Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

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Items
No. Item

41/20

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

42/20

Declarations of interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

43/20

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 matters.

44/20

Minutes of the meeting held on 1 December 2020 pdf icon PDF 247 KB

The Chair will move that the minutes of the meeting be signed as a correct record. The only part of the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 1 December 2021 were confirmed as an accurate record and signed by the Chair.

45/20

Medium Term Financial Strategy and Budget Update Report 2021/22 to 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 1002 KB

This report presents an updated Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for the period 2021/22 to 2024/25 and provides detail to inform Council in setting Council Tax for 2021/22.

Report of the Executive Director of Corporate Services (Section 151 Officer)

 

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Cabinet note:

 

1)    The revised Medium Term Financial Strategy 2021/22 to 2024/25 as detailed in Appendix 1 of the report.

 

2)    The aims and objectives of the Medium Term Financial Strategy which will be presented to Council for approval on 25 February 2021.

 

3)    The formal budget public consultation began on 11 November 2020 and ended on 3 January 2021. The internal consultation on staffing proposals commenced on 14 December 2020 and ended on 22 January 2021. Following the consultation, the budget proposals have been revised as shown in paragraph 1.6 and the outcome of the consultation is summarised in section 20 and Appendix 6 of the report.

 

4)    The budget proposals are based on the assumptions detailed within the Medium Term Financial Strategy and that this includes a Council Tax increase of £5.00 in 2021/22, allowable under general powers to increase Council Tax without a referendum.

 

5)    That further proposals will need to be considered to address future years budget gap in 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25.

 

6)    That the Financial Policies have been reviewed and the updated Financial Policies are detailed in Appendix 4 of the report.

 

Cabinet Recommend Council to

 

Note:

 

7)    The S151 Officer’s (Executive Director of Corporate Services) statutory report regarding the robustness of the estimates and the adequacy of reserves detailed in section 13 of the report.

 

8)    That the Executive Director of Corporate Services (S151 Officer) on the 8 January 2021 calculated the Council Tax base for the whole Council area at 66,627.2 Band D equivalents and for dwellings in those parts of its area to which a parish precept relates as per Appendix 2 (available for final report to Council).

 

9)    The county, police and fire authority precepts detailed in Appendix 3 (available for final report to Council).

 

10)That as the billing authority, the Council has not been notified by any major precepting authority that its relevant basic amount of Council Tax for 2021/22 is excessive and the billing authority is therefore not required to hold a referendum, in accordance with section 52ZK of the Local Government Finance Act 1992.

 

11)The risks and sensitivities within the financial forecasts highlighted in section 10 and in Appendix 5 of the report.

 

12)That the final government grant settlement figures may not be finalised before the budget is approved and therefore any adjustments to the final figures will be matched by an allocation to or from the MTFS Risk Reserve in accordance with financial policies.

 

Determine:

 

13)That for the purposes of section 35 (2) (d) of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, any expenses incurred by the Borough Council in the financial year 2021/22 in performing functions in a part of the district which elsewhere in the district are performed by a Parish Council, shall not be special expenses of the Borough Council.

 

14)That its relevant basic amount of Council Tax for 2021/22 (£131.42 at Band D) reflects a £5.00 (3.96%) increase which is not excessive in accordance with principles approved under  ...  view the full decision text for item 45/20

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council gave his thanks to the officer team and S151 Officer for the work involved to provide a robust Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) and budget.

 

Cabinet considered the report which provided an update to the MTFS and a summary of revenue budget proposals for 2021/22.  The Cabinet Member for Finance and Service Improvement stated that the proposals had been widely consulted on, and based on feedback, some proposals had been reconsidered with charging for disabled parking, pest control charges and phased reduction for parish council grass cutting being removed from the updated budget proposals.  She added that given the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, a balanced budget had been achieved.  Furthermore the council plan remained the focus point for prioritising spend to what mattered to residents such as weekly bin collections, supporting vulnerable residents, eradicating rough sleeping, safer neighbourhoods, and providing efficient and flexible services.  She added that this could be supported partly by the significant amount of annual income received from investment returns.  She further added that the council remained a low tax council.

 

Visiting Councillors K Taylor, Harvey and McCormick were invited to address the meeting.

 

Councillor Taylor was pleased that the proposal for charges for disabled parking had been removed but requested that cabinet reconsider proposals for an increase in charges for those residents over 60 for allotment charges and an increase in outdoor bowling charges of which both activities were of particular importance to older age groups.  She also asked for reconsideration of bin charges particularly in relation to the concession for those in receipt of benefits and felt that it was unfair to align bin charges with those in Hart which was a more affluent area.  She also considered that the charges for bulk waste were excessive which could lead to an increase in illegal waste carriers.

 

The Cabinet member for Environment and Enforcement responded to the comments regarding bins.  She stated that she took on board the comments but added that recycling bins were still free, most household waste bins were purchased for new developments and should be provided by the developer as part of the house purchase.  She added that charges even aligned with Hart, were still reasonable compared to charges by other local authorities and bulky waste was a discretionary service and the charges were reasonable.  She further added that a lot of work and communication had been undertaken in relation to illegal waste carriers.

