Agenda and minutes

Finance and Corporate Services Committee - Tuesday 27th November 2018 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Committee Services 

Items
No. Item

648.

Chairman's notices

Minutes:

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

649.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor Mrs M E Thompson.

650.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Finance and Corporate Services Committee held on 25 September 2018, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

(i)              that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 25 September 2018 be received.

 

Minute 458 – Superfast Broadband in Maldon District

It was noted that the penultimate paragraph should read “…the proposal in the name of Councillor Fluker which highlighted…”.

 

RESOLVED

 

(ii)            that subject to the above amendment, the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 25 September 2018 be confirmed.

651.

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:

Councillor D M Sismey disclosed a pecuniary interest in relation to Agenda Item 11 – Half Yearly Treasury Management Update, as he is a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs.

652.

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.

653.

Corporate Health and Safety pdf icon PDF 106 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the report of the Director of Resources detailing Corporate Health and Safety activity for Quarter Two (1 July to 30 September 2018).  A summary by Directorate and a description of the reported incidents and near misses were set out in the report.

 

Appendix 1 to the report provided details of progress with the Health and Safety Action Plan for 2018 / 19.

 

It was noted that there had been five accidents and one near miss during quarter two and any follow up action was detailed in the report.  There had been 13 incidents of unacceptable behaviour reported during this quarter which was a significant increase in reported numbers.

 

In response to a question regarding the 13 incidents of unacceptable behaviour, the Director of Resources advised that she would speak to the Council’s Health and Safety Advisor, review the details surrounding the incidents and if she had any concerns would report these back to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

RESOVLED

 

(i)        that the accident and incident statistics for quarter two be noted;

 

(ii)       that progress with the Health and Safety Action Plan for 2018 / 19 be noted.

654.

Human Resources Statistics - Quarter Two 2018 / 19 pdf icon PDF 158 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received and noted the report of the Director of Resources presenting Human Resources statistics for the period 1 July to 30 September 2018. 

 

Statistics and updates relating to the following areas were detailed in the report:

·                 Labour Turnover;

 

·                 Recruitment;

 

·                 Job Vacancies;

 

·                 Staff Sickness Levels;

 

·                 Attendance Management Compliance;

 

·                 Workforce Statistics – attached as Appendix 1 to the report.

 

·                 Exit Questionnaire Analysis.

 

·                 Future Model.

 

It was noted that as a consequence of the implementation of the Future Model, a hold had been placed on all non-essential recruitment and therefore there had been a low level of recruitment during Quarter Two.  Human Resources (HR) continued to work with the Corporate Leadership Team and Ignite regarding implementation of the people, culture and change work streams under the Future Model.

 

Members noted that the overall staff sickness levels were 2.13 days per Full Time Equivalent and this was the lowest they had been since Quarter One 2014 / 15.

 

In response to a question regarding the Future Model and the levels of staff within this, the Director of Resources advised that this had been reported to Members at the last Council meeting.  The key was to make sure that the Council had the right people in the right place with the right skills.  It was noted that the Council’s Programme Manager would be meeting with Members to discuss transformation.  Members were advised that the Corporate Leadership Team regularly met with the Leader of the Council and other Members to discuss the Council’s resilience to ensure that its performance indicators were met.

 

RESOLVED that the contents of the report be noted.

655.

Half Yearly Review of Performance pdf icon PDF 117 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the report of the Director of Resources supplying Members with details of performance against targets set for 2017 / 18.  The report also outlined progress being achieved towards the corporate goals and the outcomes detailed in the Corporate Plan 2015 – 19 adopted by the Council in February 2015.

 

It was noted that the Corporate Leadership Team had held a quarterly performance and risk clinics to review and challenge performance, financial and risk information, where necessary.  This report had also been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

The position for each corporate goal was set out in Appendix 1 to the report and detailed key corporate activities and service priorities assessed as being “behind schedule” or “at risk of not being achieved”.  The appendix also showed those indicators which were at risk of not achieving the end of year target.

 

It was noted that good progress had been made on a number of activities which would contribute to the Council’s corporate goals and objectives.  There were some activities considered at risk / behind schedule and performance indicators which may not be achieves within the timescales set.

 

RESOLVED that Members comments and the contents of the report be noted.

656.

Rural Settlement List pdf icon PDF 95 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Resources presenting for approval the Rural Settlement List for 2019 / 20 (attached as Appendix A to the report) and consider Rural Rate Relief for eligible businesses.

 

It was noted that there had been no significant developments in the District and therefore no changes were proposed to the previously published Rural Settlement List.

 

RESOLVED that the Rural Settlement List for 2019 / 20 be approved.

657.

Supplementary Estimates, Virements and Use of Reserves: 1 September - 30 October 2018 pdf icon PDF 108 KB

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

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Resources, reporting to the Committee virements and supplementary estimates agreed under delegated powers.  The report also reported on procurement exemptions granted during the period.

 

Members were advised that as the Future Model progressed realised underspends needed to be removed from budgets to ensure projected savings targets were being met.  It was noted that any savings would provide a fund for associated costs and support reserves in the funding of the overall transformation project.  Members were requested to consider advanced approval for all underspends, including salary underspends, be vired to a central code.  This code would be within the budget responsibility of the Director of Resources and any subsequent virements from this fund by services would be outside of this approval and actioned and reported to Members as appropriate.

 

Members noted that there had been two procurement exemptions for the upgrade of the Council’s intranet network and procurement of Emergency Planning and Business Continuity Support.  The report provided further detail in respect of these exemptions.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)              that all underspends, including salary underspends, be vired to a central code under the budget responsibility of the Director of Resources;

 

(ii)            that the procurement exemptions granted during the period and detailed in the report be noted.

 

 

Following his earlier declaration Councillor D M Sismey left the meeting at this point.

 

IN THE CHAIR : COUNCILLOR I E DOBSON

 

658.

Half Yearly Treasury Management Update pdf icon PDF 123 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the report of the Director of Resources reporting on the Council’s investment activity for the first half of 2018 / 19 in accordance with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and Accountancy Treasury Management code and the Council’s Treasury Management Policies and Practices (TMPs). 

 

The report detailed the Council’s investment activity for both investments and instant access reserve accounts.  Security of capital had remained the Council’s main investment objective, which had been maintained by following the Council’s counterparty policy.

 

Appendix 1 to the report had been prepared by Arlingclose (who provide treasury management consultancy and advice to the Council) and provided an overview of the external economic environment.  The report outlined investment activity for April – September 2018.

 

It was reported that the Prudential Indicators for 2018 / 19 which had been set on 30 January 2018 as part of the Treasury Management Strategy Statement had been complied with to date and shown in Appendix 2 to the report.

 

RESOLVED that the Treasury Management report be noted for compliance purposes.

 

Councillor Sismey returned to the chamber at this point.

 

IN THE CHAIR : COUNCILLOR D M SISMEY

 

659.

Budgetary Control April - September 2018 pdf icon PDF 127 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the report of the Director of Resources providing Members with key financial information on the progress to date against the agreed budget.  The report provided an update on the following areas and further details were set out in the related Appendices:

·                 Revenue budgets (Appendices 1 and 1A);

 

·                 Vacancy savings (Appendix 2);

 

·                 Agency expenditure;

 

·                 Major sources of income;

 

·                 Capital projects (Appendix 3)

 

It was noted that there were no concerns over current financial performance to budget.  Income was performing as expected and expenditure vacancies were related to the timing of transactions and works.  Members were advised that capital projects were progressing and the programme was expected to be completed within the financial year.

 

RESOLVED that the contents of the report be noted.

660.

Corporate Debt Recovery Strategy pdf icon PDF 105 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Resources seeking Members’ approval of a Corporate Debt Recovery Strategy (attached at Appendix 1 to the report) to ensure efficiency, effectiveness, consistency, fairness and transparency in recovering debts owed to the Council.

 

It was noted that the aim of this Strategy was to ensure that all monies owed to the Council, including Council Tax, Non Domestic Rates, Sundry Debts, Penalty Charge Notices and fixed Penalty Notices were collected efficiently and effectively.  This was to ensure that the Council was transparent, fair and consistent in its approach.

 

In response to a number of questions, Members were provided with the following information:

 

·                 External Collection Agencies were used by the Council for Council Tax and Domestic Rate non-payers along with some sundry debtors.  Members were advised that in 2010 there had been a major change to fees by the Ministry of Justice meaning that they were now standard across all Councils.

 

·                 The Council went through stringent strategies along with working across other Local Authorities when appointing collection agencies.  Within these agencies there were welfare teams who would investigate any issues regarding vulnerability.  In addition, the Council held quarterly meetings with the agency when such cases were discussed. 

 

·                 It was explained that there were a number of legislative requirements as well as internal case discussions that the Council had to go through before embarking on enforcement action.  Stringent checks were also carried out and Members were advised of the other remedies which were available to the Council. 

 

It was questioned whether the write-off procedure detailed in section 2.14 of the Strategy had been agreed by Committee and was contained within the Council’s Constitution.  The Director of Resources advised that she would clarify this and report back to the next meeting of the Committee. 

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)              that the Corporate Debt Recovery Strategy be approved;

 

(ii)            that a report on debt write-off be brought to the next meeting of this Committee.

661.

Local Council Tax Support Scheme 2019 / 20 pdf icon PDF 112 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Service Delivery, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Service Delivery seeking Members’ approval for a substantially unchanged cost neutral scheme for 2019 / 20.

 

It was noted that in order to continue to deliver a cost neutral LCTS scheme within the budget proposed for 2019 / 20 the only changes recommended were for a cost of living increase in line with the rates proposed by the Department for Work and Pensions for pensioners and minor changes to mirror the national Housing Benefit scheme as in previous years.

 

RECOMMENDED

 

(i)              that a cost of living increase in line with the Department for Work and Pensions schemes be included in the Local Council Tax Support Scheme (LCTS) for 2019 / 20 for Pensioners only;

(ii)            that any legislative changes being introduced to the Housing Benefit Scheme for 2019 / 20 are mirrored in the Councils LCTS scheme to ensure consistency;

 

(iii)          that in all other respects the Local Council Tax Support Scheme and Hardship Scheme remain unchanged, and that this decision has been made following Members’ careful reading of, and regard to the Equality Impact Assessment at APPENDIX 1 to these Minutes.

