Agenda and minutes

Policy and Finance Committee - Thursday 10th February 2022 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber & Blue Room, Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, BN17 5LF. View directions

Contact: Jane Fulton 

Media

Items
No. Item

642.

Welcome

Minutes:

643.

Apology for Absence

Minutes:

            An Apology for Absence had been received from Councillor Stanley.

644.

Declarations of Interest

Members and Officers are invited to make any declaration of pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interests that they may have in relation to items on this agenda, and are reminded that they should re-declare their interest before consideration of the items 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 interest and/or prejudicial interest

c)             the nature of the interest

 

Minutes:

            There were no Declarations of Interest made.

645.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 175 KB

The Committee will be asked to approve as a correct record the Minutes of the Policy and Finance Committee held on 9 December 2021, as attached. 

 

Minutes:

646.

Items Not on the Agenda that the Chair of the Meeting is of the Opinion Should be Considered as a Matter of Urgency by reason of Special Circumstances

Minutes:

            The Chair confirmed that there were no items to consider for this meeting.

647.

Public question time

To receive questions from the public (for a period of up to 15 minutes)

 

Minutes:

            The Chair confirmed that no questions had been submitted for this meeting.

648.

Climate Action and Biodiversity Work Plan 2022-2023 pdf icon PDF 169 KB

The Policy and Finance Committee approved a Carbon Neutral Strategy (2022-30) for Arun District Council on 14 October 2021.  This report sets out the work plan to achieve the 2030 target.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited the Council’s Climate Change and Sustainability Officer to present this report. He explained that following the approval of the Carbon Neutral Strategy (2022-30) at this Committee on 14 October 2021, a more detailed action plan had been requested. This report set out the actions which needed to be undertaken to achieve the 2030 carbon neutral target. Members’ attention was brought to the graphs [on pages 22 and 23 of the Agenda Pack] that illustrated carbon projections in different scenarios – ‘business as usual’ and ‘high level carbon reduction plan’ – with the latter confirming that the Council could, theoretically, meet its targets if action was taken. The report detailed sustainable projects that had already been completed, were nearing completion, had been planned or could be undertaken. He concluded that in order to meet these targets it was important that projects were spread across all scopes and service areas, whilst noting that indirect emissions that result from activities occurring in the supply chain of the council (‘Scope 3’) made up the majority of carbon emissions. It was confirmed that the action plan would be updated annually to reflect the changes in emissions and provide updates to projects undertaken.

 

The Chair invited questions. Clarity was sought over the costing figures for heat pumps [on page 25 of the Agenda Pack]. It was explained that these figures were a rough indication of comparative installation costs of gas boilers and air source heat pumps and highlighted the cost difference between the two options. It was hoped that technological improvements and economies of scale would further reduce in future making heat pumps more economically viable. The report was found to be confusing for one Member as it was a mixture of things (action points, monitoring, reviewing) and whether it would be helpful to highlight where the actions were coming from by identifying targets that the Council hoped to achieve. It was noted that the biggest impact in carbon reduction would come through the supply chain and Officers were asked to confirm the timescale for that. Officers confirmed that they were actively reviewing the procurement policy to favour more sustainable contractors.

 

The main aim of the action plan was questioned as to whether it was to make the Council, as an organisation, more energy efficient and ‘greener’ rather than the district and residents’ homes. Officers confirmed the action plan did currently focus on the Council’s own emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3), however there are still some projects currently being undertaken which do impact emission reductions in the district. It was also confirmed that once the Council started to get its own emissions in order that more focus would be spent addressing district wide emissions. The CEO explained that it was essential that as an organisation we took the climate challenge seriously, it being one of the four priorities in the Council’s draft vision document, and that there were large challenges for the Council to meet which it would not be able to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 648.

649.

Budget Monitoring Report to 31 December 2021 pdf icon PDF 36 KB

The Budget Monitoring Report sets out the Capital, Housing Revenue and General Fund Revenue budget performance to the end of December 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited the Interim Group Head of Corporate Support and Section 151 Officer to present the Budget Monitoring Report. She explained that the report was for the period ending December 2021.

 

Starting with the General Fund (GF), it was noted that there was an underspend of £1.178m against profiled budget at the end of the third quarter which was an improvement of £774k from the previous month. Income continued to be significantly buoyant and Planning fees in particular were £680k above expected. However, there were budget pressures on the GF Housing (homelessness and rough sleeping, and potentially the leisure provider). A favourable outturn was therefore anticipated of over a £1m on the GF. The Housing Revenue Account continued to operate under significant pressure particularly in the areas of planned and responsive maintenance. With regards to the Capital and Special Projects, there continued to be a significant underspend against budgets and these budgets continued to be reviewed.   

