Venue: Virtual meeting - this meeting is being held remotely
Contact: Jo Toomey
At the last meeting of the Cabinet on 17 March 2020 the Leader of the Council revised his Scheme of Delegation to enable him to take all Key Decisions of the Council during the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, which would normally have been taken by the Cabinet. The Leader stated that he was withdrawing those arrangements made at the March meeting. His revised Scheme of Delegation re granted authority to individual Cabinet Members when sitting together as a collective body to make Key Decisions.
Register of attendance and apologies for absence
All Cabinet Members were present.
Minutes of the meeting held on 17 March 2020.
The minutes of the meeting held on 17 March 2020 were agreed as a correct record of the decisions taken.
Disclosure of Interests (if any)
No interests were disclosed.
Report of the Deputy Leader of the Council recommending the submission of a Business Case for a Future High Street Scheme for Grantham on the 31 July 2020.
Appendix 5 to this report, which is the draft business case, is exempt under paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 because it contains information relating to the financial or business affairs of an individual or organisation.
1. Cabinet approves the submission of the Future High Street Business Case.
2. Cabinet recommends that Council approves its financial contribution to the delivery of the Future High Street Scheme, as outlined in the Future High Street Fund report.
3. Cabinet delegates authority to the Strategic Director for Growth in consultation with the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Interim Director of Finance, to make any minor amendments to the bid as required prior to submission.
Reasons for decision:
1. The report of the Deputy Leader of the Council on the Future High Street Fund.
2. A successful first round submission following which South Kesteven District Council was invited to submit a Business Case to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).
3. A revenue grant from the MHCLG which allowed for the appointment of an external consultancy team.
4. A full programme of internal and external consultation, which was undertaken to inform the Draft Business Case.
5. The Draft Business Case, attached as exempt Appendix 5 to the report of the Deputy Leader of the Council, which was submitted in March 2020.
6. The project costs as set out in the original draft submission (Appendix 1 to the report of the Deputy Leader of the Council).
7. Feedback from the MHCLG on the Draft Business Case.
8. Meetings held with various bodies including the Project Board created for the Future High Street and High Street Heritage Action Zone schemes and key stakeholders.
9. No expected change to the Council’s revenue contribution of £379,092 over the four-year programme.
10. Feedback from public surveys and business workshops on views about Grantham town centre as set out at Appendix 2 and Appendix 3 to the report of the Deputy Leader of the Council.
11. The governance timeline providing opportunities to enable refinement of the bid before the final deadline for submission on 31 July 2020.
12. The stage 1 equality analysis attached as Appendix 4 to the report of the Deputy Leader of the Council.
13. The potential risks highlighted in section 10 of the report and the actions that have been put in place to mitigate those risks.
Other Options considered and rejected
Do nothing. This would have involved not preparing a bid for the Future High
Street Fund. Given the Council’s clear imperative to boost Grantham’s economic, social and cultural performance, and the rare opportunity of Government funding of this scale that the Future High Street Fund presents, the ‘do nothing’ option was not considered an appropriate option to pursue.
Other projects on the long list of potential interventions were considered but not taken forward on the basis that they would weaken the bid.
The Deputy Leader of the Council presented his report on the Future High Street Fund which recommended the submission of a Business Case on 31 July 2020 for projects in Grantham.
Lincolnshire County Council had classed Grantham as the “Hub for Lincolnshire” due to its infrastructure. A bid had been prepared in consultation with a consultancy company to apply for a £10 million grant to regenerate the town. The area that the bid covered ran from the train station approach into the town centre and up Westgate including the George Centre and Westgate Hall.
The aim was to make Grantham a more attractive place to work, live and visit. Grantham was well situated with the train infrastructure to support a strong commercial environment and encourage people to the town. The Deputy Leader referred Members to the appendices attached to the report highlighting how areas such as Westgate were proposed to be developed and work that was being undertaken with Lincolnshire County Council to help keep large vehicles out of the town centre. Officers who helped put the report together were thanked, as well as Councillors who had contributed to the document including the Cabinet Member for Culture and Visitor Economy and the Cabinet Member for Communities. The Leader made reference to how the different sectors had been highlighted within the document and the engagement and research that had been undertaken to produce the document.
A question was asked about the figures contained within the main body of the report in relation to funding. The original proposal was for works with an estimated value of £27 million, bidding for a contribution from the Future High Street Fund of £12 million. Feedback on the draft bid indicated that it would have the greatest chance of success if the total valued contribution was below £10 million. Members also asked about the Council’s contribution; the match-funding from the Council related to revenue costs associated with the bid and were unlikely to change. The total contribution required from the Council would be confirmed at the meeting on 16 July 2020.
On being put to the vote, it was AGREED that the Cabinet:
1. Approves the submission of the Future High Street Business Case.
2. Recommends that Council approves its financial contribution to the delivery of the Future High Street Scheme, as outlined in the Future High Street Fund report.
3. Delegates authority to the Strategic Director for Growth in consultation with the Deputy Leader of the Council and the Interim Director of Finance, to make any minor amendments to the bid as required prior to submission.
Report of the Chief Executive on the Programme of Meetings 2020/21.
The Cabinet recommends that the Council adopts the updated draft programme of meetings for 2020/21 at its next ordinary meeting on 16 July 2020 under the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020.
Considerations/Reasons for decision:
1. The report from the Chief Executive on the draft programme of meetings of the Council and its committees for 2020/21, attached at Appendix 1 to the report and the updated version of Appendix 1 circulated on 12 June 2020.
2. The list of changes to the draft programme of meetings following consultation with Councillors prior to the publication of the Cabinet agenda, as attached at Appendix 2 to the report.
3. The list outlining further changes to the draft programme of meetings based on additional feedback received following the publication of the Cabinet agenda (as set out in the supplementary documents circulated on 12 June 2020).
4. The Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020.
5. To provide certainty for Members and transparency for members of the public around the dates on which meetings will be held.
Other options considered
To wait until the Annual Meeting of Council in September 2020 to adopt the programme of meetings. This option was rejected because the lack of an agreed programme could potentially limit transparency and accountability.
The Chief Executive presented her report on the draft Programme of Meetings for 2020/21 and referred to the addendum that had been circulated to the Cabinet Members on 12 June 2020 updating the programme following further feedback from Members. She thanked Members for their input in developing the draft programme of meetings and stated that partner organisations had been contacted to avoid the need to reschedule meetings; conference dates and commitments had also been taken into consideration. The programme would usually be agreed at the Annual Council meeting. As the meeting was not taking place until September 2020, the recommendation was that Cabinet recommended that the Council adopt the draft programme of meetings 2020/21 at its meeting on 16 July 2020.
It was AGREED:
That the Cabinet recommends that the Council adopts the updated draft programme of meetings for 2020/21 at its next ordinary meeting on 16 July 2020 under the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020.
Report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources on the financial impact of COVID-19.
Appendix D to this report, which includes commercial details relating to the leisure provider, is exempt under paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 because it contains information relating to the financial or business affairs of an individual or organisation.
1. Cabinet notes the current financial position for 2020/21 and the actions being taken as detailed within the Financial Impact Report.
2. Cabinet agrees to continue to monitor the current 2020/21 financial position and recommend amendments to the budget framework at its meeting on 8 September 2020 for consideration by Council on 17 September 2020.
3. Cabinet agrees to suspend car parking charges until 1 August 2020 at all Council operated pay and display car parks.
4. Cabinet agrees to continue the remuneration bonus payment of £50 to drivers, operatives, team leaders, supervisors, vehicle fitters and support staff working within the street scene service (together with any staff seconded to the service during the COVID-19 response period) for the period up to and including 30 September 2020. The bonus payment received by part-time and casual staff will be on a pro rata basis.
5. Cabinet agrees to re-introduce the billing of rent to the SMEs (small, medium enterprises) that occupy Council premises from 1 July 2020 and delegate authority to the Interim Director of Finance, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, to suspend rents for individual tenant businesses that meet criteria in relation to hardship.
Considerations/reasons for decision
1. The report from the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources on the Financial Impact of COVID-19.
2. Key income areas affected by the introduction of stringent movement restrictions announced by the Prime Minister on 23 March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Income modelling that is being undertaken based on 3, 6, 9 and 12 month scenarios and updated as changes in restrictive measures are announced.
4. A summary showing financial exposure for the 3-month period attached as Appendix A to the report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources.
5. Cash flow modelling set out in Appendix B to the report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources
6. Agreement of the method of cashflow modelling countywide with all authorities working collaboratively to ensure the use of a consistent methodology and to share good practice.
