Agenda and minutes

Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 31st May 2018 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


Election of Chair

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. The previous Chair was an Exeter City Councillor and the one before an East Devon District Councillor.


In accordance with Standing Orders, the Chair cannot be an Exeter City Councillor, as an Exeter City Councillor is to chair the Strata Executive Committee.



Councillor Haines of Teignbridge District Council was confirmed as Chair for the next 12 months.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 155 KB

To sign the minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2017.



The minutes of the meeting held on 30 November 2017 were approved and signed by the Chair as correct.



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.



Questions from the Public Under Procedural Rules

A period of up to 15 minutes will be set aside to deal with questions to the Committee from members of the public.


Each individual will be restricted to speaking for a total of 3 minutes.


Where a question does not relate to an agenda item details of questions should be notified to the Proper Officer of the Relevant Council at least two working days prior to the meeting.





Question from Members of the Councils under Procedure Rules

To receive questions from Members of the Councils.


Where a question does not relate to an agenda item details of questions should be notified to the Proper Officer of the Relevant Council at least two working days prior to the meeting.





Strata IT Director's Report pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider the report of the Strata IT Director.



Additional documents:


The Strata IT Director presented the report on the last five months of activity at Strata, the aim being to provide background to the core areas of specialisation within Strata and identifying key activities, successes and areas for improvement. The report covered Financial Management, BCR’s and Projects, Service Desk,Global Desktop Environmentand Supplier Management to which changes had been made as Strata moved from the Adopt/Adapt phase into the Transformation phase. Key performance indicators were also provided covering incidents, service requirements, security, problems, maintenance and business change requests.


He highlighted the following key areas:-


·         better financial management had enabled Strata to deliver savings in excess of target. Savings of £575,000had been delivered back to the three authorities against a target of £262,000, representing 215%, achieved through more pro-active engagement between each of the Strata service lines and the City Council finance team. Staffing costs remained stable and costs associated with temporary contracts had reduced;

·         a new post of a Supplier Manager - Andrew Woodhouse - had been created to better negotiate renewal of contracts to ensure Strata delivered against the 2018/19 savings target and a Project Manager - Chris Cook - had also been recruited working under the Manager Business Systems;

·         the Global Desktop Improvement Programme (GDIP) had improvedthe overall performance of the Desktop environment and, during the period of adverse weather, had enabled the three authorities to continue to deliver services even with each HQ closed;

·         the Global Desktop environment investment programme enabled progress with the Business Continuity programmeand ensured that, in the event of a major incident, Strata could fail over the key/core applications required by the three authoritiesto the secondary Data Centre facility;

·         a Joint IT Steering Group had been created to help prioritise project and business change request work across all three authorities;

·         customer satisfaction remained high with all service incidents logged through a centralised service desk function in Exeter. In April, 432 responses had been received, comprising 430 positive responses, 11 neutral responses and 11 negative responses i.e. 94 % satisfaction. Neutral or negative replies had been followed up to identify areas of improvement;

·         introduction of the Out of Hoursservice had been very successful now formalised for a 12 month period;

·         high staff morale with Strata attracting and retaining high calibre staff;

·         a business intelligence unit had been established which would enable the development of a data analysis capability to support the trend in ‘Big Data’;

·         GDPR had increased and there was a high demandon Strata time to support the three authorities to ensure compliance;

·         three new apprentices joined in September and it was the intention to recruit three more from South Devon College; and

·         Strata continued to deliver a good level of serviceto the three authorities as identified by the Devon Audit Partnerhship and the level of savings delivered back to the three authorities was well in excess of that originally predicted with customer satisfaction scores high.


The following responses were given to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Devon Audit Partnership Letter


The letter of the Devon Audit Partnership issued to the three authorities had reported good progress against each of the core business objectives of Strata of Cost, Risk and Change. Aspects covered by the letter included risk and performance management, business continuity plan, cyber security, key operational functions and service design.


Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee noted the report.



IT Training Needs Proposal pdf icon PDF 72 KB

·         IT Training Needs Proposal

·         Support of Councillor IT Proposal

·         Customer Service Plan;

·         Joint IT Steering Group Terms of Reference.

Additional documents:


The Strata IT Director presented the report proposing the introduction of a roving IT training resource to enable authorities to deliver a more professional approach to IT and enabling skills shortages to be identified and addressed. It would be an effective way of bringing in a training resource without one single authority having to carry the full cost. Using the existing defined processes for recruitment, it was intended to identify and shortlist suitable candidates for this role. The intention was for a suitable resource to be in place by 1 September 2018.


Members emphasised the vital need for this resource to also be made available to Councillors of all three authorities.


Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee supported the report.



