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How training breaks down barriers to whistleblowing and fraud prevention

Rachael_Tiffin15_externallyArticle by Rachael Tiffen, Head of Counter Fraud and Governance at CIPFA


Establishing clear guidelines and policy for whistleblowing is a significant part of preventing and detecting fraud and misconduct in the workplace. It isn’t something which should be overlooked or swept under the carpet, especially as public services fraud costs the tax payer an estimated £21 billion per annum.

In the UK we still have some way to go when it comes to addressing whistleblowing and creating internal reporting systems that enable this, as highlighted in the 2013.

The Commission’s Code includes, “15 recommendations for raising, handling, training and reviewing workplace whistleblowing. Key requirements include:

confidentiality will be maintained where requested;

clear assurances are given to staff about protection from reprisal;

specific individuals have responsibility for the arrangements;

greater oversight of whistleblowing arrangements by non-executive directors or equivalent;

review of the effectiveness of the arrangements and publication of key data.”

Individuals who have previously tried to raise concerns have often had to show remarkable courage in coming forward and putting their head above the parapet. This is still true today, in both the public and private sector, as a lack of clear guidance, effective processes and protection deters people from stepping forward to flag concerns at work.

Whistleblowing policy should play a central role in any industry, as no one is truly immune to the threat of fraud. Having in place a defined procedure for reporting fraud and misconduct at work is an integral part of good governance, compliance and risk management too. The benefits of getting this right and listening to a concern raised can help prevent disaster, avoid costly litigation, and potentially preserve a reputation.

According to a recent study of the experiences of 1,000 whistleblowers by Public Work (PCaW), 82% of whistleblowers raise concerns internally. Employees therefore play a vital role when it comes to protecting against fraud and corruption at work. Whistleblowing is everyone’s responsibility and it’s important to involve staff in discussion and debate about whistleblowing policy and the role it plays within your organisation. It’s also essential to educate employees. Training can be used to equip staff with the right language, skills and approach to raising concerns at work, and to support an anti-corruption culture in the workplace.

Staff are the eyes and ears of public sector organisations, but there are a number of factors that can actively dissuade people from stepping forward to report misconduct or raise concerns. One factor we frequently see at the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre is a lack of awareness of existing policies and procedures. With the complexity of fraud on the rise employees need resources, training and advice on where to go for help. Workers also need to know what to expect and how their organisations will support them, along with their rights if they do step forward. Knowledge and training alleviate misunderstanding, and boost confidence within individuals as well as the organisation they work for.

Understanding what motivates an individual to blow the whistle is also important, and there are a variety of reasons why people do this. Newer employees, for example, are more likely to blow the whistle and 39% have less than two years’ service, according to the PCaW study**. Furthermore, 53% of whistleblowers are skilled workers or professionals. Many simply want to do the right thing, promote accountability and justice, or have a sense of responsibility and a desire to protect colleagues, their jobs and public funds.

At the Counter Fraud Centre we see common themes reoccurring when it comes to barriers to employees reporting misconduct. Examples of these common themes are: -

the intensification of the complexity of fraud

a perceived lack of support, both internal and external, for individual whistleblowers

a fear of repercussions

lack of awareness of internal reporting processes, and

clear systems and practices not in place.

All of these themes point to the requirement for individual employees to receive proper training and advice. Whilst staff should seek opportunities to equip themselves with the right knowledge, by approaching HR for example, the onus remains on employers to train their staff on the organisation’s whistleblowing policy and effectively communicate its content and purpose. The process of training protects and supports employees who may wish to raise concerns by arming them with information on how to act including, raising the alarm outside of the usual channels and what steps will be taken to protect them.

A solution to this workplace challenge is a new whistleblowing e-learning package from CIPFA that empowers employees to act in the right way if they witness misconduct at work. The e-learning is suited for use in organisations where a whistleblowing policy already exists. Using scenario-led content and case studies, the course sets out how to raise and report concerns at work and aims to clear up ‘grey areas’ around processes, complaints and definitions. It also aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of whistleblowing and why it is important. Staff will learn: -

What whistleblowing is,

How best to raise concerns,

Where staff can raise concerns,

What to expect and how their organisation will support them, and

Rights and options for support.

The CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre has worked with the leading whistleblowing charity

The new package empowers employees to act in the right way if they witness misconduct at work. From an employee perspective it shows that their employers are listening to their concerns and demonstrating effective leadership, creating a positive working environment.

Whistleblowing should not be ignored due to perceived negative consequences for an organisation and its employees. There is a raft of potential problems facing firms or public sector organisations that do not adequately address the issue. Ultimately, if a system for whistleblowing is not offered within an organisation then that organisation exposes itself to further risk. Disgruntled employees with no effective means of redress will turn to external sources to blow the whistle, and this can be to the detriment of the organisation as well as the individual.

