Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber - Guildhall, Bath. View directions

Contact: Marie Todd  01225 394414


No. Item


Welcome and introductions

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The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting.


Emergency Evacuation Procedure

The Democratic Services Officer will read out the emergency evacuation procedure as set out in the notes.

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


Apologies for Absence

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There were no apologies for absence.


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.

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There were no declarations of interest.


To Announce any Urgent Business Agreed by the Chair

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There was no urgent business.


Questions from Public and Councillors

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

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There were 17 questions from Councillors and 28 questions from members of the public.


Cllr Robin Moss asked two supplementary questions relating to question M15. 


Cllr Liz Hardman asked a supplementary question relating to question M16.


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

Cabinet Q&A Sheet pdf icon PDF 94 KB

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Statements 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.

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Members of the public and Councillors made statements as follows:


·  Chad Allen – English Ivy.  Mr Allen expressed concern about the damage caused to land and buildings by English ivy.


·  Angharad Barber – Somer Valley Enterprise Zone (a copy of which is attached as appendix 2 to these minutes).


·  Jim Plunkett-Cole – Somer Valley Enterprise Zone.  Mr Plunkett-Cole stated that the evidence base for the Enterprise Zone is out of date since the original discussions took place in 2015.  It does not take into account the impact of Brexit, Covid-19, unsuitable and inappropriate housing development, home working and an aging population.  The working age population in the area has reduced by 3,000 since 2018.  The Somer Valley has historically had very little evidence of the development of office jobs or research and development.


·  Robbie Bentley – Extending the validity of bus passes and public transport issues.  Miss Bentley raised the issue of extending the validity of bus passes to enable people to also use them on the trains, which happens in some urban areas.  This would greatly help disabled people who often wish to travel by train as well as on buses.  It would also be helpful if this authority along with the other authorities in the WECA area discussed transport levies to ensure that the funding is used in the right way for local communities.


·  Cllr Hal MacFie – Keynsham High Street (a copy of which is attached as appendix 3 to these minutes).

Angharad Barber - Somer Valley Enterprise Zone pdf icon PDF 20 KB

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Minutes of Previous Cabinet Meeting - 7th September 2023 pdf icon PDF 121 KB

To be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 7th September 2023 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


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.

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No single member items were requisitioned to Cabinet.


Matters Referred by Policy Development and Scrutiny Bodies

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

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No matters were referred by Policy Development and Scrutiny Panels.


Single Member Cabinet Decisions Taken since Previous Cabinet Meeting pdf icon PDF 89 KB

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

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The Cabinet agreed to note the report.


Community Services Transformation Programme - Preferred Delivery Options for 2024-25 and 2025-26 pdf icon PDF 422 KB

The report provides an update on the Community Services Transformation Programme and sets out a number of recommendations.

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Cllr Alison Born introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation, and made the following statement:


“This paper provides an update on the programme of work that has resulted from the decision taken by Cabinet and also by the B&NES, Swindon and Wiltshire (BSW) Integrated Care Board (ICB) in May 2022 not to extend the HCRG Care Group contract for integrated community health and care services beyond March 2024.


The work is divided into three programmes:


  1. Future provision of adult social care services and services delivered by sub-contractors – led by B&NES Council
  2. Future provision of the public health services that are currently included in the HCRG Care Group contract – led by Public Health
  3. Future provision of community children’s and adults’ health and care services (excluding adult social care) that are currently included in the HCRG Care Group contract – led by the ICB

Programme One

In November 2022, Cabinet took the decision to bring adult social care services back in house to be run by B&NES Council from April 2024. This decision was not taken lightly, we were aware that the health and care landscape had changed considerably since the contract was let and that the flat cash nature of the agreement would present immediate challenges.


The financial pressures in the contract are compounded by the costs associated with significant contractual change and provision has been made for this within our budgets. However, that provision is short term, and the adult social care model must be cost neutral from 2025/26. This will be addressed through a re-design process during 2024/25 which is necessary to ensure that our services can respond to current needs and are financially sustainable.


The programme relating to adult social care is well established and well led. There is a meaningful staff engagement programme and active communication with community partners. We are very grateful to the staff working in community services for their continued hard work and dedication through this period of change. A recent audit of the Adult Social Care transfer programme has provided a high level of assurance and we can be confident of a successful transfer for the start date on 1st April 2024 with continuity of care provision.


Programmes Two and Three

Due to the impact of NHS reorganisation in 2022, the ICB started work on the community health services programme (programme 3) several months later than the local authority. As public health services (programme 2) are linked closely to community health services, a decision taken by the ICB (and endorsed by the lead member) to delay the start date for the new community services contract until 2025 has had an impact on the timescale for workstreams 2 and 3.


