Transparency - The Council

Members Questions

At Annual Council held on 17 May 2017, it was agreed that a facility would be made available for any elected member to ask a question (on matters of budget and policy) to a Cabinet member, at any time.  This would be on the basis that the response would be published on the council’s website, providing the public, the opportunity to review the questions and answers.  Below is the list of questions received and the subsequent reply from the cabinet member:



Question  Answer  Asked By   Date
 1 Subject: Pan / Bluebell Meadows Development

Can I be advised precisely how much of a capital receipt the IW Council has received to 31 March 2017 from its Development Agreement with Barratts to build up to 600 homes for sale on this Council land ?
To date, the Council has received £1 million from Barratts. Cllr. Brodie  14.08.17
 2 Subject: Pan / Bluebell Meadows Development

Can I be advised as to why the multi-stakeholder 'Pan Project Group', a requirement of the Development Agreement with Barratts, has become defunct since its administration was passed into the hands of a private company, ERMC ?
ERMC are the managing agent for the Pan ManCo.  The development agreement places responsibility for the Pan Project Group with the Council and Soverign and therefore it is not for ERMC to administer this group.  The Council will review the need for this group and will discuss with the ward member the membership and on going role of this group. Cllr. Brodie 14.08.17

 3

 

Subject: Island Roads - Core Investment Period

Can the Cabinet member outline for Island residents in urban areas like my Newport East ward what the IW Council administration's policy will be if the road re-surfacing still to be undertaken in so many residential streets is not going to be completed within what little time is left of the Island Roads' Core Investment Period (ends 31.03.20)  

 

Under the PFI contract Island Roads is required to ensure that all roads meet the standards set out in the contract documents for the duration of the 25 year term. Roads are continually surveyed by an independent surveying company which is accredited to survey the network using standards and processes set out nationally. The results from the surveys are used to calculate a score for each section of road (known as a Monitoring Length) and these scores are then combined to provide an average score for each classification of road (Hierarchy 1 to Hierarchy 4) in each of the Islands six districts, which were created for the purposes of the contract.

 During the Core Investment Period (CIP) the scores required in each district for each classification of road increases at each six month milestone. By Milestone 12 (April 2019) the average score for each district should be at or above the score which will need to be maintained for the remaining term of the contract (15.5 for Hierarchy 1 roads, and 15 for all other hierarchies). From Milestone 14 (April 2020) a minimum score for each Monitoring Length needs to be achieved in addition to the district average.

 Whilst most of the upgrading work to achieve the required scores is carried out during the CIP, works will need to continue on an on going basis throughout the term of the contract to ensure the required scores are maintained for the remaining period of the contract. Therefore, we will continue to see works after the CIP as roads deteriorate and interventions are required to ensure the required standards are maintained Island roads is fully aware of this requirement and use its own complex model that inputs proposed treatment types and dates and models future deterioration. Depending upon the upfront chosen treatment type the model envisages for some roads a further intervention during the period after CIP. However the period of maximum activity will be during CIP and whilst further treatments will occur in the period after it ends the  level of activity on the network will be greatly reduced.

 Cllr Brodie  01.09.17
 4

 Subject: Organisational Health

Cllr Hutchinson -

You may have noted press reports today about the record low levels of sickness absence from work in the UK during 2017.

It then occurred to me that I have no idea what the organisational health of the IW Council is since the Employment Committee (which I chaired for 2 years) was terminated by your administration in May last year. As you will recall we used to get quarterly reports on:

 • Completion of staff personal development reviews. 

• Number of reported accidents. 

• Number of reported incidents of violence and aggression to staff. 

• Average number of days lost to sickness per permanent employee together with other statistics that relate directly to initiation (action) points contained within the Attendance Management Policy and Procedure. 

• Voluntary turnover of staff as a percentage of employments.

 You will recall as a member of the Employment Committee during my 2 years that I was always particularly interested in the low level of performance reviews in the 'caring' departments, which always struck me as entirely apposite.

Since May 2017 organisational health has been your area of responsibility, but I have seen no reports or references on these interesting matters. I have briefly looked at some of the Performance Reports that go to Scrutiny and Cabinet, but could see no mention there.

