Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny and Overview Committee - Tuesday, 16 July 2019 5.00 p.m.

Venue: Swansley Room, Ground Floor

Contact: Victoria Wallace  03450 450 500 Email:

No. Item



To receive apologies for absence from committee members. 


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Ruth Betson, Martin Cahn, Sarah Cheung Johnson, Gavin Clayton, Peter McDonald and Judith Rippeth. Councillors Jose Hales and Clare Delderfield were present as substitutes for Councillors Rippeth and Cahn, and Councillor Shrobona Bhattacharya was present as a substitute for Councillor Betson.


Declarations of Interest


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 140 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 13 June 2019 as a correct record.


The minutes of the meeting held on 13 June 2018 were agreed as a correct record of the meeting. Referring to the minutes of the previous meeting, a member of the committee queried whether further work was being undertaken in relation to the 3C Shared Legal service gaining Lexcel accreditation.


Public Questions


No public questions had been received.


Update on 3C ICT pdf icon PDF 334 KB


The Head of 3C ICT and the Lead Cabinet Member for Customer Services and Business Improvement were present for this agenda item and answered questions from committee members, some of which had been submitted in advance of the meeting. In response to these questions, the Lead Cabinet Member and Head of 3C ICT informed the committee of the following:

·         The Head of 3C ICT was preparing a 100 day report on the ICT service, which would be published in due course.

·         Recruitment to key roles in the ICT service would be undertaken; this would include a Deputy Head of 3C ICT and an Information Governance Manager.

·         Committee members had raised concern about the fragility of the ICT environment and were informed that much of this was due to legacy equipment which ICT was in the process of moving way from. Old ICT systems were failing staff but the new Council Anywhere system, which was being rolled out to all staff, was enabling staff to work more effectively.

·         Many recent ICT issues at South Cambridgeshire District Council had been caused by the telephony system which was very old and the incompatibility of this had caused significant network connectivity issues. Further work was needed to resolve these issues by replacing this equipment; this was a major project which had not yet been fully commissioned by SCDC. Once commissioned, ICT would ensure this was made a priority. As the project had not yet been commissioned, the Head of 3C ICT was not in a position to provide a timescale for the project.

·         There had been a lack of continual investment in ICT by South Cambridgeshire District Council and work around risk assessment and the investment needed in ICT, had been lacking.

·         The 3C ICT vision of buy once use three times was emphasised and the committee was informed that where possible, procurements were being done collectively across the three councils.

·         The committee was informed that there was a consolidated asset register, which was being managed.

·         In relation to the recent failure of the chiller system in the South Cambridgeshire Hall server room, which had led to an outage of ICT systems across the council, the committee was informed that this was not something for which 3C ICT was currently responsible as the server room was managed by South Cambridgeshire Facilities Management. The Head of 3C ICT explained that this failure had occurred during a weekend.

·         The newly consolidated server room environments, such as the server room at Pathfinder House which 3C ICT managed, had monitoring equipment in place. The server room at South Cambridgeshire Hall, and the equipment within it, ought to be similarly monitored.

·         In response to questions raised by committee members regarding the ICT issues referenced in the Customer Contact Centre Performance report to be considered during the next agenda item, the committee was informed that 3C ICT did not support the Benefits Calculator.

·         The Head of 3C ICT was working on a risk register to identify all ICT risks and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Customer Contact Service Performance pdf icon PDF 164 KB

Additional documents:


The Lead Cabinet Member for Customer Services and Business Improvement presented the report which provided a review of the operational performance of the Customer Contact Service. The Customer Contact Manager and Deputy Head of Finance were also in attendance for this agenda item.


The Lead Cabinet Member highlighted the good career path the Contact Centre offered staff and that ICT issues had presented significant performance issues for the service. The volume of printing also impacted the Contact Centre, with one member of staff being deployed to support the reprographics service.


The Customer Contact Manager informed the committee of the following:

·         The Contact Centre was trying to recruit six new staff members;  it took three months to train a contact centre advisor on all council services and six months to fully train them. The full complement of staff was 25 staff members, which was standard for a council contact centre. The number of calls being received by the contact centre was also standard compared to other councils. The Benefits Manager and Customer Contact Manager were in the process of carrying out a benchmarking exercise comparing data from other councils. 

·         Four contact centre advisors were encouraging residents to use the Customer Portal; it was envisaged that use of the Customer Portal would reduce call volumes by 30%. However, it was pointed out to the committee that the types of calls that would be reduced by the use of the Customer Portal, were the calls that were more simple in nature and shorter in duration. The Customer Contact Manager anticipated it would take 5-6 years for the benefit of the Customer Portal to be fully realised.

·         Contact centre advisors took their time with customers on the phone, some of which were vulnerable. Advisors were also being proactive with residents, notifying them of other services while they were on the phone; this increased call times and the call abandonment rate.

·         January to March were peak call times and the service tried to backfill in order to build resilience for this busy time; this had however become difficult due to the competitive employment market. Work was taking place to streamline back office functions, which would help with capacity.

·         The unexpected May 2019 EU Elections had presented challenges for the Contact Centre and had led to an increase in call volumes.

·         The Contact Centre Manager explained a number of issues which had impacted the performance of the Contact Centre; telephony issues had led to increased call volumes, call waiting times and call abandonment rates. Issues with generic emails had also impacted the Contact Centre’s performance and had led to some targets regarding complaints being missed.

·         When ICT issues were being experienced, the Contact Centre, which used BT Cloud, had to revert back to a switchboard system to be able to answer calls. Although calls could be answered, advisors could not fully serve customers as back office information required could not be accessed. 

·         In response to a request from a committee member for a standard deviation rather  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Statutory Scrutiny Guidance on Overview and Scrutiny in Local Government and Combined Authorities pdf icon PDF 143 KB

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny and Overview Committee Chairman introduced the report which provided an overview of the Statutory Guidance on Overview and Scrutiny. The Council’s performance in relation to this was discussed by the committee. The importance of forward planning and engaging with the Scrutiny and Overview Committee at an earlier stage in policy development and bringing issues to the committee for discussion further in advance of final decisions being made by Cabinet to enable effective scrutiny, was emphasised.


Committee members emphasised the following:

·         The importance of having a Scrutiny and Overview Committee Chairman who was an opposition party member.

·          The need for post decision as well as pre-decision scrutiny.


Committee members supported the idea of holding some meetings in the community and the options for doing so for a future meeting would be looked into.


The Scrutiny and Overview Committee noted the report.


Scrutiny Work Programme pdf icon PDF 214 KB

For the committee to consider its work programme, which is attached with the Council’s Notice of forthcoming Key and Non Key Decision. When considering items to add to its work programme, the committee is requested to use the attached Scrutiny Prioritisation Tool.


Under this agenda item, the committee will also set up and appoint members to any Scrutiny task and finish groups.

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny and Overview Committee noted its work programme and was informed by the Chairman that the set up of a Gypsy and Traveller task and finish group, which had been raised by Councillor Gavin Clayton, would be discussed at the next meeting which Councillor Clayton could attend.


To Note the Dates of Future Meetings

To note that the next meeting will take place on Tuesday 20th August 2019 at 5.20pm.


The next meeting would take place on Tuesday 20th August 2019 at 5.20pm.