7. Council Tax and Business Rates were key income sources to the Council and were being carefully monitored.
8. Data that was being captured to ensure grant monies received were being used to offset the additional expenditure incurred as a result of the pandemic.
9. Funding received from the Government totalling £1,480,912.
10. Re-profiling of the capital programmes for both the General Fund and the Housing Revenue Account.
11. Government schemes administered by the Council with the support of InvestSK.
12. The Finance Risk Register attached as Appendix C to the report of the Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources.
13. Comments made by the Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 26 May 2020.
Other options considered
No other options were considered.
The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources presented a report to Cabinet on the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A financial impact report had been presented to the Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 26 May 2020. A further update would be presented to this Committee on 30 June 2020 with the latest information.
The report highlighted the key budget income areas being impacted and the forecasting in place, cashflow modelling and proactive work being undertaken to protect the Council. The report also included commentary on collection rates for Council Tax and Business Rates, together with the Lincolnshire Business Rate Pooling arrangements and the modelling for any reduction in the Business Rate base. South Kesteven’s profile showed that it was at a lower risk than some of its neighbouring authorities due to the diverse businesses within its area. The report also listed the costs incurred by the Council in its response to COVID-19. The Leisure provider details were contained within exempt Appendix D to the report. The report also gave details of the two tranches of funding grant received from Government (totalling £1,480,912) to help offset some of the funding shortfalls. To date, the Council had passed on £27 million in business grants, awarded £17 million as part of the extended retail relief scheme and awarded grants to over 2,800 working age council tax support claimants, reducing their council tax bills by £150.
Since the report had been published a further 58 employees from the Arts Centres had been furloughed, which would save an average of £29,000 each month. The income cashflow and risk register had been circulated to other senior finance colleagues across Lincolnshire to ensure a consistent approach and share best practice. Although the total financial cost was unknown, modelling showed income losses of £3.8 million. It was expected that this should be offset by reductions in expenditure such as the furlough of staff, income received in the form of Government grants and use of the budget stabilizing reserve that had been put in place in March 2020.
A further financial report would be presented to the July Cabinet meeting with a further review to Cabinet, at its meeting on 8 September 2020 recommending a revised budget for consideration at the Council meeting on 17 September 2020. The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources endorsed the recommendations as outlined within the report. It was noted that the report had been compiled with caution scenarios due to the uncertainty of the situation.
On being put to the vote it was AGREED that the Cabinet:
1. Notes the current financial position for 2020/21 and the actions being taken as detailed within the Financial Impact Report.
2. Agrees to continue to monitor the current 2020/21 financial position and recommend amendments to the budget framework at its meeting on 8 September 2020 for consideration by Council on 17 September 2020.
3. Agrees to suspend car parking charges until 1 August 2020 at all Council operated ... view the full minutes text for item 96.
Report of the Leader of the Council on South Kesteven District Council’s response to COVID-19.
The Leader of the Council presented his report which gave a position statement on South Kesteven District Council’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. He stated he was proud of the response of the Council and the community, adding that the support received from staff, communities and Members from across the Council had been outstanding. The Leader placed on record his gratitude.
Over the last 12 weeks significant changes had been made to the way services had been delivered and communities supported. The report detailed the response of the Council and its partners and, the current position in respect of the Council’s response to COVID-19. The report also formally recognised the response from community groups, charities and volunteers, and parish and town councils. It also identified lessons that could be learnt from the crisis moving forward to the restart and recovery phases. At the start of the crisis the Council had three clear priorities:
· To protect the health of staff, Members and residents
· To maintain the Council’s critical services
· To support local businesses
Highlights of the report included:
· Facilitating over 400 staff working from home, protecting the health of both staff and residents.
· Staff being redeployed to new services such as the Community Hub and the befriending service.
· Maintaining waste collection, urgent housing needs and emergency housing repairs services
· Distribution of grants totalling more than £27 million to 2,200 businesses.
· 900 local businesses which had received business rate relief.
The Cabinet recognised Members’ contributions to the response by their increased Ward Member Grant scheme allowance to help support communities during the crisis and volunteering for the befriending service.
Communication from the Council had been clear with a special version of SKToday giving details of services available and contact details. Social media activity had increased by 155% since the start of the lockdown. Daily e-mails had been sent to staff providing updates and giving support while Members received twice weekly e-mails keeping them informed about what was happening.
