Agenda and minutes

Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 12th March 2015 5.30 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter. View directions

Contact: Howard Bassett, Democratic Services Officer (Committees)  Telephone 01392 265107 or email

No. Item



To receive apologies for absence from Committee members.



These were received from Councillors Dent and Wood.




Appointment of Chair

In accordance with Standing Orders, the Chair cannot be an Exeter City Councillor, as a City Councillor chairs the Strata Executive Committee.


To elect a Chair - in accordance with procedural rules this shall be in a rotational basis with the Chair to be appointed for 12 months unless agreed otherwise by the Committee.




It was noted that, in accordance with Standing Orders, the Chair could not be an Exeter City Councillor, as a City Councillor chaired the Strata Executive Committee. The position of Chair was on a rotational basis with the Chair appointed for 12 months.


Councillor Prowse of Teignbridge District Council was elected Chair.



Declarations of Interest

Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclose the nature of the interest. In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion of the item.  Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.



No declarations of interest were made.



Strata - An Orientation

Verbal report of Chris Powell, Chief Operating Officer Strata Service Solutions Ltd.



The Chief Operating Officer set out the background to the creation of Strata Service Solutions Ltd., established by the three Council’s in order to achieve reductions in costs and risks and to meet growing IT challenges and the increasingly complex needs of local authorities. He explained the governance arrangements and it was noted that estimated savings over a  ten period would be in the region of £8.3 million. The company had “gone live” on 1 November 2014.


Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee noted the report.



Strata Implementation Progress pdf icon PDF 156 KB

To consider the report of Chris Powell, Chief Operating Officer Strata Service Solutions Ltd.


Additional documents:


The Chief Operating Officer provided an update on the progress with the implementation plan. The main elements of the plan were on schedule with the following having slipped slightly:-


·         construction of data centre facility at the Civic Centre with a Disaster Recovery facility at Oakwood House, Marsh Barton three weeks behind schedule;

·         design of the Active Directory (network) and email design nearing completion;

·         Strata time and attendance system incomplete; and

·         Councils yet to be asked to begin process of file and email clean up.


The creation of a common service desk across the sites had produced early benefit with instances of mutual support being provided across sites.


Redundancy costs were expected to be higher than anticipated but the extra costs would be met by the Technology Challenge Award grant. Some suppliers had agreed to hold contract costs with others reducing costs.


He responded as follows to Members’ queries:-


·         the original assessment of anticipated redundancy costs had been based on  Human Resources formula but many of the volunteers were from long serving staff. The £135,000 cost would be a one-off;

·         the Transformation Challenge Award (TCA) of £970,000, which would cover the redundancy costs, had been awarded in October;

·         to assist with migration to the new technology staff would be encouraged to reduce their email and file storage by wherever possible;

·         staff morale was very high and opportunities to transfer to one of the two other Councils, for example to reduce travel to work time, would be sympathetically examined but subject to the interest of the business; and

·         briefing for new Councillors after the May elections on the raison d’etre and operation of Strata would be incorporated into the induction programmes of the three councils.


Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee noted the progress of the implementation plan.



Strata Annual Business Plan pdf icon PDF 89 KB

To consider the report of Chris Powell, Chief Operating Officer Strata Service Solutions Ltd.



The Chief Operating Officer updated Members on the Annual Business Plan for 2015/16 for Strata Business Solutions Ltd. The complete Strata business case and implementation plan had been signed off in July 2014 with Strata going live in November 2014 and, consequently, the 2015/16 annual business plan was a close match to the original plan with few exceptions and was presented as a summary only.


Members were advised that accounts would be provided for the first four months of operation up to 31 March 2015 and for 2015/16. Elements of the TCA Award would be carried over into 2015/16.


The Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee noted the Annual Business Plan for 2015/16 as agreed by the Strata Joint Executive Committee.


New Technology - What is a Customer Portal

Presentation by David Sercombe, Business Solutions Manager.




David Sercombe, Business Solutions Manager, spoke to a presentation explaining the operation of a Council Citizen’s Portal using that of Oxford City Council as an example.


The portal would sit alongside the Council’s web site providing one place for interaction and a history of contacts. It would be used for applying, reporting, paying, responding to consultations etc. with public access possible at the following three levels:-


·         basic level for consultation, reporting issues such as graffiti, for which personal information would not be required;

·         further detail such as name/email address for location based information such as bin emptying days or local planning permissions; and

·         highest level requiring proof of birth, account number e.g. for Council tax, Housing Benefits etc.


Responding to a Member, he advised that each Council’s data would be secure and that it would not be possible to access data held by one of the two other Councils following contact by the public.


Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee thanked the Manager Business Systems.