Agenda and minutes

Policy and Finance Committee - Wednesday 6th December 2023 6.00 pm

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

Contact: Jane Fulton 

No. Item


Apology for Absence


          An Apology for Absence had been received from Councillor Oppler.


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



The following Declarations of Personal Interests were made in relation to: 


·       Agenda Item 7 [The Regeneration of The Regis Centre] - Councillor Nash, as a Member of Bognor Regis Town Council and as a volunteer for Arun Arts; and 

·       Agenda Item 7 [The Regeneration of the Regis Centre] - Councillor Brooks as a volunteer member of Arun Arts and a Member of Bognor Regis Town Council.

·       Agenda Item 6 [ Littlehampton Seafront Project – Update] - Councillor Walsh as a Member of Littlehampton Town Council.




Minutes pdf icon PDF 192 KB

The Committee will be asked to approve as a correct record the Minutes of the Policy and Finance Committee held on 26 October 2023, as attached.  



The minutes from the meeting of the Committee held on 26 October 2023 were approved as a correct record and were signed by the Chair at the conclusion of the meeting.





          The Chair confirmed that there were no urgent items for the Committee to consider.


Public question time

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



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


Littlehampton Seafront Project - Update Report pdf icon PDF 110 KB

This report provides an update on the Littlehampton seafront project.


The Principal Landscape and Project Officer presented a project update report to Members providing a couple of additional information points following the last update provided on 26 October 2023.


Firstly, the planning application was due to be determined by the Planning Committee on 14 December 2023. It was explained that during the period since application submission, the contractor had undertaken a detailed review of costs which had previously been reported to this Committee as being challenging. The Stage 3 cost plan had been checked by the Council’s consultants for anomalies in quantities, rates or scope with this exercise now being concluded. This had revealed that there was a need to undertake a process of value engineering savings to find approximately £560k. The project team were looking collectively at all elements of the scheme to see how this could be achieved. It was not intended to make significant changes to the project but instead to consider alternative specification and design details. Any adjustments would be looked at very carefully to assess any impacts on planning and day to day operations as well as future maintenance. Once the amendments had been resolved, the team would be able to move forward with Stage 4 of the design and firm up the logistics and communications associated with the construction phase.


The Chair then invited questions from Members. Various questions were asked firstly regarding the placing of the solar panels in terms of which buildings would these be placed; would this be the new changing places toilets or on the existing concessionaire buildings? It was confirmed that the PV panels would be located on the foreshore building as the toilet roof was not appropriate.


The project was again applauded as being a great asset for Littlehampton as it would provide improved facilities making Littlehampton a great attraction for visitors and residents of Arun. Concern was expressed over the length of time the project was taking, although it was accepted that a project of this size would be working to a very prescribed timeline. Reassurance was sought that the remaining phases of the project would remain on schedule and that no additional capital funding would be required.  The Principal Landscape and Project Officer provided reassurance that the project was moving forward at the expected pace and that there was no need to seek additional capital contributions. There was allowance within the budget to cover inflationary increases.


The final question asked related to the Stage by the Sea and whether this would have power or lighting. It was confirmed that pop-up power for events and within the market place would be provided.


The Committee then noted the contents of the report.



The Regeneration of the Regis Centre

          The Committee will receive a verbal update report from the Interm Regeneration Consultant.



The Chair welcomed the Interim Regeneration Officer who was attending the meeting virtually so that an update on the regeneration of the Regis Centre, Bognor Regis could be provided to the Committee.


The Interim Regeneration Officer outlined some key points since his last update provided to the Committee on 26 October 2023. These have been summarised below:


·     Arun Arts had vacated the premises allowing the intrusive surveys required inside and outside of the building to take place as part of the stage 4 design to be undertaken.

·     The project was being retendered on a different procurement framework and four expressions of interest had been received. Tenders would be sent out on 11 December 2023 with submissions expected early in the New Year with an appointment planned for the end of January 2024.

·     Design stage 4 was progressing using the existing design team. 

·     In terms of the Planning Application and the delegated authority provided to the Planning Officer, that Officer was still working through the drainage issues that need to be resolved before consent could be granted. Members were reassured that steady progress was being made. 


The Chair thanked the Interim Regeneration Officer for his detailed update and invited questions from Members. Questions and points raised by the Committee focused on:


·       When would construction work start? It was explained that given the timescale of the build and project, this would be well into 2025/26 before the scheme would be completed. The intrusive surveys were taking place now which could not commence until Arun Arts had vacated the premises, this had caused a delay. The demolition works had been delayed due to the need to retender for a new contractor and subject to getting the planning issues resolved.

