Skip to main content

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Trinity Road. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 


No. Item


Chair's Announcement

Additional documents:



This item was not on the agenda, but added in at the Chair’s discretion. The Chair highlighted the background to the meeting and introduced the house keeping rules of the meeting.




To receive any apologies for absence.


The quorum for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee is three members.

Additional documents:


Apologies were received from Councillor Roly Hughes.


Substitute Members

To note details of any substitution arrangements in place for the Meeting.

Additional documents:


Councillor Patrick Coleman substituted for Councillor Roly Hughes.


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest from Members and Officers, relating to items to be considered at the meeting.

Additional documents:


There were none.


Publica Review pdf icon PDF 199 KB


To scrutinise the decision taken by Cabinet on 2 November 2023 on the Publica Review. Cabinet resolved to:


AGREE to recommend to Full Council to:

1. APPROVE the recommendations set out in the Human Engine report (that the majority of services are returned to the Council as per the detail provided on page 12 of the Human Engine report)

2. AGREE That the Chief Executive oversees the creation of a detailed transition plan for subsequent agreement by Cabinet and Council

3. ENDORSE the approach to the further due diligence outlined in the financial implications of the report including analysis of the detailed payroll data required, which will be essential to calculate the short and long-term costs associated with the recommendations set out in the Human Engine report.



That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee scrutinises the report and agrees any recommendations it wishes to submit to the Council meeting on 22 November 2023.



Councillor Joe Harris, Leader of the Council

Robert Weaver, Chief Executive Officer

David Stanley, Deputy Chief Executive Officer

Additional documents:


The purpose of the item was to scrutinise the decision taken by Cabinet on 2 November 2023 on the Publica Review.


The Leader introduced the item and outlined the background to the proposal. The Leader that Publica was set up to administer Council Services in 2017, but an LGA Corporate Peer Challenge in 2022 identified that a review should be undertaken into whether Publica remained the correct delivery vehicle for the Council’s services. Initially the review looked at selected services, but the scope was subsequently widened. The Leader emphasised that staff working for Publica were an invaluable asset regardless of whether their employment was through Publica or directly for the Council.


The Chief Executive then addressed the Committee and explained the process underlying the consultation. The Chief Executive stated that the Corporate Peer Challenge outlined what was working well, but also stated that the Publica model didn’t provide sufficient strategic decision making capacity, and that there were issues of identity. Subsequently Human Engine, a consultancy, were appointed to review the partnership, and identified that moving some of the services in house would not resolve the identity issues. The Chief Executive stated that taking back the majority of services, as outlined in the report, would return decision making ability to the Council.


The Chief Executive also stated that Publica had been asked to make savings, and had identified £2m worth of these through the ‘future Publica’ programme. It was stated by the Deputy Chief Executive that the savings per Council would be around £660,000, and the Deputy Leader stated that withdrawing the Council’s services from Publica would allow increased control and flexibility.


The report highlighted which services would be retained within Publica (e.g. ICT and HR), but the Chief Executive stated that transition plans were being worked on, utilising free consulting services from local partnerships in addition to the resources outlined in the report.


Members subsequently discussed the report and raised points on the pace of the proposals, the financial and governance arrangements.


Members made reference to the transition plan, which the Committee did not have access to. Members raised concerns over Cabinet approving the Human Engine recommendation without having the transition plans in front of them. The Chief Executive and Leader stated that the transition plans would be presented to the Committee at subsequent phases of the decision making. They also stated that the pace was dictated by another partner council, and the partner councils needed to be in alignment due to matters such as staffing and corporate governance. The Chief Executive stated that further details on finances and governance would be presented at future stages.


In regard to the pacing of the proposals, the need to retain staff was referenced.  Although the need to scrutinise proposals and make sure governance arrangement were in place, providing clarity through a quick process was mentioned by members as a potential benefit to allow the Council to provide certainty to staff. Likewise, the Leader explained that the length of the process was dictated  ...  view the full minutes text for item OS.304