For more information and to download the e-learning programme go to the CIPFA Counter Fraud Centre web area:


The VW scandal has highlighted the need for in use testing of vehicle emissions, according to Gainsborough-based vehicle emissions experts Eminox.

Eminox made the comment following the announcement from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which said that Volkswagen had installed illegal “defeat devices” software to cheat emission tests, allowing its diesel cars to produce up to 40 times more pollution than allowed.

Eminox manufactures emission control devices for heavy duty diesel vehicles such as buses, trucks and non-road machines. Eminox supplies to original equipment manufacturers and supports the retrofit market in order to reduce emissions from vehicles already in use. The company is required to prove that its technology meets tough emission standards, but also places a lot of emphasis on proving that it operates effectively in the real world.

Independent tests on the Eminox SCRT system show that it removes more than 95% of pollutants, including NOx and NO2. In field monitoring is then carried out to show that performance in the real world achieves the same emissions levels as the lab tests. The company believes that the automobile sector could learn from this approach and give consumers confidence that the vehicles they drive actually do what they claim.

A study by Ricardo on bus emissions in Brighton, supports both lab and in field data, in fact showing that a bus retrofitted with advanced SCRT technology achieves lower NOx emissions than any other vehicle tested.


South Kirkby Material Recycling Facility

South Kirkby Material Recycling Facility

Sarah Sanders, Diversity and Inclusion Manager of de Poel Community

Sarah Sanders, Diversity and Inclusion Manager of de Poel Community

de Poel Community, a social enterprise that was founded under the ethos of helping people with barriers to work to find sustainable employment, is celebrating boosting local employment with Shanks Waste Management, the international waste to product business and ALS Managed Services, leading provider of temporary workers to the recycling industry.

Recently, Wakefield Council has heavily invested in a new, state-of-the-art Waste Treatment Facility at South Kirkby as part of a PFI project. Shanks, responsible for operating the site, is already reaping the benefits of working with de Poel Community and ALS Managed Services as their on site supplier for staff at the Materials Recycling Facility.

Working with an aligned vision, ALS is committed to finding suitable candidates, and is delighted to be working alongside de Poel Community to provide employment opportunities to the local community. ALS initiated the partnership in a drive to create more jobs in the local area and enhance its already diverse workforce.

de Poel Community’s national partnership with Job Centre Plus provides a vital link in the employment chain and enables talent to be attracted from the immediate community. Local candidates have undertaken Pre-Employment Screening and Training facilitated by de Poel Community, with the ultimate aim of gaining a Waste and Recycling qualification. With a guaranteed job interview for those looking at full time roles who passed the screening process, successful candidates went onto complete a two day work trial at the South Kirkby Waste Treatment Facility and the successful ones secured a job offer as a result.

Mike Walter, Site Manager of the South Kirkby Waste Treatment Facility, comments, “At Shanks, we are attracting members of the local community through our diverse and inclusive workforce model, we value and encourage this through our local recruitment process. Through our strategic partnership with de Poel Community, ALS and Job Centre Plus, we have already built on our talent attraction strategy and hope to strengthen our team through a number of local appointments in the coming weeks.

“Following the first group of 11 candidates, we have seen a fantastic success rate with six of the 11 candidates completing all elements of the training programme and work trial and who will now commence paid employment over the coming weeks”.

Cllr Maureen Cummings Cabinet Member Communities and Environment at Wakefield Council, said: “I welcome this partnership which is giving people employment opportunities at this new state of the art facility which provides an essential service to residents and businesses in our District”.

Sarah Sanders, Diversity and Inclusion Manager of de Poel Community, also commented: “de Poel Community was founded on the ethos that everyone deserves the opportunity to work, and we are delighted to be working with Shanks, ALS Managed Services and Job Centre Plus in a common goal to create more employment opportunities for the local communities . We look forward to progressing our partnership in the months and years to come”.

Steve Lanigan, Commercial Director of ALS Managed Services commented: “This partnership is hugely beneficial for all parties, promoting safe working practices and providing job-specific training prior to employment in the local area. This collaborative approach to employment helps to encourage a safe and efficient workforce, promotes recycling and underpins the ‘circular economy’ ethos championed by Shanks”.

For more information see: and

Comensura joins Crown Commercial Services framework for supply of non-medical, non-clinical staff

Comensura, a temporary labour supply management specialist is pleased to announce it has recently been awarded a place on the Crown Commercial Services (CCS) framework for the supply of non-medical, non-clinical (NMNC) temporary and fixed term staff.

Comensura successfully tendered for Lot 1 on the framework, for a neutral vendor managed service for the procurement of non-medical and non-clinical staff for NHS organisations. This framework agreement will enable NHS organisations to call off directly with Comensura to manage the supply of temporary staff, interims and contractors in any white or blue collar role from the most junior to the most senior, including board level roles.

As a neutral vendor managed service provider, Comensura will provide NHS organisations with its technology to give them 100% visibility and control of expenditure on temporary staff. Through effective contract management and its sourcing strategy using a supply chain of specialist recruitment agencies, Comensura will meet the temporary staffing needs of NHS organisations.

Jamie Horton, Managing Director of Comensura, said: “We’re delighted to join the CCS framework. We have proven experience of managing the supply of temporary staff to public sector organisations to give them a cost effective flexible workforce. The NHS relies heavily on the non-medical workforce help run the hospitals and support doctors and nursing teams deliver first rate care to patients.”

CCS works with both departments and organisations across the whole of the public sector to ensure maximum value is extracted from every commercial relationship and improve the quality of service delivery. CCS NMNC framework provides healthcare organisations with a compliant and cost-effective route to their temporary or permanent staffing requirements.

Conquer your litter problems with Invicta™ Litter Bin

The Invicta outdoor litter bin

The Invicta outdoor litter bin

Invicta traditional litter bin is new to the Glasdon UK range of metal litter bins.

It is manufactured from 2mm thick mild steel with Armortec® coating, which gives Invicta outdoor litter bin an incredibly strong construction and outstanding durability.

The high quality of these materials offers excellent resistance to vandalism, coastal sea spray and annual road gritting salt.  This minimises the requirement for expensive refurbishment that is often associated with outdoor metal litter bins.

Why not view the Invicta product testing videos available on the GlasdonUK YouTube channel, which include both Vandal testing and Environmental material testing.

In order to allow easy access for the operator to empty, Invicta external litter bin has been designed with a large front opening hinged door.  This reduces manual handling issues as the liner does not need to be lifted to be removed from the litter bin.

Ideal for any external environments such as recreational areas, parks and town centres, Invicta metal litter bin offers large personalisation areas for organisations logos or branding to be included.

Glasdon also produce a wide range of Indoor Litter Bins, Dog Waste Bins, Cigarette Bins and Street Orderly Barrows. Download a copy of the Waste Management Solutions Brochure today for more information.

If you have any questions contact Glasdon on (01253) 600410, email, or visit

Wiltshire Police manages social media risk using CrowdControlHQ

Wiltshire Police Road Policing

Wiltshire Police Road Policing

Wiltshire Police HQ buildingOldest police force in the country engages with public across 68 social media accounts including neighbourhood police Facebook pages and HQ twitter accounts

CrowdControlHQ has announced that Wiltshire Police is using the company’s social media risk management and compliance platform to manage 68 active social media accounts, including 24 Neighbourhood Policing Team Facebook pages, several senior management Twitter accounts and community group Facebook pages including ‘Horsewatch’. Wiltshire Police invested in CrowdControlHQ software to address the demand by the public to report crimes using social media.

Wiltshire Police is using CrowdControlHQ to manage content on its social media pages as well as keep a record of the deleted content for reference. A single dashboard enables the communications staff to manage multiple accounts and everyone, given access to the system, is trained to use it and sent an electronic copy of the Force Media Guide. CrowdControlHQ enables on-line chatter, trends and comment to be managed consistently and provides a full audit trail of when people were last logged in and when accounts are inactive.

Helen Kennedy, Head of Media at Wiltshire Police said, “Wiltshire Police has seen how social media has become one of the most effective tools in terms of customer care and how we communicate with the public. Whether this is at a local level through our Neighbourhood Policing Teams or the Chief Constable’s Twitter account – social media has become an integral part of policing and not just corporate communications.

“CrowdControlHQ means that the communications department can maintain an overview and assess the risk, manage the problems and respond where necessary to ensure the public are getting a quality service from Wiltshire Police. It has made monitoring all of our social media accounts simpler and less time consuming.”

The different social media accounts have been divided among the members of the Corporate Communications team, including the Press and Media office, all of whom have access to the CrowdControlHQ platform. Several members of the call centre control room also have access and assist with out of hours monitoring of posts and replies, flagging any issues to the appropriate people.

Wiltshire Police posts videos online to engage the public’s interest and support. Recent videos posted have gone viral, including CCTV coverage of the safe use of a taser on a man trying to rob a convenience store. Using CrowdControlHQ also allows the communications team to monitor the online chatter and moderate the content being posted when social media is particularly active, for example, during a rave event in Swindon.

