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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Council held on 17/02/2004
Executive - 6th January 2004 - Report to the Meeting of the Council on 17th February 2004



WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXECUTIVE – 6TH JANUARY 2004

REPORT TO THE MEETING OF THE COUNCIL ON 17TH FEBRUARY 2004

Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

The following report item contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded. The information is as specified in Paragraph 9 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, namely:-

Item P

Any terms proposed or to be proposed by or to the authority in the course of negotiations for a contract for the acquisition or disposal of property or the supply of goods or services.

PART I – Reports containing recommendations for decision by the Council

A. PETITION
[Wards Affected: All]

A.1 At the Council meeting on 16th December, the Mayor received a petition in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.11, signed by 24 Borough residents, from Mr Tom Martin. The prayer of the petition was as follows:

"We, the undersigned residents of the Borough of Waverley, hereby formally petition the Waverley Borough Council to refund 100 to each and every Council tax payer this year, as promised and committed by the local Liberal Democrats as a key pledge in their recent local election campaign".

A.2 The Leader explained that the petition referred to national liberal democrat literature and clarified that nationally, the liberal democrat policy was to abolish Council Tax and replace it with a local income tax. The Executive noted that it was not possible to grant refunds on Council Tax and accordingly agreed to

RECOMMEND that

73. no further action be taken with regard to this proposal.

Background Papers (CEx)

Petition referred to in the report.

B. FUNDAMENTAL SERVICE REVIEW OF PERSONNEL SERVICES - UPDATE
[Wards Affected: N/A]

B.1 Following the consideration of a report at the Executive meetings on 30th September and 2nd December 2003 on the fundamental service review of personnel services, the Executive has received further information, including a revised financial breakdown on the outcome of the review.

B.2 The original report addressed the matter of service improvement but placed less emphasis upon the challenges facing the service arising out of a workload that has grown beyond the capacity of the existing resources. Service improvements, whilst desirable, may not be achievable if the necessary investment in the service is not forthcoming.

B.3 There are a number of critical issues for the service. The Personnel Section was reduced in size during the 1990s to reflect a reduced level of activity, in particular in connection with recruitment when staff turnover was around 1% a year. In the past 3 years, increased employment related legislation and recruitment activity arising from a staff turnover rate that has reached a steady 10% to 11%, are the predominant reasons why the current staffing levels are not realistic to cope with the current volume of work. This level of activity is predicted to continue for the foreseeable future.

B.4. The short-term essential day-to-day work is carried out reasonably well, although that is heavily dependent upon the commitment of the staff employed in delivering the service. However, it is not possible to give attention to the essential and more strategic work in which the service should be engaged. This work is about ensuring the most effective, efficient and economic use of the Council’s staffing resources, i.e. primarily organisational development and workforce planning. Of particular significance is the Housing Options Appraisal which will draw down a significant amount of the time of the Personnel Section. This omission has been tolerated in the short term but failing to pay attention to these areas will be to the long-term detriment of Waverley Borough Council.

B.5 The original report made the case for a reasonable and realistic increase in staffing in the Personnel team which, even if agreed, would still leave the staffing level below that of the benchmark year of 1989. This report analyses the bid for increased staffing to give greater clarity and detail.

B.6 Certain Members of the Personnel team have been working additional hours in excess of their contracted hours. This was, initially, to support the Fundamental Service Review process and the cost was met from the (then) Best Value budget. These additional hours have continued in the current financial year in order to support the volume of everyday work required of the Personnel Section.

B.7 Those additional hours are, based on experience, essential to the delivery of the service and need to be consolidated into the staffing establishment. The detail is shown below: -

Additional Hours Annual Cost (2003 rates)

Personnel Officer + 5 hours a week 4,625
Administration Officer + 6.25 hours a week 3,648
Administration Assistant + 7 hours a week 3,637

Total carried forward 11,910

B.8 Critical essential hours are also required to support the Health and Safety and Emergency Planning Adviser to ensure that, in the Council’s significant interests, a more robust requirement is provided.

Administration Assistant + 15 hours a week 6,970
Total carried forward 18,880
B.9 Further additional hours are required to enable the proactive Personnel work to be carried out in supporting the Council’s services.

Personnel Officer + 7 hours a week 6,473

Administration Officer + 3.75 hours a week 2,182

Total carried forward 27,535

B.10 The original Fundamental Service Review report made a case for re-establishing the post of (full time) Training Officer with the cost of the new appointment being partially offset by a reduction in the training budget to help improve the value of the training budget:-

Training Officer (up to) + 37 hours a week up to 33,771 (see below)
Less offset by reduction in training budget up to 33,771

Net cost of Training Officer Nil

B.11 The consolidation of the additional hours is considered essential to maintain the current level of service provision at a cost of 11,910 a year. The support for the health and safety and emergency planning function is also considered essential at a cost of 6,970.

