Report by Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive (attached).
Council considered a report by the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive (circulated previously) regarding the Budget 2023-24 and Medium Term Financial Strategy Refresh.
The Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive outlined the report to Council.
Councillor Lovering left the meeting.
The Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive advised that recommendation 2.4 should be amended to read “That the delegated power be given to the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader, to agree the terms of the transfers of public conveniences to the relevant parish/town councils and other organisations, and where agreement cannot be reached prior to April 2023, the closure of the facility will be explored but with a further report to come back to Strategy and Resources.”
It was moved by Councillor Worden and seconded by Councillor Leaver “that the recommendations in the report (as amended) be adopted.”
In response to questions, the Director of Resources and Deputy Chief Executive advised the following:
· The Member Working Group had reviewed car parking charges set by neighbouring Councils, a number of which set different level of charges for town and coastal areas. Some other Councils had set its fees a lot higher than was proposed in this report. The all day fee of £15 was reflective of the number of hours i.e. 10 hours when the car park was open. The reflective time was in line with fees set by other neighbouring Councils. The fees set for private car parks were unknown.
· A number of other Councils had introduced charges for motorhome parking in some of their car parks. If Council approved the fee for motorhomes, then a policy would be presented to a future meeting of the Strategy and Resources Committee which would also include that motorhomes must be self-contained and have their own toilet facilities. The proposed new charge would also be included within the off street parking charges consultation and local businesses would be consulted as part of this process.
· Council had previously approved capital allocation for the procurement of houses for temporary accommodation a few years ago. These properties were being utilised, however, the demand had increased and a number of households were still being placed in bed and breakfast accommodation. Therefore, there was now a need to consider procuring additional properties for temporary accommodation which was a more cost effective model.
· The Performance and Financial Management Quarter 2 report 2022/23 included a project within the capital programme for the harbour infrastructure at Ilfracombe. This project also included the resurfacing of Marine Drive.
· The comments made regarding the non collection of green waste for a period of time was accepted, however side waste was collected at the next collection.
· The proposed changes to car park charges had been recommended by the Member Working Group.
· £140,000 had been included within the budget figures for public conveniences representing a potential part-year saving, however the annual costs were around £300,000 of this income stream within the budget. The Council’s net budget was £13m. Business rates on public conveniences were no longer payable. In terms of business rates, the Council billed approximately £40m and received approximately £3m. Business rates were paid on car parks and associated premises.
· The car parks located in Lynton and Lynmouth were run by the Lynton and Lynmouth Agency under a separate agreement. The charges for these car parks would be included as part of the Off Street Parking Order which would be presented to the Strategy and Resources Committee on 5 December 2022.
· Updated assumptions on potential future levels of Government funding as detailed in paragraph 5.4 of the report including growth in sale of recycling materials income and £528,000 retained Government funding based on the assumptions that the Fair Funding Review had been postponed and a cash freeze in funding level.
· Although borrowing costs for the procurement of additional properties for temporary accommodation would increase, the revenue costs would decrease and achieve overall net savings.
· In relation to green waste, the number of customers currently was approximately 18,500. The budget for 2022/23 had assumed an increase to 19,000 however the number had stayed at 18,500. Some customers had been lost, however the number of properties had increased. The assumption had been made that the number of customers would remain around 18,500. The service had been cross subsidised over a number of years and Council Tax payers had been paying for this service.
· Council was being requested to take some decisions in relation to the budget at an earlier stage as it was good financial planning. It was important that Council took decisions earlier to manage the budget gap. Other Local Authorities had already taken decisions in relation to its budget setting. As Section 151 officer, by taking some decisions earlier it would provide reassurance that a balanced and robust budget would be presented to Council as part of its budget setting.
· The Council had protected local businesses and the High Street by not increasing car park fees in the last 7 years. By not increasing the fees, the Council had absorbed the additional costs of around £1.2m in this period. The proposed long stay car park charges were significantly lower than neighbouring Local Authorities. The introduction of car park fees in the evenings could be explored, however there would be additional associated costs such as enforcement.
· The procurement of properties to provide temporary accommodation was a better outcome in terms of housing and the wellbeing of clients requiring temporary accommodation.
· The resurfacing of all car parks including Bickington car park were assessed by the Property Team and if works were required to a car park it would be put forward as a capital bid on planned maintenance.
· The Council received approximately £700,000 income for garden waste collections. The team was currently exploring options for the Process Hall and the processing of recycling material in the future.
In response to a question from Councillor Bushell regarding the submission of a notice of motion to a future Council meeting requesting Government to remove business rates from Local Authorities, the Chief Executive advised that if a motion was considered and approved by a future Council that it was unlikely that the Government would take a decision in time for the Council to bridge its budget gap.
Councillors Roome and York declared other registerable interests in public conveniences as Members of Barnstaple Town Council.
An amendment was proposed by Councillor Biederman, which was not seconded “that consideration of the report be deferred for one cycle and considered at the next meeting of Council in January 2023 to enable further consideration to be given to the concerns that had been raised by Councillors.”
A further amendment was proposed by Councillor Crabb and seconded by Councillor Barker “that the recommendations be adopted subject to recommendation 2.2 being amended and that the level of charges for short stay off street car parks be set at £1.40 per hour and the all day charges be set at £14 and that there be no change to other car park charges and long stay car parks”.
Councillor Crabb and Councillor Barker amended the amendment to “also include the implementation of 50p charges for ½ hour stays across all car parks”. Following further consideration and advice provided by the Chief Executive and Director of Resources that the implementation of the 50p charge across all car parks had not been costed and the financial impact to the Council was unknown, this amendment was removed from the amendment.
The amendment was put to the vote and was lost.
The motion was put to the vote and was carried. Councillor Biederman requested it be recorded in the minutes that he voted against the motion.
(a) The report outlining the budgetary pressures being faced by the Council for the 2023-24 Revenue Budget and the impact this has on the future year ongoing Revenue Budget be noted;
(b) An increase in the level of charges across off-street car parks with effect from 15 March 2023 as detailed in sections 4.17 to 4.24 and Appendices A and B be approved;
(c) An increase in the level of charges for Garden Waste services with effect from 1 April 2023 as detailed in sections 4.25 to 4.28 be approved;
(d) Delegated power be given to the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Leader, to agree the terms of the transfers of public conveniences to the relevant parish/town councils and other organisations, and where agreement cannot be reached prior to April 2023, the closure of the facility will be explored but with a further report to come back to Strategy and Resources.
(e) The options put forwards following the Cross Party Budget Workshop be approved and the refreshed Medium Term Financial Strategy 2022-2028 as set out in the report and within Appendix D as part of the Budget Policy Framework be adopted.