Support of Councillor IT Programme


The Strata IT Director reported that there was currently no formal agreement for the support of Councillor IT equipment at either East Devon or Teignbridge with Councillors providing their own IT out of their allocated budget and the authorities providing access to Office 365 to enable emails to be sent and received. Hence, Strata did not support the individual IT equipment (desktops, laptops, printers, tablets) used by each Councillor. IT equipment was not provided by either East Devon or Teignbridge to Councillors to enable them to perform their function.


At Exeter, Councillors were provided with devices to enable them to access both email and various IT systems. As these devices were authority owned, they were supported by Strata, and Councillors regularly contacting Strata to ask for support. The devices were built and provisioned by Strata and Microsoft Outlook was provided as the email platform.


Three options were set out for the support of the Councillors privately owned IT equipment as follows:-


Option 1 - basic service provided by Strata at each location to be paid for by each authority and included in the annual Strata service charge. This would be charged at a rate of £250 per Councillor per annum. Hence for a Council of 50 councillors, the charge would be £12,500per annum.

Option 2 - basic service provided by Strata at each Head Office location to be paid for by each Councillor on an annual basis to be charged at a rate of £250per councillor per annum to be deducted from the Councillor’s expenses payments.

Option 3 – A voucher scheme to enable an authority to buy a number of vouchers which could then be traded for Strata Service Desk support time. The initial minimum number of vouchers per authority would be 20, and each voucher would be worth an hour of Strata level 1 or level 2 time. A pack of 20 vouchers would be charged at a rate of £1,000, equivalent to £50 per hour. The voucher scheme would be administered by Democratic Services department of each authority.


A further option - Option 4 – would involve Councils providing hardware (tablet device) to enable a councillors to perform their role comprising an iPad similar to those provided to Exeter City Council Members. The devices would be loaded with the relevant Strata supported councillor required applications, e.g. email. The estimated cost of providing the iPad device plus support in the first year would be circa £800 per councillor. In subsequent years, there would be an annual support cost of £150 per device. This service did not cover the cost of printing hardware or a home Broadband Service.


On the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Clarence of Teignbridge District Council addressed the Committee. He detailed the ongoing difficulties he was experiencing with IT generally as a result of the Teignbridge District Council policy whereby Councillors purchased equipment from their allowances and because Strata could not offer the necessary support. Crucially, he stated that this hindered  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.


Customer Service Plan


The Strata IT Director presented the report advising Members of the purpose of the Customer Service Plan, created to improve the level of service for the three authorities currently served by Strata. The Desk was responsible for supporting and logging incidents and technical support queries and ensuing that all telephony, email and portal queries are resolved. It provided a system generated interaction number which used to track the call from initial log to closure.


Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee note the report.



Joint IT Steering Group - Terms of Reference


The Strata IT Director presented the report setting out the role, mission statement, terms of reference and reporting lines of the newly created Joint IT Steering Group explaining how it fitted within Strata‘s overall governance framework.


Following a review of the governance structure of Strata it had been concluded that there was no one body overseeing the prioritisation of projects and programmes of work across the three authorities. This had led to Strata setting project priorities but with staff within each authority not understanding how the prioritisation works.


Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee noted the creation of a Joint IT Steering Group and its terms of reference.



Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 - Exclusion of Press and Public

To pass the following resolution:-


RESOLVED that, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of item 15 on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 3 of Part I, Schedule 12A of the Act. 



RESOLVED that, under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following item on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1,2 and 3 of Part I, Schedule 12A of the Act.



Strata Final Accounts - 2017/18

To consider the report of the Director responsible for Finance.


Additional documents:


The Strategic Lead Finance reported that Strata had been given a total of £6.277 million to run the IT Services in 2017/18 along with funding for various capital projects. The 2017/18 Business Plan had revised the savings profile set out in the original Business Case over the initial ten year period of the Company with savings split into cashable revenue savings and savings to the Councils from not having to implement specific capital projects individually.


Strata had delivered £575,804 of revenue savings in 2017/18 and had refunded £565,000, the key variation being the former comparing well against the original target of £252,836. The three authorities would be considering future policy in respect of potential savings levels with regard to risk, the transition agenda and future objectives of the authorities. 


The Councils had received capital funds to finance projects along with £150,000 a year towards improvements to the main network.  At the end of 2017/18 the only aspect of the original infrastructure project outstanding was the telecoms project and there was £99,000 remaining to fund the completion of this work. In addition, Strata had spent £360,000 enhancing the capacity and stability of the datacentre and added a new customer contact centre. This has been funded via the annual capital contributions.


The report set out the draft Statement of Accounts showing the true financial position of the Company. Members were advised that the pension fund deficit was backed by the three authorities through the local government pension scheme. However, the figure had resulted in a private company questioning the ability to enter into lease agreements with Strata. This issue was being examined by the Director responsible for Finance. 


Strata Joint Scrutiny Committee noted the report including the Pension Fund deficit.