Agenda and draft minutes

Policy and Finance Committee - Thursday 7th March 2024 6.00 pm

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

Contact: Jane Fulton 


No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for Absence had been received from Councillors Birch, Brooks and Greenway.



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



There were no Declarations of Interest made.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 170 KB

The Committee will be asked to approve as a correct record the Minutes of the Policy and Finance Committee held on 8 February 2024, which are attached. 




The minutes from the last Meeting of the committee held on 12 February 2024 were approved as a correct record and were signed by the Chair at the conclusion of the meeting.





The Chair confirmed that there was one urgent item for the Committee to consider relating to the Swimming Pool Support Fund Phase 2 Grant. This urgent report had been uploaded to the Committee’s web page earlier in the afternoon and had been emailed to Councillors.


The Chair confirmed that the special circumstances for non-compliance with Access to Information Procedure Rules as set out in Part 6, Section 1, Paragraph 5.1 of the Constitution and Section 100B (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 (items not to be considered unless open to inspection at least 5 days before the meeting) were that there were no confirmed meetings of the Policy & Finance Committee until July 2024 and bringing this report to members at that time would delay approval for the capital grant amount being added to the capital programme for the financial year 2024/2025. It was outlined that this could lead to increased risk of failure for the projects being completed due to the deadlines for delivery within the grant agreement.  This was the primary reason for the item to be considered tonight as urgent business and as there was the need for this Committee to make a recommendation to Full Council on 13 March 2024.



The Wellbeing Business Manager was then invited to present the report. He explained its urgency which was to ensure that the Council had the maximum timeframe to deliver these externally funded projects. Notification from Sport England of the successful application of the capital grant had been delayed from December 2023 to January 2024 due to the high amount of applications that had been submitted. The Council had done well to have been successful in being awarded this grant as it had been confirmed that 726 applications had been submitted. The recommendation in the report had been based on the requirement to add the grant amount of £135,470 to the Council’s capital programme as it was necessary to claim the grant amount retrospectively by March 2025 following delivery of the project by the swimming pool operators. It was again explained that delaying the presentation of this report to the first cycle of meetings in the new Municipal Year would cause damaging delays for Freedom Leisure and the Arundel Lido in respect of their timeframes for procuring contractors and completing the works. Delays would also impact energy savings to both operators.


Context around the funding application was provided. Officers had been required to lead the application process and had worked with the representatives of Freedom Leisure and the Arundel Lido to complete the applications. There was a successful application for funding from the National Lottery in the sum of £90,400 for the Arundel Lido for Photo Voltaic [PV] Panels and a new main pool cover. Funding from the Exchequer in the sum of £45,070 for Littlehampton Wave for PV panels to be installed on the swimming pool roof. The Housing & Wellbeing Committee had been made aware of the applications at its meeting held on 25 January 2024 in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 682.


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.




The Littlehampton Seafront Project - Update Report pdf icon PDF 357 KB

This report provides an update on the Littlehampton Seafront Project.

Additional documents:


Before inviting the Principal Landscape and Project Officer to present her report, the Chair alerted the Committee to the addendum that had been published to the Committee’s web page and circulated to Members earlier in the afternoon, forming part of the supplement pack.


The Principal Landscape and Project Officer started her presentation by referring to the addendum as this contained recommendations for the Committee to consider referring to funding made available to the project since the original project budget had been approved. The recommendations enabled this funding to be formally included within the budget, it was not seeking any extra funding.


Turning the Committee’s attention to the main report, it was explained that this formed a further project update since the last update received on 12 February 2024. This would be the last update report that the Committee would receive before work would commence on site. There were still a few details to finalise in terms of confirming exact start dates which would be published soon. Before work would commence on site, there would be some activities for the project team to work through and complete, the team was currently planning to submit the information required to discharge the pre-commencement planning conditions. Procurement packages continued to be issued so that a price could be obtained for the full works and surveys would be carried out on site soon to accurately locate utility services and establish the depth of these. This work was planned for next week and would involve a series of trenches being dug and then backfilled to ensure that the area would remain safe for people to use.  Before the main works would commence, some temporary facilities would be installed in particular locations, and that work would commence next month. In drawing up the phasing plans, the contractor had adopted the principle of keeping disruption to a minimum around the seafront and maintaining the car park during the summer period. The high level phasing had been set out in the report and the detail on this would be made available soon.  It was outlined how critical communication would be and so work was underway now to coordinate with other teams to make sure this captured all audiences. Project updates would be made available to all Members of the Council as well as being placed on the Council’s web site.