A procurement process, based on competitive dialogue is now underway for programme 3 with the expectation of contract award in the summer of 2024 with contract commencement in April 2025. This change to the procurement timescale, requires the ICB to issue new one-year contracts to existing community service  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.


2024/25 Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 86 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 the Council faces over the next five years and the strategy that will be used to inform its annual budget process.

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Cllr Mark Elliott introduced the report and made the following statement:


“As you will be aware I have three financial reports to present to Cabinet this evening, all of which need to be set in the wider financial context, and all of which slightly overlap, so I’m going to spend a little time on this first report setting out that wider context, and then I take that as read for the following two reports.


Cabinet will be aware that systemically Local Government Finance is a mess.  Colleagues will be aware that a number of councils have recently issued Section 114 notices – essentially declaring themselves bankrupt. Thankfully we’re not amongst them, and I am confident we won’t be, but I had a quick look at the figures, and before 2018 only three Section 114 notices had ever been issued, going back to 1988 when the Local Government Act legislation was introduced.  Since 2018, 12 have been issued, and these have been by Councils across the political spectrum.


The system is fundamentally broken.  Central government knows this but is totally devoid of any ideas about how to sort it out. Across the country, going back over the last decade, local councils are having to deal with an increasingly dire situation, with first austerity measures meaning a vast reduction in central government funding to local authorities, then Brexit meaning workforce shortages and consequent wage inflation, then Covid meaning the world shutting down for a couple of years, and now the war in Ukraine, a cost of living crisis with spiralling inflation, and the recent conflict in Israel-Palestine.


In order to understand why these pressures are so exceptionally damaging to local councils, and why it’s so difficult for us to deal with, we need to remind ourselves how councils are funded.


The council’s budget is split between “Revenue” – our operating costs, staff, materials, services, etc. – and “Capital” – land, buildings, equipment, roads, vehicles, etc.  The two are kept very separate, and we are forbidden, for very good reasons, from spending capital money on revenue.


I think there is an understandable perception amongst the public that council tax pays for council spending.  In reality council tax covers about one third of our operating costs, and virtually none of our capital costs. 


Our operating costs are roughly £300m, and our council tax income this year is set to be around £113m.  The rest of our operating income comes from grants from central government, and things we charge for separately: services, car parking, the Roman Baths, property rental, etc.


Our capital spending, which this year is budgeted to be just shy of £90m, is financed 60% by borrowing, 20% from grants, 15% from capital receipts (i.e. selling assets we don’t want in order to buy or build assets we do want) and revenue, and 5% from Community Infrastructure Levy (the charged levied on developers for developments as part of the planning process).


So, to pick out some elements from that in order to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.


Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring, Cash Limits and Virements – April to September 2023 pdf icon PDF 212 KB

The report presents the financial monitoring information for the Authority as a whole for the financial year 2023-24, using information available as at the end of September 2023.

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Cllr Mark Elliott introduced the report and made the following statement:


“Rather than looking further ahead as the previous report did, this report sets out the in-year position. I.e. how are we doing in reality compared to budget this year.


Our revenue budget is currently predicted to be £6.5m over-spent.  For context, that’s about 2% of our revenue budget which is roughly £300m.  By far the main reason for this is the pressures in social care, Children’s Services alone coming in at £4.58m over budget.  The report sets out financial performance by portfolio, so people can see a breakdown of where the pressures are, with an accompanying narrative.  As Cabinet colleagues will be well aware, we are in the process of taking urgent recovery action across the council to make sure that position is brought back in line.


We are implementing vacancy management, which means holding a period where we do not recruit on roles that are not essential in meeting our statutory duties, for a temporary period to help reduce our monthly pay costs.


We have introduced corporate controls where we are utilising our financial systems to enable additional scrutiny over new contract expenditure that could be challenged and reduced or delivered in different and more cost-effective ways. 


We are pausing and reducing spending in discretionary areas including non-essential training, conferences, travel and subscriptions.


I hope everyone will agree these are reasonable and proportionate measures to take to make sure we land in a balanced position at the end of the financial year.


On the capital side we are actually forecasting to underspend this year by just over £30m pounds, mainly due to projects being re-phased into future years. Remembering what I said about the hard split between capital and revenue spending, that doesn’t mean we have £30m extra to spend elsewhere! The effect is really just to delay some borrowing, but that does have a small benefit on the revenue side in that it means our borrowing costs – effectively our interest bill – are a little lower.