 

Councillor Harvey thanked officers for the time and effort that had been spent to produce the budget and appreciated the challenges that had been faced.  He was concerned regarding the lack of response to the consultation and would have welcomed a response from the Cabinet to his emails regarding the budget proposals.  He was concerned regarding the proposal for staff redundancies particularly in relation to frontline services such as the operations team where the demands on the team due to new developments were increasing.  He also raised concern regarding the proposal to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45/20

46/20

Capital Programme Update and Strategy 2020/21 to 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 847 KB

This report provides an update on the capital programme and Capital Programme Strategy for 2020/21 to 2024/25 for Council approval.

Report of the Executive Director of Corporate Services (Section 151 Officer)

 

Decision:

1)    Note the addition of £20.934M to the capital programme requiring approval to spend and the removal of capital scheme savings of £0.406M, which gives rise to a net increase of £20.528M to the overall capital programme as detailed in sections 4 to 5 and Appendix 2 of the report.

 

2)    Note the revised capital programme which totals £89.638M as detailed in sections 2 to 8 and Appendix 1 of the report and the associated use of resources.

 

3)    Note the rephasing and slippage as set out in section 6 and as detailed in Appendix 3 of the report.

 

4)    Note the capital programme remains fully funded up to 2024/25 based on the latest forecast of available resources.

 

5)    Note that a review of the Capital Programme Strategy has been undertaken as detailed in section 9 and the updated Capital Programme Strategy is attached as Appendix 4 of the report.

 

Recommend that Council:

 

6)    Agree the addition of £20.934M to the capital programme and the removal of scheme savings of £0.406M, which gives rise to a net increase of £20.528M to the overall capital programme as detailed in sections 4 to 5 and Appendix 2 of the report.

 

7)    Approve the revised capital programme, which totals £89.638M (as detailed in paragraphs 2 to 8 and Appendix 1 of the report) and the associated use of resources.

 

8)    Approve expenditure being incurred on capital schemes in accordance with the revised capital programme and Financial Procedures.

 

9)    Approve the slippage and rephasing as set out in section 6 and as detailed in Appendix 3 of the report.

 

10)Note that the capital programme remains fully funded up to 2024/25 based on the latest forecast of available resources.

 

11)Approve the Capital Programme Strategy detailed in Appendix 4 of the report.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Service Improvement introduced the report which provided an update on the capital programme and Capital Programme Strategy for 2020/21 to 2024/25.  She stated that the capital programme was key to support and enable communities to develop the infrastructure they need to thrive and it was positive to see schemes in the capital programme to be delivered in the future, with a proposal of an additional £20 million to be added to the programme.  She highlighted the varied schemes within the programme such as CCTV to deter fly tipping, upgrading play areas and move-on accommodation for rough sleepers.  She also added that the capital programme was fully funded up to 2024/25. The past year had been challenging and therefore funding for some schemes required rephasing.  She highlighted the importance of the strategy as a vital part of how capital investment was financed, managed, allocated and how spending was prioritised.

 

Councillor McCormick addressed Cabinet and asked the following:

 

·         Was there money for the ice rink if money was needed to be put aside and where would it come from?  He was happy to accept a written answer.

·         Clarification regarding the two amounts of £1 million for parking and climate emergency as budget amendment roll forwards as they couldn’t be implemented due to the pandemic and could similar increased investment be expected going forward particularly for climate change?

·         Was there any provision for local energy initiatives?

 

Cabinet members responded to the questions and agreed to provide a written answer in relation to funding for the ice rink.  It was highlighted that funding for climate change cut across all portfolios and it was something the council wanted to be ambitious about to achieve targets.  It was also confirmed that the funding for parking was being rolled forward and additional funding had been added for the future year.

 

Resolved: To note

 

1)            The addition of £20.934M to the capital programme requiring approval to spend and the removal of capital scheme savings of £0.406M, which gives rise to a net increase of £20.528M to the overall capital programme as detailed in sections 4 to 5 and Appendix 2 of the report.

 

2)            The revised capital programme which totals £89.638M as detailed in sections 2 to 8 and Appendix 1 of the report and the associated use of resources.

 

3)            The rephasing and slippage as set out in section 6 and as detailed in Appendix 3 of the report.

 

4)            The capital programme remains fully funded up to 2024/25 based on the latest forecast of available resources.

 

5)            That a review of the Capital Programme Strategy has been undertaken as detailed in section 9 and the updated Capital Programme Strategy is attached as Appendix 4 of the report.

 

Recommendation to Council: That Council

 

6)            Agree the addition of £20.934M to the capital programme and the removal of scheme savings of £0.406M, which gives rise to a net increase of £20.528M to the overall capital programme as detailed in sections 4 to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46/20

47/20

Property Investment Strategy Annual Property Plan 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 503 KB

This report sets out the proposed 2021/22 Annual Property Plan for the council’s property investment portfolio in pursuance of its agreed Property Investment Strategy objectives, in support of the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy.

 

Recommendation from the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Property

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the Property Investment Strategy Annual Property Plan 2021-22 be approved.

