Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Guildhall, Bath. View directions

Contact: Michaela Gay  Email:, 01225 394411


No. Item



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The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.




The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.


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The Chair drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.




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At this point in the meeting declarations of interest are received from Members in any of the agenda items under consideration at the meeting. Members are asked to indicate:

(a) The agenda item number in which they have an interest to declare.

(b) The nature of their interest.

(c) Whether their interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an other interest,  (as defined in Part 2, A and B of the Code of Conduct and Rules for Registration of Interests)

Any Member who needs to clarify any matters relating to the declaration of interests is recommended to seek advice from the Council’s Monitoring Officeror a member of his staff before the meeting to expedite dealing with the item during the meeting.

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At the time of publication no notifications had been received.


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Councillor Joanna Wright made a statement regarding Cleveland Bridge. A copy of the statement is attached to the minutes.


Councillor Hughes stated that he shared the frustrations and asked why Councillor Wright had brought the statement to this Panel. Councillor Wright explained that the finance for the repairs sits with this Panel, the work has overrun so the Government Grant may have ended. Councillor Wright added that the bridge work may impact on the Clean Air Zone targets which could have financial implications.


Councillor Duguid proposed that the statement be referred to the Climate Emergency and Sustainability PDS Panel as transport sits within their remit. Councillor Wright stated that she found further delay challenging as the next meeting of the relevant Panel is 27th June 2022. Councillor Warrington stated that she would forward the statement to the CES Panel and ask them to address the issues raised.

Cllr Wright statement 20220509 pdf icon PDF 161 KB

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MINUTES pdf icon PDF 323 KB

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The Panel confirmed the minutes of the previous meeting as a true record and they were duly signed by the Chair.


Cabinet Member update

The Cabinet Member will update the Panel on any relevant issues. Panel members may ask questions on the update provided.


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The Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Resources, Councillor Richard Samuel, updated the Panel on the following:




·  Work is ongoing on the outturn report which will be reported to Cabinet in July 2022.

·  Regarding the Council Tax energy rebate – direct debit payers should receive their payment this week. The officers are working on payment for the non direct debit payers.


Economic Development


·  The Milsom Quarter Master Plan was launched last week, there was also a Councillor briefing. It is a comprehensive package and there will now be a 3 month consultation period as it is the public’s city and they should have a say. The Cabinet will receive the outcomes of the consultation and will consider the proposals for adoption. This will then feed into the Local Plan.

·  The Somer Valley Enterprise Zone proposals will be going out to consultation on 19th May 2022 for 28 days.

·  Bath Quays South – two tenants have already signed up but it is difficult to market a building when it is a building site.

·  Avon Street Car Park – we are expecting demolition in July.


Panel Members asked the following questions and made the following points:


In response to a query from Councillor Duguid, The Cabinet Member explained that the bridge would initially be open for tenants of the two building spaces at Bath Quays South. It is likely that contractors will leave the site at the end of December and public access will be at the start of next year.


Councillor Furse urged the Cabinet Member to ensure that there is a robust system to prevent fraud regarding the Council Tax energy rebate scheme and any software patch must be tested. The Cabinet Member stated that it was a balance to get the payments out but avoid fraud. He explained that while we were slower to get the Covid grants out, we avoided a lot of fraud in that process. There was no warning from the Chancellor on this, very short notice. All Council’s are in the same situation. We will test the systems.


Councillor Furse asked that, in the development of the Milsom Quarter, it is remembered that we have residents in the city centre along with businesses.


Councillor Hughes thanked Councillor Samuel for his work in resolving the issues that were raised in the previous meeting regarding the Somer Valley Enterprise Zone.


Customer Service Standards

There will be a presentation on this item at the meeting.


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Amanda George, Director of Business Change and Customer Services, gave a presentation to the Panel which covered the following:


·  Customer Contact Strategy – What we know

·  Customer Contact Strategy – 10 Principles

·  The Strategy – by channel, we will …

·  ‘Agile’ Methodology for Projects

·  Customer Contact Strategy – Current Programme

·  Programme Progress – High Level Plan

·  Customer Contact Strategy Governance

·  Summary and Next Steps (Focus always on user needs)


Panel Members asked the following questions and made the following points:


Councillor Elliott stated that ‘Agile’ methodology suits some projects but not all. The officer agreed and explained that it was used for testing and trials.


