Agenda and minutes

Finance and Corporate Services Committee - Tuesday 7th March 2017 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Maldon District Council Offices, Princes Road, Maldon. View directions

Contact: Committee Services 

Items
No. Item

1073.

Chairman's notices

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the list of notices published on the back of the agenda.

1074.

Apologies for Absence and Substitution Notice

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Mrs H E Elliott and B E Harker.  In accordance with notice given Councillor Miss M R Lewis was attending as a substitute for Councillor Mrs Elliott and Councillor M F L Durham as a substitute for Councillor Harker.

1075.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 519 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Finance and Corporate Services Committee held on 31 January 2017, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 31 January 2017 be approved and confirmed.

1076.

Disclosure of Interest

To disclose the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, other Pecuniary Interests or Non-Pecuniary Interests relating to items of business on the agenda having regard to paragraphs 6-8 inclusive of the Code of Conduct for Members.

 

(Members are reminded that they are also required to disclose any such interests as soon as they become aware should the need arise throughout the meeting).

 

Minutes:

There were none.

1077.

Public Participation

To receive the views of members of the public on items of business to be considered by the Committee (please see below):

1.               A period of ten minutes will be set aside.

2.               An individual may speak for no more than two minutes and will not be allowed to distribute or display papers, plans, photographs or other materials.

3.               Anyone wishing to speak must notify the Committee Clerk between 7.00pm and 7.20pm prior to the start of the meeting.

 

Minutes:

No requests had been received.

1078.

Chairman's Good News Announcements

Minutes:

There were none.

1079.

Update to ICT Strategy 2015 / 19 pdf icon PDF 78 KB

To receive and note the report of the Interim Director of Resources, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the report of the Interim Director of Resources, providing an update of progress on projects in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) Strategy 2015 – 19.

 

The ICT Strategy was approved in March 2015 and the current status of projects was shown at Appendix 1 to the report.  A number of additional projects had been identified since the ICT was approved and these were set out in Appendix 2.

 

It was noted that Security and IT security were included in level two of the plan and the Interim Director of Resources advised that there had been an Internal Audi on cybercrime and cyber security.  The Interim Director of Resources had reviewed the recommendations from the audit and will be ensuring that the recommendations were being implemented.  In response a question regarding Members security, the IT Manager explained that all Members were required to sign the Council's IT Policy which included commitment to IT security and training.  The new Policy would also include cyber security. 

 

In response to a question regarding the Council's IPads and the function 'find my IPad' the IT Manager advised that this function should be enabled on all Council IPads and he would ensure this was the case.

 

RESOLVED that the contents of the report be noted.

1080.

Pay Policy Statement pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Director of Resources, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Director of Resources seeking the Council’s approval of a Pay Policy Statement to meet the Localism Act 2011 requirements.  The Pay Policy Statement for 2017 / 18 was attached as Appendix 1 to the report.

 

In response to a question regarding Job Evaluation and the increased use of market supplements, the Group Manager - People, Performance and Policy explained that the Council was required to undertake Job Evaluation and she understood that to have not implemented would mean not being in compliance with legislation.  Members were informed that pay supplements were allowed and used by the Council in response to skill shortages.  The Chairman asked the Group Manager to look at how some of the posts with skill shortages could be filled and whether there was still a legal obligation to use Job Evaluation.

 

In response to a question regarding zero hours contracts, the Group Manager explained to the Committee when and how these were used, where appropriate.

 

The Group Manager clarified, in response to a question, that all information regarding Officers’ salaries over £50,000 was published on the Council's website.

 

RECOMMENDED that the Pay Policy Statement attached as APPENDIX 1 to these Minutes be adopted for the financial year 2017 / 18.

1081.

Supplementary Estimates and Virements: 12 January - 17 February 2017 pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To receive and note the report of the Interim Director of Resources, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee received the report of the Interim Director of Resources, reporting virements and supplementary estimates agreed under delegated powers and procurement exemptions granted in the period 12 January to 17 February 2017.

 

Members were advised that there had been no virements or supplementary estimates for this period.

 

It was noted that there had been two procurement exemptions from Finance Services and the Leisure, Countryside and Tourism Services.  Details of these exemptions were set out in the report.

 

The Interim Director of Resources informed Members that since publication of the report the exemption from the Leisure, Countryside and Tourism Service regarding commissioning a visitors hub in Burnham-on-Crouch had lapsed and Members were advised that no monies had been spent on this.

 

In response to a question regarding the exemption regarding asset valuation the Interim Director of Resources advised that the £19,000 detailed was the combined budget year end valuation of the Council’s assets.

 

RESOLVED that the procurement exemption from Finance Services regarding Asset Valuation Services required for the Year End Accounts closure as set out in the report be noted.

 

Councillor B S Beale raised a point of accuracy regarding the Minutes at this point and was advised by the Chairman to take it up with the Committee Clerk after the meeting.

1082.

Project 180 - St. Cedds House Demolition and Formation of Car Park Final Account pdf icon PDF 102 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Director of Resources, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Director of Resources seeking Members approval of a supplementary estimate for the payment to the contractor in relation to Project 180 – St Cedds House demolition and formation of a car park.

 

Members were reminded of a report from the Interim Director of Resources approved by the Council at its meeting on 15 December.  A copy of the report was attached as Appendix A to the report.  The report provided further background information regarding this project.  A copy of the final statement of account was attached at Appendix B to the report together with the budgetary approval and expenditure to date.

 

Members commented on the contract process and it was felt that formation of the car park should have been a separate project to that of St. Cedds House demolition.  The Interim Director of Resources agreed with these comments and provided Members with further background information and details of the resulting overspend on the whole Project 180.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)        that Members note the final account for the demolition and formation of the carpark contract;

 

(ii)       that the Committee approves a supplementary estimate of £11,046 for the final payment to the Contractor.

1083.

Procurement and Contract Management pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Director of Resources, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Director of Resources outlining some of the steps the Council could take to improve its procurement practice and more importantly contract management once the contract had been awarded.  The report sought Members’ comments regarding implementing a culture of consistency, good procurement and contract management once the contract had been awarded.

 

The report provided detailed information regarding contract procurement and management including good practice.  Members noted that operational arrangements were in place in respect of the oversight on procurement activity and to ensure the observance of the Council’s Financial and Contract Procedure rules.  The Council's current arrangements with the Essex Procurement Hub had also been reviewed.

 

The Interim Director of Resources pointed out that there had been a duplication of paragraph 3.7.2 in the report.  The Director advised how he had drawn good contract practices and policies from various sources.  Members were advised of the need to put in place arrangements to ensure clear monitoring of the capital programme in terms of its finances, physical works and spending against budgets.

 

Councillor D M Sismey suggested that in the interim the Council put a higher level of scrutiny on procurements with a budget of over £50,000.

 

Concern was raised regarding the use of Contracts Finder and it was felt that its use stopped more local businesses bidding for contracts with the Council.  In response, the Interim Director of Resources advised that Contracts Finder was a Government service and system which the Council was required to use.  The Director advised that when approached a number of local businesses had expressed a reluctance to spend the time and effort to bid for work through Contracts Finder and there was therefore a need for the Council to encourage them.  He highlighted some of the work that could be done by the Council's Economic Development Service to support local businesses, part of which could include a guide on 'How to do business with the Council'.

 

In response to other questions the Interim Director of Resources explained that Prince2 practices whilst good for a large project proved onerous for smaller projects and therefore any recognised methodology would need to be adapted to the requirements of the project under consideration..  The Head of Legal Services is involved at the time of procuring contracts.  The Director supported the suggestion for escalation of checking projects over £50,000 and advised that this could be brought in.  He suggested that the Corporate Leadership Team could be the final approver and sign off of a contract to go ahead and monitored through quarterly arrangements.

 

Councillor Sismey proposed that for contracts over £50,000 that as an interim arrangement until the new Director of Resources came back with a new approach that the Corporate Leadership Team sign off all key stages of such contracts and contractual terms.  This proposal was duly seconded and agreed.

 

At this point in the meeting the Chairman welcomed Ms Carrie Cox, Finance Manager to the meeting and the Council.  He also expressed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 1083.

1084.

Final Council Tax Setting 2017 / 18

To receive a verbal report from the Interim Director of Resources.

Minutes:

The Committee received a verbal report from the Interim Director of Resources which advised that the Local Government Finance Settlement had been provisional at the time the Council set its own budget and the Council Tax for the area.  The final settlement was published on 20 February 2017.  There was no change between the provisional and final settlement.  The Interim Director reported that there was a difference of £7,000 to what had been brought into the budget and considered by the Council in respect of one of the grants.  The Interim Director of Resources suggested that this be corrected at revised estimates time in October / November rather than changing all figures at this time.  This was noted.

1085.

Urgent Business

Minutes:

The Chairman announced that in accordance with Section 100b(4) of the Local Government Act he had agreed to allow the Director of Resources to raise an urgent item of business as a response is required to a request from Simon Gallagher, Director of Planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) by Monday 13 March 2017.  This was agreed by the Committee.

1086.

URGENT BUSINESS: Planning Application Fees - An Offer from Government pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To consider the urgent report of the Interim Head of Planning Services, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the urgent report of the Interim Director of Resources seeking Members approval to accept an offer from Government to increase planning fees by 20% from July 2017, on the basis that the Council commits to invest this additional income directly into the Planning Service.

 

It was noted that the report had been considered by the Planning and Licensing Committee at its meeting on 2 March 2017 who had recommended that this Committee support acceptance of the Government’s offer.

 

Members were advised of a letter received from Simon Gallagher, Director of Planning at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) (attached at Appendix 1 to the report) sent to all Local Planning Authorities (LPA) setting out the opportunity to increase planning fees by 20% from July 2017, as long at the LPA committed to investing the additional fee income directly into the planning service.  The report expanded further on this request, along with Council’s need to improve its competitive position in terms of recruitment and retention of planning staff.  Appendix 2 to the report set out the revised Development Management Fees should Council accept the offer.

 

The Interim Director of Resources advised that he had made representation to the DCLG on behalf of the Council in light of the next Council meeting being after the deadline for response and the DCLG had agreed to wait until 6 April to receive the decision of this Council regarding whether it would accept the offer.  Members were informed that the Finance Manager in conjunction with the Group Manager, Planning Services had considered the timing of all expected applications and it was estimated that an additional of £100,000 could arise if the Council accepted the Government's offer.

 

RECOMMENDED that the Government’s offer to increase planning fees by 20% from July 2017 is accepted, with a commitment to invest this additional fee income directly into the planning service.

APPENDIX 1 pdf icon PDF 140 KB