Agenda item

The Improvement and Recovery Plan Progress - November 2023 to March 2024 OSC24-019

Reporting Person: Julie Fisher


Julie Fisher, the Chief Executive, provided a summary of the progress made so far overall and in each of the five Themes of the Improvement and Recovery Plan (IRP).  Although much had been achieved it was noted that there were many more challenges that the Council would need to address.

In response to a question Officers confirmed that the sale of Victoria Gate was at the best value possible and was presented to the Executive for decision.  It was confirmed that Overview and Scrutiny had been given sight of its approach on the Executive Forward Plan.

On the process to potentially sell ThamesWey Central Milton Keynes, Officers confirmed that the necessary step was for the Council to sign a confidentiality agreement and therefore a formality.

Officers were asked to explain the maturity rating score of zero for Annual accounts and crystallisation of debt, and commercial team requirements in Appendix 5 of the report.

Annual accounts and crystallisation of debt had been rated zero in recognition that the Council had not yet developed a plan and intended to address it in 2024/25.

The Commercial team was currently provided externally through financing from the transformation programme and temporary spending with capital receipts.  A plan needed to be developed on how the service would be provided sustainably and in-house.

The Committee discussed the debt reduction plan rating of 2.  Officers explained that greater maturity required first rationalisation of assets and council-company business plans.  It was not yet known what level of debt would remain following asset rationalisation and this would impact development of the debt reduction plan.

Officers explained that the replacement of the Shareholder Advisory Groups with the Shareholder Executive Committee was intended to formalise the process of council-company oversight and make it public.

There existed a workstream to handle improvements to procurement and the contract register was being updated.  Officers recognised that tracking procurement savings was notoriously difficult but that there were procurement savings within the budget proposals agreed by Council.

The Financial Control Panel continued to meet twice per week to consider any expenditure over £500.  Officers considered that it was positively impacting the Council’s interests.

Officers had worked on developing a new vision for the Council and it would be shared with Members and staff in the coming months.

The Grant Thornton Value for Money (VfM) report was discussed by the Committee.  Officers emphasised that the report was independent of the Council and Grant Thornton would control release of the report.  A range of views was expressed on when the report should be released.

Officers had previously confirmed that the release of Part II documents, those documents considered by the Executive, Council or its committees in confidence, would be simultaneous with the VfM report.  The Chief Executive confirmed that advice would be sought on the impact of the pre-election period on release date and Grant Thornton would be informed.

The Chief Executive confirmed that on entry to the organisation senior officers were not expected to work to their own visions but rather the Council’s vision.  Expectation was that they would deliver the corporate plan and the IRP.  There existed onboarding processes to allow new staff to understand the Council better.  Exit interviews were performed but aimed at understanding how the staff member had experienced the Council and use the feedback to improve the experience for other staff.

A new organisational structure was being produced and it was hoped would be available to Members in short order.

It was confirmed that the council-company structure would be simplified.


the report be noted.

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