Agenda and minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Graham Walton  0208461 7743

No. Item




There were no apologies.





There were no declarations.




In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Chairman of this Sub-Committee must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting.  Therefore please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on Thursday 18th August 2016.


There were no questions.





The minutes were agreed.


In considering matters arising, the Chairman reminded Members that contract summaries were available electronically with a hard copy also available in the Members’ Room.


The summaries had been designed to provide all pertinent information and it was possible to “drill down” for further detail. They would also be regularly updated. When the database for the Contracts System is fully operational (by December 2016) training would be provided. It was suggested that Members bring their i-Pads to future meetings to carry out any interactive work.


Members considered how internal audit reports can be brought to the attention of PDS Committees. It was understood that specific issues are referred to PDS Committees and reports from Internal Audit are available electronically but the Chairman preferred a more pro-active approach. A Member suggested that E&R PDS undertake a higher level of scrutiny on contracts. However, the E&R PDS Chairman preferred Audit Sub-Committee to highlight particular matters for E&R PDS where possible and suggested a similar approach for all PDS Committees. Should such an approach not be sufficient further consideration could be given. Another view suggested that audit reports be provided routinely to PDS Committees, although a number of findings were for a Portfolio Holder to take forward. It was suggested that findings referred to PDS Committees should be relevant for scrutiny e.g. matters concerned with KPIs, budget monitoring, policy development, procedures not being followed etc. A Member felt that PDS Chairmen would want to see audit reports.


In view of internal audit sometimes highlighting systemic issues, the Chairman felt that it was necessary for the Audit Sub-Committee Chairman to ensure a more active dissemination of audit reports to PDS Chairmen. Accordingly, the Chairman offered to write to the Chairman of Audit Sub-Committee to request that the Sub-Committee Chairman write to PDS Chairmen alerting them of such a proposal.  


In regard to funding a system developer at £50k to assist in providing the contracts system, technical support was needed to ensure the production of relevant data from a variety of document types including word documents and Oracle data. There were no off the shelf systems that would be sufficiently comprehensive. It was about how Oracle related to all the relevant systems. At the end of the process it was intended to have a central data warehouse. Officers already had an Access database but it was necessary to “drill down” further e.g. to look at tables behind Oracle. The Chairman of E&R PDS Committee suggested there was possibly a risk in depending upon one person for the work but if successful the system could perhaps be marketed for other Local Authorities.





Report CS17028


Contract Monitoring - Street Cleansing


The street cleansing contractor is required to meet Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and officers meet regularly with the contractor, both of which are conditions of contract. Officers have mobile devices to help monitor contractor compliance with the KPIs and can input data e.g. customer complaints. The routine inspections are inputted into the Officers mobile devices randomly to ensure assets are checked annually and the system allows for ad hoc inspections of areas to ensure that intelligence led monitoring can occur. Officers are enabled to look at areas of concern and data can be retrieved from the CONFIRM system in order to manage reports in the field. More focus is given to repeat complaints and a report is presented annually to PDS reviewing the contractor’s performance. 


Certain efficiencies have been made by the service involving the frequency of cleansing activities and in response to enquiries by Members regarding isolated locations, it was clarified that more detailed cleansing requires further resource. The process of customer complaint/request management was outlined. When a complaint / service request is made, this information is logged on the CONFIRM system and the contractor is notified. The contractor then investigates and monitors the concern. Serious concerns are escalated to the Neighbourhood Officer and an action plan initiated. Generally, a street cleaning request is a contractor matter and a complaint is referred to the Neighbourhood Officer.


Different ways of working for street cleansing are being considered with PDS, particularly in view of problems caused by parked vehicles. If it is not possible to sweep a road (e.g. due to parked vehicles), operatives then move to the next road to maintain efficiency. A routine ‘deep cleaning’ programme funded from the £200k contingency approved by Executive in 2012, addresses the cleaning of heavily parked streets. Contract performance is output based and operatives might not sweep a road if it is already compliant with the DEFRA Code of Practice on litter and refuse. The contractor monitors its work by grading according to the Code of Practice.


The number of sweeps depends upon the road concerned. The contractor is not accountable for the rate of litter dropping; the key consideration (and contractor’s responsibility) is whether a street is as clean as it can be after a clean. Most street cleansing vehicles have GPS technology and it is possible to identify whether a vehicle has travelled in a road and the appliances and rate of speed undertaken during the cleansing operation. The annual report to PDS refers heavily to customer satisfaction and this had increased at a time when efficiencies had been made to the cleansing specification. The next customer satisfaction survey is currently being undertaken by the contractor through an independent research company.


The Chairman felt that anything innovative that can be introduced for street cleansing would be good and it might be necessary to ask residents not to park at a location for the purpose of street cleansing. 


In checking work of the contractor’s crews,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.



Copies of the Contracts Register will be circulated under separate cover.


Noting the number of Red and Amber status markings on the Contracts Register, the Chairman suggested an apparent delay, lack of timetable, and lack of procurement understanding on the part of some officers. Generally, it seemed that officers had become accustomed to using extensions. Another Member referred to the importance of highlighting key dates.


