Agenda and draft minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Value for Money & Customer Service - Monday, 20th January, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming. View directions

Contact: Amy McNulty  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

42.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 18 November 2019 (to be laid on the table 30 minutes before the meeting).

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 18 November 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed.

43.

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 the end of Monday 13 January 2020 to enable a substitute to be arranged, if applicable.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Joan Heagin and Stephen Mulliner. Councillors Richard Cole and Simon Dear were present as substitutes.  

44.

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.

Minutes:

Councillor Peter Martin declared a non-pecuniary interest in item 7 as he was a part of the Property Investment Board. He would stay in the Chair but would not take part in debate.  

45.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC

The Chairman to respond to any written questions received from members of the public in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.

 

The deadline for receipt of questions is 5pm on Monday 13 January 2020.

Minutes:

There were none.

46.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS

The Chairman to respond to any questions received from Members in accordance with Procedure Rule 11.

 

The deadline for receipt of questions is 5pm on Monday 13 January 2020.

Minutes:

There were none.

47.

General Fund Budget 2020/21 and Medium Term Financial Plan DOTX 223 KB

The purpose of the report is for the VFM O&S Committee to scrutinise the draft budget report and pass comments to the Executive ahead of its meeting on 4th February. This report outlines the latest Medium Term Financial Plan and the draft General Fund Budget for 2020/21. The Financial Plan sets out the key work streams for the Council to focus on which, collectively, aim to address the significant shortfall in annual budget projected over the medium term which is estimated to grow to £5.4million per annum  or 40% of the total net service cost by 2023/24.

 

Recommendation

 

The Value for Money O&S Committee consider this report, particularly the draft budget for 2020/21, and pass comments and observations to the Executive

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report outlining the latest Medium Term Financial Plan and the draft General Fund budget for 2020/21/ The Financial Plan set out the key work streams for the Council to focus on which, collectively, aimed to address the significant shortfall in annual budget projected

 

Peter Vickers, Head of Finance and property, introduced the General Fund budget and medium term financial plan (MTFP) report to the Committee. The report of the Budget was also considered alongside this item which the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Councillor Mark Merryweather introduced.

 

The Committee was advised that the MTFP had been updated to include the latest General Fund projections, emerging pressures, spending priorities, risks and opportunities. The Plan also set out Waverley’s strategy for addressing the projected budget shortfall over the next four years and for putting the council in a strong, sustainable financial position.

 

The Committee noted the report and discussed the five recommendations as outlined.

 

In relation to the proposed increase in Waverley’s element of the Council Tax, there was much discussion around whether or not this should be set to the maximum or to the rate of inflation. Councillor Jerry Hyman questioned the latter and felt that if they had said they would not raise council tax, why were they doing it now. The proposed increase was not a huge percentage but 1.3% was the rate of inflation, of which, this was above. He also questioned where the Council was with the staff pay negotiations and the real costs of appeals and judicial reviews. It was confirmed that although appeals were not a budgeted item, this did account for some of the council tax. An estimate of the cost of a pay award plus other inflation commitments, were incorporated within the draft budget.

 

Councillor Simon Dear asked about the proposal to increase fees and charges for car parking which was a particularly sensitive issue, this concern was also raised by Councillor Julia Potts. The car parking review had yet to be published but officers were already proposing a 2.9%increase. Officers advised that this income would not be generated from a blanket increase in all car park charges. Some charges would rise and some could reduce to increase usage and improve the environmental impact. The Council would take a strategic approach to charges in the light of the independent review recently commissioned, the outcome of which was expected to be considered by members early in 2020 and to take effect in 2020/21 although still in progress during the 2020/21 budget setting process. Of the additional income generated, some £100k, was earmarked to pay for the ongoing costs of delivering Waverley’s climate change emergency action plan.

 

The Committee was pleased to note that there would be no increase in charge for the green waste subscription. This charge would remain frozen at £65 which supported and in spirit of the Council’s climate change emergency declaration.

 

Councillor Jerome Davidson asked about investment properties and income streams arising from that, with particular concern  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

Service Plans 2020-2023 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

This report presents the three-year rolling Service Plans for April 2020 to March 2023 for the service areas under the remit of this Committee, which are:

·         Business Transformation Service Plan 2020-23 (Full Plan)

·         Finance and Property Service Plan 2020-23 (Full Plan)

·         Policy and Governance Service Plan 2020-23 (Full Plan)

·         Building Control only from Commercial Services Service Plan 2020-23

·         Economic Development only from Planning and Economic Development Service Plan 2020-23

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Overview & Scrutiny Committee considers the Service Plans for 2020-23 as set out at Annexe 1 relevant to its remit, and makes any observations or comments to the Executive.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee was presented with the service plans covering the period between 2020-2023. The Service Plans had been prepared by Heads of Service in collaboration with their teams and Portfolio Holders to set out the service objectives for the coming three years in line with the new Corporate Strategy 2019-2023 and the Medium Term Financial Plan 2020-2023.