Can you advise me how there is transparency on these matters ? I am sure Council Taxpayers would be interested in current sickness absence rates, particularly those related to mental health issues.

 

 

 

 

Cllr Brodie,

Thanks for drawing this to my attention. Sometimes one forgets that because one is still party to information, others aren't. I do agree we need to have greater transparency on this issue. 

We of course still collect the information and this is regularly discussed at the Resources Group Meetings I have, as well as at CMT as part of a dashboard of indicators as to the management of the organisation. I would in addition expect any concerns around issues such as those you list, to be raised at the regular JCM meetings between Members, Chief Officers and Unions, which both Dave and I attend.

That doesn't however allow review by a wider audience and to address this I shall ask  for these statistics to be regularly published (I think twice a year would be sufficient to monitor trends and any action taken) as an appendix to the performance report presented to Cabinet at the end of each quarter.  That would mean that it is open and publicly available and because all Cabinet papers are examined by Scrutiny, will offer the opportunity of comment or question.

 Cllr Brodie  31.07.18
 5

 Subject: Island Roads Core Investment Period

Cllr Stewart

Thanks for the written response to my Full Council question. I am afraid that I need to pursue this further as your response raises further questions. 

I have copied it to Simon Wiggins so that it can registered as a formal question to you as Leader under the process for dealing with formal questions to Cabinet members. I also intend to continue making these questions public as I feel very strongly that Islanders, not least myself, have been deceived and that your administration is failing to act in their best interests in relation to this contract.

In your response you refer me to the Final Business Case (FBC) for the PFI contract, which was agreed by Cabinet on 29 May 2012 Cabinet, then by the Department for Transport and HM Treasury, and then presented to Cabinet and Full Council on 21/22 August 2012.

The redacted copy of the FBC that I am able to access has the following paragraphs:

2.5.2.3 The 25 year Project consists of a

7 year Core Investment Period (CIP) to refurbish the Project Network to an improved standard

and a further 18 year Lifecycle Replacement period when that standard will be maintained. 

2.5.3 Project Scope 

2.5.3.1 A high-level summary of the Project scope is described below. 

2.5.4 Carriageways 

2.5.4.1

The Island’s 818 km of rural and urban roads that are currently being managed publicly, form part of the Project Network.

(sections emboldened by me)

You will see that at no time do these paragraphs mention your words 'agreed average standard'. Nor is there any qualification for Island Roads not having to refurbish all of the Project Network during the Core Investment Period. The FBC also makes very clear that the Scope of the Project includes all 818 km of the Project Network.

Can you please explain these clear discrepancies between what you tell me and what the FBC says ? 

Can you also tell me what level of fines have been applied to Island Roads for failure to comply with the contract in each of the financial years since April 2013, including the first half of this year ?

 

 

 

 

Can you please explain these clear discrepancies between what you tell me and what the FBC says ? 

 

The obligations of the Service Provider, in reference to the Core Investment Period (CIP), are outline in the Highways PFI contract. These are measured by condition indices, not lengths of treated roads.  The condition indices are calculated from road survey results.  The length of carriageway referenced in the question was the total length of carriageway at the time of contract commencement (the Project Network).  The total Project Networks is still currently in the scope of the contract to be managed by the Service Provider.  That does not necessarily mean that all roads being managed will be treated, if the condition indices are within an acceptable level.

Can you also tell me what level of fines have been applied to Island Roads for failure to comply with the contract in each of the financial years since April 2013, including the first half of this year ?

 

This information is deemed to be commercially sensitive.

 Cllr Brodie  22/09/19
 6

Can you advise me how much we are currently spending on the Regeneration element of the Council's budget and how much we have spent in total since the appointment of the Director?

Can you also give me an account of what has tangibly been achieved for the Island in terms of regeneration since the investment into this directorate?

 Dear Cllr Brodie,

Please find below a summary of the expenditure on the regeneration function up to and including projected expenditure in this current financial year:

17/18 - £1.8m revenue, £2.5 capital (£4.3m)

18/19 - £996k revenue, £1.1m capital (£2.09m)

19/20 - £1.1m revenue, £621k capital (£1.72m)

Total - £3.89m revenue, £4.2m capital (£8.1m in total)

In terms of tangible achievement's during that period I would refer you in the first instance to the member update issued in January and attached again for reference.

