Present:    Gareth Edwards, Streetscape and Sustainable Environment Manager;
Mary Slinn, Bereavement Services Manager; Alan Brown, Senior HR Officer; Hamish Pringle, Project Manager; Robert Warhurst, Cemeteries/Crematorium Technician; Anthony Gosling, Supervisor; Graham Bennett, Technical Operative; David Mulliner, Bereavement Services Operative; Craig Nicholson (Unison); Tracey Evans, (Unison); Shawn Reed (GMB); Steve Otter (UNITE)

Apologies:    Sandra Daniels (Bereavement Officer, South); Suzanne Roberts, Crematorium Technician

1.0    Introduction
Brief introduction took place of the people who were present.  Following on from this Gareth, asked everyone present if there had been any feedback from the informal consultation meetings that had been recently held:
•    Concerns that we may be a bit “light weight” to go it alone – Gareth explained the reason why it was just Bereavement Services at the moment, but added that there could be opportunities for other services to join the company, as it moves forward.

2.0        Questions and Answers
•    Will suggestions, comments etc from staff be listened to?
Yes.  The success of Orbitas will be defined by its staff and therefore all comments, suggestions, queries and ideas you have are very welcome.  It is always useful to capture this information and if you have any ideas about how this can best be done please let us know.

•    What control will the company have in relation to budgets?
Cheshire East Council remains the sole owner of the company and will have a direct say, through the governing board, on the company’s annual budget and business targets.  Orbitas will have far greater freedom in deciding how its annual budget is pent and what supplies and services it uses.  Orbitas will also be able to develop additional icome streams and a (yet to be agreed) percentage of this will be retained for discretionary use.

•    Will the company be tied to established contracts?
The current contracts used by the service are all being reviewed to determine what obligations they contain.  Decisions will be required as to whether it is in Orbitas favour to continue these agreements (an example of this is for the energy the company uses) or whether it is better for the company to set up its own contracts.

•    What will be the structure of the new company?
This has not yet been determined – as soon as a draft is available we will circulate it.

•    Will the main base be at Pyms Lane Depot?
Orbitas will continue to operate from its administration offices in Crewe and Macclesfield.  It is highly unlikely that any Orbitas staff will be located at any non bereavement site.

•    Will there be a review of job roles?
Job roles can be reviewed at any stage to reflect changes in responsibilities or roles.

•    How much input will the staff have within the new company?
It is already acknowledged that the success of our existing bereavement service is down to your commitment, knowledge and enthusiasm.  The ambition for Orbitas is therefore to ensure that the level of service you provide is maintained and where possible enhanced.   Orbitas will also actively be seeking new opportunities to improve the overall service offering and your role in achieving all this is crucial.   If you have any ideas or suggestions as to how you would like this to happen please let us know.

•    Will the Councillors who have been elected on to the Board be visiting the staff?
Yes.  As of yet the Board has not yet been officially appointed however, the Chairman, Councillor David Marren, has already expressed a wish to come and meet all Orbitas staff and a meeting will be set up shortly.

3.0        Frequency of Meetings
It was agreed that the frequency of the staff, stakeholder meetings  would be on a monthly basis, though it could be more often if required.

4.0        Feedback
It was generally felt that the way in which information is communicated at the present time worked well ie e mail and distribution to those not on e mail. In respect of the staff newsletter, it was agreed that this should be issued on a monthly basis.  With regard to feedback from the staff meetings, staff present at these meetings would feedback to their colleagues and bring any questions to the next meeting.

5.0        Considerations
•    Uniforms – the colour of the uniforms was discussed and staff suggestions included: burgundy; dark navy; black.  It was agreed that this would be taken back for all staff to comment on.
•    Method Statements – these are about the way we carry out our roles and it will be important for staff to have input into them to ensure that everything is captured.
•    Transport/plant/equipment – a staff subgroup has been set up to discuss these issues, however it is important for all staff to have an input.
•    Formal consultations are set for staff on 7th November.


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