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Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Tewkesbury Borough Council Offices, Severn Room

Contact: Democratic Services Tel: 01684 272021  Email:  democraticservices@tewkesbury.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

75.

Announcements

When the continuous alarm sounds you must evacuate the building by the nearest available fire exit. Members and visitors should proceed to the visitors’ car park at the front of the building and await further instructions (during office hours staff should proceed to their usual assembly point; outside of office hours proceed to the visitors’ car park). Please do not re-enter the building unless instructed to do so.

 

In the event of a fire any person with a disability should be assisted in leaving the building.

Minutes:

75.1           The evacuation procedure, as noted on the Agenda, was taken as read.

75.2           The Chair welcomed Councillors Cromwell and Harwood to the meeting. He advised that Councillor Cromwell was in attendance as Overview and Scrutiny Committee Chair for Item 14 – Trade Waste Services and Councillor Harwood was in attendance as an observer.

75.3           There was also a representative from the Counter Fraud Unit in attendance for Items 7 – Whistleblowing Policy and 8 – Prosecution of Housing and Tenancy Fraud on Behalf of Social Housing Providers.

76.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

To receive apologies for absence and advise of any substitutions. 

Minutes:

76.1           Apologies for absence were received from Councillor M A Gore. Councillor R D East would be acting as a substitute for the meeting.  

77.

Declarations of Interest

Pursuant to the adoption by the Council on 26 June 2012 of the Tewkesbury Borough Council Code of Conduct, effective from 1 July 2012, as set out in Minute No. CL.34, Members are invited to declare any interest they may have in the business set out on the Agenda to which the approved Code applies.

Minutes:

77.1           The Committee’s attention was drawn to the Tewkesbury Borough Council Code of Conduct which was adopted by the Council on 26 June 2012 and took effect from 1 July 2012.

77.2           There were no declarations of interest made on this occasion.  

78.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To approve the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 January 2020.

Minutes:

78.1           The Minutes of the meeting held on 8 January 2020, copies of which had been circulated, were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.  

79.

Items from Members of the Public

To receive any questions, deputations or petitions submitted under Rule of Procedure 12.

 

(The deadline for public participation submissions for this meeting is 30 January 2020)

Minutes:

79.1           There were no items from members of the public.  

80.

Executive Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 215 KB

To consider the Committee’s Forward Plan.  

Subject To Call In:: No - Item to Note.

Decision:

That the Committee’s Forward Plan be NOTED.  

Minutes:

80.1           Attention was drawn to the Committee’s Forward Plan, circulated at Pages No. 16-17. Members were asked to consider the Plan.

80.2           Accordingly, it was   

81.

Whistleblowing Policy pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To approve the Whistleblowing Policy.  

Subject To Call In:: Yes - No action to be taken prior to the expiry of the call-in period.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the Whistleblowing Policy be APPROVED.  

Minutes:

81.1           The report of the Head of Corporate Services, circulated at Pages No. 18-33, presented an updated Whistleblowing Policy which Members were asked to approve.   

81.2           Members were advised that the revised Policy was very similar to the previous one but with a few minor amendments to reflect legislative changes. The Policy had been considered by the Audit and Governance Committee at its meeting on 22 January and had been recommended to the Executive Committee for approval.

81.3           In response to a query regarding how it would be distributed to staff, the Committee was advised that the Policy would be placed on the intranet and, in addition, all Officers had recently attended whistleblowing training.

81.4           Accordingly, it was

Action By: CE

82.

Prosecution of Housing and Tenancy Fraud on behalf of Social Housing Providers pdf icon PDF 148 KB

To endorse the use of appropriate enforcement powers and to support the prosecution of housing and tenancy fraud offences committed in relation to properties owned by social housing providers within and outside of the Borough.

Subject To Call In:: Yes - No action to be taken prior to the expiry of the call-in period.

Decision:

1.      That the use of appropriate enforcement powers and those powers set out in the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013 (PoSHFA) be ENDORSED.

