Report of the Head of People & Performance
The Committee received the report as set out on pages 49-54 of the agenda, which asked it to note the work programme of the Policy & Performance team and endorse the proposed closure of the Council Offices during Christmas and New Year.
In relation to the work programme of the Policy & Performance team, it was noted by the Committee that the Council has stated an aim to increase its daily social media output and issue more press releases, however Members stated that they had not yet seen an increase. The Leader of the Council suggested that all Members should in future be notified when a press release is issued, to satisfy them that a regular output is being achieved. The Chief Executive confirmed that the Council’s Communications Officer would now be meeting on a weekly basis with the Senior Management Team to consider newsworthy items, therefore improvements in this area were to be expected imminently.
It was noted by the Committee that new pay spines had been introduced for lower level bands, alongside a pay award of 2% for each of the next two years. The report stated that the full impact of the changes was still not clear, and it was acknowledged that this could be further complicated by any future adjustments made to the Real Living Wage. A Member of the Committee requested that Members be updated once the options had been evaluated.
With regard to proposed closure of the Council Offices for Christmas & New Year, assurances were sought by the Committee that essential services would continue to operate and that satisfactory ‘on-call’ procedures would be in place to ensure appropriate cover in the event of any incidents. The Chief Executive confirmed that the arrangements would only apply to back-office service areas and the Customer Service Centre, meaning that frontline services such as waste collection, street cleaning and homelessness prevention, would continue unaffected throughout the period. In addition, the out of hours emergency service would remain fully operational, whilst all Heads of Service would remain on call. It was also confirmed that staff would be working the same number of overall hours during the year in lieu of the closure period. A Member of the Committee expressed concern that whilst a staff survey had demonstrated employee support for the proposed closure, there had been a lack of public consultation. The Chief Executive confirmed that the proposal had arisen because customer contact statistics clearly demonstrated that demand for services during Christmas and New Year in previous years was proven to drop-off significantly. In addition, the closure of the Offices would achieve a small cost saving, improve staff morale and bring the authority into line with a number of other Leicestershire authorities who have successfully operated Christmas closure for a number of years.
A Member of the Committee requested that as well as Senior Officers being on call during the proposed closure, a protocol should be put in place whereby Members can be called upon and/or kept appraised in the event of any incidents, as residents often use their Councillor as a first point of contact. It was also confirmed that the introduction of the proposed closure during 2018/19 would effectively be used as a trial exercise which would be fully reviewed to enable any issues identified during the closure to then be given further consideration.
It was moved by the Chair, seconded by the Vice-Chair and
UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED THAT:
(i) The work programme of the People and Performance Section be noted; and
(ii) The proposal for closing the Council Offices over Christmas and New Year be endorsed by Members.