The Deputy Chairman reported that he and the Chair had recently met with representatives of both the Policy and Resources and Finance Committee to make clear the views of this Committee on the Fundamental Review. The meeting had led to an agreement that the review was not about cuts but about transformation and innovation in terms of delivering what the organisation does. They had made it clear that the Planning and Transportation Committee were not to be bypassed in the review and expected to be fully consulted where relevant. Officers were currently looking at a number of measures to respond positively to the review and these would be put to this Committee ahead of submission to Policy and Resources.
The Director of the Built Environment stated that there were two aspects to the Fundamental Review for the Department – Revenue and also Capital Projects – around which much work had already been undertaken in terms of prioritisation.
In response to further comments, the Deputy Chairman reported that it was his understanding that a full Governance Review would also take place following the Fundamental Review to ensure that the current approach continued to be fit for purpose. A Member questioned whether the size of Committees would form a part of such a review. Another Member commented that she did not see how the size of a Committee added in any way to cost. She went on to highlight that planning fees were dictated by the Government. On a separate note, the Member stated that she hoped that the Chair and Deputy Chairman of this Committee would ensure that there were no further staff lost from the Department of Built Environment as a result of the Fundamental Review given the resource issues that had already been reported to this Committee at recent meetings.
Another Member agreed with the point made around staffing but stressed that Members also had a role to play here in terms of ensuring that they were not piling up additional requests for Officers on an ad hoc basis.
Another Member stated that she believed that there had already been a significant fall in staff morale due to the review and stressed the need for Members to be sensitive to this. She went on to state that it was important to stress that the number of Committees and Sub Committees currently in place (in excess of 130) were not only City Fund Committees but also City’s Cash which were essential in terms of meeting the wishes of benefactors who had bequeathed funds to the organisation that needed to continue to be managed efficiently to ensure that they continued to do as much good as possible both within the Square Mile and beyond.
A Member made the point that there had been a notable lack of information to Members about the whole review process and progress to date. She questioned when they could expect to hear more. She added that she hoped that it would be the case that all Committees would have the opportunity to consider implications relevant to them and feed in to the Policy and Resources Committee on this.
Another Member questioned whether the Policy and Resources Committee had sought any independent, external assurance in terms of how work across the organisation might best be prioritised going forward. The Deputy Chairman reported that he was not aware that this had been explored but that it would ultimately be a matter for the Policy and Resources Committee. He thanked Members for their useful contributions on this matter.