Agenda and minutes
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An apology for absence was received from Paula Charker - Employee Relations Manager (Medway Council), Vikki Finneran - Principal Accountant, Financial Services (Gravesham Borough Council) and Kevin Woolmer (Finance Manager, Business Support and Regeneration, Community and Culture, Medway Council).
The minutes of the meeting held on 2 October 2013 were signed by the Chair.
Declarations of Interest
No Declarations of Interest were made.
The Senior Accountant (Medway Council) presented the Committee with the South Thames Gateway Building Control annual audit and inspection letter 2012/13
The external auditors requested the 2012/2013 statement of accounts were resubmitted using the audit commission return rather than the return used in the past. The new statement of accounts had to be resigned by all concerned parties throughout July 2013.
Appendix 1 to the report details the external auditor’s certificate and opinion
in respect of the 2012/2013 financial year. It confirms that:-
• no errors were identified.
• all relevant legislation and regulatory requirements were met.
The auditor also brings the following to the Joint Committee’s attention:-
• sections 1 and 2 of the Annual Return were not completed as being approved by the Joint Committee. Although the annual return was signed by the Chair and Clerk at the end of the AGM in July 2013, the minutes were produced after the audit submission deadline.
Therefore the minute numbers and date were not recorded. Future Annual Returns will record the minute number and date if the return submission timetable allows.
• It is a legal requirement for the 2012/2013 accounts to be approved by 30 June 2013 but the second submission of 2012/13 accounts were signed in July 2013. The auditors accepted the Committees assurance that the original statement of accounts were approved prior to 30th June.
The Committee requested The Senior Accountant (Medway Council) to seek clarification from the Auditors on this matter and report back at the next meeting.
The Joint Committee noted the external auditor’s certificate and opinion as presented.
Reasons for decision:
The Joint Committee has a key role in monitoring the performance of the Partnership including the findings of the external auditor.
The next steps will involve each authority submitting its business network links to the Partnership
The Director (South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership) presented the Committee with a report that sets out revised proposals for the South Thames Gateway Building Control Draft Business Plan following consultation and seeks agreement of the revisions.
Following presentation of the draft Business Plan at Joint Committee on 2 October 2013 the Plan has now been circulated for comments and Joint Committee is required to agree any revisions.
The amended plan presented to Members for final consideration indicates the five agreed objectives:
• To improve customer satisfaction by providing an effective and efficient administration and site inspection regime in particularly through improved use of information technology and
• To raise the profile of STG by developing a dynamic marketing strategy and pursuing the expansion of the Partnership through additional partners.
• To provide a healthy, safe and accessible built environment, reducing the carbon footprint and contributing to sustainable construction.
• To provide additional services through a consultancy to effectively compete with the private sector and generate additional income.
• To continually review contributions by partner authorities to reflect reductions in expenditure.
The plan also includes action plans and targets to achieve these objectives.
The key projects for 2014/15 will be:
• Enable customer self-service for tracking and searches
• Increase use of mobile technology with the ability to update in realtime
• Increase income from consultancy services by 70% over the 2012/13 budgeted figure
• Re-examine case for consultancy becoming a Local Authority Company
• Examine case for STG becoming a Local Authority Company
• Further expansion of the Partnership with the inclusion of new partner authority
• Identify new accommodation for the Partnership head office
In order to meet the requirements of each authority’s reducing budgets, contributions have been reduced by 18.15% over the five year life span of the plan. Following stabilisation in 2013 and possible growth of 4%-5% in 2014/15 by introducing new working practices with the increased efficiency through IT investment there will be a total reduction of £60,000 in contributions between 2012-17. Details of the financial plan 2012-17 are shown in Appendix 1 to the report.
The next phase of the Partnership will not only consolidate the successes of the past five years but continue the expansion of services, staff development and improved customer service which the investment of the three Partner Authorities has allowed.
The Joint Committee approved the updated version of the Business Plan now incorporating any comments received to refer it back to the Cabinet of each partner authority to approve the Final Draft Business Plan.
The Joint Committee noted the final contributions figures which will be included in each authority’s budget planning process for 2014/15.
To move, if required, that pursuant to Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 that the public be excluded from any items included in Part B of the agenda because it is likely in view of the nature of business to be transacted that if members of the public are present during those items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Resolved that pursuant to Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 that
the public be excluded from the following items of business due to the nature of
business to be transacted and the likelihood that there would be disclosure to them of
exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.
Monitoring report September to November 2013
The Director (South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership) updated the Joint Committee on the current forecast for the 2013/14 financial year and provided details against the progress of the objectives of the Business Plan 2012/2017.
The Director (South Thames Gateway Building Control Partnership) highlighted the following areas:
· The number of Building Regulation applications has increased by 15% over the same period last year, maintaining last quarter’s early indication of a slight recovery in the construction sector. However, the activity remains for the most part in the low value domestic market. Unfortunately, income has dropped by around 3% against last year’s figures, this despite an increase of around 17% in the number of jobs commencing.
· The heightened activity in the domestic markets has attracted a great deal of interest from approved inspectors. Work in this area now forms the majority of the Initial Notices submitted to STGBCP and has resulted in a doubling of submissions amounting to 315 to the end of October. Against the increase in the number of applications STGBCP have received this has reduced STGBCP’s market share regarding their main competitors from 80 to 78%. However, because of the value of works being undertaken eth STGBCP market share according to value against these AI’s is at 91%.
· Since the introduction of the new IT system we have been working with the company, Tascomi to vigorously test the system in the working environment. This ‘bedding in’ period has been planned to run to the end of December after which time the surveyors will need to be equipped with the necessary hardware to deliver an improved service on site.
· The current accommodation expires in March 2015, however, STGBCP have been advised by Medway’s property division that in order for the dilapidations repairs to the compass centre to be carried out STGBCP are likely to need to move in November 2014. Alternative accommodation is being sought, as it is Medway’s responsibility under the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement to locate the partnership in suitable accommodation. STGBCP have reviewed some accommodation in Rochester High Street which may suit and would meet the requirements of reducing floor area and costs to match the 15% reduction already programmed in the budget.
· There will be a number of consequences and considerations that need to be taken into account when STGBCP move, these include:
• The accommodation costs need to reflect at least a 15% saving on current costs.
• The accommodation needs to be of sufficient size to operate as a head office with the ability to administer the partnership’s business, accommodate the records and working files and have sufficient desk space for surveyors operating a hot desk arrangement.
• There must be excellent IT connections so that the benefits of the new system can be realised and provide for customer self-service which has been identified in the business plan objectives.
• There should be easy public access, good public transport links and parking available for staff and customers.
• New working arrangements for ... view the full minutes text for item 19.