Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Cabinet
Wednesday 29th April 2020 5.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting - link to be provided at least 24 hours prior to the meeting

Contact: Jane Fulton (Ext 37611) 

Note: This will be a virtual meeting with the link to the meeting being made available at least 24 hours prior to the meeting 

Items
No. Item

517.

Welcome

Minutes:

            The Chairman welcomed Members, the press, officers and members of the public to this historic first virtual meeting held by the Council.

 

            He provided a brief summary of how the meeting would be conducted and the protocol that would be followed and, as this was a brand new experience for all participants, how any break in the proceedings due to technical difficulties would be managed.

 

            The Chairman took this opportunity to thank all Council staff for their hard work in dealing with the demands of the pandemic.

518.

Declarations of Interest

Members and officers are invited to make any declarations of pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interests that they may have in relation to items on the agenda, and are reminded that they should re-declare their interest before consideration of the item or as soon as the interest becomes apparent.

 

Members and officers should make their declaration by stating:

a) the item they have the interest in

b) whether it is a pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interest

c) the nature of the interest

d) if it is a pecuniary or prejudicial interest, whether they will be exercising their right to speak under Question Time

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made.

519.

Question Time

a) Questions from the public (for a period of up to 15 minutes).

b) Questions from Members with prejudicial interests (for a period of up to 15 minutes).

Minutes:

            No public questions had been submitted.

520.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 281 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 9 March 2020 (as attached).

Minutes:

            The Minutes of the meeting held on 9 March 2020 were agreed by the Cabinet and would be signed by the Chairman as soon as practically possible.

521.

Officer Decisions Taken During the Coronavirus Pandemic pdf icon PDF 153 KB

In accordance with the provisions of the Officer Scheme of Delegation in the Council’s Constitution, this report updates the Cabinet on the decisions taken by Officers to incur expenditure or take urgent action in response to the Coronavirus emergency.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced this item and stated that when major emergencies occurred, such as the present Coronavirus crisis, officers were able to make urgent decisions and report back to Members at a later date, as set out in the Council’s Constitution. 

 

Almost daily Emergency Planning Team meetings had been held over recent weeks, whereby a team of officers, led by the Director of Services, had been dealing with the emergency and the Chairman expressed his thanks to that team.  He also took the opportunity to thank Council staff who had continued to work diligently, mostly from home, to ensure the Council continued to provide services to its communities and that they were provided with the information they needed during the Coronavirus emergency.

 

As the pandemic continued, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) had set up a series of communication processes to ensure Members were kept up to date, whilst acknowledging that, for the first few weeks at least, things had been changing on an almost daily basis. As part of this process, the CEO had had regular discussions with the Leader and Deputy Leader, as well as weekly meetings with the other three political Group Leaders, Councillors  Chapman, Dixon and Mrs Thurston. The CEO had also had many conversations with individual Councillors and, through these various communications, had discussed decisions being made by officers as they occurred.  Support had therefore been obtained from the four Group Leaders at the relevant time prior to the decisions in the report being taken.

 

            The Chief Executive then presented the report and drew attention to the fact that the Directors, Group Heads and himself had authority to make urgent decisions in emergency situations under powers set out in the Council’s Constitution.  He thanked the Leader, the Cabinet and the other three Group Leaders for their full support on every decision that had been taken as, without that support, the task of officers would have been far more difficult.

 

            Three decisions, in particular were highlighted by the Chief Executive, namely:-

 

(i)     The substantial distribution of business grants – the Government had provided £39m and, as of 28 May 2020, £18,825 had been distributed to small businesses, a percentage of 63.77.  It was anticipated that the remainder of the eligible grant funding would go out in the next few days.

(ii)    Freedom Leisure had requested financial support as it was a Trust and did not have a large financial holding; assistance was therefore required to enable it to survive.  The Council had provided support in respect of the management fee; keeping the building safe; and staffing costs and how repayment might be managed was being looked at and might include the extension of the present contract.

(iii)   £13,000 had been outlayed to provide partitioning at the Bognor Regis and Littlehampton Reception areas to enable members of the public to still be able to access the offices and yet keep members of staff safe.  The work had been done by the Facilities Team during the first  ...  view the full minutes text for item 521.

522.

Update on Financial Consequences of the Coronavirus Pandemic pdf icon PDF 149 KB

The coronavirus pandemic is a public health emergency as well as an economic emergency.  The Council has a significant role in supporting those affected in the District, in addition to the effect on the Council’s financial position.  The purpose of the report is to raise awareness of the issues and to inform Councillors of the actions taken to date, whilst starting to evaluate the potential financial consequences.

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Cabinet

 

          RESOLVED – That

 

(1)  The action taken and likely financial consequences contained in the report be noted; and

 

(2)  The continued lobbying of Central Government for additional funding be endorsed

Minutes:

Prior to introducing the report, the Cabinet Member for Corporate Support took the opportunity to thank all the staff of the Council for enabling and facilitating its work across all the different platforms for the benefit of residents.  He also thanked the Facilities Team, working in the background, for their hugely professional effort in erecting the new partitions in the receptions at Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, which had been completed within a very tight timescale.

 

The Cabinet Member for Corporate Support stated that the purpose of this report was to provide an update on the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.  He advised that the Group Head of Corporate Support would provide some more contextual information whilst the Financial Services Manager would add a further explanation of Appendix 1 which closely correlated to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) return that was submitted on Wednesday 15 April 2020.  He also highlighted that the situation that this Council and Councils across the country were facing was unprecedented and had resulted in direct financial consequences in terms of loss of income and cash flow, additional expenditure had been incurred and there would continue to be significant cash flow implications.  He confirmed that this was going to be very much an ongoing situation and certainly in the short and medium term the impact on the cash flow position of the Council would be serious. 

 

            The Group Head of Corporate Support provided a brief overview of the current position by reminding Members that, in participating in various discussions on the Budget, it had been anticipated that Government funding would be considerably less for 2021/22 and only last night the Government had announced that the Fair Funding Review had been rolled forward yet again to 2022/23, which could only further affect the financial position of the Council.  He was of the view that there would be a probable recession and that less resources would be received by the Council in future years.

 

            An approximate estimate of the Council’s losses due to the emergency had been provided to the Government and in last night’s announcement, Arun was due to receive £1.6m towards those costs.  Whilst welcoming that, the Cabinet was advised that there would still be a significant shortfall and there would have to be careful consideration of the Council’s current budget and its medium term financial strategy going forward in light of how long the emergency might last and the resultant financial implications.         

 

The Financial Services Manager then presented the report which provided an update on the financial consequences of the corona virus emergency.  The summary tied up with the financial response supplied to the MHCLG on 15 April 2020.  It was stressed that, although the financial information was just a snapshot in time, it did provide a good overview of what was a fast moving environment, with the underlying assumption that the lockdown would continue for 3 months before things gradually returned to  some form of normality.

 

The Financial Services Manager advised  ...  view the full minutes text for item 522.

523.

Electric Vehicle Strategy and Charge Point Installation pdf icon PDF 173 KB

This report seeks approval for an Electric Vehicle (EV) Strategy developed by West Sussex County Council. The Government has made it clear that a transition to EV’s forms part of its approach to achieving net zero carbon by 2050. Sales of petrol and diesel engine cars have been banned from 2040 and there is a government consultation on bringing that date forward to 2035 or 2032. One of the barriers to this transition is the availability of charge points. The proposed Strategy suggests that the Council support the take up of EVs by installing charge points on suitable Council owned car parks.

 

The County Council wants to work in collaboration with District and Borough Councils, as well as Parish Councils to deliver a county wide network of charge points. To reduce the complexity of accessing the charge points the network would run by one supplier. The charge points would be powered by renewable energy. The collaboration with the County Council would be via an Inter Authority Agreement. This would commit Arun District Council to add its suitable car parks to a county wide portfolio of sites within a procurement process to select a supplier to install electric vehicle charge points on its land.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Cabinet

 

          RESOLVED – That

 

(1)  The Electric Vehicle Strategy for 2019-2030 be approved;

 

(2)  The Council agrees to participate in the partnership approach to installing electric vehicle charge points on Arun District Council owned land; and

 

(3)  Delegated authority be given to the Group Head of Technical Services, in consultation with the Cabinet Members for Technical Services and Neighbourhood Services, to enter into the Inter Authority Agreement and contract with a supplier following satisfactory completion of a West Sussex County Council led procurement process and to agree other matters in concluding the process of installing electric vehicle charge points on Arun District Council owned land.

 

Minutes:

            The Cabinet Member for Technical Services introduced this report by advising that the Adoption of Electric Vehicles and a Strategy for Charging Points was an element of the many changes that would be needed to meet the UK’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050.  The government had banned the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2040 and was consulting on bringing that date forward to 2035 or 2032 – that would require a switch to electric vehicles (EV).  A move to EV would also improve local air quality, which was already above the legal limits in Arun and the Council should play its part in facilitating that switch, in particular in providing the charging infrastructure which was required.

 

The Group Head of Technical Services advised Cabinet that, over the last year investigations had been undertaken as to whether Arun should be involved in providing EV charge points, and the options available for doing so.   Feasibility work on installing EV charge points on the Council’s car parks had been commissioned and the Council had been keeping in contact with the County Council whilst they had been developing an EV Strategy.

 

Public consultation undertaken as part of the development of that strategy identified “range anxiety” and the lack of EV charging infrastructure as the main barriers to residents switching.  This led to the strategy prioritising the installation of charging facilities for those residents without private driveways. though there would also be some “destination charging” included such as town centres and tourist beaches.

 

In recognition of the Councils’ financial positions, a key principle of the strategy was that the installation of EV charge points would be at zero cost to the participating Councils.  The proposed way of doing this would be for participating Councils to jointly procure a concession contract which would commit a supplier to install EV charge points across a portfolio of sites to form a countywide network.  This portfolio approach should avoid “cherry picking” of the most commercially attractive sites, ensuring more & better located charge points would be provided.

 

The Group Head of Technical Services highlighted that, under paragraphs 2.0 and 6.1 of the report there was reference to profit share: this had changed since the report had been written, as the project team at WSCC had identified that it would be administratively more efficient to share a proportion of the revenue, rather than the more readily challengeable profit element.  It was therefore proposed that a share of the revenue arising from charges levied for electricity use would be provided to the Councils and split on the basis of the number of plugs on each Council’s land.

 

If Members decided to take part, the Council would need to enter into an Inter Authority Agreement and provide a list of sites before the procurement process commenced on 1 July 2020, with contracts expected to be signed in November. The first year would focus on developing a network and delivery plan, with the supplier committing to install a minimum number  ...  view the full minutes text for item 523.