Agenda item

Announcements from the Chief Executive

To receive any announcements from the Chief Executive.


The Chief Executive made the following announcements:


“Following the external Peer Review carried out at the end of last year by the Local Government Association - in which Spelthorne was identified as a good performing authority that delivers tangible results for residents and businesses alike – that was followed with the commissioning of a Corporate Establishment Review at the beginning of this year. Its comprehensive terms of reference included the review of the complete organisational structure and alignment of services under the senior management team; rate of recruitment and retention; digital transformation; scope for creating shared services with local authorities; and recommendations from staff audits and Peer Reviews.


A procurement exercise followed, with the South East Employers Group undertaking the establishment review and reported its findings to the Corporate Policy and Resource Committee 48 hours ago. Their review concluded that the Council, in line with high performing authorities: was constantly reviewing, refining and innovating to meet the objectives of its Corporate Plan and its defined priorities; and that it was achieving cost efficiencies and generating income to invest back into communities to improve lives of residents and businesses.


As Head of Paid Services, I was pleased to have reaffirmed that the Council was at the forefront of transformational innovation in how customers were provided with access to services; that there was clear evidence of workforce adaptability and a high level of resilience in how the Council deploys staff, transitions to new ways of working and continues to deliver services; and that there was a high level of trust in the senior managers in creating a safe environment to thrive and a sense of being ‘one council’.


I should like to place on record our thanks to HR colleagues for supporting this externally conducted and independent review and in particular to Jennifer McNeil, South East Employers Group Regional Director for leading this Corporate Establishment Review.


Madam Mayor, as a result of the Home Office’s approach to closing bridging hotels for Afghan families in August including the Mercure Hotel in Staines-upon-Thames, the Council needs to make urgent decisions about procurement of temporary accommodation of families. The Home Office imposed deadline is the 16thAugust and we anticipate that approximately 20 of the 27 families in the hotel may present themselves to the Council, at least initially, as homeless.


The policy framework and support on offer from the Home Office is very fluid, so whilst the Veterans Minister made an announcement yesterday (18th July) about providing some support for families with matched funding, the Home Office is still finalising its policy guidance and it is not yet clear whether there would be sufficient financial support.


The ECM report for consideration, detailing the varying options for how this authority needs to procure roughly 20 properties or circa 62 rooms in hotels with an associated gross cost of procuring for up to six months potentially exceeding £1m, members will appreciate why the decision needs to be taken by full Council. The imperative of this decision regrettably has triggered the need for members to be called to an Extraordinary Council Meeting to take place next week on Thursday 27th July commencing at 6:30pm.


Please note that the speed of action within a Home Office funding policy vacuum translates as the biggest single challenge that our housing colleagues have faced in many-a-year, and every effort is being given to shoring up costed options as soon as is practicable into a report for members to consider. I am sure that members will commend the work that colleagues are endeavouring to undertake in support of our Afghan community.


And finally, Madam Mayor, over the past two weeks, colleagues have been supporting 17 students from local schools undertaking work experience placements at the Council.


In the words of Miss Katie from Thomas Knyvett College – who is with us tonight “I believe that work experience is an important opportunity to have offered to students to gain an understanding about different work environments to prepare for when they get a job of their own. Since being at Spelthorne Council for my work experience, I have gained an awareness of all the important roles that make a community whole. I have thoroughly enjoyed spending time here and thank the Chief Executive and Head of Communications for letting me shadow them”.


As you can clearly gather, the purpose of the placements is to provide the student with insight to what it's like to work for the Council, to be in a work environment and to gain experience specifically in their field of interest. Our thanks go to Nick Charalambous at our Jobs & Skills Hub and Emily Clayton in HR for facilitating and supporting both colleagues and students throughout their work experience placement”.