·       The relocation of Arun Arts. They were hoping to use the space they were occupying for money making studio activities, but this was not possible due to a lack of access to public conveniences. It was confirmed that there were toilet facilities at the Town Hall that could be used by Arun Arts customers but only when the Town Hall was open. Talks were taking place with the Town Hall to see if the toilet facilities could be made available at other times.

·       It was unfortunate that the Brewers Fayre space was not being used for public use. The contractors moving into this space, how much space would they be using and would they be paying rent.  It was explained that a written response had been provided to the Councillor asking this question.

·       Concern was expressed over the intrusive survey work taking place on the Place St Maur, although necessary, it was hoped that the site would not be damaged and would be returned in a pre-survey condition. 

·       Any project delay often resulted in increased costs. Were there any concerns that needed to be shared with the Committee? Could the email response provided to the Councillor please be shared with the Committee?  It was confirmed that this would be circulated. There were no budget  ...  view the full minutes text for item 454.


Budget Monitoring Report to 30 September 2023 pdf icon PDF 923 KB

The Budget Monitoring Report sets out the Capital, Housing Revenue and General Fund Revenue Budget performance to the end of September 2023.


The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer presented to Members the Budget Monitoring Report to 30 September 2023.


          The report set out the General Fund Revenue Budget, Capital Programme and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) forecast outturn performance against budget as at the end of quarter 2. The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer confirmed a revenue budget underspend of £136k and explained that this was an adverse change of approximately £500k from the previous quarter’s forecast. The forecast reported a nil variance against the transformation budget. The forecast variance explanations had been set out within the report. Mention was made of the £452k overspend against budget for the Planning Policy Committee because of a downturn in planning fee income. The Government had recently confirmed that planning application fee increases would be applied from 6 December 2023, which could have a positive impact on fee income for the remainder of 2023/24, though it was too early to confirm what the full impact might be. Homelessness continued to be a national issue and the Quarter 2 forecast overspend had increased by £300k due to expenditure on providing temporary accommodation. Work was progressing with Housing in terms of whether the recent announcements made in the Autumn Statement would have any material impact on the Council’s position regarding homelessness expenditure. There were smaller overspends across the revenue budget arising from staff vacancies and small amounts of income from beach hut income.


Looking at capital monitoring, this showed an underspend of £6.5m (23%) below the revised budget of £28.5m for the year. This was due to slippage on current schemes into the future financial year, the detail of which had been provided in Table 4 of the report. As reported to the Committee on 26 October 2023, the following schemes had been approved since Quarter 1 and added to the capital programme:




·       Littlehampton Harbour west wall works - £0.75 million

·       Warwick Nurseries and Boweries housing purchase scheme - £3.78 million

·       Bognor Regis Arcade project - £7.991 million

·       Waterloo Square scheme - £1 million


Turning to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), the forecast showed a reserve balance of £902k by 31 March 2024, which was £281k below the budgeted position of £1.183m. Appendix B included the full report that had been taken to the meeting of the Housing & Wellbeing Committee held on 23 November 2023 setting out the reasons for this and the actions being taken to improve the position.


The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer outlined that the £2m reserve figure, which had been set by the Council as its own target might need to be revisited and brought down to a more realistic figure. Of critical importance was to ensure that this account would not go overdrawn. Currently, it was a tough and challenging situation, and this had been very clearly outlined to Members at the meeting of the Housing & Wellbeing Committee. However, there was a plan, and this had been highlighted in Appendix B, outlining the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 455.


Council Vision Working Party - 19 September, 23 October and 13 November 2023] pdf icon PDF 86 KB

The Committee will receive the minutes from the meetings of the Council Vision Working Party held on 19 September, 23 October and 13 November, which are attached.


There are recommendations for consideration as set out below:


23 October 2023


Minute 12 [Council Vision – 2022-2026 – Review of Council Vision Indicators]


13 November 2023


Minute 18 [Revised Vision Outcomes]


A revised Council Vision Objectives and Outcomes document is attached for approval. This can be found at the back of these minutes.

Additional documents:


The Chair confirmed that the Committee had received recommendations from the Council Vision Working Party following its meetings held on 19 September, 23 October and 13 November 2023.


          The Chair invited the Chair of the Working Party, Councillor Tandy, to present the minutes and recommendations.


