Agenda and minutes

Strategy and Resources Committee - Thursday 5th December 2019 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Committee Services 

Items
No. Item

596.

Chairman's Notices

Minutes:

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

597.

Apologies for Absence and Substitution Notices

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R G Boyce MBE and Mrs J L Fleming.

 

In accordance with notice duly given Councillor M W Helm was attending as a substitute for Councillor Boyce and Councillor E L Bamford was attending as a substitute for Councillor Mrs Fleming.

598.

Minutes of the last meeting pdf icon PDF 154 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Strategy and Resources Committee held on 17 October 2019, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

(i)              that the Minutes of the Strategy and Resources Committee held on 17 October 2019 be received.

 

Minute 464 – Appointment of Chairman and Vice-Chairman

It was noted that Councillor M S Heard had raised the accuracy of this Minute at the Council meeting on 21 November 2019, where it was agreed that this matter would be considered by this Committee at its next meeting.

 

Members were advised that following review of the sound recording of the meeting, the following amendments to this Minute were suggested:

 

“Prior to consideration of this item of business, the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the Strategy and Resources Committee.  He advised that he was in the chair to start proceedings and deal solely with the appointment of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Committee.

 

At this point, Councillor R G Boyce made a proposal in respect of the appointment of the Chairman of the Committee.  He then raised a point of order requesting that his proposal should be put to the vote.  In response, the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance advised that nominations for the positions of Chairman and Vice-Chairman had not yet been sought.

 

With permission, Councillor M S Heard addressed the Committee asking Members to consider the appointment of an independent Chairman or Vice-Chairman.  During this Councillor Boyce raised a point of order requesting that his proposal should be put to the vote.  The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance clarified that he had not yet reached nominations for Chairman and Vice-Chairman and that he was happy for Councillor Heard to continue.

 

The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance called for nominations…”

 

These amendments were duly agreed by the Committee.

 

RESOLVED

 

(ii)            that subject to the above amendments, the Minutes of the Strategy and Resources Committee held on 17 October 2019 be agreed.

599.

Disclosure of Interest

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

 

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

Minutes:

Councillor Mrs P A Channer disclosed a non-pecuniary interest as a Member of Essex County Council in any item on the agenda relating to the County Council.  She made specific reference to Agenda Item 15 – 2020 / 21 Fees and Charges Policy.

600.

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.

 

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:

The Chairman advised that in accordance with the Public Speaking Protocol a request to speak had been received from Mr C Morris.  Mr Morris then addressed the Committee in respect of Agenda Item 11 – Supplementary Estimates, Virements and Use of Reserves 1 April – 30 September 2019 and a response was provided by the Interim Section 151 Officer.

 

 

Councillor Morris left the meeting at this point and did not return.

601.

Review of Advice Services Funding 2020 / 21 pdf icon PDF 253 KB

To consider the report of Director of Service Delivery (copy enclosed) and to receive a presentation from Mr Philip Wakeling, Chairman of the Citizens Advice Bureau Trustees.

Minutes:

Prior to considering the report, Mr Philip Wakeling and Ms Justine Southgate from the Maldon Citizens Advice (MCA)gave a short presentation the Committee.  The presentation outlined the work the MCA, the benefit to residents of the Maldon District and its plan for the next three years.

 

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Service Delivery, seeking Members’ consideration of the implications for the reduction in funding to the MCA for 2019 / 20 and the levels of funding proposed for 2020 / 21.

 

The report provided background information regarding the MCA, its contract to deliver an Advice Service for the Council, the funding provided as part of this contract, reductions seen to funding and the impact that had been seen to services.  A table within the report highlighted performance to date and it was noted that the MCA continued to deliver on all priorities set in the contract.

 

Members were asked to consider the funding levels to the MCA for 2020 / 21 and the report set out a number of options.  Members discussed the options and the exceptional work of the MCA and the benefits this work brought to residents of the District was commented on.  A number of Members spoke in support of the work of the MCA and how they felt the option to increase the funding to its previous level should be supported.

 

At this point, Councillor Mrs P A Channer declared that she was chairperson of a Maldon Advisory Hub Board which had had involvement with the MCA.

 

In response to a question, the Interim Section 151 Officer clarified that if Members agree to increase the funding as per recommendation (iv) in the report this would become a growth item and if the Council failed to find any other budget savings from 2020 / 21 this money would have to come from reserves.

 

Councillor B E Harker proposed from the chair that the Council be asked to accept recommendation (iv) as set out in the report to return funding of the MCA to the previous level of £73,000.  Upon a vote being take this was agreed.  It was further clarified that the proposal related to the increase from 1 April 2020.

