Venue: Council Chamber, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford. View directions
Contact: Laura Webb 0115 9148481
Declarations of the Interest
There were no declarations of interest.
The minutes of the meeting 20 July 2021 were approved as a true record of the meeting.
The report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services is attached.
The Service Manager – Finance presented the report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services which detailed the quarter one position in terms of financial and performance monitoring for 2021/22. It was noted that this was linked to the closure of accounts process and previous financial update reports and includes the in-year variances along with variances resulting from Covid.
It was noted that income lost related to Covid-19 totalled £0.071m with in year efficiency savings of £0.394m and non-ringfenced grant funding £0.061m. It was stated that for this financial year, the overall budget variance including Covid related pressures and in-year efficiencies, was expected to result in an overall budget efficiency of £0.880m. It was noted that in regards to business rates the Council was expecting a surplus of £2.338m but that a significant proportion of this would need to be appropriated into the Collection Fund Reserves (£1.765m) to cover next year’s deficit arising as a result of additional Covid related business rates reliefs issued in the year. The Group were informed that additional pressures had been identified including a contribution towards a feasibility study into the pedestrianisation of Central Avenue in conjunction with Nottinghamshire County and a £1,000 payment per driver to refuse HGV drivers totalling £27k given the unusual market conditions and demand for HGV drivers and that this along with the £1.765m business rates results in £1.842m being used from reserves.
It was explained that budgets within the special expenses area had been impacted by Covid, particularly on the loss of income from hire of venues and bar sales mainly at Gamston Hall which was being used as a vaccination centre. These projections were included in the total Covid related budget pressure of £0.071m and the expected budget deficit for the year is £5k. It was explained that the Governments Sales, Fees and Charges reimbursement scheme had been extended to the first quarter of this year. It was estimated that the total reimbursement would be £46k and that part of the total estimated reimbursement had been allocated to the Special Expense fund to support the lost income from closure of facilities in the West Bridgford area.
It was noted that the Capital Programme monitoring statement and funding position projected a variance at this stage is £2.837m. Additionally, the original Capital Programme of £28.158m, plus agreed carry forwards of £6.533m, plus in-year adjustments of £0.911m g a revised total of £35.602m. It was explained that the net expenditure efficiency variance of £2.837m was primarily due to support for Registered Housing Providers £0.692m and Disabled Facilities Grant £0.218m amongst others. It was concluded that the projected financial position of the council was stable but that risks were still present over the winter period and uncertainties over funding and government policies.
The Communications and Customer Services Manager asked the Group to comment on the monitored tasks which were outlined in the Corporate Strategy and the performance measures within the Corporate Scorecard.
It was noted that there were four strategic performance ... view the full minutes text for item 9.
Feedback from Scrutiny Group Chairmen
The Group discussed the length of presentations during scrutiny meetings and agreed that they were too long and did not enable the councillors to have enough time to answer questions afterwards. It was agreed that presentations should cover parts of the report that need emphasising and that the Chairman should intervene during the meeting if the presentations are too long.
It was also agreed that scrutiny training should be arranged. It was suggested that training could take place before the next scrutiny meetings. The Service Manager – Finance and Corporate Services suggested that scrutiny Chairmen could attend future East Midlands Council’s networking events if the topics were of interest and agreed to circulate these when they were available.
The Chairman of the Communities Scrutiny Group noted that the Group had scrutinised police performance in Rushcliffe and the work of the Trent Bridge Community Trust at its last meeting. The Group were pleased to meet Rob Lawton the new policing inspector for Rushcliffe who delivered a presentation to the group to outline his priorities for the Borough. The Portfolio Holder for Environment and Safety also attended the meeting. He asked the councillors to contact him if they had any concerns regarding crime in their wards. It was noted that if crime was reported, it was more likely to be added to the neighbourhood policing teams’ list of priorities. The Portfolio Holder agreed to report back to councillors the outcome of their meetings to discuss priorities. The Group received a presentation from Mark Clifford at the Trent Bridge Community Trust. The Chairman was pleased to note that the Trust went above and beyond to ensure that young people continued to be supported during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Concerns were raised about the approval of work programme items for the scrutiny groups as sometimes items were delayed to a later meeting without the knowledge of the Groups. It was agreed that the work programme reports would be changed so that the workflow could be better explained.
The Vice-Chairman of the Growth and Development Group noted that the Group had discussed the allocation of the Community Infrastructure Levy. It was agreed that the allocation of the levy should go to:
· Secondary school places across the Borough through new provision or extension to existing provision
· Park and Ride along the A52 corridor and bus priority measures in West Bridgford
· Indoor leisure provision or improvements to existing provision
· Health facilities across the Borough through new provision or extension to existing provision
·Playing pitches and
ancillary facilities provision or improvements
The Group also recommended to Cabinet that the proportion of levy receipts be increased to 25% rather than 15% to those Parish Council’s without a neighbourhood plan to provide a consistent level of local funding across the Borough.
The Growth and Development Scrutiny Group also received a presentation from the Service Manager – Economic Growth and Property delivered a presentation to update members on the Covid 19 Business Recovery, providing members with data across the D2N2 authorities, including ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
The report of the Director – Finance and Performance Services is attached
The Service Manager –Corporate Services presented the report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services which asked the Group to create and receive feedback on the scrutiny group work programmes for 2021/22 based on the Cabinet Forward Plan, Corporate Strategy, Medium Term Financial Strategy, Investment Strategy and Transformation Plan. The Group were also asked to consider potential topics for scrutiny which were submitted by Councillors and officers.
The Group first considered the requests for scrutiny items submitted by either Councillors or officers using the scrutiny matrix. The first item discussed was the scrutiny of solar energy. The Group agreed that alternative energies would be scrutinised (including solar.) The Group were minded that by discussing different types of alternative energies it would stop councillors from discussing specific planning applications which were not relevant to the scrutiny of the topic. It was suggested that Councillor Thomas would receive answers to her questions in the scrutiny matrix in the short term as the item was not due to be scrutinised by the Growth and Development Scrutiny Group until October 2022.
It was also agreed that the Growth and Development Scrutiny Group would receive the opportunity to discuss cycling routes in the Borough in January 2022 which would enable the Group to ask additional questions from the presentations which were received in July 2021. The Growth and Development Scrutiny Group would also scrutinise planning communications in April 2022 and Conservation Areas in July 2022.
Another item which was agreed to be added to the Communities Scrutiny work programme was Sports Development in Rushcliffe. It was noted that the item would inform the Group about barriers to participation in sport, Gresham sports pitches and links with CIL. The Communities Scrutiny Group would also scrutinise the feedback from the residents survey in January 2022.
It was also agreed that the Corporate Overview Group would scrutinise the impact of Covid 19 on Rushcliffe Borough Council in two parts. The Group would discuss the internal impact in February 2022 and the external impact in May 2022.
It was RESOLVED that the work programme as outlined below be agreed:
Corporate Overview Group
Governance Scrutiny Group
The report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services is attached
The Service Manager – Finance and Corporate Services presented the report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services, which summarised the customer feedback received by the Council during 2020/21 and provided a comparison to previous performance as well as to other authorities. Key points included:
· 49 complaints were received by the Council at Stage 1 of its complaints process – this is comparable with recent years despite the service pressures and hardships to residents caused by the pandemic
· The percentage of complaints escalated past Stage 1 has increased slightly from 20.0% in 2019/20 to 22.4% (11 from 49)
· Consistency in handling complaints has stayed at a high level, as has the number of complaints that are responded to within target time – 48 out of 49 – this is despite the additional work pressures of the last eighteen months
· Analysis of the 49 complaints received in 2020/21 showed that 61.2% were unjustified
· Seven complaints were directly related to the pandemic
· Fourteen complaints were referred by complainants to the Local Government Ombudsman – none of these complaints were upheld
· The Council received 155 compliments about its services in 2020/21 – 23 more than the previous year.
The Group raised concerns that there was a slight trend increase in the number of complaints received by the Council. The Service Manager believed that this was not a cause of concern and may be due to factors such as population increase, the increase in the use of social media and more residents being at home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Group were pleased to note that any complaints which were a matter for the County Council to deal with were passed onto them by the customer services team and the resident would be informed that the complaint had been passed on to the relevant officer and complaints team at the county council.
It was RESOLVED that the report of the Director – Finance and Corporate Services is noted and accepted as a true record of customer feedback in 2020/21.