Agenda, decisions and minutes

Cabinet
Monday 1st June 2020 5.00 pm

Venue: The Pink Room, at the Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex BN17 5LF

Contact: Jane Fulton (Ext 37611) 

Items
No. Item

32.

Welcome

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed two new Cabinet Members to the meeting being Councillor Mrs Staniforth [replacing Councillor Purchese as Cabinet Member for Neighbourhood Services] and Councillor Hugh Coster [Cabinet Member for Commercial & Business Development, which was a new Cabinet Portfolio] and had been reported and noted at the Annual Council Meeting held on 20 May 2020.  The Chairman then welcomed Members, the press, officers and members of the public to this virtual Cabinet meeting.

 

            The Chairman provided a brief summary of how the meeting would be conducted and the protocol that would be followed and how any break in the proceedings due to technical difficulties would be managed

33.

Items Put Forward by the Overview Select Committee and Working Groups

Minutes:

            The Chairman advised that no items had been put forward.

34.

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:

The Chairman, Councillor Dr Walsh, declared a Personal Interest in Agenda Item 8 [The Council’s Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic Situation] as a Member of West Sussex County Council.

35.

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.

36.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 239 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the virtual Cabinet meeting held on 29 April 2020 (as attached).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 29 April 2020 were agreed by the Cabinet and would be signed by the Chairman as soon as practically possible.

 

37.

Start Times

The Cabinet is asked to confirm its start times for meetings during 2020/21.

Minutes:

            The Cabinet

 

                        RESOLVED

 

                        That its start times for meetings during 2020/21 be 5.00 pm.

38.

Budget Variation Reports -

The Financial Services Manager will provide a verbal update on Round 2 of the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) return on the financial consequences of COVID-19.

 

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced this item and then invited the Financial Services Manager to present a verbal update on Round 2 of the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) return on the financial consequences of COVID-19.

 

            The Financial Services Manager advised Cabinet that there were 2 significant changes to this return which had been submitted on 15 May 2020. The return now included the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) as well as General Fund expenditure and loss of income.

 

            The second return came with the specific instruction to base the Council’s submission on the assumption that lockdown would continue until the end of July 2020 and then everything would return to normal.  This meant that some figures would hopefully be better but some worse and only time would  tell.

 

            Starting with the General Fund, the estimated loss for the current year and beyond had increased to £2.9m from the £2.4m reported on 29 April 2020  The change was mainly due to the worsening assumptions which were stipulated by the Government.

 

            The adverse effect on the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) was estimated to be around £730k for the current year and beyond, but this was based on the assumptions mentioned previously.

 

            The Financial Services Manager stressed the level of uncertainty around the figures.  No one knew what the new normal would be and how local circumstances would develop.  It had been mentioned at the last Cabinet meeting (29 April 2020) that the Council had received £1.6m from Central Government but the figures suggested that there would still be a shortfall for 2020/21 and beyond.

 

            The Chief Executive commented that it was hoped that a third tranche of funding would be released by the Government.  It had been announced that there was a shortfall of £9billion across the country, with most local authorities experiencing a two-thirds shortfall.  In addition, the Government had still not responded on the matter of the New Homes Bonus.

 

            The Chairman invited questions and comments from Cabinet Members.  A question was asked concerning the assumption of returning to ‘normal’ at the end of the July.  The Financial Services Manager advised that this was to ensure that all local authorities responded to the return on the same basis.  The Financial Services Manager was asked to confirm what the projected year end revenue deficit would be, based on the current expenditure.  She clarified the forecast was £2.9m, on the assumption that the situation returned to normal on 1 August 2020.  This would also depend on the private sector businesses returning to ‘normal’ and re-establishing income streams for example parking charges and Council Tax payments.  The Financial Services Manager confirmed that no further modelling had taken place as there was no further data to work on at this moment in time, but the Council would be looking to carry out further modelling in due course.  The Chief Executive added that the Corporate Management Team had been looking at a number of options and would be reporting back to Cabinet on this  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.

39.

