The Chief Executive, Mr Ade Adetosoye, attended the meeting to respond to questions from the Committee. A written update for the Committee had been circulated as part of the agenda papers. Mr Adetosoye responded to questions, making the following comments –
· The Council was continuing to encourage its staff to voluntarily declare their vaccination status. All non-vaccinated staff in Adult Social Care had been redeployed to non-frontline roles and following the recent change in government policy the situation would be monitored.
· The Occupational Property Review would be presented to Members by June/July 2022.
· In respect of staff returning to the workplace, prior to the pandemic the position of the Council in respect of agile working was clear. Over the coming months hybrid working arrangements would be extended with staff, on average, being office-based two or three days a week. The Corporate Leadership Team was assessing the position however the direction of travel was to maintain flexible, hybrid working whilst not losing sight of the benefits for many staff of working in an office-based environment.
· Over the past few years, the Council had become less reliant on agency staff. In addition, the flexibility offered by the Council’s flexible and agile working policies had meant that it had been possible to attract staff to some of the harder to fill posts. This had delivered further savings on agency costs.
· The Local Authority had made a significant investment in IT and new technology, and this had provided for a resilient workforce throughout the pandemic. The next stage of the Transformation Programme was to review the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The current direction of travel was positive, and the Council was already making use of several different platforms.
· In respect of the resilience of IT, the Chief Executive confirmed that challenges around the UPS system remained. Three attempts had been made to resolve the issues, all of which had proven unsuccessful. The Chief Executive continued to monitor the situation and until the issues were resolved, the contingency arrangement would remain in place as this was the only way to secure the integrity of data should there be an outage.
· In respect of electric vehicles and charging, a key part of the Council’s Strategy was to address the various models and issues around compatibility.
· In terms of the housing shortage, the Council was looking to develop a register of empty sites as well as undertaking a review of empty homes.
· The delivery of affordable housing was a challenge across London and the Council was working on several innovative schemes. The Housing Revenue Account had been reopened and this was one of the key strategies for addressing the issue of affordable housing.
· The issues raised by Members in respect of raising concerns and complaints with housing associations were noted and would be followed up with the respective housing associations following the meeting.
· By the end of the Spring/early Summer there would be an improved sound system and technology in the Council Chamber. Surveys had been undertaken, funding approved, and delivery was awaited.
· One of the priorities for 2022 was to increase external recognition of the excellent services provided to residents. It was acknowledged that there was more work needed to celebrate and communicate the Council’s achievements and promote this external recognition amongst residents
The Committee thanked the Chief Executive for his update.