Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2 - Deanes. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Team 

Link: Video Recording

Items
No. Item

18/18

Apologies for absence and substitutions

Minutes:

Councillor Miller was replaced by Councillor George.

 

19/18

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

20/18

Urgent Matters

To consider any items of business, other than those shown on this agenda and which, by reason of special circumstances to be stated at the meeting, in the opinion of the Chairman, should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.

 

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

21/18

Performance Panel update pdf icon PDF 206 KB

Contact Officer: Carol Lake

 

The committee is asked to note the draft minutes of the Performance Panel meeting of 1st October and the Council Plan 2016-2020 Performance Tracker Q1 Year-end 2018-19 scorecard results. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee received an update from the Chair of the Performance Panel. The update included notes from the meeting held on 1 October 2018, and a review of the Q1 2018-19 Performance Scorecard results.

 

Key focus areas and points for concern raised by the panel included:

 

·         A need for members to understand the nature of a complaint as compared with a service request and to ensure clear reporting accordingly;

·         A request to investigate an observation that the report details for the Q1 revenue and capital monitoring report appeared to differ from the report reviewed by the audit committee;

·         Concern that KPIs appeared to be based on completion of projects and strategy rather than underlying empirical data.

 

The Chair of the Performance Panel noted that of the 18 KPIs reviewed, 15 were rated green and 3 amber. Whilst it was acknowledged that this may be an accurate reflection it was felt that it made worthwhile scrutiny difficult.

 

It was noted that the methodology for measuring KPIs was currently under review, and requested that any future methodology should attempt to measure and record more meaningful data. 

22/18

Medium Term Financial Forecast and Budget Strategy 2019/20 to 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Contact Officer: Philip Hood

 

To note and comment on the Medium Term Financial Forecast and Budget Strategy for 2019/20 to 2022/23.

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement introduced the Medium Term Financial Forecast and Budget Strategy for 2019/20 to 2021/23.

 

The forecast was presented in the context of a prediction of government funding continuing to reduce with an expectation that there will be no revenue support grant from 2019/20, an estimated loss of £300,000.00.

 

The Chair invited the following members to speak regarding this item:-

Cllr P Harvey

Cllr A McCormick

 

In response to queries raised the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement commented that in the context of the budget, efficiency savings would not equate to cuts but to providing better value.

 

It was acknowledged that whilst the New Homes Bonus was an important platform for the council to earn revenue it was impossible to predict its value with any clarity and consequently its impact to the budget.

 

It was stated that whilst it was not possible to predict budgets for partnership authorities, the council aimed to best use its resources to protect the most vulnerable in society and to absorb any service cut by other authorities. 

 

The committee made a range of comments and raised concerns on the following issues:-

 

·         Whether it was a legitimate use to apply commuted sums to street cleaning;

·         Whether using commuted sums towards a particular service could then be used to offset the budget provision for that service;

·         Whether the organisation was at risk of losing talent with a budgeted pay increase of 2% as opposed to a UK pay growth figure of 3%, particularly against the backdrop of high staff turnover; 

·         Concern that wording in Appendix 3 detailing ‘Efficiencies in staff and support revenue costs….reviewed to reduce or redirect as required’ implied staff redundancies or cuts, particularly given the allocation for two high level executive posts at salaries of £80,000 and £104,000 respectively;

·         For clarification purposes, a request to re-word section 4.2; and

·         For clarification purposes, a request to re-word the section relating to production of Basingstoke and Deane Today in Appendix 3.

 

It was clarified that in the context of the budget the key Council Plan themes were all equally important and required to work together to provide a well-rounded strategy. 

 

It was clarified that there had been no formal advice from central government in relation to the financial implications of Brexit.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement clarified that the goal of the administration was to deliver the best quality services to residents. It was clarified that the high level role salaried at £104,000 was already in existence and occupied.

 

It was clarified that as the document detailed budget proposals, it did not record current programme expenditure, only additional allocations or extensions.

 

It was further clarified that the Local Plan revenue allocations detailed under Appendix 5ii, represented the flow of work over a 3 year period which included an income figure of £14,000.

 

In response to a query, the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement commented that there may be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22/18

23/18

Draft Fees & Charges Report for 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Contact Officer: Phillip Hood

 

To note and comment on the proposals for Draft Fees and Charges for 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance, Service Delivery and Improvement introduced and outlined the Draft Fees and Charges proposals for 2019/20. It was noted that this committee’s comments would be taken into account when the proposals were presented to Cabinet on 4th December.

 

The Chair invited the following members to speak regarding this item:-

Cllr P Harvey

Cllr A McCormick

 

Concern was voiced at the use of commuted sums for key services, increases to the household garden waste service, burial charges, hire of sports pitches and Centre Shuttle prices.

