Docstoc

CABINET SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

Document Sample
CABINET SCRUTINY COMMITTEE Powered By Docstoc
					                              CABINET SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

                MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 13TH JANUARY 2004


Present:

      Ms. C.M. Cameron (Chair)

      Mr. D.A. Baxter                              Mr. A.J. Panes
      Mrs. J. Caldwell                             Mr. J.H. Perry-Warnes
      Mr. G.B. Hemming                             Mrs. B.M. Ravencroft
      Mr. J.A. Holmes                              Mr. M.J. Scutter
      Mr. R. Johnson                               Mr. A.J. Vincent
      Mrs. S.M. Matthews                           Ms. S.J. Whitaker
      Mr. B. Morrey                                Miss C. Wake
      Mr. W.J. Northam

Apologies for Absence:

      Mr. B. J. Collins
      Mrs. B. M. Hacker
      Dr. L.J. Poliakoff
      Mr. J.R. Shrimplin

Substitute Members Present:

      Mr. G.B. Hemming for Mr. J.R. Shrimplin
      Mr. J. H. Perry-Warnes for Mr. B.J.Collins
      Mr. M. J. Scutter for Mrs. B. M. Hacker

Other Members Present:

      Mr. A.J. Byrne
      Miss E.J. Collishaw
      Mr. P.J. Harwood
      Mr. R.C. Rockcliffe


      Mr. Johnson said that he was disappointed with the lack of attendance of the representative
      of the Roman Catholic Diocese and the Parent Governor representatives as the Committee
      was unable to benefit from their expertise. The Committee was informed that Dr. Poliakoff
      had work commitments on Tuesdays and that Ms. O’Connor was responsible for five
      different local education authorities. The Chair agreed to take what steps she could to
      encourage them to attend.

1.    MINUTES

      2nd December 2003

      The minutes of the meeting held on 2nd December 2003 were confirmed as a correct
      record and signed by the Chair.
     15th December 2003

     The minutes of the meeting held on 15th December 2003 were confirmed as a correct
     record and signed by the Chair, subject to the substitution of the words ‘bureaucratic
     nightmare’ for the words ‘inefficient areas’ in paragraph 10 of minute 5.

     Members noted that the written response referred to in paragraph 15 of minute 5 had not
     yet been provided.

     The Committee agreed to consider item 4 on the agenda after item 7.

2.   DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

     The following members declared non-prejudicial interests as members of the school
     governing bodies listed below:

        Mrs. J. Caldwell – Diss Infant and Nursery School
        Ms. C.M. Cameron – Bignold First and Middle Schools
        Mrs. S.M. Matthews – Hamond’s High School
        Mr. W.J. Northam – Mundesley First School
        Mr. A.J. Panes – Mile Cross Middle School
        Mr. J.H. Perry Warnes – Holt and Kelling Primary Schools
        Mrs. B.M. Ravencroft – Cawston Primary and Reepham High Schools
        Mr. M.J. Scutter – City of Norwich School
        Miss C. Wake – 20 Church schools involved in the Schools PFI Project
        Ms. S.J. Whitaker – Cavell First and Nursery and Lakenham Middle Schools

3.   ITEMS OF URGENT BUSINESS

     There were no items of urgent business.

4.   THE COUNTY COUNCIL IN THE CONTEXT OF THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THE
     CURRENT REGIONAL BODIES – INFLUENCE AND FUNDING

     The annexed suggested approach (5) by the Scrutiny Support Manager was received.

     The Chair said that she would consult with Mrs. Hacker and Mr. Johnson prior to the report
     being submitted to Cabinet and full Council.

     The following comments were noted:

     Communications

        Communications between the County Council and the regional bodies could be better.

        Members needed more information on the work of regional bodies and how they linked
         with economic development.


        Better feedback information was needed from the County Council’s own representatives
         on regional bodies. Details of the role undertaken by these representatives should be
         presented to members as part of the member induction process.
   There was scope for better member involvement in the work of regional bodies possibly
    through the Local Strategic Partnerships which comprised a cross section of the
    communities they represented.

Resources for the East of England Development Agency (EEDA)

   A lot of members did not understand the bidding processes.

   Members who represented the County Council on regional bodies did not receive
    adequate briefing on issues such as deprivation prior to meetings, but this was essential
    in order for them to be effective for Norfolk.