The Council's Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic Situation pdf icon PDF 349 KB

This report informs Cabinet of the Council’s response to the panedmic situation; its reaction to Government guidance; the continuation of service provision to our residents; and liaison with Members, Partners and Town and Parish Councils.

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced this report and paid tribute to the staff and contractors of Arun District Council in maintaining the front-line services, and also to the residents of the District in observing the guidelines regarding social distancing.  He then invited the Chief Executive to present his report.

 

            The Chief Executive presented his report on the Council’s response to the pandemic situation; its reaction to Government guidance; the continuation of service provision to its residents; and liaison with Members, Partners and Town and Parish Councils.

 

            The Chief Executive started by clarifying that Paragraph 1.3.17 in the report referred to only the Business Rates Revaluation that had been postponed, not the Business Rates reset.  It was still to be confirmed whether the reset would be postponed into 2022.

 

            The report identified the timeline of actions taken to enable staff to work remotely in order to observe the social distancing regulations and to ensure their safety.  It also referred to the actions taken to provide continued service provision to residents, particularly in relation to the financial support measures announced by Central Government.  The Chief Executive gave verbal updates on how much financial support had been awarded since the production of the report.

           

            The report identified some lessons that had been learned from the Council’s reactions to the pandemic situation, which would be taken forward and fed into the Recovery Management Team meetings taking place on a weekly basis.  These lessons included:-

 

·         Improvements to the communication plan

·         Consistent messaging

·         Limited finances to purchase necessary IT equipment to enable staff to work from home

·         Time taken to test and trial various platforms for video-conferencing solutions, however caution was necessary due to reports of ‘bombing’ and hacking

·         Confusion across West Sussex regarding differences in delivery of Community Hub

 

            The final section of the report identified proposals for a Coronavirus Exit Strategy to prepare for the ‘recovery’ stage of the pandemic, and what the Council could look like as it moved into the ‘new normal’ phase.  These included:-

 

·         Revisiting our ambitions for the future with likely reduced resources

·         Bringing forward work on the Medium-Term Financial Strategy and Corporate Plan

·         The need to continue to move digital responses more quickly than previously envisaged

·         Anticipating the different use of Town Centres, parks, open spaces and seafronts

                                                 

            The Chief Executive confirmed that a further report would be brought to the next Cabinet meeting to update on these matters.

 

            The Chairman then invited questions and comments from Cabinet Members.  Whilst Cabinet Members acknowledged the delay in setting up communications plans, the use of social media [in particular VLOGs from the Leader, the Chief Executive and staff] was a very well-received and supported move.  Improvements in technology to enable remote working and virtual meetings had set the bar for future working arrangements. It was noted that the report referred to a staff survey and a summary of the outcomes of that survey was awaited.

 

            Cabinet Members raised questions regarding the placement of rough sleepers and homeless households following the pandemic; potential ongoing  ...  view the full minutes text for item 39.

40.

Further Officer Decisions Taken During the Coronavirus Emergency pdf icon PDF 149 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 Chief Executive introduced this item which related to two further officer decisions taken, relating to contractual payments to the housing repair and maintenance contract and the reinstating of car parking charges. 

 

The Cabinet then

 

RESOLVED

 

That the action taken by officers be noted and supported.

 

 

 

41.

Corporate Plan 2018-2022 - Quarter 4 Performance Outturn Report for the Period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 pdf icon PDF 238 KB

This report sets out the Q4 performance outturn for the Corporate Plan indicatros for the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman invited the Cabinet Member for Corporate Support to introduce this item. 

 

            The Cabinet Member, Councillor Oppler, reported that the 2020 Vision programme was established to provide the strategic direction required to help the Council become a more effective and sustainable one and to enable it to meet future demands that would be placed upon it.  The three Council Priority themes and the 2020 Vision were as follows:-

 

  1. Your services
  2. Supporting you
  3. Your future

 

Behind upon these priorities were a series of targets that were measurable and, ideally, in the control of the Council.  These were the Corporate Plan indicators.  Service targets (Service Delivery Plan indicators – SDPs) sat beneath these corporate priorities to provide more detail about how the services were doing.  Performance against these indicators was reported to the Corporate Management Team every quarter, and to Overview Select Committee and Cabinet every six months and at year end.

