Agenda and draft minutes

Strategy and Resources Committee
Monday, 4th November, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Barum Room - Brynsworthy. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Community Services  01271 388253

Link: Audio available here

Items
No. Item

54.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Wilkinson and Worden.

55.

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 7th October 2019 (attached). pdf icon PDF 252 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 7th October 2019 (circulated previously) be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

 

56.

Items brought forward which in the opinion of the Chair should be considered by the meeting as a matter of urgency.

Minutes:

(a)       Item 6: Batsworthy Windfarm Update

 

The Chair advised that he had received a request from two members of the public to speak under item 6 on the agenda, which he had agreed.

 

(b)       Item 13: The Development of Disabled Facilities Grants and other NDC Services to Secure Disabled Adaptations and Improvements in Residential Property

 

The Chair advised that Councillor Walker had requested to address the Committee under item 13 on the agenda.

57.

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:

The following declarations of interest were announced:

 

Councillor Barker

Item 10: Personal interest as a Parish Councillor.

 

Councillor Lane

Item 10: Personal interest as a Parish Councillor.

 

Councillor Patrinos

Item 10: Personal interest as a Parish Councillor.

 

Councillor Pearson

Item 10: Personal interest as a Parish Councillor.

 

Councillor Prowse

Item 10: Personal interest as a Parish Councillor.

 

Councillor L Spear

Item 10: Personal interest as a Parish Councillor.

 

 

58.

Batsworthy Windfarm Update pdf icon PDF 141 KB

Joint report by Head of Environmental Health and Housing and Service Lead Environmental Protection (attached)

Minutes:

The Committee considered a joint report by the Head of Environmental Health and Housing and Service Lead Environmental Protection (circulated previously) regarding an update on the current status of the Council’s regulation of the noise related planning conditions associated with Batsworthy Cross Windfarm in pursuance to minute 43 of the meeting held on 7th October 2019.

 

The Service Lead Environmental Protection Officer highlighted the following:

 

·         Noise compliance monitoring at six locations close to Batsworthy Cross Windfarm had confirmed compliance with the noise related planning conditions at five of the six locations.  Exceedance of the noise limits in the sixth location had been confirmed.

·         On 16th August 2019, the Council had advised the operator of this situation and requested details of a proposed further mitigation strategy for properties in the vicinity of Birchwood House and a statement of the turbine operating parameters relating to the 2016-17 and 2018-19 surveys within 30 days. 

·         In response, the operator had requested technical information from the Council to help inform their response.  This information was provided to them on 25th September 2019 requesting their full response by 25th October 2019.

·         The developer had reviewed this information and had challenged the information presented to them stating that the incorrect data had been used.  The developer’s technical data was incorrect and the Council was satisfied that the position remained the same and there was still non-compliance at the sixth location.  The developer had been advised of this position on 1st November 2019 and had been given a further 30 days to submit the mitigation strategy.

 

The Head of Environmental Health and Housing advised that the view had been taken that the developers response was reasonable and therefore a further 30 days had been given to submit the mitigation strategy.

 

Frances King (Nutcombe Cottage, Ash Mill) addressed the Committee.

 

In response to the issues raised by Frances King, the Head of Environmental Health and Housing advised that the Council would investigate the statutory noise nuisance complaint under planning condition 38.

 

Jane Faust addressed the Committee.

 

In response to the issues raised by Jane Faust, the Head of Environmental Health and Housing advised that he was confident with the approach that was being undertaken with the developer.  He had previously discussed with Jane Faust the improvement to be made to communications and closer dialogue with the community and he made a commitment to engage with the community on a more informal basis in the future. 

 

In response to questions from the Committee, the Head of Environmental Health and Housing advised that an update report would be presented to the Committee at its meeting on 6th January 2020 and that Members would be provided with an update on the position prior to Christmas.  A meeting would be held with the community prior to Christmas and Councillors Ley and Yabsley would be invited to attend the meeting.

59.

Urban Sports Festival

Presentation by Economic Development Officer.

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation by the Economic Development Officer regarding the Urban Sports Festival that took place on 8th September 2019 in Barnstaple.  She outlined the programme of the events that took place during the day over five locations in Barnstaple.  Positive feedback had been received on the day and on social media, which continued to gain followers, likes and comments.  She advised that initial discussions had taken place regarding planning for the event to be held during 2020.

 

The Chair asked that the Economic Development Officer thank everyone in the team that had been involved in arranging the event.

60.

Performance and Financial Management Quarter 2 of 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 304 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 for Quarter 2 of 2019/20.

 

The Accountancy Services Manager highlighted the following:

 

·         As at 30 September 2019, the latest forecast net budget was £12.605m, which produced a budget deficit of £0.087m.  The deficit for Quarter 1 was £0.028m.  Work would be undertaken towards reducing this throughout Quarter 3 and Quarter 4.  The measures detailed in paragraph 4.1.5 of the report were already factored in to the £0.087m deficit.  Details of all variances were shown in “Appendix A – Variations in the Revenue Budget”.

·         Operational Services have seen increasing pressure in Quarter 2 on various budgets due to increased levels of missed collections and higher levels of sickness absence.  Employee costs were currently forecast to exceed the budget by £0.229m, the main reasons contributing to this overspend were increased use of agency and overtime to cover the inefficiencies above.

·         The Head of Operational Services had outlined plans to address some of these issues by:

o   Introducing changes to the workshop to reduce vehicles off the road – The working hours of the vehicle workshop had been extended as part of a trial to increase vehicle availability and to reduce overtime both in the workshop and on the collection crews. The number of technicians had also been increased from 5 to 6 as part of the trial. Previously the workshop had been operating between 6am and 5pm with one technician in at 6am. The workshop was now operating between 6am and 6pm with two technicians in from 6am to 2pm, two from 8am to 4pm, and two from 10am to 6pm. Productivity would be closely monitored to establish the level of repairs/maintenance that were undertaken between 6am and 7am and 3pm & 6pm (the vehicles need to be available to the collection staff between 7am and 3pm). The intention was to complete more work outside of core hours and to minimise reduced vehicle availability from breakdowns and maintenance. This in turn would reduce/remove the need for collection crews to work beyond 3pm or on a Saturday to “catch up” due to the lack of vehicle availability.

o   Challenging the resource allocation across all Works and Recycling manual sections had identified that the street cleansing team could be reduced by 2 (over the winter months) and they will now be redeployed to assist with cover on the refuse and recycling services which in turn will see a positive reduction in the number of agency staff used for cover. In addition, an analysis of winter tonnages had been undertaken for the green collection service. Resource requirements have been challenged across the 10 day collection cycle and crew sizes have been reduced accordingly (in consultation with the staff).  This created a pool of staff that would now be redeployed to cover holiday and sickness across black and recycling services which would produce a positive reduction in agency support. Weekly usage of agency and overtime would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.

61.

Treasury Management Strategy Statement and Annual Investment Strategy Mid Year Review Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 496 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 and Annual Investment Strategy Mid Year Review Report for 2019/20.

 

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 Treasury Management Strategy Statement for 2019/20 was approved by Council on 25th February 2019.  The Revised Prudential Indicator for the Capital Financing Requirement 2019/20 had been reduced to £5.4m.  The authorised borrowing limit had increased following the approval of the Leisure Centre project.

·         The table containing revised estimates for capital expenditure and the changes since the capital programme was agreed at the budget followed on from the Performance and Financial Management report for quarter 2 on the agenda. 

·         The total Capital Financing Requirement, underlying need to borrow, had reduced to £5.4m.  The current level of external borrowing of £1.25m would be retained.  Market interest rates would be kept under review.

·         There were no difficulties envisaged for the current or future years in complying with the prudential indicator.

·         The Council’s budgeted investment return for 2019/20 was £70,000. As at 30thSeptember 2019 £62,203 investment interest was earned in the half-year period.

·         During October 2019, HM Treasury announced, with immediate effect, that it was increasing the margin that applies to new loans from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) by 1% on top of usual lending terms. This was in part due to some local authorities substantially increasing their use of the PWLB in recent months, as the cost of borrowing had fallen to record lows.  This had an impact slowing down the levels of borrowing by Local Authorities.

·         Economics and interest rates as detailed in Appendix A.

 

RECOMMENDED:

 

(a)

That the changes to the prudential indicators be approved;

 

(b)

That the report and the treasury activity be noted.

 

62.

Parish Grants 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Report by Head of Resources (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Resources (circulated previously) regarding Parish Grants 2020/21.

 

The Head of Resources highlighted the following:

 

·         Parish grants have historically been paid to Parish and Town Councils and annually cost the North Devon Council revenue budget £69,597.

·         The Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019-2023 approved in February 2019 sought to remove the grants from 2020/21 onwards as part of measures to bridge the future year’s budget gaps that had been identified.

·         Having previously contacted other Councils in the Devon area, North Devon Council are the only one that still retained payment of a grant to Parish and Town Councils.

·         Parish and Town Councils do have the ability to raise funding (without any referendum thresholds) through their individual annual precepts.

·         The report was to gain approval in advance of formulating the detailed 2020/21 revenue budget for the removal of Parish grants in order that Parish and Town Councils can be notified prior to setting their individual budgets and precept levels.

·         For the last two financial year’s 2018/19 and 2019/20; proposals have been put forward by the Executive committee when formulating the budget to reduce and fully remove the grant funding paid to Parish and Town Councils.

·         The original proposal outlined by the Leader at the Parish Forum held 10th July 2017 was to reduce the grant by 50% for 2018/19 and fully remove the grant for 2019/20 onwards.

·         Parish and Town Councils were informed of the planned reductions at an early opportunity and notified by letter in advance of setting their individual budgets in order that they could plan accordingly for the impact.

·         Many of the Parish and Town Councils had allowed for the reduction when setting their precepts for the 2018/19 year; as they have to approve their budget levels prior to North Devon Council approving their budget and setting the Council Tax level for the forthcoming year.

·         Appendix A detailed the Parish Grants awarded during 2019/20.

·         If the Parish Grant scheme was not removed for 2020/21 then this will would increase the forecast budget gaps to £0.481m in 2020/21 to £0.746m in 2022/23 and therefore additional savings would need to be identified to bridge the future funding gaps.

·         An additional recommendation was made that “Subject to 2.1 being approved that Members as part of formulating the Revenue budget, approve an annual contribution of £20,000 for the next 3 years to an earmarked reserve in order that smaller Parishes can apply for funding for specific projects, with a strong emphasis on sustainability and countering climate change; with delegated authority given to the Head of Resources in consultation with Group Leaders and Lead Members for both the Environment and Climate Change, to approve such funding requests and appropriation of spend from the reserve”.  The budget would be considered as part of the annual budget setting process.

·         A further report would be brought to the Committee detailing the scheme and application process.  The scheme would include a definition for parish councils that would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.

63.

Lynton Agency Performance Review pdf icon PDF 256 KB

Report by Head of Resources (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Resources (circulated previously) regarding the Lynton Agency Performance Review.

 

The Head of Resources highlighted the following:

 

·         In February 2015 North Devon Council approved the service improvement framework to objectively review services to improve the customer experience and/or value for money. A review of the Lynton and Lynmouth agency agreement was added to the review programme.

·         The review team put forward 14 recommendations to ensure moving forwards service levels were consistent with the rest of North Devon Council services areas and to also deal with the issues and risks highlighted throughout the review process. 

·         Significant progress has been made since the last report to Executive in September 2018 and this was outlined in the report from the Lynton and Lynmouth Town Clerk shown in Appendix A of the report.The only remaining review recommendation to be completed is in relation to exploring a joint way forwards to reducing public convenience costs and this action was reliant on North Devon Council carrying out a wider review of all public conveniences across the District.

·         It was proposed that the agency agreement with Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council be continued for a further period of 3 years from 1 April 2020.

·         As detailed in the report from the Lynton and Lynmouth Town Clerk  the actual financial performance for 2018/19 year had resulted in a net surplus of £60,177 (2017/18 was £57,674) which would be returned to North Devon Council.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(a)

That the annual report and that the actions being taken to ensure

that performance against the 14 review recommendations was at the desired level be noted;

 

(b)

That the agency agreement with Lynton and Lynmouth Town Council be continued with effect 1st April 2020 for a period of 3 years, with a formal review on that date.

 

64.

Position Statement on the Council's Provision of Temporary Accommodation for Homeless Households pdf icon PDF 241 KB

Draft report by Head of Environmental Health and Housing Service and Senior Surveyor (Built Environment) (attached).

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Environmental Health and Housing Service (circulated previously) regarding a position statement on the Council’s provision of temporary accommodation for homeless households.