2.      That the prosecution (where appropriate) of housing and tenancy fraud offences committed in relation to properties owned by Social Housing Providers within and outside the Borough be supported.

Minutes:

82.1           The report of the Head of Finance and Asset Management, circulated at Pages No. 34-37, set out an opportunity for the Council to utilise enforcement powers which were available to it in order to prevent, detect and prosecute housing and tenancy fraud on behalf of social housing providers. Members were asked to endorse the use of appropriate enforcement powers, and those powers set out in the Prevention of Social Housing Fraud Act 2013, and to support the prosecution, where appropriate, of housing and tenancy fraud offences committed in relation to properties owned by social housing providers within and outside of the Borough. 

82.2           Members were advised that the Counter Fraud Unit currently provided counter fraud services to a number of social housing providers from across Gloucestershire to investigate tenancy fraud and the recommendation in the report would allow the legal team to prosecute both within the Borough and outside of it.

82.3           Accordingly, it was

Action By: DCE

83.

Budget 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 438 KB

To recommend a budget for 2020/21 to the Council. 

Subject To Call In:: No - Recommendation to Council.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That it be RECOMMENDED TO COUNCIL that:

1.   A net budget of £8,956,607 be APPROVED.

2.   A Band D Council Tax of £124.36, an increase of £5.00 per annum, be APPROVED.

3.   The use of New Homes Bonus, as proposed in Paragraph 3.5 of the report, be AGREED.

4.   The addition of £183,965 to the capital programme to fund new ICT requirements, as outlined in Paragraph 9.5 of the report, be AGREED.

5.    The capital programme, as proposed in Appendix A to the report, be AGREED.

Minutes:

83.1           The report of the Head of Finance and Asset Management, circulated at Pages No. 38-52,  set out a proposed budget for 2020/21 which the Committee was asked to recommend to Council for approval.

83.2           The Head of Finance and Asset Management drew attention to a number of key points. He explained that the local government finance settlement would be rolled over for a further year with an uplift in funding in line with inflation - this would only generate an additional £31,000 given that the base funding level was so low. In terms of New Homes Bonus funding, for 2020/21 the Council would receive £3.73million from the Scheme; however, there was the potential that the funding may be withdrawn after that and this was of significant concern to the Council given the amount that was utilised to support the base budget. For 2020/21, the proposed use of New Homes Bonus included support to the base budget; planning appeals; climate emergency support; HGV driver training; collection of small electrical equipment; IT and digital development plan; Borough Elections; business rates intelligence; Community Funding Officer; Heritage Action Zone match funding; Economic Development and Tourism Officer; tourism study; Medium Term Financial Strategy reserve; investment fund; and pay award contingency. Referring to business rates retention, the Head of Finance and Asset Management explained that the government’s intention had been to move the local authority sector as a whole to a 75% retention scheme from 1 April 2020; however, this had now been delayed for one year and the current 50% retention scheme would instead apply for 2020/21. It was estimated that the growth retained under the 50% scheme would increase by around £60,000 to £739,000. Referring to Council Tax, the Head of Finance and Asset Management advised that, given the level of deficit for 2020/21 and the medium term financial forecast of continued deficits, it was necessary to recommend an increase in Council Tax of £5 per year at Band D level – the equivalent of 4.19% - in order to balance next year’s budget. The recommended increase should mean the Council remained within the bottom 10 precepting authorities. Referring to Paragraph 6.0 of the report - budget proposals – Members were advised that the projection within the Medium Term Financial Strategy had highlighted a potential deficit of £0.8million for 2020/21 and this had been reflected in the draft budget requirements put forward by service areas. Significant savings and increased income had been made to offset the deficit and this had resulted in the net cost of services only increasing by £183,777 (2.09%) for the next financial year. Particular attention was drawn to the estimates for 2020/21 which included an allowance for a 2% pay award – however, negotiations between Unions and the employers were yet to progress with Unions requesting a pay award significantly in excess of inflation; should agreement be reached which was in excess of 2%, a contingency within New Homes Bonus allowed coverage up to a level of 3%. The  ...  view the full minutes text for item 83.