B.12 On the other additional resources requested, the position has been made less certain through the post of Principal Personnel and Training Officer being vacant for in excess of 6 months. The post has been kept vacant pending decisions on the recommendations in the Fundamental Service Review report (an interim manager has been employed to keep essential work progressing against this vacancy). The (unchanged) post was recently advertised and an offer of appointment has been made.

B.13 The position that has now been reached on training is to recommend the appointment of a Training Officer (probably less than full time and possibly on an annualised hours contract), to be a management decision based on the principle that the training budget would be used to meet the cost in full.

B.14 It is proposed that the position on the appointment of a Training Officer and the application of the additional Personnel Officer and Administration Officer hours be deferred until the new Principal Personnel and Training Officer has settled into the new role. One of the options that will be considered at that time will be whether to make these appointments on a temporary basis in the light of the possible outcome of the Housing Options Appraisal. The Portfolio holder for Human Resources will be consulted at the appropriate time.

B.15 It is felt that, in the light of all of the discussions that have been held since the matter was first reported to the Executive in September 2003, this compromise position represents a fair and reasonable way forward. The Executive accordingly

RECOMMENDS that

74. the additional hours currently being worked in the Personnel Section, as set out above, be consolidated at a cost of 11,910 per year;

75. the proposal to create a new post of part-time Administration Assistant to support the Health and Safety and Emergency Planning Adviser be approved at a cost of 6,970 per year;

76. the appointment of a Training Officer be deferred until after the post of Principal Personnel and Training Officer has been filled but that officers be delegated to take that decision on the basis that the cost be met in full from the training budget; and

77. the additional hours as proposed above be approved, but that the actual appointments related to those additional hours be deferred until after the post of Principal Personnel and Training Officer has been filled and when the need can be further evaluated.

Background Papers (CEx)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

C. HEALTH AND SAFETY ENFORCEMENT
[Wards Affected: All]

C.1 Waverley is responsible for enforcing health and safety related legislation at approximately 2,300 individual premises in the Borough. The Health and Safety Commission and Government have committed to a "Revitalising Strategy", referring to worrying trends in enforcement both nationally and locally. Statutory Guidance has also been issued to local authorities on how to discharge their duties.

C.2 The Environmental Health Section has undertaken several measures to increase the amount of health and safety work it undertakes, but activity remains at a low level, restricted mainly to the investigation of work-place accidents. The Executive has considered a report which draws attention to the national strategy and the response of officers to date. Options are also presented as to how the function should be developed into the future.

C.3 District and Unitary Councils are responsible for the enforcement of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSW Act) to the extent prescribed in the Health and Safety (Enforcing Authority) Regulations 1988. Section 18 of the HSW Act requires local authorities to perform their duties in accordance with guidance from the Health and Safety Commission. This guidance, commonly known as ‘Section 18 Guidance’ (referred to again later in this report), is therefore mandatory.

C.4 The Enforcing Authority Regulations make local authorities responsible for offices, shops, retail and wholesale distribution, hotel and catering establishments, petrol filling stations, residential care homes and the leisure industry. In Waverley there are approximately 2,300 such establishments. The diversity of these work activities and the involvement of the public make local authority enforcement activity particularly challenging.

C.5 The same Enforcing Authority Regulations make The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) responsible for the remaining business sectors, including factories, workshops, agriculture and transport. The HSE are also responsible for enforcing HSW legislation at local authority premises. Protecting Health and Safety in Waverley is important, not only to employees and the public, but also to the business community. The fair and consistent application of legal standards in the complex area of Health and Safety ensures a level playing field both within the Borough and in comparison with other areas.
C.6 The Government and the Health and Safety Commission produced their ‘Revitalising Health and Safety Strategy’ in 2001. This was aimed at reversing the national trend of reducing numbers of inspectors, inspections and enforcement activity amongst local authorities. The need for the ‘Revitalising Strategy’ was put into context by key statistics for England, Scotland and Wales in 2000/01.

C.7 The strategy was accompanied by an Action Plan with targets to reduce work-related fatalities, ill-health and injury (including the target to reduce the number of fatal and major injury accidents by 10% by 2010). In support of the Revitalising Strategy the Health and Safety Commission have issued mandatory guidance to local authorities on how to discharge their duties under Section 18 of HSW Act, and have also established a Local Authority Enforcement Management Branch of the HSE to undertake audits of local authorities on their behalf.