Before entering debate, the recommendations were proposed by Councillor Nash and seconded by Councillor Cooper.


In debating the report, the Principal Landscape and Project Officer was asked if the operators at Harbour Park had been kept updated as they had been making enquiries as to what would be happening over the summer. Similarly, The Littlehampton Bonfire Society had also raised concerns about whether they would be able to operate their event this autumn. In response, Members were advised that the Project Team would be planning to meet with Harbour Park shortly as part of the ongoing conversations. The Project Team had not met with the Bonfire Society as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 684.


Angmering Sports Hub Project pdf icon PDF 344 KB

This report provides an update on the Angmering Sports Hub project.


The Principal Landscape and Projects Officer presented a report providing an update on the Angmering Sports Hub project and since the committee’s last update received in February 2023. It was highlighted that progress had not been as fast as the Council had anticipated due to Officer involvement in other major projects such as the Littlehampton Seafront Project. Moving forward, a professional team had now been appointed and once the legal agreements were in place, work would commence on site surveys; stakeholder engagement; and drawing up plans. Members were reassured that this work was imminent. The difficulties in funding the project had been explained fully within the report which would be a focus as designs and costs became clearer. The next step would be to look at the constraints of the site and commence engagement with stakeholders.


Having received the update provided, Councillor Cooper confirmed that he had a series of questions that he wished to ask on behalf of Angmering Parish Council. These have been set out below along with the responses received:


·       The current facilities at the site are failing and require a significant amount of money to get them into shape with regards to health and safety – this is putting the playing of football at risk for Angmering based clubs/teams. How will officers ensure this project is delivered within the next 2 years as it has been ongoing since 2015? As a result of the proposed sports hub, Angmering Sports and Recreation Association are unable to apply for sports funding. In response, the update provided set out the next steps planned to include a high level programme. The risks for the project had been acknowledged including the shortfall in funding. The next stage of the project would provide more certainty over project delivery, including costs. A further report would be submitted to the Committee once officers were in the position to take the project to the next phase which would include addressing the risks and the shortfall in funding.


·       The entrance to the sports hub is of great concern to Angmering Parish Council, and the surrounding residents. The current entrance to the pitches is off Decoy Drive – this is not suitable for the projected level of traffic. The entrance must come of Arundel Road and through the industrial part of the development. Can officers confirm that they are also in agreement with this and that it will be included in any proposals. Section 4.5 ii of the report would imply that this is the case. In response, it was confirmed that this was the preferred access route and that it was proposed that proposals would include this.

·       Are we still on track with the Spring date for public consultation and will Angmering Parish Council be involved? It was confirmed that Angmering Parish Council would definitely be included in the public consultation as a key stakeholder. Consultation was likely to start in late Spring/early Summer, officers were due to discuss the programme imminently with the project management  ...  view the full minutes text for item 685.


The Alexandra Theatre, Bognor Regis - Progress Report pdf icon PDF 374 KB

The purpose of this report is to update Members on the progress of the project and to provide the key project milestones.

Additional documents:


Before inviting the Interim Regeneration Officer to present his report, the Chair alerted the Committee to the addendum that had been published to the Committee’s web page and circulated to Members earlier in the afternoon, forming part of the supplement pack.


The Interim Regeneration Officer provided a further update on the regeneration of the Regis Centre, Bognor Regis and outlined some key points since his last update provided to the Committee on 12 February 2024.  Commencing with the addendum, it was explained that this was being presented to regularise a number of budgets that had been allocated to the project during the year from the UK Prosperity Fund and the Changing Places Toilet Fund.


In terms of project progress, the milestones achieved were outlined. The re-procurement of the contractor had confirmed the appointment of Neillcott Construction, the same contractor being used for the Littlehampton Seafront Project. A meeting was taking place tomorrow to commence discussions on the way forward in terms of the rest of the stage 4 design; how the compound would work; and where the site office would be. Work would then start with the Council’s Events Team looking at what the impact would be for The Esplanade and Belmont Street going forward. A meeting had taken place with the Development Manager from Premier Inns, who would work with the Council on construction management plans to minimis impact as best as possible.






Further intrusive grounds surveys undertaken had found more asbestos. Some had already been removed and some required more specialist removal due to its location. Arun Arts had relocated to the Bognor Regis Town Hall and their equipment was in storage. The remainder of the RIBA stage 4 design would recommence now that a contractor had been appointed which would allow the project delivery price to be confirmed enabling the demolition to commence shortly.


Councillor Nash then formally proposed the recommendations which were seconded by Councillor Oppler.