 

The Chair invited questions. The below expected income from the Bognor Regis Arcade was raised and it was asked how this compared with previous quarters or other accounting periods, whether it was getting worse and what the prospects were for retrieving the significant sums in rent arrears. It was confirmed that there were specific pandemic-related issues with the site and that new managing agents had been procured working to explore these challenges. An update report would be submitted for Members to consider soon. Clarification was sought over items listed under 2.8.3 [on page 55 of the Agenda Pack] - the £35k spent on the Trisanto update, the £18K spent on the Palmer Road Community Sports Hub Review and the £30k spent on Economic Regeneration Project Delivery Role. The Director of Place confirmed that with regards to the £35K spent on Trisanto, this was the potential sum set aside to do the work but the eventual actual cost of the work had been far less at around £14k. A report would be taken to the next meeting of the Economy Committee on 29 March 2022 to explore the continued use of this company. The Director of Services confirmed that with regards to the £18K spent on the Palmer Road Community Sports Hub Review, this was for exploratory consultancy work looking at the project. The Interim Group Head of Corporate Support and Section 151 Officer confirmed that the figures under discussion had been vired and not spent, and all had been subject to Committee approvals.

 

Other points raised by Members included further concern for the situation around the Bognor Regis Arcade, clarification around the proposals within the A27/Ford Road Junction Study, and praise for the work done on the Palmer Road Community Sports Hub.

 

Having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Roberts and seconded by Councillor Cooper,

 

 

 

 

 

 

            The Committee

 

                        RESOLVED  - That

 

(1)          The earmarked reserves are approved and reviewed before the end of the financial year as per previous policy to ensure that they are available to fund future years expenditure or returned  ...  view the full minutes text for item 649.

650.

Committee Revenue and Capital Budget - 2022/2023 pdf icon PDF 175 KB

The purpose of the report is for this Committee to consider and recommend its revenue budget for inclusion in the 2022/23 General Fund revenue budget, which will be considered by this Committee later on this agenda. In addition, this Committee will consider the overall revenue budget for 2022/23 to make a recommendation to Council on 23 February 2022 on the overall budget to be set, level of Council Tax for the District, Housing Revenue account budget and rent levels for 2022/23.

In addition, Committees must consider and recommend their draft capital budget for inclusion in the overall capital programme, which will be considered by this Committee later on this agenda. Policy and Finance Committee will consider the overall capital programme to make a recommendation to Council on 23 February 2022 on the  programme (HRA and General Fund) to be set for 2022/23.

Minutes:

 

The Chair invited the Interim Group Head of Corporate Support and Section 151 Officer to present this report. She explained that each Service Committee had received a similar report and all the reports fed into the Council’s Budget 2022/23 report which was the next item on the agenda. Items highlighted were the budget pages in appendix A that contained committed growth items [mainly around staff pay awards assumed for this and next year], the growth items for this Committee shown in Appendix B totalling £420k and there being no capital bids for this Committee.

 

Having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Cooper and seconded by Councillor Pendleton,

 

            The Committee

 

RESOLVED - That

 

(1)          The 2022/23 Revenue Budget as illustrated in Appendix A of this report be agreed;

 

(2)          The 2022/23 list of uncommitted growth items as illustrated in Appendix B of this report be agreed; and

 

(3)          Recommendation of the Revenue Budget and list of growth items for this Committee be included in the overall General Fund Budget when considering the overall budgets to recommend to Full Council.

 

651.

The Council's Revenue and Capital Budgets 2021/22 and 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 152 KB

The purpose of the report is for this Committee to make a recommendation to the Special Council Meeting on 23 February 2022 on the overall budget to be set, level of Council Tax for the District, Housing Revenue Account Budget and rent levels for 2022/23.

In addition, the Policy and Finance Committee must consider the overall capital programme to make a recommendation to Council on 23 February 2022 on the overall capital programme (HRA and General Fund) to be set for 2022/23.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In introducing this item, the Chair explained that due to the number of recommendations within this report, he proposed to divide these up into sections and take multiple recommendations on block. He proceeded to the first set of recommendations regarding the Environment Committee.

 

Having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Pendleton and seconded by Councillor Roberts,

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

For 2021/22 financial year:

 

That in respect of Environment Committee, the £180,000 contribution to the Community Flood Fund and a further £100,000 in 2023/24 be approved, to enable required Partnership Contributions to continue. The £100,000 recommended in 2023/24 will be assessed at a later date. A contribution of £100k be made to a contingency budget reserve to replace the £50k annual budget to be topped up annually.

 

            The Chair then turned to the recommendations for this Committee to consider from the other Service Committees [Minutes 555, 570, 579, 590 and 601 in the Supplement Pack] that needed to be agreed by this Committee for inclusion in the budget before the Committee could move on to the wider budget discussion.

