Agenda and draft minutes

Policy and Finance Committee - Tuesday 13th December 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

522.

Welcome

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Members and Officers to the meeting.

523.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

          Apologies for Absence had been received from Councillors Oppler and Roberts.

524.

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:

Councillor Dixon declared a Personal Interest in Agenda Item 6 [The Regeneration of the Regis Centre, Bognor Regis] as he owned a very small number of Whitbread shares and was a member of the Bognor Regis Civic Society.

 

525.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 96 KB

The Committee will be asked to approve as a correct record the Minutes of the Policy and Finance Committee held on 20 October 2022 and also the Minutes from the Extraordinary Meeting of the Committee held on 3 November 2022.  Both sets of minutes are attached.   

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes from the meeting of the Committee held on 20 October 2022 and the Extraordinary Meeting held on 3 November 2022 were approved as a correct record and were signed by the Chair at the conclusion of the meeting. 

 

526.

ITEMS NOT ON THE AGENDA THAT THE CHAIRMAN 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 urgent matters for this meeting to consider.

527.

Public question time pdf icon PDF 68 KB

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

 

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that three questions had been submitted for this meeting all from the same questioner, these have been very briefly summarised below:

 

·       Question 1 – regarding correspondence from the Levelling-Up Minister to Nick Gibb, MP dated June 2022 regarding the opportunities of adding private investment to improve the Levelling-Up Project for the Regis Centre

·       Question 2 – finding further funding for the Levelling-Up project in Bognor Regis and contingencies

·       Question 3 – regarding the support given by Mrs Latus for the for the Regis Centre scheme for the 450 seat version and if there has been support for any later versions of the project.

 

The Chair then drew Public Question Time to a close.  The Public Question Time Schedule would be uploaded to the Committee’s web pages within ten working days following the meeting.

 

528.

Presentation/Update - Regeneration of The Regis Centre, Bognor Regis pdf icon PDF 21 MB

The Council’s Regeneration Consultant will provide the Committee with a verbal update on how this regeneration project is progressing.

Minutes:

The Regeneration Consultant in providing his verbal update to the Committee confirmed that he planned to share a copy of the presentation that had been provided to Members of the Committee at a briefing held on 7 December 2022.

 

This briefing had been organised following the last meeting of the Committee on 20 October 2022 where a project update had been provided by Mace Consultants Ltd and where Members of the Committee had criticised two major areas of the scheme being the size of the auditorium and the look and design of the outside of the building.

 

A presentation was then shared to the meeting provided by Nicholas Hare Architects. This set out the key stages of the project and an explanation surrounding what would be needed to provide an increased (450 seat) auditorium that would be compliant with fire regulations and would be operable as a theatre.  A lot of work had been undertaken with Arun Arts and with Theatre Plan, theatre consultants for this project. The remaining consultants making up the project team were also highlighted in terms of the work being undertaken to bring the project up to RIBA Stage II. 

 

Members were reminded that Full Council had resolved to proceed with the project and design for a 378 auditorium, but this had now been revised and increased to 386 seats with the project team working to add in extra seats wherever it could. There had been several questions raised at the last meeting about increasing the auditorium capacity, as the original business case put together for the LUF bid had been based on an auditorium of 450 seats. Since then, there had been a lot of survey work and many technical designs undertaken to see how feasible that was. A slide was shown illustrating the existing plan of what the theatre looked like now with the control room behind the high level seating. The Chair asked if the control room was necessary at the back of the auditorium and it was confirmed that Arun Arts and Theatre Plan had confirmed that this was required.

 

The Stage II plans that the Architects had designed provided 386 seats with a number of seats at the back with the sound booth being located in the middle at the back. Plans were provided showing the existing Stage II section which had been reprofiled to provide more seats looking forward onto the stage rather than the previously lower height. It was explained that there were ways to increase capacity; one was infilling the crossover row; one was moving the rear wall of the auditorium and adding seats to the side galleries. All of these options would be required to achieve an auditorium containing 450 seats. It was confirmed that there were a number of challenges that accompanied these options. One was sight lines, the seating on the side galleries had restricted sight lines, but the main problem would be the moving of the back wall. If this was moved this would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 528.

529.

Littlehampton Seafront Project - Update Report pdf icon PDF 119 KB

The purpose of this report is to present the results of the recent public consultation exercise undertaken.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Principal Landscape and Project Officer reminded Members that at the last meeting of the Committee plans were in place to launch the public consultation exercise for this project and so her report provided the results of this exercise. 

 

Members were advised that the consultation had included opportunities for online and face to face feedback which had been useful in understanding peoples’ views. The response from the collated surveys had been very positive with a high percentage of those taking part welcoming all elements of the proposals.  The detail of the responses received had been broken down within the report with more detail being set out in the appendix provided.

 

The focus for the project team from now was to proceed with the tender for the design and build contractor so that the results could be reviewed by them. The Principal Landscape Officer added that the economic climate continued to present challenges and so the officer team would be working with the contractor to mitigate these where possible.

 

The Chair invited questions from the Committee.  Various observations were made. One related to the suggested provision of trees across The Green as there was concern that The Green’s major redeeming feature was its provision of major open public space which was also used for large events. It was felt that the provision of trees could obstruct some of this valuable space. It was felt that the Stage by the Sea needed to be more user friendly with a stage extension being provided to enhance performance space and improving useability. A request was made for Officers to think carefully about the number and positioning of electric charging points for vehicles to not exclude people who would increasingly use these points and to also provide this facility to nearby residents. These observations were noted by the Officer team.

 

Other Councillors spoke in support of the project and the results received confirming that the proposals would greatly benefit the area. The use of the containers for retail usage was applauded and it was hoped that this could be extended out to other areas in the district. In response to some questions asked about the risk assessment provided, it was explained that all risks were continually reviewed and that some would be challenging in terms of cost and programme timelines. In responding to questions asked about solar panels in car parks and the provision of a storage facility for the Park Run, it was confirmed that these issues would be up for discussion at the next stage of the design and as the project was still at the concept design stage. Stage 3 of the project would be brought back to the Committee for sign off prior to the planning application stage.

 

Another question was asked in terms of the frontage of The Windmill Theatre and whether enhancements could be made to the entrance from the car park. It was explained that although this was a good point to raise, there was no funding allocated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 529.

530.

Budget Monitoring Report to 30 September 2022 pdf icon PDF 87 KB

The purpose of this report is to apprise the Policy and Finance Committee of performance against the budgets approved by the Council at its meeting on 23 February 2022.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer presented her report stating that although there were no recommendations to consider, it was important for Members to be kept informed about performance against budget at regular intervals during the year.

 

This report was the monitoring report for the second quarter of 2022/23. It detailed the Capital, Housing Revenue Account and General Fund Reserve budget performance to the end of September 2022.

 

The table of General Fund variations showed a favourable variation of £13k at the end of Quarter 2. Turning to the HRA variations, it was explained that this formed part of another report that the Committee would consider later on in the agenda. The variance had been highlighted as part of the Budget Monitoring Report provided covering Quarter 1, presented to this Committee on 6 September 2022, which had resulted in the additional work being undertaken. The capital and projects budget summary illustrated that there was a considerable balance to still be spent, this was mainly due to Levelling-Up Fund projects that were not scheduled for the current financial year and so this would be reprofiled for the Quarter 3 report which would be considered by the Committee at its meeting on 9 February 2023.

 

The content of the report was noted by the Committee with no questions being asked.

 

 

 

 

 

531.

Financial Prospects (Medium-Term Financial Prospects) 2022-23 to 2026-27 pdf icon PDF 225 KB

The Council’s Medium-Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) covering the period up to 2026/27 previously rolls forward and updates the data and assumptions in the existing approved MTFS. The forecast for 2023/24 is broadly based on the outcome of a Zero Based Budgeting (ZBB) exercise carried out during autumn 2022.  The Strategy amends previous assumptions contained in it to reflect changes in the Council’s circumstances and other issues that have a strategic bearing on the Council’s financial prospects.

 

This year’s MTFS has been prepared in the background of highly dynamic and fast changing circumstances.  Economic uncertainty, rising inflation, the current cost of living crisis and political changes in central government have all had an effect. In addition, the Council is currently undertaking a (ZBB) exercise that has reviewed and rebased the Council’s revenue budgets and future assumptions. It is important that these matters are considered when determining the budget parameters.

 

Please note that this report will be circulated separately to this agenda.

Minutes:

The Interim Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer presented her report updating Members on the current financial and economic prospects for the Council for the period 2022/23 to 2026/27. The report forecasted a significant budget gap from  2023/24 and the forecast did not include an allowance for inflation on income. The council had balances to help mitigate against these cost increases allowing for budget correction to be undertaken in a measured and planned manner. It was stressed that this would form part of the Budget 2023-24 and future years and so the purpose of this report was to show Members the forecast with the Budget for 2023/24 being considered by this Committee at its next meeting on 9 February 2023.

 

The Chair invited questions from the Committee. Various points were made with some Members confirming that they were becoming increasingly worried about the financial position of local government, especially within Arun as the council was now seeing the effects of chronic central government reductions over the last 10 years creating a huge deficit which the council was expected to cover with council tax increases. This was the direction of travel and at a time of high inflation and economic hardship. It was felt necessary for the council to undertake lobbying through the Local Government Association (LGA) and its Members of Parliament to ensure that the increasingly difficult state of local government financing would be addressed by Government.

 

The Committee thanked the Interim Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer for an ‘honest’ report highlighting the issues that urgently needed to be addressed, especially as central government funding was not adequate. It would be important to reflect the current situation in the 2023/24 budget.  It was felt important to develop a Commercial Strategy to develop income streams and to act quickly to find other ways of raising money.

 

Following further discussion and having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Cooper and seconded by Councillor Chace,

 

          The Committee

 

                     RECOMMEND TO FULL COUNCIL

         

(1)  To approve the medium-term budget plan for the period 2023/24 to 2026/27 and to;

 

(2)  Agree the core assumptions set out in the Medium Term Financial Strategy contained in Section 4 of the report;

 

(3)  Note that there are uncertainties around Government Funding prior to the local government settlement in December 2022 and the delay in the Local Government Funding reforms such as business rates retention and the future of the New Homes Bonus; and

 

(4)  Agree the maximising of income including fees and charges, where possible, as part of the 2023/24 budget process.

 

532.

Key Performance Indicators 2022-2026 - Quarter 2 Performance Report for the Period 1 April to 30 September 2022 pdf icon PDF 99 KB

This report is to update the Committee on the Q2 Performance Outturn for the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) which make up the Corporate Plan, for the period 1 April 2022 to 30 September 2022.  It will also report on any items referred by other committees to this committee.  The process is described in Section 4 of this report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Group Head of Organisational Excellence presented her report and provided an update on the council’s key performance indicators up to Quarter 2 covering the period 1 April 2022 to 30 September 2022

 

The covering report explained the structure of the council’s performance reporting and at Appendix A set out the actual performance for each indicator that had been measured at the end of Quarter 2.

 

The Group Head of Organisational Excellence reminded Members that they had seen the first of these reports earlier in the year which reported on Q1 performance.  The difference in the Quarter 2 report was starting to show trends in performance with an additional three columns at the end of the table showing commentary, Quarter 2 status (colour coded) and the final column which showed the % change from Quarter 1.  This had been indicated numerically and as an arrow and had been included to give Members more detail than the simple colour coding.    

 

It was confirmed that the indicators for Quarter 2 had been provided to the relevant committees and that although there have been discussions and questions to officers at those meetings, no items have been referred to this Committee for this quarter.

 

The Chair then invited questions.  Discussion focused on the many under achievements which were largely due to staffing numbers being considerably low in certain departments. Members were interested to hear about the active steps being taken to fill vacancies with full time staff rather than agency staff and whether there were plans to increase the use of apprentices wherever the council was under achieving. Although it was accepted that these were relatively small in number, they were still significant for those affected by it and so needed to be addressed.

 

Other Members asked specific questions on the following indicators:

         

·       CP26 – [Major Applications determined in 13 weeks or agreed extension of time]. The Director of Growth was asked to explain the background to this under performance. It was highlighted that these applications related to major planning applications representing 10 units or greater. For Arun the majority of the applications were substantially greater than that often being into the 100s. This often meant that if the council was seeking to negotiate a better scheme, planners had to undertake that negotiation and revised plans were then submitted and a further consultation process then had to be undertaken. That was additional significant work that was often impossible to conclude within the 13 week period. Also, many of these had to be presented to committee and further delays could be experienced depending upon the committee cycle of meetings. The preparation of Section 106 agreements also took a substantial amount of time to prepare. Case management was important in monitoring what was going on and ensuring that proactive action was taken. The Director of Growth reassured Members that he would continue to try and improve on the staffing situation and would provide a further update on staffing. 

·     CP42 – [Occupied Retain Units in Bognor Regis]  ...  view the full minutes text for item 532.

533.

Arun District Council Residents' Survey 2022 pdf icon PDF 361 KB

The purpose of this report is to inform the Committee of the outcomes from the 2022 Residents’ Satisfaction Survey.

 

The Committee is also asked to review and note the contents of the survey.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Group Head of Organisational Excellence presented the Arun District Council Residents’ Satisfaction Survey results for 2022 which had been undertaken during July and August 2022 by BMG Research Ltd.  A copy of the survey questions and their final report could be found within Appendix A of the report.

 

The report outlined the findings from the research into the experiences of people living in Arun and perceptions of the Council and its services.  There were comparisons made with the national Local Government Association survey and the results from the council’s survey undertaken last year.  The report covered the detail of the methodology used and Members were advised that there were two data collection methods used.  

 

A postal survey (which could be completed online) had been undertaken and sent to randomly selected households across the district to ensure full geographical cover (closed survey) and most of the commentary within the report had been based on this data because that was how this exercise had been carried out in the past and it was important to be able to make comparisons. The same survey was made available as a link on the council’s website for any Arun resident (open survey) and the comparison tables could be found within the report.  

