Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Guildhall, Bath. View directions

Contact: Marie Todd  01225 394414

Media

Items
No. Item

31.

Welcome and introductions

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair, Cllr Kevin Guy, welcomed everyone to the meeting.  He stated that the Cabinet would be looking at the impact of the financial squeeze which is affecting the Council, caused by inflation and the rising demand for services.  He acknowledged that there were challenges ahead and drew attention to the two Budget Engagement webinars which had been held recently and which are available on the Council’s YouTube channel.

32.

Emergency Evacuation Procedure

The Democratic Services Officer will read out the emergency evacuation procedure.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Senior Democratic Services Officer read out the emergency evacuation procedure.

33.

Apologies for Absence

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

34.

Declarations of Interest

At this point in the meeting declarations of interest are received from Members in any of the agenda items under consideration at the meeting. Members are asked to indicate:

 

(a) The agenda item number in which they have an interest to declare.

(b) The nature of their interest.

(c) Whether their interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an other interest, (as defined in Part 4.4 Appendix B of the Code of Conduct and Rules for Registration of Interests)

 

Any Member who needs to clarify any matters relating to the declaration of interests is recommended to seek advice from the Council’s Monitoring Officeror a member of his staff before the meeting to expedite dealing with the item during the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

·  Cllr Tom Davies declared a non-pecuniary interest in agenda item no. 12 (Valley Floor to Claverton Down Cycle Route) as he is an employee at King Edward’s School, Bath.

 

·  Cllr Dine Romero declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in agenda item no. 15 (Development Update: Land to rear of 89-123 Englishcombe Lane, Southdown, Bath) as she lives close to the site.  Cllr Romero stated that she would leave the meeting when this item was discussed and would not speak or vote.

35.

To Announce any Urgent Business Agreed by the Chair

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

36.

Questions from Public and Councillors

Questions submitted before the deadline will receive a reply from an appropriate Cabinet member or a promise to respond within 5 working days of the meeting.  Councillors may ask one supplementary question for each question they submitted, up to a maximum of two per Councillor.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were 20 questions from Councillors and 24 questions from members of the public.

 

Cllr Eleanor Jackson asked a supplementary question relating to question M4 and Cllr Vic Pritchard asked a supplementary question relating to question M12.

 

[Copies of the questions and responses, including supplementary questions and responses, have been placed on the Minute book as Appendix 1 to these minutes and are available on the Council's website.]

CabinetQA20221110 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:

37.

Statements, Deputations or Petitions from Public or Councillors

Councillors and members of the public may register their intention to make a statement if they notify the subject matter of their statement before the deadline.  Statements are limited to 3 minutes each.  The speaker may then be asked by Cabinet members to answer factual questions arising out of their statement.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members of the public and Councillors made statements as follows:

 

·  Malcolm Baldwin (Chair, Circus Residents’ Association – CARA) – Liveable Neighbourhoods Strategy (a copy of which is attached as Appendix 2 to these minutes)

 

·  Martin Grixoni – Changes of Direction within the Council

 

·  Dr John Leach – Milsom Quarter, Bath (a copy of which is attached as Appendix 3 to these minutes)

 

·  Patrick Rotherham (Chairman, Vineyards Residents’ Association) – Milsom Quarter, Bath (a copy of which is attached as Appendix 4 to these minutes)

 

·  Robbie Bentley – South West Transport Network (a copy of which is attached as Appendix 5 to these minutes)

 

·  Saskia Heijtjes – Valley Floor to Claverton Down Cycle Route (a copy of which is attached as Appendix 6 to these minutes)

 

·  Cllr Andrew Furse – Jianxi Province Friendship Agreement and Save our Railway Ticket Offices (a copy of which is attached as Appendix 7 to these minutes)

 

·  Cllr Vic Pritchard – Waste and Recycling in B&NES

 

·  Cllr Jess David – The development of 89-123 Englishcombe Lane (a copy of which is attached as Appendix 8 to these minutes)

 

Cabinet members asked some factual questions of the speakers in order to clarify details mentioned in their statements.

Malcolm Baldwin Statement - Liveable Neighbourhoods - Appendix 2 pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Additional documents:

38.

