Agenda and draft minutes

Strategy and Resources Committee
Monday, 3rd February, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Barum Room - Brynsworthy. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Community Services  01271 388253

Items
No. Item

90.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Wilkinson.

91.

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 6th January 2020 (attached). pdf icon PDF 269 KB

Minutes:

In pursuance to minute 80, Councillor Yabsley advised that he had sought assurance from officers that he would be involved and kept informed of the process in relation to the operator achieving compliance with the noise related planning conditions associated with Batsworthy Cross Windfarm and would report back to the Committee.

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 6th January 2020 (circulated previously) be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

92.

Declarations of Interests.

(Please telephone the Corporate and Community Services team to prepare a form for your signature before the meeting.  Interests must be re-declared when the item is called, and Councillors must leave the room if necessary).

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest announced.

93.

Performance and Financial Management Quarter 3 of 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 299 KB

Report by Head of Resources (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Resources (circulated previously) regarding the Performance and Financial Management report for Quarter 3 of 2019/20.

 

The Accountancy Services Manager highlighted the following:

 

·         As at 31st December 2019, the latest forecast net expenditure was £12,512,000, which produced a forecast budget surplus of £6,000. Quarter 2 forecast a budget deficit of £87,000.  Details were shown in Appendix A – Variations in the Revenue Budget. The main variances supporting the £93,000 positive movement from quarter two to quarter three included savings within Temporary Accommodation and ICT Software and Devon WAN contract.

·         The original budget for 2019/20 included a forecast to achieve £239,000 worth of salary vacancy savings.  This was reduced to £214,000 as a result of a virement in respect of the redesign of the salary pay structure. The current position forecasts this will be exceeded by £17,000.

·         A review of procedures and processes within Works and Recycling was carried out at quarter two and a targeted spend had been set in respect of the vehicle workshop, challenging resources across all Works and Recycling manual sections and to reduce sickness levels.  As a result of these changes a reduction in overtime and agency costs was factored within the quarter 2 projections.  The current figures indicated that these targeted reductions were being achieved, although it would continue to be closely monitored until the end of the financial year.

·         The sale of recyclable material continued to be an uncontrollable variable where there had recently been a reduction to zero for glass and cardboard, although the sale price of plastic had increased significantly. The continued volatility remained a risk on-going and would be monitored closely. 

·         At the 31st December 2019, a £200,000 increase to business rates growth had already been factored into the budget, the growth was now estimated to be £1,702,000.

·         Appendix B – “Movement in reserves and balances” detailed the movements to and from earmarked reserves in 2019/20.

·         Appendix C – “Strategic Contingency Reserve” detailed the Strategic Contingency Reserve movements and commitments.

·         Appendix D – “Capital Programme”.  The Budget and Financial Framework report to Executive 4th February 2019 outlined the Capital Programme for the 2019/20 financial year of £9,609,022.

·         Variations of £908,967 were proposed to the 2019/20 Capital Programme as detailed in paragraph 4.4.3 of the report.

·         Variations of £528,428 were proposed to the 2020/21 Capital Programme as detailed in paragraph 4.4.4 of the report.

·         Variations of £171,413 were proposed to the 2021/22 Capital Programme as detailed in paragraph 4.4.5 of the report.

·         The revised Capital Programme for 2019/20 taking into account the budget variations was £8,102,276.

·         Actual spend on the 2019/20 Capital Programme, as at 31st December 2019 was £3,795,934.

·         The overall Capital Programme for 2019/20 to 2021/22 was £31,275,809.

·         The Programme of £31,275,809 was funded by Capital Receipts (£14,082,815), External Grants and Contributions (£14,618,838) and Reserves (£2,574,156). 

·         Once funds had been included in the Capital Programme the Constitution required a separate decision to release those funds. Accordingly the HGV ramp scheme needed the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 93.

94.

Review of Charges and Fees for Services 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Report by Head of Resources (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Resources (circulated previously) regarding the review of Charges and Fees for Services 2020/21.

 

The Head of Resources highlighted the following:

 

·         It was proposed that the fees and charges be increased by 3% which was in line with inflation with the exception of the services outlined in paragraphs 4.3 to 4.8 in the report.