Helen Kennedy continued, “In recent months we have had continued success in identifying wanted suspects by appealing to the online community to assist. In one instance, the offender was at the police station within thirty minutes of a social media post giving himself up. Although we cannot put a figure on it, this type of use of social networks will certainly contribute to saving thousands of pounds worth of police time and resources.”

James Leavesley, CEO of CrowdControlHQ concluded, “The ease with which social media platforms allow users to share information and communicate has resulted in a steady increase in use by public services organisations. Managing multiple accounts and being able to respond in a consistent and accurate manner is essential for the police and other public bodies. A missed tweet or failure to reply could have severe consequences in terms of events and the resulting potential harm to individuals and/or reputations. CrowdControlHQ provides an easy to use single interface to manage and control all points of contact via social media reliably and securely, reducing risk across an organisation.”

Cofely wins FM contract with Harrow Council

Harrow CouncilCofely has been awarded a five year contract by Harrow Council to deliver a range of facilities and energy efficiency services.

The partnership will see Cofely deliver mechanical & electrical maintenance, building fabric, cleaning and a range of security services across the Council’s 162 building portfolio.  It will also include energy efficiency services in support of the Council’s carbon reduction strategy and initiatives to tackle fuel poverty.  In total, 420 employees will transfer to Cofely under TUPE arrangements.

The new contract brings together a number of smaller contracts previously managed by different Council departments into a single outsourced delivery. This will deliver greater consistency and efficiency of services, lifecycle visibility and projected financial savings in the order of 20%.

Another key aspect of the partnership is a number of wide-ranging social value commitments which will deliver significant benefits to the local community.  These will support the Councils own priorities for the vulnerable, communities, local businesses and families.

To support these priorities Cofely will create a number of apprenticeships and graduate and work placements. It will also establish a new Harrow Community Fund to directly back local community projects and also provide training and volunteering opportunities for Harrow residents.

Venetia Reid-Baptiste of Harrow Council commented: “By working with Cofely we will be able to deliver a significant improvement in services to the local community while meeting our commitment to reduce costs. I have no doubt this partnership will prove to be of great benefit to Harrow residents.”

Cofely’s UK CEO Wilfrid Petrie added: “We look forward to developing a strong relationship with Harrow Council that will make not only a real difference to the delivery of council services but also to the sustainable development of the wider community as a whole.” 

Knightstone Housing Group enlists Sennheiser to provide headsets for company-wide Lync implementation

Telecoms Presence UC

Telecoms Presence UC

Sennheiser, leaders in premium headset and UC solutions, has been chosen by Knightstone Housing Group to supply a total of 550 headsets to its office-based and contact centre staff, contact centre supervisors and mobile-based staff in a complete refit of the organization. Sennheiser was chosen due to the premium quality and reliability of its devices as a cost-effective alternative to its previous models.

The Challenge

Knightstone Housing Group made the strategic decision to invest in a complete Microsoft Lync 2013 implementation to replace its existing Cisco Call manager setup, and opted to replace the Cisco 7940 phones and Plantronics headsets it had been using for nine years in order to improve mobility and provide a greater service. Its aim was to deliver a brand new centralised multi-channel customer contact centre and it required a range of headsets to improve staff efficiency and comfort when dealing with customers.

The solution

Knightstone trialed multiple headsets from all major manufacturers during the pilot phase of the new project, with the aim of selecting the most appropriate models for each department.

Sennheiser’s SC 660 and 630 range was chosen for the contact centre staff due to its quality, robustness and comfort. As a critical part of the organisation, the contact centre needed a device that was second to none on these factors, being required to wear headsets for long periods during the day. Staff were given the option of either the single sided monaural 630 or dual sided binarual 660 depending on their preference. Due to exceptional voice quality these headsets are also used to record training videos and audio for the organisations training needs.

When asked about the benefits of the SC 660 and 630, staff claimed they provided “Sound quality that is far superior to other brands, comfort, remote control, ease of use and portability”.

It also chose the premium DW Pro 1 for its contact centre supervisors, allowing them to maintain mobility when managing a busy contact environment. According to Chris Mocock, UC Consultant at Xpertlink Solutions: “This is my personal favourite, which I use for my own business needs. These devices provided second to none sound quality and comfort. Battery life is also excellent and paired with the dock you could not get a better device.”

Finally the Presence UC Bluetooth headset was chosen for its mobile and semi-mobile based staff. These users spend around 90% of their time on the road and need a device that is robust, portable and with a good battery life in order to be productive. The qualities of the Presence were listed as “build quality, Bluetooth range, battery life, robustness, and a case that provides excellent protection during travel” by the mobile staff.



It also provided the Presence to office workers, which left a lasting impression.

“Initially thinking that these devices would be too small and expensive for a standard office user, I was surprised to gain feedback that staff loved having the flexibility of roaming the office with their Bluetooth headsets” said Chris Mocock.“Staff have the freedom to leave their seats and still be available to receive calls as the range of these devices were excellent.  As a result the default for all staff is the Sennheiser presence UC.”

Overall the new implementation of the Sennheiser headsets has been a complete success, with each member of staff enjoying the quality, flexibility and additional benefits on offer, such as superb voice clarity due to ultra noise-cancelling microphone filters that help to eliminate unwanted background noise and Sennheiser HD voice clarity with wideband sound for the most natural listening experience.

“Build quality, sound quality and comfort make these the best headsets available for a Unified Communications environment. Having used all other brands not a single one comes close to the Sennheiser products” said Chris.“Whenever staff are asked about their devices they are full of praise and certainly would not give them up for any other product. I personally use only Sennheiser products as I travel across the country and need to be available regardless of my location and make and receive calls with no disruption from background noise. They are also extremely sturdy and can be carried around on a daily basis without being damaged.”

When asked whether he would recommend the headsets to other similar establishments, Chris had no qualms about doing so, and already has another project in the works that he believes would be a good fit.“As a consultant at Xpertlink solutions I work on many Lync Voice projects and have recommended Sennheiser to customers. In fact I am working on a 3000 user deployment of Lync voice and have recommended Sennheiser as the best choice for headsets. Obviously cost is always concern so Sennheiser are working with me to get the best value for money on the headsets to secure the deal.”

Comments from Knighstone staff on the new Sennheiser equipment 

“I can walk around the office and take calls without having to be sat at my Desk” – Comms member (Presence UC)

“The sound quality of these devices is excellent, I can also listen to my music during lunch” – Customer Contact Agent (Sennheiser SC 660)

“Being an IT Support technician it’s impractical to be stuck to a desk all day, but now with my Sennheiser Presence UC I can build work both on the IT bench and at my desk whilst continuing to take calls” – IT Support technician (Presence UC)

“I used my new headset in a café the other day and the quality was great” – Head of IT (Presence UC)

“On a few occasions I have got home to find I have left my headset on as it doesn’t even feel like you are wearing it” – Comms member (Presence UC)

About Knightstone Housing Group

As a leading housing association in Somerset and the West of England, Knightstone provides services to 23,000 people in 11,000 homes, and builds around 300 homes a year.

The headsets

SC 660 and 630

The SC 630 and SC 660 are premium wired headsets for all-day use with desk phones in busy call centers or offices. Built to withstand the rigors of the toughest jobs, they are designed for quality-conscious office professionals requiring HD voice clarity, durability and all-day comfort.

The SC 630 is a single-sided wired headset with outstanding sound performance while allowing users to maintain contact with their surroundings, while the SC 660 dual-sided headset delivers the same great sound and is ideal for noisy environments. Both offer effective noise cancellation technology via an ultra noise-cancelling microphone and patented ActiveGard™ technology to protect against acoustic shock and sudden sound surges.

DW Pro 1

The DW Pro 1 is a single sided wireless headset designed to offer people the flexibility to converse freely with those around them, while offering premium sound, supreme comfort and intuitive operation. Specifically designed to meet the needs of all-day users, it offers effective noise cancellation technology via an ultra noise-cancelling microphone and patented ActiveGard™ technology to protect against acoustic shock and sudden sound surges. Long distance wireless of up to 180m ensures freedom to move around without affecting a call and each offers up to 12 hours of uninterrupted talk time with fast recharge of 50% power in just 20 minutes.

Presence UC

PRESENCE™ is a premium Bluetooth headset for professionals on the road who demand a consistently excellent communication solution both for themselves and the listener.

It offers a number of unique and patented technologies such as SpeakFocus™ that adapts seamlessly to background noise for crystal clear sound, WindSafe™ to automatically adjust for wind noise to ensure the clearest possible audio outdoors and ActiveGard® technology to protect against acoustic shock. Multi-connectivity allows users to quickly switch between softphone and mobile calls, bringing seamless operation to a range of different devices and it offers up to 10 hours talk time between charges for full day performance on the move.

The PRESENCE™ UC is optimised for Unified Communications to deliver consistently excellent communication across a range of platforms and environments.

Information about Sennheiser is available on the internet at

Hat-trick of public sector frameworks for Comensura

Jamie Horton

Jamie Horton

comensura_BLK-220x220Comensura, a labour supply management specialist, expands its leadership in helping the UK public sector procure and manage temporary staffing needs, with three places on new frameworks –MSTAR2, the Cirrus Consortium and National Procurement Service for Wales.

Comensura has retained its position on the highly successful Managed Services for Temporary Agency Resources (MSTAR2) national framework as a ‘best value’ provider in both lots it tendered for. The first lot is Neutral Supply Chain Management, where public sector organisations can call off directly with Comensura for a neutral vendor managed service without the need for further competition. The second lot is Supply Chain Optimisation (Hybrid), new with MSTAR2, where public sector organisations can define a sourcing strategy using a combination of procurement models depending on their temporary resourcing objectives.

Achieving an impressive score of 93%, Comensura has been appointed to Lot 11: Neutral Vendor of the new Cirrus Consortium Framework, which enables members – Registered Providers of Social Housing, Local Authorities, ALMOs and NHS Trusts to appoint a provider without the need for lengthy and expensive tender processes.

Finally, achieving the highest score out of the three appointed providers, Comensura has also been appointed to the National Procurement Service (NPS) for Wales new managed services framework for the provision of agency staff, through which it will give many public sector organisations across Wales access to temporary staff.

Jamie Horton, Managing Director of Comensura, said: “We’re delighted to have secured our place on three key frameworks in the public sector. Our appointment to the frameworks and the high scores that we achieved are testimony to the high quality, yet excellent value for money service we can provide to public sector organisations.

“Public sector organisations require access to temporary staff to enable them to deliver public services cost effectively. We have proven experience of procuring temporary labour from recruitment suppliers in an efficient and cost-effective manner for public sector organisations.”

The Cirrus Consortium Framework runs until March 2019; the MSTAR2 Framework runs until at least April 2017; and the NPS for Wales Framework runs until at least April 2018.

Councils urged to tread carefully on signage

LOCAL authorities are being warned to stay on the right side of the law in the battle to keep traffic on the move.

New guidance laid down by the Department for Transport (DfT)* spells out the legal requirements for variable message signs.

And councils are being urged to ensure all roadside units capable of displaying changing text or pictograms make the grade.

Brian Lyus, of the Association for Road Traffic Safety and Management (ARTSM), said: “Increasing numbers of authorities are now using digital signs to get their message across.

“But compliance and quality can sometimes be neglected in the face of price pressure.

“Guidance issued by the DfT recently spells out the requirements for variable message signs laid down in the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD).

“It’s a reminder that councils must tread very carefully to ensure they don’t break the rules.”

Variable message signs hit national headlines last year when a unit showing a temporary speed limit was found to contravene the DfT guidelines.

Mr Lyus says traffic displays must conform to the regulations or those using them face the risk of non-compliance and the creation of an unenforceable sign.

He added: “Some councils may still be unaware of legal requirements for the form of the displays as well as the messages, fonts and colours to be used on UK roads.

“And permanently-installed variable message signs must conform to EN 12966 and be CE marked.

“It’s obviously important to get signing right, both for maximum prominence and from aspects of safety and compliance.”

The DfT Traffic Advisory Leaflet spells out requirements for the signs on aspects including form of display, sign housing and messages.

And David Skinner, of Rennicks UK, believes anyone involved in the delivery of services for the road network should familiarise themselves with it.

He said: “The guidance enables local authorities and other highways operators to clearly see their obligations when it comes to signage.

“There’s no longer any ambiguity and, as the requirements are laid down in black and white, there’s also no excuse for getting it wrong.

“Our signs are a significant step forward in terms of technology and yet, importantly, they’re all fully compliant with DfT guidelines.

“Ultimately, it’s our customer who controls the displayed message, but at Rennicks, we also offer advice surrounding the lawful creation of road traffic signage.”

Don’t risk a lopsided public service

Paul Connolly is Director of the MCA Think Tank

Paul Connolly is Director of the MCA Think Tank

2015 is a crucial year for the public sector. The General Election has passed, and economic growth continues, but still the looming threats of Brexit, Grexit and Scoxit remain. If the challenges of the last Parliament were significant, going forward they will be even greater.

Since 2010, the Government’s deficit reduction approach has been dogged, but not especially strategic. Health, education and overseas aid spend were protected. So every other area had to find disproportionate savings. This pattern is set to continue, resulting in an increasingly lopsided public sector.

This is just one of views expressed in the Management Consultancies Association’s (MCA) Special Edition of its Annual Report, which also argues that 2015 is pivotal year for public sector and its advisers.

