Kent County Council:

Minutes for Cabinet Scrutiny Committee meeting, Apr 9 2010, 10.00AM official page

Other committee documents for Kent County Council :: Cabinet Scrutiny Committee details

Venue: Darent Room, Sessions House, County Hall, Maidstone

Contact: Peter Sass  01622 694002

Items No. Item


Minutes of the meeting held on 10 February 2010 PDF 83 KB


RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting on 10 February 2010 are correctly recorded and that they be signed by the Chairman.


Notes of the Informal Member Group on Budgetary Issues held on 25 March 2010 PDF 65 KB


RESOLVED: that the Cabinet Scrutiny Committee approve the notes of the Informal Member Group on Budgetary Issues held on 25 March 2010.


Follow-up Items from Cabinet Scrutiny Committee PDF 54 KB


(1)        Mr Kite asked that it be clarified that the follow up item on “looking at emerging evidence of possible efficiencies” from some of the new unitary authorities resulted from a discussion at the budget meeting where it was suggested that there might be efficiencies from some of the new unitary authorities.  It was intended that the evidence of any efficiencies be examined. 


(2)        The item be re-worded to read the following:

“Mr Kite asked that, following a claim made about emerging evidence of possible efficiencies from some of the new unitary authorities, Members review this evidence of possible efficiencies.” 


POST MEETING NOTE:  This was considered by the Scrutiny Board on 22 April, the Chairman of the Scrutiny Board referred to the way in which Districts were working together and that Maidstone Borough Council had an Informal Members Group considering different models of working for local authorities.  He offered to circulate the report being received by this Group to Members of the Board. It would then be for Members to decide if they wanted to take this matter forward.


(3)        RESOLVED: That the Cabinet Scrutiny Committee note the follow up items report.


Weather Damaged Roads: Major Road Repair Blitz PDF 45 KB

Mr P Carter, Leader of the Council, Mr M Austerberry, Executive Director, Environment, Highways and Waste Directorate and Mr J Burr, Director of Kent Highway Services will attend the meeting from 10.15am to 11.00am to answer Members’ questions on this item.


Additional documents:


(Mr P Carter, Leader, Mr M Austerberry, Executive Director, Environment, Highways & Waste Directorate, Mr J Burr, Director of Kent Highway Services and Mr K Hills, Head of Community Operations were in attendance for this item to answer questions from Members of the Committee)


(1)     Mr Manning introduced the item by stating that he applauded the aspiration of the project and the positive benefits of supplying work within Kent to small and medium sized companies.  However it was one thing to have the aspiration, it was another thing to deliver the project.


(2)     Mr Carter explained that there was a good mix of contractors and he had been impressed by their ability.  Mr Carter confirmed that each contractor was asked to bid for whole districts, rather than part of a district. 


(3)     Mr Manning queried how the contractors would be co-ordinated, supervised and managed.  Public opinion was very important and Members were pleased to note that it was highlighted in the supplementary info.


(4)     Mr Austerberry confirmed that there were seven contractors.  Four were Kent-based Small to Medium sized Enterprises, the remaining three had operational bases in Kent.  Contractors would work from a list of roads provided by KCC, and would be regularly visited by KHS staff.  The contracts were very specific about the quality of work required.  The supervision and administrative resources would be drawn mainly from KHS, supplemented from its consultancy services contract which was designed to assist KCC at peak times of workload. 


(5)     Mr Carter explained that regarding supervision of the work, most companies would have a supervisory employee to go ahead and iron out any problems before the fixing gangs arrived.  With officers Mr Carter would be having weekly discussions with the contractors to determine what was working well/not working well to ensure success. 


(6)     The Chairman asked whether the contractors had flexibility, would they mend anything that the public would want fixing.  Mr Austerberry explained that the contracts covered both potholes and areas of patching, including the highway edges.  Mr Carter confirmed that the contractors would be applying a sensible and long term solution to any problems. 


(7)     Mr Manning continued to query the supervision aspect of the work, how would it be possible to photograph the quality of material being used and how much would the supervision aspect cost?  Mr Austerberry confirmed that the cost of administering and supervising the process was not huge and was a very necessary part of the process.  Mr Burr explained that where possible the contractors would undertake a permanent first time fix of any damaged road surface.  Mr Carter explained that £2million was being allocated to this project, it would be reviewed after £1million, and there was a total of £2.4million available from the Government for road repairs. 


(8)     Mr Parry asked how the relationship between the current Ringway operatives and the new contractors would work.  How would the Council ensure that Ringway would perform well and ensure that the find and fix scheme would work effectively,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.


Safeguarding Children in Kent: Defending and Developing the Service PDF 45 KB

Provisional item subject to the discussion at the Children, Families and Education - Vulnerable Children and Partnerships Policy Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 31 March and the County Council meeting on 1 April.


Would Members please bring their copy of the Safeguarding Children report contained with the County Council papers (Item 12 pages 39 – 88) for this item.


Mrs S. Hohler, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, and Mrs Kay Weiss, Head of Policy and Performance (CFE) will attend the meeting from 11.30am to 12noon to answer Members’ questions on this item.


(Mrs S Hohler, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education and Mrs K Weiss, Head of Policy and Performance (CFE) were in attendance for this item to answer questions from Members of the Committee)


(1)    Mr Christie explained that Members had concerns about how information following Serious Case Reviews got to Members of the Council.  Why were Members unaware of the outcomes of Serious Case Reviews, if an Executive Summary of the reviews existed, why was it not available to all Members?  How could Members monitor the implementation of any recommendations of Serious Case Reviews if they were not made aware of the reports?