Action By: DCE

84.

Financial Update - Quarter Three 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 175 KB

To consider the quarterly budget position. 

Subject To Call In:: No - Item to Note.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the financial performance information for the third quarter of 2019/20 be NOTED.  

Minutes:

84.1           The report of the Head of Finance and Asset Management, circulated at Pages No. 53-63, provided the financial performance information for the third quarter of 2019/20. Members were asked to consider the information provided.

84.2           The Committee was advised that the report highlighted a quarter three surplus of £310,256 on the revenue budget which was pleasing. In terms of employee costs, a surplus of £148,351 was shown which was mainly generated through staff vacancies – services had managed vacancies during the period by utilising current staff to cover work in the short term and limiting, where possible, the use of agency staff. In addition, there were savings arising from the Chief Executive post following the Council’s decision to grant flexible retirement; there was a deficit reported on supplies and services which related to European and Parliamentary Elections, this also affected the deficit position on payments to third parties, but the Council received grant income to cover those costs therefore the income surplus within Democratic Services matched off that expenditure. In addition, the Borough Election expenditure was also contained within Democratic Services and this was matched off through one-off funding from reserves and New Homes Bonus so, overall, Democratic Services was in a cost neutral position. Transfer payments was showing a deficit of £30,000 which related to expenditure on housing benefit and recovery of subsidy from the government – during the year, several significant overpayments relating to claimant error, which went back over several years, had been identified and this had reduced the subsidy that could be recovered from the government which had led to the deficit position. Notwithstanding this, the forecast full year deficit being reported was a significant improvement on the previously reported position and reflected the positive direction of travel over the last three or four months. The Council aimed to recover 100% of the debt from the claimant therefore in the long run the deficit on the housing benefit claim could be eradicated – unfortunately recovering significant overpayments could take time. Income was showing a net surplus of £354,763 which was being offset by a deficit of £105,000 on planning income at the end of December 2019. The expectation was that, by year-end, planning applications received may reduce the deficit to £77,000. There was also a deficit of £81,000 on the amount of recycling credits received due to the actual level of recyclate collected being less than was included in the budget. In addition, it had been identified that the budget did not include a sufficient allowance for non-recyclable material in the system therefore the recycling credits due had been overestimated.

84.3           Referring to the corporate codes, the Head of Finance and Asset Management explained that there was a significant budget deficit shown on investment properties which was due to the Council’s inability to secure another commercial property during the year – this had meant that the income expected to be received in rent had not been achieved. There were currently two properties going through the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 84.

Action By: DCE

85.

Housing Strategy Monitoring Report (Year 4) pdf icon PDF 275 KB

To consider and support the Housing Strategy Action Plan for 2020/21.   

Subject To Call In:: No - Ongoing Matter.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the Housing Strategy Action Plan for 2020/21 be SUPPORTED.  

Minutes:

85.1           The report of the Head of Community Services, circulated at Pages No. 64-92, presented the action plan for 2020/21 which formulated the actions to continue to the meet the priorities of the Housing Strategy and provided a summary of the key activities which had been achieved in the third year of the strategy as well as the proposed activities for year four. Members were asked to support the Housing Strategy action plan for 2020/21.   

85.2           The Head of Community Services explained that the Housing Strategy 2017-21 had been developed by an Overview and Scrutiny Working Group and adopted by the Council in January 2017. Annual action plans were agreed by Executive Committee with regular reporting to Overview and Scrutiny Committee for review of achievements and future challenges. The action plan priorities focused on developments in the service rather than service performance which was outlined in the performance tracking. The current year was the last of this Strategy so next year a new Strategy would be adopted; given the success of the current Strategy it was proposed that the new Strategy would be developed in a similar way using an Overview and Scrutiny Working Group.

