Council services by letter

Agenda and minutes

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Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Harrow Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2XY. View directions

Contact: Una Sullivan, Democratic & Electoral Services Officer  Tel: 020 8424 1785 E-mail:  una.sullivan@harrow.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

128.

Attendance by Reserve Members

To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.

 

Reserve Members may attend meetings:-

 

(i)                 to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;

(ii)               where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and

(iii)             the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;

(iv)              if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note the attendance at this meeting of the following duly appointed Reserve Members:-

 

Ordinary Member

 

Reserve Member

 

L Ahmed

Davis Searles

D Butterfield

Bill Beardon

 

129.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:

 

(a)               all Members of the Forum;

(b)               all other Members present.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that the following interests were declared for all agenda items:

 

Councillor Bob Currie declared a non-pecuniary interest in that he was a member of Unison, and that his son works for the Council.  He would remain in the room whilst all matters were considered and voted upon.

 

Councillor Graham Henson declared a non-pecuniaryinterest in that he was an honorary member of the Communication Workers Union, and that his cousin was an employee of the Council.  He had also served as the Portfolio Holder with responsibility for health and safety matters.  He would remain in the room whilst the matter was considered and voted upon.

RESOLVED ITEMS

130.

Appointment of Vice-Chairman

To receive a nomination from the Employees’ Side as to the Vice-Chairman of the Forum for the Municipal Year 2011/12.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That Gary Martin be appointed as Vice-Chairman of the Employees’ Consultative Forum for the 2013-2014 Municipal Year.

131.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 151 KB

That the minutes of the meeting held on 31 January 2013 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 31 January 2013 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

132.

Public Questions, Petitions and Deputations

To receive petitions (if any) submitted by members of the public/Councillors under the provisions of Executive Procedure Rule 48 (Part 4D of the Constitution).

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  To note that no petitions were received, questions put or deputations received.

133.

Annual Equality in Employment Monitoring Report - Part 1 pdf icon PDF 402 KB

Report of the Corporate Director of Resources

Minutes:

The Committee received the report of the Corporate Director of Resources which set out equality monitoring data on a range of employment matters.  A further report analysing the data and addressing the issues would be brought to the ECF meeting on 28 January 2014.

 

An officer introduced the report and explained that the Council had a statutory duty to publish equalities data, which was presented to the Employees’ Consultative Forum in this report. Officers sought comments from Members on the data to be analysed, which, together with actions proposed to address issues of concern, would form the second part of the report, to be brought to the Forum in January 2014. 

 

The officer explained that a number of errors had been identified in the data, and a corrected version of the report would be circulated with the minutes of the meeting.

 

She commented that the new style of presentation made it easier to identify areas of concern and track any trends.  She then noted a number of issues:

 

·                    the requirement to publish ‘protected characteristics’ had increased from four categories to eight.  As a consequence there was no historical data for comparison of the new categories: religion or belief; sexual orientation; pregnancy or maternity; and gender reassignment;

 

·                    the need to publish more data required greater resources than for previous reports;

 

·                    the 2011 census data for Harrow had been used as a comparator where appropriate;

 

·                    the proportion of BAME staff employed by the Council was lower than that of the Harrow community, and had not changed significantly over the last few years;

 

·                    the representation of BAME staff at senior level in the Council was very low;

 

·                    the number of women at senior level in the Council was very low and the proportion of women applying for and being promoted internally was lower than their representation in the workforce;

 

·                    concerns about the low proportion of employees under the age of 24.

 

The officer explained that Directorate Equality Task Groups (ETGs) would consider data relating to their own workforce and report any major issues for inclusion in the January ECF report.  The Corporate Equalities Group would review any actions proposed to address issues and these would also be included in the report.

Members considered the data provided, and discussed the following points:

 

·                    errors and transpositions in the data provided;

 

·                    the lack of senior management response in providing protected characteristic data, and the message this conveyed;

 

·                    addressing low response rates by Directorate and / or rank;

 

·                    the mismatch between declared and known levels of disability;

 

·                    the ability to make meaningful comparisons across Directorates from the data provided and its style of presentation.

 

Members agreed that it was difficult to draw reliable conclusions from the report, where there were errors and transpositions.  They also noted with serious concern that where figures were low in any particular category, it was possible to determine the identity of those involved.  Officers agreed to remedy this in future reports.