(2)    Mrs Hohler explained that it was necessary to put a protocol in place to deal with information surrounding Serious Case Reviews.  It was sensible for the Managing Director in consultation with the Cabinet Member to make a decision on who needed to be made aware of the outcomes of Serious Case Reviews.  The annual Children’s safeguarding report was a public document which contained summary details of all Serious Case Reviews.  This was monitored generally through the Children’s Champion’s Board. 


(3)    Mrs Weiss explained that once the Executive summary was made public, following the conclusion of the review and discussion with the family, the fact that a report existed was put on the Kent Safeguarding Board website.  The Executive Summary could be sent to the Group Leaders.  In response to a question from the Chairman Mrs Weiss confirmed that the summary was a public document so could be available for all Members.    Mrs Hohler explained that from a practical aspect it may be more sensible for Group Leaders to receive the document and then forward it, if relevant, to all Members.  It was felt to be important that the local Member should be made aware when the Executive Summary was made available. 


(4)    Mrs Hohler explained that the Edinburgh review had been commissioned to look at Serious Case Reviews and this showed a pattern relating to many cases within families.  The Edinburgh review would be circulated to all Members, the conclusions of the review were important, particularly with Members’ role as Corporate Parents. 


(5)    Mr Christie explained that as long as Members were aware of the Executive Summary it was reassuring, there were, however, concerns about the status of the Children’s Champion’s Board. 


(6)    The Chairman asked what information was available from schools to inform Members in their role as Corporate Parents.  Mrs Weiss explained that cases open to Children’s social services and subject to Serious Case Reviews were confidential.  An agency would highlight to the Safeguarding board that there were concerns, the board would set up a panel which would meet if a Serious Case Review was to be conducted.  The Safeguarding Board would appoint an independent Chair, agencies would be asked to provide information, the case would be analysed and a report written (the final copy would be anonymised).  It would be difficult to inform a local member early on in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.


Kent Digital Service PDF 47 KB

Mr R Gough, Cabinet Member for Corporate Support Services and Performance Management, and Ms T Oliver, Director of Strategic Development and Public Access will attend the meeting from 11.00am to 11.30am to answer Members’ questions on this item.   


Additional documents:


(Mr R W Gough, Cabinet Member for Support Services and Performance Management and Mrs T Oliver, Director of Strategic Development and Public Access were in attendance for this item to answer questions from Members of the Committee)


(1)   The Chairman asked why this decision was classed as ‘urgent’ and what the outcome would be for the staff involved.


(2)   Mr Gough explained that the strong advice from Legal Services was that as the TUPE issue arose, or was very likely to arise, officers were to proceed on the basis described within the Kent Digital Service document (contained within the agenda papers).


(3)   In response to a question about the employees affected Mr Gough explained that they were employed by Ten Alps.


(4)   Mrs Oliver explained that in terms of the notice period, advice was taken from Legal Services and Personnel, and conditions on the contracts meant that Ten Alps were not put in breach of any such conditions.   The Chairman explained that her understanding was that agreement had been reached with Kent TV that there were no penalties for finishing the contract on 31 March 2010.  Mrs Oliver confirmed that this was correct although there may be some redundancy costs to KCC as a result of restructuring the team of staff who transferred to KCC.  8 staff transferred to KCC from Ten Alps on 1 April 2010.  A consultation process was currently underway.  The staff in the new team would be creating content such as the ‘What’s on’ guide, enhancing democracy, tourism and working with visit Kent.  Mr Gough reminded the Committee that Kent Digital Service had a fixed budget of £250k to cover what’s on, webcasting, staffing, technical support etc.


(5)    The Chairman referred to the recent refresh of the website and asked whether there was the ability to stream videos.  Mrs Oliver explained that a streaming facility was available through the webcasting contract and Kent TV and therefore it did not seem sensible to create a third way of streaming content as this would effectively be paying 3 times for the same service.  Following the decision not to proceed with Kent TV the cheapest option was to retain some of the contracts which Ten Alps had with external contractors to deliver the streaming facility.  Mrs Oliver confirmed that ‘What’s on’ would be accessible externally and via, the current webcasting contract had been extended with the current provider, ‘public-I’.  Once the staff consultation process had been finalised the Council would look at how to enhance the webcasting service.


(6)   Mr Scholes asked that, regarding income generation, costs were indicative, what was the likelihood of income generation and could that money be used elsewhere.  Mrs Oliver explained that any additional income might fund additional projects such as battle of the bands, or the ‘Hollywould’ drama, that would be beyond the core remit for the new digital service.  These additional projects would be commissioned from other agencies or other parts of KCC.  Mr Gough explained that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.


Local Member Information


Throughout the Cabinet Scrutiny Committee’s discussion on each of the items was a common theme about how local Members are kept informed of issues, initiatives and decisions affecting their electoral divisions;


The Committee are aware of a range of important initiatives being undertaken which will improve the quality and flow of information to elected Members.  For example, implementation of the Informal Member Group: Member Information (approved by the County Council – December 2008), the enhancement and refresh of the County Council website and the decision to develop Kent Digital Service.  However there was a lack of cohesiveness in pulling all these factors together and a lack of clarity over who has the overall vision which the Committee recommends must be addressed.  The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Localism and Partnerships be asked to report to the Scrutiny Board on how and when he proposed this work to be taken forward, and this be reported to Members of Cabinet Scrutiny Committee through their follow up items report.

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