 

In response to questions, the Head of Resources advised the following:

·         The review of the Trade Waste Service from Holiday homes had been reviewed replacing the weekly collections with fortnightly collections.  This was to align the service with others part of the Waste and Recycling service.  However, clarification would be sought as to whether customers had been consulted on the proposed changes to the frequency of collections and the reason for the proposed change.  This information would be presented to the Policy Development Committee at its meeting on 13th February 2020 and circulated to Councillors prior to Council on 26th February 2020.

·         The charges for the collection of Trade Waste were still competitive.  The Trade Service would be reviewed as part of the Works and Recycling Service Plan for 2020/21 to ensure that the service was more efficient and fees covered the costs of the provision of the service.  Once this review had been completed work would be undertaken to promote the service. 

·         The Barnstaple Town Centre Manager sat on the Pannier Market Traders Committee.  There was currently no Councillor appointed to the Committee.

 

The Chief Executive advised that previously the Leader of the Council informally sat on the Pannier Market Traders Committee and that a formal appointment of a representative on the Committee would be made if required.

 

RECOMMENDED:

 

(a)

That there be a 3% increase in fees for 2020/21 financial year, for the following services:

 

Allotments – Appendix A

Trade Waste – Appendix C

Cemetery fees – Appendix F

Sports pitches – Appendix G

Pannier Market Charges (subject to consultation with the traders committee)

Appendix H

Bulky Collections – Appendix I

 

(b)

That the remaining fees be varied by the elements outlined in paragraphs 4.3 to 4.8 in the report.

 

95.

Revenue Budget 2020/21, Capital Programme and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2020-2024 pdf icon PDF 459 KB

Report by Chief Financial Officer (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Resources (circulated previously) regarding the Revenue Budget 2020-21, Capital Programme and Medium Term Financial Strategy 2020-2024.

 

RESOLVED that as part of the budget setting process that in future a briefing be arranged for the Committee to gain a full understanding  prior to formal consideration of the budget.

 

The Head of Resources highlighted the following:

 

·         Government settlement December 2019.  The provisional 2020-21 settlement (included the Rural Services Delivery Grant) was £3.317m.  In cash terms this was £48,000 more than 2019/20 (1.5% increase) in line with last year.  The Fair Funding Review had been delayed by one year until April 2021.  The New Homes Bonus in-year allocation had been allocated for 2020/21 only.  There were no legacy payments on the 2020/21 allocation.  The Government was intending to consult on the future of housing incentive in Spring 2020 to move towards a new, targeted approach.  The Rural Services Delivery Grant matched the 2019/20 level.  Council Tax levels for District Councils could be increased by up to 2% or £5 whichever was higher.  The referendum in relation to Council Tax levels for Town and Parish Councils had been deferred.

·         The reduction in Government funding for 2012/13 to 2020/21.  Funding had reduced from £28.1bn to £18.5bn (34%) to 2019/20.  There were potential significant changes to core funding from the Government from 2021/22 onwards and the Council needed to put plans in place to become more commercial and improve efficiencies across the whole Council.

·         Medium Term Financial Plan (2019-23) approved by Council in February 2019 was based on a number of financial assumptions about the future which included: funding from Central Government, retained Business Rates income and future Council Tax levels, cost pressures and saving plans, and contributions to and from reserves (e.g. vehicle replacement).  The forecast budget gap as at this time last year from 2021/22 onwards was outlined.

·         New Homes Bonus changes introduced in 2017 and potential changes for 2021/22 year onwards.

·         New Homes Bonus provisional level of funding to 2020/21.  The level of funding for 2019/20 was £1,445,670.  The Medium Term Financial Plan assumed £1.446m, therefore there was an additional £391,000. It was recommended that £250,000 be placed into a reserve for transformation and delivery of the corporate plan.  For 2021/22 the projected income was £814,531, therefore was a potential reduction of over £1m funding on the current level.  For 2022/23 the projected income was £434,860, therefore was a potential reduction of over £1.4m funding on the current level.  There was uncertainty around future funding and design of the new scheme for 2021/22. 