C.8 The Guidance issued by HSC under Section 18(4) contains the broad principles the HSC wishes LAs to adopt in enforcing health and safety legislation. They provide a framework within which LAs should operate so that HSC can be confident that they are making adequate arrangements for enforcement. In the view of HSC, elements are essential for an LA to adequately discharge its duty as an enforcing authority. These are set out below:-
VII. arrangements for liaison and co-operation in respect of the Lead Authority Partnership Scheme for multi-site businesses.

C.9 A new branch of the HSEs Local Authority Unit has recently been established to undertake on-site audits of the enforcement activity of local authorities. Although the audit team is currently small, it is concentrating its limited resources on those Councils thought to be performing their duties poorly. Whilst the criteria for selecting Councils are not published, they are likely to include low inspection/enforcement activity rates, data for which are actively collected by them.

C.10 Where the Local Authority Unit has so far undertaken audits and found Councils to be under-performing, it has worked together with them to produce an action-plan, and resorted to a naming-and-shaming strategy where this has not resulted in improvements. So far, the default powers contained in Section 45 of the HSW Act have been held in reserve. These enable the Secretary of State, after considering a report from the HSC, to cause a formal local enquiry to be held, and thereafter transfer enforcement functions to the HSE. In such a case, the HSE’s ongoing expenses are payable by the defaulting authority.

C.11 The Council’s Environmental Health Section was restructured this year following the findings of a Fundamental Service Review, and the opportunity presented by the departure of the Residential Team EH Manager. One of the (new) three teams is the Food and Health and Safety Team, but there remains very limited capacity to undertake Health and Safety enforcement activity.

C.12 The principal reasons for the limited capacity to undertake a programme of proactive risk-based inspections are as follows:

C.13 It is estimated that a total additional resource of 2.0 FTE Officers are needed in Waverley to carry out a risk-based inspection programme and the other base requirements of the Section 18 Guidance.

Surrey Peer Review, Internal Audit Review and Risk Management Review

C.14 All of the Surrey district authorities are cooperating to undertake a County-wide peer review of procedures, resources and activity, under the supervision of the Surrey Chief Environmental Health Officers’ Group. A peer review is required in order to comply with one of the requirements of the ‘Section 18 Guidance’. An audit timetable and protocol has been agreed, together with each district nominating an officer to attend an audit training-day (provided by the HSE’s Local Authority Unit), visit one other Surrey Council to gather information and thereafter prepare a written report. The site visits will take place in April 2004, and the report will be produced in May 2004. The HSE’s LA Unit will be sent a copy of the review thereafter in order to demonstrate Section 18 compliance.

C.15 A member of the Council’s Internal Audit Team is currently undertaking a review of the Council’s Health and Safety and Food Safety systems. It is anticipated that the report will be available early in 2004. Members of the Executive have requested formal identification of the risk of service failure in Environmental Health. Whilst this was requested in relation to the whole of the service, a particular pressure is being experienced in relation to the Section’s Health and Safety at Work function, which is therefore the subject of this report. The risks to Waverley will also need to form an action-plan element of the Council’s Risk Management Plan.

C.16 A job offer has been made to a candidate recently interviewed to fill a vacant position in the Food and Health and Safety Team. Whilst the candidate is not a qualified EHO, the person does have the necessary experience and qualifications to satisfy the competency requirements of the ‘Section 18 Guidance’, and will therefore be able to commence Health and Safety inspections in the New Year (provided the appointment is taken up as expected).

C.17 However, this does not represent any new resource in the Team, or the Environmental Health Section, and whilst proactive HSW inspections will begin to be carried out in the Borough, the following challenges will remain:

Whilst it is not necessary to inspect each HSW premises each year, the frequency will depend on the risk of that type of business and level of compliance at the last inspection. Nationally, there was 1 HSW inspector per 1,121 LA enforced premises in 2000/01 (down from 1 per 857 in 1995/06). It is, therefore, estimated that 2 HSW inspectors are required to inspect the 2,300 premises for which Waverley has responsibility.

Capacity to undertake food inspections has been reduced in the Food and Health & Safety Team. This cannot be sustained since Waverley has been set the target of inspecting 100% of food premises due for inspection (based on a risk-rated system) each year. Failure to achieve a consistently high level could result in intervention by the Food Standards Authority. However, in the current year it should still be possible to achieve the 100% food inspection target through the use of vacancy, and maternity leave savings to employ agency staff.

