To receive a presentation on the Operations Review from the Interim Head of Operations.
Arising from the meeting being inquorate, Members noted that according to the Medium Term Financial Strategy the Operations Division had a target to reduce its budget by £2.3million over the next five years. As a result of this a fundamental service review was currently taking place within the Division. Part of the review involved a restructure and the Interim Head of Operations explained further details of the restructure. The main points were as follows:
• the number of senior managers had reduced from five to three;
• the division would be structured around three distinct business units: Commercial, Environmental and Business Development;
• the Street Cleansing and Grounds Maintenance functions would be integrated in the new Street Scene Service within Environmental Services, deployed in two area teams (north and south). The current Greenspaces Team would be redefined as a development team to support the Street Scene Service; and
• the Countryside Service situated within Environmental Services would continue to be managed as a separate team and would work closely with the Development Team to ensure optimisation of resources.
Other areas discussed included the following:
• It was noted that the income stream from recycling fluctuated dependent upon the demands of the market. This was reflected in the net costs of the Waste Service as the Council received an income share from the sale of recyclates. It was reported that the Council was paid for plastics by weight and not volume.
• Huntingdon Town Council had responsibility for 20 play areas in addition to those maintained by the Council which was too many to be sustainable. However, following a further analysis it was discovered that the north of the town was underprovided. This was being reviewed through a shared needs analysis with the Town Council to determine future priorities.
• As part of needs analysis for St Ives, it was identified that apart from the need to upgrade two play areas, the Town was well provided for in terms of open spaces and allotments.
• The Group were informed that there would be a new Management Plan for the Country Park to determine the future development priorities and maintenance regimes. This would be subject to consultation with the Joint Group. In respect of the remainder of the District, there was not currently a robust database of all the sites owned by the Council. In response to a question it was explained that Parish Councils could assist by sharing information with the Council on sites owned by them.
• The Group noted that the Council did not have the technology to conduct live checks on waste bin enquiries. Currently customers that contacted the Council regarding a missed bin collection were advised to call back at 2.30pm. The Group were informed that refuse collection rounds would be reconfigured to rebalance the rounds and to deliver efficiencies by reducing the number of rounds. In addition Members were advised that a waste collection shared service would not realise many benefits.
Discussion ensued in relation to Hinchingbrooke Country Park matters. The key points were as follows:
• the post of Countryside Co-ordinator had been redefined as Countryside Manager to place a stronger emphasis on the overall management of the service; and
• the Countryside Centre and Café needed to become more commercial. The meeting rooms would be advertised for hire to organisations that did not normally utilise the Country Park to encourage a broader use and enable a sustainable income stream.