·         The 2020/21 Business Rate retention forecast income was £1.986m.  The 2020/21 draft budget (above baseline funding) included £1.658m income.  Reform of Local Government funding from 2021/22 onwards. 

·         Local Government Finance funding reforms which included: Spending Review for the period 2021/22; a review of relative needs and resources; Business Rates retention pilots; Business Rates baseline reset; Fair Funding review; New Homes Bonus review; reforms to Local Government funding would change the level  ...  view the full minutes text for item 95.

96.

Adjournment of Meeting

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the meeting be adjourned to enable a five minute comfort break.

 

RESOLVED that it being 12.30 pm, the meeting be reconvened.

 

97.

Order of Agenda

Minutes:

RESOLVED that item 14 be considered prior to item 9 on the agenda.

 

98.

Approval and Release of Section 106 Public Open Space Funds - Berrynarbor pdf icon PDF 210 KB

Report by Project, Procurement and Open Space Officer (attached).

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Project, Procurement and Open Space Officer (circulated previously) regarding the allocation of section 106 public open space funds towards projects in Berrynarbor.

 

The Project, Procurement and Open Space Officer highlighted the project details as detailed in paragraphs 4.1 to 4.3 and the financial implications as detailed in paragraphs 5.1 to 5.3 of the report.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(a)

That £5,274.32 be allocated to Berrynarbor Parish Council towards the refurbishment of Manor Hall;

 

(b)

That £7,593.10 be allocated to Berrynarbor Parish Council towards the provision of new play equipment at Manor Hall;

 

(c)

That £9,074.58 be allocated to Berrynarbor Parish Council towards the provision of new play equipment at the Recreation Field;

 

RECOMMENDED:

 

(d)

That Council vary the capital programme by £21,942 and that funds be released, subject to a Funding Agreement upon such terms and conditions as may be agreed by the Senior Solicitor, for external projects.

 

99.

Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 621 KB

Report by Chief Finanical Officer (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Chief Financial Officer (circulated previously) regarding the Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2020-21.

 

The Head of Resources highlighted the following:

 

·         The Council was required to receive and approve three reports each year which included: Prudential and treasury indicators and treasury strategy (first report), Mid Year Treasury Management report (second report) and an Annual Treasury report (third report).

·         The Council’s investment priorities were security of funds first, portfolio liquidity second and then yield, (return).

·         The Capital Prudential Indicators 2020-21 to 2022-23 as detailed in paragraph 5.1.

·         The Council’s Capital Financing Requirement projections as detailed in paragraph 5.2.

·         Core funds and expected investment balances as detailed in paragraph 5.3.

·         Minimum revenue provision (MRP) policy statement as detailed in paragraph 5.5. The MRP was based on the estimated life of the assets in accordance with the regulations.

·         Current portfolio position and borrowing levels would increase as detailed in paragraph 6.1.  No difficulties were envisaged in the repayment of borrowing.

·         Treasury indicators limits to borrowing activity and the operational boundary as detailed in paragraph 6.2.

·         The majority of investment returns were short-term.

·         Appendix B would be superseded by the Commercialisation Strategy when this comes forward.

·         Economic background as detailed in Appendix C.

 

RECOMMENDED that the Treasury Management Strategy Statement, Minimum Revenue Provision Policy Statement and Annual Investment Statement 2020/2021, including the Treasury Management and Prudential Indicators for 2020/21 to 2022/23, be approved.

 

100.

10 Year Capital Strategy 2020-2030 pdf icon PDF 534 KB

Report by Chief Financial Officer (attached).

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by Chief Financial Officer (circulated previously) regarding the 10 Year Capital Strategy 2020 to 2030.

 

The Head of Resources highlighted the following:

 

·         Prior to 2019, the Council only reviewed capital expenditure and financing over a short period of 2-3 years.   The revised Prudential and Treasury Management code required all local authorities to prepare a Capital Strategy.

·         The capital strategy document covered the ten year period from 2020 to 2030 and would be reviewed annually by Full Council prior to each financial year.

