Standards Committee 29/9/2011 Part 14 Urgent Business – Correspondence Received by the Chair

Continued from Standards Committee 29/9/2011 Part 13

Cllr Chris Blakeley said it “needs more than five minutes to understand the ramifications” and asked when the next meeting was.
The answer given by Mrs. Shirley Hudspeth was the 30th November [2011].

Cllr Les Rowlands said there were no time issues.
Cllr Chris Blakeley said this needed to be conveyed to Mr. Morton.
Cllr Dave Mitchell said it was not fair on councillors.

Surjit Tour said the process was explained in the middle of August. However the letter had been delivered on the eve of the committee. The process had been communicated to individuals in the middle of August. There had been delay, Standards for England had decided in the middle of August (17th August).

Cllr Chris Blakeley said he was happy to consider it if he had the time to read it and digest it and give him justice.

The Chair Brian Cummings asked if everyone wanted a copy?

Surjit Tour said they should consider whether to make it exempt or not.

RESOLVED:  That Mr Morton’s correspondence be considered at the next meeting of the Committee scheduled for 30 November 2011 and he be informed of this decision.

The meeting finished.

Standards Committee 29/9/2011 Part 13

The Chair, Brian Cummings said he wanted to consider an urgent request in respect of whistleblowing from Mr. Martin Morton.

Cllr Pat Williams declared a prejudicial interest in this matter as Mr. Martin Morton had made a complaint about her.
Cllr Denise Roberts declared a prejudicial interest in this matter as Mr. Martin Morton had made a complaint about her.
Cllr John Salter declared a prejudicial interest by virtue of being on the Initial Assessment Panel.

Cllr Gerry Ellis asked Surjit Tour a question which was answered.

Cllr Pat Williams, Cllr Denise Roberts and Cllr John Salter having declared a prejudicial interest in this matter left the room.

Cllr Dave Mitchell asked for clarification as he had been involved in a call-in.

Surjit Tour said there were no further conflicts of interest.

The Chair, Brian Cummings said something about it being “before his time”.

Surjit Tour said the letter regarding the standards matter and whether it should be urgent business had only been sent to the Chair [Brian Cummings]. There were issues involved. He suggested they consider representations this evening and make a decision. Surjit Tour said the complaint had been addressed and gone through due process. The level of detail, would require sufficient time for representations however there was not time limitation and would be more appropriate by the next meeting when the full range of issues could be discussed.

Deputy Mayor Cllr Gerry Ellis asked if it was the same letter from a West Kirby resident?
Cllr Les Rowlands said in his opinion it should be on the next committee’s agenda, it was not right to digest it all and make decisions.

Standards Committee 29/9/2011 Part 12

Cllr Pat Williams asked about the two instances of 125 days and 95 days were there any more?

Malcolm Flanagan said he didn’t have the details. He pointed out that how long complaints took was measured differently internally to how the Local Government Ombudsman measured them.

Cllr Pat Williams said the spokespersons should be made aware and it was important to aid understanding.

Cllr Les Rowlands said it was an excellent report and improvement. He was worried about two areas, Children and Young People and the Department of Adult Social Services. Historically they had taken a long, long time and they should work over why when they receive complaints why this should be? In return it gave them an opportunity to improve.

Malcolm Flanagan said he thought that would fall to the individual scrutiny committees.

Cllr Les Rowlands said it should be recommended to the scrutiny committees.

Cllr Dave Mitchell said he gave his congratulations to staff. On the two points about length of time, one of these complaints had been back and forth five times. He said the chronology would be easier to understand for an Overview and Scrutiny Committee. He asked why they take so long? He said it was an excellent report and that he recognised the improvements made.

The Chair, Brian Cummings pointed to the recommendation for noting.
Cllr Dave Mitchell congratulated the staff.
The Chair, Brian Cummings agreed.

Standards Committee 29/9/2011 Part 10

Cllr John Salter said he would disagree for the first time [with the Deputy Mayor Cllr Gerry Ellis], he called regularly and calls were answered within three to four seconds. He though they were always excellent, but his local library was a bit untidy.

Cllr Dave Mitchell said that his local library was brilliant.
Cllr John Salter said he had a passport.
Cllr Bob Wilkins asked a question about mystery shoppers.
Malcolm Flanagan said their queries could not be person specific and they couldn’t make up a hole in the road. They were testing to see if they knew the information or were looking at the information. The mystery shoppers had the information in front of them.
Cllr Chris Blakeley said he agreed with [Cllr] John [Salter] and [Deputy Mayor Cllr] Gerry [Ellis] that it was a mixed bag. Streetscene three weeks ago had answered within three minutes. He said he thought it was a good service 90% of the time and bad service 10% of the time.
Stella Elliott asked about accessibility about disability, how was this evidenced?
Malcolm Flanagan said there was a minimum standard but it keeps being raised. They figured out which was worst and spoke to Asset Management. The One Stop Shops and libraries in some cases required minor adjustments. However the age of the buildings was a problem. He said all were at a minimum standard.
Cllr Pat Williams said it would be good to have more information.
The Chair Brian Cummings said the report was noted.

Standards Committee 29/9/2011 Part 9

The Chair, Brian Cummings moved to the item entitled Mystery Shopping.

Malcolm Flanagan said that at the last meeting on the 4th July, committee members had asked for details on Mystery Shopping which had been done on the call centre, One Stop Shops and libraries. He said they don’t ask specific questions, but make up a case. There were a number of criteria which included the quality of responses. It was good to see things from the customer’s perspective especially the physical aspects. He went into the grades given to each service area. There had been some environmental concerns, signage and study areas. These would be added to the work program. Using the option of their own staff was cheaper rather than a commercial organisation.

The Chair, Brian Cummings asked if there were any questions and then asked what the concerns about libraries were.

Malcolm replied by saying they were aiming for greater linkage between the One Stop Shops and libraries. The concerns were around disabled access and signage.

Deputy Mayor Cllr Gerry Ellis said they needed more detailed figures and that it was meaningless and hard to understand. How could they call the call centres excellent when there were complaints from his residents about hanging on? Who’s wrong?

Malcolm said the good or excellent was assessed when they got through.

Deputy Mayor Cllr Gerry Ellis said that waiting doesn’t affect the excellence.

Malcolm said they do keep records of the number of people who give up. This was reported to the Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee.