Venue: Zoom meeting
Contact: Kimberly Soane Democratic Services Officer
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTES
To receive apologies for absence and note any substitutions.
Members who are unable to attend this meeting must submit apologies by 5pm on Wednesday 2 September 2020 to enable a substitute to be arranged, if applicable.
Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Peter Nicholson; Cllr Richard Cole attended as a Substitute.
Welcome and introductions
12.1 The Chairman welcomed Members and members of the public watching to the meeting, and advised that due to the nature of the business to be discussed it was likely that the meeting would need to move into exempt session.
12.2 The Chairman confirmed the members of the Committee present, and the purpose of the meeting which was to consider the call-in of an Executive decision in relation to the lease arrangements with Broadwater Golf Club by Cllrs Julia Potts, Stephen Mulliner, John Gray and Simon Dear. As substitute members of the Committee, Cllrs Gray and Dear would be able to speak in relation to the call-in item, but not vote on the decision.
12.3 In addition, there were a number of other Members present, including Cllr Mark Merryweather, Executive Portfolio Holder for Finance, Assets and Commercial Services, and Cllr Michael Goodridge, who had registered to speak. The Chairman also introduced officers present, and in particular thanked Yasmine Makin, the Scrutiny Officer who would be moving on to a new post shortly, for all her work in supporting the Overview and Scrutiny committees over recent years.
DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS
To receive Members’ declarations of interests in relation to any items included on the agenda for this meeting, in accordance with Waverley’s Code of Local Government Conduct.
Cllr Joan Heagin declared a non-pecuniary interest as Waverley representative on Sport Godalming. Cllr Heagin had engaged in correspondence with Sport Godalming regarding the non-renewal of the Broadwater Golf Club lease and alerted them to the fact that the Executive would be considering the future of the site on 8 July 2020.
On 8 July 2020 the Executive approved the recommendation set out in the report “Property Matter – Broadwater Golf Course Options Appraisal”. The report (attached at Annexe 1, plus Exempt annexe to that report) set out a proposal to use the Investment Advisory Board Reserve to fund an Options Appraisal on the site at a cost of £50,000, and legal fees of £20,000.
On 14 July 2020, a call in of that decision
was received from Cllrs Julia Potts, Stephen Mulliner, John Gray
and Simon Dear, of the Value for Money & Customer Services
Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Their reasons for calling in the
decision are detailed in the call in form (Annexe 2).
That, having considered the call in, the Committee agrees one to the following options:
1. To resolve not to refer the decision back to the Executive;
2. To resolve not to refer the decision back to the Executive but nevertheless to make such recommendations to the Executive as it sees fit;
3. To resolve to refer the decision to the Executive for reconsideration with a written explanation setting out the nature of the committee’s concerns;
4. To resolve to refer the matter to Full Council if it is felt that the decision is contrary to the Council’s Budget and Policy Framework.
14.1 The Chairman introduced the item, which concerned the call-in of two decision by the Executive at the meeting on 8 July: to use £50,000 of the Investment Advisory Board Reserve to commission the council's external property advisors Montagu Evans to undertake a detailed options appraisal of the Broadwater Golf Course site in Godalming; and to spend £20,000 to cover legal fees associated with the lease arrangements with Broadwater Park Golf Club.
14.2 The call-in had sought to consider the wider question of the reversal of the December 2018 decision of the then Executive to grant an extended lease to Broadwater Park Golf Club. This had been deemed outside the scope of the call-in arrangements, but the process would be considered at the next meeting of the Standards Committee.
14.3 The Chairman referred to the Exempt papers included in the agenda, and the significant amount of background and contextual information provided to Committee members by the Borough Solicitor which were also exempt and confidential to the council. He reminded Committee members that the focus of the call-in was the decision relating to the two expenditure items. Whilst the contextual position had some bearing on this, care would be needed in referring to the exempt papers and he would be advised by officers on the appropriate point at which to move the meeting to exempt session.
14.4 The Chairman advised that he would invite Peter Vickers, the Head of Finance and Property, to introduce the call-in report; and then ask Cllr Julia Potts to explain the reasons for the call-in; followed by the Executive Portfolio Holder, Cllr Mark Merryweather, to present the decision of the Executive. He would then open the matter up for debate before reaching a conclusion and decision on next steps, noting the suggested recommendations set out in the agenda.
Head of Finance and Property
14.5 Peter Vickers advised that as Head of Finance and Property he was authorised under the council’s scheme of delegation to undertake all actions in relation to the administration of the council's estate and the property portfolio and its interest in land and property. Granting and renewal of leases in excess of 25 years was an exception to this authority, which was why the authority to proceed with granting a new lease to Broadwater Park Golf Club in December 2018 required Executive approval.
14.6 The Executive decision to authorise officers to grant a lease did not mean that the Head of Finance and Property was obliged to do so, and following negotiations with the leaseholder it became apparent that it would not be in the council's interest to do so. The decision was taken by the Head of Finance and Property in consultation with the Portfolio Holder to not renew the lease. The decision not to renew the lease and to terminate the existing arrangements was within the delegated authority of the Head of Finance and Property and did not require an approval from the Executive.
14.7 The background to the ... view the full minutes text for item 14.