C.18 It is, therefore, estimated that an additional 1 FTE Environmental Health Officer or appropriately qualified EH Technician (26,000 pa plus 10,000 travelling, equipment & employee on-costs) is required to undertake more HSW inspections, plus 1 additional FTE Environmental Health Officer (33,000 pa plus 12,000 travelling, equipment & employee on-costs) to replace the resource temporarily reallocated from the Council’s Food Safety function. It is recommended that both of these appointments should be made from April 2004.

C.19 The total additional resource implication of complying with the base requirements of the ‘Section 18 Mandatory Guidance’ is therefore estimated to be 81,000 pa. (representing an additional 2 FTE Officers). However, it is suggested that half of this sum (40,500) be met from budget reductions within the Environment and Leisure Department, with the remaining 40,500 added to the base revenue budget as growth.

C.20 The Council’s Environmental Health Section is responsible for a range of duties that are almost exclusively statutory in nature, and it remains one of the least resourced per capita nationally. Failure to carry out its statutory duties could result in Government intervention.

C.21 Whilst the results of an internal audit and a Surrey-wide peer review of this area of work is expected next year, it is suggested that it would be prudent to make budgetary provision to undertake a programme of Health and Safety inspections in accordance with this report. This will enable the employment of an additional 2 FTE additional staff to undertake this work.

C.22 It is accordingly

RECOMMENDED that:

78. two additional permanent Environmental Health Officers be employed, from April 2004, in order to discharge the Council’s Health and Safety at Work enforcement duties as set out above; and

79. additional revenue budget provision be made in the sum of 40,500, with a further 40,500 accommodated from budget reductions within the Environment and Leisure Department.

Background Papers (DoE&L)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

PART II –Matters reported in detail for the information of the Council

There are no matters falling within this category.

PART III – Brief summaries of other matters dealt with

Background Papers

The background papers to the following reports in Part III are as specified in the Agenda for the meeting of the Executive.

D. EXECUTIVE FOUR-MONTH ROLLING PROGRAMME
[Wards Affected: N/A]

The Executive has considered and approved the four-month rolling programme of key decisions for Waverley.

E. FINANCIAL STRATEGY 2004/2005 TO 2006/2007 AND BUDGET 2004/2005
[Wards Affected: All]
E.1 Draft General Fund Capital Programme

The Executive considered a report putting forward proposals for the draft 2004/2005 Capital Programme for General Fund services. The Executive was of the view that the draft Capital Programme needed to be reduced by a further 400,000 to 2.7m and asked the Overview and Scrutiny Committees to give consideration to how reductions of between 10 and 20% could be achieved in their portfolio areas.

E.2 Draft General Fund Revenue Estimates

The Executive has given further consideration to the General Fund Budget for 2004/05 and has considered the list of suggested budget reductions Annexed to the report. It has asked the Overview and Scrutiny Committees to review the list and put forward any other proposals for savings, with an indication that the proposal for discontinuing the Area Committees was unlikely to go ahead in the next financial year but that the other reductions are highly likely to have to go ahead.

The Executive also agreed in principle that the effects of new legislation and the shortfall arising from the Local Government Finance Settlement would be met by an increase in Council Tax, as set out in an updated Annexe 5, and agreed that the Portfolio Holder and Director of Finance make an appropriate response to the Grant consultation exercise.

E.3 Draft Housing Revenue Account Capital Programme

The Executive has given initial consideration to the draft capital programmes and agreed, subject to comments from the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee, to the financing of an affordable homes programme totalling 2.5m over the next three years.

E.4 Draft Housing Revenue Account Revenue Estimates

The Executive has noted the Housing Revenue Account estimates and agreed the proposal to increase rents by 5% in principle, subject to considering any comments from the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

F. COUNCIL TAX BASE
[Wards Affected: All]

The Executive has been informed of changes in the procedure for setting the Council Tax Base which were notified to authorities since the Executive considered the Council Tax Base for 2004/05 at its meeting on 2nd December. It has agreed to approve the Council Tax Base for Waverley and for each of the Town/Parish Council areas for the year 2004/05.

G. COMPENSATORY GRANTS REVIEW
[Wards Affected: N/A]

At its meeting on 2nd December, the Executive looked at a number of options regarding the future working of the Compensatory Grants scheme. It was agreed that Parish Councils be formally consulted on the proposals and the Director of Finance had invited comments by 16th January. The Executive noted that a report would be submitted to its meeting on 3rd February 2004 and that the Council would make the final decision at the meeting on 17th February.

