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Cambridge Live - Independent Review: Findings & Recommendations

Meeting: 03/10/2019 - Environment and Community Scrutiny Committee (Item 49)

49 Cambridge Live - Independent Review: Findings & Recommendations pdf icon PDF 279 KB

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Matter for Decision

Following the decisions taken by this Council, and by Cambridge Live, to end the contract for services with Cambridge Live, and transfer all its staff and undertakings to Cambridge City Council, a review was commissioned into the events that led to this point.


A review has now been conducted by an industry expert, Mark Taylor, on behalf of the East of England Local Government Association.


The review reported on an investigation into events that are seen very differently from different viewpoints, and finds that both the Council and Cambridge Live could have acted differently at key points, in ways that might have increased the chances of the independent trust developing into a successful and viable entity for the long-term. It highlights the learning from other trusts, in particular that the first five years at least of a new trust are often difficult, and that establishing a trust with an intention of achieving savings is unlikely to create a sustainable basis from which to build a thriving organisation.


The intent of the report is not to cast blame on any individual or organisation, but to highlight areas where lessons can be learned, which might be valuable in managing other arms-length relationships, or in any future decision to create an arms-length trust.


The review has the benefit not only of hindsight into what happened, but also of the passing of time in respect of other organisations, to give a different view on trust formation from that which was taken at the time of the trust’s formation.


This review did not examine in depth the financial position of Cambridge Live. Members will be informed separately when the auditors complete the accounts for the trust, on the balance sheet at the point of transfer.


Decision of Executive Councillor for Communities

Noted the report, and to ask officers to consider how the learning might best be applied to current and future relationships.


Reason for the Decision

As set out in the Officer’s report.


Any Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

Not applicable.


Scrutiny Considerations

The Committee received a report from the Strategic Director.


The Committee noted the report referred to “An unnecessary and unhelpful hostility was allowed to build up between the two organisations”. (Cambridge Live and the City Council.) Queried why did this happen and could it have been avoided.


The Strategic Director said the following in response to Members’ questions:

       i.          Part of the Cambridge Live role was to seek private sector sponsorship. The City Council will seek sponsorship in future.

     ii.          The report said there were some difficult relationships between Cambridge Live and the City Council. Officers tried to make the relationship work. Other arms-length organisations reported the same issue.


The Chief executive said the two organisations were trying to establish their own identities (when Cambridge Live was set up) so needed to recalibrate their relationship. She was not aware of any issues at the time but the report said there was a difficult relationship.


The Committee unanimously resolved to endorse the recommendation.


The Executive Councillor approved the recommendation.


Conflicts of Interest Declared by the Executive Councillor (and any Dispensations Granted)

No conflicts of interest were declared by the Executive Councillor.