Questions were asked about the location of the site office; would this be in the Regis Centre Car Park or the Place and if and how many car parking spaces might be lost as this could have an impact on car parking revenue. Although a formal response from NeilCott Construction was awaited, it was likely that the site office would be in car parking spaces in the Regis Centre car park. There were spaces allocated in the theatre section of the car park which would be used first, it was anticipated that there would be a small revenue implication due to the use of car parking spaces for this purpose.


A question was also asked about Arun Arts and whether its licensee agreement had been concluded. It was explained that this was still being progressed and a response from the legal practice dealing with this was expected.  Finally, it was confirmed that work was expected to commence in May 2024.


Two Non-Committee Members were permitted to address the meeting. They expressed concern over asbestos removal and associated costs and how  ...  view the full minutes text for item 686.


Carbon Action Work Plan - Update pdf icon PDF 379 KB

This report provides an update on projects within the Action Plan and an overview of the Council’s Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions for the 2022-2023 financial year. 


Additional documents:


The Chair confirmed that this item had been withdrawn from the agenda.


The Webcasting of Meetings - Future Options pdf icon PDF 432 KB

The Committee is asked to note the current update provided in relation to its webcasting equipment in the Council Chamber and is asked to approve that Options 1, 2 and 6 set out within the report are approved, with Options 1 and 2 being added to the Council’s capital programme.



The Committee received a report from the Group Head of Law & Governance and Monitoring Officer which had been compiled by a group of Officers working on exploring options for Members to consider in looking at the ongoing use and the future of webcasting and associated costs.


The Committee was advised that the Council had been webcasting its formal public meetings since 2018 as did many other local authorities and that this was now widespread practice and had become an important and easy way of opening and making more transparent decision making. It also offered an easy way for members of the public to view meetings without the need to physically attend them. This benefitted those that could not attend meetings due to varying reasons. The webcasting of meetings also supported the council’s continuing engagement to reduce physical travel as part of its carbon reduction action plan work.


The Council currently webcast live all its Full Council and Committee meetings using an audio-visual system that was purchased in 2014. The age of that equipment was severely affecting its reliability and performance and was making it increasingly difficult for the current provider and manufacturer to support the ageing parts of the system. 


A Member session had been held on 4 March 2024 to explain to Members the intricacies and operational/practical requirements of this complex system and to identify the parts of the audio-visual suite that now required urgent upgrade to ensure effective webcasting. The report set out the different options available and recommended to members by the Officer Group. In recommending options, Officers had balanced what was critically needed against what could be possible with a fully modernised system, bearing in mind the current financial climate. It was outlined to Members that to not update the ageing equipment would result in a system that was rapidly deteriorating suddenly reaching end of life meaning that the Council would no longer be able to webcast its meetings at some point in the future and would therefore not be able to continue supporting the public access highlighted earlier. The Group Head of Law & Governance and Monitoring Officer also explained to Members the unseen amount of time that was spent by the Committee Services Team and the ICT team in setting up the equipment and testing it prior to each meeting held. Modernising the equipment would reduce this unnecessary impact, which would not change if Members chose not to pursue the options recommended.


          In finalising his presentation of the report, the Group Head of Law & Governance and Monitoring Officer paid particular thanks to the ICT Operations Manager and the Committee Services Manager for their work in exploring the options presented and for compiling the report to Members.


The Chair invited questions from Members. One Member confirmed that he could not support the recommendations as he could not approve spending this amount of money on technology at a time when staff redundancies were being made and internal IT budgets were being cut.


A Member expressed concern that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 688.


Key Performance Indicators 2022-2026 - Quarter 3 - Performance Report for the period 1 April to 31 December 2023 pdf icon PDF 353 KB


In order for the Committees to be updated with the Q3 Performance Outturn for the Key Performance indicators for the period 1 April 2023 to 31 December 2023.


Additional documents:


The Group Head of Organisational Excellence presented the Key Performance Indicators for 2022 to 2026 covering the Quarter 3 Performance period from 1 April to 30 September 2023.


In noting the report, a range of questions were asked as summarised below:


·                CP16 [Average days to re-let all properties (key to key) excluding major voids], Although it was acknowledged that this figure was reducing, this gradual improvement was too slow. Members expressed a firm desire to see a step change in terms of achieving a much greater decrease. The Interim Joint Chief Executive and Director of Environment and Communities agreed but confirmed that the issue was being addressed by changing the Council’s maintenance contractor. Officers were confident that this would bring enhanced improvement.