 

The Cabinet Member for Corporate Support then invited the Group Head of Policy to present the reports and explain the outturn performance figures, as detailed in the report and associated appendices.

 

The Group Head of Policy informed Cabinet that the Council may need to consider implementing a new Corporate Plan in 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, subject to the timing of the end of the lockdown period.  Further consideration would be given to this and reported back to a future meeting.  It was also highlighted that the outturns being reported would have been only minimally affected by the Covid-19 pandemic situation as the lockdown situation was implemented towards the end of the reporting period.  The impact of the emergency situation would inevitably affect performance being reported at the six-monthly interval, particularly to indicators CP3, CP5, CP7, CP8, CP9, and CP10, which would require close monitoring.

 

            The Cabinet then noted the report.

 

42.

Service Delivery Plan 2018-2022 - Quarter 4 Performance Outturn Report for the Period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 pdf icon PDF 239 KB

This report sets out the Q4 performance outturn for the Service Delivery Plan indicatros for the period 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Cabinet is requested to:

 

a) Note the Council’s Q4 performance against the targets for the Service Delivery Plan (SDP) indicators as set out in this report and Appendix A and B which are attached.

b) Approve the increase in the target for SDP21 (Average time from property vacated to property re let) for 2020/21 from 15 days to 24 days

Minutes:

The Chairman invited the Cabinet Member for Corporate Support, Councillor Oppler, to introduce this item.  The introduction was much the same as the introduction for the previous item, referring to Council priority themes and strategic direction.

 

The Cabinet Member for Corporate Support then invited the Group Head of Policy to present the reports and explain the outturn performance figures, as detailed in the report and associated appendices.

 

The Group Head of Policy advised Cabinet that there was an amendment to the number of indicators that had over-achieved.  The original report referred to 13 indicators – the correct figure was 14.  It was further explained that, in relation to SDP23, the outturn reported should have read 84% (against a target of 80%) so this indicator was actually over-achieving.

 

            As with the Corporate Plan report, Cabinet were advised that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic situation was likely to adversely impact future performance.  Accordingly, close monitoring of indicators SDP4, SDP5, SDP7, SDP16, SDP18, SDP18, SDP21, and SDP 23 will need to take place.  SDP1, SDP3 and SDP10 would also need close monitoring in an attempt to improve performance.

 

            Cabinet were asked to agree to an increase in the target figure for SDP21 – Average time from property vacated to being re-let - from the current target of 15 days to a new target of 24 days.  The standard of 24 days ‘key to key’  was the standard as per the new contract with Osbornes which commenced on 1 April 2020.

 

            Cabinet Members offered appreciation for the work undertaken by Officers to achieve the positive results for many of the indicators.  Comments were also made on the indicators relating to empty commercial premises in the Towns and the Director of Place added that the current emergency situation would also contribute to that although plans were in place to encourage and assist smaller businesses to thrive during the recovery phase.  The Chairman also clarified that public realm funding could only be spent on public realm works, and that investigative work was underway to explore the possibility of extending the timeframe for spending this funding as a consequence of the emergency situation.  The Chief Executive referred to decisions made last year with regard to funding for town centre events and the provision of ‘pop-up’ retail opportunities, which would need further consideration once the Council moved into the recovery phase.

                                                                                       

            Cabinet were requested to note this report and to approve the increase in the target for SDP21 (Average time from property vacated to property re-let) for 2020/21 from 15 days to 24 days.

 

            The Cabinet

 

 

 

 

                        RESOLVED - That

 

(1)  The report be noted; and

 

(2)  The performance indicator SDP21 be increased from 15 days to 24 days for 2020/21.

 

The Cabinet confirmed its decision as per Decision Notice C/001/010620, a copy of which is attached to the signed copy of the Minutes.