Agenda and draft minutes

Policy and Finance Committee - Thursday 8th February 2024 6.00 pm

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

Contact: Jane Fulton 

Media

Items
No. Item

610.

Apology for Absence

Minutes:

            An Apology for Absence had been received from Councillor Brooks.

611.

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 Greenway declared a Prejudicial Interest in one of the applications listed as part of Agenda 13 [The Regeneration of The Regis Centre – Update] and confirmed that he would provide the meeting with more detail at the commencement of that item.

 

 

612.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 92 KB

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

 

Minutes:

The minutes from the Special Meeting of the committee held on 8 January 2024 were approved as a correct record and were signed by the Chair at the conclusion of the meeting.

 

613.

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 urgent items.

614.

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.

615.

Littlehampton Seafront Project pdf icon PDF 355 KB

This repot provides an update on the Littlehampton Seafront project.

Minutes:

The Principal Landscape and Project Officer presented a further project update report to Members. This noted that planning approval had been gained the week commencing 11 December 2023 and so the project team was now pushing forward in preparing the information needed to discharge the pre-commencement conditions. The project team was also working though the stage 4 designs and were putting together a detailed programme for the multiple procurement packages to obtain a price for the works. The construction programme had been revisited due to the impact of the value engineering process. It was anticipated that work would commence on site in the Spring and there was a lot to think about in terms of construction, logistics and phasing. Once those plans had been finalised these would be shared widely.

 

Having received this update, a question was asked about project costs and value engineering in terms of what these might be and where would they occur in terms of the next stages of the project. 

 

The Principal Landscape and Project Officer confirmed that the cost plan had been concluded towards the end of last year identifying the need to make savings of £560k. This had meant that a detailed piece of work had had to be  undertaken with the design team making every effort to ensure a minimal impact as possible on the design, the result being that the design approved by planning had been largely unaffected, though there had been some revisiting of building materials and slight changes to the  specification. It was confirmed that the scheme would be as envisaged and previously reported. Most of the savings required had been identified.

 

The Committee then noted the contents of the report.

 

 

616.

The Regeneration of the The Regis Centre, Bognor Regis

The Interim Regeneration Consultant will provide a verbal update report.

Minutes:

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 6 December 2023.

 

Planning consent had been secured so work was progressing on the pre-commencement conditions to get those discharged as soon as possible. Work was also progressing on retendering the contract for the construction work and it was confirmed that tender responses had been received were being evaluated, with the moderation meeting taking place on 13 February 2024. The RIBA stage 4 design had been progressing as far as was possible without a contractor with great involvement from the existing design team to ensure that not too much time was being lost.

 

The Committee was reminded that now Arun Arts had vacated the premises, this had allowed for the required intrusive survey works assessing the existence of asbestos and other structural and ground survey issues to be taking place inside of the building. It was reported that a lot of asbestos, under the floor slabs, had been found and so the necessary measures were being taken regarding removal and disposal.

 

The latest draft cost plan was encouraging as some cost savings had been made earlier on in 2023 resulting in the project still being well within its contingency levels. It was reported that further funding was required to complete the rest of the photovoltaic cells on the roof even though £45k of funding had been secured for this purpose and so  work was progressing with regeneration colleagues to find the remaining amount required. A revised business plan had been received from Arun Arts and this confirmed that two of its Trustees had resigned and so the Group Head of Economy was contacting the interim chair to ascertain how they would progress.

 

There were still key risks around the project programme as the Council had had to retender for a main contractor and this had taken longer than expected. Delay had also been caused by Arun Arts taking longer than expected to vacate the building with the knock on effect being that the intrusive survey work had started later than planned.

 

The Chair then invited questions. The Regeneration Consultant was asked when he thought building work would begin. It was confirmed that a new contractor would not be appointed until late February 2024 and so a realistic timeframe to give was that it would be early May before any demolition work would commence.

 

Information was sought in terms of what the impact of that work would be on the Place St Maur in terms of space taken up. It was explained that this would be considerable. The Regeneration Consultant confirmed that the Committee would receive a written report update for its next meeting on 7 March 2024 providing more detail on this.

 

The Committee then noted the update report provided.

617.

Policy & Finance Committee Budget Monitoring Report pdf icon PDF 750 KB

The purpose of this report is to appraise the Policy & Finance Committee of its forecast outturn against the 2023/24 budgets, which were approved by Full Council at its meeting of the 9 March 2023.

 

Minutes:

The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer presented the Committee with its Budget Monitoring report covering the Quarter 3 period up to 31 December 2023, which it was being asked to note.

 

The key highlights were the underspends amounting to £314k which was a positive change from the forecast of £258k reported as part of the quarter two report. The main changes were that the Council was looking to capitalise some of the revenue costs associated with delivering the Regis Centre project. This would be kept under close review and any changes would be reported to the Committee. It was reported that there were no overspends and that the capital programme was being reviewed as part of the budget setting process.

 

The Committee then noted the content of the update provided.

618.

Committee Revenue and Capital Budget 2024/2025 pdf icon PDF 347 KB

The purpose of the report is for this Committee to consider and agree its revenue budget for inclusion in the Council’s overall 2024/25 revenue budget. The agreed budgets will then form part of the overall revenue and capital budgets for 2024/25 to be considered as part of [the subsequent agenda item] at this meeting, in order that recommendations can be made to a Special Meeting of the Council on 21 February 2024 regarding the budgets to be set and level of Council Tax for the District for 2024/25.

 

Minutes:

The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer presented his report which was asking the Committee to consider and approve its revenue budget for inclusion in the Council’s overall 2024/25 revenue budget, which this Committee would consider as a later item on this agenda.

 

It was reported that the net change in the revenue budget between 2023/24 and 2024/25 was a decrease of £275k and the key changes were explained to Members as set out in the table provided at Paragraph 4.4 of the report.

 

            Having had the recommendations proposed by Councillor Nash and seconded by Councillor Oppler,

 

            The Committee

 

                        RESOLVED – That

 

(1)          It agrees the 2024/25 Revenue Budget as illustrated in Appendix A of this report;

 

(2)          It agrees the 2024/25 Capital Programme as illustrated in Appendix B of this report; and

 

(3)               It agrees that the Revenue Budget for this Committee be included in the Council’s overall General Fund budget.

619.

Budget Monitoring Report to 31 December 2023 pdf icon PDF 841 KB

The purpose of this report is to appraise the Policy and Finance Committee of performance against the budgets approved by Full Council at its meeting of the 9 March 2023.

 

Minutes:

The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer presented to Members the Council’s Budget Monitoring Report to 31 December 2023 which the Committee was required to note.

 

            The main highlights to bring to Members’ attention were forecast variations which were explained in detail. They were net overspends of £246k at a cost-of-service level which had been offset by a forecast overachievement of investment interest income and additional in year grant funding of £110k from central government for new burdens, resulting in an overall underspend of £643k. This represented an improved swing of £506k since the Quarter 2 report, the main changes including an increase in car parking income [£247k] and the capitalisation of Levelling Up Project Management costs [£221k].

 

The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer then worked through the main points of interest for Members in respect of the other Service Committees and the significant movements in forecasting exceeding £100k were explained. It was brought to Members’ attention that for Revenues and Benefits, the Quarter 3 forecast indicated an overspend of £330k, which was an adverse change of £416k from the Quarter 2 forecast due to a net increase in supported accommodation costs. The reasons for this were explained in detail.

 

Turning to the Capital programme monitoring for 2023/24 it was confirmed that there were no overspends or new schemes added with the key areas of underspending being explained as detailed in the report.

 

 On the  Housing Revenue Account (HRA), the Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer explained that the HRA reserves balance was predicted to fall to around £550k in 23/24 which represented a negative change of £632k from when the Housing & Wellbeing Committee received an update in November 2023. The report that had been submitted to that meeting had been attached as an appendix to the Budget Monitoring Report for the Committee’s information.

 

It was explained that this was due to an increase in demand for repairs and maintenance and that there were inflationary pressures to be taken into consideration as well. It was intended to increase the capital spend on planned maintenance which would hopefully reduce this expenditure going forward, however, this was a still a precarious situation for the Council to be in.  

 

            The Committee then noted the contents of the report.

 

620.

Council Revenue and Capital Budgets 2024/2025 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

The purpose of the report is for this Committee to consider and make recommendations to Full Council on 21 February 2024 on setting the General Fund revenue budget, the level of Council Tax for the District, the HRA budget and HRA rent levels for 2024/25.

 

In addition, the Policy and Finance Committee are requested to consider the capital programme and make recommendations to Full Council on 21 February 2024 on the capital programme (HRA and General Fund) to be set for 2024/25.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that before inviting the Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer to present the budget report, he proposed to start with the recommendations that had been submitted for this Committee to consider from each of the service committees.  Each of the recommendations had been set out in the supplement pack circulated to the meeting and uploaded to the web and emailed to Councillors on 7 February 2024.  The Chair confirmed that he proposed to take these recommendations on block. The recommendations were as set out below and were from the:

 

·      Environment Committee – 23 January 2024 – Minute 547 – Committee Revenue and Capital Budget 2024/25 - [Page 3 of the supplement pack].

·      Housing & Wellbeing Committee – 25 January 2024 – Minute 559 – Committee General Fund Revenue and Capital Budgets and Housing Revenue Account budgets 2024/25 [Page 6 of the supplement pack]

·       Planning Policy Committee – 30 January 2024 – Minute 573 – Committee Revenue and Capital Budgets 2024/25 [Page 8 of the supplement pack]

·      Corporate Support Committee – 31 January 2024 – Minute 590 – Committee Revenue and Capital Budgets 2024/25 [Page 11 of the supplement pack]

·       Economy Committee – 1 February 2024 – Minute 601 – Committee Revenue and Capital Budgets 2024/25 [Page 12 of the supplement pack].

 

Having had these recommendations proposed by Councillor Oppler and seconded by Councillor Nash, the Committee

 

            RESOLVED – That

 

(1)            The Revenue budget for this Committee [the Environment Committee] be included in the overall General Fund budget when considering the overall budgets on 8 February 2024;

 

(2)             The General Fund Revenue Budget, HRA Revenue Budget and Committee Capital Programme for this Committee [the Housing & Wellbeing Committee] be included in the overall General Fund budget when considering the overall budgets on 8 February 2024;

 

(3)            The Revenue budget for this Committee [the Planning Policy Committee] be included in the overall General Fund budget when considering the overall budgets on 8 February 2024;

 

 

 

 

(4)            The Revenue Budget for this Committee [the Corporate Support Committee] be included in the overall General Fund budget when the Policy & Finance Committee considers the overall budget at its meeting on 8 February 2024; and

 

(5)            The Revenue Budget for this Committee [the Economy Committee] be included in the overall General Fund Budget when the Policy & Finance Committee considers the overall budgets at its meeting on 8 February 2024.

 

            The Chair confirmed that he would now focus on the whole budget for 2024/25. Before inviting the Group Head of Finance and Section 151 to present the budget to the Committee, the recommendations were proposed by Councillor Birch and were then seconded by Councillor Oppler.

 

            The Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer then presented the key elements of his report.  Firstly, he confirmed that it was proposing that Arun’s Band D Council Tax for 2024/25 be set at £208.39, which was an increase of 2.99% over 2023/204. Council was also being asked to approve increasing HRA rents and HRA  garage rents by 7.7%.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 620.

621.

Carbon Emission Update - 2022-2023 Financial Year pdf icon PDF 159 KB

This report provides an update on the emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3) of the Council for the 2022-2023 financial year.

Minutes:

The Climate Change and Sustainability Officer presented his report which was providing the Committee with an update on the emissions (Scope 1, 2 and 3) of the Council for the 2022-2023 financial year which the Committee was being asked to note.

 

Each of the scopes was explained in detail with the report providing an overview in terms of where each of the scope’s emissions were sitting for the 2022-2023 year whilst also providing a comparison to the baseline year which was 2020 to 2021 financial year. 

 

Having provided a detailed presentation, it was confirmed that the Council’s overall total emissions had been reduced across the Council and this could be confirmed as a 35% reduction.  A breakdown was provided for each scope as set out below:

 

·         Scope 1 had seen a minor increase in emissions relating to gas from heating the Council’s buildings, but a reduction in terms of fuel used for fleet vehicles as a result of the Council transitioning its vehicle fleet to all electric vehicles.

·         Scope 2 – emissions had remained at zero as the Council had continued to purchase its electricity from renewable technologies with the Council reporting market based rather than location based emissions meaning the Council was measuring based on its purchasing decisions.

·         Overall, for Scope 1 and 2, this had seen a drop from 392 in 2021 to 2022 to 170 tCo2e in 2022-2023. By following actions within the Climate Change and Biodiversity Work Plan there was potential for these to be even further reduced.

·         Scope 3 – as expected continued to be where most of the Council’s emissions sat. This scope continued to be the largest source of emissions sitting at 99%, with the two largest single emitters being, purchased goods and services (91%) and leisure centres (6%).  The total tCo2e had seen a significant reduction but this was still an area needing to continue to be looked at with increasing urgency and commitment. It was explained that the levels of reduction were likely to be linked to the changes in methodology used by the consultants and the general inaccuracy of using spend data to monitor supplier emissions. As part of this year’s work procurement emissions would be addressed by targeting the Council’s top suppliers and engaging with them more around climate action.