 

The responses showed a similar pattern but also in the majority of questions residents in the closed survey had more positive perceptions than the open survey, suggesting that some residents had responded to the open survey because in some instances they were unhappy with a certain issue or service.

 

The results of each question had been summarised in a table on page 72.  This showed the % change in performance from 2021 for each question, but essentially it had been colour coded into better than, the same as or worse than last year and by how much. 

 

In summary the overall responses to five of the questions showed perceptions that were worse than last year whilst for seventeen questions the experiences of people living in Arun and perceptions of the Council and its services were the same as or better than last year.

 

The Vice-Chair then took the position of Chair for part of this item and invited questions.  Members found it interesting to see the comparison between the open and closed surveys and were generally satisfied to accept that the council was in roughly the same position as it was in last year with the results. It was clear to see that the issue on top of many residents’ concern list was that of problem behaviours such as drunk and rowdy behaviour in places and issues of vandalism with Station Square in Bognor Regis being confirmed as a hot spot location. It was felt that this needed to be addressed. The Director of  Environment and Communities responded stating that she was aware of the issues and that several interventions had been undertaken to attempt to alleviate the issue and so could not comment further.

 

Other Councillors also commented upon the issue  ...  view the full minutes text for item 533.

534.

Items Brought Forward from Service Committees - Housing & Wellbeing Committee - 6 December 2022 - Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Revised Budget - 2022-2023 pdf icon PDF 96 KB

The Committee will receive recommendations following the meeting of the Housing & Wellbeing Committee held on 6 December 2022 relating to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Revised Budget 2022-203.  These minutes will be circulated separately to this agenda.

 

Attached is an accompanying report from The Interim Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer asking the Committee to consider the financial position in relation to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) in order to make recommendations to Full Council for a revised budget for 2022/23 for approval at its meeting on 18 January 2023.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that at the meeting of the Housing & Wellbeing Committee held on 6 December 2022, there were two sets of recommendations put forward for this Committee to consider. 

 

The first recommendation was at Minute 494 [HRA Business Plan Update] with the minutes from that meeting being circulated to Members separately and uploaded to the Council’s web pages on 12 December 2022.  A report from the Interim Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer also accompanied the minutes and she presented this report to the Committee.

 

It was highlighted that there were recommendations for the Committee to consider that needed to be forwarded onto Full Council on 18 January 2023 to approve. Appendix 1 to this report, which had been provided to Members in the supplement pack, provided the detail already considered by the Housing & Wellbeing Committee.  The recommendation was asking this Committee to agree the revision to the HRA Revenue Budget set out in that Appendix and for the Committee to review the changes to the HRA budget prior to approval by Full Council. The report provided a more up to date forecast for the repairs, supervision and management budget for 2022/23 and it recommended that the Council changed its policy in relation to the financing of capital expenditure to include borrowing to ensure an outturn balance on HRA of around £600k. Work was continuing to identity other areas of expenditure that could be capitalised with Members being asked to note that by capitalising this expenditure this would result in additional cost pressures in future years.  Any borrowing had to be affordable under the prudential framework.

 

The Chair then invited questions and debate.  In looking at the comments made by Councillors at the Housing & Wellbeing Committee on 6 December 2022, there had been and could still be a systemic problem within housing partly to do with staffing and management changes on a permanent, interim and other basis. In reaction to this, it was members’ view that what was needed was more than just a financial adjustment but that the council, with the Chief Executive, should prepare a report to committee on these problems and how these would be addressed.  This report needed to be factually based on what had and what was going wrong so that vigorous action to investigate and report a solution to fix the problems could be seen by all Members.

 

The Director of Environment & Communities responded explaining that the situation was enormously challenging within the housing department and so she had agreed with the Chair of the Housing & Wellbeing Committee to bring forward the HRA business plan being remodelled and that additional consultancy advice was also being sought so that the Chair and Vice-Chair of that Committee could be briefed to explain some of the assumptions around some of the concerns expressed.  Members were reassured that this work was underway now. The way forward planned was for the HRA Business Plan to be presented based on a range of assumptions and the budget  ...  view the full minutes text for item 534.

535.

Outside Bodies - Feedback From Meetings

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that there were no items to report into this meeting.

536.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 79 KB

The Committee’s Work Programme for the remainder of the Municipal year is attached for the Committee’s information.

Minutes:

The Committee received and noted its Work Programme for the remainder of the Municipal Year having added an additional item for its meeting on 9 February 2022. This was a report from the Group Head of Environment and Climate Change entitled Palmer Road Sports Hub Project, Angmering. This was being presented to the Committee to approve the drawdown and expenditure of Section 106 funding received and allocated to the project.