85.3           During the discussion which ensued, a Member questioned what the average turnaround time was in social housing i.e. from the day a property became vacant to a new tenant moving in. In response, the Strategic Housing and Enabling Officer advised that there had been some improvement in that since the transfer to Bromford Housing but he would have to investigate this with Bromford and respond after the meeting. Generally speaking, the tenant gave one month’s notice then the registered provider advertised the property and the new property would be ready to move into in six to eight weeks; however, some applicants could be waiting a while for upgrades to the property so the timing did vary. Another Member questioned whether it would be possible for Members to visit the new modular housing site at Staverton before it was inhabited; in response, the Head of Community Services indicated that this would be possible - Rooftop usually had an open day once a development was complete so that could offer some scope for a visit. Some Members had understood that modular homes were built in a factory and then were quickly erected on site so had not thought the process would take as long as it had in Staverton. In response, the Head of Community Services advised that there were different types of modular housing and Rooftop preferred to build onsite for reasons of cost and durability of properties. It should also be noted that, whilst modular housing was quicker to build, there was still the same amount of groundwork preparations to undertake as well as installation of supplies, e.g. power, sewage, water, which could take a lot of time depending on what was required. In terms of the Winchcombe site, this was currently in the planning stages. 

85.4           Accordingly, it was

Action By: DCE

86.

ICT Strategy pdf icon PDF 129 KB

To approve the ICT Strategy 

Subject To Call In:: Yes - No action to be taken prior to the expiry of the call-in period.

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the ICT Strategy be APPROVED.  

Minutes:

86.1           The report of the Head of Corporate Services, circulated at Pages No. 93-107, attached the revised ICT strategy which Members were asked to approve.   

86.2           Members were advised that to deliver the Council’s properties and to support day to day operational activities, it was essential that the Council’s ICT infrastructure was as effective and secure as possible. The Strategy set out four key themes to maximise the Council’s ICT resources and an action plan indicated how those would be addressed: security – key actions included the implementation and testing of a new firewall through to cultural awareness of risks around phishing/scam emails; sustainability – a key action would be to develop a register of ICT assets and when they needed to be replaced; stability – key actions would include a review of disaster recovery plans through to preventative measures such as the review of existing systems to identify single points of failure and how they could be managed; and simplicity – a key action was to carry out an assessment and implement the equipment necessary for staff to work effectively and so they got the same experience regardless of location.

86.3           It was intended that the action plan would be refreshed annually throughout the lifetime of the Strategy to ensure it remained relevant and up-to-date. One of those actions was to establish an internal ICT Technical Board - made up of strategic officers from across the Council - to provide governance and technical assurance for ICT related projects as well as hardware and software procurement. Another role of the Board would be to monitor delivery of the action plan in addition to the six monthly reporting to Transform Working Group.

86.4           In response to a query regarding the achievability of the target dates within the action plan, the ICT Manager confirmed that he was fairly confident on the dates included which had been put together based on a forecast of those actions that the Council had to meet, security compliance and things the Council had chosen to implement.

86.5           Having considered the information provided, it was

Action By: CE

87.

Separate Business

The Chairman will move the adoption of the following resolution:

 

That under Section 100(A)(4) Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded for the following items on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.

Minutes:

87.1           The Chair proposed, and it was

RESOLVED          That, under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act                               1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following                              items on the grounds that they involve the likely discussion of                                    exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the                          Act. 

88.

Trade Waste Services

(Exempt –Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 –Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information))

 

To consider the recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Officer’s report and make a determination.

Minutes:

(Exempt –Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 –Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information))

88.1           Members considered the recommendations from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in respect of the Council’s trade waste service, along with the Officer’s report, and agreed that a detailed business case on the pilot proposal, which built on the work already undertaken, be prepared with other third party options being presented for review by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in order that a recommendation on the way forward could be made to the Executive Committee.