Agenda item

SSDC Transformation Programme - Progress Report


The Portfolio Holder for Protecting Core Services and Transformation introduced the report which updated members on progress of the Transformation Programme. He noted that this report was in a slightly different format to those previously to reflect the changes going forward, and future reports would be in a similar format.


During a long discussion, members raised a number of questions, comments and concerns, some of which included:


·      Regarding the staff survey:

o  How many staff had responded and what this was as percentage of all staff?

o  How many staff are there?

o  The methodology for collecting the data and incentivising responses.

o  What has been done in response to the survey and to address specific points raised?

o  How the data/results could be compared with the previous survey, and how comparisons could be sought in the future to help identify trends, and areas of concern so they could be addressed promptly.

o  A summary report of the staff survey results would be useful.

·      Should the authority be looking to invest in other schemes to develop staff in order to address specific skills areas where it has proven to be difficult to recruit, e.g.  planning.

·      Which key lines of development had been delayed due to problems with the Civica platform and what did this mean, in terms of impact and cost, to the authority?

·      Concern that we could be seen to be discriminating by not being able to provide the full localities service due to mobile 360 not being usable in areas without 2G or Wi-Fi coverage.

·      How had the planning validation time been reduced from 29 days to 10? Could it be due to officers not being flexible to town and parish council requests for extensions of time in order to provide responses?

·      Concerned that customers were reporting that they were unable to talk to the planning service via the telephone.

·      Concerns had been voiced by parish councils regarding the complexity of the planning pages on the new SSDC website, the frustration at the loss of the weekly planning lists, the delay in response times with regard to planning enquiries, and the need for parish councils to respond within 21 days. Members stressed it was a huge reputational risk with the town and parish councils.

·      Was the agile element of the transformation programme achieving its objectives?


The Director (Service Delivery) and the Transformation Lead responded to points of detail and questions. Some of their comments included:


·      The response rate to the staff survey had been around 61%.

·      Many of the issues raised in the staff survey were being addressed or looked into.

·      Reasons why it was difficult to recruit planning officers.

·      Will take away the comments about comparing staff surveys with results of previous surveys. A similar survey would be undertaken next year.

·      Acknowledgement that graduates included mature and young people.

·      Further detail about Release 28 (as detailed in paragraph of 8 of the report). There had been some impacts on efficiencies as some systems were not yet fully operating as expected, but improvements continued to be made.

·      Civica Mobile 360 was not currently working offline which was an issue.

·      Further detail about the process for extensions of time regarding planning applications, and the actions that had been taken to improve the performance of the planning service. Performance monitoring showed that the authority were determining most planning applications in time and within government targets.

·      An ambition was to encourage more customers to access council services online where possible, and for many of those functions to be self-service.

·      There were peaks and troughs in demand for customers wishing to contact the council by telephone.

·      Work was continuing to see how efficiencies could be made to back office processes.

·      Further training could be arranged for parish clerks regarding use, and familiarisation, of the planning pages on the new SSDC website.

·      Many staff were now working from locations other than Brympton Way, which was helping to reduce mileage costs and the council’s carbon footprint.


At the end of discussion, the Chairman thanked the officers for attending the meeting and answering many of the questions raised during debate. The Chairman also clarified with the Director (Service Delivery) that the Director would arrange for a response to be provided to High Ham Parish Council regarding comments raised at Public Question Time on the Scrutiny agenda.

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