H. ELECTRONIC PAYMENTS - RECEIPTS
[Wards Affected: All]

The Executive has considered a report outlining the requirement to improve the service offered to the Council's customers who wish to make payments over the telephone or via the Council's website and recommending a preferred technical solution. The Executive has agreed that the Council should purchase Adelante's SmartPay package to facilitate the receipt of payments and that the implementation be met from the provision of 25,000 for Electronic Receipts in the 2003/04 IEG Capital Programme.

I. PRUDENTIAL CODE FOR CAPITAL FINANCE IN LOCAL AUTHORITIES
[Wards Affected: N/A]

The Executive was informed of, and has noted, the requirements of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy's (CIPFA's) Prudential Code ahead of the budget setting process in February.

J. AN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT SYSTEM FOR WAVERLEY
[Wards Affected: N/A]

J.1 As part of Waverley's Local Agenda 21 Strategy, Waverley agreed to undertake a number of initiatives to improve its own environmental performance. Most of the relevant actions outlined in the Strategy are now under way or completed. The Executive has agreed that a formal Environmental Management System structure should be developed, with the offer of assistance from WWF accepted, to enable the demonstration of Waverley's environmental commitment.

J.2 The Executive has agreed to adopt the BS 8555 system as the preferred method of developing an Environmental Management System for Waverley, with permission given to proceed with Phase 1 only at this stage. It has also agreed to receive a report annually on the progress of the development.

K. GODALMING KEY SITE - PROGRESS
[Wards Affected: All Godalming Wards]

The Executive has received and noted an update report on a number of issues with regard to progress on the Godalming Key Site.

L. PROPERTY IN FARNHAM – FIRST PLANNING RESOLUTION
[Ward Affected: Farnham Shortheath and Boundstone]

The Executive has agreed that a first planning resolution be sought to allow a planning application to be submitted for the extension proposed at the property in Farnham, under the Council's policy for Disabled Adaptations to Council (Managed) Properties.

M. EASEMENT OF ACCESS TO PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AT THE OLD BAKERY, THE COMMON, CRANLEIGH
[Ward Affected: Cranleigh West]

The Executive has considered a report seeking approval for the grant of an easement of access to a proposed development of two houses to the rear of the Old Bakery, The Common, Cranleigh. It has agreed that

1. the Council grants an easement of vehicular access, along the route shown hatched on the plan, to the owners of the Old Bakery, The Common, Cranleigh, at a fee set out in the Exempt Annexe to the report;

2. no change or improvements be made to the existing access;

3. the applicant will be responsible for the maintenance of the access with materials and to a standard to be agreed by the Countryside Manager; covenants to enforce this liability are to be written into all transfers of the site or any part of it;

4. the common land adjacent to the access track currently maintained by the owners of the Old Bakery should be maintained to a regime of one cut per year in late July or the end of August;

5. the easement of access is to be used only in connection with three detached dwellings, including the Old Bakery, and is to be tied into any planning permission granted for this development;

6. access to the site during building works and all construction on Council-owned land is to be covered by a licence;

7. the applicant should bear the Council's proper legal costs, together with any Stamp Duty which may be payable;

8. the Council receives an area of land to the north of the car parking area for St Andrew's, shown cross-hatched on the submitted plan, for the purposes of constructing extra car parking spaces;

9. the agreement is to contain such other terms and conditions as the Head of Legal Services considers appropriate; and

10. any other terms and conditions are to be negotiated by the Property and Development Manager.

N. REPORT OF THE EAST STREET SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP (SIG)
[Wards Affected: All]

The Executive received a report of the newly constituted Special Interest Group which had met on two occasions. It has agreed to approve the proposed timetable for landowner sanction and confirmed that the key issues identified by the Council in the Autumn of 2002 and outlined in Item B of the report, had been addressed in the Masterplan dated 19th December 2003, submitted to the meeting.

O. CORPORATION OF GODALMING COLLEGE – APPOINTMENT OF WAVERLEY REPRESENTATIVE
[Wards Affected: N/A]

The Executive has agreed to defer consideration of the appointment of a Waverley Representative to the Godalming College until July 2004 when the original term of office of Mrs M Nyazai expires.

P. WONERSH VILLAGE STORES
[Ward Affected: Blackheath and Wonersh]

The Executive has given consideration to this matter, the subject of a report at (Exempt) Appendix N to the Agenda for the meeting, and has agreed that the further developments in trying to secure a successful outcome for the speedy reopening of Wonersh Village Stores and the four options set out in the report be endorsed.

comms/council/2003-04/041