The Scrutiny & Elections Officer advised Members of the work completed during the previous scrutiny review and the draft recommendations created. They also advised of committee reports considered by Executive and Council in the period since the previous review. They advised Members they would need to consider if any of the previous recommendations identified were still relevant and required either submission to Executive or consideration as part of the current development of governance arrangements for the new company.
A Member confirmed that they believed governance arrangements was dealt with within the new set up, and that it was clear that all projects and the Business Case developments would be presented to Members at Council. They felt that all governance and communication issues previously identified would be resolved with the new arrangements.
The CEO, DDL, noted that a portfolio of sites proposed for development via Dragonfly had been presented to Council prior to the creation of the wholly-owned company. These were also noted within the Business Case presented to Council. They noted that all required monitoring would be catered for within the new governance arrangements and these would be aligned to Council operations which would be more rigorous than the previous arrangements with Robert Woodhead Limited. They noted that the link with scrutiny was still to be determined but would be accommodated within final arrangements, and further work was to take place on the arrangements for the internal Board.
A Member noted that they felt the original recommendations, identified by scrutiny within the previous review, were now void due to the current situation. They were aware that the proposed Board would have 7 members and queried how these would be chosen. The CEO, DDL, confirmed that the company would have to satisfy usual company regulations in relation to the appointment of Board members. There would likely be 5 internal members made up of Dragonfly management/Council Members and 2 external members likely from within the industry. It would also be vital that anybody acting as an external member had no conflict of interest in relation to another company with the same remit as Dragonfly. They also thought it would be possible for any Councillor appointed to remain a Board Member for their specified term, even if they were no longer a Councillor to ensure stability in company Board membership. The CEO, DDL, noted that their previous experience, whilst as a joint officer supporting the JVC Boards at both authorities of the Alliance, had been mixed due a number of Board membership changes which had resulted in instability. They felt it was appropriate for Board members to serve for a 4 year period, as a minimum, to enable stability.
A Councillor noted that although Robert Woodhead Limited were no longer involved, the process should still be the same with all reports going direct through Council. The CEO, DDL, felt the move to a wholly-owned company would enable more prescription over how the company operated.
The Monitoring Officer noted that there was extensive work taking place to finalise proposals for the governance arrangements, including service level agreements, the shareholder agreement and Board arrangements. All of this was being completed in line with the Business Case submitted to Council.
A Member commented that time was of the essence to ensure the company was put in to place in a timely manner, to ensure there were no further delays to delivery. The CEO, DDL, noted that the Finance team, in particularly, were keen to ensure the company was ready to operate fully by the start of the new financial year. A meeting was due to take place with the consultants within the next few days.
A Member commented that it was key to ensure there was transparency in the process, with good communication links in place, both with the Council and externally with partners and the public. They commented on coverage within the local press following consideration by Council and noted that the article was not a true reflection of the situation or the decision made. The CEO, DDL, noted that reports would flow regularly to Council, and other committees as required, as they had done previously. The Director of Economic Development, DDL, noted that they were aware that some Councillors had raised concerns in the past. They reiterated that transparency was key and something that was non-negotiable as part of the creating of the company, with open communication channels paramount to delivering that.
Moved by Councillor Derek Adams and seconded by Councillor David Dixon
RESOLVED that (1) Members were satisfied that the proposals in the Business Case and expected developments outlined to date would satisfy the required level of governance and oversight and that a role for scrutiny would be determined as part of the process,
(2) due to the cessation of the partnership with Robert Woodhead Limited and the change of Dragonfly Development Limited to a wholly-owned company, Members were satisfied that the new management, reporting and governance arrangements proposed would address the issues identified within the previous scrutiny review work, and that none of the recommendations were currently required,
(3) clear communication channels were required going forward to ensure that Members, staff and the public were aware of all developments and achievements of the company.
(CEO, DDL/Director of Economic Development, DDL/ Assistant Director and Monitoring Officer)