·         The Council’s Capital Project Governance and appraisal process as detailed in paragraph 4.3 of the report.

·         The Capital Strategy for years 2020/21 to 2023/24 (Medium Term) as detailed in paragraph 4.4 of the report.

·         The Capital Strategy for years 2024/25 to 2029/30 (Long Term) as detailed in paragraph 4.5 of the report.

·         The Watersports Centre potential funding bid had not been included in the Strategy and would be presented to a future Committee.

 

RECOMMENDED that the Capital Strategy 2020/21 to 2029/30 be approved.

 

101.

Council Tax Discounts pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Report by Revenues and Benefits Manager (attached).

Minutes:

Councillors Lane, Prowse and Yabsley declared personal interests in the above item as benefit from Council Tax discounts as owned properties that were empty.

 

The Committee considered a report by the Revenues and Benefits Manager (circulated previously) regarding Council Tax Discounts relating to certain properties for the financial year commencing 1 April 2020.

 

The Head of Resources highlighted the following:

 

·         Section 12 (2) of the Local Government Finance Act 2012 allowed local authorities to set a council tax rate for long term empty properties of up to 200% of the normal liability. A ‘long term empty property’ must have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for at least two years

·         From 1 April 2020 the Rating (Property in Common Occupation) and Council Tax (Empty Dwellings) Act 2018 enabled Councils to charge a maximum of 300% of the normal liability against property that has been unoccupied and unfurnished for at least 5 years.

·         From 1 April 2021 the Act also enabled Councils to charge a maximum of 400% of the normal liability against property that had been unoccupied and unfurnished for at least 10 years.

·         The changes were a drive by Government to bring empty properties back into use.

 

RECOMMENDED that Council makes the following determinations in relation to the classes of dwellings set out below for the financial year commencing 1 April 2020 :

 

(a)

Class A and Class B

 

Unoccupied and furnished properties

Set a 0% discount, thereby levying full council tax

 

(b)

Classes A and B do not include any dwelling –

 

a)    Which consists of a pitch occupied by a caravan or a mooring occupied by a boat

b)    Where a qualifying person in relation to that dwelling is a qualifying person in relation to another dwelling in England, Wales or Scotland which is job related

c)    Which for a qualifying person is job related where that person is a qualifying person in relation to another dwelling in England, Wales or Scotland

 

(c)

Class C

 

Unoccupied and substantially unfurnished properties  

Set a discount of 100%, for up to three months.

 

(d)

For the purpose of Class C, in considering whether a dwelling has been unoccupied for any period, any one period, not exceeding six weeks, during which it was occupied shall be disregarded;

 

(e)

Properties which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for over two years, levy the empty home premium of 200% of the normal liability;

 

(f)

Properties which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for over five years, levy the empty home premium of 300% of the normal liability;

 

(g)

That from April 2021 properties which have been unoccupied and substantially unfurnished for over ten years, levy the empty home premium of 400% of the normal liability.

 

102.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority - Judicial Review

Chief Executive to report.

Minutes:

The Chief Executive advised that the item had been placed on the agenda for consideration following the notice of motion put forward by Councillor Patrinos at the Council meeting on 20 November 2019 whereby it had been resolved that the Council earmark a £3,000 contribution to the funding of a potential Judicial Review.  The Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority had now taken its decision which had been made public.  The proposals for Barnstaple fire station had been delayed and the other proposed changes were not at the scale as proposed as part of the consultation. 

 

Councillor Patrinos advised that the proposals had not been implemented as anticipated.  It had been agreed that two fire stations would be closed, both of which were located in East Devon.  However, it was anticipated that further changes would be proposed in the future and that the Council needed to be prompt in terms of funding a potential Judicial Review.

 

Councillor Yabsley declared a personal interest as a Members of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority.

 

RESOLVED that the present position in relation to Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority and potential further changes would be proposed in the future be noted.

 

103.

Continuation of Meeting

Minutes:

RESOLVED that it being 1.00 pm that the meeting continue in order for the remaining business to be transacted.

 

104.

Memorandum of Understanding Joint Venture with North Devon Homes pdf icon PDF 177 KB

Report by Head of Resources (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Resources (circulated previously) regarding a proposed Memorandum of Understanding with North Devon Homes.

 

The Head of Resources highlighted the following:

 

·         A report was presented to Executive on 5 June 2017, advising of the assets and Estates preferred option to dispose. It was agreed that the Head of Resources be given delegated power to dispose of the listed assets through whichever method deemed appropriate bearing in mind the need to ‘obtain best value’.

·         In a report to Leadership on 23 July 2018 the Estate officers advised that the surplus assets had been re-evaluated led by recent changes in the Council’s requirements to deliver short and long term Temporary Accommodation (TA) for homeless households, in accordance with its responsibilities under the Housing Act 1996 and Children Act 2004, where the Council must establish a suitable stock of its own accommodations. The initial desk top exercise included reviewing surplus assets against the costs of purchasing land and to support our case to land bank and “hold off” disposal in order to maximise the potential from our own assets. The second task reviewing potential joint partnerships with North Devon Homes (NDH) for the Council to develop/secure the Council’s long term objectives for TA. Reviewing our surplus assets it was identified that NDH had a number of sites which adjoined our land, creating a common interest.

·         The obligations on NDH would be to take on the initial steps to facilitate the redevelopment, including the initial risk and costs; such as carrying out all relevant investigations into the likelihood of obtaining planning. To date on all potential sites, NDH have already submitted pre-planning applications and feedback had been positive.

·         The projects would be completely self-financing with NDH taking on risk and any upfront costs.  If any unforeseen costs were identified then this will be picked up in the viability study.

·         Approvals on each agreed scheme would need to be agreed by both the Council and NDH.

·         The draft Memorandum of Understanding contained in Appendix A of the report.

·         Agreed schemes as detailed in Schedule 1 of the Memorandum of Understanding.

 

Councillor Worden confirmed that the Lead Member for Housing was supportive of the report and Memorandum of Understanding.

 

In response to questions, the Head of Resources advised the following:

 

·         Clarification would be sought regarding the leaseholder’s area of land on the site of Pill Garden, Braunton.

·         The term “surplus” asset was an accounting terminology which the Council was required to use in its accounts.

·         Allotments at Merryside Villas, Witheridge had not been used for a long time.

·         For all schemes, the Council would be looking at the long term benefit for the Council.

 

In response to questions, the Chief Executive advised that:

 

·         Any schemes would go through the development phase and presented to the Committee for agreement. 

·         The Council was working with NDH as owned adjoining land to the schemes identified and also had the same ethos as the Council in relation to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 104.

105.

The Future Homes Standard: 2019 Consultation on Changes to Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) and Part F (Ventilation) of the Building Regulations for New Dwellings pdf icon PDF 147 KB

Report by Head of Place (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Place (circulated previously) regarding the Future Homes Standard 2019 consultation on changes to Part L (conservation of fuel and power) and Part F (ventilation) of the building regulations for new dwellings.

 

The Head of Place highlighted the following:

 

·         The Government’s 2019 Spring Statement included a commitment that, by 2025, they will introduce a Future Homes Standard for new build homes to be futureproofed with low carbon heating and ‘world-leading’ levels of energy efficiency. Energy efficiency requirements for new homes were set by Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) and Part 6 of the Building Regulations.

·         The consultation document sets out the Government’s plans for achieving the Future Homes Standard, including proposed options to increase the energy efficiency requirements for new homes in 2020 as a stepping stone to the Future Homes Standard.

·         A draft response to the consultation was detailed in Appendix A.  The Building Control team had been consulted and provided responses which had been included within the draft response.

 

Councillor Lane declared a personal interest as a developer.

 

In response to a question, the Head of Place advised that the Council would wait until the regulations had been made and then consider whether to produce a Supplementary Planning Document.

           

RESOLVED that Officers submit on behalf of the Council the draft consultation response document as detailed in Appendix A in response to the “Future Homes Standard: 2019 Consultation on Changes to Part L (Conservation of Fuel and Power) and Part F (Ventilation) of the Building Regulations for New Dwellings”.