It was accepted that some officers were not allowing sufficient time and not thinking differently on how to commission services. Where there were problems it was necessary to seek waivers. Not understanding timescales was leaving the Council exposed. A minimum six months was needed for all contracts and up to 2 to 2.5 years needed for the larger more complex contracts. The Head of Corporate Procurement is preparing guidance for officers so that timetables for tendering are more robust. The Commissioning team were diligent in “ragging” contracts. On occasions services do not always carry out service reviews adequately and allow enough time for the reviews. There was also a skills set for officers to learn in thinking how desired outcomes for services can be achieved. 


Cllr Simon Fawthrop, Executive and Resources PDS Chairman, confirmed that Register entries to contracts from the Chief Executive’s Department (marked CEX) were sufficient for the Committee.


The Chairman suggested the Contracts Register as a standard item at future Sub-Committee meetings and another Member asked for the register to be provided at least two to three days in advance of future meetings.




(1)  only entries in the Contracts Register related to contracts from the Chief Executive’s Department (marked CEX) be presented to future meetings of the Executive and Resources PDS Committee;


(2)  the Contracts Register be a standard item at future meetings of the Sub-Committee; and


(3)  the Contracts Register be provided to Sub-Committee Members at least two to three days in advance of future Sub-Committee meetings.



WORK PROGRAMME 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 136 KB


In addition to seeing the Contracts Register at each future meeting, the Chairman suggested that some of the issues highlighted in the Internal Audit Report at item 9 of the agenda be considered in October and December. A Member suggested that it might be helpful to look at aspects not normally looked for and to look at unexpected concerns. The contract related to Manorfields could be considered in October and the CCTV and Stray Dogs contracts could be looked at and tracked in future meetings.


It was agreed that Guidance Notes on contract timetabling would be produced for the next meeting. The Chairman would also work with Cllr Pierce, Vice-Chairman, in looking at the minutes of the Audit Sub-Committee meeting held on 6th July 2016.




(1)  the Contracts Register be presented to each future Sub-Committee meeting;


(2) some of the issues highlighted in the Internal Audit Report at item 9 of the agenda be considered at the Sub-Committee’s October and December meetings - the contract related to Manorfields being an issue for consideration in October;  


(3)  the CCTV and Stray Dogs contracts be considered and tracked at future meetings; and


(4)  Guidance Notes on contract timetabling be presented to the next meeting.





Report CSD16122


A summary of contracts was provided in view of related issues that had arisen from recent Internal Audit reviews.


The Public Protection service had received critical Internal Audit reports on contracts concerning CCTV and Stray Dogs. Issues had been highlighted around contracting processes with Personnel issues, Key Documentation, and Contract Monitoring identified as themes across the cases.


Other issues arising from a number of Internal Audit investigations were also covered. All the highlighted issues had already been reported to Audit Sub-Committee, which normally received copies of the actual Internal Audit reports. 


Members considered the various issues raised by audit findings from the contracts. Members found the issues particularly disturbing and expressed concerns in relation to timing/timetabling, an apparent lack of training and skills sets, a lack of understanding of contract monitoring, and a poor quality of management and knowledge of a contract. 


To help improve overall contract management a number of broad measures were suggested. This included training and better contract specifications and definitions. It was important for a contract to be clear on what happens should KPIs not be met. The importance of Contract Management (in contrast to Contract Monitoring) was highlighted as a key foundation. Having a Contract Compliance expert to look through contracts was also suggested and this was supported by another Member. It was important the Council performed highly in Contract Management given the level of services being commissioned.


To raise concerns, the Contracts Register provided Red and Amber warnings; developing the Register further would provide a valuable contract management tool to drill down for relevant detail. Contract material was also seen by the Commissioning Board and contracts were regularly prevented from going forward given problems. Additionally, the Council’s Legal team saw a number of contracts (other than smaller contracts).


Every contract over £200k should be seen by legal (with the commissioner in a Department). Officers undertake contract planning, involving experts as necessary, to ultimately arrive at a contract package. Generally, contract documentation was considered satisfactory; however, problems sometimes occurred in monitoring. Different services had different approaches, some of which were poor and a central team was being created for contract monitoring, headed by the Director of Commissioning. 


Members agreed that Report CSD16122 should be escalated to the next E&R PDS Committee along with minutes of the Sub-Committee’s meeting. The Chief Executive could also be questioned on Contract Management at the meeting. A summary of actions proposed by Audit Sub could also be available to E&R PDS along with a record of progress made to help address the concerns.


For the moment, it was agreed that future minutes would exceptionally be referred to E&R PDS, to draw a particular matter to the Committee’s attention; an assessment would subsequently be made on whether to regularly refer minutes to the Committee. The Sub-Committee’s Annual Report would also go to E&R PDS.


In view of concerns for the contracts highlighted in Report CSD16122,  it was RESOLVED that the report and minutes of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


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