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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 06/02/2007
Notes on Proposed New Capital Schemes





ANNEXE 3 TO APPENDIX B.2.
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
EXECUTIVE - 6TH FEBRUARY 2007

NOTES ON PROPOSED NEW CAPITAL SCHEMES

Central Offices Feasibility Study

It is proposed to carry out a feasibility study into various options for the provision of Central Office accommodation for the Council, taking into account the most effective use of office accommodation assets. The provision will also specifically provide for feasibility work into the potential introduction of a Godalming Locality Office service as part of the Central Offices.

The feasibility study supports the following WBC Corporate Objective:
Objective F3 – optimise the benefits derived from management of the Council’s assets. Haslemere Locality Office / Library (not scheduled to commence before 2008/9)

As part of the proposed development of a new library for Haslemere, Waverley has been involved in discussions with Surrey County Council on the inclusion of a Locality Office facility within the proposed new building to replace the existing service operated from a stand-alone building in Lion Green (opposite the Haslewey Centre). The benefit to the local community would be the provision of County and Borough information services under one roof. There would also be a benefit to Waverley in terms of a reduced staffing requirement for the Locality Office service as single member of staff operation would be viable as is already the case at Cranleigh Locality Office, which is based within the Cranleigh Leisure Centre building.

Planning permission for the scheme has not yet been sought and the site concerned which forms part of the Fairground Site, Weyhill (owned by Waverley) is common land and will therefore involve a land transfer, which will need to be sanctioned by the Secretary of State. The rest of the Fairground Site (currently a free car park) would be redeveloped by Waverley as a pay and display car park and provision for this work has been included in future years capital programmes.

The Haslemere Locality Office proposal for relocation within a new library scheme will contribute to the following WBC Corporate Objectives:

Objective A4
Foster improved equality of opportunity for people living with disability and impairment.
Objective A5
Ensure in providing Council services that the needs of all members of the community are taken into account – irrespective of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age.
Objective D3
Ensure the provision of effective and efficient support to tenants.
Objective F3
Optimise the benefits derived from management of the Council’s assets.


DDA Compliant Meeting Room

The Council’s principal Committee Room (Committee Room1) does not comply with Disability Discrimination Act requirements as to gain access to the room it is necessary to navigate a narrow flight of steps. Officers have considered schemes for various means of making Committee Room 1 accessible but because of the layout of the area even if a lift mechanism were installed it would not be possible to provide one capable of handling a motorised wheelchair. It is currently not possible for disabled or frail individuals to attend public meetings held in Committee Room 1.

Aside from the practical difficulties of adapting Committee Room 1 the Council is not well provided with meeting facilities and therefore it is proposed that a new DDA compliant room be created off the First Floor Link Corridor. The resulting Committee Room being of a similar size to Committee Room 1.

The provision of a new DDA compliant Committee Room will contribute to the following WBC Corporate Objectives:

Objective A4
Foster improved equality of opportunity for people living with disability and impairment.
Objective A5
Ensure in providing Council services that the needs of all members of the community are taken into account – irrespective of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief and age.

Website Content Management System

WBC was amongst the first Local Authorities to recognise the potential of the internet as a channel for providing information about its services and was regularly judged to be amongst the top ten District Council web sites during the early years of the e-government initiative.

However, with advances in technology and customer expectation it is no longer sufficient to be a “content plus” site and more and more local authorities have upgraded to “transactional web sites”. Not only has WBC been “left behind” but, more importantly, the Council is not taking full advantage of the efficiency gains available by offering more and more “self serve” facilities on-line.

