Agenda and draft minutes

Strategy and Resources Committee - Thursday 21st September 2023 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Committee Services  Email: committee.clerk@maldon.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

264.

Chairperson's Notices

Minutes:

The Chairperson welcomed everyone to the meeting and went through some general housekeeping arrangements for the meeting.

265.

Apologies for Absence and Substitution Notice

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors D O Bown and S White.  In accordance with notice duly given Councillor S J N Morgan was attending as a substitute for Councillor Bown.  It was noted that Councillor A M Lay would be arriving late.

266.

Minutes of the Last meeting pdf icon PDF 146 KB

To consider the Minutes of the Strategy and Resources Committee held on 20 July 2023 (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 20 July 2023 be approved and confirmed.

267.

Disclosure of Interest

To disclose the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, Other Registrable interests and Non-Registrable Interests relating to items of business on the agenda having regard to paragraph 9 and Appendix B 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.

268.

Public Participation

To receive the views of members of the public, of which prior notification in writing has been received (no later than noon on the Tuesday prior to the day of the meeting).

 

Should you wish to submit a question please complete the online form at:

www.maldon.gov.uk/publicparticipation.

Minutes:

No requests had been received.

 

At this point Councillor J Driver joined the meeting.

269.

Delivery of Section 106 Capital Projects 2024 / 25 pdf icon PDF 136 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 updating Members on the current position with Section 106 (S106) contributions and seeking approval to recruit a new fixed term resource to deliver the Council’s S106 programme of works.

 

It was noted that the Council received S106 contributions as part of the Planning Approval process for large applications.  Table 1 in the report set out the S106 financial contributions held by the Council and potential projects to be delivered subject to community engagement.

 

The report advised that the South Essex Parking Partnership (SEPP) had recently confirmed the Council would receive £137,000 for 2023 / 24 to delivery capital projects within car parks.  As the Council had already identified a capital sum to deliver such projects from existing budgets it was suggested that the surplus capital funding be used to fund a new fixed term Project Manager position to deliver the S106 Programme of Work.  The report provided further information on this post and the proposed use of the capital monies.

 

In response to a lengthy debate that ensued, and questions raised by Members, further information was provided by Officers which included:

 

·                  Confirmation that the projects detailed were historic.

 

·                  Members were advised that the SEPP monies had been approved and received by the Council.

 

·                  In respect of the proposed timeline, Officers noted it was ambitious and subject to various dependencies but believed it was deliverable and confirmed that Members (both Ward and others) would be engaged with regarding the projects, as would other stakeholders.

 

·                  Officers confirmed that they had recently met with the Youth Strategy Group to discuss the work they had carried out in relation to skateparks.  Some Member referred to the importance of involving potential users of skateparks etc. at the design stage, this was noted.

 

·                  It was explained when S106 contributions were due the Council worked out the indexation using the section industry figures and this was then added to invoices.  The contributions in relation to the projects outlined in the report had been received and the date for the first pay back (should the monies not be used) was October 2026.  It was noted that having received the monies the Council was now subject to inflationary pressure and hence the need to progress these projects.

 

·                  There were no restrictions on the use of the capital which became available through use of the SEPP funding to fund projects previously identified for capital spend.

 

·                  The priority of the proposed S106 Project Manager would be to deliver the S106 Programme of Work, and if they had capacity they would then support / help with the Council’s capital projects.

 

·                  It was noted that there could be potential revenue savings once existing assets were replaced with new, however any additional new asset would require a revenue budget for ongoing maintenance.

 

Councillor A S Fluker raised concern regarding the proposed new S106 Officer post and the need for possible further consultation, the annual costs related to such projects, what other projects the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 269.

270.

Supplementary Estimates, Virements, Procurement Exemptions and Use of Reserves - Quarter One: 1 April - 30 June 2023 pdf icon PDF 154 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer reporting Virements, Supplementary Estimates and Procurement Exemptions agreed under delegated powers where they were below the levels requiring approval by the Committee. 

 

It was noted that there were no supplementary estimates agreed during this period. Sections 3.3.1 and 3.5.1 set out the virements and procurement exemption agreed during this period. The report also advised that there was one drawdown from Reserves proposed during this period. 

 

In response to questions raised, Officers provided Members with the following additional information:

 

·                  There had been pressure across both the cemeteries and parks teams and as an interim measure salary savings had been used to bring in some agency support.  The Head of Service was working with the teams to bring forward a service review which would be reported to a future meeting of this Committee.

 

·                  In relation the requested drawn down from the Community Housing Reserve this related to a gap in funding for an employment support coach position where there was delayed receipt of funding from the Department for Work and Pensions.  Members were advised that Officer would look to claw the monies back through potential housing service underspend at the end of the year.

