Decisions

Decisions published

17/11/2020 - Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy Review ref: 3551    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Operational Services Cabinet Committee

Made at meeting: 17/11/2020 - Operational Services Cabinet Committee

Decision published: 20/11/2020

Effective from: 17/11/2020

Decision:

The Hackney Carriage and Private Hire Licensing Policy and the policy consultation process be noted.


17/11/2020 - Apologies for Absence ref: 3552    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Operational Services Cabinet Committee

Made at meeting: 17/11/2020 - Operational Services Cabinet Committee

Decision published: 17/11/2020

Effective from: 17/11/2020

Decision:

Apologies for absence were received from Cllr Conrad Broadley and Cllr Gary Harding. Cllr Leslie Hoskins and Cllr Emma Elliott respectively  attended as their substitutes.


17/11/2020 - Allotment Bee Keeping Policy ref: 3550    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Operational Services Cabinet Committee

Made at meeting: 17/11/2020 - Operational Services Cabinet Committee

Decision published: 17/11/2020

Effective from: 17/11/2020

Decision:

That the Allotment Bee Keeping Policy be recommended for adoption.


16/11/2020 - Update on Allocations Policy Consultation ref: 3553    Information Only

Decision Maker: Housing Services Cabinet Committee

Made at meeting: 16/11/2020 - Housing Services Cabinet Committee

Decision published: 16/11/2020

Effective from: 01/12/2020

Decision:

Members noted the outcome of the Housing Allocations Scheme consultation and agreed to the next steps to progress the Housing Allocations Scheme as outlined within the report.

Wards affected: (All Wards);


11/11/2020 - Treasury Management Mid-Year Review 2020/21 ref: 3548    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Finance and Audit Committee

Made at meeting: 11/11/2020 - Finance and Audit Committee

Decision published: 11/11/2020

Effective from: 11/11/2020

Decision:

Members were provided with an update report on treasury management activity undertaken during the period April to September 2020. The report set out both the treasury activity and the impact of the capital expenditure for the year up to end of September, set in the context of the current economic background along with a forecast of interest rates which had been provided by the Council’s Treasury Management Consultants, Link.

Members noted that the report was based on the position as at 30 September and therefore did not reflect the fact that England had entered into a second lockdown and the implications this may have, on things such as interest rates, fund valuations and the Authority’s ability to fully spend against the capital programme etc.

As things stood at this moment in time, the capital programme for the Council stands at just under £56m, of which £18.8m could be funded from existing resources.  This creates a borrowing requirement for the Authority of some £37m.  Of this some £7m internal borrowing will be utilised with £30m external borrowing being sought, most likely to be from the Public Works Loan Board. 

The capital financing requirement for the year was forecast to be £235.5m and gross debt £199m.  The capital financing requirement was the Council’s combined historic unfunded capital expenditure which because of the Council’s ability to utilise internal borrowing, was above the actual gross debt.

The issue around the St George’s transaction and the delay this had caused in signing off the accounts also has implications on treasury.  Both the authorised limit and the operational boundaries, the limits set internally on the amount of debt the Authority could take on, include a provision for the treatment of the St George’s transaction.  Until this was finalised, it could not be forecast whether the revised estimate for both the operational boundary and authorised limit was appropriate.  The positive was that if anything, those limits were higher than they may need to be, but there was a possibility they may need to be amended.  This would have to be a Full Council decision but in the first instance the matter would be discussed with the Chair of the Finance & Audit Committee.

The Principal Accountant (HRA) advised that in relation to investments, as at 30 September, the Council’s investments totalled £40.7m.  This was split between internally and externally managed funds. The officer confirmed that as at 30 September 2020, the Council had acted in line with the approved limits in the annual investment strategy and no breaches had occurred.

Members were reminded that the capital values of the Property Funds and the Multi Asset Funds have been hit significantly by Covid-19.  Funds have continued to pay dividends, not quite at the same level, but still above the level of return the Council could get on traditional investments. These remained long term investments and therefore no immediate decisions were needed to be made about withdrawing funds. Officers were in contact with the fund managers to see what actions they were taking as a result and would continue to do so over the coming months. 

Following a question, the officer clarified that the gross external debt was not changing. However, there was an element of the finance lease in respect of the St George’s Centre that may change accounting requirements. The Council might also have to take in account other long term liabilities, however these were more likely to reduce. The Chair noted that this document would be submitted to Members for consideration before being signed off.

In relation to the Treasury restricting borrowing from the Public Works Loans Board, the Council did respond to the consultation on this matter and a reply was awaited.

Resolved that:

(a)       the report be noted; and

(b)       following consultation with members of the Finance & Audit Committee, authority be delegated to the Chair of the Committee to amend the authorised limit and operational boundary as needed in response to the final accounting treatment agreed in respect of the St George’s Centre transaction and to make any necessary recommendations to Full Council.


11/11/2020 - Mid-Year Review of 2020/21 Corporate Risk Register ref: 3549    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Finance and Audit Committee

Made at meeting: 11/11/2020 - Finance and Audit Committee

Decision published: 11/11/2020

Effective from: 11/11/2020

Decision:

Members were presented with mid-year progress information in respect of all risks recorded in the 2020/21 Corporate Risk Register, which were set out in Appendix 2 of the report.

The Committee was reminded that the current Corporate Risk Register had been approved by Full Council in May 2020 and this report enabled the actions taken by the Council in the first half of the year to be reviewed and drew Members attention to the new and emerging risks.

Following a question on inherent, residual and target risks, the Director (Corporate Services) explained that inherent was the raw risk that the Council was trying to manage. Residual took into account the arrangements in place to mitigate the risk and target was based on what happened if all management actions were to be implemented.

The following suggestions were made in relation to the 2021/22 Risk Register:

·                     That the investment strategy focused on the property portfolio and the risk needed to be expanded to cover the totality of dependency.

·                     Local Plan – it was recognised that there was a huge amount riding on this policy and its impact on the Borough, its and its economy. It was suggested that the Local Plan should be listed as a risk on its own.

 

The Director (Corporate Services) noted the suggestions and undertook build them into the assessment process.

Resolved that:

(a)   progress, as set out in Appendix 3, in managing or mitigating each risk recorded within the 2020/21 Corporate Risk Register be noted; and

(b)   the preparation for the development of the 2021-22 Corporate Risk Register be commenced, taking into account the two suggestions made by the Committee.


11/11/2020 - Statutory Statement of Accounts 2019/20 ref: 3547    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Finance and Audit Committee

Made at meeting: 11/11/2020 - Finance and Audit Committee

Decision published: 11/11/2020

Effective from: 11/11/2020

Decision:

Members were updated on the progress of the annual external audit of the Statement of Accounts.  The Committee was advised that it had not been possible to conclude the audit and present the final Statement of Accounts and Audit Findings Report at this meeting. It was therefore requested that delegated authority be given to the Chair of the Committee to sign the audited Statement of Accounts and Letter of Representation outside of the meeting. This would include consideration of the Audit Findings Report from the external auditors Grant Thornton. In addition, it was proposed that both the Statement of Accounts and Audit Findings Report documents would be circulated to the Committee once finalised so that any comments from Members could be taken into account prior to sign off.

The Principal Accountant (General Fund) drew Members’ attention to paragraph 2 of the report which set out the reasons why it had not been possible to produce an audited set of the accounts for sign off at this meeting. In particular, he highlighted the accounting arrangements relating to the St George’s Centre and the additional requirements placed on the auditors by their own regulatory body. The impact of the pandemic was also noted.

Paul Grady and Liulu Chen from Grant Thornton, the Council’s external auditors, were welcomed to the meeting.

The following points were raised during discussion on this item:

·                     The Director (Corporate Services) confirmed that it was the intention of the Council and the external auditor that the Statement of Accounts to be ready by the end of November. Members were advised that there were no penalties for not meeting the target date for sign off, which was confirmed by the representatives of Grant Thornton. 

·                     It was suggested that rather than circulating the document to Members of the Committee for comment, it might be a better idea to call a special meeting of the Committee. The Chair confirmed that this would depend on the number of comments received and date availability in what was an already busy schedule of meetings.

·                     Following a question on the deadline for completion of the Statement of Accounts and Audit Findings Report, it was confirmed there was no absolute deadline and some local authorities had audit documents outstanding from 2018. However, the non-completion of these documents could impinge on next year’s accounts and that this was best avoided.

Resolved that, following consultation with Members of the Finance & Audit Committee on the Statement of Accounts and Audit Findings Report documents, delegated authority be given to the Chair of the Committee to sign the Statement of Accounts and Letter of Representation.


09/11/2020 - Communications Strategy ref: 3546    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Made at meeting: 09/11/2020 - Cabinet

Decision published: 09/11/2020

Effective from: 18/11/2020

Decision:

To adopt the Communications Strategy and its appendices, the Social Media Policy and Crisis Communications Strategy.

Wards affected: (All Wards);