An independent analysis of WBC’s website in June 2006 highlighted the websites inconsistencies in page layouts, navigation, headings, labelling and readability plus its poor internal search facility

A number of other issues concerning the content and management of WBC’s web site include lack of editorial control and house style, lack of currency (on-line diaries and directories no longer maintained), poor design and look-and-feel and insufficient use of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Currently changes to the “home pages” for each service have to go via the Web Administrator. The Web Administrator is freelance and works for two weeks a month on WBC’s website. Although a member of WBC’s IT section is currently training in the necessary skills to be able to deputise for the Web Administrator the Council is still very dependent upon the services of this contractor and therefore vulnerable.
These failings and weaknesses on the content and management of the Council’s web site would be addressed by the purchase of a Content Management System (CMS). The purchase of this system would:
Enable service managers to input and update directly the content of their web-pages, events diaries, FAQs
Support corporate management of the website and central editorial control (including house-style and readability)
Ensure consistent look and feel, layout and design
Facilitate controlled publication of Waverley’s documents on the web site
Enforce compliance with web site standards
Finally, a recent staff survey (just under 100 respondents) identified that a significant majority of service managers thought that a CMS would improve WBC’s website, 80% responding that its pages would be updated more regularly.

The implementation of a CMS will contribute to the following WBC Corporate Objectives:

Objective F2
Assess and assure value for money in the delivery of Waverley's core services and priorities
Objective F5
Strive to continually design and improve customer-centred business processes, to include e-enabling an expanding range of services.
Objective G1
Continue to shape communication between the Council and its communities around consumers' needs and preferred forms of interaction (to include telephone, correspondence, face-to-face contacts and the internet), whilst maintaining Waverley's commitment to transparency in the making and communicating of decisions.
Objective G2
Manage the information and knowledge resources of the authority highly effectively, so as to respond quickly and comprehensively to customer feedback and enquiries.

Telephony –Voice over IP

Waverley currently uses Voice Over the Internet Protocol (VOIP) communication between the Godalming Council Offices and the Farnham Locality Office and Montrose House Farnham (Housing Rents Team). VOIP utilises the Council’s existing IT communications links to carry telephone communication – in other words the two Farnham Offices operate from the Godalming telephone system as if they were extensions within the Godalming Offices. These outside offices no longer need separately rented telephone lines and calls between the offices are extension-to-extension calls rather than a charged telephone call between one office and another. The two outer offices also benefit from the features present on the Council main telephone switch such as the telephonist service, call diversion, group hunt arrangement etc.

The Council’s telephone switch is at full capacity and any further expansion in extension requirements will require the purchase of additional data cards and an expansion unit for the system.

The proposal is to replace the existing Expressions VOIP product with a digital DX blade will provide an upgraded VOIP product as well as additional capacity on the switch that may be needed (up to 64 new extensions). The product will also enable officers working remotely or from home to receive office calls via a standard broadband connection.

The VOIP project will contribute to the following WBC Corporate Objectives:

Objective F3
Optimise the benefits derived from management of the Council's assets.
Objective C3
Minimise depletion of natural resources and the impact of climate change through better waste management, improved water use, and promotion of alternative forms of energy
Objective F3
Optimise the benefits derived from management of the Council's assets
Objective F4
Employ and develop a workforce with the right balance of skills to deliver the Council's priorities, now and into the future

Telephony – Call Recording

This scheme is designed to build on the training given to staff who deal with the general public and other external contacts. This training includes issues such as handling stressful situations in order to enhance customer care.

The introduction of a telephone call recording system will support those staff who may be subject to aggressive or abusive telephone calls. The system would assist dispute resolution and would also serve as training aid for frontline call handling staff. The system would centrally monitor and store all calls in and out of the organisation on designated extensions and retrieval would be controlled by the system administrator. A phased introduction of the system is envisaged with 80+ extensions eventually being included on the system.

Estimated costs for the provision of a call recording system have been obtained from the Council’s telephone system supplier (Siemens) and from an independent call recording system supplier. It would be intended to phase in the introduction of the selected system over a three-year period in order to spread the cost. Priority extensions would be identified and introduced in year one (2007/08).

The introduction of a Telephone Call Recording System will contribute to the Council’s Dignity and Respect at Work Policy and to the following Corporate Objectives:

Objective F5
Strive to continually design and improve customer-centred business processes, to include e-enabling an expanding range of services
Objective G2
Manage the information and knowledge resources of the authority highly effectively, so as to respond quickly and comprehensively to customer feedback and enquiries


Comms/exec/2006-07/292