·                CP24 [Household waste sent for re-use, recycling and composting – 505 annual target] – concern was expressed that this was not being achieved and that a downward trend could be seen. What was the Council doing to address this? The retendering of the waste contract was explained, subject to the approval of Members. The introduction of Food Waste would assist. A new contract would improve the Council’s collection regime and recycling rates would, as a result, improve. The Member Briefing held on 5 March 2024 had provided this detail.  A request was made for the content of this briefing to be sent to Councillor McAuliffe who had not been able to attend.

·                Congratulations were extended to Officers in respect of CP17 [Of homeless cases owed a prevention duty - % successfully resolved] in terms of the progress made in improving figures.

·                Concern was expressed over CP4 and CP5. Looking at increases in staff sickness, what measures were being put into place to tackle this? Had there been any Policy changes to tackle this issue and to look at staff turnover? In response, the support systems in place for staff were explained  such as the employee assistance programme. It was also highlighted that various issues were being addressed by the culture change officer group who were continuing to work closely with staff. As local authorities were no longer seen as attractive potential employers, human resource staff were attending employer careers fayres and were working closely with schools on the opportunities that were available. This did show that work on tackling the concerns was in progress. A written response was requested confirming what the Council was doing to mitigate the figures and to address the issue. 



Electoral Review pdf icon PDF 358 KB

This report is intended to engage with the Committee with respect to the costs of conducting an electoral review of the District.



Additional documents:


The Group Head of Law & Governance and Monitoring Officer presented his report covering the planned electoral review for the district and following Full Council’s approval back in November 2022 of a motion to invite the Local Government Boundary Commission for England to carry out a review of the number of Councillors needed in Arun, and the warding arrangements within the district.


One of the actions agreed by Council had been for Officers to carry out an assessment of the costs of conducting a local government boundary review and provide recommendations to this Committee on the resourcing implications of such a review.


From a costing perspective, it was confirmed that most of the cost would be Officer time as the review would be progressed by Officers from within existing resources. Whilst the review would be resource intensive in terms of officer time, this would be met as part of the day to day duties as the requirement to conduct an electoral review was a periodic requirement that was factored into the roles of the Group Head of Law & Governance and the Electoral Services Manager and other staff involved. It was explained that they may be a need to commit to spend on items such as public consultation and other similar elements of the review such as public notices, but this would be minimal and so would be met from existing budgets. 


Finally, it was explained to Members that the recommendations set out within the report were being amended and that Members were being requested to note the report and that Officers would update the outcome of this report to the next meeting of the Corporate Support Committee. 


The Committee then debated the report. It was felt that public consultation was critical and that this needed to be reflected within the report. The Group Head of Law & Governance and Monitoring Officer confirmed that there would be public consultation and that this had been reflected in the project timetable attached to the report.


The Committee supported this review which would address the fact that some wards within the district were over and underrepresented. A reduction in the number of Councillors was also supported. 


Following further debate, the Committee noted the contents of the report and that a further report would be taken to the next meeting of the Corporate Support Committee on 30 April 2024.



Council Tax - Empty and Second Homes pdf icon PDF 458 KB

The purpose of the report is to present options to increase council tax income collection by charging council tax on empty properties after one year of being empty, (rather than the current policy of doing so after two years), and by introducing of a second homes premium, both with effect from 1 April 2025.



The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer presented his report setting out options to increase council tax income collection by charging council tax on empty properties after one year of being empty, (rather than the current policy of doing so after two years), it also recommended introducing a second homes premium, both with effect from 1 April 2025. This was because the Council had to advertise and provide a year’s notice of its intention. The Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 had granted local authorities the discretion to implement changes to the charging of council tax on empty properties and second homes. The financial advantages were then explained to Members. 


It was highlighted that the delegations set out in Recommendations (b) and c) applied to not just recommendations a) but also to Recommendation (d).


The recommendations in the report were then proposed by Councillor Gunner and seconded by Councillor Cooper.


Having received questions seeking confirming explanation on the definition of a second home and how this might impact business accommodation that was only used periodically, the Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer confirmed that he would provide written responses to the Members concerned. 


Following further debate and overwhelming support from the Committee,


The Committee




(1)  Approves the minimum period before council tax is charged on empty properties be reduced from two years to one year, with effect from 1 April 2025;


(2)  Delegates authority to the Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer to make implement further changes that may be prescribed by the Secretary of State.


The Committee




That a council tax premium of up to 100% in respect of second homes be introduced with effect from 1 April 2025.



Work Programme pdf icon PDF 84 KB


The Committee received and noted its work programme up to the end of the municipal year. It was noted that the Committee’s Work Programme for the new year would be brought to the its first meeting in the new municipal year.


Items Put Forward from Service Committees


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


Outside Bodies - Feedback from Meetings


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