MCA firms have an important role to play in the reform of the public sector, and services provided to it. They are currently developing robust standards for ethics and client satisfaction. As a result of fiscal retrenchment after 2010, spend on MCA consultants fell from £1.8bn to less than £1bn. Last year, it rose again. But officials and taxpayers can be confident the rise represents value.

The Cabinet Office has reformed how departments purchase consulting. The system isn’t perfect, but consultants and departments have taken significant steps forward to ensure a more outcome based approach. For instance, MCA member firms are keen to promote innovations such as payment by results, and departments are now more thoughtful, making more strategic buying decisions to ensure that they only buy the expertise they really need.

The MCA’s Special Edition also says that the new Government needs to develop a more principled approach to prioritisation, moving beyond the disfigurements of blanket protections combined with tactical cuts.

Take local government. The sector found around 30% savings in the last Parliament. It will need to do even better in this one. With the central Government grant to councils potentially evaporating by 2020, radical overhaul is needed. Substantial fiscal devolution to councils is being contemplated. The MCA has called for a conference on local Government’s future. This would help councils develop an understanding, in the context of scarcity, of what they should do, what they should discontinue and what citizens should do themselves.

MCA members note significant transformation appetite among local government leaders. Consultants are supporting demand management, digitisation, shared services and inter-agency collaboration.

The health sector is also gearing up for reform. Consultants are helping integrate care, redesign A&E and digitise services. Reform is urgently needed. Health spend is protected, but the NHS has grown in real terms every year bar one since its establishment. NHS England’s survival is predicated, in CEO Simon Stephens’ plans, on £8bn of new money and £22bn efficiency savings.

Moreover, given the lack of political or public appetite for additional taxation, future NHS spend increases mean reductions elsewhere. Public sector lop-sidedness will become entrenched and worsen.

To address this, the NHS must undergo radical prioritisation – a principled analysis of what is in scope and what is not. Prioritisation should be accompanied by a shift towards prevention. The NHS is a health service that sometimes looks like a sickness management service. Costs associated with lifestyle conditions like obesity, smoking and alcohol-related illness could be reduced by changing behaviour. Hospitals are expensive, reactive forms of care. Local health economies should be incentivised to move resources towards more community-based provision.

The NHS also needs relentless digitisation. Improvements in Digital management of caseloads and patient records will improve efficiency. Wearable technologies help manage long-term conditions. Analytics can promote innovations in treating genetically inherited conditions.

Improving local authority and NHS performance will require input from the private sector, including service outsourcers. So will schooling. Head teachers now enjoy significant commercial freedoms, but need support in exercising them. Yet outsourcing’s reputation is poor. Outsourcers have helped transform many services. But high-profile scandals have created a curious condition in which government publicly pillories failing providers, but continues to use others, almost surreptitiously, without promoting the case for doing so. More open and balanced debate is needed to ensure outsourcing plays a proper and valuable part in reform. Outsourcers must maintain high ethical standards and should also provide the most transformational offerings. Creating a parallel, slightly cheaper public sector of TUPE-ed staff won’t be enough. Outsourcers must help government truly reinvent services.

While consultants still assist with crises, most programmes they now support are long-term and transformational. MCA firms are currently developing robust standards for ethics and client satisfaction. Consulting firms work best where they are tackling complex problems, marshalling multi-skilled teams, then get paid by results, leaving clients in better shape through knowledge transfer. This use of consulting is becoming more commonplace. It needs to be, as the challenges ahead are enormous, especially the deficit.


Command Wall

Command Wall

Honeywell (NYSE:HON) today announced the next generation of smart building technology, Command and Control Suite, which turns complex facility data into recommendations and easy-to-implement changes that help boost business outcomes — lowering costs, minimising risk and reducing downtime.

By combining intelligent automation, advanced analytics and visualisation with the simplified user experience of today’s home and mobile electronics, Command and Control Suite links building automation and the enterprise. It provides a holistic view of a connected building’s video feeds, access control and fire alarms, for example, and pulls in relevant information from human resource applications. Integrating data from these disparate systems could help security personnel track occupants and make sure they exit the facility in the event of an evacuation, improving employee safety.

Investing in this type of smart building technology typically pays for itself within one or two years by delivering operational efficiencies as well as energy savings, according to a a financial and professional services firm.

Command Wall

Command Wall

“The building data currently collected in modern facilities presents a vast opportunity to reduce operations and maintenance costs,” said Benjamin Freas, senior research analyst, However, difficulties in integrating data from separate building automation systems have encumbered realising this potential. The usability of facility technologies has been a persistent challenge as well. To date, success in system performance has largely been dependent on the skill and experience of operators.”