The main achievements so far include:

Creation and protection of over 300 jobs

Several funding bids to a range of government bodies resulting in leverage of £3m UK Government funding and £15m private sector funding

Acquisition of 30 acres of permitted employment land

Development and occupation of 40,000 sq ft of Grade A office space

Costed and fully consulted regeneration masterplan proposals for Nicholson Rd and Newport Harbour

Partnership regeneration place plans for Newport and Ryde each with a series of locally prioritised delivery projects

A Bay regeneration Vision and delivery programme including partner investment proposals for Dinosaur Isle and Sandham middle school site

A Digital Island strategy and delivery road map incl investment in a Digital Business Incubation Centre to open in 2020

An overarching regeneration strategy "inspiration island" - 2019 - 2030

A Higher Education Prospectus

Establishment of a housing company

Higher business rate growth during the period than Portsmouth or Southampton - details on the value to this island over this period to follow

You will be aware of the time and resources required in developing a programme and the projects contained within it, in terms of developing business cases, taking projects through the planning system and then to market. The above represents progress from a standing start in 2017 with great prospects for further results in the coming years.

Chris Ashman

Director of Regeneration

 

 

 Cllr Brodie  09/02/20
 7

Can I also have a break down of how the Revenue element of the Regeneration budget is spent in the current year?

Also a breakdown of what elements of the IWC Capital budget over the last 3 years are being attributed to Regeneration activity?

 Cllr Brodie,

 

Please find requested breakdown below

Regeneration Revenue breakdown 19-20

Employees £535,382

Premises £120,338

Supplies and Services £1,074,489

Transport £4,451

Income £414,055

Other payments £134,042

 

Capital Budget attributed to Regeneration 2017-20 - £4,221,000

Chris Ashman

Director of Regeneration

 Cllr Brodie  12/02/20
 8

 Can I know how many employers there are?

I also asked for specific details of the elements of the Capital spend attributable to Regeneration.

For clarification we have 7 direct employees in regeneration and the remainder of the budget (approx. 40%) purchases time from our property, legal and procurement teams.

Capital breakdown:

 

     

 2019-/20

 
   2017/18  2018/19  (forecast)  
Scheme  £  £  £  Total
Kingston Marine Park/ITP  453,910  622,244    1,076,154
BAE Site  2,078,008  154,354    2,232,362
Nicholson Road    343,094  471,284  814,378
Sandown Micro Brewery*      50,000  50,000
Sandham Middle      99,970  99,970
   2,531,918  1,119,692  621,254  4,272,864

 

*The micro brewery project is funded by the UK Govt Coastal Communities Fund and IOWC is acting as the grant holder

 Cllr Brodie  12/02/20
 9

Dear Clare,

Can I have an explanation/briefing on two savings lines within your portfolio:

1. Remodelling Homecare Packages - £300k

2. Review of Care Packages - £1.045m

These amount to the most significant element of the overall proposed savings. Yet again for your portfolio, though I obviously understand the proportion of Council budget you have oversight of.

 1. Remodelling Homecare Packages

We will be focusing first on those people with intensive levels of homecare (eg. 4 visits per day delivered each time by 2 carers) in order to see which of those visits we may be able to either reduce or transfer to a Personal Assistant (PA). It will take us 12 months to deliver the 15% target we have set ourselves.

In addition, we will be working with those we serve to promote greater levels of choice and control by transferring to obtaining care and support from a PA instead of through more traditional routes people can achieve a more personalised support network with greater flexibility

2.Review of Care Packages

Peoples needs change over time and where we are able to input recovery and/or reablement input we know that we have success in reducing long term need as well as reducing high levels of needs.

This efficiency saving of £1.045m comprises of 3 components all of which overlap - for instance in reviewing high costs placements the aim is to introduce a consistent approach to costings via the resource allocation system (RAS); equally, people in receipt of Section 117 (i.e. after care for those people under sections 2 & 3 of the mental health act) will also be subject to the application of the RAS.

That is why we have not given saving amounts for each of the three areas of activity designed to deliver this target. We acknowledge this is an ambitious target in that over the last two years our reviewing activity has already delivered £3.8m savings.

