To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance (copy enclosed).
The Committee considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance that required the Committee to undertake a quarterly review of the Corporate Risk Register as assurance that the corporate risks were being managed effectively. The Risk Register was attached at Appendix 1.
The Chairman introduced the item and deferred to the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance to present the detail. He took the Committee through the report and noted that section 3.1.1 highlighted the risks that had changed in direction since quarter three, with one risk recommended for closure. Two risks had decreased in score - R9 ‘Failure to have a coordinated approach to supporting inward investment and maximising business rate growth’ and R30 ‘ May 2021 Elections during Covid-19 pandemic –There is a major risk to successfully delivering the May 2021 Elections and Referenda during the ongoing Covid crisis. This could lead to financial strain and reputational risk for MDC’.
Three risks had increased in score - R10 ‘Failure to develop jobs to support the growing population’ which confirmed that Covid remained a dominant force on the economic landscape. With this risk persisting ‘Likelihood’ had been increased. The Covid-19 Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan had been created and actions were being progressed. R7 – ‘Failure to maintain a 5 yr land supply’ – the Local Development Plan (LDP) was approved by Council in March 2021, triggered by the failure to maintain a 5 year land supply. Whilst further mitigation was put in place the risk had materialised hence the increase.
R29 – ‘Failure to deliver services as a result of Covid-19’ - this risk was increased because of the potential for fatigue of officers due to working for over a year in pandemic conditions, including two national lockdowns. There had not been a detrimental impact on service delivery but the increased risk was due to the potential for ever increasing risk the longer these conditions continued.
One risk was recommended for closure R13 – ‘Failure to manage the impact of organisational change’. The Corporate Plan had been updated, resource reviews undertaken and additional funding identified in the February 2021 budget for the required additional staff. The organisation had successfully come through the transformation process and operationally it would continue to regularly review corporate risk in line with the Risk Management Strategy.
The Chairman moved the recommendations in the report and these were seconded by Councillor Jarvis. The Chairman then read the two submissions from Mr Fittock a member of the public.
In response to the first submission around R7- ‘Failure to maintain a 5 year land supply’ and what lessons had been learnt the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance advised the following:-
That the LDP 2014-2029 set a 15 year development plan for the Maldon district, this was adopted in July 2017. The evidence to underpin that plan was prepared in the first 5 years of 2010. In designing the approach of the LDP review the Council will consider drawing on the latest guidance from the government, in terms of determining how to evaluate the suitability of sites as well as drawing on Council practice and the practice of other local planning authorities around the country. National Planning Policy now stipulated that 10% of all allocated housing growth must go on smaller sites of under 1 hectare which will provide greater choice in housing site size and help support smaller house builders to bring housing forward. The Council had also undertaken a call for sites that closed on 7 June 2021 so will now start appraising the land that had come forward in efforts to meet the 5 year housing land supply.
In response to the second submission around R5- ‘Failure to deliver the required infrastructure to support requirements arising from the LDP ‘ the Director advised the following:-
In respect of infrastructure forecasting and delivery the Council was already reviewing its evidence base for this and a proposal was due to be submitted to Strategy and Resources Committee on 15 June 2021 to consult on a ‘duty to co-operate’ strategy which will be the starting point for the Council’s approach on matters which were strategic and cross boundary with various public bodies, such as education, transport and health which were key infrastructure issues that will include Essex County Council as the Highways and Education Authority (ECC).
The LDP originally was subject to an independent examination by a Planning Inspector between 2014-2O17 and was judged to be both legal and sound, including the infrastructure aspects. The Council however does intend to approach this challenge with a fresh perspective, update its evidence and understanding and engage in a constructive dialogue with necessary bodies to improve upon infrastructure delivery in the future. Through that review there will again be an examination in public and a full consultation undertaken.
In response to questions from the Committee, Officers responded as follows:
- That the closure of R13 related to having managed organisational change and knowledge retention. The process mapping exercise undertaken now provided knowledge at a corporate level on all processes as opposed to individual knowledge, thus ensuring knowledge retention. Staffing levels were good, sickness levels were at their lowest and the turnover rate was low. During the pandemic some key specialist roles had been filled in Planning which had previously proved difficult to recruit. The Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) was content that all issues had been managed appropriately.
- That there had been a large response to the request for land. That part of the failure at R7 was due to delays with approval on certain major sites, subsequent delays by developers which ultimately delayed delivery of some major future housing.
- That in accordance with Government advice it was not possible to factor in the costs of the slowing supply chain and/or the increased costs in the building industry, the Council had to work with the current figures incorporating the knock on effect of these delays.
- That R10 – the COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan had been framed by the work of the COVID-19 Reset and Recovery Working Group and would be circulated to Committee Members. Additional staff would be brought in to support community recovery, paid from the ‘Welcome Back’ fund.
- That Climate Change was high on the Council’s agenda but not a corporate risk therefore not on the Corporate Risk Register. A Climate Emergency Statement had been received and approved by Council on 4 February 2021 and the Climate and Environment Action Plan will be submitted to Council for approval at the end of this year.
- That R29 incorporated all third party partnerships involved in service delivery.
- That in respect of R14 when looking to employ good people the HR strategy included developing existing staff through apprenticeship schemes etc. The hard to fill posts were generally at senior levels.
- That R30 will be removed from the next iteration of this report, on the report at the moment as this was reporting Q4.
- That the Finance Working Group set up to deal with Member Engagement was due to meet next week and the papers were open to all Members, available on Mod.Gov. The final part of the additional restrictions grants would be paid in the next two weeks. The final tranche of additional funding, approximately £565,000, may be received post the end of the month which will be distributed as soon as possible and in terms of the new burdens funding received for the grants paid to date this was £166,000. As more is being paid out there may be further burdens payments due this year, yet to be confirmed.
- That at R10 the score of 16 was reasonable given that the economic recovery forecast nationally was 7%. The unachieved savings figure referred to at R25 was £133,000. The details on the lack of diligence referred to in R3 would be circulated following the meeting together with a response to the backlog issue raised under R13. Finally, the working group referred to in R29 was confirmed as the COVID-19 Reset and Recovery Group.
There being no further questions the Chairman put the recommendations to the Committee and they were agreed by assent.
(i) That Members reviewed the Corporate Risk Register in Appendix 1 and provided comment and feedback for consideration;
(ii) That Members were assured through this review that corporate risk is being managed effectively;
(iii) That Members challenged risk where the Committee felt that the Council’s corporate goals may not be achieved.