   EEDA on the one hand wanted projects to be successful, but on the other hand, wanted
    to support areas with high deprivation. Members needed to be clear which of these
    priorities was the most important and where resources should be diverted.

   Not all members of the Regional Assembly necessarily promoted support to areas of
    high deprivation, some considered that the more affluent and successful areas should
    be given priority. Norfolk’s policy needed to be clear and the Cabinet needed to clarify
    the County Council’s position.

Regional Investment

   Norfolk contained areas of both urban and rural deprivation. Although the county as a
    whole was successful in securing Objective 2 funding, some areas did not receive any
    funding.

   The lack of good access to and from Norfolk meant that Norfolk often found itself on the
    periphery as regards regional issues.

   The data on different wards which was used for European funding concealed pockets of
    deprivation which existed in generally less deprived areas.

Transport Infrastructure

   The Regional Planning Panel was supportive of the dualling of the A47 east of Norwich,
    but would not prioritise dualling the A47 west of Norwich over improvements to the M1.

   Transport infrastructure in the region, and links to the A47 in particular, were vital and
    the County Council should have made a better, more robust case for the dualling of the
    A47.



   The A47 did not end at the border with Cambridgeshire and any issues relating to the
    A47 also affected Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire and Leicestershire. The A47 was
    also an important link to the A17 at King’s Lynn.

Inward Investment

   In view of the Great Yarmouth Outer Harbour project, Great Yarmouth would be an ideal
    location for the development of offshore wind farms and the refurbishment of oil rigs off
    the Norfolk coast would present considerable investment opportunities for this area.
RESOLVED –

That the following recommendations be submitted to Cabinet –

(i)      That Economic Development be asked to investigate and report back on improved
         electronic access to the Brussels Office.

(ii)     That Economic Development be asked to look at and report back on how to achieve
         greater involvement of the business community in the work of the Brussels Office.

(iii)    That Cabinet should consider, and ask Economic Development to take forward with
         district councils, the suggestion from the Regional Assembly that a trade mission
         from the region be set up to encourage the business community to access the ten
         new countries joining the European Union in May 2004.

(iv)     That the Cabinet Member for Economic Development be encouraged in his offer to
         improve the way in which members are informed of economic development issues.

(v)      That Cabinet and Economic Development be asked to bear in mind the need to
         improve members’ understanding of regional economic development issues in the
         induction of new members in 2005.

(vi)     That the shortcomings in use of ward data for European funding be highlighted and a
         mechanism be introduced for involving members in and briefing them on the
         activities of regional bodies.

(vii)    That Cabinet should investigate how the Local Strategic Partnerships and the County
         Strategic Partnership are involved in pursuing regional economic issues and
         determine whether there is scope for improvement.

(viii)   That the Regional Development Agency be encouraged to concentrate on
         economically poorer performing areas with high levels of deprivation and problems of
         access rather than concentrating on the high performing areas in the region.

(ix)     There is a lack of understanding from members on the process of bidding for funding
         from the regions. It is recommended that Cabinet ask Economic Development to
         brief members on this issue.
(x)      That the Cabinet note that the Cabinet Scrutiny Committee disagreed with the DTZ
         Consultants report where it suggested that high performing, low deprivation areas
         warranted improved transport infrastructure, whereas poorer performing areas with
         high deprivation should be supported through the traditional regeneration route.

(xi)     That full advantage be taken of the resources made available by the Department for
         Education and Skills (DfES) for Regional Development Agency/Learning and Skills
         Council pilot skills projects.

(xii)    That the Education and Cultural Services and Planning, Transportation and the
         Environment, Waste and Economic Development Review Panels receive a report
         detailing the proposed use of the resources mentioned in (xi) above and the role of
         the Learning Forum.
     (xiii)   That the County Council make the best possible case for issues such as the dualling
              of the A47 with quality lobbying and the involvement of the Regional Assembly in the
              A47 Alliance be encouraged as offered by the Chief Executive of the Regional
              Assembly.

     (xiv)    That members be advised how the County Council is working to attract inward
              investment and that a report be provided by Economic Development.