          Councillor Tandy reminded Members that in 2022 the Council agreed its four year Vision 2022 to 2028 and a set of measures that would be used to judge progress against its aims and objectives.


          In July 2023, the Policy & Finance Committee had been presented with the Annual report on the Vision measures for 2022-2023 alongside a proposal that a Vision Working Party be established to review these measures.  Since its establishment, the Working Party had met on 19 September, 23 October and 13 November 2023. At its first meeting held on 19 September 2023, the Working Party reviewed the wording of the Vision Aims and Objectives and confirmed that it was happy with the four vision themes, and it discussed the aims and objectives attached to each theme.


          At its second meeting held on 23 October 2023, the Working Party agreed revised wording for the aims and objectives set out in the original Vision document. At the meeting held on 13 November detailed discussion took place on the performance measures of progress and outcomes for the Vision that Members wishes to see in the final version for 2024/25. It was explained that some of the previous Vision measures were recommended by the Working Party to be removed from the Vision document as it was felt that they were detailed or very technical and so it was appropriate that they be reported to the relevant Service Committee on an annual basis.  Where this had been recommended it had been clearly identified in the Vision document attached to the minutes using tracked changes.


          As a result of the three meetings, all the proposed changes had been incorporated into a revised Vision document using tracked changes. Councillor Tandy confirmed that the Leader of the Council had suggested that the picture of most Councillors taken after the May Election be used in the final version of the Vision.


          Councillor Tandy drew Members’ attention to the recommendations that the Committee was required to consider.  These are set out below:


          From the meeting held on 23 October 2023:


That the revised Council Vision document, to include the changed outlined in the minutes, be approved and recommended onto Full Council for approval.


From the meeting held on 13 November 2023:


(1)  The revised Vision Outcomes as amended by the Working Party be agreed;


(2)  The performance measures as set out in the revised Vision Outcomes be used to measure progress against the Vision aims and objectives for 2024/2025 and 2025/2026; and


(3)  Should minor changes  be needed to be made to these measures, then the Group Head of Organisational Excellence be given delegated authority in consultation with the Chair of the Policy & Finance Committee to make such changes.


  Councillor Tandy confirmed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 456.


Environment Committee - 21 November 2023 pdf icon PDF 230 KB

The Committee will receive the minutes from the meeting of the Environment Committee held on 21 November 2023, which will be circulated separately to this agenda.


There will be a recommendation for the Committee to consider in relation to Additional Houses in Multiple Occupation Licensing Scheme.

Additional documents:


The Chair confirmed that the Committee had received a recommendation to consider following the meeting of the Environment Committee held on 21 November 2023.  The minutes from the meeting of the Environment Committee held on 21 November 2023 along with the Officer’s report had been emailed to Councillors on 5 December 2023 and uploaded to the Policy & Finance Committee’s web pages as a supplement.


          This recommendation was at minute 382 [Additional Houses in Multiple Occupation Licensing Scheme] and it recommended to the Policy & Finance Committee that the resources as set out in paragraph 4.29 of the report be agreed in order to implement the additional HMO licensing scheme within the three wards of River, Marine and Hotham.


          The recommendation was then formally proposed by Councillor Walsh and seconded by Councillor Nash.


          The Chair then invited debate where concern was expressed over staff resources required and how confident the Council was that it would be able to recruit into these posts. It was outlined that this had not been an area where the Council had experienced recruitment before and so it was not expected to be a challenge to recruit.


          The Committee




That the resources as set out in paragraph 4.29 of the report be agreed in order to implement the additional HMO licensing scheme within the three wards of River, Marine and Hotham.                



Outside Bodies - Feedback from Meetings


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


A query was raised by Councillor Gunner in relation to why feedback reports for the Greater Brighton Economic Board and the West Sussex Leaders’ meeting were not being received and he asked if this could be investigated and confirmed which Service Committee they should report into.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 83 KB

          The Committee’s Work Programme is attached for information.


The Committee received and noted its work programme for the remainder of 2023/24, noting the following additions:


·        The work programme has been updated to include the Special Meeting of the Committee taking place on 8 January 2024 which would consider the following items:


o   Savings Strategy – it was noted that this item would have recommendations going to Full Council on 10 January 2024; and

o   Medium Term Financial Prospects 2024/25 to 2028-29.


There was also an item to add to the 8 February 2024 meeting which was Arun Community Asset Fund – Consideration of Bids – Round 1


There was also an item to add to the 7 March 2024 meeting which was the Sundry Debts Write-Off Policy.