Agenda and minutes

Venue: Kaposvar Room - Guildhall, Bath. View directions

Contact: Mark Durnford  Email:, 01225 394458

No. Item




The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting and members of the Panel introduced themselves.




The Chair will draw attention to the emergency evacuation procedure as set out under Note 6.



The Chairman drew attention to the emergency evacuation procedure.





Councillor Alastair Singleton had sent his apologies to the Panel.



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 2, A and 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.


There were none.




There was none.



At the time of publication no notifications had been received.



There were none.


MINUTES - 15th July 2019 pdf icon PDF 81 KB


The Panel confirmed the minutes of the previous meeting as a true record and they were duly signed by the Chairman.


Cabinet Member Update

The Cabinet Member will update the Panel on any relevant issues. Panel members may ask questions on the update provided.



The Cabinet Member for Resources, Councillor Richard Samuel addressed the Panel. He said that a number of the reports on the agenda relate to his current work stream, so he would speak prior to them being debated.


He stated that work was ongoing to include proposals from the election manifesto in the new Corporate Plan.


He said that the Council owns over 1,000 properties and that work in this area would be a major initiative for the Council in the coming years.




Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring, Cash Limits and Virements - April 2019 to July 2019 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

This report was considered by the Cabinet at their 12th September 2019 meeting. It presents the April 2019 to July 2019 revenue and capital budget monitoring for 2019/20.

Additional documents:


Councillor Richard Samuel introduced this report to the Panel, reminding them that it had been subject to discussion at the Cabinet meeting held on 12th September 2019.


He said that the figures were not encouraging as significant pressure remains regarding Children’s Services, in particular around Looked After Children and those with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities.


He informed the Panel that there was currently a £1m shortfall in income from the Commercial Estate due to a slowing down of high street retail income.


He stated that Community Services were £0.42m under budget due to a favourable variance from strong visitor performance in the first quarter of the year in the Roman Baths and that both admission and retail income performed above budget expectations.


He said that the capital budget is currently showing an expected under budget position of £30.5m mainly due to re-phasing of Bath Quays and ACL/ADL loan drawdowns into future financial years to reflect revised project spend profiles.


He added that flood defence work was ongoing at Bath Quays South and 50% complete. With regard to Bath Quays North he explained that land assembly was ongoing and encouraged members to find out more details about the project.


The Head of Management Accounts said that void rates within the Commercial Estate had decreased, but that a yield challenge still remained. He added that the current year-end forecast is an over budget position of £1.68m, which equates to 0.59% of gross budgeted spend (excluding Schools) and that mitigation is being assessed.


Councillor Winston Duguid said that he was concerned for the coming 2-4 years of the Council and asked if valuation of the Commercial Estate took place regularly.


Councillor Richard Samuel replied that the estate had been built up over many years and said that land owned by the Council could be more profitable for both the community and the Council if planning consent were gained for specific projects. He added that he was willing to bring more information to the Panel on this matter.


The Chairman agreed that this could be considered as a future workplan item. He added that he was concerned about the health of the whole Council retail estate and asked if management of the estate had been addressed.


Councillor Samuel replied that this had not yet been addressed, but that there would be a budget line that states better utilisation of the Council’s assets.


Councillor Hal Macfie commented that Keynsham Town Councillors have been discussing the Riverside development with officers in Property Services and asked if units were proving difficult to sell would a lower rate be considered.


Councillor Samuel replied that in principle this would be considered, but that there was not a clear policy on this currently. He gave an example of two empty units in Walcot Street that were unlettable due to persistent damp and an odd layout and that decisions on these and similar sites would need to be taken as whether to renovate fully or consider actions to lead to a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Medium Term Financial Strategy & Corporate Plan Update pdf icon PDF 60 KB

This report was considered by the Cabinet at their 12th September 2019 meeting. It presents the future years Medium Term Financial Strategy and emerging Corporate Plan.

Additional documents:


Councillor Richard Samuel introduced this report to the Panel. He said that one of the main tasks in the coming months was shaping our manifesto commitments into a new corporate plan for the Council and that work is underway to cost these commitments.


He stated that any help the Panel can provide as part of this process will be welcome.


He said that in terms of capital we need to ensure that the Council can afford to run the same level of capital programme as in the past. He explained that capital projects are funded either by use of external grant, receipts from asset sales, or by borrowing and that the latter has a direct implication for revenue spending.


He informed the Panel that a review of all current capital schemes will be carried out to assess their desirability and affordability, and prioritise those that meet our stated corporate priorities.


He stated that the 100% business rate retention scheme was set to continue instead of a proposed 75% retention scheme and that this would benefit the Council by £3.6m.


The Head of Management Accounts said that prudent projections have been made within the MTFS and that the majority of grant funding is only applicable to one year


Councillor Winston Duguid said that he could see that an emphasis had been made within the documents on savings, but said that he would like to see more detail on possible income streams. He asked if any thoughts had been given on a possible ‘Tourist Tax’, regulations relating to AirBnB or the Council’s relationship with the universities.


Councillor Samuel replied that national legislation is required to introduce a ‘Tourism Levy’ and was aware that other Local Authorities across the country were considering this, in particular Edinburgh City Council. He added that the Government has currently ruled out such measures being introduced.


He said that the universities do contribute towards an annual clear up across the City, but of course there is the fact that the Council has an exemption scheme for students in relation to paying Council Tax.


Councillor Andrew Furse commented that it was important for the Council to have enough incoming funds to pay off capital. He said that the Council must be careful in terms of borrowing despite the current low interest rates. He added that he queried the re-phasing decision in relation to Bath Quays.


Councillor Samuel replied that the intention is to take a measured approach between borrowing in the current market climate and the utilisation of internal cash flow wherever possible. He acknowledged that income to the Council was not always sufficient.


The Chair stated that all members of the Council were accountable through the budget setting process and that public services need maintaining as well as providing residents and visitors with experiences across the authority.


Councillor Furse stated it was important for the Council to communicate its proposals and decisions with the public. He asked what impact the Joint Spatial Strategy will have on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.


People Strategy pdf icon PDF 587 KB

A draft version of the People Strategy is attached for the Panel to discuss. A presentation will be given at the meeting to introduce the strategy.

Additional documents:


The Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development gave a presentation to the Panel to introduce this item, a summary is set out below.




  To feedback on the 2019 Workforce Planning discussions that took place across all service areas and to identify the key themes, opportunities and challenges this presents


  To introduce the People Strategy 2019-2023 and obtain feedback from Members and set out next steps


Workforce planning: What’s happened so far?


  Scrutiny Panel in March 2018 supported approach to workforce planning aligned to organisational service plans


  Discussions with 26 Directors/Heads of Service and HR Business Partners between Jan and March 2019 (42 questions in 7 sections)


Workforce Planning discussions 2019


  1. Recruitment and retention
  2. Capacity and demand
  3. Apprenticeships, Graduate Interns and Project Search
  4. Career progression and development
  5. Equality & Diversity
  6. Health, Safety & Wellbeing
  7. Service restructure & redesign


Apprenticeships, Graduate Interns and Project Search


  92 apprentices

  Spending our apprenticeship levy

  Continuation with Project Search sponsorship and coaching

  1st MBA cohort with Bath Spa Uni.  Another about to start and one planned for February. LGV driver apprenticeship about to come online


People Strategy 2019 – 2023: Enabling our people to be their best


5 key priority areas linked to Corporate Priorities:


1.  Attraction, retention and workforce planning


  Establish employer brand

  Modernisation of our recruitment processes

  Modernisation of our pay, grading and reward mechanisms

  Employ more from local schools and colleges


2.  Employee engagement and performance



  Ensure good quality performance development conversations take place on a regular basis and are measured

  Listen to our staff on a more regular basis

  Refresh staff worker challenge groups


3.  Talent and development


  Enhance and embed the @mybest programme to create defined career pathways for all

  Develop the succession plan for the organisation, identifying talent and creating opportunities internally where possible


4.  Improving How We Work


  Recognise and design the differences required to deliver services in new and different models

  Deliver the collaborative Improving How We Work Programme (including digital and flexible working programmes, corporate travel and future offices)


5.  Health, Safety & Wellbeing


  Develop a mental health strategy and action plan

  Wellbeing activities maximised

  Risk assessment audit project about to launch


Next steps


  September    Corporate Scrutiny

  October    Cabinet decision

  November    Launch

  Jan onwards    People Strategy Steering Group


Councillor Karen Warrington said that she liked the Strategy and found it easy to read. She asked if a skills gap analysis would be carried out should further voluntary redundancies be required. She also asked to see timescales included in the strategy.


The Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development replied that 50% of services across the Council have training plans in place and that further work regarding skills was planned.


Councillor Andrew Furse asked if other Local Authorities were ahead of B&NES in terms of a total reward approach for staff.


The Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development replied that she felt that staff  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.


Council Company Accounts 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 69 KB

This report invites the Panel to view the annual accounts of Aequus Developments Limited (ADL), Aequus Construction Limited (ACL) and Visit Bath.

Additional documents:


The Corporate Director introduced this report to the Panel. He informed them that Tim Richens (ADL) and David Haywood (Visit Bath) were present should they have any specific questions.


He explained that the draft ADL and ACL Accounts were approved by the company Board on 6th June 2019 and the Shadow Holding Company Board on 19th June 2019. He added that they have been subject to independent audit by the appointed auditors, Monahans, and their report is included in both sets of accounts. He stated that the Audited Accounts were then approved by the company AGM (with the Leader as Shareholder) on 12th July 2019.


He said that the Visit Bath 2018/19 final accounts were approved by the Board on the 9th September 2019 and that they have been subject to independent audit by the appointed auditors, Moore Stephens.


Councillor Andrew Furse noted the £53k improvement on the prior year’s accounts for Visit Bath.


David Haywood said that he believed that figures will improve again this coming year. He thanked Simon Addison and Andy Rothery from the Council for their work. He acknowleged that a substantial amount of money was still owed to the Council, but there was a commitment to this being repaid.


The Panel RESOLVED to;


(i)  Note the ADL 2018/19 year end audited accounts

(ii)  Note the ACL 2018/19 year end audited accounts

(iii)  Note the Visit Bath 2018/19 year end audited accounts





Protocol on Council Company Governance pdf icon PDF 65 KB

This report provides an opportunity for scrutiny of the proposed changes to the Council’s Protocol on Council company governance.

Additional documents:


The Corporate Director introduced this report to the Panel. He explained that they were receiving the report ahead of the Council meeting on 10th October.


He said that he was Chair of the current working group that had revised the arrangements that are being proposed.


He informed the Panel it is proposed that the current role of the Shadow Holding company is overseen by a client group consisting of Council officers closely connected with the subject matter of the type of trading the company intends to conduct. He added that the proposed new Shareholder Group would incorporate enhanced scrutiny arrangements by Group Leaders.


The Chair said that he welcomed the proposals as the structure will deliver additional scrutiny. He added that confidentiality is a key issue on these matters and the message must be clear to all those involved.


The Director for Legal & Democratic Services highlighted the following wording from the Terms of Reference.


The Cabinet will make decisions concerning companies in which the Council is or is proposed to become a shareholder. Information provided is commercially confidential to the Council companies and must be held in Strict Confidence and must not be divulged by the members in receipt of it save for the purpose for which it is disclosed.


The Panel RESOLVED to note the proposed amendments to the Protocol.


Panel Workplan pdf icon PDF 106 KB

This report presents the latest workplan for the Panel. Any suggestions for further items or amendments to the current programme will be logged and scheduled in consultation with the Panel’s Chair and supporting officers.


The Chair introduced this item. He reiterated his suggestion for the Panel to hold a workshop during October to discuss future work areas.


Councillor Karen Warrington proposed the following subjects for the workshop; Climate Change, Service Delivery, Property, People Strategy and Rates retention.


The Chair said that he would like consultations to be discussed so that they are timely and for Councillors and the public to be made aware of them.


Councillor Andrew Furse said it was also important to engage with Council staff and act upon issues they raise.


The Chair thanked members for their comments.