Minutes of Previous Cabinet Meetings pdf icon PDF 703 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meetings held on 14 July and 8 September 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meetings held on 14 July and 8 September 2022 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

 

39.

Consideration of Single Member Items Requisitioned to Cabinet

This is a standard agenda item, to cover any reports originally placed on the Weekly List for single Member decision making, which have subsequently been the subject of a Cabinet Member requisition to the full Cabinet, under the Council’s procedural rules.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were none.

40.

Matters Referred by Policy Development and Scrutiny Bodies pdf icon PDF 72 KB

This is a standing agenda item (Constitution rule 3.3.14 of the Executive Procedure Rules) for matters referred by Policy Development and Scrutiny bodies.  The Chair of the relevant PDS Panel will have the right to attend and to introduce the Panel’s recommendations to Cabinet.

 

The Children, Adults, Health and Wellbeing PDS Panel has made a recommendation to Cabinet regarding the RUH Ambulance Service/Winter Planning/Treatment Waiting Times, which is attached for consideration.  Cllr Vic Pritchard, Chair of the Panel, will be invited to present the recommendation.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Vic Pritchard presented a recommendation from the Adult, Children, Health and Wellbeing PDS Panel regarding the RUH Ambulance Service/Winter Planning/Treatment Waiting Times.  The Panel asked Cabinet to support initiatives that lead to the retention of B&NES social care professionals across the district and to look to ensure that this commitment is reflected in the developing Integrated Care Partnership Strategy.

 

The Chair thanked Cllr Pritchard for his comments.

41.

Single Member Cabinet Decisions Taken since Previous Cabinet Meeting pdf icon PDF 346 KB

A list of Cabinet Single Member decisions taken and published since the last Cabinet meeting to note (no debate).

Additional documents:

  • Single Member Decisions Taken Since Last Meeting
  • Decisions Taken in the previous year under the Council's Special Urgency Prvisions (Rule 16)
  • Webcast for 41.

Minutes:

The Cabinet agreed to note the report.

42.

Valley Floor to Claverton Down Cycle Route pdf icon PDF 2 MB

At a previous meeting the Cabinet agreed to commission a citizens’ jury or other suitable process of public engagement to determine the most appropriate safe, strategic cycle route to improve travel between the city centre, the University of Bath and the large employment and education sites in the Claverton Down area.  Britain Thinks was commissioned to undertake the citizens’ panel.

 

Lucy Bush, Research Director, from Britain Thinks will attend the Cabinet meeting to present the key findings.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lucy Bush, Research Director from Britain Thinks presented the key findings of the citizens’ panel and responded to questions from the Cabinet.  (A copy of the presentation slides is attached as Appendix 9 to these minutes).

 

Cllr Sarah Warren introduced the report and made the following statement:

 

“Cabinet, transport currently accounts for around 29% of carbon emissions in Bath and North East Somerset.  Ensuring the transport network can enable residents to move to more sustainable modes of travel is an essential part of our Journey to Net Zero strategy.A move to more active modes of travel will reduce congestion and pollution in our district, as well as improving public health through increasing physical activity, as we build it into our daily routines.

 

As our first venture into deliberative democracy in Bath & North East Somerset, this ground-breaking piece of work provides the most detailed assessment yet of the considered views on active travel, and active travel infrastructure, of a representative group of our residents. It gives us an understanding of what our communities think right now about how best to balance the interests of different users of our roads. And it gives us important information about where we need to focus our communication and public engagement efforts to best support the changes in travel culture that we aim to facilitate.

 

I think the findings can give us a lot of confidence as a Cabinet that, when we ask ordinary people, they agree that we should improve cycle and walking infrastructure, both for environmental, but more importantly for health reasons. But also, that we need to do more to engage them in the fact that active travel is part of the solution to congestion, as well as to introduce more of them to the transformative nature of e-bikes and e-scooters in tackling our hills.

 

The report is well worth a read in full, as it provides valuable, detailed insights into the aspirations and concerns about travel of residents from all walks of life and delivers in a new way on another of our administration’s priorities around giving our communities a bigger say. The use of this technique, in addition to the other consultation methods that we often use, has meant that we have heard in depth from people who aren’t transport campaigners, and who don’t have the strong views about travel that we often hear expressed, here at the council.

 

The panel has given us principles for decision-making when it comes to fitting active travel infrastructure onto our narrow roads. I want to thank them for that advice, which we will explicitly incorporate into our decision-making frameworks in future. It will assist us in designing infrastructure that provides practical and attractive alternatives to the car for more people, more of the time.

 

Cabinet, you will remember that this particular piece of work came about as a result of controversy around a proposal we considered in 2021 to install a bus gate on North Road. We decided at that time that, rather  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

Britain Thinks Presentation Slides - Appendix 9 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:

43.

Milsom Quarter Masterplan - Funding and Next Steps pdf icon PDF 609 KB

To consider a report regarding the Milsom Quarter Masterplan which outlines the funding arrangements and next steps.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Mark Roper introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation and made the following statement:

 

“I am delighted to be tabling this report to Cabinet today. The Milsom St Quarter is an ambitious and exciting concept in holistic regeneration where the Council will work in partnership with the regional authority and the private sector to bring new employment, living and retail space to the heart of Bath in a considered and sustainable way. It shows once again that this administration has a bold vision for the future of our district – and that we aim to deliver on that vision.

 

Can I congratulate the officers involved from the Economic Development team for their hard work to get us here – and to all those who responded to the public consultation. There were many extremely valuable inputs from residents, and I look forward to that continuing once we start to bring more definitive plans to the table. The Consultation and Engagement Report is an appendix to the main report.

 

Acceptance of the funding will enable us to build the team we need to start to delivery of the plan. The six primary interventions are outlined in 3.4 of the report. There are three substantial development projects:

 

·  Broad Street Yards will repurpose the car park to create workspace for SMES and start-ups, targeted at the fashion and design sector – and we know we are desperately short of small business units in B&NES

·  Walcot Gateway – the redevelopment of the Cattle Market car park and the Cornmarket – a building that has sat neglected and empty for far too long – to provide new homes and an enhanced public realm.

·  Finally, the Fashion Museum, which will move into the Old Post Office building, and into some of the buildings along the north side of New Bond Street – a great addition to our cultural offer, and a keystone part of the Milsom Street Quarter development. The potential here for public-private partnership is substantial and work has already started on this.

There will be improvements to the public realm - reducing the dominance of vehicles and prioritising walking and wheeling - whilst making the area fully accessible to people of all mobility levels.

 

We will repurpose upper floors of Council owned buildings to provide more residential use. More residents living and working in the city centre creating a greater vibrancy and sustainability to our urban environment.

 

We will deliver high quality architecture into our UNESCO World Heritage City – this is an opportunity to make our mark with buildings and public areas that both reflect our heritage and deliver for our current and future needs. This does not have to mean pastiche building – and I look forward to the proposed solutions that the architects and designers present to us. 

It goes without saying that we will be focussed on delivering all of the above in a sustainable way – we intend to reduce the carbon footprint of the area both by  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.

44.

Community Services Design - Update Position pdf icon PDF 590 KB

Following the options appraisal by the Council and Clinical Commissioning Group, decisions were taken not to extend the contract term for the three-year period with HCRG Care Group for the delivery of Community Services in B&NES.  The decision not to exercise the extension now requires a decision to be made to progress the preferred option for the service delivery model for Adult Social Care services. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Alison Born introduced the report and made the following statement:

“The work outlined in this paper stems from the decision taken on 26th May 2022, not to extend the HCRG Care Group contract, resulting in the existing community services contract for health, social care and public health services coming to an end on 31st March 2024.

 

Cabinet has previously been appraised of the joint programme of work that is underway to manage the transition, with workstreams led by the Integrated Care Board, Public Health and by our director of Adult Social Care.

 

This paper focuses on the adult social care element of that work and examines 3 potential options for future provision of both the statutory social care functions and services for adults with learning disabilities.

 

The options include:

 

·  Re-commissioning service delivery for B&NES

·  In-sourcing service delivery i.e., bringing social care staff back in-house

·  Setting up a new organisation to deliver services in B&NES

The clear recommendation is that we in-source all adult social care services. This will bring us in line with the vast majority of local authorities and will give us more control of our service provision.

 

We know from the recent experience of bringing some residential, nursing and extra care housing services back in house that this is likely to receive support from the workforce. It should help to improve recruitment in the current highly competitive job market.

 

However, it also represents a significant amount of work, and we need to give clear authority for the Director of Adult Social Care to work closely with HCRG Care Group on the transition.

 

There is a robust process in place to oversee this work programme, risks have been identified and are being managed I am in receipt of monthly progress reports and a further joint paper will come back to Cabinet in February 2023.

 

I propose that Cabinet supports the recommendations in this report.”

 

Cllr Dine Romero seconded the motion and made the following statement:

 

“Recently I had a member of staff shout out to me from a window of a care home how happy they were that they had come back to the council.

 

Clearly staff are happier working for the council rather than alternative employers, they believe they can give a better service to those in their care, and at the end of the day it is those residents who need to be at the centre of service delivery.

We know that employment security is very important in keeping staff in this very challenging field of work. Working for the council gives staff greater job security, as well as greater pride in the work they do. Again, this will be better for residents knowing their own carers will the same from day to day.”

 

Cllr Vic Pritchard stated that the Council should be prudent and should not dismiss the HCRG contract in total.  Parts of the contract could be retained.  He felt that it was not prudent to use Adult Social Care reserves.  ...  view the full minutes text for item 44.

45.

Development Update: Land to rear of 89 – 123 Englishcombe Lane, Southdown, Bath. pdf icon PDF 415 KB

As part of the B&NES Homes development programme officers were tasked with investigating whether a smaller scheme could be developed that provides local community housing whilst being sympathetic and supportive to the existing site ecology.  Following concept design, option appraisal and initial business case the attached report proposes such a scheme for further detailed development work.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Note: At this point Cllr Dine Romero left the meeting having declared a registerable pecuniary interest in this item).

 

Cllr Tom Davies introduced the report and made the following statement:

 

“I am pleased to be proposing this paper which provides an update on the development of the land off Englishcombe Lane - as, in my mind, this project exemplifies so much that this administration believes in.

 

Firstly - that we are a listening Council - like many of us here, a number of residents had grave concerns about the previous development which had been proposed for this land - whilst delivering 14 affordable homes, the 37-home scheme which had been previously approved by the planning committee had, in the minds of many of us, too much risk - not least of all to the sensitive ecology of the site.

 

This Lib Dem administration listened to these concerns and acted on them with Cllr Guy making the commitment to not pursue this previous application.

 

Instead, we looked again at the site - and put front and centre two of our core principles - that of Improving People’s Lives and Tackling the Climate & Ecological Emergency.

 

Be in no doubt - this proposed development has the potential to immeasurably improve people’s lives. As the paper makes clear, we have a significant under supply of supported living provision in our area - especially for some of our residents with learning difficulties and/or autism.

 

As a result, there is an increased risk that we as a local authority can only provide the support needed through residential care outside of the Bath and North East Somerset Area - thereby placing significant additional pressure on the individual, their families and of course increasing the costs to the Council.

And so, bringing forward this proposal to use the land off Englishcombe Lane to provide a smaller, bespoke development to support 16 residents with learning difficulties is something which I believe we should be proud of as we seek to directly improve the lives of residents in our area.

 

Indeed, it is just the latest example of how this LibDem administration is determined to play a leading role in the delivery of appropriate and affordable homes under our new B&NES Homes programme. It follows on from the delivery of other supported housing schemes delivered in recent months and, later this winter, the opening of our first general needs Council Houses for a generation.

 

Furthermore - rather than seeing the ecology of the area as a liability - one to be literally transplanted to another area - we have sought to use it as the asset that it is - an asset which, through this development, will be protected and enhanced for the benefit of us all - not least of all the new residents and thereby through this we stand firm to our commitment to the Climate & Ecological Emergency.

 

The paper details a number of ways in which we will seek to meet these commitments - from the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 45.

46.

Residential Tenancy Policy pdf icon PDF 221 KB

The Residential Tenancy Policy sets out how Council owned social rented homes will be operated and managed by the Council.  The policy includes a range of customer facing policies and statements relating to tenure, payments, repairs and maintenance, anti-social behaviour, evictions, complaints policy and data protection.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Note: At this point Cllr Dine Romero returned to the meeting).

 

Cllr Tom Davies introduced the report and made the following statement:

 

“In 2019 we all made a commitment to the residents of Bath & North East Somerset - a commitment that we as a LibDem administration would build the first general needs Council Houses in our area for a generation.

 

Under the resulting B&NES Homes programme - this LibDem administration has ensured that the Council has played a direct role in the delivery of housing to our residents - with an initial focus on supported housing programmes, this winter we will be opening our first general needs Council Houses at 117 Newbridge Hill. These will be at social rent levels which are typically between 50 and 60% of market rent.

 

These first seven units are the first council houses for a generation and never has the need for social housing been as great as it is today. Our area is one of the least affordable in the country and with rents increasing, it will come as no surprise that today we have approximately 6,000 households on the Council’s waiting list for social housing with, on average, only 500-600 properties becoming vacant each year.

 

The first seven units at Newbridge Hill form just the start of our ambitious programme of delivery under our B&NES Homes programme - indeed Councillors were updated at the latest Climate Emergency scrutiny meeting of our pipeline of properties which is now nearly 200 in volume when Midland Road and Bath Western Riverside sites are included.

 

Tonight, in front of us is the Residential Tenancy Policy which underpins how we as a Council will operate and manage our own social housing properties from when the first properties open this winter.

 

As a Council we aspire to be an exemplary Landlord and the Policy includes a range of customer facing policies and statements relating to tenure, payments, repairs and maintenance, anti-social behaviour, and complaints. The policy follows established custom and practice in the social housing sector.

 

And so colleagues, as we approach the opening our first properties, I would like to pass my thanks on to the Officers who have worked so hard to not only produce this Policy but who have brought us to this exciting stage of the B&NES Homes programme and I hope that you will join me in supporting the adoption of this Residential Tenancy Policy and I move the recommendation to do so as requested in 2.1.”

 

Cllr Tim Ball seconded the motion stating that he is pleased to see that the Cabinet has delivered new Council properties.  He hoped that the Council would provide excellent service going forward.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously):  To adopt the Residential Tenancy Policy attached as Appendix 1 to the report.

47.

Consultation to Vary the Bath Clean Air Zone (CAZ) Charging Order 2021 pdf icon PDF 360 KB

Following the Cabinet decision in December 2021 (E3322: Cleveland Bridge Review) officers have completed feasibility assessments on varying the Bath Clean Air Zone (CAZ) Charging Order 2021 so that all Class N3 Euro VI diesel HGVs (HGVs over 12 tonnes) become chargeable under the charging scheme, for the benefit of air quality and the amenity of the CAZ area (including the Grade II* Cleveland Bridge) and the wider Bath World Heritage Site setting.

 

The attached report considers the details of the feasibility assessments and requests Cabinet to agree a period of formal public consultation on this proposal to inform a decision on whether to vary the Order as set out above.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Manda Rigby introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation and made the following statement:

 

“The key ‘ask’ I'm bringing to Cabinet today is at paragraph 2.2 of the report, in that I would like to start a consultation involving key stakeholders on the introduction of a charge for class N3 Euro VI diesel HGVs together with associated local exemptions.

 

Since its implementation 18 months ago, the Bath Clean Air Zone is showing progress in improving local air quality, and this impact has been felt both inside and outside the area. We are setting our sights higher for our residents than just achieving compliance with legally imposed limits, we want our air to be even cleaner. We will continue our journey to net zero, whilst preserving the World Heritage status of our city. Further measures already delivered include emissions-based charging, improved active and sustainable transport infrastructure, and my colleague Sarah Warren is delivering the first pilot Liveable Neighbourhood schemes during this month.

 

This proposal is to be seen as part of the package to continue this progress. Early engagement has already taken place with relevant trade organisations, and statements from trade bodies including the RHA have been received, in letters received after these papers went out but which were circulated to all Cabinet Members.

 

So, what precisely am I asking of you? Were the order to progress successfully through consultation, the charge is deliberately set lower than the existing charge to deter the use of older, more polluting vehicles. For the avoidance of doubt, HGVs which are predominantly doing the more local deliveries as part of the supply chain for our local businesses fall into the under 12-ton category and are specifically excluded from this order. In recognition of the amount of work the industry has already done in upgrading vehicles, there will also be some time limited exemptions and a period of soft enforcement to embed the behaviour change. So, my ask is to go to consultation on a new charge which will encourage even more of the most polluting vehicles to upgrade their fleet or use alternate routes avoiding the congestion and pollution hotspots in the city. This will further protect the recently repaired grade 2 listed Cleveland Bridge, and I have agreed with my colleagues as you can see at paragraph 3.9 of the report that traffic flows both within and on the boundary of the area, in areas such as Southdown, Twerton and Weston, will be monitored, published, and appropriate mitigation measures considered.

 

Thanks for sticking with me during this quite technical proposal. I urge you to support this motion, let us engage in a wide consultation on this charging order, and keep Bath and North East Somerset at the forefront of improving air quality for our residents.”

 

Cllr Sarah Warren seconded the motion and made the following statement:

 

 

“As the Cabinet heard in July, we have seen significant reductions in nitrogen dioxide levels both inside and outside the Clean Air Zone, since  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

CRSTS Programme - Funding and Next Steps pdf icon PDF 401 KB

The attached report requests agreement to accept the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement programme of investment comprising a combination of grant and assignment funding to develop business cases for the schemes, and grant funding for delivery.  It also summarises key items of the proposed spend, funding approval mechanisms and the key deliverables and outputs anticipated.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Sarah Warren introduced the report and made the following statement:

 

“The West of England Combined Authority has been awarded £540m over the next 4 years to deliver a step change in public transport and active travel funding in the West of England.  This funding package is known as the City Region Sustainable Transport Settlement.

 

The programme will deliver significant public transport and active travel infrastructure along several of our major roads in Bath and North East Somerset, improving connectivity between our communities and enabling better and more equitable access to sustainable transport choices. 

 

This rather procedural report simply requests agreement to move to the next stage.  I move the recommendations as set out in the report.”

 

Cllr Dave Wood seconded the motion.  He stated that it is important to give more travel choices and welcomed the increased village connectivity.

 

RESOLVED (unanimously):

 

(1)  To delegate approval to the Directors of Sustainable Communities and Place Management, in consultation with the S151 Officer, to accept CRSTS grant funding from the Combined Authority for schemes led by B&NES, currently the Liveable Neighbourhoods Programme and the Maintenance Challenge Fund.  As capacity increases within B&NES this may also include: Somer Valley Links to Bristol and Bath; Bath City Centre Sustainable Transport Corridor; and Bath Sustainable Walking and Cycling Links.

These funds will be spent over a four-year period (22/23 - 26/27), and progress through the documented approvals process with CA and B&NES. These grant awards, along with the funding local match requirement of 20%, will be approved into the B&NES Capital Programme and revenue budget.

(2)  To note that for schemes which remain led by the Combined Authority  B&NES officer time will be recharged to the Combined Authority.  This will be undertaken through a process of quarterly recharges. 

49.

2023/24 Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 165 KB

The Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) sets out the strategic direction and priorities for the Council as well as outlining the financial context and challenges that Council faces over the next five years and the strategy that will be used to inform its annual budget process.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Richard Samuel introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation and made the following statement.

 

“The Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) sets out an assessment of the financial climate the council expects to encounter over the next five years and is used to inform the budget setting process.

 

There are a number of key points to highlight.

 

·  The council is still in recovery from the financial shock created by covid where members will recall it was necessary to introduce an emergency budget in July 2020.Whilst the immediate financial impacts have been successfully managed there are still longer-term impacts particularly arising from future income assumptions that require close attention.

 

·  During the past year in particular we have seen challenging economic conditions at national level with growth in inflation, labour and commodity shortages and pressures on wage growth following 10 years of austerity. The Conservative government’s response has unfortunately made matters worse particularly the catastrophically incompetent mini budget in September.

 

·  Whilst some of these shocks could and should have been managed better, no-one could have foreseen the impact on global energy markets arising from the illegal Ukraine invasion. Whilst the short- term energy supports will be welcomed by residents – they are short term. The council, as with all businesses, remains exposed to the impacts of energy price rises and these cannot be contained within normal budgets without Government support.

 

·  The MTFS sets out some core principles:

 

o  Budgets will be expected to balance without the need to draw on unallocated reserves and the strong reserves position achieved by this administration will be maintained.

o  Growth either by demography, inflation, or political priority can only be accommodated where headroom has been created.

o  Priority will be given to key statutory services and policies that contribute to tackling the climate emergency.

o  Council tax and social care precepts may be expected to rise over the period.

o  Further income raising income opportunities will be sought and current income streams maximised.

 

·  The report highlights the continuing lack of reform of local government finances first promised by the Conservatives 7 years ago.

 

Across the board pressures are rising and I fear that the coming years up to the next general election offer stark choices and difficult decisions in setting council budgets.

The autumn statement next week will hopefully provide extra clarity but after 12 years of Conservative austerity there really is no fat to cut.”

 

Cllr Tom Davies seconded the motion and made the following statement.

 

“I know that it has been mentioned before, but, as we consider this key financial paper, I would like to say again how good it is to see our colleague and friend, Cllr Richard Samuel back with us in the Chamber.

 

Since May 2019 Richard has demonstrated remarkable leadership of the Council’s finances - working with the Council’s senior officers, they have steered us through three extraordinarily difficult financial years and in all years, not only balancing the books but also facilitating our ability to deliver throughout all areas  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

Revenue & Capital Budget Monitoring, Cash Limits and Virements – April to September 2022 pdf icon PDF 864 KB

The attached report presents the financial monitoring information for the Authority as a whole for the financial year 2022/23, using information available as at the end of September 2022.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Richard Samuel introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation and made the following statement:

 

“It was astonishing to me, when I took office, that the previous administration failed to produce quarterly budget statements. I was clear that every quarter needed to be reported to ensure transparency but also that management actions to deal with problems with budgets was initiated.

 

Today’s report I regret to say reflects the extremely difficult financial environment all councils are operating under at present.

 

We are expecting that, without direct intervention, the council is on course to overspend its budget by £4.5m this financial year.

 

There are four areas of variance causing this problem:

 

·  Surging demand for Children’s Services and the very high costs of placement accommodation charged by the private sector. A £5.4m overspend is expected.

·  Contract inflation, passing on the high levels of inflation in the national economy now exacerbated by Kwarteng’s disastrous foray into free market economics.

·  Hikes in energy costs.

·  The impact of the nationally agreed local government pay settlement creating £2.2m of unbudgeted pressure.

These pressures are mitigated to some extent by strong income from Heritage and the Commercial Estate and Parking.

 

I am not prepared to reach year end with such a deficit and so the management team have been requested to establish a range of measures to control and reduce in year spending, which will be managed through a Recovery Board reporting to me and the Leader. Measures such as a vacancy freeze, and limits on discretionary spending can be expected. I will report the impact of these measures to the February Cabinet meeting.

 

Finally, it is not all bad news. I can report that the 22/23 savings target is largely on schedule to be met.

 

There are some specific virements to note together with the changes to the capital programme. It is also pleasing to note that the increased costs for repairing Cleveland Bridge will not fall on local taxpayers as it has been met by external grant.”

 

Cllr Tom Davies seconded the motion and made the following statement.

 

“Colleagues, many of the financial and service demand pressures - especially in children’s services, highlighted in the Medium Term Financial Strategy have manifested themselves in the current year and are reflected in this quarter two monitoring report.

And I would just like to pause and reflect on the scale of some of these challenges - take children’s services, for example, with the report showing a 38% increase in the number of children in residential placements from 2021/22. This is just one example of the nature of additional service pressures which the Council is currently facing as we work to support our residents and community at this time.

My colleague, Richard Samuel, has provided further context and detail behind our current financial position, but I would again note that the Council’s leadership has already taken action to put a framework in place, through the Financial Recovery Board, to manage these pressures and work over this next quarter to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.

51.

Treasury Management Monitoring Report to 30th September 2022 pdf icon PDF 870 KB

The attached report gives details of performance against the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy for 2022/23 for the first six months of 2022/23.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Richard Samuel introduced the report and moved the officer recommendation.

 

Cllr Tom Davies seconded the motion.

RESOLVED (unanimously):

(1)  To note the Treasury Management Report to 30th September 2022, prepared in accordance with the CIPFA Treasury Code of Practice.

(2)  To note the Treasury Management Indicators to 30th September 2022.