Customer Service officers continued to work remotely supported by the IT team, which had also helped support the running of virtual meetings. The Leader stated that he hoped remote meetings would continue after the COVID-19 response period.
Close partnership working had been carried out with the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum, across councils and across the region. The Cabinet recognised that while there was still further work to do and the crisis had not yet finished, the Council would learn from the lessons to date.
Members of the Cabinet commented on the challenging and unprecedented time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Members expressed their thanks for the work that had been undertaken by communities, volunteers, members of staff and Members, noting the work of the Leader and the Chief Executive during this period.
A minute’s silence was held for those who had lost their lives during the COVID-19 crisis in the district.
The Cabinet noted:
1. The response of South Kesteven District Council and partners to the COVID-19 crisis and the current position of the Council with ... view the full minutes text for item 97.
Report of the Leader of the Council on South Kesteven District Council’s Recovery Plan.
Cabinet approves the framework for developing a COVID-19 Recovery Plan and notes the upcoming activities in the “Restart” phase of the framework.
Reasons for decision:
1. The report of the Leader of the Council on the development of a COVID-19 Recovery Plan for South Kesteven District Council.
2. The development of a Corporate Plan and a revised Budgetary Framework alongside the COVID-19 Recovery Plan.
3. The proposed four stage recovery framework: ‘Response’, ‘Restart’, ‘Recover’ and ‘Reshape’, with a reset review between stages.
4. The interactions between intended actions built into the 2020/21 budget and the new developments required in response to COVID-19.
5. Plans for the phased re-opening of certain services as part of the ‘Restart’ phase and the full list of activities as set out in Appendices 1 to 5 of the report of the Leader of the Council.
6. The proposed internal governance approach for the ‘Restart’ phase.
7. The partnership working arrangements set out in section 7 of the report.
8. Consultation with partners and external stakeholders about the nature of the recovery plan.
9. The stage 1 equality analysis attached as Appendix 7 to the Leader’s report.
10. The Risk Register attached as Appendix 8 to the report of the Leader of the Council, which set out key risks and the actions in place to mitigate their impact.
Other options considered and rejected:
Do nothing and continue with a reactive approach and delegated decisions for the foreseeable future. This was rejected as it was felt that it was important to ensure plans were developed to steer activity.
Do the minimum, waiting to produce the September amended budget report and incorporate all future actions into this. This was rejected as it would combine strategy, finance and an emerging COVID-19 environment into a single document, which could be very complex and therefore less transparent.
Return to ‘normal’ and create a Corporate Plan and amended budget through standard processes and rely on adopted Scrutiny and decision-making processes (and internal line management) for enacting decisions. This was rejected as it was felt that the situation was too volatile; this was seen to be more appropriate at the ‘Reshape’ phase.
The Leader of the Council presented his report which detailed a framework for developing a recovery plan from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial response to the pandemic had been reactive but there was recognition that it was important for the district to recover and thrive in the coming months. In addition to meeting the three key priorities outlined in the COVID-19 SKDC Response – Position Statement report, progress had also been made on other key projects, such as St Martins Park, the leisure programme and the housing and planning programmes, the timescales for which had been adapted.
Alongside the COVID-19 Recovery Plan, the Council was developing a Corporate Plan and a revised Budgetary Framework. All three documents would be presented to Cabinet and Council in September 2020.
The framework for recovery was based on four phases:
· Restart – the phased re-opening of operations (sports facilities, supporting wider businesses to re-open, arts activities) based on the five key themes within the report (vibrant and resilient economy, housing that meets the needs of our residents, strong communities with high quality facilities, a clean and sustainable environment and a high performing Council)
· Recover – stimulating activities to spark wider businesses (sector specific support where necessary and appropriate, focus of InvestSK)
· Reshape – revising the Council’s long-term plans to incorporate wider changes in behaviours and its role in community leadership (greater digital service offering, increased working from home, embedding carbon reduction into new ways of working)
When services were looking to move to the next phase it was important that a review and reset was undertaken to look at risks, opportunities and lessons learnt to shape the future direction. Timescales had not been included due to the uncertainty at the present time. Appendices 1 to 5 detailed activities that the Council would be undertaking to support residents and businesses.
There had been a significant impact on finances due to COVID-19. It would be necessary to amend the budget approved in March 2020; an amended budget would be presented in September 2020.
