Croydon Council Performance - Corporate Plan 2011-13

Stephen Whiteside made this Freedom of Information request to Croydon Borough Council

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Stephen Whiteside

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

This request follows from an earlier request for information regarding the Council’s Corporate Plan for 2010-11, full details of which can be found at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cr...

I believe that the information apparently ‘reviewed and signed off’ by officers of the Corporate Management Team and by Cabinet Members provides them and residents with insufficient relevant data by which to fully assess the Council’s performance in implementing the Corporate Plan. This request therefore seeks information relating to decisions that must have been taken but not so far reported on the way performance is measured as well as on the way this data is then submitted to Cabinet and/or published.

Performance Management - 2010-11 Corporate Plan

• There appear to have been no mid-term progress reports for the 2010-11 Corporate Plan, only an end of year report.
• This end of year report was NOT submitted to Cabinet along with the covering report (03/11), instead being put out on the internet some months later.
• Though the covering report claimed that 90% of the commitments made in the Plan, according the report finally published online only approx 61% had been fully met.
• Progress on over 30% of the commitments had evidently slipped, though the use of terms such as ‘in progress’, ‘ongoing’ or ‘partially met’ conceal by just HOW MUCH they had slipped.
• It is extremely difficult if not impossible for ANYONE to ascertain what exactly happened to promises that were not fulfilled by the end of the Plan term. (It would seem that incomplete ‘actions’ simply disappeared, to be replaced by another list of ‘actions’ (or promises), which have since been chopped and/or changed as the subsequent Plan term has progressed. )

Performance Management - 2011-13 Corporate Plan

In the foreward to the Council’s Corporate Plan 2011 to 2013, the Leader, Cllr Mike Fisher, states: ‘This then is our Corporate Plan. These are the actions we will take. These are the outcomes we will seek to deliver. We want residents to use it to hold us to account. …’

In his January 2012 Cabinet Member Bulletin, Cllr O’Connell claims ‘As cabinet member for performance and transformation, I am passionate about ensuring that the Council delivers our PROMISES (my emphasis) to our customers in terms of achieving the performance targets we have set. … ‘.
In his June 2012 Bulletin, now as Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance Management, Cllr O’Connell tells us ‘I am pleased to be able to report good progress to year end 2011/12 on the key tasks and projects that we committed to in our corporate plan for 2011-13.
• But by then there had been only one ‘quarterly’, ‘tracker’ report prepared on the 2011-13 Corporate Plan.
• In places within that ‘tracker’ the Plan has been re-ordered and reference numbers changed. Activities such as SC145 (Programme Athena), EC13 (corporate social responsibility programme) and SC206 (Capital Delivery Hub) have gone missing and for those that remain there is no explanation of the ‘RAG’ system of ‘status’ employed.
• Although it does appear on the Council’s website, this lone ‘tracker’ appears NOT to have been to the Cabinet … or any other Council committee.

The Council’s Chief Executive, Jon Rouse, took a ‘Refreshed 2011-2013 Corporate Plan’ to Cabinet on 19 March 2012. (Forward Plan Key Decision Ref No: 1122)
• Referencing yet again is altered (reverting back to something resembling the original Plan) and descriptions/scope of some tasks are amended.
• Not even the vague ‘RAG’ system is included, so there is again, no meaningful information here of how the Council was doing in fulfilling its ‘promises’
• Activities such as PS2, 3, 19 and 24 and CP9 appear to have now gone missing, but returned are SC145, EC13, and SC206, albeit in a somewhat different guise … and with amended milestones.
• We are told that of 171 actions or sub-actions, 8 had been deleted and 45 were underway but might not be completed by the deadline.
• There is no explanation of how much progress has slipped, or of the extent to which milestone (key) dates have been altered.
• Over 20 activity milestones have been put back to March 2013 (ie to the limit of the Plan), to join another 40-plus original and new activities ‘due’ by that same end-of Plan date. (History shows that those that are not completed on target are likely to disappear without trace in terms of performance management.)
• The contact officer named in the committee report to which this document was appended is a ‘Martin Ellender, Head of Performance and Efficiency’. According to Mr Ellender’s report (4.1) ‘…The individual initiatives and projects referred to in the plan have been or will be subject to consultation as appropriate’. There is no indication however, of exactly how many of the ‘initiatives and projects’ have actually been signed off by the appropriate Executive Director and Cabinet Member.
• It was recommended (and approved) that ‘… the Chief Executive be given delegated authority to make further minor changes to the updated Corporate Plan 2012/13 if necessary’.

