Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Wirral Council) (14th November 2012)

Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee 14th November 2012

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Apologies for the first two items (declarations of interest and minutes) missing from the footage. Video starts part way through item 3 (a presentation about CIPRO).

Employment and Appointments Committee (Wirral Council) 24th September 2012 Part 1

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Present

Councillors on Employment and Appointments Committee

Cllr Lesley Rennie (Conservative)
Cllr Peter Kearney (Conservative)
Cllr Andrew Hodson (Conservative) deputy for Cllr Jeff Green (Conservative), spokesperson
Cllr Mark Johnston (Liberal Democrat), spokesperson
Cllr Paul Doughty (Labour), Chair
Cllr Phil Davies (Labour)
Cllr George Davies (Labour)
Cllr Ann McLachlan (Labour)

Officers
David Armstrong, Acting Deputy Chief Executive
Tony Williams, Acting Employee Relations Manager
Chris Hyams, Head of HR and Organisational Development
Surjit Tour, Legal adviser
Andrew Mossop, Committee Services Officer

In attendance:

Cllr Adrian Jones (Cabinet Member for Corporate Services)
Two members of public

00:08 to 00:15
The meeting started with the Chair, Labour councillor Paul Doughty welcoming people to tonight’s meeting.

1. Members’ Code of Conduct – Declarations of Interest 00:15

He asked if the councillors had any interests to declare? No declarations of interest were made.

2. Minutes 00:28

The minutes of the meeting held on the 12th July 2012 were agreed.

3. Managing attendance 00:55

Linked reportAppendix 1Appendix 2Appendix 3

The Chair, Labour Cllr Paul Doughty asked Tony Williams, Acting Employee Relations Manager to introduce the report.  Tony Williams said it was a regular report to update the Committee on attendance and referred to figures in the report.

Cllr Harry Smith (Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Transport) and Cllr Chris Meaden (Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Leisure) arrive.

Tony Williams said the report showed that health issues were the highest cause of absence, which they were doing work to address, with an example being given of stress awareness. He also referred to the absence rate at the Department for Adult Social Services. He asked if there were any questions?

Cllr Paul Doughty said the report was for noting, so it was noted.

4. Update on Managing Workforce Change and Redeployment 03:20

Linked report, Appendix 1

The Chair, Labour Cllr Paul Doughty asked Tony Williams, Acting Employee Relations Manager to introduce this report.

Tony Williams said there were now fourteen employees on the register, he said at the last meeting there had been six, but five of these had been resolved. He said three on the register had complex circumstances, with two of these being due to disability, he referred to exempt appendix 12.

The Chair, Labour Cllr Paul Doughty referred to exempt appendix 12. He asked if anyone had any questions?

Cllr Mark Johnston, Liberal Democrat spokesperson asked about the reason behind the increase in employees on the register from the Department of Law, HR and Asset Management?
Tony Williams answered Cllr Johnston’s question by saying it related to a graduate trainees program. Cllr Mark Johnston asked a further question to Tony Williams. Tony Williams replied.

Cllr Lesley Rennie, Conservative asked about a point she had raised at the briefing. She wondered if the senior management restructure would lead to people’s jobs being subject to risk. She asked if in future members of the Committee, Leaders and Deputy Leaders could receive updates more regularly, such as fortnightly?

Chris Hyams answered.

The Chair Cllr Paul Doughty asked the Committee if they were happy to note the contents of the report? The report was noted.

5. Workforce Monitoring 2012/2013 Quarter 1 06:53

6. Restructure of Human Resources and Organisational Development 10:00
7. Monitoring Use of Compromise Contracts 29:25
8. Appeals SubCommittee 30:24
9. Employment and Appointments SubCommittee Minutes 14/6/12, 28/6/12, 4/7/12, 5/7/12 31:33
10. Any Other Urgent Business Approved by the Chair (Part 1) 31:46
11. Exclusion of press and public 31:52
12. Exempt Appendix – Update on Managing Workforce Change and Redeployment
13. Exempt Appendix – Monitoring Use of Compromise Contracts
14. Any Other Urgent Business Approved by the Chair (Part 2)

Employment and Appointments Sub-Committee (Compromise Contracts) (Wirral Council) 20th September 2012

Employment and Appointments Sub Committee Compromise Contracts 20th September 2012
Employment and Appointments Sub-Committee (Compromise Contracts)
Date: 
20/9/2012
Time: 5.15pm

Committee Room 4

Employment and Appointments Subcommittee (Compromise Contracts)
Cllr Chris Meaden, Labour
Cllr Andrew Hodson, Conservative
Cllr Mark Johnston, Liberal Democrat

Officers
Andrew Mossop, Committee Services Officer
Surjit Tour, Acting Director of Law, HR and Asset Management
Chris Hyams Head of HR and Organisational Development
Tony Williams, Employee Relations

In attendance
Cllr Jeff Green, Conservative
Cllr Adrian Jones, Labour, Cabinet Member (Corporate Services)
Two members of public

1 Appointment of Chair
Cllr Andrew Hodson proposed Cllr Chris Meaden as Chair.
Cllr Mark Johnston seconded Cllr Chris Meaden as Chair.
There were no other nominations for Chair.
Cllr Chris Meaden was appointed as Chair.
Cllr Chris Meaden took the Chair.