The Cabinet Member for Commercial and Operations made reference to the first virtual climate change task and finish group, which 25 people had attended. The Council’s carbon footprint was put at 7,600 tonnes however this was before buildings were closed. The Cabinet Member stated that the Big Clean would be re-established and hoped that the best kept village could be reintroduced. Cabinet Members also noted that the electric charging points in Welham Street car park were due to be connected by Western Power.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning spoke about continuing to support tenants including those in housing need and in sheltered housing. The homeless had been supported by the allocation of temporary accommodation. Housing Management had been restarted and work was continuing on housing repairs. The development of Council owned ... view the full minutes text for item 98.
Matters Referred to Cabinet by the Council or Overview & Scrutiny Committees
No matters had been referred to the Cabinet by the Council or the Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
Representations and questions from Non-Cabinet Members
The Leader of the Council made a statement in relation to Grantham Hospital. At the January meeting of Council, it was noted that there were many issues that affected Grantham and the wider district. One of the main issues was the need for 24/7 urgent care provision in the largest town within South Kesteven. The Council was supporting growth within the district to develop communities in a dynamic and sustainable way. It was therefore considered essential that health provision supported the existing and expanding communities and provided a high quality accessible health care service for the residents of South Kesteven.
United Lincolnshire Hospital Trust (ULHT) had announced temporary changes to the services that would be provided on the Grantham Hospital site. Some of the proposals were welcomed, such as the provision of cancer care treatments and the provision of some elective surgery at Grantham hospital, together with the separation of COVID-19 and non COVID-19 issues.
The Leader stated that any proposals for the hospital needed to reflect future needs as well as current demands, which at present they did not. Conversations had been held with both Gareth Davies MP and Caroline Johnson MP who would continue to lobby for a health care provision for existing and the future needs of the district. A special Council meeting would be held to discuss the proposed changes to Grantham hospital and the views of the Council would be presented to the ULHT Board and its Chief Executive, Andrew Morgan.
A Member, not on the Cabinet, wished to place on record thanks and appreciation to the NHS not only in Grantham, but nationwide, for the professional way in which they had served everyone, putting their lives at risk on a daily basis. The Member then spoke about the decision made last week by the ULHT Board to downgrade Grantham Hospital’s accident and emergency department to an urgent treatment centre from 22 June 2020 and a COVID-19 green hospital.
The Member agreed that those with cancer on the waiting list should be treated as soon as possible but was very concerned about the loss of the accident and emergency department on a temporary basis until 31 March 2021 and felt that it would not recover. Hospital staff had raised concerns with the Member that services would be lost “by the backdoor”. During a radio interview in April, ULHT’s Chief Executive, Andrew Morgan had stated that the Trust was not looking to downgrade the site “by the backdoor”. Grantham Hospital’s accident and emergency department had been closed at night since 16 August 2016 and it was felt that the temporary changed would become permanent.
At a recent meeting the Chief Executive of ULHT had stated that it was the responsibility of Lincolnshire CCG to make changes. ULHT figures stated that 19% of patients (4,603) would have to travel to Lincoln or Boston, where waiting figures for the ULHT were one of the worst recorded in England for dealing with patients within a four-hour period.
It was ... view the full minutes text for item 100.
Report of the Leader of the Council on Key and Non-Key Decisions for noting.
Appendices 1b and 3c to this report, which contain information relating to bids in respect of the Council’s insurance contract and the evaluation of those bids, and the Heads of Terms for the disposal of land in Grantham (respectively), are exempt under paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 because they contain information relating to the financial or business affairs of an individual or organisation.
The Leader of the Council presented his report on Key and Non-Key Decisions taken since the last meeting of the Cabinet. Details during the COVID-19 response period had been reported to the meeting of Council held on 14 May 2020. Decisions taken after this period included the awarding of the Insurance Contract to Zurich Municipal from 1 July 2020 for a three-year period with the option to extend for a further two years.
Report of the Leader of Council on the Cabinet’s Forward Plan.
Cabinet Members noted the Forward Plan for the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 which was appended to the agenda. The Forward Plan gave an indication of items that would be presented to Cabinet in the next 12 months. The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning indicated that there would be two further items for inclusion on the plan following the reviews taking place in planning and housing.
Close of meeting
Before the Leader of the Council closed the meeting, he wished to thank Councillor Chris Benn, who had recently resigned, for the work that he had done in the Glen Ward and as Chairman of the Environment Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The meeting closed at 15:45pm.