 

The Chairperson put the recommendations as set out the report and these were duly agreed.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)                That the virements as detailed in paragraph 3.3.1 of the report be noted;

 

(ii)              That the procurement exemptions as detailed in paragraph 3.5.1 of the report be noted;

 

(iii)             That the following drawdown from Reserves be agreed:

 

Reserve

Drawdown amount

Reason for Drawdown

Community Housing Reserve

£12,500

To cover a three month contract extension for an employment support coach

 

Councillor A M Lay joined the meeting during this item of business.

271.

Budgetary Control (as at 30 June 2023) pdf icon PDF 297 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer providing financial performance information for the period 1 April – 30 June 2023.  The report provided an update on a number of areas including the following:

 

·                  Gross Service Income and Expenditure;

 

·                  Top Expenditure Areas and Variance Analysis;

 

·                  Top Income Areas and Variance Analysis;

 

·                  Salary Monitoring as at 30 September 2023;

 

·                  Inflationary impact;

 

·                  Impact on the General Fund Balance;

 

·                  Capital Projects Monitor as at 30 September 2020 (Appendix 1)

 

It was noted that budgets had improved since the pandemic, but the enduring cost-of-living crisis could yet create pressure on local tax collection rates. In addition, it was noted that National pay awards were yet to be agreed and salary inflation could also place a pressure on the Council’s budgets if higher than estimated.

 

During his presentation of the report the Lead Specialist Finance advised that the largest individual variance being forecast was an underspend in household waste due to reductions in waste collected following the pandemic ending.

 

During the debate that ensued Member raised a number of questions regarding car parking income and the following information was provided:

 

·                  The variation was due to an additional £130k added to the projected income for car parking as part of the Council restructure in 2019.  Overall the income was not significantly different to pre-covid but was showing an underspend because of the addition of £130k added into the budget.  It was noted that there was no policy behind this additional income, how it would be generated or assumption that car parking charges would be significantly increased.

 

·                  One of the pressures around car parking income related to the number of people now paying by card and the increased transaction fees in relation to that.  Although an element of this had been built into the budget the volume was higher than expected.  A budget adjustment would be made to ensure that going forward it reflected the transactions the Council was experiencing.  It was reported that going forward the majority of additional fees for payment by phone were included within the transaction fee paid by the customer.  Following further discussion and in response to questions raised, the Chairperson advised the Committee that a response regarding costs relating to the collection of car parking revenue, including car payments would be provided.

 

The Chairperson put the recommendation as set out in the report and this was duly agreed.

 

RESOLVED that the forecasted 2023 / 24 financial position as at 30 June 2023 be noted.

272.

Fees and Charges Policy 2024 / 25 pdf icon PDF 222 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Chief Finance Officer presenting the 2024 / 25 Fees and Charges Policy and updated Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for approval. 

 

Appendix 1 to the report set out the current position for each fees and charges policy including any concessions being given, further financial information and comments.  The report summarised proposed changes to the Fees and Charges Policy and it was noted that one new Fees and Charges policy had been added – Non-Statutory Enquiries.

 

It was noted that the detailed schedule of Fees and Charges would be reviewed based on policy decisions and this Committee would recommend to the Council the 2024 / 25 Fees and Charges during the next cycle of meetings.  The 2024 / 25 income budget would be based on the recommended policy.

 

The Chairperson reminded the Committee that it was not debating the individual fees and charges, just the policy.

 

Members raised a number of questions and in response Officers provided the following information:

 

·                  Reference to a non-statutory enquiry related to land charges fees and were not general customer enquiries.

 

·                  Appendix 1 to the report referred to Section 106 (S106) payments and the monitoring fee that the Council charged based on S106 cases.  There were no changes proposed to this existing policy.  It was agreed that Officers would provide a breakdown of monies collected through this policy and also a benchmark of the monitoring fees charged against neighbouring authorities.

 

·                  A Member provided the Committee with details of the current arrangements in place for the collection of clinical waste and queried the efficiency of these.  Officers understood that the changes made to clinical waste collection (a number of years ago) were implemented as a result of cost savings.  Officers agreed to review these costs in order to identify if there was a more efficient way of delivering that service.

 

·                  In response to a query regarding whether the Council had implemented the recently agreed policy to increase wharfage by inflation the Chairperson confirmed that this information would be provided outside of the meeting.

 

·                  Where refuse bins were reported as stolen, it was noted for green waste bins full cost recovery was sought from the customer.  However, if a bin was damaged each case and the replacement costs were considered on an individual basis, along with any evidence of damage caused by the refuse crews.

 

The Chairperson put the recommendation as set out in the report and this was duly agreed.  It was noted that this would be a recommendation to the Council.

 

RECOMMENDED that the 2024 / 25 Fees and Charges Policies at APPENDIX 1 be approved.

Appendix 1 pdf icon PDF 107 KB