Croydon Counts

Even though the end of year Corporate Plan 2010-11 report was not considered by Cabinet, it was at least identified as something different to the Croydon Counts report for the same period. (03/11) Since then though, reports to Cabinet that have accompanied Croydon Counts performance reports have claimed that these also include ‘a summary of progress against the relevant Corporate Plan objectives …’. So, instead of reporting fully, openly and transparently on its performance in ALL the actions identified in the current corporate plan, the Council has chosen to report only on a fraction of those actions, via reports related to ‘Croydon Counts’.

Mr Rouse and Nathan Elvery, Executive Director of Corporate Resources and Customer Services, took a ‘Croydon Counts – Year-end Performance Results’ report to Cabinet on 9 July 2012
• The report refers to less than a third of actions listed in the original Corporate Plan.
• Even with this reduced number of actions some of the ‘key dates’ given in this report do NOT match the ‘milestone’ dates shown in the ‘Refreshed’ Corporate Plan, which Mr Rouse had taken to Cabinet only 3 months earlier.
• The contact officer named in the committee report to which this document is appended is again Martin Ellender, now shown as ‘Head of Strategy & Performance’. According to Mr Ellender’s report (3.1) ‘…The information contained within the document has been reviewed and signed off by each Executive Director and Cabinet Member’.

There seems to be no mention of Croydon Counts in the Corporate Plans, certainly nothing to suggest that public assessment of the Council’s performance in implementing the Plans should be via Croydon Counts reports. This seems to be backed up by the fact that at least one (unreported) ‘tracker’ report HAS been published, dedicated solely to the Corporate Plan 2011-13, which itself was fully ‘refreshed’ at the end of its first year.

On the face of it, the Council’s Corporate Plan would appear to be something of a moveable feast, with no means for the public to fully judge performance in the tasks set or promises made. The Cabinet’s recent agreement to the Chief Executive being given delegated authority to make ‘further minor changes … if necessary’ is almost certainly NOT going to make the public’s job any easier. The open and transparent public accountability demanded by Cllr Fisher at the outset is therefore impossible and the reports as they stand cannot be considered as ‘fit for purpose’ in this regard.

Please provide the following Information (or confirm that the Council does not hold it):

1. Details (who, when and why) of the decision to limit reporting of the Corporate Plan performance merely to those actions chosen to be included in Croydon Counts reports.
2. Details of when and how this inappropriate and inadequate method of reporting performance on the Corporate Plan was agreed by Cabinet?
3. Details (who and when) of the review and signing off of each performance report produced for the Corporate Plan and for Croydon Counts since March 2010, by Executive Directors and Cabinet Members.
4. Copies of Corporate Plan ‘trackers’ (or updates) for Q1, Q2 and Q3 of 2010-11 and Q1 and Q2 of 2011-12.
5. Estimated status (ie percentage complete figures) of each of the Corporate Plan commitments as of end-December 2011 and end-March 2012.

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Whiteside

Information, Croydon Borough Council

Dear Mr Whiteside

 

Thank you for your email dated 29 July 2012, in which you have requested
information regarding details of the Councils Corporate Plan performance.

 

We are considering your request under the terms of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000, and hope to respond within the statutory 20 working
days.

 

In some circumstances a fee may be payable and if that is the case, either
myself or a colleague will let you know the likely charges before
proceeding.