 

Members then considered the following:

 

·                    the breakdown of figures  ...  view the full minutes text for item 133.

134.

Annual Health & Safety Report pdf icon PDF 526 KB

Report of the Corporate Director of Resources

 

Minutes:

The Forum received the report of the Corporate Director of Resources which summarised the Council’s health and safety performance for the year 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013.

 

The Divisional Director of HR, Development and Shared Services explained that as the report author was not present, if he was unable to answer any questions himself, then a written answer would be provided.  He also drew the Forum’s attention to some errors in the report which would be corrected.

 

The Chair referred to training statistics which he wanted to explore in depth at the next ECF Employment Sub-Group meeting, in particular the sharp reduction in provision and take-up of training.  He asked for additional data to enable Members to look at any correlation between training undertaken and accidents.

 

The Vice-Chair noted that Appendix 1, which outlined health and safety objectives and targets, gave the responsible officer as a member of staff who had left some time ago, and was a repetition of the previous year’s report.  He considered this was unacceptable, and a possible illustration of an underlying problem in the service area.  The Chair asked for a revised set of objectives with accurate timescales, and reasons given for delay.  The Divisional Director responded that some objectives would always be listed as ‘ongoing’, and that he had asked officers to map out another 2 year plan, which would be included in the next report.

 

A Member asked for more meaningful comparative data, in particular year-on-year figures, and seasonal variations.  He also asked for information on where accidents occurred, as this might be an area in which the Council could exercise some control and better protect its workforce. 

 

In response to a query about the range and provision of courses offered, the Divisional Director said that a blended programme of courses was on offer, and that external provision was commissioned when no in-house expertise was available.

 

Members considered the impact on the service, and ultimately on the workforce, caused by staffing issues in the section, namely the difficulties in recruiting and retaining suitable staff and the service’s ability to draft and deliver long term plans.

 

Members discussed the following issues in respect of training:

 

·                    the sharp reduction in the provision of training;

 

·                    the lack of continuity in safety awareness in areas with high staff mobility;

 

·                    the need for refresher courses on basic safety matters.

 

Members then discussed the following issues arising from accident reporting and the data provided:

 

·                    the discrepancy between figures provided for schools;

 

·                    the confusion caused by figures from two different reporting periods;

 

·                    the need for remedial actions to be specified.

 

The Chair concluded that the Forum had concerns about the quality of reporting in respect of health and safety and the issues and omissions highlighted by the data, which he hoped would be explored in detail at the next Employment Sub-Group meeting, and reported back to the next ECF meeting.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

135.

Actions Agreed by the Employee Consultative Forum - Employment Sub Group pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Report of the Divisional Director, Human Resources and Development and Shared Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Forum received the report of the Divisional Director, Human Resources, Development and Shared Services which provided information on actions agreed at Employment Sub-Group meetings.

 

The Divisional Director of HR, Development and Shared Services informed the Forum that, following a recommendation from the Employees’ Consultative Forum (ECF), Cabinet had agreed to the establishment of an Employment Sub-Group, and had also agreed to new terms of reference for the ECF and draft terms of reference for the ECF Employment Sub-Group.  Among these was the requirement to report all actions agreed at the Employment Sub-Group to ECF for information.

 

He also informed the Forum that the draft terms of reference required further discussion and would be brought back to the next full meeting of ECF.  The Chair commented on the delay, and stated his expectation that officers would provide details on progress at the next Employment Sub-Group meeting, which he would attend.

 

In respect of the item on Libraries Management Services, the Vice-Chair expressed concern that no response had as yet been received from the Section 151 officer, and he gave his view that without this information it was impractical to begin the ‘Lessons Learnt’ review. 

 

The Divisional Director explained that the Section 151 officer review would look at costs, which formed a separate line of enquiry, albeit one that would comprise part of the full report.  He believed it was, therefore, still valid to embark on the ‘Lessons Learnt’ review ahead of the Section 151 officer’s response.  The Chair agreed and added that in his view it was important to undertake the review in two strands – with a specific and discrete task for the Section 151 officer, and a more general review for all stakeholders.  A further discussion could take place at the Sub-Group meeting in October.

 

The Vice-Chair commented that there was a possibility of legal implications, which could further restrict the availability of information and discussion.  The Chair was unaware of any such development, and did not think there would be any restriction on the review or report.

 

RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.