Purpose of the report: Scrutiny of Services and Performance Management
This paper sets out the approach to risk management and business continuity in the Environment and Infrastructure Directorate. Members of the Board are asked to consider the risk management approach for the directorate.
Declarations of interest:
Mike Goodman, Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning
John Furey, Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Flooding
Jason Russell, Assistant Director for Highways and Transport
Ben Skipp, Change Consultant
Key point raised during discussion:
1. The Chairman of the Board introduced the report by giving a laymans view of why it would be a good idea, for the Members’ interests, to have an awareness of how the Directorates assess and cover off perceived risks to the Council’s services. The Chairman explained that the Officers had provided a selection of the most significant risks from the Risk Register.
2. The Chairman further advised Members that risk management was a tool that enables the Council to work out how resources could be used to maintain functions and improve the services.
3. The Chairman mentioned perception of risk may vary as Officers and Members might have differing views. The Chairman further explained the nature of this risk management item was to capture these differences.
4. The Chairman indicated that Officers would, with Members input, judge where resources would be allocated, where relevant. One Member expressed concern with regards to where resident views were considered and whether they will have an input in the allocation of resources. The Chairman explained that this concern was not a risk issue but rather a problem that could be looked at separately.
5. The Assistant Director for Highways and Transport assured Members that Officers would be thinking of the outcomes the service would be trying to deliver and assess the risks against those, contributing to improved resident experience.
6. The Officer added that the registers provided in the meeting had been reviewed recently as steps had been taken to mitigate some of the risks the service previously had, and in some cases the risk scoring had improved.
7. The Board were informed of the two categories of risks, strategic and operational. The Assistant Director for Highways and Transport addressed Members on how the different levels of management engaged with these two types of risks, which in turn ensured they were dealt with effectively and robustly.
8. Members sought clarification on whether Local Committees could engage with Officers in regard to operational risk mitigation. The Officer agreed that day-to-day operational risks/concerns could benefit from Member involvement at Local Committees if they wanted to pursue this. The Officer welcomed a discussion with Chairmen of the Local Committees.
9. The Officer outlined capability and skills as one of the challenges the Council was facing, informing the Board that budget cuts and the competition from the private sector was having an impact on recruitment. Members acknowledged there was a staffing issue and indicated that this needs to be addressed, without the staff nothing would be implemented.
10.The Board were informed that on a short term basis consultants and agency staff were being deployed as a result of poor staff retainment, whilst the service worked on making Surrey a more competitive employer in the industry.
11.A Member queried the process the Council takes when carrying out risk management and whether it was the same as other counties. Officers explained Surrey’s approach was good practice and more robust, undertaking a number of operations to support this.
12.A Member voiced the opinion that risk management should be implemented geographically and resources should not be directed in places where it is not needed. Officers reminded the Board that not all parts of the county are the same and resources are directed where it is needed, thus engaging with local committees might prove useful to determine where “hot spots” were.
13.Members highlighted an absence of countryside related risks in the register and sought more information on this. Officers pointed out that only the top risks were provided in the meeting, and that the full register would be available to the Board or the Countryside Member Reference Group, and the Board were assured that these were not forgotten.
14.One Member indicated that simpler terminology would be easier to understand, as the report was very technical. The Chairman agreed the report was complex and recognised the difficulty in understanding the report and suggested more work to be done in this regard should a similar exercise be repeated.
a) For the Assistant Director for Highways and Transport to provide the board with the full risk registers for the E&I directorate, including ‘Countryside’ related risks.