 

If you have any queries about this email, please contact me. Please
remember to quote the reference number above in any future communications.

 

Information in relation to the London Borough of Croydon is available at
[1]http://www.croydonobservatory.org/ . Also responses to previous
Freedom of Information requests can also be found on the following link
[2]https://croydondata.wordpress.com/

 

Yours sincerely

 

 

Joe Stock

Data Protection/FOI Support Officer

Corporate Resources and Customer Services

Customer Strategy and Development

7th floor north west quadrant

Taberner House

Park Lane

Croydon CR9 IDH

 

Tel: 020 8726 6000 ext. 61634

 

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Stephen Whiteside

Dear Mr Stock,

The Council’s latest response to an earlier FOI request regarding 2010/11 Corporate Plan performance (Your Ref: F/CRT/2012/1862) shows that performance reports from the various departments are reviewed and signed off by Executive Directors and Cabinet Members WITHOUT the benefit of percentage progress figures. Interim or end of term ‘progress’ reports must therefore be produced for Cabinet (and the public) WITHOUT any information or indication as to whether actions are ahead of schedule, are on target to meet original target dates (milestones), or have slipped behind schedule (and if so by how much).

In light of this disclosure, I realise that the Council will hold no information relevant to Part 5 of the current request and so no time need be spent on this aspect. I would be grateful, however, if the Council would confirm in its response that this (Part 5) information is in fact NEVER held, since it is apparently 'not collected or recorded at any point throughout the year’.

Full details of that earlier request can be found at the following address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cr...

Yours sincerely,

Stephen Whiteside

Information, Croydon Borough Council

Dear Mr Whiteside

 

Thank you for your email; I have passed it onto the department answering
your Freedom of Information request for their viewing.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Joe Stock

Data Protection/FOI Support Officer

Corporate Resources and Customer Services

Customer Strategy and Development

7th floor north west quadrant

Taberner House

Park Lane

Croydon CR9 IDH

 

Tel: 020 8726 6000 ext. 61634

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Tanriverdi, Christine, Croydon Borough Council

6 Attachments

Dear Mr Whiteside

 

Please find attached the Council’s response to your request relating to
the above reference.

 

Regards

 

Chris Tanriverdi

Information coordinator

Resources and customer services

Customer strategy and development

7th floor north west quadrant

Taberner House

Park Lane, Croydon CR9 3JS

Tel : 020 8726 6000  Ext: 63833

Email: [1][email address]

 

 

 

 

 

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Stephen Whiteside

Dear Croydon Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Croydon Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Croydon Council Performance - Corporate Plan 2011-13'.

The Council’s initial response (“the response”) chose to label the five parts of information requested as ‘questions’, so I have commented on the content of the response under the same headings

QUESTION 1.
Details of ‘who, when and why’ have NOT been provided.

QUESTION 2.
Again, details of ‘when and how’ have NOT been provided

Since the ‘lead’ officer(s) for (Rouse/Elvery) and the authors of (Ireland/Ellender) the relevant reports/updates appear to have remained the same throughout the period concerned, I believe that the answers to both questions should be readily available to them. The information should be easy to obtain and should now be provided.

QUESTION 3.
Yet again, details of ‘who and when’, have NOT been provided.

The response suggests that ‘Each performance report is signed off by departmental management teams (generally in the form of their own monthly performance report) …’. But ‘generally’ is clearly NOT a fixed time and its use here does NOT convey any real sense of ‘process’. Similarly, the schedules provided in the related attachment, amongst their other limitations (see below), do NOT include a column for the production of the various departmental reports.

I assume that the ‘Attachment response for Q3.doc’ relates to Croydon Counts ONLY and NOT to the Corporate Plans. I am therefore unable to glean anything from these schedules with regard to the meaningful reporting on progress on the actions/commitments listed in the two, relevant Corporate Plans, which, to remind you, are the main subject of my request.
• The response states that ‘Corporate plan tracking was undertaken by the Council for the first time for Q3 2010/11, so reports prior to this are not available’. It follows that any reports that did go to the 20 September or 13 December Cabinet meetings were obviously NOT about Corporate Plan performance. In fact, it appears that performance on neither the Corporate Plan nor Croydon Counts was reported to the 20 September 2010 Cabinet (as shown), which can only cast more doubt on the reliability of the information provided.
• Even the schedules provided are incomplete, with 2010-11 dates up to (and including) CMT for Q3 and ALL the dates for Q4 not shown. Crucially then, the accuracy/credibility of ANY reported Corporate Plan performance figures for those periods (including any in Croydon Count reports) must be open to question, since there is no indication that they were gathered, reviewed and/or signed off as part of any sort of full and proper process.

Further inconsistencies/anomalies have come to light as a result of the response:
• The ‘3rd Quarter 2010-2011…update on progress with our Corporate Plan for 2010/11’ provided with the response is not mentioned in the ‘Q3 Croydon Counts’ report to Cabinet on 21/03/11 and was apparently, therefore, never formally reported, approved or published. Significantly, the content of that Croydon Counts report had NOT been subject to internal consultation (4.1)
• The report to Cabinet on 11/07/11, ‘Year End Performance Report (Croydon Counts) states (4.2) that a ‘detailed review of performance against 2010/11 corporate plan commitments will be published on the Council’s website’. Unfortunately, what is now available from the Council’s website as ‘Corporate Plan Year-end review of Croydon’s Corporate Plan for 2010-2011’ is not obviously linked in any way to this report (by calling it Appendix B for instance). It was obviously never considered or approved by Cabinet and there is nothing to suggest that it was, at any time, reviewed and signed off by Executive Directors and/or Cabinet Members.
• The ‘Corporate Plan Tracker - Update for August 2011’, provided with the response, is shown as ‘Appendix 2’ for ‘Informal Cabinet 31st October 2011’. The subsequent report to Cabinet however, (14/11/11) makes no mention of an Appendix 2, only of ‘Appendix A - Croydon Counts Performance Report’.
• The ‘Corporate Plan Tracker - Update for Quarter 2, 2011-12’, provided with the response, is shown as ‘Appendix B’ for ‘Informal Cabinet 28th November’. The subsequent report to Cabinet however, (12/12/11) makes no mention of an Appendix B, only of ‘Appendix A - Croydon Counts Performance Report’.
• ‘Corporate Plan Tracker - Update for Quarter 3, 2011-12’, the only one published online) has NO appendix number or letter, and there is NO indication as to the intended recipients. The subsequent report to Cabinet (19/03/12) has no appendices, with ‘Croydon Counts 2011-2012 Performance Report - Latest performance results as at December 2011’ being included as the main body of the report.

By the end of 2011-12 then, meaningful reference to the full Corporate Plan had all but disappeared. Regardless of the questions raised by the above, it is abundantly clear that practical performance updates on the full Corporate Plans are not properly provided to the public, nor are such updates considered by Cabinet, even if they are adequately considered by anyone at all!

QUESTION 4
As referred to under Q3, the response states that ‘Corporate plan tracking was undertaken by the Council for the first time for Q3 2010/11, so reports prior to this are not available’. However, having reviewed the Council’s meeting minutes around this period, I have discovered that there WAS a report produced by the Director of Performance (Sarah Ireland) and considered by Cabinet on 15 November 2010 with the subject ‘Corporate Plan Update 2010/11 - April –September 2010’.
http://www.croydon.gov.uk/contents/docum...

That report does state that ‘The Corporate Plan and the Corporate Plan update are accessible as part of the Council’s publication scheme maintained under the Freedom of Information Act. (12.1). In reality, it appears that only Corporate Plan 2011-13(year one) and Corporate Plan 2011-13(year two) are available under the Council’s publication scheme, with the only update (or ‘tracker’) available found separately at:
http://www.croydon.gov.uk/contents/depar...

This apparent lack of knowledge about past reporting, the obvious inconsistencies/anomalies already uncovered, on top of the fact that the Council never even seeks to gather practical (ie percentage) figures on task progress in the first place, does nothing to inspire public confidence in the quality or effectiveness of the current process.

What has already emerged from this request (and the earlier request specifically regarding the 2010-11 Plan) makes it essential that full details are provided (as originally requested) of the decision(s) NOT to provide regular (and timely) reports on ALL the Corporate Plan actions. To repeat, it is the Corporate Plan (NOT Croydon Counts), which the Leader wants residents to use to hold the Council to account.

I now look forward to receiving proper answers to what are, in essence, very simple questions … about openness, transparency and accountability.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/cr...

Yours faithfully,

Stephen Whiteside

Information, Croydon Borough Council

Dear Mr Whiteside

 

Thank you for your email in which you have requested an internal review of
your Freedom of Information request. I have passed this onto the relevant
department who will respond to you directly.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Joe Stock

Data Protection/FOI Support Officer

Corporate Resources and Customer Services

Customer Strategy and Development

7th floor north west quadrant

Taberner House

Park Lane

Croydon CR9 IDH

 

Tel: 020 8726 6000 ext. 61634

 

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Stockton, Jessica, Croydon Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir,

 

I acknowledge receipt of your request for an internal review dated 27
August 2012, which has been allocated to me to undertake.

 

As you will be aware, the Information Commissioner recommends that
internal reviews are undertaken within 20 working days following receipt
of the request, in other words, by 24 September 2012. I will revert to you
once I have had an opportunity to consider the request and response you
received in relation to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.

 

Yours Sincerely

 

Jessica Stockton

 

Jessica Stockton

Corporate Solicitor 

Democratic & Legal Services Division

Chief Executive's Office

Southside, 5^th Floor Taberner House

Park Lane, Croydon CR9 3JS

 

 

 

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Stockton, Jessica, Croydon Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir,

 

Further to my acknowledgement of your request for an internal review of
the response to your request for information ref. F/1924 (the response),
 I have now had an opportunity to consider your internal review request
set out in relation to the questions 1-4 put by you, the response you
received and information held by the Council. I set out below my response
to your request for an internal review of the responses you received using
the same question numbers as before.

 

Question 1: Details (who, when and why) of the decision to limit reporting
of the Corporate Plan performance merely to those actions chosen to be
included in Croydon Counts reports.

 

I am advised that, following discussions with the Cabinet Member for
Performance and Transformation and an alteration in the statutory
reporting requirements, a decision was made by the Director of Strategy
Commissioning Procurement and Performance, in consultation with the
Executive Director Corporate Resources And Customer Services, to recommend
to Members that a sub-set of key performance indicators and corporate plan
commitments be reported to Cabinet in a focussed and accessible manner via
the Croydon Counts report. While there was no specific recommendation
within the report that there be a reduction in reporting, Cabinet were
advised of the suggested reduction in reporting information by virtue of
receiving, in their 14 November 2011 report, the reduced set of data,
discussing it and indicating that they would receive reports in that way
in the future .  The reason for this change was that officers were advised
by Executive Members that Cabinet found the full reporting cumbersome and
insufficiently focussed on key resident and customer priorities which had
been identified. Accordingly Cabinet received a report on the Croydon
Counts framework which was realigned to focus on key resident and customer
priorities as set out in the 14 November 2011 report. The Croydon Counts
framework contains a mixture of existing and new performance indicators,
but does not, as you have pointed out, cover all the items which are set
out in the Corporate Plan. However, I am advised that the Council will, in
future, be publishing an annual performance report which will set out all
the performance indicators from the Corporate Plan and the performance
against each. There is not yet a publication date for this data.

 

Question 2:  Details of when and how this inappropriate and inadequate
method of reporting performance on the Corporate Plan was agreed by
Cabinet?

