Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Harrow Civic Centre, Station Road, Harrow, HA1 2XY. View directions
Contact: Daksha Ghelani, Senior Democratic Services Officer Tel: 020 8424 1881 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Attendance by Reserve Members
To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.
Reserve Members may attend meetings:-
(i) to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;
(ii) where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and
(iii) the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;
(iv) if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.
RESOLVED: To note that there were no Reserve Members in attendance.
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:
(a) all Members of the Forum;
(b) all other Members present.
RESOLVED: To note that the following interests were declared:
Agenda Items 7/8/9 – Draft Revenue Budget 2019/20 and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019/20 to 2020/22/Employees’ Side Report on Matter Arising from the ECF Equalities Report 2017-18/Response Report from Management to Matters arising from the ECF Equalities Report 2017-18
Councillor Adam Swersky, a member of the Forum, declared an interest in agenda items 7, 8 and 9. In relation to agenda item 7, his interest related to his capacity as Portfolio Holder for Finance. In relation to agenda items 8 and 9, he stated that he was a member of the Unite Union. He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.
Councillor Graham Henson, a member of the Forum, declared an interest in agenda items 8 and 9. He stated that he was a member of GMB (General Municipal Boilermakers and Allied Trade Union), an Honorary member of CWU (Communication Workers Union) and a former member of Unison. He added that his cousin was an employee of the Council. He would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.
Councillor Pamela Fitzpatrick, a member of the Forum, declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda items 8 and 9 in that she was a member of the Unite Union. She would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.
CouncillorAngella Murphy-Strachan, a member of the Forum, declared a non-pecuniary interest in that she was a member of the Teachers’ Union, NASUWT (The National Association of Schoolmasters’ Union of Women Teachers). She would remain in the room whilst the matters were considered and voted upon.
That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 2018 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.
RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 2018 be taken as read and signed as a correct record, subject to the following amendment to Minute 9 (Annual Health and Safety Report and Current Update), page 14 of the agenda, 4th bullet point, 1st line, which should read as follows:
‘the report had understated the incidents in the Civic 1 reception area. A poll had been carried out with the security offices regarding the incidents in the Civic Reception area and there had been six incidents which were subsequently confirmed by the Corporate Director of Community in writing. The officer …‘
Matter Arising from the Minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 2018
Minute 7 – Harrow Unison LG Branch and GMB Harrow Branch Report on Housing Directorate
A Unison representative expressed concern that the resolution at Minute 7, page 13 of the agenda, had not been actioned since the December 2018 meeting. The representative stated that the Unions had not been informed of any progress/outcome and that no meeting(s) between the Unions and the Portfolio Holder had been facilitated as undertaken by the Corporate Director of Community. He understood that the Housing Review process had continued. He added that the lack of progress that had been made had further compromised the relationship with the Unions and he questioned the intended role of the Forum. Moreover, the employer appeared to have failed to comply with the Council’s Recognition Agreement in relation to the Housing Review.
In response, the Divisional Director of Strategic Commissioning referred to the communication sent to the relevant Portfolio Holders and Unison by the Corporate Director of Community updating them on the progress and action taken following the last ECF meeting in regard to the Housing restructure. He stated that two meetings had been held with management and the relevant Trades’ Unions. The next steps agreed by all parties were:
(a) officers to draft a report for the Portfolio Holders in response to issues raised at the December 2018 meeting of the Forum;
(b) to present the report to the Portfolio Holders at a joint meeting with Management and the relevant Trades’ Unions;
(c) to advise the Portfolio Holders of progress made in advance of the meeting of the Forum scheduled to be held on 30 January 2019;
(d) to review and record why the restructure process had not followed the ‘Change Management’ policies and procedures and identify the lessons learnt.
In response to questions from the Council side representatives, the Divisional Director of Strategic Commissioning replied that the communication had been sent to the Portfolio Holders for Housing and Finance and Resources. He did not see why the shadow Portfolio Holders could not be given access to the communication and he undertook to take their request back to the Corporate Director of Community, although it was acknowledged that both shadow Portfolio Holders were also members of the Forum.
The Council side representatives present at the December 2018 meeting of the Forum stated that they had expressed strong views on the manner in which the Housing Review had been conducted and they were disappointed with the lack of action taken on the recommendation. They too ought to be informed of the communication.
Following a question from a Unison representative about the date of the communication, the Divisional Director of Strategic Commissioning stated that it had been sent that day and that he had intended to provide feedback at this meeting.
Another Unison representative stated that it had taken some 6 weeks from the decision to communicate this message and he once again questioned the role of this Forum which he considered to be of no worth. He was of the ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
Petitions, Public Questions and Deputations
To receive petitions (if any) submitted by members of the public/Councillors under the provisions of Executive Procedure Rule 47 (Part 4D of the Constitution).
RESOLVED: To note that no petitions, public questions or deputations were received at the meeting.
