Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Members received the report of the Executive Director which presented a draft Corporate Plan 2020-2027 for a 12-week period of consultation. The aim of the consultation was to ensure residents, statutory partners, voluntary partners and interested parties had an opportunity to comment on whether the Council had identified the correct vision for the district and to give a wide audience the opportunity to forward their views on what the priorities for the district should be.
Since the Corporate Plan (2014-21) was agreed there had been a number of changes; political, social and economic, which together, with increasing demand for Council services, had proved challenging and would require a change in priorities. A State of The District report had been produced which summarised data into the areas of: Population; Health & Wellbeing; the Local Economy; Housing; and the Environment. This report enabled the Council to ensure decisions about what the Corporate Plan priorities should be were based on evidence of need.
The Council met for a series of presentations and workshops in November 2019; discussions from these sessions had been summarised into action plans set out to compliment the Corporate Plan and designed to deliver on the visions and four priority areas identified, namely; Growing People; Growing Prosperity; Growing Places; and Growing Performance.
The new administration had since provided further direction in the form of a set of 10 strategic objectives which had also been included within the draft Corporate Plan. To ensure these objectives were given a higher priority, they had been included within the action plans as overall ‘priority targets’.
The consultation exercise would last 12 weeks and then a period of analysis of the results would be required to prepare a final draft Plan for Cabinet to consider on 2 November 2020. External consultation was to consist of an on-line survey (back up postal survey). Internal consultation would focus on developing the delivery programme.
Members discussed the four action plans in turn and the following points were noted during the discussion:
· not necessary to use the word ‘continue’ throughout;
· rented housing had been identified in the actions points as residents using the private rented sector had little choice themselves in how to improve accommodation. The Council would look to work with landlords;
· the Anti-Poverty Task and Finish Group would be considering the Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Members suggested changing priority target 1 to read ‘Enact the agreed outcome from the recommendations of the Anti-Poverty Task and Finish Group concerning the Council Tax Reduction Scheme’; and
· action point ‘Review the council tax reduction scheme to support the most vulnerable residents’ implied that support was not already being provided through the scheme. It was suggested and agreed that the wording be changed to ‘Review the council tax reduction scheme to ensure it supports the most vulnerable residents’.
· the suggested priority target would mean achieving a 16% increase in the average wage by end of 2023. Members suggested amending the target to ‘…National league table…’ from ‘…East Sussex league table…’ which was more achievable. Officers agreed to review the target and suggest an appropriate level before reporting to Cabinet;
· Members were advised that the aim ‘Support businesses to comply with legislation (e.g. food businesses)’ was included within the action plan to help grow the local economy through business support services and to ensure jobs were maintained;
· it was suggested and agreed that action point 4 of aim 2 be amended to read ‘Encourage appropriate eco-tourism (e.g. glamping, biking holidays)’; and
· ‘Hastings Advice and Representation Centre’ and ‘Hastings Furniture Service’ to be added to action point 5 of aim 4.
· Members were concerned that as socially rented affordable homes were a very specific tenure and would have had to have been on site or in the planning system at the time to be completed by 2023, priority target 2 would not be achievable. Members suggested therefore to amend the target date to 2025;
· Members suggested amending priority target 3 to read ‘Improve the Housing Land Supply position for the district to maintain a 5-year land supply by the end of 2023, as per the review of the local plan’;
· Members suggested adding ‘Build integrated transport initiatives’ to the action points for aim 2, ‘Deliver carbon reduction initiatives’; and
· Members suggested adding ‘amongst others’ to action points for aim 4, ‘Promote strong partnership working’.
· Members suggested and agreed to amend priority target 2 to read ‘Further open the Council to the public ensuring transparency at meetings, better consultation and better visibility by the end of 2023’
· Priority target 3, ‘Rectify the inherited financial deficit and bring the Council to a secure financial footing by the end of 2023’ would involve an additional £1m in savings and was not in line with the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP), recently agreed by Cabinet. Members suggested and agreed to adjust this target to 2025 in line with the MTFP and delete the words ‘Rectify the inherited financial deficit and bring…’; and
· members of the public were referred to as clients, customers and residents throughout the action plans according to whether they were business owners, worked in the district or lived in the district. Members requested this was clarified in the action plans.
Members requested that the sentence ‘a place where housing is available to meet housing needs’ of the Strategic Vision be amended to read ‘a place where good housing is available to meet all housing needs’ and paragraph 6 of the report amended accordingly. In addition, the Bexhill Town Forum and Equality Groups to be added to the Voluntary Sector Partners with whom to be consulted with in the Consultation Plan document.
RESOLVED: That Cabinet be requested to agree the draft Corporate Plan 2020-27, as amended, for a 12-week period of consultation.
Publication date: 30/03/2020
Date of decision: 16/03/2020
Decided at meeting: 16/03/2020 - Overview and Scrutiny Committee