 

As you will be aware, the purpose of the Freedom of information Act and
procedures associated with provision of data under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 ("the Act") is to provide you with information held
by the Council rather than as a mechanism for providing commentary on
whether the information held is appropriate or otherwise. Accordingly, the
council does not hold the data pertaining to the view you have expressed
regarding the adequacy of the reporting and as such it will not be
disclosed as part of a Freedom of Information review. However, as set out
above, Cabinet were advised of the suggested reduction in reporting
information by virtue of receiving, in their 14 November 2011 report, the
reduced set of data, discussing it and indicating that they would receive
reports in that way in the future.

 

Question 3: Details (who and when) of the review and signing off of each
performance report produced for the Corporate Plan and for Croydon Counts
since March 2010, by Executive Directors and Cabinet Members.

 

The Council does not record, in a single readily accessible format,
details of when each departmental performance report prepared for the
Corporate Plan and Croydon Counts is signed off. The relevant performance
leads for each department are responsible for ensuring that directors and
executive directors have prior sight of performance data and comments
before they are published. Similarly, directors and executive directors
take responsibility for briefing Cabinet members. The sign off process is
done in different ways according to the working practices and patterns of
meetings for each department. This may be through the means of  One to One
meetings, emails, departmental management team meetings and monthly
performance reports to those meetings.

 

Given the variety of ways in which each department reviews and signs off
the data in consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member for their area,
and the fact that this sign off process is not centrally recorded, beyond
what you have already been provided in the initial response to your
request, I am advised that in order to respond to this aspect of your
request it would take officers in excess of the appropriate limit. The
Freedom of Information (Fees and Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004
specifies an “appropriate limit” which is currently set at £450 which
represents the estimated cost of one person spending 2½ working days (18
hours) in locating and retrieving the information from where it is stored.
Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 ("the Act") provides an
exemption to disclosure of information if the time taken by the Council
in locating, collating and presenting the information which is the subject
of a request would take the Council in excess of the appropriate limit. In
light of the advice from the relevant department regarding the fact that
there is no single database of when, how and by whom the sign offs are
undertaken within the departments and the variety of means in which this
occurs, I consider that Section 12 is applicable to this aspect of your
request as each department would need to go back over more than two years
worth of data, none of which is held centrally or in a specified format,
in order to locate the information you have requested.

 

As regards your query as to the "Attachment response for Q3.doc" I have
been advised that this does relate to both Croydon Counts and to the
Corporate Plans as these are both reported to the same timetable. The
department advises that you are correct in that on some occasions
performance reports have not been considered on the scheduled dates, for a
variety of reasons including late changes to the agenda and furthermore
that the production of the September 2010 performance reports were
suspended due to the major changes in the national performance framework.

 

Question 4: Copies of Corporate Plan ‘trackers’ (or updates) for Q1, Q2
and Q3 of 2010-11 and Q1 and Q2 of 2011-12

 

As you have set out in your request for an internal review a report was
produced  for and considered by Cabinet on 15 November 2010 on the subject
‘Corporate Plan Update 2010/11 -     April –September 2010’. I have been
asked to extend my apologies for error in omitting this document from the
details previously provided to you.

 

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have
the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a
decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

 

Information Commissioner’s Office

Wycliffe House

Water Lane

Wilmslow

Cheshire SK9 5AF

 

Yours sincerely

 

Jessica Stockton

Corporate Solicitor 

Democratic & Legal Services Division

Chief Executive's Office

Southside, 5^th Floor Taberner House

Park Lane, Croydon CR9 3JS

 

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Stockton, Jessica, Croydon Borough Council

1 Attachment

Dear Sir,

 

Further to the response to Question 1 below, by way of update, I am now
able to advise that it is anticipated that the annual performance report
will be published in early December.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Jessica Stockton

Corporate Solicitor 

Democratic & Legal Services Division

Chief Executive's Office

Southside, 5^th Floor Taberner House

Park Lane, Croydon CR9 3JS

 

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