Agenda and minutes

Strata - Joint Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 8th September, 2020 4.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Virtual Meeting. View directions


No. Item


Election of Chair


Based on the existing annual rotation for the position of Chair, Councillor Twiss proposed that Councillor Atkinson representing Exeter City Council be elected Chair for the 2020/21 Municipal Year. This was seconded by Councillor Sparks, and


RESOLVED   That Councillor Atkinson be elected Chair


Minutes pdf icon PDF 200 KB

To approve the minutes of the last meeting held on 13 January, 2020.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 13 January, 2020 were approved as a correct record. The minutes would be signed at a future date when practicable.


Declarations of Interest

Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary

interests that relate to business on the agenda.




Questions from the Public Under Procedural Rules

A period of up to 15 minutes will be set aside to deal with questions to the

Committee from members of the public.


Each individual will be restricted to speaking for a total of 3 minutes.


Where a question does not relate to an agenda item details of questions should

be notified to the Proper Officer of the Relevant Council at least two working days

prior to the meeting.




Question from Members of the Councils under Procedure Rules pdf icon PDF 156 KB

To receive questions from Members of the Councils.


Where a question does not relate to an agenda item details of questions should be notified to the Proper Officer of the Relevant Council at least two working days prior to the meeting.


The following questions have been submitted by Councillor Millar of East Devon District Council. Answers were provided and circulated prior to the meeting.


Question 1

To ask the Committee, to confirm the total cost of purchasing Member iPads at East Devon District Council including maintenance and repairs, and to share all relevant papers containing the business case with Councillors.



In March 2018, Strata submitted a discussion document to the three authorities to present options for the support of councillor IT (attached).


Previously councillors provided their own IT, and there was an expectation that Strata would be able to support this privately owned IT.


One option that was presented was for the authority to provide councillors with a portable device enabling councillors to access emails, calendars, documents and the Modern Gov environment in a more consistent and supported manner. This enabled TDC and EDDC councillors to operate in a similar way to ECC councillors who had been using authority provisioned tablet devices for five years.


After internal debate within EDDC and TDC, Strata were advised to proceed with the purchase of portable devices for councillors and a project was initiated to procure, build, test and deploy Apple iPad devices to councillors.


EDDC made a decision to purchase the Apple iPad 12.9 inch Pro WiFi 64Gb for each councillor (see attached invoice)


TDC decided to purchase a smaller iPad device for each councillor, at a cheaper price.


The total cost for EDDC based on a five year usage of the Apple iPad devices is :


Total five year cost = £ 48,104


This cost is made up of :

·       Application licensing included in Strata Core Licensing and base budgets.

·       Councillor support provided as part of the Strata Service Desk service

·       Councillor training provided as part of the Strata IT Training service.

·       Initial iPad cost £ 47,089

·       Current repair costs of £1,015


The costs for the devices were included and approved in the 2019/2020 budget process, ultimately by council in February 2019.


After deployment of the devices some councillors raised concern that they needed to be able to access emails, calendars from private devices (in addition to the iPad devices provide by the authority). To provide this functionality and to deliver access in a secure manner, Strata needed to purchase additional Microsoft O365 licences and Mimecast email security filtering.


The cost of this additional functionality over five years for the councillors who requested (36) this level of access is:


Total five year cost = £ 40,960


·       EMS E3 Add-on (EDDC Cllrs) = £42.00 per user per year


·       Mimecast Additional Email Security Filter (1st year free)  £8,350 per Annum


These figures were presented to EDDC and they authorised Strata to proceed.


Strata believe that the provision of iPads to the councillors across all three authorities has:


·       Enabled the authorities to provide a consistent delivery of Cllr content via a single supported device

·       Helped to reduce print and paper usage, which has had a positive impact on the environment and costs.

·       Provided improved  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.


Strata IT Director & Manager's Report 1 May to 31 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 3 MB


The Strata IT Director referred to the report circulated with the agenda. The Covid pandemic and consequential unprecedented working environment had resulted in Strata focusing on providing and delivering the IT service and support to officers and councillors in an exemplary way, and which has enabled Strata to demonstrate its true value. Strata had to increase its skills base to provide the support needed, and had achieved much over the last few months in adapting to the needs of the authorities. This included the creation of community hubs, support with virtual councillor meetings, and moving from office to remote working for officers in a period of about two weeks. This was testament to the standard of infrastructure provided to the authorities and procurement processes to achieve the provision of hardware to enable remote working in a secure way.


In addition, the Committee noted the following: the savings delivered last year were in excess of forecasts set out in the Business Plan at over £1million; the delivery of hybrid meetings was being investigated; the availability and standard of Strata systems has been maintained during the pandemic for most of the time, being stable, reliable, flexible and adaptable to the environment; the majority of staff were still successfully working mainly remotely, with staff migrating back into the office; employee broadband issues were out of Strata’s control; demand for IT services had significantly increased;  these had been dealt through the implementation of a new service desk system; and customers were happy with the service delivery based on customer satisfaction survey; support had been given to the Councils’ Members during remote meetings working with democratic services; hybrid meetings were being tested at TDC before investing in other solutions at EDDC  and ECC; agile working for TDC was facilitated with the roll out of laptops and docking stations and the  purchase of new software to support remote working; digital mailroom was being developed and had increased to deal with remote working which enabled post to be circulated the day of delivery; ECC had brought its leisure centres back in house and Strata were assisting the authority in implementating technology to allow the leisure premises to open again over the next couple of months; the importance of investment in staff resources and IT backup, and security or data, with about 40% of incoming emails being rejected; Strata are currently in the processes of undertaking the annual IT Health Check to enable PSN certification; cyber security training would be rolled out for all authorities; the IT Solutions Delivery was keeping projects on track and helped with delivery; Strata staff had adapted to the Covid situation well, supported Strata visions, were accepting of the need for continuous improvements and development, and have an exceptional low sickness rate; the Board would be considering governance at its next meeting and how the Councils would like Strata to be governed; the 2020-21 Business Plan had been agreed by ECC and EDDC and would be considered by TDC at the end of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.


Strata Budget Monitoring Quater 1 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 39 KB

Additional documents:


The Strata Director for Finance referred to the agenda report relating to the financial position of Strata. Strata was given £6.6million to run the services for 2020/21. The Covid pandemic had resulted in all Councils looking for savings. Additional Strata savings have been identified at £330K due to for example, delaying staff appointments, and procurement adjustments, resulting in a forecast £1m refund to the 3 Councils this year. In addition, the Statement of Accounts 2019/20 which had been signed off by the Auditors. The Director explained the differences between a company and a Council in terms of financial management and practices, which enables Strata to return a refund to the Councils at year end.   



The report be noted.


Strata ICT Audit Summary 2019/20 Devon Audit Partnership pdf icon PDF 149 KB


The Strata Director referred to the Devon Audit Partnership, an organisation which works with Strata. An audit plan is produced at the beginning of the year in relation to Strata services which measures performance and effectiveness, particularly project management and delivery and cyber security.  The Audit concluded that the three Councils has substantial assurance that Strata can fulfil its role as the IT service provider with an adequate internal control framework.



That the report be noted.


Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 - Exclusion of Press and Public

To pass the following resolution before the consideration of items listed in Part ll on this agenda: -


That, under Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for particular item(s) on the grounds that it (they) involve(s) the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A of the Act.




That, under Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item particular on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in the paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A of the Act.


Business Case for the New Finance System


The Committee referred to the agenda report. The strata Manager reported on the business case following its presentation to the Joint Executive Committee in June 2020.



The Strata Joint Executive Committee is recommended to approve the recommendations set out in the report.