662.

2019 / 20 Budgetary Proposals pdf icon PDF 116 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Resources setting out the proposals put forward by Officers for revenue growth, fees and charges policy, capital projects and the use of the repairs and renewals reserve prior to approval of the 2019 / 20 budget.  It was noted that for all service areas the relevant programme Committee had considered the report prior to being reported to this Committee.

 

The report provided detailed information in respect of the following areas:

·                 Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS):

·                 Collection Fund;

 

·                 investment income;

 

·                 income;

 

·                 pension

 

·                 Revenue budget growth – Appendix A to the report detailed budget growth proposals for consideration and agreement on which items would move forward and included in the budget process

 

·                 Fees and Charges – Appendix B showed the fees and charges policy for adoption and detailed any proposed amendments.  It was noted that this appendix had been updated following consideration by the Community Services and Planning & Licensing Committees and the Finance Manager outlined the queries raised, which included:

 

o       proposed wharfage and mooring policies;

 

o       collection of mooring fees – it was clarified that the Council was not requesting any changes to collection arrangements only that the fee charged would no longer be set depending on the fees of local clubs.

 

o       inserting a clause into leases prohibiting sub-leasing – Members noted that existing leases could not be adjusted but Officers would discuss with legal if this was possible for future leases.

 

o       impact following removal of a 50% wharfage fees discount especially on Thames barges – the policy was to be retained with Officers carrying out further work as part of service reviews, during which options would be discussed with barge owners to consider removal of this discount over a phased period.

 

·                 Capital – Appendix C contained details of all 2019 / 20 project bids which had been categorised by Officers into three main groups.

 

·                 Repairs and Renewals – These were set out in Appendix D to the report.

 

It was noted that the Community Services Committee had considered this report at its recent meeting and made a number of recommendations to this Committee which were set out in the report.

 

A lengthy debate ensued and in particular the following items were discussed and further information provided by Officers:

·                 Budget Growth (Appendix A)

·               Extension of additional 7.5 hours – Members were advised the Waste Education Officer role involved ensuring that residents etc. understood what items were recyclable which assisted with the avoidance of waste being rejected at the kerb side.  The Director of Service Delivery advised that this work would be carried out by caseworkers as part of Phase 2 of the Future Model and therefore this request for additional monies was only until October 2019.  A variety of media was used to educate including the website, meeting with individual clients and working with contractors.

 

·                 Fees and Charges (Appendix B)

·             Car Parking / Events – The Director of Service Delivery reported that the Council was looking at Promenade Park to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 662.

663.

Council Tax - Proposals to Increase Empty Homes Premium pdf icon PDF 101 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Service Delivery, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Service Delivery seeking Members’ consideration of an increase to the Council Tax Empty Homes Premium to the maximum permitted in accordance with Legislation.

 

The report provided background information regarding the Empty Homes Premium and Members were advised that on 1 November 2018 new legislation was approved enabling the council tax premium to gradually increase to a maximum of 300% by 2021 to act as a further disincentive for properties to be left empty.  The report set out the maximum premiums to be charged.  It was recommended that the Council adopt the maximum level of charge to minimise the numbers of long term empty homes in the District.

 

RESOLVED that the imposition of the maximum Empty Homes Premium permitted by Legislation, be approved.

664.

Introduction of a Charge for a Section of the Maldon District Council Office Car Park pdf icon PDF 98 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Service Delivery (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Service Delivery, seeking Members’ consideration of a request to commence formal consultation on the introduction of a charge for a section of the Council’s car park.

 

Appendix 1 to the report highlighted an area of 20 spaces within the Council’s car park which was reserved for visitors to the Council.  Members were requested to consider whether the Council should be charging for these spaces and enforcing any charge as in other public car parks within Maldon Town Centre.  The introduction of any new charges would require an amendment to the Council’s existing Traffic Regulation Order as set out in Appendix 2 to the report.  Appendix 3 set out several implications arising from the proposed change.

 

In response to a number of questions, the Director of Service Delivery provided the Committee with the following information:

·                 Pay and display equipment would be introduced along with appropriate signage to accord with the proper order.

 

·                 The current location of the electric charging point and its inclusion in the proposed changes would be considered.

 

·                 Officers would be writing to both Doctors surgeries to advise them of the proposed change and consultation process.

 

At this point, Councillor M S Heard declared a non-pecuniary interest in this item of business.

 

·                 The Police as part of its lease had five marked spaces within the old St. Cedds car park and any spaces used in addition to these would require further permits for which a charge would be payable.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)              that the principle to introduce car parking charges in the current visitor car park at Maldon District Council offices be agreed;

 

(ii)            that Officers undertake a formal consultation on the proposed amendment to the Traffic Regulation Orders for vehicles parking in the 20 visitor spaces at Maldon District Council offices and report back to a future meeting of this Committee.

Appendices 1 and 2 pdf icon PDF 117 KB

Additional documents: