Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Cabinet - Tuesday, 8th September, 2020 7.00 pm

Contact: Helen Tambini  0115 9148320

Items
No. Item

10.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

11.

Minutes of the Meeting held on 14 July 2020 pdf icon PDF 234 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, 14 July 2020 were declared a true record and signed by the Chairman.

12.

Opposition Group Leaders' Questions

To answer questions submitted by Opposition Group Leaders on items on the agenda.

Minutes:

Question from Councillor Thomas to Councillor Upton

 

“In light of government proposals to reduce the opportunities for consultation on planning applications, how is the Council ensuring that residents fully understand that the options for growth identified in the Greater Nottingham Strategic Plan consultation could lead to huge areas for development being allocated on their doorsteps?” 

 

Councillor Upton responded by confirming that the current Growth Options consultation for the Greater Nottingham Strategic Plan has been publicised as widely as is possible, subject to national restrictions on activities during the pandemic.  All statutory consultees, local stakeholders and others whose details were held by the Councils have been contacted directly.  There has been extensive use of social media to publicise the consultation.  Alongside a dedicated Twitter site for the Strategic Plan, the Borough Council has promoted the consultation on its own Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.  There was a joint press release by the Councils concerning the consultation and the Borough Council has also published its own press release at the start of the consultation.  There was a dedicated website, which provided full details for the consultation and hosted all the consultation and relevant background documents for everyone to view.  The Borough Council had written to all Rushcliffe’s town and parish councils with details of the consultation and asked them to, where possible, help publicise the consultation and its contents to their communities.  The Growth Options was the first formal stage of preparing the Strategic Plan, prior to any decisions being made as to where further development might be located, and there would be further opportunities for Rushcliffe’s communities to engage with the plan-making process as proposals emerged over the coming months.

 

Councillor Thomas asked a supplementary question to Councillor Upton.

 

“At the next stage of consultation, If Covid restrictions are still in place, will the Council consider targeted leafleting of residents or letters to particular areas, outdoor exhibitions and well publicised online events?”  

 

Councillor Upton responded by stating that going forward it would be possible to undertake outdoor events and exhibitions and online events.

 

Question from Councillor Gray to Councillor Moore.

 

In the Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring 2020/21 – Financial and Covid Update Quarter 1. 4.5 there is mention of a loan to be agreed with the West Bridgford CIL and Special Expenses Group. For transparency and accountability, could the Portfolio Holder explain more about the details of this loan for the benefit of Councillors and the public who are less familiar with this internal borrowing process and clarify that the decision will be referred back to cabinet for ratification?”

 

Councillor Moore responded by stating that this was not something the Council would ordinarily do but these were exceptional times with the advent of Covid 19.  Given that West Bridgford was not a parished area and the Special Expense area fulfilled that function the loan was likely to replicate the terms that had been offered to parish councils, therefore being fair and equitable, as a result of the impact of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Citizens' Questions

To answer questions submitted by citizens on the Council or its services.

Minutes:

There were no questions.

14.

Potential Local Government Reorganisation pdf icon PDF 190 KB

The report of the Chief Executive is attached.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that:

 

a)     the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive be authorised to undertake engagement regarding Local Government Reorganisation options including proper public consultation with all affected parties, and following a clear timescale to be agreed, which allows due consideration for affected parties and respects local democracy;

 

b)     the Local Government Reorganisation Member Group be re-formed, chaired by the Leader of the Council, to engage with the process and support Rushcliffe Borough Council’s involvement in shaping the future of local government;

 

c)     a budget of up to £60,000 be allocated for working collectively with other local authority partners to identify and consult on the best options for the future;

 

d)     the Cabinet be updated regularly on the progress of any work; and

 

e)     preferred options for any future Local Government Reorganisation that affects Rushcliffe Borough Council be referred to Full Council for consideration and debate.

 

 

Minutes:

The Leader presented the report of the Chief Executive providing an update on proposals for Local Government Reorganisation.

 

The Leader referred to the significance of this issue for everyone.  It was anticipated that the Government’s Devolution White Paper would be published in the autumn, which would set out the guidelines for future devolution.  The Government’s agenda was to simplify the local government landscape, incorporating cost and efficiency savings.  Some authorities had already gone through unitarisation and reorganisation and as a proactive Council, it was considered to be both timely and pertinent to prepare the framework to go forward and take an active role in future negotiations.  The recommendations contained in the report provided the Council with the framework to move forward and in particular to ensure that appropriate public consultation would take place, which would allow due consideration for affected parties and would respect local democracy.  The importance of establishing a framework was reiterated to allow the Council to actively participate in the debate and negotiations going forward.

 

In seconding the recommendation, Councillor Mason reiterated the importance of this issue and the necessity to have an appropriate framework in place, together with full public consultation.  There were different ways of delivering unitarisation and it was vital that the Council was proactive and involved in every stage of the decision making process, with all councils in Nottinghamshire being involved. 

 

The Leader highlighted the different services provided by the District Councils and County Council, including waste collection and recycling and the fragmentation across the county, with the County Council being the Waste Disposal Authority and District Councils making the collections.  Going forward there would be opportunities to improve those services and the importance of full public consultation on those matters was reiterated.  It was important to acknowledge that change would take place, the report set out the Council’s position and framework to go forward, and all Councillors would be updated on any major issues at Full Council meetings.

 

It was RESOLVED that:

 

a)     the Leader of the Council and Chief Executive be authorised to undertake engagement regarding Local Government Reorganisation options including proper public consultation with all affected parties, and following a clear timescale to be agreed, which allows due consideration for affected parties and respects local democracy;

 

b)     the Local Government Reorganisation Member Group be re-formed, chaired by the Leader of the Council, to engage with the process and support Rushcliffe Borough Council’s involvement in shaping the future of local government;

 

c)     a budget of up to £60,000 be allocated for working collectively with other local authority partners to identify and consult on the best options for the future;

 

d)     the Cabinet be updated regularly on the progress of any work; and

 

e)     preferred options for any future Local Government Reorganisation that affects Rushcliffe Borough Council be referred to Full Council for consideration and debate.

 

 

15.

Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring 2020/21 - Financial and Covid Update Quarter 1 pdf icon PDF 507 KB

The report of the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services is attached.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that

 

a)    the projected net effect of in-year efficiencies (£0.624m) and Covid-19 pressures (£2.564m) and Covid Government funding (£1.518m) resulting in an expected net revenue position for the year of £0.422m be noted;

 

b)    a projected £2.864m net surplus on Business Rates as a result of additional S31 reliefs be noted and this surplus be transferred to the Organisation Stabilisation Reserve to offset the expected Collection Fund deficit in later years;

 

c)    the capital underspend of £24.8m as a result of planned programme slippage be noted; and

 

d)    the projected Special Expenses position with a projected deficit of £0.119m for the year be financed by a loan from the Council, with terms to be consulted on with the West Bridgford Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) and Special Expenses Group.

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance presented the report of the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services outlining the budget position for revenue and capital at 30 June 2020.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance confirmed that as previously reported the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on the Council’s finances.  The anticipated budget gap had been partially offset by additional Government grants and in-house efficiencies, which had resulted in an overall net in-year budget gap of £422k, which was an improvement from the previous update reported to Cabinet in July 2020.  The Capital Programme had a planned underspend of £24.8m largely due to slippage in two major schemes at the Bingham Hub and the Crematorium.  The Council had entered into an agreement with Framework, which would lead to an additional investment of £150k to provide accommodation for rough sleepers, which was a commendable investment to help the more vulnerable.  The report highlighted the Council’s loss of income, additional costs and savings, with the reduction in total income and the support for leisure being the two most significant costs affecting the budget.  Savings had been incurred from a number of areas, including increased, garden waste income, housing benefit subsidy, together with management applied cost savings and efficiencies.  In respect of net revenue efficiencies for the year to date, that was projected at £624k, with a pressure of £2.5m due to Covid-19, which equated to £1.9m.  It was noted that the Council had received £1.52m in Government support, which had brought the projected budget gap down to £422k.  The year-end figure would be updated by any further Government funding and the speed of recovery from the impact of Covid-19.  Delays to Capital Receipts of £20m were expected, with some income being moved to the following year.  It was confirmed that Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club had repaid the loan of £55,000 on 7 August 2020.  In respect of Business Grants, it was noted that over £18m had been paid, which equated to over 91% of eligible businesses in the Borough.  £389k in hardship payments had been made in relation to Council Tax support, with over 2,400 households benefitting from those payments.  In respect of Discretionary Grants, 189 claims had been made, with £814k being paid to 62 claims, which equated to 84% of the available funds.  It was pleasing to note that additional efficiencies had been identified, and together with Government support that had resulted in the budget gap for revenue being more manageable.  Reference was made to the normal external financial pressures that affected the budget and it was reiterated that it was important that the Council continued to maintain a tight control over its finances, expenditure and reserves.    

 

In seconding the recommendation, Councillor Edyvean referred to the challenge of managing the budget in such difficult times and commended and thanked officers in the Finance team for their hard work.  Whilst the Council should not be complacent, the projected budget gap was significantly better than earlier projections and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Covid-19 Budget 2020/21 and Medium Term Financial Implications pdf icon PDF 696 KB

The report of the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services is attached.

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the following be approved for submission to Full Council:

 

a)    the revised projections to the 2020/21 revenue budget and remainder of the current Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) as referred to in Appendix A of the report,as a result of the impact of Covid-19;

 

b)    the revised projections to the Capital Programme for 2020/21 and the impact on the Capital Programme over the MTFS as referred to in Appendix B of the report;

 

c)    the changes to the Transformation Strategy as referred to in Appendix C of the report;

 

d)    the Council Tax Hardship Fund Policy Paper as referred to in Appendix D of the reportand its current application;

 

e)    the strategy of utilising in-year budget efficiencies, the Organisation Stabilisation reserve, reviewing the use of existing reserves, reduced use of Voluntary Revenue Provision and therefore use of New Homes Bonus; as fiscal levers so the Council balances the budget and delivers its corporate objectives, as referred to in paragraph 4.8.6 of the report; and

 

f)     the transfer of three reserves totalling to £0.524m, as referred to in paragraph 4.8.7 of the report,to the Organisation Stabilisation Reserve from 2020/21 and the revised anticipated position over the next five years as referred to in Appendix E of the report.

 

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Finance presented the report of the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services providing an update on the budget position reported to Cabinet on 14 July 2020 of the projected impact of Covid-19, together with an update on the expected budget for the year 2020/21 and the remainder of the current Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS). 

 

The Portfolio Holder for Finance confirmed that two budget-briefing sessions had been held to update Councillors and those had been well attended.  In March 2020, Full Council had approved the Council’s annual budget; however, the impact of Covid-19 had resulted in financial pressures form loss of income and additional support costs.  The Cabinet had received regular updates on those figures, together with details of the Government funding received.  A number of changes had been made to budget projections to cover additional costs and reduced income and it was too early to speculate when some form of ‘normality’ would return.  Prudent estimates had been made upon the levels of income expected in line with Government guidance.  In respect of the current budget position, the report highlighted the ongoing work being undertaken on income streams and expenditure, including the leisure contract, which was a significant expense.  As leisure facilities started to reopen fully again, the Leisure Centre Contract would be reviewed on 30 September and 31 December 2020, with details reported to Cabinet and the Corporate Overview Group.  It was expected that as revenue streams returned the support package for leisure would be reduced; however, it should be noted that a cost of over £1m for the financial year was expected.  In respect of the Capital Programme, the new Bingham Hub was out to tender, and there was progress with the Abbey Road development, with some positive signs of recovery.  It was noted that the Capital Programme was £38m, which equated to a significant sum of money to invest in the local economy.  Reference was made to the agreed repayment policy for the Arena, which would allow officers the flexibility to extend the repayment period if required.  The report highlighted the Council’s revised Transformation Policy, which included a savings target of £500k, based on efficiencies and increased income.  It was noted that if there was a second wave of Covid-19, the current budget gap of £422k could rise to £1.7m and it was vital that the situation continued to be monitored.  As expected, there had been an increase in demand for the Council’s Hardship Fund, with 2,293 claims in the last year, and this fund had provided much needed support to residents who were struggling financially.  This was an extremely difficult time for all local authorities, and it was important to acknowledge that this Council had and continued to be well managed with a healthy level of reserves, which in the short term had enabled it deal with this economic crisis, whilst still delivering its corporate objectives.  However, it was acknowledged that the Council could not be complacent; Government funding had been  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

Statement of Community Involvement pdf icon PDF 231 KB

The report of the Executive Manager – Communities is attached.

Additional documents:

Decision:

It was RESOLVED that the Statement of Community Involvement for Planning Policy and Planning Applications Addendum – Implications of the Coronavirus Pandemic be adopted.

Minutes:

The Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning presented the report of the Executive Manager – Communities providing an update on the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) for Planning Policy and Planning Applications.

 

The Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning confirmed that it was a statutory requirement that the Council should have a SCI, which set out how the Council would involve local residents in relation to planning consultations and planning applications.  The current SCI had been adopted by Cabinet in March 2019; however, due to social distancing requirements imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the SCI was no longer up to date and an Addendum had been drafted.  The Addendum set out how the Council would ensure effective consultation on planning issues was maintained, in line with social distancing requirements, and it would be removed once those controls were no longer required.

 

In seconding the recommendation, Councillor Edyvean stated that it was important to ensure that appropriate consultation processes were maintained, and the Addendum highlighted how that would be effectively managed going forward.

 

The Leader reiterated the importance of ensuring that appropriate consultation continued and welcomed this pragmatic approach.  

 

It was RESOLVED that the Statement of Community Involvement for Planning Policy and Planning Applications Addendum – Implications of the Coronavirus Pandemic be adopted.