Report of the Director of Finance.
The Forum received a report of the Director of Finance which set out the draft Revenue Budget 2019/20 and Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) 2019/20 to 2020/22, as reported to Cabinet at its meeting held on 6 December 2018. The Forum was informed that the budget and MTFS would return to Cabinet, which would submit its recommendation to full Council in February 2019 for final approval. The Director explained that this was the formal consultation process on the budget with the ECF, whose comments would be submitted to the February 2019 meeting of the Cabinet by inclusion of this minute as an appendix to the Budget Report.
The Director introduced the report and outlined the following key aspects of the report:
- table 1, page 24 of the agenda, set out the position in relation to the Revenue Support Grant (RSG) received by the Council which had reduced by 97% over a 7-year period;
- paragraph 1.5, page 25 of the agenda, set out the external funding position with the Council being one of the lowest funded Councils in London. Harrow’s revenue spending power per head continued to be lower than the London average;
- the Council’s social care budget continued to be under significant demand pressure and there was uncertainty surrounding future funding of local government. No assumptions had been made in the three year MTFS other than those factors known to minimise risk.
The Director reported on the challenges facing the Council on the delivery of the 2018/19 budget. She emphasised the need to maintain the Council’s financial standing and to protect front line services. She referred to the pressures both in the Adults Division and the Community Directorate.
The Director informed the Forum that the Council was required to set a balanced budget for 2019/20 and referred to table 2, page 29 of the agenda. She referred to the provision of an agreed 2% pay award for 2019/20 and mentioned that the same figure had been assumed in the 3-year MTFS. She referred to paragraph 1.39, page 33 of the agenda, which set out the savings and growth put forward in the budget for 2019/20. The growth related to frontline services.
The Director stated that reserves and contingencies also needed to be considered in the context of the budget and re-iterated the need to protect the Council’s good financial standing. The Council did not have large cash reserves and, as a result, it had limited ability to ‘smooth out’ funding gaps or invest.
In concluding her remarks, the Director stated that consultation on the budget had commenced in December 2018 and would continue until its consideration by full Council in February 2019. She invited comments on the report.
The Employees’ side representatives asked questions on the budget, which were responded to as follows:
A large sum of money had been spent by the Council in relation to the redevelopment of the Depot and the Regeneration Programme as a whole. There was also a delay in the Programme. ... view the full minutes text for item 17.
Report from the Harrow Unison LG Branch and GMB Harrow Branch.
The Forum received a submission from the Employees’ side in relation to the matters arising from the Equalities Report 2017-18, which had been considered at its last meeting. The submission at agenda item 8 was considered in conjunction with the response report from the Divisional Director of Strategic Commissioning at agenda item 9.
The Employees’ side presented the joint report. A representative of Unison read out, in full, with minor variations, the report at agenda item 8, which was appended to the minutes at appendix 1, following which he set out the decision requested as set out below:
- that the Leader and Opposition Leader provide unequivocal written commitment to the Unions that they would ensure that the rules of the organisation applied equally to all including the most senior levels and that a failure to comply with the rules of the organisation would enact personal consequences at all levels of the employment structure without fear or favour;
- that the employer, namely Harrow Council, fully endorse and adopt the government’s Taylor review on the modern workplace without reservation.
The Unison representative stated that without these actions, Harrow Council would remain in a time loop with the same old antediluvian culture, which had existed unabated and unimproved for decade upon decade.
The Chair then invited the Management to present their Response Report. The Head of Employee and Customer Relations introduced the report at agenda item 9 and outlined the following salient points:
- in relation to the Taylor Review, the Council would comply with agreed recommendations when these were implemented by the government;
- the issue of contractual overtime, which ought to have ceased for some staff as a result of the Single Status Agreement but had not, was being addressed;
- the allegation that Peer Reviews over the years had highlighted the appalling management culture within Harrow Council were not correct;
- the contractual requirements for staff on MG Grades was a standard working week of 36 hours with additional hours, if necessary, to discharge the duties of the post;
- the number of leavers at the top two pay bands would be low as there were few employees in these senior grades.
A Unison representative referred to page 5, paragraph 3, of the officer’s report as set out on the supplemental agenda, which stated that, in relation to the issue of contractual overtime, there had been no detriment to manual workers. He challenged this assumption and pointed out that there had been four restructures but that no review of their grades had been undertaken, whilst the management grades had been reviewed and upgraded.
The same Unison representative added that the Ofsted Report had been carried out in 2016 and not 2018 at a cost of £5m. The representative refuted that the reference to the working hours of staff on MG Grades was incorrect in the report submitted by the Employees’ side, as it also referred to a minimum of 36 working hours. He noted that honoraria payments ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
Response to an Employees' Side Report on Matters Arising from the ECF Equalities Report 2017-18
Report of the Divisional Director of Strategic Commissioning.
See Minute 18.