2 Declarations of Interest
The Chair, Cllr Chris Meaden, asked if anybody had any declarations of interest to make. None were made by Cllrs Meaden, Hodson or Johnson.

3. Exclusion of press/public
The Chair asked if the Sub-Committee agreed to exclude members of the press and public for agenda item 4 by a resolution moved using s.100(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 c. 70 (information relating to any individual). The other members of the Subcommittee, Cllr Mark Johnston and Cllr Andrew Hodson agreed with her.

The two members of the public left the meeting.

4. Compromise Contract
A four page report of Chris Hyams, Head of HR and Organisational Development (in conjunction with Legal) was considered by the Sub-Committee of Cllrs Meaden, Johnston and Hodson regarding a recommendation about a proposed compromise contract of over £30,000 to terminate the employment of a Wirral Council employee’s contract (who wasn’t a member of school staff).

Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Wirral Council) (5th September 2012) Declarations of Interest, Minutes, Business Presentation/Discussion David Downing of Drivecompare.com Ltd Part 1

The first part of a report on the public meeting of the Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee (Metropolitan Borough of Wirral) 5th September 2012. This covers agenda items 1, 2 and part of 3.

Interest declaration: The blog is run by Level 80/John Brace that have a commercial relationship with Google.
Interest declaration: The author works in IT technical support/consultancy.

The agenda and reports for this meeting are on the Council’s website.

Present
Councillors
Cllr Mark Johnston (Chair) Liberal Democrat

Cllr Darren Dodd (Labour) deputy for Cllr Jean Stapleton (Vice-Chair) (Labour)
Cllr Denise Realey (Labour)
Cllr Stuart Whittingham (Labour)
Cllr Robert Gregson (Labour)
Cllr Jeanette Williamson (Labour)
Cllr Mike Sullivan (Labour) note arrived at agenda item 3, not present for agenda items 1 & 2

Cllr David Elderton (Conservative) deputy for Cllr Andrew Hodson (Conservative) (Spokesperson)
Cllr Tony Cox (Conservative)
Cllr Peter Kearney (Conservative) note arrived 6.25 pm (agenda item 3)

The Chair, Cllr Mark Johnston Liberal Democrat, welcomed people to the Economy and Regeneration Committee.

Agenda Item 1 – Declarations of Interest 00:07 to 00:15

The Chair, Cllr Mark Johnston Liberal Democrat, invited any declarations of interest from the Committee. There were no declarations of interest/s made.

Agenda Item 2 – Minutes of meeting held on 7th June 2012 00:15 to 01:20

Cllr Stuart Wittingham said he wanted it noted that Cllr Jean Stapleton sends her apologies. The Chair, Cllr Mark Johnston Liberal Democrat, asked a question about page three of the minutes, about the Green Growth Working Party. The answer given by David Ball was that they had arranged a meeting for the 27th September. Cllr Tony Cox referred to a speech he made last year ([2011]) in the Council Chamber. The Chair, Cllr Mark Johnston Liberal Democrat, asked if the Committee were happy to accept the minutes? The minutes were accepted.

Agenda Item 3 – Business Presentation and Discussion – Member of the Business Community 01:21 to 22:00

In the silence that followed the end of agenda item two, a squeaky door was heard opening and Cllr Mike Sullivan (the missing Labour Member of the Committee) appeared. Cllr Sullivan walked over to his Labour colleagues and sat down as the Chair, Cllr Mark Johnston Liberal Democrat, explained his plan for agenda item three.

The Chair, Cllr Mark Johnston Liberal Democrat, said that this was the regular business slot and that David Downing of Drivecompare.com Ltd was here.

David Downing, Chairman of Drivecompare.com Ltd addressed the Committee, accompanied by a Powerpoint presentation of nineteen slides. He explained that the market they were in was worth circa £900 million and that there were thirty-five thousand active driver instructors. Mr. Downing said it was a fragmented market, with large companies such as AA Driving School and BSM Driving School [Ed – AA Driving School and BSM are both owned by the same parent company Acromas] and explained that some of the large national driving schools were set up as a franchise business.

Mr. Downing referred to also to the independent and small schools. He said that the large driving schools accounted for fifteen percent of the market and that the “big guys” spend on Google. He told a story about a man in an unspecified organisation with twenty instructors that had spent £15,000 on business software and search engine optimisation and £6,000 on Google AdWords, that had cried. He explained that he had cried as he didn’t feel he was getting a return on the investment.

David Downing had come up with a business model when previously working for a driving school, but they weren’t interested, he felt that Google was so complex especially for a “one man band”. He said that the software needs to be tailored as the learners were using new technology. Their core product was providing driver instructors with a new learner. The problem he identified was that the driving instructors couldn’t answer the telephone in their car while they were driving, so they had developed a software platform and business service that included a diary, as well as learner resources so learners could practice for their theory test.

Mr. Downing said there had been challenges in the start-up, in going from part-time to full-time there had been some very long days getting ready for launch. He said they had registered the company in Scotland, as there had been a lawyer (and friend) in Scotland helping them, however the Head Office was in this area. Mr. Downing said they had spent a lot of time being pulled through processes about eligibility for grants and funding when one question up front would’ve been useful in finding out they were not eligible. Eventually he said they had decided to stop looking at them.

He explained that as a fluke he had spoken to Kevin [Adderley] at an Invest Wirral one day seminar on recruitment, he had been impressed by the people and been taken over to the table to talk to the Invest Wirral team at an event in Bromborough. Their three key things had been premises, recruitment and human resources. In his view Job Centre Plus (he mentioned Phil Kane) had been “phenomenal” and had helped in their recruitment in narrowing it down to twelve people and they had taken on six or seven. He also referred to the apprentice scheme and how he felt that [on the Wirral] they were all working as a cohesive team, compared to the “one-upmanship” he had experienced in Scotland.

Mr. Downing said they had opened on 1st August [2012] and had sourced as much as possible from local suppliers, with a soft launch on the 2nd August [2012]. He explained what they could have done better and that pride had stopped them opening doors, they had been lucky to get a bank loan but there were a lot of government schemes available if you got turned down by a bank, however as they had houses they couldn’t get funding. In his opinion they had chased things they thought they’d have an entitlement to, but he had given up his paid job in March, once he had been in it for months, somebody had asked him why he didn’t get tax credits? He said don’t be shy, they might wear a suit, but the team is working together and asked if there were any questions?

Cllr Jeanette Williamson (Labour, Liscard), said she had spent time with Invest Wirral and had nothing but praise. She declared an interest as a civil servant working for the Insolvency Service in Liverpool. Cllr Williamson said she had dealt with a bankruptcy for the Official Receiver and had just interviewed a BSM driving instructor, who had to pay £350 a week to guarantee new learners, which they had defaulted on and she wanted to point out the difference between a business offer and a franchise.

Mr. Downing said it had taken him six months to get his head around it as he couldn’t understand the [business] model. He explained that BSM were doing it and pumping instructors into the industry, with the franchise costing £350 a week and a good instructor getting £25 a hour, they had to put in many hours of work before making money. The guarantee of pupils had exasperated business owners and he said that when it was put in front of a Judge, the Judge said it promises nothing and delivers nothing. Mr. Downing said there would always be a place for driving schools but the industry was changing to a model that was a lot more user-friendly. His company had a guarantee that if a learner didn’t turn up then the next one would be free. He explained that in his view this was better than paying a franchise or Google (which he said he’d love to own) where it could be £600 a month for two learners and was speculative.

Cllr Jeanette Williamson (Labour) said people had less money for people’s cars and lessons, tax and insurance had both gone up, but brought up the example of a new learner, just leaving university for a job that needed to learn to drive, who would initially be driving their parent’s car.

A piece of technology that monitors how you drive and alters insurance premiums based on risk was referred to.

Cllr Jeanette Williamson (Labour) thanked Mr. Downing for his answer and wished him good luck.

Cllr Stuart Wittingham (Labour) started talking about engagement, the door squeaked again and Cllr Peter Kearney (Conservative) arrived late (at 6.25pm).

Economy and Regeneration Overview and Scrutiny Committee 7th November 2011 Part 14 Housing Market Renewal Initiative

Cllr Realey said she was new on this committee, but pointed out that councillors meet a lot of people that might be entitled to investment and could staff come to a future meeting and give a talk on this?

David Ball said he would make the information available and Paula was available already to businesses. He said they cold come to each meeting and signpost councillors.

The Chair said he had added an item to the work program that day, which was an update on the Housing Market Renewal Initiative by Ian. Ian said a decision was imminent, there was a transition fund but they had been left in limbo.

Cllr Niblock said he lived in a Housing Market Renewal Initiative area, declared a prejudicial interest and left the room.

Ian said a decision was imminent, he had spoken to the Homes and Communities Agency. They had advised him that by January 2012 a decision should be made.

The Chair, Cllr Johnston said the next meeting on the 16th January was on his 40th birthday. He thanked the officers.

Cllr Gerry Ellis queried why the committee had to go into closed session for the last item regeneration update, surely Wirral Council should be open with the public? The Chair Cllr Johnson replied that it was because of commercially sensitive information and the press and public were asked to leave.