Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Extraordinary, Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 24th August, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Council Antechamber, Level 2, Town Hall Extension. View directions

Contact: Charlotte Lynch  Email:


No. Item



To allow Members an opportunity to [a] declare any personal, prejudicial or disclosable pecuniary interests they might have in any items which appear on this agenda; and [b] record any items from which they are precluded from voting as a result of Council Tax/Council rent arrears; [c] the existence and nature of party whipping arrangements in respect of any item to be considered at this meeting. Members with a personal interest should declare that at the start of the item under consideration. If Members also have a prejudicial or disclosable pecuniary interest they must withdraw from the meeting during the consideration of the item.


Councillors Connolly and Wheeler declared a personal interest in items 4 - Call in of decision: MCC Housing Services – Equans Extension – and would remain in the meeting for the duration of discussions.


Call In - Extension of Repairs and Maintenance contract for MCC Housing Services pdf icon PDF 163 KB

The decision of the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer on 24 July 2023 has been called in by Councillors Leech, Good, Kilpatrick, Northwood and Nunney in accordance with paragraph 13.3 of the Scrutiny Procedure Rules.


The terms of the Call In are:


(1)   Concern about value for money, and whether this is the best option for tenants, the workforce and Manchester Council tax-payers, and whether the alternatives have been fully considered.


(2)   Concerns from Unite the Union that there continues to be a very high level of Agency and Sub- Contractor still being used on the contract at a substantially higher cost than the cost of employing direct.


(3)   Concerns raised by Unite the Union regarding health and safety, changes to the sickness absence policy, a failure to address accusations of bullying and harassment towards their members, and a lack of trust in the management team to provide and a fair and reasonable process for grievance and disciplinary procedures.


A copy of the Decision Notice is attached.


Members of the Committee are asked to consider all relevant matters, debate the issues and decide which of the resolutions set out below it wishes to adopt.


    i.          Support the decision

   ii.          Refer back to Decision Taker (with or without recommendations)

  iii.          Refer to Council (only applicable if the decision is contrary to the policy framework or contrary to or not wholly in accordance with the budget)

Additional documents:


The committee considered a Key Decision that had been called in by five members of the Council to ascertain whether this complied with the Council’s decision-making process. If the Committee believed that this had not been complied with, it could then refer the matter back to the decision-maker for reconsideration.


On behalf of those who had signed the request, Councillor John Leech was invited by the Chair to explain the reasons for calling in the decision made by the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer to extend the current Equans Housing Services Contract for the provision of the housing operations repairs and maintenance service for up to 3 years from April 2024 to April 2027.


Councillor Leech explained that he proposed the call-in of this decision due to concerns around value for money, and whether the decision constituted the best option for tenants, the workforce and the Council; the use of subcontractors and agency staff by Equans; and concerns raised by Unite the Union regarding health and safety, changes to the sickness absence policy, a failure to address accusations of bullying and harassment towards their members and a lack of trust in management. He also highlighted how the Council was still addressing historic challenges from the transfer of the Northwards housing stock to the Council’s management.


Councillor Leech stated that the report failed to provide any evidence to support the outcome of the feasibility study, which suggested that extending the current contract with Equans provided best value for money.  He also queried whether alternative options had been fully considered.


In line with Council procedures, the Committee were invited to ask questions of Councillor Leech. In response to a query from the Chair regarding how Councillor Leech thought the decision-making process had been deficient, he reiterated that there was a lack of justification as to why alternative options for the contract had been dismissed. Councillor Leech also stated that he believed it would be difficult for the committee to endorse the decision without information on the alternative options considered, although he acknowledged the time sensitivity around the contract extension.


The Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer and the Director of Housing Services were in attendance to answer questions of the Committee.


As the decision-maker, the Deputy Chief Executive and City Treasurer explained that Key Decision Notice was published following consultation with the Housing Advisory Board, Major Contracts Oversight Board and the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee. She stated that the Council was still in the process of embedding the former Northwards housing stock into the Council’s oversight and this limited capacity to undertake another major insourcing project.


She addressed some of Councillor Leech’s concerns and explained that the Council had and would continue to consider alternative options for the housing repairs and maintenance contract. She stated that value for money could be demonstrated through feedback from tenants and advised that the Head of Internal Audit had been requested to undertake a quality assurance exercise on the key performance indicators (KPIs) for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.