Agenda and minutes

Our Council Scrutiny Panel
Wednesday, 3rd February, 2016 6.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1 - 3rd Floor - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Earl Piggott-Smith  Tel: 01902 551251 or Email: earl.piggott-smith@wolverhampton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from the following members of the panel:

 

Cllr Payal Bed

Cllr Milkinderpal Jaspal

2.

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest recorded.

3.

Minutes of previous meeting (2.12.15) pdf icon PDF 80 KB

[To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record]

Minutes:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 2.12.15 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

4.

Matters arising

[To consider any matters arising from the minutes]

Minutes:

Minute 6: Terms of Reference and Nominations for Specific Reserves Working Group

 

 

 

Scrutiny Officer commented that the members of Specific Reserves Working Group met on 14.1.16. The groups considered a report detailing reserves set aside by City of Wolverhampton Council in previous years in order to meet either specific items of expenditure or deal with unexpected budget pressures.

 

Claire Nye, Chief Accountant, agreed to co-ordinate the preparation of briefings with the information requested by the group. The comments of the group will be included as an appendix to the report that will be presented to Cabinet.

 

The information will be sent to panel members when received.

5.

Future Space - developing the right accommodation to deliver the Council’s services pdf icon PDF 281 KB

[Mark Bassett, Strategic Property Adviser, to present an update on the Future Space programme, with an overview of the progress to date and what is planned for the next period.]

 

Minutes:

Cllr Andrew Johnson, Cabinet Member for Resources, introduced the report and explained that the Future Space programme is part of wide range of work focused on effectively managing the Council’s property portfolio. The policy involves closing buildings no longer required. Cabinet Member for Resources explained the plans for redeveloping the Civic Centre were aimed at carrying out necessary electrical and engineering maintenance work to extend the life of the building. The work is estimated to cost £10 million and is expected to deliver savings of £500,000 and extend the lifespan of the building for a further 25 years.

 

Cabinet Member for Resources explained that the building work to the Civic Centre also includes maintenance work to the underground car park area. The Civic Centre car park provides the Council with an income of £600,000 annually and it is important to protect the asset. The planned work will deliver better customer service, reduced energy use. The scheme is a major project and will be partly funded by receipts from the sale of buildings no longer used and borrowing of £500,000. Cabinet Member for Resources commented that there was not another alternative option and this work was part of wider efforts to improve the City centre economy.

 

Mark Bassett, Programme Director, outlined the progress to date and explained that it is a complex programme and involves consultation and discussions with a range of colleagues about the plans for the Civic Centre. Programme Director explained that an important part of the work involves meeting regularly with key people to better understand their current and future business needs, that will deliver a better customer service experience.

 

Programme Director outlined the range of survey work done to inspect heating and ventilation systems to help inform plans that will give the building a further 25 years of use. Programme Director explained that the plans are designed to minimise disruption to people who work in the building.  Programme Manager explained the plans for the redevelopment of the ground floor to improve the resident and visitor experience and how they access Council services. The work will look in detail at the different needs of services, working styles and their location within the building and technology needs.

 

Programme Director explained that repair work will need to deal with issues that might arise during the building work programme. Programme Director explained that work will comply with legal and building safety standards.

 

Tim Johnson, Strategic Director: Place, commented on the learning from doing similar large scale projects elsewhere and also there was in-house expertise to manage the programme. Strategic Director explained that there will be an element of disruption while the work is being done but it will bring a number of benefits to the organisation.

 

The panel requested details of the performance measures that will be used to monitor progress and also give Councillors an overview of the project. Programme Director explained that the work is monitored regularly; this includes face-to- face meetings with the Heads of Service.

 

The programme  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Future Money : Agresso payment performance pdf icon PDF 224 KB

[Darren Herries,Operational Manager, to present report on performance of payment to suppliers]

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lisa Taylor, Head of Service – The Hub, explained that this report is a follow up to a briefing paper on the payment performance within the Agresso finance system since being introduced. Head of Service explained that background to the changes.

 

Darren Herries, Payments Manager – The Hub, gave a brief overview of the legacy mainframe system that was used to manage payments to individuals and suppliers. Payment Manager detailed the range of difficulties with the using this system, for example delays in the payment of invoices to suppliers.

 

Payments Manager commented on the benefits to the Council following the implementation of Agresso system. Payments Manager commented that the current payment system was considered to be good and continuing to improve. Payments Manager explained that the service has been promoted to small firms who have been encouraged to change to an electronic payment system rather than cheques, which  take longer to process. The Agresso links the receipt to the invoice order which makes it possible to process payments  much quicker.

 

Payments Manager commented on the progress made since Agresso was introduced. Payments Manager explained 81 per cent of invoices are paid within 30 days. Furthermore, that during 2014/15 the Agresso system paid 150,000 invoices across 85,000 payment transaction, with a value of £360 million. Payment Manager explained that Sandwell MBC are interested in introducing a similar system.

 

Payments Manager commented that the service recently received an Excellence in Finance category award.  The award was made in recognition of the quantifiable savings and process improvements and in delivering value to the Council as a whole. Payments Manager explained that the service is currently taking stock about what has been learnt following the introduction of Agresso.  Payments Manager outlined other changes that have been introduced to the system and future plans for improving the service.

 

Head of Service – The Hub explained the work being done with suppliers about further changes that would deliver a better service. Payments Manager explained that the service is offering an advice workshop to local businesses on the Agresso and the benefits it would offer them if they moved to an electronic payment system.

 

The panel queried the reference in the report that 20 per cent of commercial suppliers do not have a valid email address and what was being done to reduce this figure further. Payments Manager commented on the benefits to businesses having an email contact such as a prompt payment. In addition, the change will reduce the costs to the Council in processing invoices and issuing cheques. The production of a cheque costs the Council £20. The panel discussed options for encouraging businesses to make the change.

 

 

Payments Manager explained that based on contract principles the Council must pay an invoice within 30 days of receipt. A supplier cannot be forced to change the invoice method and it will be long term challenge to make progress in this area. Payments Manager commented on the cash flow problems caused to small businesses due to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.