Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, and YouTube
Contact: Matthew Pawlyszyn Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Decision: The minutes were approved as a correct record.
Declarations of Any Interests
Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any pecuniary interest in respect of matters contained in this agenda.
If you have a pecuniary interest you must withdraw from the meeting. Normally you should leave the room before the business starts to be discussed. You do, however, have the same right to speak as a member of the public and may remain in the room to enable you to exercise that right and then leave immediately. In either case you must not seek to improperly influence a decision on the matter.
No interests were declared.
To receive and consider the report of the Deputy Chief Executive.
The Committee welcomed Executive Leader, Executive Member (Economic Development and Public Service Reform) Councillor Alistair Bradley, Executive Member (Homes and Housing) Councillor Peter Gabbott and Director of Commercial Services Mark Lester.
The performance of the directorate was in four parts,
· Markets and Town Centre
Of the 45 projects, 39 (81%) were classified as green or completed. 4 (8%) have been put on hold and 5 (10%) have been rated amber.
The directorate’s spending was slightly over budget, although generated income from the directorate could vary yearly, as they were a reaction to the commercial world. The biggest expenditure was staffing, there was a reduction on income due to the decrease in collection of market rents and the removal of the car parking charges prior to Christmas 2021 as part of the corporate bounce back. It was highlighted that the new car park came from the car park budget rather than the town centre.
It was understood that the difficulty in recruitment and gaps in the structure were a cause for the underperformance of some indicators.
During lockdown, the number of requests made to purchase freehold reversion and housing valuation increased, this resulted in the time taken to issue the letters.
The below target figure for the rent collected from Digital Office Park was an effect of Covid-19. The Council decided to allow those behind on their commercial rent time to recover and clear their arrears, but each case was dealt with on a case by case basis. There were guidance notes for enforcement and Officer discretion allowed. Businesses that requested grants or funding were required to provide the council with their finances, and the Council learnt the sustainability of businesses and had been able to offer advice and support where possible. Causing the failure or hindering of business was of no benefit to the Council.
Voids in the covered market had mostly been resolved since the writing of the report, those that remained were temporary the Council created to move units around. In other areas of the town centre excluding Market Walk were below target at 14.7%, there were signs that the target of 7.5% would soon be met and exceeded, as long term empty units were returning to the market. However, larger units on Market Street were still empty, but some were contributable to rental the Council did not control. It was suggested that some level of rates levied by private landlords was too high.
The town centre vacancy rate was 11.2% with a target of 8%. The response rate for CCTV within 5 days was worse, no single reason but a mixture of variables.
With the loosened Covid-19 restrictions, the Council desired to engage and support Community Centres to re-open. The current occupancy rate 44.18% occupancy rate with a target of 51%. Prior to Covid-19, the occupancy rate was 60%.
Accommodation figures were positive. There was efficient use of assets, with lower rates of voids at Primrose Gardens and Cotswald House. There were some delay ... view the full minutes text for item 20.OSP.24
To receive and consider the report of the Deputy Chief Executive.
The Committee welcomed Victoria Willett, Shared Service Lead - Transformation and Partnerships. She explained that the report was an end of year document and planning was underway to set the priorities for the coming year to support the corporate objectives.
The current business plans contain a total of 170 projects,
· 84 (49%) of projects were green,
· 18 (11%) amber,
· 55 (32%) had been completed,
· 9 (5%) on hold and
· 4 (2%) not started.
The report contained a graph representing the progress of each project, and for each project that was not green, the reasoning and planned action to correct the project was provided.
The cause of most of the amber indicators was related to the ongoing Covid recovery, capacity and staffing, ICT, and the prioritisation of other projects, in addition to other external factors outside the control of the Council.
Achievements to be highlighted included the resident satisfaction survey results, the 2021 events programme, delivered action on climate change, Astley Hall, the new Volunteering Policy, the South Ribble and Chorley Partnership and the previously covered Market and Town Centre improvements.
Appendix A contained the full list of 170 projects and their status. Those that were on hold to not started were to be evaluated, and a decision actioned if they were to move forward or to be differently resourced and prioritised.
It was confirmed that the list would be checked and monitored for any errors that may indicate that items were previously classified as red and were now classified as ‘not started’. To explain how projects went from ‘not started’ or ‘red’ in the previous monitoring to ‘completed’ at this point in the year, it was likely that additional resource, such as external consultancy, had been allocated to accelerate and complete certain projects.
When considering capacity to deliver projects, recruitment to key roles was highlighted as being critical. Recruitment was ongoing, however, the Council intended to recruit internally to ensure opportunities and pathways for staff development, but this impacted time to fill all vacancies. The Council recently changed the way recruitment and roles were advertised. On the old system, the process was in house and an example provided was that an advertised position received 7 applications, on the new recruitment platform the same advertised position received nearly 80, which provided a broader range of potential candidate. The Council also intended to develop a People Strategy, which set out workforce development and succession planning by targeting particular markets or to grow and develop staff in house through apprenticeships and graduate schemes.
IT have reviewed their service with substantial work completed on systems behind the scenes as a priority; as a result the Council is now in a much better position and had been far more resilient to recent security risks. Focus was now on the front end technical support across the organisation.