Councillor MacFie explained some frustrations as a user/consumer of the system, he gave an example of waiting 5 hours for a phone response. He stated that while the organisation may be saving time, is this resulting in taking up the consumer’s time. The officer responded that part of the methodology is to talk to service users and that information will feed into the process redesign. She explained that the goal was to improve user experience. Councillor Furse stated the importance of training and culture and also that there are internal customers who may struggle with some of the digital systems. The officer explained that any redesign must be fully embedded, there is a training and culture workstream which should benefit internal and external customers.


Councillor Duguid stated that ‘Councillor Direct’ was very valuable and asked about ‘Fix My Street’. The officer explained that the system is perfectly good but needs some further development as some of the scripting is not up to standard. Most issues are relatively easy to resolve and most customer feedback is positive.


Councillor Singleton asked where Councillors sit in terms of customers. He stated that a lot of phone calls and emails go unanswered, he stated that this is inefficient and concerning. He stated that a resident had tried a Council number three times and it had rung out. The officer explained that there were currently too many numbers on the website and these contact points will be reduced. She stated that the volume of emails received can be extremely high. ‘Councillor Direct’ is a dedicated service.


Councillor Hughes stated that the email volume may be high because people have not had a response on the phone.


Councillor Hughes asked how surveys are carried out, are they all online. The officer explained that the Voicebox survey goes to a random selection of BANES residents and is paper based.


Councillor Hodge stated that she would rather look up the correct number than have the automated choices. She asked if the ‘out of office’ message is used for annual leave or when someone is busy. The officer responded that this would predominantly be used for annual leave.


Councillor Warrington stated that people want to phone a person if they get stuck with online systems. Online forms are frustrating if you are unable to save changes. She also pointed out that the figure of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 106.


Customer Complaints Process

There will be a presentation on this item at the meeting.

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David Langman, Customer Feedback and Standards Manager, gave a presentation to the Panel which covered the following:


·  Requested discussion today – Overview of BANES policy and procedures for handling Customer Feedback with focus on complaints

·  Customer Feedback

·  Overview

·  Complaint Process Stages

·  Response Timescales

·  Outcomes and Resolutions

·  Statistics – Stage 1

·  Statistics – Stage 2

·  Statistics – Annual Trend


The officer explained that all information presented is in the public domain.


Panel members asked the following questions and made the following points:


Councillor Macfie asked how happy consumers are with the handling of complaints. The officer explained that users are contacted at the end of their journey and asked about this, feedback can be affected by the outcome of the complaint.


Councillor Hodge asked if the complaints officers had other areas of work. The officer explained that this function was added on to their main role and it depends on the size of the service as to how many complaints officers there are. It is a responsive role and there are varying volumes of work.


Councillor Hodge asked what percentage of cases are left open. The officer explained that the vast majority are closed in 15 days.


Councillor Hodge asked how it is decided when moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2. The officer explained that there is a suite of response templates including sign off protocols for what the customer can do if they are not satisfied with the result. We give information at each point on the next stage process.


Councillor Hodge asked if Councillors should direct people to the complaints process. The officer explained that there needs to be a triage process to sort out the difference between a request/reporting of a problem and a complaint.


Councillor Hughes asked how to find out why there has been a substantial increase in complaints in the last 2 years. The officer confirmed that there had been an increase in this time of lockdowns and Covid. This is in line with most other Councils and also the Ombudsman. People have spent more time at home and in their local environment/Council.


Councillor Hughes stated that ‘Fix My Street’ says a complaint is closed when it is not and asked how complaints are closed. The officer explained that letters are clear, if we do not hear back from someone in 30 days, we consider the complaint closed.


Councillor Singleton asked how vexatious complaints are dealt with. The officer explained that this is decided by the Council’s Monitoring Officer. He added that there were a very small number of these cases.


The Panel RESOLVED to note the presentation.  


Panel Workplan pdf icon PDF 155 KB

This report presents the latest workplan for the Panel. Any suggestions for further items or amendments to the current programme will be logged and scheduled in consultation with the Panel’s Chair and supporting officers.

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The Panel noted the future workplan with the following request:


Councillor Duguid asked that an item on ‘Aequus’ be brought to the 11th July meeting and the item on ‘Emerging Digital Data’ be moved to the 26th September meeting.