 

In conclusion, it was important to ensure emissions were reduced across all scopes to reach the 2030 Carbon Neutral target. Overall, total emissions had reduced across the Council representing a 35% reduction. As part f the Climate Change and Biodiversity Action Plan, the Council had also undertaken numerous projects which were also supporting reducing emissions reduction and Arun’s impact on the environment.  Appendix A to the report provided the full set of results for the 202-2021 and 2022-2023 financial years with Appendix B providing the comparisons across all three years.

 

These results showed a step in the right direction, but no at a fast enough rate, threatening the Council’s chance of achieving its Carbon Neutral target by 20230.

 

The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 621.

622.

Arun Community Asset Fund - Consideration of Bids - Round 1 pdf icon PDF 342 KB

Bids for funding have been received and this report is intended to facilitate a determination by the Committee of whether any individual bid should be supported.

Minutes:

(Prior to the commencement of this item, Councillor Greenway redeclared his Prejudicial Interest made at the start of the meeting in relation to one of the applications, which was the Bognor Regis Youth and Community Club. Councillor Greenway confirmed that he had previously been a Trustee, he was no longer a Trustee, but to ensure complete transparency he would leave the room whilst the application for this Club was considered and would not take part in any voting on this specific application).

 

The Joint Interim Chief Executive and Director of Growth presented his report which was asking the Committee to approve the allocation of funds specific to four projects set out in the report – these were:

 

·         Bognor Regis Youth & Community Club - £20,000

·         Slindon Parish Council - £20,000

·         Arundel Lido - £19,000

·         Bognor Fun Bus CIC Children and Youth Project - £18,000 to £22,000.

 

Before providing some updates to the meeting, the Committee was reminded of the decisions it had made at its meeting held on 26 October 2024 when it resolved to agree that the Arun Community Asset Fund be established; how it should be run and the criteria that needed to be met in terms of assessing applications.

 

Four applications for funding had been received and the report had provided the detail surrounding each application. In respect of the application from the Arundel Lido, it had since been confirmed that the amount of funding being sought had reduced from £19k to £15k as since the application had been submitted, the Lido had secured other funding sources. In respect of the fourth application from the Bognor Regis Fun Bus CIC Children and Youth Project, Members were asked to note that the funding amount requested ranged from £18k to £22k. Members’ attention was drawn to the criteria agreed confirming that the capital costs of an individual project should not exceed £20k and so if Members were minded to support this application, a sum of no more than £20k could not be approved. Another point drawn to Members’ attention was the criteria that any project should have the support of 50 per cent of Ward Members. An issue with the fourth application was that it did not have fixed assets, this was a mobile project in its nature that could venture into multiple wards making it very difficult to identify any individual ward to allow consultation with ward members to take place and to gain such approval. It had not therefore been possible to undertake this consultation. 

 

Having received the updates provided, the Chair invited debate and suggested that a decision be made first on the application from the Bognor Regis Youth and Community Club so that on conclusion of this application, Councillor Greenway could return to the meeting to take part in considering the remaining applications.

 

Councillor Birch then proposed the first application, and this was seconded by Councillor Nash.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

That the application from the Bognor Regis Youth and Community Club in the sum of £20,000  ...  view the full minutes text for item 622.

623.

Key Performance Indicators 2022-2026 - Quarter 2 Performance Report for the Period 1 April to 30 September 2023 pdf icon PDF 109 KB

The purpose of this report is for the Committees to be updated with the Q2 Performance Outturn for the Key Performance indicators for the period 1 April 2023 to 30 September 2023.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In the absence of the Group Head of Organisational Excellence, the Interim Joint Chief Executive and Director of Growth presented the Key Performance Indicators for 2022 to 2026 covering the Quarter 2 Performance period from 1 April to 30 September 2023, which the Committee noted.

 

624.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 84 KB

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

Minutes:

The Committee in receiving and noting its Work Programme for the remainder of the municipal year 2023/2024, received confirmation that two further items would be added for its next meeting to be held on 7 March 2024 – these were:

 

·         Council Tax on Empty and Second Homes; and

·         Angmering Sports Hub Project – Update Report

 

625.

Outside Bodies - Feedback from Meetings

Minutes:

Having received confirmation from the Chair that there were no feedback items to report to this meeting, a Councillor requested to receive reassurance that the appropriate Committee would receive a feedback report updating Members on the activities of the Greater Brighton Economic Board as these had been provided to the Committee by the former Leader of the Council.

 

            The Chair confirmed that future updates on the activities of the Board would be provided.  In responding to the request made to receive feedback reports following meetings of West Sussex Leaders, it was confirmed that these meetings were held in closed session and were private.