 

In response to a question regarding creating a three-year rolling contract, the Interim Section 151 Officer advised that Officers would sit down with the MCA to look at a three year Service Level Agreement.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)              That the contents of the report be noted;

 

RECOMMENDED

 

(ii)            That funding to the Maldon Citizens Advice is increased to the previous level of £73,500 from 1 April 2020.

602.

Human Resources Statistics - Quarter Two 2019 / 20 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To review and comment on the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received and noted the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance presenting Human Resources statistics for the period 1 July to 30 September 2019 (Quarter Two (Q2)). 

 

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

 

·                 Labour Turnover;

 

·                 Recruitment, including vacancies;

 

·                 Staff Sickness Levels;

 

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

 

·                 Future Model.

 

It was noted that there had been some challenges seen during this quarter due to staff redundancies and changes in the new structure.  The new Council model went live within Quarter Three and it was reported that a period of greater stability should therefore be seen during this period.

 

In response to questions, the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance provided the Committee with the following information:

 

·               A monthly list of starters and leavers was available on the Council’s intranet and should Members not be able to access the information other arrangements could be made.

 

·               The profile of Mental Health First Aiders had been raised across all staff as part of the transformation process.  The Director was unable to advise whether there had been an increase in the use of these as due to the confidential nature of their work records could not be kept and there was therefore no statistical information available.

 

RESOLVED that the contents of the report be noted.

603.

Maldon Market Arrangements pdf icon PDF 198 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 a time limited rolling extension to the current Maldon Market arrangements to enable Officers to deliver options for the provision of a Market in the future.

 

The report provided an update on the current operations of the Maldon Market in Butt Lane car park.  It was noted however that the Market’s offer remained limited to a few staff each week.  Members were asked to consider a rolling extension to the Market to enable the new Prosperity Theme Lead and Commercial Manager to develop options for the future operation of a Market in Maldon Town.

 

In response to a question regarding involvement of the Maldon Market Working Group in discussions around the Maldon Market, the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance advised that Officers would work with the Working Group to develop options for the future operation of the Market in Maldon.  These recommendations would then be brought back to a future meeting of this Committee.  The Chairman suggested that recommendation (ii) be amended to include reference to this work being in consultation with the Working Group.

 

Following further discussions it was agreed that recommendation (ii) be amended to include reference to consultation with the Maldon Market Working Group and that a meeting of the Working Group would take place no later than the end of March 2020.  This amendment along with recommendation (i) as set out in the report were duly agreed.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)              That a rolling extension to the current Maldon Market arrangements be agreed;

 

(ii)            That the Director of Service Delivery be instructed to work with the Maldon Market Working Group (to meet no later than the end of March 2020) and provide an update to the Strategy and Resources Committee no later than June 2020.

604.

Maldon District Council Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Document - Consultation on Draft Amendment pdf icon PDF 305 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 Strategy, Performance and Governance providing Members with an update on the recent consultation on the proposed amendment to the Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Document (SPD). 

 

The Affordable Housing and Viability SPD had been adopted by the Council in November 2018 but when applying the SPD an issue had arisen regarding part of the flow chart at Fig 2 on page 38 of the SPD.  The report highlighted the proposed amendment to the SPD to resolve this, approved by the Planning and Licensing Committee in June 2019.  It was noted that consultation on the amendment had taken place and a summary of the comments received were set out in the report.

 

In response to comments from the Committee regarding the changes made to the SPD, the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance took Members through the amendments and advised that he could circulate a document which highlights the changes.  It was agreed that if Members were mindful to agree recommendation (ii) a document showing the changes would be submitted to the Council.

 

The chairman then put the recommendations as set out in the report, with the addition of a further Appendix showing the changes (as detailed above).  This was duly agreed.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)              That the consultation and Officer responses as set out in this report be noted;   

 

RECOMMENDED

 

(ii)            That the proposed amendments (APPENDIX 1 to these Minutes) to the Affordable Housing and Viability SPD (attached as APPENDIX 2) be agreed.

605.

Rural Settlement List pdf icon PDF 197 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 Resources presenting for approval the Rural Settlement List for 2020 / 21 (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.

 

In response to a question regarding what eligible business could claim rural rate relief, the Director of Service Delivery advised that he would provide this information to Members outside of the meeting.

 

RESOLVED that the Rural Settlement List for 2020 / 21 be approved.

606.

Supplementary Estimates, Virements and Use of Reserves (1 April - 30 September) pdf icon PDF 312 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer, reporting virements and supplementary estimates agreed under delegated powers and procurement exemptions granted.  The report also reported on the use of the Repairs and Maintenance reserve during the year.

