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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Hunt and Luggar.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held 10th February 2022 (circulated previously) be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.
Councillor York requested that the Committee held a minute silence in memory of the Former Head of Place Michael Tichford who had recently passed away.
Declarations of Interest.
(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).
There were no declarations of interest announced.
Presentation by Andrew Bell, UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Co-ordinator regarding the work of the North Devon Biosphere and how North Devon Council can be involved via policy development and partnership working.
The following reports by the Climate Officer from the meeting of the Strategy and Resources Committee held on the 6th June 2022 are attached for information:
a) North Devon Carbon, Environment and Biodiversity Plan (attached).
b) North Devon Council Carbon Footprint (attached).
The Committee received a presentation from Andrew Bell, UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve Co-ordinator regarding the work of the North Devon Biosphere.
The Chair welcomed Mr Bell to the Committee and thanked him for his hard work in the delivery of the North Devon Biosphere.
Mr Bell outlined the work of the North Devon Biosphere to the Committee:
· The impact of the Yelland Planning Inquiry and the disappointment that it was approved following appeal together with the objections that the biosphere had made due to the landscape impact.
· How the biosphere had worked with the developers to try and mitigate the issues and concerns together with the impact on biodiversity.
· The public perspective of the biosphere as a result of the final decision being approved.
· Ways in which to achieve biodiversity net gain once the site has been redeveloped.
· The North Devon Biosphere had released a statement outlining their position regarding the Yelland application.
· Rising sea levels, which would bring changes to the landscape and surrounding areas were displayed via typographical visual modelling, which depicted the current situation and projected levels for 100 years into the future.
· The various scenarios, which were:
Ø 1 m RSL (rate of change as in IPCC).
Ø Protect all dry land for next 100 years.
Ø No not protect land other than developed land.
Ø Protect nothing.
· 2100 protect developed land.
· 2100 no dyke scenario.
· Protect all dry land.
· Protect developed land 2075 (Ha change).
· Protect developed land 2100 (Ha change).
· The North Devon Biosphere was looking at ways to change land cover up to 2100. There was a balance to address to maintain certain amount of salt marsh for flood protection together with a requirement to replace fresh water marsh.
· There was a nominated case worker working closely with farmers and landowners to address water quality and estuary erosion.
· CRITTER project:
Ø A six year project working with landowners and land managers to improve water quality, reduce flood risk, increase the health of local soils, create areas of new saltmarsh, all supported through a simple small grant scheme process.
Ø Funding agreement adopted on an annual basis.
Ø The Environment Agency budget was reduced in the early months of 2022. So, the project was largely funded by carbon credits, which were capped at £100k and the project required funding of £750K over the next few years.
· Devon Woods project:
Ø The Devon Woods Project uses nature-based solutions to improve water quality throughout Devon. Extending across the whole of Devon from the highlands of Dartmoor, down the river valleys and beyond, the project aimed to improve water quality, flood management and biodiversity within the catchments of the rivers: Tamar, Torridge, Taw, Teign, Exe and Otter.
Ø Pair planting in bands a long rivers to capture sediment and improve water quality.
Ø Grant funded project.
· Woods for Water project:
Ø There are many catchments within Devon and Cornwall where water quality and flood risk was impacted by land management (River Basin Management Plan). Research and ... view the full minutes text for item 57.
Report by the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive. Report by the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive to Strategy and Resources on 4th July 2022 (attached), and
(a) Minute Extract of Strategy and Resources on 4th July 2022 (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive (circulated previously) regarding the Performance and Financial Management for Quarter 4 of 2021/22 together with Minute Extract of Strategy and Resources on 6th June 2022 (circulated previously).
The Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive highlighted the following:
· The revenue budget for 2021/22 was approved at Council on 24th February 2021 at £13,639,000.
· As at 31 March 2022 it was pleasing to report that the final out turn position was a budget surplus of £604,000 which was an overall movement of £515,000 from the last forecast at quarter 3. The breakdown showing the movements was shown in Appendix A – Variations in the Revenue Budget.
· The original budget for 2021/22 included a forecast to achieve £225,000 worth of salary vacancy savings. This was exceeded by £99,000 giving an overall actual saving of £324,000.
· Included within the approved budget the Council factored in a government grant in relation to Covid-19 pressures of £536,710 and also budgeted for £375,000 of additional costs and reduced income, these were already incorporated into Appendix A along with the latest forecast for each service area.
· The above grant of £536,710 was approved and received and the Council was also anticipating £80,000 re-imbursement for Q1 loss of Sales, Fees and charges, from the continued Government 75% income reimbursement scheme, this had now been revised down to £64,000 and the change incorporated into Appendix A.
· At the end of 2020/21 the Council placed £375,000 into a Covid Budget management reserve to help mitigate any further adverse variances due to the pandemic in 2021/22, this future protection was still available if required.
· Members approved in June 2021 to proceed with the acquisition of Green Lanes Shopping Centre; which the Council completed the purchase in November 2021. The purchase of Green Lanes Shopping Centre was a once in a lifetime opportunity to acquire this strategic asset and complement other significant regeneration improvements being delivered within the Barnstaple town centre through the Future High Streets project. The financial modelling demonstrated that revenue income generated from the centre would cover both the repayment of the loan and asset management costs and would return a contribution to the Council which could be used towards mitigating future risks on income volatility, investment back into the centre and the overarching council budget.
· The financial outturn for the Centre had produced a net return (income less costs) for the 2021/22 year of (£243,600) due to minimal borrowing costs for last financial year as these would start in 2022/23. This was a positive return for the Council for the four and half month’s ownership in the 2021/22 year. The net return to the Council of (£243,600); of this it is proposed to place £75,000 into an earmarked reserve to protect the council budget and mitigate against any future income volatility that could materialise as the Council moved forwards with the centre and a further £168,600 into an earmarked reserve to fund future asset ... view the full minutes text for item 58.
Report by Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive to the Strategy and Resources Committee on 4th July 2022 (attached), and
(a) Minute Extract of Strategy and Resources Committee on 4th July 2022 (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive (circulated previously) regarding the Annual Treasury Management report for 2022/23 together with Minute Extract of Strategy and Resources on 6th June 2022 (circulated previously).
The Head of Governance highlighted the following:
· The Council undertakes capital expenditure on long-term assets. These activities may either be:
Ø Financed immediately through the application of capital or revenue resources (capital receipts, capital grants, revenue contributions etc.), which has no resultant impact on the Council’s borrowing need; or
Ø If insufficient financing was available, or a decision was taken not to apply resources, the capital expenditure would give rise to a borrowing need.
· A large capital programme during 2021/22 including the new Leisure Centre, Watersports Centre and purchase of Green Lanes Shopping Centre had resulted in an increased Capital Funding Requirement (CFR) of circa £17m. The CFR was below the estimate due to slippages in the wider capital programme, with this spend re-profiled into 2022/23.
· On 30th March 2022 the Council received £5.8m from Central Government for the Council Tax Energy Rebate scheme to be paid out during 2022/23. At year end the Council also had a balance of £5.2m in relation to Covid-19 business grants and circa £2.5m in relation to Omicron business grant payments to be repaid to central government during 2022/23 once the final reconciliations had been carried out.
· At 31st March 2022, the CFR, excluding finance leases, was £20.8m. External borrowing was only £3m as the Council’s cash flow and reserve balances enabled the authority to internally borrow the remaining £17.8m.
· £2.5m of new long term PWLB borrowing was added in February 2022, to secure the rate and provide some long term budget certainty, prior to potential further increases in bank rate. This was also at a time when rates temporarily reduced due to uncertainties around the conflicts in Russia and Ukraine.
· The 2021/22 budget for external borrowing interest was £109,000 but the actual interest paid was a much lower £12,251.
· The Council had not borrowed more than, or in advance of its needs, purely in order to benefit from the investment of the extra sums borrowed.
· No debt rescheduling was done during the year as it was not a viable option.
· Investments held by the Council - the Council maintained an average balance of circa £38m of internally managed funds. The internally managed funds earned £17,859 interest at an average rate of return of 0.05%.
· The comparable performance indicator was the average 7-day LIBID rate, which was -0.07%; the LIBID rate stopped from 31st December 2021. Ongoing our performance would be compared to the 7 day backward looking SONIA (Sterling Overnight Index Average) uncompounded rate which was 0.1355% for the year. This compared with a budget assumption of £35,000 investment interest.
RESOLVED, that the decisions and recommendations of the Strategy and Resources Committee be endorsed.
To note that the Contract Procedure Rules were waived for the following three items that were agreed by the Strategy and Resources Committee at its meeting, which was held on 6th June 2022. Minute extracts attached:
(a) Item 11 Property Management Contracts for Green Lanes Shopping Centre.
(b) Item 13 Urgent Decision.
(c) Item 15 Anti-Virus Software Procurement.
The Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive outlined each decision that was taken by the Strategy and Resources Committee on 6th June 2022 (circulated previously).
RESOLVED, that the decision and reasons to waive the Contract Procedure Rules for the three decisions detailed in item 9 of the report be noted.