The Chief Operating Officer to be heard.
The Chair advised that the presentation would be deferred in order that two proposals regarding projects could be considered by the Sub Committee.
The Chair advised that arising from concerns regarding the Gateway process and Project Procedure, he felt it was an appropriate time to undertake a review in order to assess processes both outside of and towards committee meetings. The Chair advised that he would seek delegated authority to the Town Clerk, in consultation with the Chair and Deputy Chair, to commission the review, which would be undertaken via a proper process, seeking the approval of the Policy & Resources Committee and engaging external assistance as appropriate.
A Member commented that they agreed with the Chair’s analysis and that a review was desirable and necessary, the process having grown in an uncontrolled way. The Member added that capital outlay and investment should be for the benefit of the community, and that the process should encourage applications for smaller asks, but in as efficient a way as possible. The Member then gave his support to the wider projects procedure review. Another Member added that it seemed an appropriate moment to undertake this work and commended the leadership in tackling the matter.
The Chair advised that even with the full effect of increased delegation to officers as part of the interim project governance arrangements, thirteen decision items would still have been on the agenda for the meeting, and therefore delegation to officers could go further. The Chair added that the review must involve officers, and that there were positive elements of the existing arrangements that could be taken forward. Arising from the discussion, the Sub Committee endorsed the wider projects review and agreed to delegate authority for this to be actioned.
Secondly, the Chair proposed that arising from decisions taken at the previous day’s Resource Allocation Sub Committee meeting, all Gateway reports up to Gateway 5 on the agenda should be deferred, with authority delegated to the Town Clerk, in consultation with the Chair and Deputy Chair, to agree the reports following a cost-based review of individual items. The Chair added that depending on the status of the project, officers should need to either submit re-costed proposals taking inflationary pressures into account, along with proposed mitigants, or submit a clear exposition of whether they were statutory or obligatory requirements or whether they were desirable rather than essential – along with the same costing analysis, and an assessment of breakage cost if the project were terminated.
The Chair commented that he felt this could be done in parallel with the wider projects review, and that this should not be considered a cancellation of any project. However, refreshed reports with the information requested would be required before projects could be progressed.
A Member commented that they supported this action, but queried the timescales of the pause and whether it might lead to a lengthening of the pipeline. The Chair responded that there was no reason decisions could not be taken quickly if the right information were provided. The Chair added that there would never be a perfect time to undertake this type of action, given that there would always be projects in flight, and that decisions requiring faster approval could be prioritised or expedited if needed. A Member commented that some projects may cost more to pause or stop than to complete and asked that this be taken into account.
RESOLVED – That the Operational Property and Projects Sub Committee:
i) Delegate authority to the Town Clerk, in consultation with the Chair and Deputy Chair, to commission a review of the Gateway process and Projects Procedure;
ii) Agree to defer decisions on all Gateway 1-5 project reports, with authority delegated to the Town Clerk, in consultation with the Chair and Deputy Chair, to agree these reports pending approval to proceed with the project arising from the agreed capital programme review.