The report allows the Policy and Finance Committee to consider and comment on the Council’s Capital Strategy 2022/23 to 2026/27 before adoption by Full Council on 9 March 2022.
The Chair invited the Interim Group Head of Corporate Support and Section 151 Officer to present this report. It was explained that the adoption of the Capital Strategy by Full Council was a requirement of the Chartered Institution of Public Finance and Accountancy’s Prudential Code. Responsibility for review of the strategy had moved from the Audit and Governance Committee and was now the responsibility of this Committee.
The key points of the strategy were summarised:
· the capital strategy was overarching
· it sat above the other more detailed policies, procedures and plans and referenced them to allow more detail if required
· it showed how the Council determined its priorities for capital investment decisions
· it set out how capital would be funded
· as a council we needed to adopt a strategic approach to our capital planning based on sound principles; these principles being that plans must be:
· in line with service objectives
· give due consideration to both risk and reward
The Interim Group Head of Corporate Support and Section 151 Officer finished by concluding that the aim of the strategy was to balance capital expenditure needs and expectations with the limited resources available to the Council.
The Chair invited questions. The need to maintain existing capital infrastructure and to ensure that sufficient provision was laid out in words and strategy to make sure at all times for its maintenance. The Windmill Theatre in Littlehampton was given as an example. The Director of Place confirmed that this Capital Strategy intended to try to bring the Council back to a position that was better in terms of long term maintenance of its assets and that significant progress had been made in terms of being in a better position to maintain maintenance at more measured levels going forward. The Chief Executive noted that to put things right was a capital investment but that ongoing maintenance costs would often come out of the Revenue Budget straining the budget which paid for the majority of the services the Council provided in the district, but that we should be building in long-term revenue support for maintenance of facilities but that that sometimes put pressures on our own revenue budgets due to financial rules around what certain budgets can be spent on.
The Chair asked Officers, in response to the previous question and answer, what safeguards were in place to avoid future occasions where maintenance works may not have been carried out. The Chief Executive explained that this would need to be built into an Asset Management Strategy and take into account the Council’s long-term financial planning. The Chair asked that the Asset Management Strategy be included in the Work Programme for this Committee for the next municipal year. Another Member noted that, from looking at the figures quoted on page 111 of the Agenda Pack, asset management did not appear to be built into any significant degree. A final point was made about all figures in the report declining in terms of investment over the years, the need to look at how things were progressing in future and ultimately where future investment would be coming from. The Chief Executive noted the financial challenges ahead in the coming years acknowledged in the medium-term financial plan both on a revenue and capital basis, and Officers and Members would need to work together to address over the coming years.
Having had the recommendation proposed by Councillor Roberts and seconded by Councillor Cooper,
RECOMMEND TO FULL COUNCIL
That the Capital Strategy 2022/23 to 2026/27 be approved.