     (xv)     That a report be produced on the possibility of extending the proposed provision of
              Broadband facilities to schools and other County Council establishments to smaller
              communities

5.   COUNTY COUNCIL STRATEGY FOR REDUCING ROAD ACCIDENTS IN THE COUNTY

     The annexed suggested approach (6) by the Scrutiny Support Manager was received.

     RESOLVED –

     (i)      That a joint presentation on the issue of the County Council’s strategy for reducing
              road accidents be received in conjunction with the Planning, Transportation and the
              Environment, Waste and Economic Development Review Panel.

     (ii)     That the Police and the Accident Reduction Partnership, or the most appropriate
              body, be invited to attend the presentation.

     (iii)    That, following the joint presentation, the Committee then consider how it wishes to
              undertake scrutiny of this issue.

6.   FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME AND POSSIBLE TOPICS FOR FUTURE SCRUTINY

     The annexed report (7) by the Scrutiny Support Manager was received.


     Concern was expressed that the presentation on FIMS had been delayed. It was agreed
     that this should be scheduled for the meeting on 17th February 2004 and the Chair
     requested that as much information as possible should be included in the open, public part
     of the agenda.

     The following changes/additions to the forward work programme were agreed:

     17th February 2004
      Presentation on FIMS

     16th March 2004
      Joint Presentation on the County Council’s Strategy for Reducing Road Accidents

     20th April 2004
      Budget for Supporting Scrutiny
      Annual Review of the Impact of the Cabinet Scrutiny Committee

7.   NORFOLK SCHOOLS PFI PROJECT
The annexed suggested approach (4) by the Scrutiny Support Manager and report by the
Director of Education was received.

The following attended by invitation to help the Committee:

Mike Britch, Managing Director, NPS Property Consultants Ltd
Roger Graham-Leigh, Senior Personnel Officer
Hilary Jones, Senior Solicitor
Matthew Rathbone, Education PFI Project Manager
Sue Rossiter, Deputy Director of Education

Mr. Alec Byrne, Cabinet Member for Education and Mr. Richard Rockcliffe, Chairman of the
Education and Cultural Services Review Panel, were also present for this item having been
invited as a matter of courtesy.

In response to members’ questions, the following information was given:

Construction Delays – Health and Safety Issues with Existing Buildings
 Jarvis would undertake intrusive asbestos surveys.

Construction Delays – Asbestos

   33 schools were guaranteed a place in the final project even if the cost of the project
    increased. This guarantee had been agreed by Cabinet at its meeting on 22nd October
    2003. The variable element of the project was the six schools on the reserve list. All or
    some of these schools might be included in the project, but this would depend on the
    final costs.

Lack of Equity among Workforce transferred to Jarvis

   The new Code of Practice on Workforce Matters in Local Authority Service Contracts
    would not apply to this contract as procurement started before the Code was published.
   Jarvis had undertaken that all staff that transferred would be able to continue in the
    Local Government Pension Scheme.

   Payment of the employer’s contribution was subject to final negotiations. The costs
    might be shared between Jarvis and the local education authority (LEA) and there was a
    possibility that the cost of the bid might be changed to reflect the agreed split of risks.

   If the cost of the project to the County Council was greater than anticipated, it was
    possible that additional funding might be required to include the 33 schools. Cabinet’s
    attention had been drawn to this and Cabinet had agreed to underwrite the 33 schools
    considering the element of risk to be reasonable. The final cost of the project would be
    determined by final negotiations and external factors.

   Jarvis was committed to not having a two tier workforce and aimed to have the same,
    basic terms and conditions of service for all employees. This would lead to some staff
    having improved terms and conditions of service.

   All different terms and conditions of service would be harmonised into a single set of
    terms and conditions which would then apply to all staff.
   Under the TUPE regulations, staff could not be worse off when they transferred. When
    all staff were subject to the same terms and conditions of service, these might be
    reviewed at a future date. There was no timescale for when such a review could be
    undertaken.

   Terms and conditions of service could not be lessened merely because of the transfer,
    this could only happen if there were economic, technical or organisational reasons and
    then only following negotiations with the unions and employees concerned.

   The Project Board had agreed that the contract should not include protection for staff
    beyond normal employment protection offered by TUPE, that is, transferred staff should
    not be given greater protection than that available for staff that continued to be
    employed by the Authority.