 

The Committee received a presentation by the Service Lead Housing Advice and Homelessness regarding the provision of temporary accommodation for homeless households.  She outlined the background and reasons for the programme; challenges for the Environmental Health and Housing and Estates teams; type of properties procured; location of properties; renovation work required; current stock of accommodation and the properties in the process of being procured; the financial, physical and emotional benefits achieved; future projects; project team; feedback received from clients.

 

The Head of Resources advised that an additional £30k savings had been achieved this year, which results in a total of £180k annual savings, compared to spending level of 2017/18 year.

 

The Chief Executive advised that other Local Authorities were looking at the Council’s approach to providing a good service to customers requiring temporary accommodation.

 

In response to questions, the Service Lead Housing Advice and Homelessness advised that in the last month Bed and Breakfast accommodation had only been used for four nights.  The average length of stay in temporary accommodation was between two to three months.  Officers worked with the clients to support their move to private accommodation.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(a)

That it be noted that the Temporary Accommodation Programme had performed well against the original objectives of better addressing the needs of the community and saving money;

 

(b)

That the Temporary Accommodation Programme team be thanked for their work on the programme.

 

65.

The Development of Disabled Facilities Grants and other NDC Services to Secure Disabled Adaptations and Improvements in Residential Property pdf icon PDF 159 KB

Report by Head of Environmental Health and Housing (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Environmental Health and Housing (circulated previously) regarding the development of Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs) and other Council services to secure disabled adaptations and improvements in residential property.

 

The Head of Environmental Health and Housing highlighted the following:

 

·         The Government had increased the funding for DFGs this year via the Better Care Fund, and the Council had further benefited from a reallocation of uncommitted funds from other local authorities in Devon and would enable the Council to provide more services to secure disabled adaptations and improvements in residential property

·         There was a need to communicate widely the availability of funding.

·         A programme would be in place to train staff and partners to ensure that people who would benefit from adaptations have access to the funding.

·         The Council was working with 361 Energy regarding promotion of the scheme.

 

Councillor Walker addressed the Committee as a service user who had received a Disabled Facilities Grant.  She advised the Committee of the lengthy delays in the process as the DFG system was reliant upon Devon County Council Occupational Therapy.

 

In response the Head of Environmental Health advised that he would speak with Devon County Council regarding the time delay for Occupational Therapy assessments and would advise the Committee of the outcomes via email.

 

RESOLVED that the Devonwide DFG/Home improvement grant assistance policy as set out in Appendix 1 be adopted.

 

66.

Approval and Release of Section 106 Public Open Space Funds - Heanton Punchardon and South Molton pdf icon PDF 213 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 three projects, one in Heanton Punchardon and two in South Molton.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(a)

That funding be allocated as follows:

 

 

(i)

£12,000 towards creation of a footpath and ancillary facilities at the BMX track site (NDC project);

 

 

(ii)

£14,178 to South Molton Rugby Club towards ball catch netting and storage container;

 

 

(iii)

£94,784.83 to South Molton Football Club towards purchase of land for the relocation of the club;

 

RECOMMENDED:

 

(b)

that Council vary the Capital Programme by £120,962.83 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.

 

67.

Exclusion of Public and Press and Restriction of Documents

RECOMMENDED:

 

 

 

((a)

 That, under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item as it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined by Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act (as amended from time to time), namely information relating to the financial or business affair of any particular person (including the authority holding that information);

 

 (b)

 That all documents and reports relating to the item be confirmed as “Not for Publication”.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

((a)

That, under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item as it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined by Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act (as amended from time to time), namely information relating to the financial or business affair of any particular person (including the authority holding that information);

 

 (b)

That all documents and reports relating to the item be confirmed as “Not for Publication”.

 

68.

Seven Brethren - Securing a Delivery Partner

Report by Regeneration Manager (attached).

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Regeneration Manager (circulated previously) regarding securing a Delivery Partner for the Seven Brethren project.

 

The Regeneration Manager advised that the Land Release Fund was administered by the Local Government Association.  She would ascertain whether a request could be made for the extension to the deadline for the Land Release Fund and would update Members accordingly.

 

RESOLVED that the Chief Executive be authorised to use an alternative method of bringing forward this site for development, should use of the Homes England ‘delivery partner panel’ prove unsuccessful.