I propose we accept the recommendations set out in items 2.1 to 2.4 of the report.”


Cllr Matt McCabe seconded the report and highlighted the failure of central government to adequately support local authorities.  The rest of the financial year is going to be challenging.  The Council has statutory duties which it must deliver and there are insufficient funds to do this.  The report outlines the actions being taken to balance the budget, but the next few months will be tough.


Cllr Paul May made the following statement:



“Sadly, the Children’s Services budget pressures continue to be a major concern for this council as for many local authorities.


The report clearly highlights the budgetary pressures, including the Conservative government allocating Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children to the authority with insufficient funding to cover the cost. Many are just below the age of 18 when they enter the system but if the Home Office does not approve their asylum case, they remain  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.


Treasury Management Performance Report to 30th September 2023 pdf icon PDF 499 KB

The report gives details of performance against the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy for the first half of 2023-24.

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Cllr Mark Elliott introduced the report and made the following statement:


“The Treasury Management report sets out the performance of the Council’s investments.  This report is a little less gloomy in that whilst rampant inflation is obviously a very bad thing, it does mean that interest rates have gone up!


We take a prudent approach to treasury management, and we don’t make any risky investments with public money. 


The headlines are:


Our total investments sit at just under £54 million (including £10m held in Environmental, Social and Governance funds), the total being slightly up on the last report, and our borrowing sits at just over £218 million, slightly down on the last report. We are achieving an overall return on investment of 4.64%, we are within target levels on all our key indicators, and that we are now predicting to be £1.11m under budget on our interest and capital financing costs as a result of the higher interest rates and the rephased projects I talked about in the previous report.


All the detail behind that is set out in the report, so I will simply move the recommendations set out in sections 2.1 and 2.2.”


Cllr Tim Ball seconded the recommendation and noted the excellent work carried out by Councillors and Officers.


Cllr Paul May noted that the way the Council runs its finances is crucial to its stability and thanked the Officers for this excellent report.


RESOLVED (unanimously):


(1)  To note the Treasury Management Report to 30th September 2023, prepared in accordance with the CIPFA Treasury Code of Practice.


(2)  To note the Treasury Management Indicators to 30th September 2023.


Quarter 2 Strategic Performance Report 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 148 KB

The report updates Cabinet on the progress made against a key set of strategic performance measures which assess our progress on delivering the Corporate Strategy, other key strategies, and key aspects of service delivery.

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Cllr Dave Wood introduced the report, moved the officer recommendation and explained that this is the performance indicator report on the Council’s new Corporate Strategy.  The information presented is changing to reflect the new corporate priorities and the Liberal Democrat manifesto.  Future reports will see the introduction of new performance indicators which are currently under development.


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


“I very much welcome the Quarter 2 performance monitoring report, representing an increasing emphasis across the organisation on evidence-based monitoring of progress against key objectives in the corporate plan. It is really pleasing to see the progress made towards a performance culture and ensuring that we are targeting our investment effectively.


The development of performance monitoring in relation to key climate emergency targets is one of the most challenging areas, and very much still developing, as in many cases, it takes time to identify or develop the appropriate data flows. The measures we have been able to include in this year’s reporting around are useful and show some promising trends.


Houses are becoming more energy efficient, and we are seeing a corresponding improvement in Energy Performance Scores of dwellings in B&NES. However, an increase in the overall number of houses mean that total emissions from housing are still increasing. We hope that in future years, we will start to see more rapid improvement, as the ground-breaking requirement for zero carbon new build that we have introduced through our Local Plan Partial Update works its way through the house building system.


Renewable energy generation is increasing both on the council's own estate, and district wide - but is still below target. On the council estate, we expect to take decisions over the coming year to bring forward some larger sites, which should see that measure improving more rapidly.


B&NES remains a strong performer on recycling, with the percentage of household waste being reused, recycled, composted, removed remains well above target at 96%. In another positive sign, we are seeing a continuing reduction in air quality monitors breaching legal limit value.


Measures of nature recovery and road transport remain in development, and I look forward to reviewing work over the coming months to further develop KPIs for transport and travel so that we can provide clear and transparent information on our achievements in this key priority area for the council.”


Cllr Kevin Guy stated that officers have been asked to make B&NES Council one of the greenest councils in the country.  He thanked staff for working so hard to fulfil this high expectation.


RESOLVED (unanimously) to note progress on the delivery of key aspects of the Council’s service delivery, details of which are highlighted in section 3.6 and Appendix 1 of the report.