Guided by experts in the Honeywell Design Studio, all components of the Command and Control Suitewere built with the intuitive, consumer-friendly simplicity of tablets and smartphones, making the technology accessible to both a facility manager and chief operating officer. Because virtually anyone can understand and act on the insights the command suite provides, companies can improve business continuity and efficiency, and get a higher return on investment. A refined user experience helps reduce operator training and related expenses as well.

The Honeywell Command Wall, the core of the suite, features map-based visualisation and navigation, along with integrated workflows and system-wide integration from a single, intuitive touchscreen interface.

The Command Wall presents data from multiple systems across a facility, such as utility meters and temperature sensors, while providing context for more informed decision making. Using progressive disclosure, users can access an enterprise-wide view and also easily zoom into specific areas to quickly understand and react to issues and opportunities as they arise.

“A building’s intelligence is largely influenced by those who operate it and can make the changes necessary to improve performance, so enhancing the user experience is imperative.” said John Rajchert, president of Honeywell Building Solutions “It allows organisations to extract the most value from their technology investment. Like today’s ubiquitous tablet and mobile devices, Command Wall makes connecting with information and others fast and simple.”

A supplement to the Command Wall is Incident Workflow, which guides users step by step through scripted responses to security incidents and other emergencies, helping further reduce risk and improving accuracy in mitigating issues. In addition, Enterprise Dashboards extend the suite’s real-time visualisation by presenting detailed energy data and actionable guidance to help control consumption and boost efficiency.

Command and Control Suite technologies integrate with Honeywell’s flagship building management platform, Enterprise Buildings Integrator (EBI), which helps facilitate the integration of security, comfort, life safety and energy systems, among other functions. EBI gives users a single point of access and consistent view to information and resources that enhance the ability to monitor, manage and protect a facility, campus or multi-site operation.

The Command Wall with Incident Workflow and Enterprise Dashboards will be available in the second quarter of 2015.

Town councils in fair funding plea

imagesA group of influential town councils has urged their national body, the National Association of Local Councils (NALC), to campaign for fairer funding to ensure tens of millions of pounds of Government funding is passed on to them.

NALC’s Larger Councils Committee, which represents the interests of larger parish and town councils within the organisation, expressed its anger at their recent meeting that a quarter of council tax support funding from the government was being withheld by principal (county, district, borough or unitary) councils.

Previous government ministers had written to councils asking for the money to be passed on, instructions ignored by around 30 authorities and described “as useful a chocolate fireguard” by the committee. Town council leaders have also warned that they expect the situation to get worse as long as principal authorities continue to “get away with it”.

However the committee welcomed the decision by the previous government not to extend referenda principles to parish councils, praising NALC’s campaigning on this issue, but urged continued action to ensure parish budgets are determined locally and without interference by ministers.

NALC welcomes the findings of this committee and will be campaigning on this with the new Conservative Government.

Cllr Ken Cleary, chair of NALC’s Larger Local Councils Committee, said: “It is bitterly disappointing that principal councils have ignored instructions to pass on around £40 million of government funding to parish councils. Letters from previous ministers to councils have been as useful as a chocolate fireguard, so a different approach is now needed.

“Communities have been short-changed by around £10m and this is likely to get worse if principal councils are allowed to get away with it. We need fairer funding for our parishes to ensure they can continue to improve lives and enhance communities.”

Cofely GDF SUEZ wins contract to support Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew

RBG Kew Palm House

RBG Kew Palm House

Cofely GDF SUEZ has been awarded a contract by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBG Kew) to provide services across its estates. The contract includes the world famous Kew Gardens, as well as the 465 acre Wakehurst Place.

The partnership will see Cofely delivering a wide range of fabric, mechanical and electrical maintenance. This is to include buildings such as the Palm House (a Victorian Glasshouse), the Herbarium (which houses over seven million specimens and plays a central role in research into plant biodiversity on Earth) and the Millennium Seed Bank (a new building which focuses on global plant life faced with the threat of extinction and plants of most use for the future).

Cofely will employ a site team of 27, who will travel around the extensive grounds using bespoke bicycles and electric vehicles.

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Director of Corporate Services, Jill McLaughlin commented: “The unique nature of the RBG Kew requires a facilities management partner that truly understands our requirements and priorities – with the inherent flexibility and commitment to meet them. Cofely has demonstrated a willingness to engage at all levels, which will form the basis of a strong partnership going forward.”

Cofely’s CEO Wilfrid Petrie added: “We are delighted to have been awarded this prestigious contract, which builds on an established relationship between our two organisations. Our experience of maintaining complex environmental conditions in many other heritage establishments and the ability to adapt our service delivery to suit clients’ specific needs will prove invaluable in meeting RBG, Kew’s requirements.”

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