Agenda item

Update on the delivery of Our Plan and Interview with Chief Executive

To consider a report by the Director for Sustainability & Resources, copy attached as item 10


The Committee had a report before it, attached as item 10, which had been circulated to all Members and is attached to a signed copy of these minutes. This report would assist JOSC in questioning the Chief Executive on the progress in delivering the objectives in ‘Our Plan’ which was agreed by the Councils as the new Corporate Plan in Autumn 2022. This report provided the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JOSC) with the details of the Corporate Plan, ‘Our Plan’, which was reported to the Joint Strategic Committee (JSC) on 11 October 2022. A copy of that report and the finalised Corporate Plan is attached as an Appendix to this report.


A Member asked, “given the paucity of detailed specific and measurable deliverables, how does the Chief Executive envisage that those who are responsible for holding her to account for her performance and specifically for the delivery of “Our Plan”, and for the scrutiny of its execution, will be able to assess whether it is in fact being delivered, to what extent, at what speed, and with what degree of success?”

Members were told they were in the process of establishing their Mission Control team to oversee the delivery and performance management of the plan. Each of the missions in the plan had a road map setting out how each area would be delivered and what success would look like. The directors had already formed multi disciplinary teams to deliver the road maps.  Recruitment to the Mission Control team was about to start and the monitoring and reporting would be managed and reported through a project and information management tool called Asana. Service planning had also started and this would support the councils’ ability to report on service related outputs and outcomes.


A Member asked “ref paragraph 3.2 of the report to JSC on 11 October 2020 - What has the impact been of having shared services and staff across 2 councils, now with different political administrations and therefore differing strategic priorities?”

Members were told the shared service agreement between Adur and Worthing continued to work well, delivering services (many of which were shared) to a high standard, whilst realising considerable savings through scale and joint working. One staff team delivery for two councils with separate priorities and ambitions had been a defining feature of the agreement since its foundation. 


Having said this there were of course challenges in meeting the needs of two different authorities which is why they had a shared corporate plan. Our Plan sought to set out how they would deliver for each authority and how they worked together on shared priorities, including services that were better delivered at scale and were complex and cross cutting. Key to working in this partnership agreement context for the staff was clarity on how they worked together, the principles that directed and informed the work and the required focus of the organisation on core and support services, plus cross cutting missions.


A Member asked “ref paragraph 3.9 of the JSC report - What work is being done to increase public engagement with the work of the council and in particular on methods of communication and content that engage all parts of our communities, especially young people?

Members were told participation was one of the key principles and through this approach they aimed to improve engagement with residents and stakeholders in every aspect of the councils’ work. The new organisational design was seeking to embed participation capabilities throughout the organisation; they were transforming the comms team, changing it from a broadcast function to communications and engagement function; they were investing in another participation lead (hub) for the organisation; and developing engagement ‘spokes’ in each of the directorates. Participation was forming part of the new and revised job descriptions through the organisation.   


This work and approach had already started of course and they had been making good progress in developing and undertaking this approach in a number of settings, for example West Durrington, Lancing, Cissbury Fields, Adur River (Sussex Bay), Big Listen and Big Clean Up, the new tenant participation officer for Adur Homes and the revised CIL neighbourhood fund panel. They were also considering the expansion of participation in Adur through place based officers. With regard to young people they had just adopted strategies for Adur and Worthing and planned, as part of these commitments, to improve engagement with young people.


A Member asked, “When you came to JOSC in October you mentioned the newly appointed data lead would be using the community census data to better understand our communities and through collaboration with communities, they would seek to further improve and shape their services. There doesn't appear to be any specific mention about the 2021 census data in the 29 September 2022 report (Adur JSC Sub-Committee - New Priorities). We know this data can be of huge value for planning out policies and local services. Please could you inform the committee on the work being carried out by the data lead using this census data?

Members were told following some good work, the Data Lead left for other employment. As part of the new organisational design process they had taken this opportunity to review the approach and would now drive the better use of data from Mission Control, located in the new People and Change Function. Supporting this work, in each of the directorates, there would be data leads, working in services to improve the collection and use of data to improve services. In addition they would  work with mission control through matrix working, helping to inform and improve strategy and policy development for the organisation.


Whilst this work was ongoing, they were already using data from census 2021 to direct and inform the work.  Using data for example to inform consultation work at Lancing and West Durrington, where it had been used to identify priorities, provide constructive challenge and inform decision making. Census data was also being used to guide and inform the CIL Neighbourhood Funding Panel, helping them to better understand the needs of places and communities. Using census data to make sure the staff team better reflected the communities served and that service delivery, for example the complaints and feedback service, the homelessness service and the wellbeing services (going local), were accessible and particular communities were not disproportionately represented.


