Agenda item

Directorate Plan 2015/16


The Head of Financial Services presented the report of the Strategic Director of Transformation and Resources with the 2015-16 Directorate’s Plan for the Committee’s consideration. The plan identified the activity that would be delivered in order to meet the Corporate Plan priorities, and included appropriate measures of success that could be monitored and reported upon throughout the period of the plan.


The plan would be subject to regular monitoring and review by the Directorate’s management team with regular reports presented to the portfolio holders. A quarterly report would be presented to the Policy & Performance Committee to consider and identify areas to review and scrutinise in more detail. The Plan gave details of ten key projects which the directorate delivered or contributed to.


Responding to comments from Members the Head of Financial Services stated that the reference to reconfiguration of the library service was in relation to the presently agreed saving. The Head of Business Processes also responded to Members’ questions and made a number of comments, including:


·  Discussions were under way with library user groups, or due to be arranged in respect of libraries opening for activities or groups outside of the new opening hours. He would, in consultation with the Library services Manager, expedite arrangements for a meeting with the Hoylake Library user groups.

·  A number of library staff had applied for EVR or voluntary severance and a small number of staff had already had agreement to leave, though more decisions were due to be taken in the coming weeks over how many more staff could be released.

·  He acknowledged that there had been teething problems with the new rotas for staff as no member of staff had had their hours changed but he was confident of making the Community Library savings agreed by the Council.

·  It was a target to make sure no library should have to close due to staff sickness, although this had happened in recent weeks but he was confident these issues would be settled over the coming weeks. There was a balance to be struck between the issuing of enough keys to staff to make sure this happened and not having too many sets of keys leading to an increase in risk.

·  There had been a fairly complicated plan in place for the reconfiguration of the library service to try and cover most eventualities, any immediate shortfalls were identified and responded to. A six month review would be undertaken and he would be happy to bring back an interim report to the next Committee meeting.


A Member also suggested that the Library Review may be a piece of work a Task and Finish group could look at in the new municipal year.


With regard to the Council’s Customer Access Strategy, the Head of Business Processes elaborated upon those services which were easier to make available online and those which were problematic. Housing benefit applications for example had to be completed on a 32 page form, which was not easy to reproduce online.


He also gave details on the five strands which would be incorporated into the new Transaction Centre, payroll and payments, business support, customer transactions, revenues and benefits. The customer transaction centre would enable savings in staffing costs to be made with more automated telephone responses. There was a need, however, to balance this with the need for some customers also to be able to talk directly to a human being. The idea of a webchat or webhelp facility was also being looked into.


He further reported that as from 2 April, no cashier facility would be available and the Council would not be taking any more cash payments, people would be directed to either a post office or a paypoint facility in a local shop where they would be able to pay cash.


With regard to the savings identified for 2015/16 in the financial planning section of the Plan, the Head of Financial Services stated that the reference to ‘Reduce the Cost of Democracy - £130,000’ should in fact read, ‘Reduce the Cost of Democracy and External Audit Fees’ and £100,000 of this saving would be through the reduction in the audit fees element of this.


Resolved – That the Committee agrees to use the information contained within the directorate plan to inform its future work programme and that an interim report on the reconfiguration of library services be brought to the next meeting of the Committee.

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