To receive a report from the Director of Resources on Civic Enterprise Leeds (CEL) a service that has recently moved into the remit of the Board. This focuses on an outline of services, key areas of focus and the journey so far on its road to commercialisation.
The report of the Director of Resources provided Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board with an introduction and update on Civic Enterprise Leeds (CEL) outlining its activities and key areas of focus along with its journey so far on its road to commercialisation.
Attending the meeting for this item were:
· Neil Evans - Director of Resources
· Mariana Pexton - Chief Officer Strategy and Improvement
· Mandy Snaith - Deputy CO CEL & Head of Catering & Fleet
· Richard Jackson - Head of Passengers, Cleaning and Facilities Management
· Craig Simpson - Head of Leeds Building Services
· Mohammed Afzal - Commercial Operational Manager
· Cllr Coupar - Executive Member for Resources
The Chair welcomed the officers to this Scrutiny Board noting that they had recently moved into the remit of the Strategy and Resources Scrutiny Board.
The Scrutiny Board were provided with the following information:
· Civic Enterprise Leeds (CEL) sits within the Resources Directorate with a head count of 3,496 and is comprised of the following services:
o Cleaning and Facilities Management
o Corporate Property Management
o Passenger Transport
o Fleet Services
o Leeds Building Services
· CEL has a total staffing budget of £69.5 million for the year 2021/22 and total staffing costs at the year-end were £66 million. It has a gross expenditure budget of £147.8 million and income budget of £141.2 million leaving a net managed budget of £6.6 million.
· During the pandemic the vast majority of CEL staff were needed to carry out their frontline roles such as transporting vulnerable children to schools, cleaning of schools and care homes, Meals at Home Deliveries, Fire Safety Checks in flats, and repairs in council houses. During this time CEL also delivered other vital services to keep the city safe, some beyond what would normally be expected such as building a temporary mortuary, managing the PPE Hub facility, carry out Covid response cleans in LCC buildings and schools.
· Members were provided with a brief overview of all the service areas provided by CEL which included staffing and services they provide and was set out in the submitted report.
· CEL have been successful in tendering work for services such as window cleaning in Doncaster, Barnsley and for the South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and to homeowners through the PRESTO service.
Responding to questions from Members the Board was provided with the following information:
· It was noted that whilst the use of routing technology had increased but it was still difficult to deliver services as efficiently as they would like. The routing technology could be used to track jobs to allow smarter dispatch to ensure health and safety and increase productivity. However, negotiations were still ongoing with trade unions about the use of this technology. Key issues that the technology could address include speeding, idling, harsh breaking, productivity and location of missing vehicles with a focus on measures that would save the authority money. The Board noted the possibility of a further update on this at a future meeting.
· CEL would like to use more SMEs for their services which would generate better value for the council and enhance local supply chains in areas such as construction. However, they had to comply with procurement regulations which in some cases caused a potential barrier. A flexible approach to procurement of SME services would be helpful to the service whiles also being mindful of the procedure rules, and relevant colleagues are working on the best approach to this.
· Members recognised the work carried out by staff in CEL during the pandemic, and it was noted on more than one occasion that they were called the ‘jewel in the crown of the Council’.
· It was noted that CEL had a gross expenditure budget of over a £148 million alongside a total income of £141 million which got them back to the net managed budget of £6.6 million. In terms of a snapshot for some of the services an example was provided. It was suggested that information on expenditure and income be circulated to Board Members following the meeting.
· In response to question on school meal delivery, CEL would like to work with more high schools to provide catering services. It has been realised that older children preferred different options and a different offer for their lunch compared to primary age, so CEL had put chefs into schools in return for a management fee. The changes from local authority controlled high schools to academies changed how they operated with many Schools opting to provide their own meals service, and the catering provision had fallen away as a result. However, CEL do work with Wetherby and the Technical College, they do bid for more high schools, but they get wrapped up with academy packages and it is difficult to win on price, but they continue to try and expand in this area. Cllr Coupar highlighted that CEL pay the living wage and often staff working in private catering are not given the same benefits. She also questioned the quality of the food provided by some academies, based on feedback to her, as not being as good as that offered by CEL.
· In relation to information provided at Table One of the report, Members were advised that monitoring was carried out in accordance with national standards which had to be complied with. It was acknowledged that CEL had a diverse and dispersed workforce and ensuring quality of services was difficult especially in services such as cleaning and catering which were often part-time positions so there was always room for improvement.
· CEL currently have 40 apprentices and there is a commitment to continue with this and expand the programme.
· Members noted the positive work with SME’s and acknowledged the challenges faced particularly in procurement and vetting processes.
· It was noted that a number of staff had been part of TUPE processes in Leeds Building Services and work was ongoing to get them on to CEL terms and conditions. Members requested numbers of TUPE to be circulated to the Board.
· The Board were advised that where adaptations were no longer required in council housing if requested these were removed and stored for future use. For private housing the process is done different through a differently service area within the Communities, Housing and Environment Directorate. An example of where a stairlift had been installed and was no longer required was provided by Cllr Chapman and it was noted that the Council could be losing money on this. The Chair advised that this concern would be passed to the relevant Scrutiny Board.
· There was recognition that Building Services were currently dealing with the issue of damp and mould, and this was a high priority for the service.
· In relation to PRESTO hiring of market stalls It was the view that these might not have been available for local events as there were being used for the city centre market, but a conversation would be had, and information provided.
The Director of Resources said that Covid had a profound impact on this area of work and staff absence had been a big issue for the service. However, the service was now in a period of recovery and was indeed one of the jewels in the crown of the Council especially through the pandemic in keeping the city going.
The Chair passed on the Board’s thank you to CEL.
RESOLVED - To note:
a) The Services provided by Civic Enterprise Leeds and the key areas of focus for 22/24.
b) The progress to date of the commercialisation and traded activities of the Service.