A Member asked “from the JSC 29 September report 'on page 4 -Paragraph 4.3 "For Shoreham the priority is very much about making sure development of the Western Harbour Arm is able to both meet the housing needs of the area and deliver real benefits of the regeneration activity to local communities with the right infrastructure in place." From what I've learned from the community in and around Shoreham, they don't believe there are any real benefits, just detriments. The 'right' infrastructure isn't in place and there is no prospect of it being in place in the near future. The debacle around secondary school places for residents with the BN43 postcode is just one of many issues which is enraging the community. What message do you have for them?”

Members were told there were some real challenges and the council was committed to listening to residents and trying to resolve them. They were reviewing the Adur Local Plan to address these and other issues, making sure infrastructure such as schools, kept up with and matched changing needs. Solutions to all of these were in the hands of wide ranging partners and they were working through the Shoreham Joint Area Action Plan and other forums to try and resolve issues.  Listening to the community of course needed to be central to all of that. There had been some recent good news for Shoreham with £750,000 of Government EcoTowns grant secured with Adur benefitting from £290,000 to primarily use to deliver the Shoreham Joint Area Action Plan. Brighton & Hove City Council received £460,000 for sustainability projects.


A Member asked “Our Plan: Agenda Page 43 - We are adaptable. “Create a culture that is brave and open to trying new things”. How would you determine the success of this culture?”

Members were told the new operating model of the council was about change and doing things differently - both of which required bravery. The combination of needs and reducing resources meant they had to change of course but the Chief Executive believed there was a more hopeful reason for change, one that could actually make things better and that took them closer to the main purpose as local councils - which was to provide good and lasting stewardship for Adur and Worthing.


In terms of measuring this they thought they would see changes for example through the outworking of the planned Workforce Strategy and associated staff survey. They would see it in the success of the community participation and  engagement work and ability to share power and resources with communities and experiment with new ways of working where they both start and stop things; the delivery of complex cross cutting missions through successful multidisciplinary working; new ways of collaboration and partnership working for example with other anchor institutions and local authorities; and transition to digital services.


A Member asked “Our Plan: Agenda Page 44 - Our Principles - We are participative. “Provide inclusive services by listening to underrepresented voices, creating equal access and meeting our equality duties” and “Ensure everyone who works for us feels respected and that their views count” Last year when I asked about the immediate steps taken to provide truly inclusive services the response was that the Equality Impact Assessment had been revised for better planning, delivering and evaluating the council’s services. Further to this, a Minoritised Ethnic Community Engagement project was underway and the new data lead would use the community census to better understand the communities and, through collaboration, would seek to further improve and shape services.

Can you explain the learning the council has taken from these actions and can you

give an example of an outcome from these projects that has positively impacted

our community?”

Members were told the Equality Impact Assessment process continued to support equality, diversity and inclusion work ensuring service changes and new policies did not disproportionately affect communities with protected characteristics. Training had been provided to managers and was supported through ongoing corporate coaching. Recent examples of this work included the Cost of Living Emergency Road maps for Adur and Worthing where the EIA process was used to identify groups at particular risk and then target actions and resources in those areas. 


They continued to learn from participation and engagement work with diverse communities. With the Minoritised Ethnic Community Engagement project for example they commissioned this as a stand alone piece of work and because they didn't directly partner with the delivery organisation they were hands off. They completed this work with some good outcomes and improved knowledge about the community but the councils didn't build new relationships, organisational capacity in undertaking this work wasn't improved and the overall benefits of the project could therefore have been stronger. They learnt from this that they needed to approach this kind of work with closer collaboration with community development agencies and had used this learning to improve engagement activities at Cissbury Fields and Lancing. In both of these examples they felt the engagement had been stronger, the councils had been able to engage and respond more effectively and more people had become involved in conversations. In Lancing for example they had successfully partnered with the Ideas Alliance and different groups were rallying around the place making agenda and social capital was being built.  There was always room for improvement and learning of course, for example in West Durrington they had identified the need to better engage some excluded groups (disability). 


They were actively using data from census 2021 to direct and inform work.  They were using data for example to inform consultation work at Lancing and West Durrington, where it had been used to identify priorities, provide constructive challenge and inform decision making. Census data was also being used to guide and inform the CIL Neighbourhood Funding Panel, helping them to better understand the needs of places and communities. They were also using census data to make sure the staff team better reflected the communities served and that service delivery, for example the complaints and feedback service, the homelessness service and the wellbeing services (going local), were accessible and particular communities were not disproportionately represented.


Members also asked about the resiliency of the council over efficiency, involvement with parish councils and a cancelled awards event. Members were told that a lack of resilience leaves you fragile and that the unexpected consistently happens, that the Chief Executive was always available to Parish Councils should they request them and that while unfortunate, the event was cancelled due to a lack of due diligence.

Resolved: The committee agreed to receive a further progress report on the delivery of the Corporate Plan at a meeting in 2024/25 (Date to be confirmed) as part of its Work Programme.

Supporting documents: