- Councillor Robert Parker to Richard Davies
My question is very similar to the one just been asked, the reason I have directed it to yourself rather than Councillor Jones is that you put down in some quite considerable detail in page 36 shall we say current quality and quantity of services by Serco whereas Councillor Jones doesn’t contact in his report anything which is why I am surprised of the division of responsibility; but the point is you write in quite some considerable detail and I thank you for that in the report to this council; it does try to explain in some detail the problems we have had. My question relates to the fact that the County Council is responsible for the delivering of services and we choose to outsource out services and in this case through Serco that we retain the responsibility in the delivery of those services. So, could you on behalf of the County Council offer some form of explanation or apology to the people of Lincolnshire and members of this council and also businesses for the less than satisfactory service since April.
Councillor Richard Davies
Thank you for the question, your right to highlight it. I did in my statement try to go into some detail which was possible in terms of the contract on where we are and more substantially where were going to be in the very near future. On a personal level I am disappointed how this has gone I think until we finish the restitution if you may call it that Councillor Jones has talked about it would be unwise at this stage to say much more than that. However, I am very confident we are working hard with Serco and managing them very closely to make sure the service that we deliver is fit for purpose and is up to the level that we as members, the business community and schools and the people of Lincolnshire deserve. I think in a joint VFM and Audit committee will go into more detail I would suggest before we start going into more detail and finger pointing we get to a situation where we are delivering services required and then we can look at what’s happened, what’s gone wrong and how we got ourselves into this situation.
- Councillor Kevin Clarke to Colin Davie
I welcome your explanation on Central Lincolnshire in today’s papers in particular job creation and the housing needs. Do I take it that the housing need will actually mean affordable housing for the people of Lincolnshire?
Councillor Colin Davie
Thank you Councillor Clarke for your question as you know we have worked very closely with City of Lincoln North Kesteven and WLDC in the development of the Central Lincs Plan that is going out to consultation on the 1st October. I am very clear that we need to plan for the next generation of workers and we do need quality affordable housing not just in Lincoln but the whole area to support the growing economy. So the answer to your question is absolutely I am fully supportive of the ambitions laid out in the plan and I hope the people of Lincolnshire support it.
- Councillor John Hough to Councillor Martin Hill
There has already been some discussion about Serco, its clear the problems are serious with suppliers waiting months for payments, Schools not being able to pay their bills, staff not being paid, our own payroll going wrong and so on. In the run up to awarding this contract major concerns were raised by members during the decision making process about the track record of Serco and the wisdom of introducing a new IT system at the same time as starting a new contract.
Why were these concerns ignored?
Councillor Martin Hill
We did go through a full procurement process and when you have started that process you have to see it through properly or else the council would have been in breach of contractual obligations and would have got itself into legal difficulties. I think you overegg the issue. It’s not right to say people haven’t been paid, things aren’t perfect but they there is a laborious system in place.
I would advise against statements like ‘people haven’t been paid’ because my understanding is they are. They is a process in place if they haven’t been paid contractors can ensure are done. No one is saying the issue is safe, we are going to save £14M for the council over the period of this contract I am confident we will get to where we need to get to with it and it is none uncommon, back in 2000 when we employed a contractor in the first place the council agreed that and brought in a new IT system called SAP and there is a new system now that will save money when a new contactor comes in it is not unusual for them to bring a new IT system.
And my understanding is the new agresso system when it is finally working properly will be much better, easier and cheaper for staff. I make no apologies there are large savings for the councils and there will be benefits to the council. Since 2000 when we outsourced the back offices there has been a massive saving, originally it was a 20% saving we have added savings on top of that. So I think it was the right decision. When we outsourced in the first place there was no disagreement across the council from any political party and I think that was the right decision, we saved money, it was the right decision then and it was the right decision to put it out to tender. We had no choice because it was 15 years and I don’t think the thought of bringing it all in house again is a practical or sensible proposition certainly in the financial climate we now find ourselves.
- Councillor Sarah Dodds for Councillor Patricia Bradwell
In light on the emphases on developing skills and education for Lincolnshire’s children as outlined in the greater Lincolnshire devolution document will you commit the authority 100% to ensure Mablethorpe continue to endure secondary provision with the potential closure of the Tennyson site and that the town and its future generations are not left behind in the opportunities that lie ahead for others.
Councillor Patricia Bradwell
As you know Sarah we are in the middle of a consultation period at the moment and as that hasn’t finished I can’t make any comment about what’s going to happen to Mablethorpe Tennyson, I think you’re well aware of that. As regards to skills across the county I mean we are working the LEP has chosen the skills we need to develop. The employment and skills board are working with all the collages to try and get skills for people to get jobs so that is a real high priority for this county council and for the businesses as well and that’s why our bid for devolution picks that up. Because we see that as a way forward if we have more businesses and businesses want to grow then they need people to work and those people need to be trained so that’s why it’s in the bid but with regards to Mablethorpe we need to see how the consultation goes what it says at the end of it and obviously the county council will make a decision.
- Councillor Rosie Kirk for Councillor Hill
American businessman and author Paul Drucker said ‘the major incentive to productivity and efficiency are social and moral rather than financial’ in Serco’s quest for productivity and efficiency had they been social and moral or has it been all about profit?
Councillor Martin Hill
In principal there are lots of people who have economic theories, the basic thing from the Conservative side we are quite clear that the best thing councils and government can do is set the framework and get out the way of businesses and let them get on with it and not tax everybody because the biggest drag on economic growth is governments taxing businesses so that they are prevented from growing. I Don’t Agree with you. As I said earlier there was a clear contract with Serco and it was quite clear what the arrangements were going to be and I think there is a commitment and I have to say that Serco have put substantial resources in to addressing this problem and so I don’t agree with you, it wasn’t done deliberately and the fact that there have been some issues mainly as have been referenced before due to the change of the major IT system so I don’t basically agree with the premise that Serco are doing anything. The problems aren’t due to a deliberate act by Serco its just one of those things that there are issues that need resolving and as I said before I am confident they will be resolved but we will keep the pressure up on the company to make sure they do so.
- Councillor Phil Dilks for Councillor Robinson
Could you please explain why you wrote to the Mayor of Market Deeping saying you were strongly opposed to the downgrading of Deepings library to tier 3 statuses, your words. On at least two occasions as a member of the Executive you voted for precisely for that downgrade.
Councillor Peter Robinson
Not a particularly pleasant question, I think I did my best to keep the library facility at Market Deeping as good as it could be. I must admit I was not successful however I am pleased to know from what Councillor Worth has said today that we are moving forward now and hopefully in the autumn we should get a clearer idea of the way forward.
Councillor Robin Renshaw for Councillor Sue Woolley
In support of the successful recycle cycle project which is located in my division and which I supported from my big society fund, would the portfolio holder for health and wellbeing see the potential for implementing cycle recycling to other towns in Lincolnshire and use lighter spin offs from cycling to improve poor air quality and help life issues.
Councillor Sue Woolley
Chairman you asked us to be quick and I will say yes I fully support them.