Problems in Maintaining Communications between all Parties

   There was an expectation that all schools included in the project would have a
    nominated person through whom all queries relating to the contract would be directed.
    Schools would need to build on the school liaison officer role to achieve this during both
    the construction and operational parts of the contract.

   There was a potential for dispute in relation to additional work and whether this should
    be chargeable under the contract, but the process should be simple. Caretakers should
    still be able to perform minor jobs. The contract contained a condition whereby
    caretakers could be asked to undertake very small tasks not normally the responsibility
    of the PFI contractor. If these tasks lasted no longer than 30 minutes, these would not
    be chargeable.
   If a task were likely to take longer than 30 minutes, then the process of obtaining a quote
    for the work outside the normal scope of the contract would be used.

   If a school were assured by a caretaker that he/she could undertake a particular task
    within 30 minutes, there would be no additional cost to the school. If the caretaker
    underestimated the time needed to complete the task then there would still be no cost to
    the school and the contractor would then have to take the matter up with the caretaker
    as its employee.

   School liaison officers were not expected to be experts, they were intended to be
    someone who could speak on behalf of the school. If more detailed knowledge or
    advice was required, then school liaison officers could obtain this from the LEA or NPS
    Property Consultants Ltd as at present.

   A small number of schools might have difficulty in finding a school liaison officer and in
    these cases, it was likely that the most experienced and appropriate person to undertake
    the role would be the headteacher.

   Schools might need to make arrangements to cover the headteacher’s teaching
    responsibilities if he/she undertook the role of school liaison officer. Schools would be
    provided with appropriate resources in instances such as this in order to maintain
    flexibility.

Cost Increases Over Time – Retail Prices Index (RPIX)
   Any new index would be a direct replacement for the existing one and there should be
    no potential for losses to occur as a result of the change. The contract was clear that
    any replacement index would be used only if the current one was no longer produced by
    the Government.

Disputes

   Under the contract, there was a unitary charge payable if everything required was
    delivered. Deductions would be made on a monthly basis for any failures. The unitary
    charge would therefore be paid minus any deductions on an arrears basis. The County
    Council would decide what it was content to pay for with any disagreements about
    failures dealt with subsequently.

   The formal dispute resolution procedure could be expensive because of the need to
    employ experts such a lawyers. In these cases, the LEA would meet any costs of
    employing the experts. The costs could only be claimed back from schools if the school
    was deemed to have acted unreasonably.

   Budgetary provision had been built in for technical advice from internal legal and
    property staff. There was no specific provision for external assistance since instances
    should be rare.

   If a school disputed that something was included under the contract but Jarvis
    considered that it was not included, the LEA would assist schools in resolving the
    matter.

   There was an overriding requirement in the contract to ensure buildings were properly
    maintained. Jarvis would be required to remedy vandalism within the same timescale as
    wear and tear although the County Council would pay where vandalism was involved.

The Contractor Refinances its Borrowing

   The requirement for the County Council to give its written consent to any refinancing
    was a standard condition which the Government required in all PFI contracts.

   To have the consent of the County Council would assist the contractor in securing a
    refinancing deal and could help to increase the amount of money received.

Vetting Procedures

   Regulations and guidelines from the Government and the Criminal Records Bureau
    contained clear and specific policies to be followed and any decision taken on whether a
    particular person should be employed or not would be taken on the grounds of relevance
    to the job concerned. The policy adopted by Jarvis was neither uncommon nor unfair.

   Persons who could be refused admission to school sites by the headteacher included
    anyone providing services under the PFI contract. This would include not only those
    employed on the school site, but also those employed on the help desk for instance.

   Jarvis Workspace Facilities Management would employ all the caretakers and cleaners
    and had a policy that all of their staff would have a Criminal Records Bureau check.
    This policy did not apply to construction staff and sub-contractors. The need for vetting
    of these staff would be assessed using a risk assessment of the possibility for contact
    with children. This was the same policy used by NPS Property Consultants Ltd.

   There were three levels of checks:

    Standard check
    For work with children and vulnerable adults.
    Check convictions (current or spent), cautions, warnings and reprimands.

    Enhanced check
    For work with a higher level of contact with children and vulnerable adults, including one-
    to-one contact.
    Standard check plus local police intelligence.

    Basic check
    Unspent convictions on the police national computer.

   The type of check used would depend on the type of work to be undertaken. It would be
    the local manager’s decision as to the level of check. Jarvis’ policy on police checks met
    the same standard as the County Council’s policy.

   The County Council would be able to monitor whether Criminal Records Bureau checks
    had been undertaken as Jarvis was obliged to provide the County Council with all
    relevant information.

   The County Council would undertake List 99 checks and ensure that the standards of
    vetting remained the same for Jarvis employees as for LEA employees. The Deputy
    Director of Education undertook to pursue these matters with Jarvis.

   If, as the result of a Criminal Records Bureau check, a potential employee was found to
    have an adverse record, Jarvis would have to disclose this to the County Council and
    the County Council would then decide whether or not the person concerned could be
    employed.

   If any statutory changes were introduced following the Soham Inquiry to the way in
    which checks were conducted, these would apply to the contract.

Contractor Default

   If the contract were terminated, the County Council would pay the contractor for the
    remaining value of the contract. This was to ensure that, if the contractor were to fail,
    banks would not lose the money they had lent the contractor. This clause was therefore
    a concession whereby the County Council would pay the contractor for the remaining
    value of the contract so that the contractor could then repay the bank. Without this,
    banks would not lend money to the contractor in the first place.

   The draft contract contained two methods of calculating compensation. By one method,
    the County Council would pay the contractor the remaining value of the contract less the
    future cost of the County Council completing the contract itself. The compensation
    payable by the County Council to the contractor would therefore be the difference
    between the remaining value of the contract and the future cost of provision. If the
    future costs were more than the remaining value, then the contractor would have to pay
    the County Council.
        The majority of problems which had occurred with schools PFI projects in other
         authorities were during the construction phase. Delays experienced in the Wirral were
         as a result of intrusive asbestos surveys. It was hoped that, by using a local builder,
         many of the problems encountered elsewhere would not be experienced in Norfolk.

        If Jarvis decided to sell their stake in the PFI contract to someone else, this would not be
         possible if the County Council’s written consent was not forthcoming.

        There would be appropriate liaison at the various planning stages with regard to
         conservation areas and issues.

        There would need to be a protocol between schools and the LEA with regard to lettings
         profits and other income related to the PFI project such as deductions from the unitary
         charge. Generally where income related to a particular school, that income would go to
         the school. Where income related to the contract as a whole, that income would go to
         the LEA. In these latter cases, the LEA would seek to use the income for the benefit of
         the PFI school.

        Any income from lettings outside of school hours run by the school itself would not be
         payable to Jarvis.

        The Cabinet had agreed to Jarvis as the preferred bidder for this contract. The
         Committee asked for assurance that, if at some future date Jarvis wanted to sell its
         stake in the PFI contract, that the question of consent from the County Council would be
         a key decision which would be taken by the Cabinet/Council. The Committee
         recommended that this should be a key decision.

        The first few variations to the original contract would set the standard for any future
         variations. The intention was that if the first few were accurately priced, Jarvis would
         realise the standard required by the County Council. Any significant building changes,
         such as the provision of new classrooms, would be subject to competitive tender.

     * The above two paragraphs taken out of the exempt part of the minutes and included
     ‘above the line’

     The following action points were agreed:

        There would be a robust procedure on contract variations.

        There would be cross departmental monitoring by management teams.

        Any future decision on Jarvis selling its stake in the PFI contract would be a key decision
         which would be taken by Cabinet/Council.

        The Deputy Director of Education would clarify the List 99 vetting procedures.

        The Deputy Director of Education would confirm the position regarding caretakers
         undertaking minor tasks to prevent doubt where possible.

8.   EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC

     RESOLVED –
     That the public be excluded from the meeting under Section 100A of the Local Government
     Act 1972 for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely
     disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 9 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the
     Act.

                  SUMMARY OF MINUTE EXCLUDED FROM PUBLIC DEPOSIT

9.   NORFOLK SCHOOLS PFI PROJECT

     The Committee received a report, containing exempt information, outlining specific advice
     given by the Managing Director of NPS Property Consultants Ltd on the contractual
     documentation and the project response.

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:4
posted:1/6/2012
language:
pages:11