 

The Chair invited questions. Clarification was sought over the details of the Bersted Brooks Country Park project and whether it was needed given the cost and the proximity of the South Downs National Park. The Director of Services confirmed a report would be going to Committee on this project. A Member [and Chair of the Environment Committee] provided some background information and spoke in favour of the project. The impact to residents from cost of living increases was also raised and whether these budgets should be reviewed to see if savings could be made on non-essential spending in order to keep future Council Tax rises to a minimum.

 

Having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Roberts and seconded by Councillor Cooper,

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED - That

 

(1)          The Revenue Budget and Capital Programme for the [Corporate Support] Committee be included in the overall General Fund Budget when considering the overall budgets on 10 February 2022;

 

(2)          The Revenue Budget, list of growth items and Capital Programme for the [Economy] Committee be included in the overall General Fund Budget when considering the overall budgets on 10 February 2022;

 

(3)          The Revenue Budget, list of growth items and Capital Programme for the [Environment] Committee be included in the overall General Fund Budget when considering the overall budgets on 10 February 2022;

 

(4)          The General Fund Revenue Budget, list of growth items, General Fund Capital Programme, HRA Revenue Budget and HRA Capital Programme [from the Housing and Wellbeing Committee] be included in the overall General Fund Budget when considering the overall budgets on 10 February 2022;

 

(5)          The Revenue Budget and list of growth items [from the Planning Policy Committee] be included in the overall General Fund Budget when considering the overall budgets on 10 February 2022.

 

The Interim Group Head of Corporate Support & Section 151 Officer introduced this item explaining that each of the Service Committee’s budgets had now been considered by each  ...  view the full minutes text for item 651.

652.

Capital Strategy 2022/23 to 2026/27 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

The report allows the Policy and Finance Committee to consider and comment on the Council’s Capital Strategy 2022/23 to 2026/27 before adoption by Full Council on 9 March 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited the Interim Group Head of Corporate Support and Section 151 Officer to present this report. It was explained that the adoption of the Capital Strategy by Full Council was a requirement of the Chartered Institution of Public Finance and Accountancy’s Prudential Code.  Responsibility for review of the strategy had moved from the Audit and Governance Committee and was now the responsibility of this Committee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key points of the strategy were summarised:

 

·         the capital strategy was overarching 

·         it sat above the other more detailed policies, procedures and plans and referenced them to allow more detail if required

·         it showed how the Council determined its priorities for capital investment decisions

·         it set out how capital would be funded

·         as a council we needed to adopt a strategic approach to our capital planning based on sound principles; these principles being that plans must be:

·         affordable

·         prudent

·         sustainable

·         in line with service objectives

·         give due consideration to both risk and reward

 

The Interim Group Head of Corporate Support and Section 151 Officer finished by concluding that the aim of the strategy was to balance capital expenditure needs and expectations with the limited resources available to the Council.

 

The Chair invited questions. The need to maintain existing capital infrastructure and to ensure that sufficient provision was laid out in words and strategy to make sure at all times for its maintenance. The Windmill Theatre in Littlehampton was given as an example. The Director of Place confirmed that this Capital Strategy intended to try to bring the Council back to a position that was better in terms of long term maintenance of its assets and that significant progress had been made in terms of being in a better position to maintain maintenance at more measured levels going forward. The Chief Executive noted that to put things right was a capital investment but that ongoing maintenance costs would often come out of the Revenue Budget straining the budget which paid for the majority of the services the Council provided in the district, but that we should be building in long-term revenue support for maintenance of facilities but that that sometimes put pressures on our own revenue budgets due to financial rules around what certain budgets can be spent on.

 

The Chair asked Officers, in response to the previous question and answer, what safeguards were in place to avoid future occasions where maintenance works may not have been carried out. The Chief Executive explained that this would need to be built into an Asset Management Strategy and take into account the Council’s long-term financial planning. The Chair asked that the Asset Management Strategy be included in the Work Programme for this Committee for the next municipal year. Another Member noted that, from looking at the figures quoted on page 111 of the Agenda Pack, asset management did not appear to be built into any significant degree. A final point was made about all figures in the report declining in terms of investment over  ...  view the full minutes text for item 652.

653.

Council Vision 2022-2026 pdf icon PDF 203 KB

This paper presents the final wording, following public consultation, for the Council Vision 2022-2026.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited the Group Head of Policy to present her report which confirmed the final wording, following public consultation, for the Council Vision 2022-2026. She highlighted that 86% of respondents to the consultation had agreed with the Council’s aims for the next four years as set out in the consultation. Areas of concern had been raised in the consultation and would be passed on to the relevant departments, but it was believed that all of these had been identified by Councillors during their preliminary work on the Vision document last summer.  The survey feedback had resulted in the Vision being made easier to understand; jargon having been removed; content being more focussed and proactive; and providing greater clarity over the Council’s and other partners’ services and roles.