 

Members were advised that there had been two supplementary estiamtes approved during the period 1 April – 30 September 2019 and these related to:

·                 Reinstatement of grave stone topple testing (£5,000 recurring);

 

·                 Operational costs of delivery of the new Heybridge Basin ward (£16,000 non-recurring).

 

One procurement exemption had also been approved for the purchase of three second-hand vehicles for the parks department.  It was noted that three vehicles were purchased rather than the two originally budgeted for.

 

There were no virements or drawback on reserves to report for this period.

 

RESOLVED that the supplementary estimates and procurement exemption detailed in the report be noted.

607.

Budgetary Control (April - September 2019) pdf icon PDF 423 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer 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 (Appendix 1);

 

·                 Vacancy savings (Appendix 2);

 

·                 Agency expenditure;

 

·                 Major sources of income;

 

·                 Capital projects (Appendix 3)

 

It was noted that there was concern regarding a significant shortfall in the various income streams within Development Control.  However, other income was performing as expected with some exceeding profiled budgets.  It was reported that some expenditure and income was accounted for at the end of the year and not all income for this period was included in the report due to process lags.  Members were advised that capital projects were progressing and the programme was expected to be completed within the financial year.

 

In response to a number of questions raised by the Committee, the following information was provided by the Interim Section 151 Officer:

 

·                 Agency costs were initially offset against any existing budgets where there were vacant posts and if a shortfall then these monies had to be allocated from other budgets and as a last resort, reserves.  Members’ attention was drawn to the HR statistics report received by this Committee which details vacant posts and any mitigating factors.

 

·                 Payments relating to Planning Performance Agreements were generally paid in relation to work done and therefore retrospective.  The Interim Section 151 Officer advised that he would carry out a review and provide Members with further information in respect of these.

 

·                 It was noted that the dredging works detailed in the report under the Service Delivery Directorate variances related to an area by the Hythe Quay and not the River Blackwater itself.

 

·                 The variances relating to land charges were due to a dip in the property market and in addition, it was noted that land charges was now a competitive field which also had an impact.

 

·                 Cemetery income was showing an income of 99% against the profile for this half of the year and therefore income was higher than expected.

 

During the discussion Councillor A S Fluker declared that he was a Maldon Harbour Improvement Commissioner.

 

It was noted that where variances were listed under the Resources Directorate the last bullet point should be split as the sentence relating to election management did not related to land charges.

 

RESOLVED that the contents of the report be noted.

608.

Half Yearly Treasury Management Update pdf icon PDF 354 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer reporting on the Council’s investment activity for the first half of 2019 / 20 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 2019.

 

It was reported that the Prudential Indicators for 2019 / 20 which had been set on 29 January 2019, 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.

609.

IT Business Continuity Requirements pdf icon PDF 289 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance, (copy enclosed).

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance seeking Members’ approval to fund replacement of the SAN Disk Array in conjunction with five other essential projects from the Capital Programme 2019 / 20.

 

The report detailed the projects where funding was sought and outlined how without this equipment and software replacement the Council would face a real and very high risk of catastrophic data loss alongside the interruption of service delivery for Officers and the public.

 

In response to a number of comments raised the Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance explained the need behind this request to provide resilience to the network.  Internal Audit had reviewed network failure to ensure processes were in place for the future to prevent any further resilience concerns.  In respect of the budget requested for these projects, Members were advised that procurements processes had been followed and reviewed to ensure that the proposed budget figure was robust in terms of providing all the services required.  In response to a question, the Interim Section 151 Officer advised that if agreed the project would be added to the 2019 / 20 Capital Programme and the monies would come from usable capital reserves.

 

RESOLVED that the addition of the new SAN Array Disks as well as the implementation of the software for Revenue and Benefits, Civica and Uniform be approved as a capital scheme to the 2019 / 20 Capital Programme totalling an estimated £130,000.

610.

2020 / 21 Fees and Charges Policy pdf icon PDF 315 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer seeking review of the fees and charges policies that have been put forward by Officers prior to approval of the 2020 / 21 budget and updated Medium Term Financial Strategy in January 2020.

 

Appendix A 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 highlighted a number of areas for consideration, including changes to policy and new policies.

 

In response to a number of questions and comments, the Officers present provided Members’ with the following information:

 

·                 It was clarified that the proposal to introduce charging for parking on the Hythe Quay related the Council owned land at the Quay and not the public highway.  The Director of Service Delivery explained that the proposed change to charging was to try and regulate cars in the area in a more coherent way.  In response to a question regarding whether a car parking place was included as part of a mooring fee, the Director advised he would need to look into this and advise Members accordingly.  The Interim Section 151 Officer provided further detail regarding a fair funding review which had been carried out by the Government and how income relating to car parking was now included as part of the Government formula for future funding for Local Government.

