Hounslow Council

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Ian Duke, telephone 020 8583 2191, e-mail  ian.duke@hounslow.gov.uk 

No. Item


Welcome and Introductions


The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and introduced the three substantive items on the agenda namely the peer challenge action plan, the Worksmart progress update and the quarter 4 performance data, customer complaints and proposed new governance arrangements for performance management.


Apologies for absence, declarations of interest or any other communications from Members


Cllrs Savin and Thompson sent their apologies.

Cllr Dennison and Mayne also sent their apologies.


Minutes of the meeting held on 12 June 2017 pdf icon PDF 119 KB


The minutes of the meeting 12 June 2017 were agreed as an accurate record.



Matters arising from the minutes


All actions have been dealt with and the VCSE recommendations update is on the agenda.


Outcome of the LGA Peer Challenge and Action Plan pdf icon PDF 312 KB

Additional documents:


Cllr Curran introduced the Peer Challenge item and noted that the Peer Challenge Report was very positive. The report indicates that the organisation is member-led and recognised the good relationships between officers and members. It emphasised the Council’s sound financial position but noted the organisation’s risk appetite needs to be clarified and the potential of change fatigue to affect staff morale.  Cllr Curran noted the recommendations from the Peer report and associated action plan and indicated at a more detailed action plan with roles, responsibilities and timeframes would be developed.

Cllr Chatt indicated that this reported should inform our thinking about a new policy cycle and corporate plan and opened the floor for questions.


The following discussion noted:


·         The report only explicitly mentions Scrutiny with reference to improving performance management arrangements, something that the Committee was already doing. The Peer team did meeting with members of Scrutiny and the omission indicates that there was no significant concern about Scrutiny’s role and process.

·         Members supported the recommendations for improved branding.

·         The broad nature of the report was highlighted with members raising concerns on the lack of depth in dealing with some of the difficulties we face in delivery. Mary Harpley and Cllr Curran confirmed that the terms of reference for the report was set by the LGA, the report followed a set framework and the lack of detail may be due to the fact that the report is based upon 3 days of interviews. Nonetheless, the recommendations are substantive and in the detail of the report there are further areas for the Council to act upon.

·         The Council had asked the Challenge Team to take a detailed look at Worksmart and the preparations for the move to the new Civic Centre given the risks involved. The Challenge Team had found that the Council was well placed on both.

·         Cllr Curran suggested that one area that the Committee may wish to look at was the impact of Universal Credit, an issue that the report highlighted but which was creating wider challenges for the Council.

Members agreed that OSC should scrutinise the implementation of these recommendations and especially recommendation 6 on performance management and the role for OSC in this area.




·         The Committee  notes report of the Peer Challenge Team

·         The Committee notes the Action Plan agreed at Borough Council on 11 July 2017

·         The Chair and Ian Duke shall meet to ensure that OSC monitors this report and discuss in future meetings



Worksmart and culture change pdf icon PDF 245 KB

·       Update on progress

·       Arrangements for managing performance

·       Culture change within middle management


BalvinderHeran, director of ICT, provided an overview of the progress in implementing Worksmart Phase 3 which shall finish on time and in budget.


She highlighted the following:


·         The Worksmart Policy and protocols were approved by Cabinet in May 2017

·         Currently 60% of staff work flexible and remotely and staff surveys reveal satisfaction with the new arrangements, morale is improving.

·         Informal feedback indicates improved recruitment and retention of staff due to the flexible arrangements however this relies on managers setting clear targets, clarifying expectations and managing performance. There are some indications that productivity is increasing.

·         Middle management is a key area for focus in implementing this change. Sharing information and experience for this group is important.

·         Storage has reduced as data is scanned and stored digitally. There are other sites in the borough storing archived data that will also need to be processed. Information and data is being scanned and indexed for searchability and to remove the reliance on paper.

·         There is a focus on ‘paperless panels’ which shall translate into savings in printing.

·         New technology has been well received and staff are attending change management and ICT training

Ms Heran also looked at the next steps for Worksmart and focussed on continuous improvement and continued culture change. Once Phase 3 has been delivered there will be shift to focussing on services and training for members. There is also a move to look at alternative locations and hubs to assist in flexible working and meeting spaces for staff. There are a series of discussions with other Councils in order to use their facilities and spaces for staff that where home working may not be suitable.


The subsequent discussion is summarised below.


·         Members sought clarification on the implications for staff retention, increase costs for staff as they work from home, flexible working hours and productivity. The members went on to emphasise that the primary goal is to service residents and Worksmart should support this goal.

·         There were several question on technology and the use of Jabber. Members raised concerns on their use and its effect on contacting staff and customers. Ms Heran noted that these concerns are being addressed.

·         Questions around meeting rooms and confidential spaces for frontline staff members were raised and again there was an emphasis on helping staff to serve residents in the best way possible.

·         In relation to managing risks, Ms Heran noted that staff receive training on ICT, health and safety, data protection and safeguarding and they are working with other local authorities to consider the potential risk factors should staff work in their buildings.

·         Questions were raised about the increased security risks, information back-ups and virus or cyber-attacks. Ms Heran noted that cyber security is an increasing threat and the organisation takes every measure possible to protect the organisations’ systems and data.

·         Members raised concerns on the move to encourage people to ‘self-serve’ online emphasising that the current systems are not working, particularly for missed bin reporting. Mary Harpley explained that there are some  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


Managing Performance pdf icon PDF 220 KB

·       Update on implementation of new performance management system and governance arrangements

·       Quarter 4 performance outturn and action plans to decide performance item for Meeting 3

·       Performance update for Customer Care and Complaints, including progress on channel shift and website implementation

Additional documents:


Ian Duke introduced this item which deals with Quarter 4 performance, customer care and complaints (following a previous report 6 months ago) and the new governance system. Mr Duke highlighted areas where new action plans have been developed for performance indicators in the ‘red’. OSC has previously focussed on ‘refreshed action plans’ where the actions have not made the predicted progress as this tends to highlight ongoing issues rather than blips in performance.


Ian Duke requested feedback on any of the indicators where OSC would like to instigate further review and the following was suggested:


·         BPI 41 and the recycling targets especially in light of the new system

·         BPI 43 and acceptable levels of litter

·         Indicators on health and social care following the previous deep dive by the Scrutiny Panels and the new revised targets for this financial year

·         Crime and community safety indicators BPI 11 and BPI 12 in light of the initiatives around CCTV approved by Cabinet last month.




·         OSC to look at performance on recycling and waste at the meeting on 20 September as part of its ongoing oversight of Recycle 360. This will include looking at the issues surrounding garden waste.

·         Also at that meeting will be an update on the health and social care indicators

·         The Housing and Environment Scrutiny Panel will consider the crime and safety indicators




There was a motion to suspend standing orders so the meeting might continue to 10pm


Tina Dunkin was introduced and she provided an overview of improvements in customer services and the transformation of the service since January 2017.  She noted:


·         The team had undergone induction and training (in complaints handling, Local Government Ombudsman’s, Freedom of Information and Data protection) since January 2017 when the restructure was complete.

·         Complaints have been reduced through triaging and dealing with issues before entering the formal complaints process.

·         Reponses times for complaints re improving even though it’s still in the red. This is hindered by dealing with historic complaints handling.

·         There are a large number of historic cases that still need to be cleared and which affect the performance figures. Once cleared performance will be higher than it is currently.

·         Initiatives have been introduced to improve transparency and communication with directors and heads of service

·         New corporate complaints policy has been implemented to remove the third stage (members involvement) this is in line with Ombudsman guidance and best practice

The members questioned the removal of Stage 3 and whether the Constitution was changed to allow this process.


ACTION: Ian Duke to seek clarity from Peter Large on the issue process regarding the removal the third level of appeal


Members also questioned the change in stage one deadlines. Ms Dunkin confirmed the deadlines for completing stage 1 have been extended from 10 to 14 working days based on the need to do more a more thorough investigation and reduce the need to escalate to stage 2.

Ms Dunkin also highlighted reduced abandonment rates, improved repairs call answer rate, the appointment of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.


VCSE Sector Savings Update

Update on the Cabinet response to the Commitees findings and recommendations


Cllr Chatt had received communication from Cllr Dennison stating that a response to this Scrutiny Review will go to Cabinet in 19 September. A further update will be provided to the Committee at its meeting on 20 September.



Feedback from Scrutiny Panels and Scrutiny Work Programme


The Committee noted the work programme.

Cllr Bath and Cllr Collins volunteered to join the Task and Finish Group on Pollution and Air Quality.



Forward Plan

A link to the electronic version is listed here:


An A3 size hard copy will be circulated separately to Members of the Committee


No comments.



Monitoring Information - decisions taken under urgency arrangements


No decisions had been made under urgency arrangements since the last meeting.



Urgent Business

Any business which the Chair agrees to accept on grounds of urgency.


There were no items raised.



Date and time of next meeting

·       Monday 4 September 2017 from 7pm

·       Wednesday 20 September 2017 from 7pm


The next meeting is the 4 September 2017 at 7pm, followed by another meeting on 20 September also at 7pm.