Powys County Council
Powys County Council has an established the 'Aim High' programme to deliver major change and embed project management across the council.
One of the first Aim High actions was to improve asset management, focusing on an office rationalisation project. The initial driver for this project was cost management, but the rationalisation process however immediately identified the challenges around:
The office rationalisation project has released ten buildings and yielded both capital receipts and revenue savings. Space utilisation improved from roughly 11sq metre per person to 8sq metre. Additionally, as part of the project, new working practices were introduced which brought other benefits for the council and its workforce, including opportunities for home working which is now taken up by the majority of the Revenues and Benefits staff.
At the same time, Powys is carrying out a phased review of its schools provision. Educational asset management is often carried out separately from corporate asset management and opportunities to link schools and other services can often be missed. As part of the review of schools provision, wider service issues and opportunities to operate services within schools are being considered alongside the educational requirements.
Against this background, Powys identified the potential to take an area-based approach to review its service provision and property holdings in a geographic area. The Brecon area was identified and a Brecon area review commenced. The specific aims of the review were to:
The early part of the review process involved an extensive data gathering exercise. This included collecting data about the property portfolio and individual buildings in Brecon, as well as service requirements and future service developments.
The gathering of property data highlighted the fact that although most of the data was available, it was held in various and disparate data system and was not necessarily immediately accessible in the form needed. It also highlighted missing data around the condition of individual buildings.
In terms of the data around specific service requirements, the process highlighted a lack of forward planning around property requirements and deficiencies in individual service asset management plans.
Lessons learnt from the review to date include the need to identify data and information requirements very early in the process and to ensure that service needs and issues are included as key data requirements.
The Brecon review process has created momentum for change for the better in Brecon, and as a result, a Project Board has been set up to manage the multi-stranded tasks involved and ensure that the ambitious project does not lose momentum.
The Aim High programme started with the office rationalisation, which has linked with the schools provision review and successfully progressed and developed into a locality review process. The lessons learnt from the Brecon locality review are to be used to replicate the process (with improvements) in Llandrindod Wells through a new Llandrindod Area Review Board.