Issue - meetings

The Public Realm Future Operating Model

Meeting: 14/10/2022 - Connected Communities Scrutiny Committee (Item 8)

8 The Public Realm Future Operating Model pdf icon PDF 361 KB

To present the background and context of the council’s current public realm services, and seek views relating to any Public Realm Future Operating Model to improve delivery of those services.

Additional documents:


The committee was advised that public realm was part of three cabinet portfolios, these being: Cabinet Member – Commissioning, Procurement and Assets; Cabinet Member – Infrastructure and Transport; and Cabinet Member – Finance, Corporate Services and Planning (the latter member was not able to attend this meeting).


Cabinet Member – Infrastructure and Transport introductory comments included: the contract for the delivery of public realm services was currently with Balfour Beatty Living Places (BBLP) but this item was about the nature of the contract and not the provider; the current contract commenced in 2013, with an initial term of 10 years and with the potential for contract extensions subject to satisfactory performance; it was considered the right time to review the arrangements to ensure that the model was right for Herefordshire; and officers had been requested to look at the options moving forward.


The principal points of the discussion included:


1.           A committee member questioned whether there was sufficient time for the development of options and proposals given the need for the council to form a new administration in May 2023.  In response, the Cabinet Member – Infrastructure and Transport said that Cabinet did not intend to make a determination at this time, this was about reviewing the model, and the input of the committee would be welcomed. 


The Cabinet Member added that each political group had been invited to appoint a representative to a working group.


2.           In response to a further question about timing, the Cabinet Member – Infrastructure and Transport commented on the need for assurance that the arrangements provided value for money and that the contract worked for Herefordshire.


3.           A committee member said that further information was needed on those aspects where the existing contract was considered lacking or requiring improvement.  The Cabinet Member – Infrastructure and Transport commented on the need to understand whether a comprehensive contract was optimal; reference was made to the model operated by Telford and Wrekin Council which had retained technical staff ‘in-house’.  The Cabinet Member said that the current set up did not necessarily enable the council to monitor it effectively enough.


4.           The Cabinet Member – Commissioning, Procurement and Assets commented on the reviews that had been undertaken, including by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which had identified issues with the council’s contract management approach.  The Cabinet Member said that, given considerations such as severe weather events and the experiences of service users, there was the need to review objectives and performance indicators.  The Cabinet Member emphasised the need to understand the timescales involved.


A committee member commented on the need for the committee to have access to key information, such as the PwC review, in order to undertake its scrutiny function effectively.


5.           In response to a question from a committee member, the Cabinet Member – Infrastructure and Transport said that there was now a dedicated street works team that checked on the activity of utility companies but there was not an equivalent internal team for checking the works undertaken in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8