The Chair introduced the item and outlined the key points and the role of the Member Major Projects Board (MMPB).
The Board received a presentation (a copy of which had been circulated to the Board prior to the meeting) prepared by the Assistant Director, Property and Projects which was presented by the Chief Executive.
Officers responded to questions and comments in relation to:
· Importance of the following information being available to the MMPB – overall picture including finance, partners, revenue, risk, implications of project, risk, timescale for delivery, etc.
· Role and function of the MMPB to monitor major projects designated as such by Cabinet and highlighted any actions which may be required.
· Process for management of projects – brief overview of PRINCE2.
· Role of Policy and Development/Scrutiny Panels – opportunity to ask for interim reviews as required.
· Frequency of MMPB meetings – suggestion of two monthly.
· Proposal for future MMPB meetings – the Board to receive a detailed presentation on maximum two projects per meeting. MMPB to determine order of projects for each meeting. It was noted it may be necessary to go into exempt session for questions asked relating to commercial sensitivity.
· Financial Plan – revised capital programme and financial requirements.
· Agreement by MMPB of performance measures.
· Importance of due diligence being undertaken by relevant officers.
· Frequency of OMPB meetings and access to the minutes of the OMPB.
· Operational officer meetings to discuss projects which were informal and not minuted.
· Performance measures – budget/costs, timescales, milestones, project scope, risk, impact on 3rd party organisations/finance/resource/borrowing/funding/revenue impact, public perception, internal and external factors, Officer Major Projects Board – decisions, recommendations Management Team.
· Understanding of interdependencies/relationship on other major projects.
· Mitigation measures if required to ensure delivery of projects.
· Council’s whistleblowing policy and how information on investigations relating to major projects could be reported to the MMPB if necessary.
Councillor Dickinson suggested that two or three projects as well as an overview of projects at each meeting and two monthly meetings rather than quarterly. Councillor Blunt commented he supported two monthly meetings of the Board and that a detailed briefing be scheduled to bring the Board up to date. Councillor Middleton supported the suggestions put forward by Councillors Dickinson and Blunt to schedule a detailed briefing in late January/February 2022. Councillor Ryves supported the suggestions put forward.
Councillor Dickinson highlighted the importance, in her view, of the Board being up to speed on the projects by the time the Financial Plan was presented to Cabinet/council because it would contain the revised capital programme and the capital financing requirement which would then pull the information altogether to enable the MMPB by the time a more formal setting so Members would be up to speed and could move forward. In response, the Chief Executive provided an overview of the proposed format of future MMPB meetings. The Chief Executive advised that if the detailed briefing was to be provided by the time the Financial Plan was presented, then it would require a full day for the MMPB to receive such a briefing and invite officers to attend on a time slot basis for each specific project.
Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Kemp commented that it was important that due diligence was carried out, a feasibility study, cost benefit analysis, environment/social risk and reputational risks were undertaken. In response, Councillor Blunt explained that the above points would be considered during the Cabinet approval process.
Councillor Kemp also referred to the officer resource, specifically in relation to the recruitment to the Towns Fund. The Chair thanked Councillor Kemp for her comment and added that the council would look into any areas of threat relating to staff and capacity.
Under Standing Order 34, Councillor de Whalley highlighted the importance of due diligence being carried out in order to meet the tight timescales for delivery specifically the Towns Fund. The Chair explained that the council recognised that the timescales were tight but that the projects were deliverable. Councillor Blunt added that the process for putting together the Town Deal business cases was defined by government guidelines and the council had to follow them and therefore the due diligence was built into that process.
Under Standing Order 34, Councillor Joyce commented on the importance of due diligence being carried out by Officer Major Projects Board. With regard to the detailed briefing for the Board as no decision was required, Councillor Joyce asked if it was a requirement for Members to be present in person or whether Members could also be present on zoom. Councillor Joyce also commented on the possibly exempt session for a question and answer session. In response, the Monitoring Officer advised that where there was one way information being provided and no decision was required, briefings could be received virtually. The Monitoring Officer added that if a formal meeting was called and there was a quorum of Members present in person in the meeting room, other Members could join remotely.
In response to questions from Councillor Joyce on exempt session with regard to council development, the Monitoring Officer explained that with regard to the council’s own developments this was only where planning permission had not already been granted. The Monitoring Officer explained that it would be necessary to take a view on a question by question basis and then assess if the exempt rules applied or not.
The Corporate Projects Programme Manager outlined the information contained in a draft template – project monitoring and invited Members to identify information which was required by the MMPB.
The Corporate Projects Programme Manager noted the information which the MMPB would require and would be brought back to a future meeting. The Chair commented he would like to see the information in dashboard format and to ensure officers completed the information to a similar level of detail for consistency.
The general consensus of the Board was that future formal board meetings would be held in person and be held on a more frequent basis. Any informal updates could be held virtually.
The Chair thanked Members and officers for their input into the meeting.
RESOLVED: 1) A one-day detailed briefing session (or two half-days as diaries allow) to enable MMPB to receive an overview on the projects currently on the designated Major Projects Programme list to be scheduled January/February 2022 in person. Officers would be given a time slot to attend in person or virtually.
2) Meetings to be scheduled on a two monthly basis and would be held in person during 2022. It was recognised that the meeting dates would require to be flexible.
3) MMPB to prioritise list of projects and identify order of specific projects to be considered at each meeting to determine its future work programme. The lead officer would attend and give a detailed presentation accordingly at future MMPB meetings.
4) Question and Answer Session - if questions were to be asked which were deemed to be of a commercially sensitive nature, then there would a requirement to go into exempt session.
5) The draft project monitoring template be amended to include the comments made by the MMPB and be brought back to a future meeting.
6) Whistleblowing Policy – Officers to explore a mechanism for reporting any investigations relating to major projects to the MMPB.