Report of the Strategic Director, Corporate Services and Governance
The Committee received a report seeking views on the draft Corporate Procurement Strategy and approval to consult on the strategy externally.
The current strategy was approved in February 2017 for a period of five years. It is the intention that the new strategy for the next 5 years will align to the Council’s Thrive Agenda, the Health and Wellbeing Strategy, the Economic Strategy and the Climate Emergency Strategy. It will also align to Community Wealth Building Principles and look at maximising the Gateshead £.
Procurement in Gateshead is the process of acquiring goods, services and works, to achieve the optimum combination of costs, benefits and management of risk, to meet the objectives of the Council.
Commissioning in Gateshead is a cycle of activity that begins by considering what evidence is telling us about our community, and then leads us to determine the needs of our local population and analyse what must be done to achieve the best possible outcomes within our available resources.
‘We will continue to provide first class, outcome focused services based on compliant commissioning and procurement activity that delivers value for money, maximises the Gateshead £, tackles inequality, helps to reduce our carbon footprint and support Gateshead people to thrive.
· Integrity – we will always work with integrity – demonstrating fairness and respect every day in every way
· Inclusive – we will be inclusive – One Council working together and engaging people to get better results and ensure equality of opportunity
· Inspirational – will be inspirational – thinking creatively, being dynamic and motivating and empowering everyone to do the things that make a real difference for the people of Gateshead
Our behaviours will be evident in how we approach our work, how we treat others and how we expect to be treated, as well as how we work together.
· We will always be positive, helpful and supportive in our approach
· We will be professional and lead by example
· We will work as a team and take personal responsibility for our actions
· We will learn from our mistakes and celebrate our successes
· We will embrace and promote equality
· We will be flexible and adaptable to change
The strategy will be divided into the following four areas with actions for each of the areas.
· Tackling inequality, supporting local communities and putting people at the heart of everything we do.
· Investing in our local economy
· Working together for a better and greener future
· Delivering value for money and ensuring a sustainable Council.
It was noted that some of the strategy is quite aspirational and it was queried how all services would buy into this and how can this be used to influence the SEND agenda, for example parents of children with SEND who wish their children to stay in the Borough and are having to travel out of borough.
It was noted that commissioning is done on a regional basis for certain contracts agreed under the NEPO framework. It was noted that we are looking at that decision at the moment and whether it is working for us.
It was also noted that requests have been made to officers of other OSC’s for information on issues for example if a parent has had a decision from a tribunal Councillors need to know what the position is, but the information was not forthcoming and items were being removed from the workplan. Councillors understand the need for confidentiality but the information could be presented in a way so as to inform councillors of decisions made but not details of the parent/child. It was noted that if councillors are not getting information requested they can take the issue to the Leader who would have a conversation with the Chief Executive.
It was queried whether the language used in relation to the Council being an enabler was the correct use of language, in particular when also saying the Council is reducing in size, it comes across as though we will be out-sourcing services which Councillors are aware did not go well for other local authorities and is not something which has ever been supported by the Council. It was considered that direct service delivery provides the greatest level of influence and in many cases better quality services, however it was also commented that due to funding reductions we cannot do everything we used to do.
It was noted that it is important that we establish a shared vision on Community WealthBuilding and this is something which we don’t seem to have now, particularly around Social Care.
It was also queried about whether we know what the Gateshead £ is and have a clear shared definition.
It was noted that it was disappointing not to see the section on Integrated Health completed as there are massive amounts of money being handled in this area and we need to undertake more challenge of some of the professional who provide advice as sometimes the advice gets in the way of sensible decision making.
There was concern that there is too much silo thinking and not enough planned work eg for children with SEN where we could have more conversations with existing SEN schools in Gateshead to better manage demand.
We have good examples e.g. Kells Lane Park where the equipment was replaced by a supplier that was not necessarily the cheapest, but provided an excellent service and additional Social Value in the way that he dealt with the community.
It was suggested that we explore alternative ways of expressing the £ and consider a different exchange system. We could look to have schemes such as the Community Farm at Gibside and more co-operative type schemes where the benefits would include local people having access to produce they had grown themselves and sharing with others. This would also reduce the carbon footprint given there would be no need to import as much food.and we could look at the land that the council currently owns.
RESOLVED - (i) That the comments of the Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee be incorporated into the draft strategy
(ii) That wider consultation takes place on the draft strategy
(iii) That the Strategy be brought back to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee prior to Cabinet for approval.