Agenda and draft minutes

Contact: Michaela Gay  Email: michaela_gay@bathnes.gov.uk, 01225 394411

Items
No. Item

55.

WELCOME AND INTRODUCTIONS

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting.

 

56.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

Minutes:

There were none

57.

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 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.

Minutes:

There were none.

58.

TO ANNOUNCE ANY URGENT BUSINESS AGREED BY THE CHAIRMAN

Minutes:

There was none.

59.

ITEMS FROM THE PUBLIC OR COUNCILLORS - TO RECEIVE DEPUTATIONS, STATEMENTS, PETITIONS OR QUESTIONS RELATING TO THE BUSINESS OF THIS MEETING

At the time of publication no notifications had been received.

 

Minutes:

There were none.

60.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 184 KB

Minutes:

The Panel confirmed the minutes of the previous meeting as a true record.

61.

CABINET MEMBER UPDATE

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

 

Minutes:

Councillor Richard Samuel, Cabinet Member for Resources, updated the Panel on the following:

·  Regarding Property Services – I have now been interviewed by the external consultants. Their report is due mid February. This will be shared with the Panel.

·  We have made an appointment to an interim role in Property Services – the role includes looking at the general approach of the service.

·  The Council has produced a brief for the Milson Quarter which sets the scene on how to proceed with improving the commercial offer to tenants in that area.

62.

DRAFT BUDGET & COUNCIL TAX 2021/22 AND FINANCIAL OUTLOOK pdf icon PDF 347 KB

This report presents the draft revenue and capital budgets together with proposals for Council Tax and Adult Social Care Precept for 2021/22.  Annex 1 is marked ‘to follow’ and will be circulated separately.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Myers, reminded the Panel that they have received the draft minutes of the Children, Adults, Health and Wellbeing PDS Panel (19th January) and the Climate & Sustainability PDS Panel (25th January) detailing each Panel’s discussion of the Corporate and Budget Planning item. He explained that these discussions and this Panel’s considerations at this meeting will be fed through to the Cabinet.

 

Councillor Richard Samuel, Cabinet Member for Resources introduced the item by explaining that this is not a normal budget and not a normal year. There has been a significant shock to Council finances as a result of the ongoing pandemic which will also have repercussions into future years. There will be a report to Cabinet on 11th February – we expect to balance the budget. He explained that the aim is not to disturb frontline services. He explained that the money borrowed from reserves would be repaid over a longer period. He also added that there is a proposed rise of 1.99% in Council Tax and a 3% Adult Social Care precept. Councillor Samuel thanked Andy Rothery, Director of Finance and his team for their extraordinary work.

 

Andy Rothery, Director of Finance and S151 officer explained that there has been some budget rebasing in order to reduce reliance on external income and the temporary government Covid grants received in 2020/21. There have been adjustments in Heritage, Commercial Estate and Parking. He explained that, along with the proposed Council Tax increase, extra money has been allocated to the Welfare and Hardship Service and also money put into a Covid risk reserve.

 

Panel members raised the following points and asked the following questions:

(Officer responses shown in italics)

 

Councillor Furse noted that income from Heritage Services, Commercial Estate and Parking will be down and that the Estate maybe harder hit again as it contains retail. He asked what assumptions the forecast has been based on. The officer explained that the Commercial Estate re-basing is based on market trend. A calculation has been made also taking into account analysis of void levels (factoring in an increase) and debt risk.

 

Councillor Elliot referred to the Council Tax benchmarking graph and asked what level of increase would take the authority into the middle of the table. The officer explained that this would involve an approximately 11% rise and bring in and additional £6/7million over and above the proposed 4.99% increase. However as rise of this level is beyond the Council tax cap and would require a local referendum.

 

Councillor Warrington asked what the £900k Capital Expenditure under Climate Emergency was for. The officer explained this was for feasibility work and initial capital expenditure on various ways the Climate Emergency priority can be taken forwards such as retro fitting Council assets or investments in alternative energy.

 

Councillor MacFie referred to the Capital Project Resources which had been hit by £1.8m – he asked if this related to a particular project. The officer explained that the saving was across the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 62.

63.

A BRIEFING ON THE GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE FOR LOCAL AUTHORITY COMPANIES

There will be a briefing on the governance structure for Local Authority companies. There will be a presentation at the meeting. Panel Members may ask questions and also consider the next steps for any scrutiny of such companies.

 

Minutes:

Michael Hewitt, Director Legal and Democratic Services, introduced the report and gave a presentation which covered the following:

 

·  Company Governance

·  Group Structure

·  Overview

·  Background

·  Recommendations from EY

·  Council Report resolutions

·  Protocol 3 principles – Principle 1 Freedom and Controls

·  Principle 2 – Roles and Responsibilities

·  Principle 3 – Relationships, Integrity & Accountability

·  Key Documents

·  Shareholders agreement

·  Reserved matters

·  Scrutiny

·  Current position

 

Panel members asked the following questions and raised the following points:

(Officer responses shown in italics)

 

Councillor MacFie asked if there are any competitors. The officer explained that there is a site in which ADL competed in the market place at Sladebrook Road.

 

Councillor Elliott asked about a business plan. The officer responded that Panel members can see the business plan as the original decision maker has seen it. This can be circulated to Panel members subject to a duty of confidentiality.

 

In response to a query from Councillor Myers, the officer explained that the Leader of the Council is considered the shareholder representative and can make some decisions, but the Cabinet would be convened for a significant decision.

 

In response to a query from Councillor Hodge, the officer explained that Panel members will be entitled to the same reports as the original decision maker, on a confidential basis, as only then can the Panel make sure that the Cabinet has held the company to account. Also, regarding bonus payments – when a company decides to make an award, it is a reserved matter and relates to named individuals – Panel members are able to see that information.

 

Councillor Furse stated that the company manages public money and asked if relevant scrutiny meetings would be held in public. The officer responded that the Panel can scrutinise whether the company is meeting its performance targets and providing a dividend but would need to resolve to move into exempt session where confidential information is discussed. Panel members could make recommendations if they felt that the company was not doing its job.

 

Councillor Myers thanked the officer and asked for an updated copy of the diagram in the presentation for a future discussion.

64.

PANEL WORKPLAN pdf icon PDF 117 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.

Minutes:

The Panel noted that items suggested at the last meeting (and this meeting) would be collated by the Democratic Services Officer and discussed at the next agenda setting meeting with the Chair and Vice Chair. The following items were suggested at this meeting:

 

·  Keynsham Civic Centre refurbishment (cost/benefit analysis of the office element/Travel claims)

·  Car parking policy

·  Member training (for those of non-local authority background)

·  Risk register – annual item