Minutes:

Cabinet considered a report which set out the proposed Annual Property Plan for the council’s property investment portfolio.

 

The Cabinet Member for Property and Regeneration stated that property provided 12.39% of income, a significant contributor to the council’s ability to provide services.  He added that the Plan focused on key priorities aimed at ensuring that the portfolio was more balanced across sectors such as retail, industrial and offices, was of better quality, offered better opportunities for rental growth and was more defensive and less management intensive.  He stated that JLL, leading property advisors, had been appointed to work with officers to evaluate assets, review underperforming properties that the council may seek to dispose of in the future and enable new development of existing but outmoded buildings and land.  He concluded that benchmarking performance against other council’s property portfolios and against a property index would also be undertaken as well as work to be undertaken to improve the environmental performance of the portfolio including the use of renewal energy, better insulation and energy generation.

Visiting Member, Councillor McCormick addressed the meeting and was encouraged by the environmental performance of the portfolio.  He referred to the loss of retail jobs in the borough stating that a lot of work was required to get people back into work and attract quality higher paying professional jobs into the town.  He referred to expected annual income of £16.3 million and the level of risk given the percentage of income by rental value of industrial, retail and office and the threat posed by Brexit, Covid-19, and changes to ways of working and asked what risk mitigations were in place.  He also referred to investment made for a new office building to be let to Eli Lilly of £8.9 million and asked what investment could be expected for the Aquadrome or town centre.

 

The Cabinet Member for Property and Regeneration responded that there had been a big impact on retail employment however the council were leading on a new town centre strategy and the council had been quick in its response for an economic recovery package due to Covid-19.  He added that by building Eli Lilly a new HQ, high quality jobs had been retained in the borough.  With regard to the vulnerability of the portfolio, JLL had advised that the property portfolio was robust because it was heavily weighted to industrial property which was prospering well with demand for renting warehouse accommodation.  He also advised that in relation to the Aquadrome, budget provision was available for further investment in the Aquadrome to ensure it remained a good facility for residents.

 

Resolved: The Property Investment Strategy Annual Property Plan 2021-22 be approved.

 

Reason for the decision:

 

Implementation of the Plan will build on the work commenced in 2017/18 to increase the council’s rental income and to work towards ensuring a more balanced & efficient property investment portfolio, providing a stable long term source of income which will contribute to the generation of additional income to meet the council’s  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47/20

48/20

Adoption of the Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy pdf icon PDF 592 KB

Following the declaration of a climate emergency, work has been undertaken to develop a new strategy to set out the principles for action to meet targets, together with a plan setting out actions in more detail, which has been publicly consulted on.

 

This report sets out the feedback that has been received and the key changes proposed as a result.

 

Recommendation from the Cabinet Member for Environment and Enforcement

Additional documents:

Decision:

1)    Note the responses to the consultation on the draft strategy and resultant amendments.

 

2)    Recommend that Council adopt the final Climate Change and Air Quality Strategy and the 20/21 Action Plan.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Environment and Enforcement introduced the report which set out the feedback that had been received following consultation on the strategy and the key changes proposed as a result.  She stated that the strategy culminated in a significant amount of work to date and would shape future work and actions.  She thanked everyone who had contributed.  She added that the targets set out in the climate emergency declaration were demanding and ambitious and recognised that the work undertaken to date set the framework for more actions to be developed and implemented which would require ongoing resource and commitment to achieve the targets.  She highlighted the important steps that had been taken to reduce emissions such as moving electricity supply to green sources, rolling out electric vehicle charging points, the introduction of electric vehicles (EV) for the council’s parking team and that climate change was considered in all decisions and included in other strategy documents.  She concluded that there was a long way to go, climate change was something that cut across all cabinet member’s portfolios and the good work already undertaken would continue to be built on.

Members of the public, Miranda Chubb and Martin Heath were invited to address Cabinet with their comments.

 

Miranda Chubb referred to the Climate Emergency Action Plan and was appreciative of the time and effort involved to produce the strategy and action plan.  She requested that the plan be reviewed and actions refined into SMART objectives with specific targets as not all of the actions had specific, measurable targets and metrics/KPI’s to measure progress towards them.  She also stated that it was not clear whether the action plan, if achieved, would result in the required 13.1% emissions reduction for the borough within the year.

 

The Cabinet Member for Environment and Enforcement thanked the speaker for her comments.  She stated that the action plan was a starting point and would be updated annually.  She accepted that there were aspects of the plan that needed further development and detail which would be added over time.  She added that the targets were ambitious and challenging and some of the actions required significant consideration and development.  Overall progress of the plan would be monitored against targets by measuring the carbon footprint of the council as an organisation and also the borough as a whole based on the latest available data which would be reported annually. Where possible carbon emission reduction resulting from specific actions would also be measured however there were instances where it may not be possible such as the rollout of EV charging points.  She added that timeframes for some actions had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and were open to reviewing actions and amending and updating the plan as necessary.  She added that she welcomed engagement and suggestions for actions and were working with local organisations.

 

Martin Heath was pleased that climate emergency was a priority across all portfolio’s and felt that there was an opportunity to create well paid jobs,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48/20