 

It was noted that last year the Council reviewed its approach to service planning, changing them from annual plans, to three yearly rolling plans. This approach allowed not only for an easier alignment with the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP), but also a better transparency on delivery of multi-year projects and other initiatives.

 

The Service Plans specific to the Value for Money and Customer Service O&S were as follows:

 

·         Business Transformation Service Plan

·         Finance and Property Service Plan

·         Policy and Governance Service Plan

·         Building Control only from Commercial Services Service Plan

·         Economic Development only from Planning and Economic Development Service Plan

 

Councillor Jerome Davidson asked to be kept informed of the progress with the business transformation project and the savings that this achieved. It was agreed that this should be carefully monitored by the Committee.

 

Councillor Jerry Hyman raised concerns around balancing the budget and aligning with the corporate strategy. Concerns were also raised by the Committee regarding the Policy and Governance outcome of “Committee papers are provided and read electronically, ensuring better data protection, lower costs and lower carbon footprint”. It was felt that for larger agendas/documents, using an ipad was difficult and made it less accessible. For a Chairman it was also more difficult to follow the agenda.

 

Zac Ellwood advised that there was the omission of a review of the Economic Development Strategy and he would be looking to make the outputs and actions more ‘smart’ prior to it being received by the Executive. 

49.

PLANNING APPEALS PERFORMANCE AND COSTS ARISING FROM JUDICIAL REVIEWS pdf icon PDF 244 KB

This report has been prepared in response to Councillor interest in the cost implications of both planning appeals and judicial reviews relating to planning matters. It is intended to present this report to both the Value for Money and Customer Service and Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committees in January 2020. The purpose of the report is to inform Members of the planning appeals process and the results of appeal decisions.  It further informs Members of the implications of appeal decisions for the Council and makes recommendations for improvements in respect of planning decision-making.Brief commentary is also provided in respect of the costs associated with the judicial review into the Waverley Local Plan Part 1.

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Committee notes this report and makes any observations.

Minutes:

The Committee was advised that this report had been prepared in response to Councillor interest in the cost implications of both planning appeals and judicial reviews relating to planning matters. The purpose of the report was to inform Members of the cost implications of planning appeals. The report made recommendations for improvements in respect of planning decision-making and there was a brief commentary in respect of the costs associated with the judicial review into the Waverley Local Plan Part 1.

 

Concern was raised that for informal hearings applicants were starting to bring legal representatives. Officers advised that informal hearings should not require external counsel but they would do the same if something required a strategic defence. Concern was also raised about the additional costs which were not noted in the papers in terms of administration of appeals. It was noted that there was a budget for dealing with costs of appeals but this was sometimes exceeded. Figures would be shared. It was noted that there was a varying number of appeals across the four areas and additional training to Councillors should be provided to aid more informed decisions.

 

During consideration of this item, it was noted that there still appeared to be issues with the new online planning system and Members requested that this be looked at to make it more accessible.

 

 

 

 

50.

Capital Strategy 2020/2021 DOTX 47 KB

It is a statutory requirement for local authorities to produce an annual Capital Strategy.  The Capital Strategy brings together the Council’s detailed policies, procedures and plans relating to cash investments and property assets.  It incorporates the Treasury Management Framework, Prudential Indicators and Property Investment Strategy for 2020/2021.

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that Capital Strategy for 2020/2021 be approved.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received the Capital Strategy which brought together the Council’s detailed policies, procedures and plans relating to cash investments and property assets. It incorporated the Treasury Management Framework, prudential indicators and Property Investment Strategy for 2020/2021.

 

The Committee discussed the Council’s Investment Strategy in particular and there was some concern of the proposals to reach into residential schemes. There were more considerations that commercial properties and there were risks but they would be considered carefully.

 

The Committee broadly accepted the Corporate Strategy but there were concerns over move to investment into residential property.    

51.

Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 218 KB

The Value for Money and Customer Service Overview and Scrutiny Committee, is responsible for managing its work programme.

 

The work programme includes items agreed at previous meetings and takes account of items identified on the latest Executive Forward Programme (Annexe 2) as due to come forward for decision.

 

A Scrutiny Tracker has been produced to assist the Committee in monitoring the recommendations that have been agreed at its meetings. The Tracker details the latest position on the implementation of these recommendations and is attached as Part C of the work programme.

 

Recommendation

 

Members are invited to consider their work programme and make any comments and/or amendments they consider necessary, including suggestions for any additional topics that the Committee may wish to add to its work programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was noted that the work programme would be put first on the agenda in future. Added to the work programme were business transformation, economic development review and outcomes of the car parking review.