 

The committee made a range of comments on the following issues:-

 

Car Parking

There was comment that parking charges should not be raised by such a percentage because of the potential impact on visitor numbers.  Some concern was voiced that raised parking charges would adversely affect those people that lived outside the town centre, and lead to a negative impact on town centre retailers and leisure facilities. 

 

Concern was also raised that high charges were forcing car users on to local residential streets creating tensions between commuters and local residents.

 

Cemeteries

There was comment that this fee appeared to be above inflation, and discussion regarding these increases rectifying longer-term under-charging which had led to an increase in demand creating pressures on the service.

 

Centre Shuttle

Comment was made about increases to the Centre Shuttle fees being a deterrent to encouraging increased use.  

 

Concerns were expressed that any further undermining of the Centre Shuttle service would exacerbate parking pressures in the Town Centre.  Concern was also expressed that the Centre Shuttle did not feature in the New River proposals for the Retail Park.

 

Household Garden Waste

It was noted that this was a popular service amongst residents and some concern was voiced that higher costs may have an adverse effect on service take-up.

 

The impact of any reduction in the take up of this service due to increased charges will impact negatively on the already disappointinglylow recycling targets set for the Council.

 

S106 commuted sums

A comment was made that a proportion of this income had been integrated into the mainstream budget but had not been adequately reflected in the budget for environment and maintenance teams given the increased growth and requirements from new housing developments. 

 

It was felt by members of the Committee that commuted sums were being appropriated to plug the resource gaps in the grounds maintenance and street care budgets.

 

The proposed budget did not reflect a necessary and required proportionate increase in staff numbers or service provision commensurate with growth and newly adopted areas relating to development.

 

Land charges

A concern was voiced that raising charges for hire of sports playing fields would act as a deterrent to many and that the council should instead be actively encouraging activity. It was requested that analysis be conducted to ensure that increasing costs of sport provision would not lead to reduced participation.

 

The committee sought clarification and amendment on the following matters:-

 

Property Development Portfolio

·         Increase of 3%  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23/18

24/18

The council's media guidelines pdf icon PDF 414 KB

Contact Officer: Sara Shepherd

 

This report is presented in response to a request by the Scrutiny committee at its June meeting, to review the council’s media guidelines, especially in relation to ward councillors and news releases.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader introduced the Council’s Media Guidelines and Use report, which had been produced in response to this committee’s request in June to review the council’s media guidelines, particularly in relation to ward councillors and news releases.

The Leader noted that this was an area that was well defined by legislation, and as such was an operational matter.

The Communications and Marketing Manager presented an overview of the report.

The Chair invited the following members to speak regarding this item:-

Cllr P Harvey

Cllr C Regan

Cllr A McCormick

Cllr C Wooldridge

 

The speakers recounted a variety of anecdotes whereby ward councillors had been heavily involved in ward related projects, some over a number of years, but where Portfolio Holders had then been credited for the work in the local press.

 

The following comments and requests were made:

·         That there be a stronger distinction between executive decisions and ward related projects. It was suggested that there appeared to be preference to highlighting work of Cabinet members over the remainder of the council;

·         That there appeared to be a pro-administration bias as evidenced by sections 1.1. and 1.2 of the Executive Summary which stated that the ‘communications function is to promote the work of the council, within the approved budgetary and policy framework’;

·         A request to quote ward members alongside the accountable person.

 

The Communications and Marketing Manager clarified that the Corporate Communications team had no political bias at all.

 

It was further stated that the distinction between launches and photo calls should be noted.

 

It was suggested that following the next elections which would result in 3 member wards, it would prove logistically difficult to include ward member quotes in addition to the accountable person quote.

 

The Corporate Communications team were praised by the committee for the work that they undertake.

 

The committee made a range of comments and suggestions:-

 

·         A request to occasionally include residents in press releases where they have been heavily involved in local initiatives;

·         A request for proper recognition and inclusion of ward councillors in press releases relating to specific local ward projects and initiatives;

·         A requirement for any press release to be circulated to all members;

·         A request to alert ward members to drafting of relevant press releases to ensure early awareness, if possible at least 24 hours in advance;

·         A request that all ward councillors are invited to any ward related openings or launches;

·         A revision of guidelines to ensure that where accountable persons are quoted there is no false assumption of credit for projects that there has been no involvement in;

·         In particular to LIF applications, a request that the lead councillor originating or initiating an application be regarded as a first point of contact for any press release quote;

·         Suggested inclusion of a risk analysis section within the guidelines in relation to pitfalls that councillors may unwittingly be susceptible to in dealings with the press;

·         Understanding was expressed that there was sometimes a need for urgent press releases, however it  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24/18

25/18

Review of Work Programme

Minutes:

The Committee reviewed and agreed its work programme as detailed.

 

Cllr Robinson proposed submission of a work programme suggestion form to invite Network Rail and South West Trains to attend a future Scrutiny meeting.