested that updates on Customer Services and the Towcester Relief Road be provided to the Committee in late 2019 and would be added to the work programme

 

Resolved

 

(1)       That subject to the addition of a Customer Services update and an update on the Towcester Relief Road, the topic sheet and indicative work programme for 2019/20 be noted.