 

It was confirmed that there would be annual progress reports against the milestones at each of the four years of the plan, and Officers were currently working on how these would be reported. A report on this would come to the next meeting of the Committee on 31 March 2022 which would include the new Corporate Plan indicators for the period as well.

 

            The Group Head of Policy drew Members’ attention to Appendix A of the report which set out the proposed wording for the Vision and in doing so she confirmed that she needed to suggest to the Committee, making an amendment to the Vision Aim entitled “Fulfilling Arun’s Economic Potential” [How Will we Achieve this [Page 120 of the agenda pack] (1) which read “Create the conditions that will support, attract and retain high tech businesses, including the creative digital sector” – to the wording set out in bold below which if approved by Members would appear in the published Vision as:

 

1.         Create the conditions that will support high tech businesses including the creative digital sector and green businesses, reducing the need for the workforce to commute out of the District.

 

Having had the amendment proposed by Councillor Cooper and seconded by Councillor Pendleton it was declared CARRIED.

 

The Chair then returned to the substantive recommendation inviting questions on the remaining aspects of the document. A query was raised on (B) Protect and enhance our natural environment’ [on page 119 of the Agenda Pack] as it was felt that this was increasingly important and needed more attention being paid to it so as to protect the District from development built on green fields destroying biodiversity.

 

A Member amendment was proposed for item (4) of ‘Improving the wellbeing of Arun – How will we achieve this’ [on page 117 of the Agenda Pack] for the inclusion of the words ‘medical and dental’ after ‘primary’ so that the amended sentence would read:

 

4.         Support the NHS Clinical Commissioners to provide primary, medical and dental care facilities to meet the growing needs of our community.’

 

Having had the amendment proposed by Councillor Walsh and seconded by Councillor Seex, it was declared CARRIED.

 

Having had the substantive recommendation proposed by Councillor Cooper  ...  view the full minutes text for item 653.

654.

OUTSIDE BODIES

Minutes:

            The Chair confirmed that there were two feedback reports from Outside Bodies to present to this meeting.

655.

Feedback Report from Joint Climate Change Board pdf icon PDF 299 KB

An Outside Body Feedback Report from Councillor Staniforth following her attendance at a meeting of West Sussex County Council’s Joint Climate Change Board held on 13 October 2021 is attached.

Minutes:

The Committee received an Outside Body Update and Feedback report from Councillor Staniforth, the Council’s nominated representative, following her attendance at a meeting of the Joint Climate Change Board held on 13 October 2021.

 

A suggestion was put forward by a Member of the Committee for the Council to share costs where possible on the initiatives covered by this meeting and wherever possible encourage working collectively to achieve results. The Chief Executive endorsed this point and explained how this approach would be used when working on other corporate objectives.

 

656.

Feedback Report from meetings held of the Greater Brighton Economic Board

An Outside Body Feedback Report will be circulated separately to this agenda.

Minutes:

The Chair provided a verbal Outside Body Feedback report following meetings that he had attended of the Greater Brighton Economic Board.

 

            Councillor Gunner confirmed that he had attended one meeting recently and could confirm that there were some challenges with the Board. For those not aware, this was public knowledge, the representative from Coast to Capital had withdrawn from the Board due to the behaviour of the current Chair. There was much nervousness being expressed about the future direction of the Board and if it had a clear strategy moving forward. It was confirmed that Council Leaders did have a meeting planned soon to consider what the future of the Board was. There had been a number of meetings mostly around green initiatives, which the vast majority of the work that the Board covered. In the previous meeting a Blue/Green Investment Panel had been agreed.  Councillor Gunner confirmed that he would keep the Committee updated following any further meetings attended.

 

657.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 210 KB

A copy of the Committee’s Work Programme for the remainder of 2022 is attached for information.

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee received an updated version of its Work Programme covering the remainder of the Municipal Year.

 

            The Committee Services Manager confirmed that an additional item would be added for the next meeting of the Committee on 31 March 2022 which was setting out the proposed heads of terms in relation to lease arrangements for the Regis Centre and an associated development opportunity for approval.

 

            The Interim Group Head of Corporate Support & Section 151 Officer confirmed that a further report would be submitted to the next meeting setting out the details of a virement request from the Housing & Wellbeing Committee relating to the Local Hardship Fund.

 

            In discussing the work programme, criticism was made that no work programme items had been listed beyond March 2022 and that a forward programme covering the whole of 2022/23 was required. The Committee Services Manager explained that work programmes for all Committees was progressing but was subject to the Committee Meetings Calendar for 2022/23 being approved by Full Council on 9 March 2022.

 

            Having received no further suggestions, the Chair thanked Members for their input.