Venue: This meeting will be held by remote conferencing using Skype for Business
Note: Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, this meeting will be held remotely. Joining details are included on the agenda cover sheet
The Committee to be notified of any substitute members
All Members were present.
Disclosure of Interests
Members are asked to disclose any interests in matters for consideration at the meeting
The action notes from the meeting held on 4 February 2020 were agreed as a correct record.
Updates from Previous Meeting
A question was asked in relation to the Leisure Centre Working Group and an update was requested to be circulated to the Committee.
Ø Action Note
That an update on the Leisure Centre Working Group be circulated to Members of the Committee.
A further question was asked in relation to the action point requesting a response from the Interim Strategic Director Growth on the position in relation to land searches. The Scrutiny Officer read out the following information which had been circulated to Members before the meeting:
· The team responsible for Land Searches had recently implemented a new way of dealing with Personal searches which was proving successful in providing a more efficient service, saving staff time on administration work.
· The team were introducing a rota-based system to ensure that more time was spent on searches.
· An additional member of staff was employed within the team on a temporary contract in order to assist with backlog. In addition, the team’s apprentice was trained to do more Land Charges related tasks.
· A target was introduced to reduce the average turnaround time on Local Land Charges searches to under 10 days.
· The Council’s Land Charges team had implemented a number of new processes over the last 4 months, as all planning administration functions were aligned.
· Although the new processes initially contributed to a drop in performance, it was hoped that that the combined impact will be positive, once the processes were fully bedded-in.
Concern was expressed about the timeframe for receiving information requested at a meeting, it was felt that information should have been circulated earlier. The Scrutiny Officer apologised for the delay, and explained that information requested by Members at a meeting is usually collated to send to Members in a single update, as opposed to sending information as and when it became available, and that unfortunately due to the cancellation of the April meeting of the Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the update had been neglected on this occasion, and was sent to Members later than expected.
A Member noted that, although not included in the minutes from the previous meeting, they had requested a list of recreation ground assets such as cricket grounds which belonged to Parish/Town councils be shared with Members.
Ø Action Note
A list of recreation ground assets owned by Parish/Town councils to be circulated to Members.
Another Member raised concerns about the monitoring of contracts, and she was advised to raise the issue when the work programme was being discussed.
A non-Committee Member commented on the information that had been received in relation to the Leisure Centre Working Group at the previous meeting, and an earlier meeting of the Culture and Visitor Economy Overview and Scrutiny Committee, noting that information shared at these committees was not consistent, and that no such Working Group appears to have been convened in the interim. He requested a statement of clarification on the current situation in relation to Leisure Centre Working Groups.
Ø Action ... view the full minutes text for item 65.
Report of the Cabinet Member for Finance
The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources introduced the Financial Impact Report. Since the budget had been agreed by Council on 2 March 2020 dramatic changes and restrictions had been put in place following the Coronavirus pandemic. He referred Members to the key income areas where there was uncertainty and the modelling that had been undertaken to assess the financial impact both in the short and longer term. An amendment to the budget framework would be presented in August or September 2020.
Two key categories were affected by the current crisis: cashflow and the budget in relation to income and expenditure. The appendices to the report highlighted the potential financial impacts on budgets especially in relation to areas such as car parks and arts centres. They also highlighted less obvious areas such as planning and land charges, markets and commercial property income and commercial waste income. Several scenarios had been modelled based on potential timelines for easing of Covid-19 related lockdown restrictions. To date there were seven weeks of known figures, and longer projections would be utilised over the coming months when more information was known, with modelling updated accordingly.
A fees and charges budget of £6.4m had been set in March 2020, however in the intervening period this had shown a loss of £365,000, with a total forecast loss in excess of £1m expected by the end of June. Depending upon the rate of recovery the full year impact could potentially be a loss of up to £3.5m. Although some costs could be offset, for example as the arts centres were closed there were no artists’ booking costs, there were several fixed costs which could not be reduced or mitigated. When the budget was originally set, £1m of savings had been included, but due to Covid-19 many programmes which would have delivered savings had been postponed.
Appendix 1 to the report provided further scenario modelling. The scenarios had been shared across Lincolnshire with neighbouring authorities and partners to ensure a consistent methodology for both the pessimistic and optimistic figures. These would be reviewed on a regular basis and adjusted as necessary.
The cashflow modelling at Appendix B had been agreed countywide with all authorities working collaboratively to ensure a consistent methodology. It showed greater detail in the main cash flow areas from both income and expenditure. The cashflow modelling had been compiled to ensure the Council continues to meet its responsibilities; specifically, contractual obligations, staffing costs, precept payments and supplier payments. Council Tax and Business Rates collections were reduced in April by £806,000 but this impact had been offset by the Government accelerating grant payments to the Council.
The modelling had been stress tested with mitigating actions being taken, and investment balances placed in easy access funds where appropriate, should access to those investments be necessary. The Government had deferred the payment from the Council of Business Rates pooling for the months of April, May and June. Creditor payments had reduced as a result of the deferral of the ... view the full minutes text for item 66.
A draft Work Programme had been circulated to Members prior to the meeting, and Members were asked to comment on the draft and offer suggestions for additional items. Following discussion and in considering requests made earlier in the meeting, the following items were confirmed by the Chair:
June Future High Street Fund
July Welland Procurement annual report
September Quarter 1 Financials
Quarter 1 Performance
Car Park Review
Economic Development Strategy and role of InvestSK
November Quarter 2 Financials
Quarter 2 Performance
Review of Grantham Town Centre
Review of St Martins Park
January Housing Delivery Test Action Plan
Special Expense Areas
February Quarter 3 Financials
Quarter 3 Performance
April Quarter 4 Financials
Quarter 4 Performance
2020/21 Review and 2021/22 Work Programme Planning
Unscheduled: Proposed development brief for land at Stamford North
Design Guide Supplementary Planning Document
Leisure Services Proposals
Members also requested that all meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic should include a financial risk register or current status in relation to cash flow projections.
Ø Action Note
That a Financial Risk Register outlining cash flow projection be included on the agenda going forward.
Close of meeting
Meeting closed at 12:20pm.