 

·                 It was noted that in respect of the change proposed in relation to Recreational Avoidance and Mitigation Strategy (RAMS) the Council would act as a collection agency for monies in the same way that it did for Section 106 agreements.  The Director of Strategy, Performance and Governance provided some additional information regarding where the monies collected may go but how they would be spent on projects identified within the RAMs mitigation measures.

 

RECOMMENDED that the fees and charged policies outlined in APPENDIX 3 to these Minutes be reviewed and a set of policies for Officers to follow be adopted.

 

 

Councillors A L Hull and Miss S White left the meeting at this point.

611.

2020 / 21 Revenue Budget Growth and Savings pdf icon PDF 292 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer setting out for Members’ consideration the Revenue Growth and Savings proposal bids put forward by Officers, prior to approval of the 2020 / 21 budget and updated Medium Term Financial Strategy in January 2020.

 

It was noted that the Council was building a zero-based budget, based on existing service demand and legislation requirements.  Members considered the following proposals relevant to the Committee:

 

·                 Budget growth proposals (detailed within Appendix 1 to the report);

 

·                 Savings and Income Generation proposals (detailed within Appendix 2);

 

·                 Repairs and Renewals projects (Appendix 3).

 

The Interim Section 151 Officer requested that the Committee consider removing the proposal relating to ‘Street Cleansing contract uplift’ from Appendix 1 (Budget Growth 2020 / 21).  He explained that this related to a request to fund equipment but following review of the contract this funding was no longer required.  The Interim Section 151 Officer referred to the decision of the Committee to increase funding for the Maldon Citizens Advice (MCA) and the monies allocated to the ‘Street Cleansing contract uplift’ could be used for the MCA.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)              that the contents of the report be noted;

 

RECOMMENDED

 

(ii)            that Members consider the proposals set out in APPENDIX 4 to these Minutesfor growth items;

 

(iii)          that Members consider the proposals set out in APPENDIX 5 to these Minutes for savings and Income generation;

 

(iv)          that Members consider the proposals set out in APPENDIX 6 to these Minutes for projects to be funded from the Repairs and Renewals reserve.

612.

Capital Project Bids 2020 / 21 pdf icon PDF 328 KB

To consider the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer, (copy enclosed).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Interim Section 151 Officer, seeking Members’ consideration of the Capital Project bids submitted for 2020 / 21 by Officers prior to the approval of the 2020 / 21 budget and updated Medium Term Financial Strategy in January 2020.

 

Members were reminded of the three groups into which each capital project bid (as set out in the report) had been categorised by Officers.  An update on the current capital reserves was provided including the monies proposed to support the current 2019 / 20 capital programme and those monies left for future years.  It was noted that any revenue consequences of the capital projects chosen would be included in the 2020 / 21 revenue budget.

 

Members discussed the Capital Projects bids submitted, in particular:

 

·                 Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) – A number of concerns were raised regarding this item, with reference made to the jet skis and harbour master’s boat owned by the Council.  It was felt that alternative, more cost-effective options to the proposed RIB should be looked into.  In response the Director of Service Delivery reported on the proposed use for the RIB, how the revenue budget for existing boats could be utilised in respect of maintenance and the qualifications / training any officer would require before they could operate the RIB.  He assured the Committee that if a more economic route could be identified it would.

 

·                 Dog / Rubbish Bins Prom Park – The Director of Service Delivery highlighted that litter was one of the areas where the Council received the highest number of complaints.  He assured Members that Officers had reviewed the costs relating to this item to ensure the best value and highlighted that this was a ‘Service Improvement’ item.

 

·                 Council office roof repairs – In response to a question regarding this item and a request for more information about the condition of the roof, the Director of Service Delivery suggested that it be removed from the list of capital projects and revisited.  If it could be demonstrated that it was ‘Essential’ or ‘Service Failure’ Officers could bring it back to Members.  The Interim Section 151 Officer also suggested that further information could be brought back to Members on the ‘Service Improvement’ Capital Project Bids at its next meeting where Members could then consider if an item was to form part of the capital programme or be removed from it altogether. 

 

·                 Toilet Provision Maldon and Heybridge Cemetery – In response to comments the Director of Service Delivery advised that these would provide basic facilities for customers as well as officers at these locations.

 

Councillor R H Siddall proposed that those Capital Project Bids categorised as ‘Essential’ be approved but those categorised ‘Service Improvement’ and ‘Service Failure’ not be approved but brought back to the next meeting of this Committee with additional information.  This proposal was duly seconded and upon a vote being taken was agreed.

 

RESOLVED

 

(i)              that the following Capital Project bids (classified as ‘Essential’) be included for consideration in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 612.

Appendices pdf icon PDF 781 KB

Additional documents: