Agenda and minutes

Policy, Finance and Development Committee
Tuesday, 6th February, 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Offices, Station, Wigston. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  Tel: (0116) 257 2775 Email: democratic.services@oadby-wigston.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

50.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillors Mrs K M Chalk and R E Fahey.

51.

Appointment of Substitutes

To appoint substitute Members in accordance with Rule 4 of Part 4 of the Constitution.

Minutes:

None.

52.

Declarations of Interest

Members are reminded that any declaration of interest should be made having regard to the Members’ Code of Conduct. In particular, Members must make clear the nature of the interest and whether it is 'pecuniary' or ‘non-pecuniary'.

Minutes:

None.

53.

Reading, Confirmation and Signing of Minutes

To read, confirm and sign the minutes of the previous meeting(s) in accordance with Rule 17 of Part 4 of the Constitution.

53a

Minutes of the Previous Meeting held on 31 October 2017 pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Minutes:

By affirmation of the meeting, it was

 

RESOLVED THAT:

 

The minutes of the previous meeting of the Committee held on 31 October 2017 be taken as read, confirmed and signed.

53b

Minutes of the Extraordinary Meeting held on 23 January 2018 pdf icon PDF 53 KB

Minutes:

By affirmation of the meeting, it was

 

RESOLVED THAT:

 

The minutes of the extraordinary meeting of the Committee held on 23 January 2018 be taken as read, confirmed and signed.

54.

Action List Arising from the Meeting held on 31 October 2017 DOCX 35 KB

To read, confirm and note the Action List arising from the previous meeting.

Minutes:

By affirmation of the meeting, it was

 

RESOLVED THAT:

 

The Action List be noted by Members.

55.

Petitions and Deputations

To receive any Petitions and, or, Deputations in accordance with Rule 24 of Part 4 of the Constitution.

Minutes:

None.

56.

Internal Audit Progress Report 2017/18 DOCX 80 KB

Report of the Director of Finance & Transformation / Section 151 Officer

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to the report and appendix (at pages 13 - 27) as jointly-delivered and summarised by the Director of Finance & Transformation / Section 151 Officer and the Audit Manager at CW Audit Services, Mr Anand Persaud, which should be read together with these minutes as a composite document.

 

The Community Property Manager provided the Committee with a further verbal update in relation to the ‘high risk’ outstanding issues marked ‘16/17 Housing Repairs and Maintenance’ and ‘16/17 Housing Void Property Management’ of the Appendix (at pages 20 - 22). A summary of the up-to-date position is filled together with these printed minutes at Annex A. In brief, it was reported that further progress had been made in those areas and of those issues verbally reported on at the previous meeting in October 2017, these had either been fully completed or were still subject to work in progress.

 

The Committee noted with concern that the systems currently in place to manage and monitor the budgets for void properties provided less than robust controls in terms of consistency or means to identify value for money. Officers advised that in line with the objective requirements set out in the Contract Procedures Rules, future levels of control would be greatly improved with the introduction of an appropriately benchmarked Schedule of Rates and ad-hoc reviews of rates by Officers. It was also recommended by Members that the periodic testing of local hourly rates and the publishing of Officers’ decisions would also help to improve budgetary outcomes. 

 

It was raised by Members and advised upon by Officers that in respect of reviews of repair works undertaken, due to limited resources and capacity, follow-up inspections were either limited to larger and, or, high-value jobs or otherwise triggered on a risk-basis following information or feedback received. It was said that contractors were called back to address any known defects and that works undertaken were subject to quality guarantees. For smaller repair jobs, Members recommended that customer satisfaction forms be circulated by the contractor and before the works commenced. 

 

The Committee noted that no response had been recorded against the ‘high risk’ outstanding issue marked ‘14/15 Street Cleansing and Grounds Maintenance’ (at page 19) and requested that this issue either be resolved by, or an update be provided for and the responsible Officer attend, the next meeting of the Committee.

 

The Committee also heard that budgetary and other financial training sessions were to be arranged for Members and Officers, particularly those in second-tier management and upwards, via the Council’s e-learning platform, Learning Pool.

 

By affirmation of the meeting, it was

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED THAT:

 

The content of the Progress Report for 2017/18 be noted by Members.

57.

Internal Audit Operational Plan 2018/19 DOCX 79 KB

Report of the Director of Finance & Transformation / Section 151 Officer

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to the report and appendix (at pages 28 - 44) as jointly-delivered and summarised by the Director of Finance & Transformation / Section 151 Officer and the Audit Manager at CW Audit Services, Mr Anand Persaud, which should be read together with these minutes as a composite document.

 

It was raised by the Committee and advised upon by Officers that the days allocated to each audit assignment for 2018/19 were estimations and, therefore, subject to +/- variation once the work requirements for each had been scoped out accordingly.

 

It was also highlighted that the number of days allocated did not necessarily indicate the level of inherent risk involved, but an estimate of the time it would physically take to complete each assignment according to its work demands, and that “risks” were adjudged against controls if such controls were found not to be operational.

 

By affirmation of the meeting, it was

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED THAT:

 

The Operational Plan for 2018/19 be approved by Members.

58.

Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) Update DOCX 212 KB

Report of the Director of Finance & Transformation / Section 151 Officer

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to the report (at pages 45 - 59) as delivered and summarised by the Director of Finance & Transformation / Section 151 Officer which should be read together with these minutes as a composite document.

 

The Committee noted the uncertainties faced by the Council and ability to forward-plan its finances beyond 2019/20 given the unprecedented financial pressures posed by central government and the constant ebb and flow of funding assumptions. It acknowledged that budget-setting was now, in practice, a year-round process of near constant test, challenge and refinement throughout which the authority was open to consider any and all available options so to keep its financial position viable.

 

The Committee requested that a communication apolitically-framed be released to inform residents about the Council’s financial settlement and budget implications.

 

The Committee also recognised the significance of the forward-looking investments made by of the Council, and the multiple existing and emerging projects and offerings which had, and were to contribute to, a more balanced economic outlook. This was said to also include the transformation of Customer Services, the Council’s Strategic Asset Review, the investment at Parklands Leisure Centre and Brocks Hill Visitor Centre and the wholly-owned housing company, Bushloe Developments.

 

In respect of the possible creation of parishes with the Borough, it was expressed by Members that although the collection of parish precepts was a potential and additional income stream, the threat to residents and to local democracy would be profound should, for whatever reason, the Council itself experience service failure.

 

In respect of New Homes Bonuses (NHB’s), it was reported that given a slow direction of growth within the Borough, the MTFS was predicated on worst-case scenario planning regarding NHB’s. However, it was hopeful that, once the Council’s emerging Local Plan and Strategic Growth Plan for Leicester/shire were adopted in the near future, subsequent development would come online and positively impact on budgets.

 

It was raised by Members and accepted by Officers that the cleaning contract would not, owing to operational reasons, deliver the savings anticipated and that questions surrounding its variation to enable the scaling back of contract requirements and, commensurately, the contract price remained unanswered. As such, an update was to be circulated to all Members regarding the contract’s capacity to be varied and the Internal Auditor was to carry out a review of the letting and monitoring of the same. 

 

The Committee further noted that whilst a 98.5% Council Tax collection rate target was laudable, and although based on existing collection performance, being overly optimistic could result in a detrimental effect and, therefore, should be raised as a discussion point at the next meeting of County Treasurers and kept under review.

 

By affirmation of the meeting, it was

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED THAT:

 

(i)       Subject to a further report to Full Council on 22 February 2018, the overall draft Medium Term Financial Strategy and budget for 2018/19 and 2019/20  be recommended in principle to Council;

(ii)     The levels of Reserves (as set out at paragraph 11 of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Committee Budget Revenue and Capital Review (Apr - Nov 2017) DOCX 97 KB

Report of the Head of Finance, Revenues and Benefits

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to the report and appendix (at pages 60 - 64) as delivered and summarised by the Head of Finance, Revenues and Benefits which should be read together with these minutes as a composite document.

 

The Committee requested that the sizeable £350k budget allocation in respect of the Compulsory Purchase Order at 41 Canal Street, South Wigston, which was understood to be based on historical figurework, be revisited and reviewed.

 

The Committee further requested that, in view of the ongoing technical issues besetting the same at various meetings, the amplified speech system and hardware installed in the Council Chamber be retested and repaired or, if necessary, replaced.

 

The Committee was also advised that the forthcoming internal reconfiguration of the reception area at Bushloe House was to accommodate two new meeting rooms and a new interview room, the latter to comply with the requirements of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 for the holding of recorded interviews under caution.

 

By affirmation of the meeting, it was

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED THAT:

 

The current position be noted by Members.

60.

Capital Programme 2018/19 DOCX 356 KB

Report of the Head of Finance, Revenues and Benefits

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to the report (at pages 65 - 68) as delivered and summarised by the Head of Finance, Revenues and Benefits which should be read together with these minutes as a composite document.

 

The Committee was advised that Members’ approval was sought in only relation to the indicative amount(s) of funding as outlined in the report and that those capital schemes that had not yet been approved by the relevant Committee would be subject to Committee approval before spend could commence. It was also stated that each capital scheme to be reported to Full Council on 22 February would feature the capital cost and a brief narrative explanation of the scheme, highlighting which Council priorities they supported and any ongoing revenue implications, and that the programme for 2018/19 was to be monitored via a Project Management Board, and reported to Committee on a quarterly basis, following industry best practice.

 

It was raised by Members and accepted by Officers that the £135k recorded against ‘Ervins Lock - Pedestrian Footbridge’ at paragraph 3.4 of the report (at page 66) represented the entire project allocation as part of the growth expenditure account, which included the carry forwards from previous financial years. A breakdown of the financials regarding the £250k allocation recorded against ‘Blaby Road Park Pavilion’, and whether this included the £30k grand contribution made to the Elliott Hall Youth and Community Centre in South Wigston, was also requested by Councillor R E R Morris and was to be brought to the meeting of the Full Council on 22 February.

 

It was further raised by Members and ensured by Officers that clarification in respect of an approved project for the installation of outdoor gym equipment at Uplands Park in Oadby, regarding details as to whether the allocation was to be funded as part of the capital programme, contributions secured under section 106 Agreement or the Oadby Residents’ Forum budget, would be provided to the Chair of the Committee, the Chair of the Forum and Councillor J Kaufman outside the meeting accordingly.

 

The Committee also requested that all future reports include a laypersons breakdown of indicative project funding and information identifying the source(s) of the funding.

 

It was moved by the Chair, seconded by Councillor J W Boyce and

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED THAT:

 

(i)       The indicative funding for schemes put forward for 2018/19 (as outlined in paragraph 3.4 of the report) be approved; and

(ii)     The indicative for Schemes to be carried forward from 2017/18 (as outlined in paragraph 3.5 of the report) be approved.

61.

Collection and Write-Off of Miscellaneous Debtors DOCX 123 KB

Report of the Head of Finance, Revenues and Benefits

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to the report (at pages 69 - 71) as delivered and summarised by the Head of Finance, Revenues and Benefits which should be read together with these minutes as a composite document.

 

By affirmation of the meeting, it was

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED THAT:

 

The contents of the report be noted by Members.

62.

Resident Forum Outturn Budget Position and Allocation Requests DOCX 95 KB

Report of the Head of Finance, Revenues and Benefits

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee gave consideration to the report and appendices (at pages 72 - 76) as delivered and summarised by the Head of Finance, Revenues and Benefits which should be read together with these minutes as a composite document.

 

The Committee was advised that the grant request received from Age UK (Oadby & Wigston) had been reported to this Committee as it fell outside the scope of the new and approved third-sector and community support (TSCS) funding procedure which going forward was to be rigorously applied in considering all future funding requests.

 

The Committee also raised concerns regarding the general lack of available and up-to-date information, and communication from Officers, on the timescales involved and the progress made on approved Resident Forums’ projects. This was said to have resulted in Members being ill-informed when attempting to answer enquires from residents. Noting these concerns, Officers assured the Committee that all future reports would include further and meaningful information as requested by Members.

 

It was further emphasised by Members that the Residents’ Forums could only advise and recommend on the direction of Council spending and that the proper processes regarding the administration, monitoring and sign-off/governance arrangements of TSCS funding must be respected. It was requested that guidance on the same be disseminated to the Forums and that all future funding requests provide sufficient information and assurances so that informed decisions could be made thereon.

 

It was moved by Councillor J W Boyce, seconded by Councillor L A Bentley and

 

RESOLVED THAT:

 

(i)       The current position of the Forums’ Budgets be noted; and

(ii)     A grant of £5,500 to Age UK (Oadby & Wigston) for the period of one-year be approved.

 

Votes For                  12

Votes Against          0

Abstentions             1