Agenda item

Proposal for Joint Management Arrangements (Agenda item 17)

Report of the Joint Chief Executive to both Breckland and South Holland District Councils.

 

(Appendix M to the report will follow in due course).

Minutes:

William Smith and Paul Claussen left the room at this point as they had another meeting to attend.

 

The Member Services Manager reminded the meeting that any person who was at risk under the shared management structure would not be permitted to remain in the meeting during discussion of this item.

 

Paragraph 8.3 of the Officer Code of Conduct in the Constitution stated: “that those officers would need to declare a personal and prejudicial interest in the item and withdraw from the meeting”.

 

The Officers that were at risk left the room whilst this item was being discussed.

 

The Chief Executive presented the proposal for joint management arrangements between South Holland District Council and Breckland Council.

 

Members had been constantly updated on this matter, therefore, a quick overview of the report was provided.

 

One key point related to the two papers that had been circulated following the agenda issue which included the comments of the Deputy Monitoring Officer from South Holland District Council and Appendix M, which highlighted the financial implications of the proposal prepared again by South Holland District Council.

 

Members were informed that South Holland District Council at its Full Council meeting held the day before on 15th December 2010 had approved the implementation of the shared management structure subject to two joint  committees being formed.  The membership of the Joint Appointments Committee and the Joint Appointment Appeals Committee would be eight, four Members from each Council and the quorum would be four (two members from each authority) and not three as stated in appendix F of the report.

 

The structure had been designed and based upon three core functions which both Councils had considered earlier in the process.  All issues and concerns had been taken into consideration.  Part of the staff consultation was on the implementation procedure.  This required agreement on a joint process to be used with all affected staff regardless of which of the two Councils they were presently employed by.  The process as documented within the consultation had been independently reviewed and amended by an independent recruitment consultancy Attenti.  Members were asked to note an amendment to this part of the report (page 6, last but one sentence), to read: “in order to ensure that this process does not place either council at risk”.

 

Job descriptions and examples of person specifications had been attached at Appendix J of the report.  If Members were mindful to approve the new structure the said documents would be finalised and competencies would be added as appropriate.

 

As part of the consultation process all staff had been invited to indicate their future wishes if their job application was unsuccessful in regard to voluntary redundancy or early retirement.  It was recommended that in these circumstances the Chief Executive be authorised to approve these subject to consultation with both Leaders.

 

Where jobs were offered to staff which represented suitable alternative employment but carried a lesser salary than their existing job, under pay protection this eventuality was already covered at Breckland Council by an approved policy and required no further consideration.  At South Holland, however, custom and practice had been to offer two years pay protection although this had not been enshrined in a formal policy agreement.

 

A simple memorandum of agreement between the two authorities had been devised which had been designed to be a ‘light touch’ agreement based around trust.

 

Appendix K provided details of the financial data that underpinned the annual costs and set up costs.  Based upon present salaries the costs indicated a potential gross annual saving in excess of one million pounds which may be reduced in the early years through pay protection.  These savings did not include the saving which had already been made on the joint Chief Executive.  The various set up costs would be shared and it had been recommended that each Council transferred monies from their respective Organisational Development Reserves into the Transformation budget.

 

Systems issues, for example, integrated IT and communications for emails, calendars etc, had not been resolved and as a first step, the Local Government Group network group of joint Chief Executive Officers would be approached to resolve this issue; national monies may be applied for.

 

Referring to the comments of the Deputy Monitoring Officer for Breckland Council in relation to the awaited and requested legal assessment from Attenti, the Chief Executive reported that the legal advice, although quite limited, had come forward which had been shared with the said Officer.  He explained that the advice received pointed to a couple of areas that both Councils would need to be mindful of - redundancy tactics, not to fall into discrimination issues and the consultation process. 

 

The Leader of the Opposition raised concern as he thought that appropriate consultation had been carried out.

 

The Deputy Monitoring Officer referred to the lack of a full business case and pointed out that the legal advice obtained so far did not cover the whole process relating to the shared management proposals.  The Council was therefore relying on advice from Attenti.  He said he would have preferred to see advice covering, for example, the consultation process.  There was a risk that the Council might receive unfair dismissal claims.  The Chairman of the Overview & Scrutiny Commission said that he was completely happy that the consultation process had been carried out correctly, and Members generally indicated that no further legal advice was necessary.  The Leader of the Opposition was satisfied with the response.

 

A Member queried the pay scales and asked how these levels had been arrived at, and if they were comparable to others.  The Chief Executive explained that these figures were not actual salaries as they included PAYE and NI contributions.  The grades were indicative at this moment in time and had been based on Breckland Council’s pay scales. 

 

From a Project Board perspective, the Leader asked for it to be noted that all comments had been taken on board prior to this paper coming forward to Council.  The main driver of the shared management structure was to ensure that savings could be made at the top without cutting services at the bottom.

 

A number of amendments to the report were required which included:

 

  • Implementation (page 6 of the report) - “in order to ensure that this process does not place either council at risk”.
  • Appendix C (e) – Final Interviews – “the applicants for the Director roles would be interviewed by the Joint Appointments Panel and not the project board.
  • Appendix F – the quorum for the Joint Appointments Committee and the Joint Appointments Appeals Committee would be four, two members from each Council, and not three.
  • Appendix L – the joint costs are estimated in appendix K and not appendix J

 

Subject to the above amendments, Members were asked to consider the recommendations contained within the report and each was explained, and accordingly, it was:

 

RESOLVED that:

 

a)           the joint management structure as at Appendix A of the report be approved;

b)           the current posts that fell within the scope of the shared management proposals, as set out in Appendix B, be approved;

c)            the structure be implemented using the process as described in Appendix C;

d)           the core competencies as described in Appendix D be incorporated as requirements for all jobs in the new structure;

e)           the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) be authorised to approve voluntary redundancies/early retirements subject to consultation with the two Leaders;

f)              South Holland Council states its intention to follow its practice of two years pay protection (subject to caveats) where a person is assimilated into suitable alternative employment but where the grade is less than their present salary and that HR be asked to follow due process to introduce a written policy;

g)           a Joint Appointments Committee be established in accordance with Appendix E, subject to the quorum being four, two from each Council;

h)            a Joint Appointments Appeals Committee be established in accordance with Appendix F, subject to the quorum being four, two from each Council;

i)              the Memorandum of Agreement in Appendix G covering the way in which the two Councils intend working with each other be approved (subject to minor amendments to be approved by the Chief Executive);

j)              each Council pays from its reserves the sum of £400,000 into a Transformation Budget to be controlled by the Chief Executive in consultation with the Leaders of the Councils; and

k)            the Breckland membership of the Joint Appointments Committee and the Joint Appointments Appeals Committee be the members nominated by the Leader.

 

Supporting documents: