Agenda item

Role of the Mid-Kent Services Director

A verbal update report by Paul Taylor, Mid-Kent Services Director, and Zena Cooke, Director of Regeneration and Communities.


The Chairman, Councillor Rankin, explained how it had been agreed to invite the Mid-Kent Services Director, Paul Taylor, to this meeting, in order for him to provide an update on the extent to which he was meeting his agreed objectives in the role.


Mrs Zena Cooke, the Director of Regeneration and Communities at Maidstone Borough Council, had also been invited to address the Committees, in her capacity as Chairman of the cross-authority project team, established to undertake an independent review of the Mid-Kent Services Director role. The project team’s assessment criteria, against which it was possible to judge progress, had been appended to the agenda.


Mr Taylor presented his update report. He explained how, since his appointment in May 2014, he had focused on three elements: (a) consolidation; (b) delivery; and (c) planning for the future.


Mr Taylor explained that, with four out of five operational services, there were signed ‘collaboration agreements’ in place; he added that ‘service level agreements’ existed in three of the services out of five. With ‘key performance indicators’, it was noted that a shared set was in place and a reporting template had been produced which reflected each authority’s service targets.


Mr Taylor also advised that a shared template had been put in place for service plans and that a shared risk log had been produced.


With service delivery, Mr Taylor advised members that all budgets were currently on target and agreed savings had been delivered. He drew attention to the recent completion of the Legal ‘one team’ under which staff were all now employed by Swale BC.


Mr Taylor also reported that the ICT partnership infrastructure was in place, which allowed staff to work across all three sites as well as from home.


For the future, Mr Taylor advised that a three-year business plan was being produced, to set out their strategic direction. He added that there would also be even greater engagement with staff, through team meetings, by providing a visible presence at each site and through partnership surveys.


Mrs Cooke provided her report. She explained how, following the decision to trial a single lead director model of operation for Mid-Kent Services for a period of twelve months, a project team had been asked to measure its effectiveness. Members were reminded that the project team consisted of: Phil Wilson, Chief Accountant (Swale BC); Jonathan MacDonald, Deputy Chief Executive (Tunbridge Wells BC) and herself. Mrs Cooke added that the assessment of the effectiveness of the role was based on the original assessment criteria; she added that the project team would provide recommendations for the MKIP Board to consider and discuss at its meeting in March 2015.


Mrs Cooke also advised that support for the project team continued to be provided by Val Green, Head of Organisational Development (Tunbridge Wells BC), Holly Goring, Policy and Performance Manager (Tunbridge Wells BC) and Jane Clarke, MKIP Programme Manager.


Mrs Cooke advised members that the project team’s assessment would be based on evidence gathered during the period May 2014 to March 2015, adding that this would form the basis of the recommendations to the MKIP Board.


The Chairman of the meeting, Councillor Rankin, invited members to comment on the update report:


·  Councillor Woodward (Tunbridge Wells BC) drew attention to recommendation (e) under the previous item. This stated: “that the role of the MKIP Programme Manager should be re-examined and aligned with the reporting arrangements arising from the appointment of a Mid Kent Services Director (if the post is confirmed).


·  Councillor Woodward felt the future role of the MKIP Programme Manager remained an element of uncertainty, as there was no specific mention of ‘change-related directions’, which would have a direct impact. This, he thought, might have some implications for the Director role, a point which Mr Taylor acknowledged.


·  Councillor Henderson (Swale BC) asked Mr Taylor whether he felt his objectives could still be achieved if the Planning Support service were brought under Mid-Kent Services. Mr Taylor advised that, should that decision be made, the objectives set out for him would still be achieved within the same timeframe.


·  Councillor Mrs Gooch (Maidstone BC) pressed for Mr Taylor’s views on the proposal to bring Planning Support services within the remit of Mid-Kent Services. Mr Taylor endorsed the proposal on operational grounds, adding that he would welcome the opportunity to be responsible for this area.


In summing up, Councillor Rankin reminded members that the work would continue, with a further meeting being arranged for the three Overview and Scrutiny Committees to meet to consider an independent audit of the project implementation of MKIP Planning Support.




1.  That the members of all three authorities thank Mr Taylor and Mrs Cooke for their reports; and


2.  That the reassurance provided by the Mid-Kent Services Director over achieving his objectives for the year be noted.


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