Carol Tozer

Director of Adult Social Services

 Cllr Brodie  09/02/20
 10

 Dear Cllr Stewart,

 

You appear to have lost any sense of being someone who should represent all Islanders in your role as leader of the IW Council.

 

When I heard you on Radio 4's Today programme yesterday morning I was dumfounded. Since then I have had a good number of residents contacting me asking what on earth you and the MP are doing. You are each reported as follows;

"Bob Seely, the MP for the Isle of Wight told the Telegraph:" The Island is generally liked by social scientists because it is an isolated community. The ferries are now down to an essential service, so you can pretty much track every human being that comes off and on the island."

"Dave Stewart, leader of the Council of Isle of Wight, added:" We have 140,000 people on the Isle of Wight and we are an ideal pilot location for the Government to try out a whole community test."

Can I ask on what basis you have decided to call for the Island to be essentially a guinea pig during the current crisis?

 Councillor Brodie,

 

I understand you are using this email as a form of members question and I reply to you on that basis:

Firstly there is no suggestion that the Island could come out of lockdown early. Any exit from the lockdown needs to be well-managed approach with comprehensive monitoring and testing with the ability to reintroduce control measures to ensure that our vulnerable residents are protected to the fullest.

The Island's unique status gives it an opportunity to better manage any exit from lockdown than most other areas. This is an opportunity which should not be missed and would provide the stringent safeguards the Island's community and the Isle of Wight Council would support.

During these unique and unprecedented times, the council, working with partners in health and the voluntary sector, is working tirelessly to protect and support our Island community. Their response has been amazing, but there is no time to relax, we must continue to take personal and collective responsibility to protect ourselves from the virus.

If the Island is offered the opportunity of whole community testing which would give us a much better picture of Coronavirus spread on the Island, in my view this would be very informative and further contribute to helping us to keep our community safe.

Let me conclude by saying I am not calling for the Island to be a 'guinea pig' for anything. However, I am keen that we maximise opportunities to recover from the impact of the virus but at the same time ensure we keep our community safe.

I trust this allays your concerns

Dave Stewart - Leader

 Cllr Brodie  22/4/20
 11

Free School Meals

Last nights Channel 4 News highlighted the government's entire failure to provide alternative free school meals for children currently out of school for the past 6 weeks.

In my ward, with the highest level of child poverty, I am very aware of families with children usually at the local school who are not getting the long promised meal vouchers.

Locally my local community group, Pan Together, is making plans to feed local children who are missing out on lunches.

However, I am interested to know if you and your administration are making any plans to address this government debacle Island-wide?

 Dear Geoff,

Thank you for your email about the National Voucher Scheme for pupils entitled to free school meals. I share your concerns about the operation of the voucher system and I have ensured that the concerns of schools and parents have been fed back to the DfE on a regular basis.

As background, I'm not sure if you are aware but these vouchers are not an entitlement for all children on free school meals. They are only used when the normal routes of delivering free school meals can not be accessed by the school. Many schools on the Island have continued to provide free school meals and have not drawn upon the voucher system. The DfE guidance on this issue states:

"We understand that schools will have different approaches to how they would normally provide free school meals to eligible children. These might include:

* an in-house catering team

* a local authority catering service

* a private catering provider

The steps you take to support children at this time may be different depending on the individual circumstances of the school. You might be able to provide eligible pupils not attending school with meals or food parcels through your current food provider.

Where this is not possible, the Department for Education (DfE) has developed a centrally-funded national voucher scheme to support schools with this process".

In relation to the schools serving Newport, some local schools have chosen not to use the voucher system at all thus far such as Summerfields Primary and Nine Acres Primary. They have put in a system where children on free school meals receive a packed lunch on a daily basis. Nine acres has just moved to the voucher system. Some schools are using the voucher system such as Barton Primary, Medina College, Medina House Special and St George's Special. In common with schools nationally all of these reported that the system was awful during the first couple of weeks but are now reporting that it is improving and finally appears to be getting on track. It's a situation I'm monitoring closely and will continue to ensure representations are made to the DfE until it is working perfectly.

Cllr Paul Brading

Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Education and Skills.

 Cllr Brodie  05/05/20