Venue: Remote Meeting
Contact: Louise Hollingsworth Email: email@example.com 01424 787815
To authorise the Chairman to sign the Minutes, at a later date, of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held remotely on 15 June 2020 as a correct record of proceedings.
The Chairman was authorised to sign the Minutes of the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 15 June 2020 at a later date as a correct record of the proceedings.
Apologies and Substitutes
The Chairman to ask if any Member present is substituting for another Member and, if so, to declare his/her name as substitute Member and the name of the absent Member.
There were no apologies for absence.
Disclosure of Interests
To receive any disclosure by Members of personal and disclosable pecuniary interests in matters on the agenda, the nature of any interest and whether the Member regards the personal interest as prejudicial under the terms of the Code of Conduct. Members are reminded of the need to repeat their declaration immediately prior to the commencement of the item in question.
Declarations of interest were made by Councillors in the Minutes as indicated below:
Agenda Item 5 - Councillors Bayliss, Coleman, Courtel, Gray, Langlands and Madeley each declared a Personal Interest in so far as they were former members of Democracy4Bexhill and supporters of a Town Council for Bexhill-on-Sea.
Members received the report of the Executive Director outlining the draft final recommendations of the Community Governance Review Steering Group (CGRSG).
In 2017, under the former administration, the Council undertook a Community Governance Review of Bexhill-on-Sea, and whilst there was overwhelming support shown for the creation of a Town Council (93% of some 9,000+ responses) it was decided at that time not to proceed with the establishment of a Town Council.
Following the local elections in May 2019, and the change in political control, the Council approved a Motion requesting officers to report as to the required procedure with a view to the establishment of a Town Council for Bexhill by 2021. Full Council subsequently agreed the process by which the Council would undertake the Community Governance Review of Bexhill-on-Sea at its meeting on 16 September 2019 and appointed the Community Governance Review Steering Group (CGRSG) to lead on the process.
The CGRSG had met on four occasions between October 2019 and May 2020 in order to progress its Terms of Reference and comprised of the following Members: Councillors J. Barnes, C.A. Bayliss, T.J.C. Byrne, J.J. Carroll, P.J. Gray, L.M. Langlands, P.N. Osborne, R. Thomas and H.L. Timpe. Councillor Bayliss was appointed Chairman and all meetings of the CGRSG were held in the public domain.
At its last meeting held on 29 May, the CGRSG had considered the outcome of the public consultation exercise; the report and full consultation response was attached at Appendix 3 to the report and the Minutes of the meeting attached at Appendix 4.
The key points from the consultation were outlined to Members as follows:
• 2,193 responses were received from the public – 1,564 on-line and 629 response slips;
• in total the Council received 2,208 responses – (4.6% of the population);
• 78% of all responders supported the creation of a town council (22% did not);
• the younger the age group, the less likely they were to support a town council;
• the older the age group the more likely they were to support a town council;
• there were no differences between the views of males and females;
• there was support for the services already funded by Bexhill special expenses to be devolved to a town council; and
• the majority of responders in each Rother District Council Ward were in favour of a town council.
In light of the public support for the creation of a Town Council, demonstrated through both the 2017 and 2020 consultation and in line with the Council’s stated objective of delivering a Town Council for Bexhill-on-Sea, the CGRSG recommended that the Council established a Town Council for Bexhill-on-Sea. The Town Council would be based on the current District Council external boundary of Bexhill, with nine wards, each appointing two Members and with the first elections taking place in May 2021. It was noted that the recommendation would result in the demise of the Bexhill Charter Trustees who would become defunct once the Town Council ... view the full minutes text for item OSC20/13
Members received and considered the report of the Executive Directors on the Provisional Revenue Budget and Capital Programme Monitoring Quarter 4 2019/20, which had been referred to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Members’ information and for any recommended actions to Cabinet as necessary. This report updated Members on the Council’s finances as at the end of March 2020 and included a draft outturn for 2019/20. Members were advised that this could change as a result of the external audit of the Council’s financial accounts due to take place in August 2020.
The Council incurred a deficit of £207,000 in 2019/20, which was £491,000 lower than the Quarter 3 forecast. The Cost of Services showed a deficit of £748,000, which was £105,000 higher than the Quarter 3 forecast. This was partially offset by under spends on Non-Service budgets and Income, which reduced the Net Deficit at line to £207,000.
As part of the 2020/21 revenue budget considerations, the seeking of voluntary redundancies was one of the measures taken to balance the budget. The cost of redundancies was £316,851 and was paid in 2019/20. The gross ongoing saving was expected to be £490,000 per annum.
The main reasons for the variations as detailed in the report were attributed to underspends/savings on Disabled Facilities Grant, staff vacancies and planning policy. The £207,000 deficit was attributed to purchase of IT equipment, Telephony costs etc. in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, redundancy payments, net rental income shortfalls, loss of income arising from the closure of car parks due to the pandemic, increase in housing benefit payments to people in Temporary Accommodation and interest from investments, which was below the budgeted figure.
The council tax collection rate was at a surplus of £956,000; Rother’s share was approximately £95,000. There had been an increase in applications for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme which would therefore have an impact on the current financial year.
Business Rates Collection Fund was in surplus by £462,000 after taking account of actual collection against the original estimate and adjustments to the bad debt provision and provision for rating appeals. Rother’s share was approximately £200,000. This was likely to decline over the current financial year as some businesses struggled to meet costs.
The final Capital outturn for 2019/20 was £14,173,000 million, which was £3,072,000 lower than the revised budget.
The largest project underspend was £1,000,000 on the purchase of Temporary Accommodation, which was delayed by a combination of the pandemic and availability of suitable properties. Members were advised that purchases had since been progressed. Works at the Beeching Road site (part of the Property Investment Strategy) were delayed, which resulted in an underspend of £484,000. The Bexhill Leisure Centre development was currently on hold whilst Members considered its future, and this had resulted in an under spend of £381,000. Finally, there was a lower than anticipated uptake in Disabled Facilities Grants, which was under spent by £273,000.
The net impact on Reserves of the 2019/20 outturn was a reduction of £2,392,000, which ... view the full minutes text for item OSC20/14
Consideration was given to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s Work Programme.
It was noted that the Waste Contract Review had been deferred to the September meeting in order to give the full year’s picture and the first meeting of the Anti-Poverty Task and Finish Group had now been arranged.
The following additions were made to the Work Programme:
• Review of the Tourism Strategy to be added to ‘Items for Consideration’; and
• Review of the Economic Regeneration Strategy to be added to ‘Items for Consideration.
RESOLVED: That the Work Programme attached at Appendix A, be agreed as amended.