Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Virtually - www.youtube.com/graveshamtv. View directions

Contact: Committee Section 

Items
No. Item

9.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 1 June 2020 were signed by the Chair.

10.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Cllr Lenny Rolles declared an interest in agenda item 17 – Proposed Working Budget for Rosherville Limited due to his role as Director and Chair of the Rosherville Limited Board. Cllr Lenny Rolles left the meeting during consideration of this item.

 

Melanie Norris, Director (Communities), Nick Brown, Director (Housing and Operations), Kevin Burbidge, Director (Planning and Development) and Alex Jarvis, Principal Accountant (Housing & Exchequer) declared an interest in agenda item 17 – Proposed Working Budget for Rosherville Limited as they undertake respective Director roles within Rosherville Limited, Rosherville Servicing Limited and Rosherville Property Development Limited respectively. Melanie Norris, Nick Brown, Kevin Burbidge and Alex Jarvis left the meeting during consideration of this item.

 

11.

Delegated Decisions - Cabinet Members

To report any decisions made by Cabinet Members under their delegated powers.

Minutes:

The Leader advised that he had taken a delegated decision to dispose of a garage at the rear of 13 All Saints Road.

 

12.

Financial Impact of COVID-19 pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet was provided with a strategic view of the impact of Covid-19 on the short term and medium term financial position of the Council.

 

The Cabinet was informed that the Council had experienced direct costs resulting from the pandemic, including:-

 

·         Responding to Government guidance to provide suitable accommodation to ensure rough sleepers and the homeless were able to remain safe.

·         Supporting the national response through the establishment of business support hubs and community support hubs, working with voluntary sector to support shielded and vulnerable persons and ensure they were provided with food and other essential supplies as needed.

·         Working with suppliers and contractors of the Council to manage supply chain risks and ensure that they were able to continue to support the delivery of services during and after the outbreak.

·         Mobilising the workforce to be able to respond to and continue to deliver essential Council services from remote locations and in challenging circumstances.

 

The most significant impact will arise from a decline in key revenue streams including council tax, business rates, fees and charges and rental income.

 

Based on the current set of assumptions, the total estimated impact on the General Fund will be £3.75m in the current financial year after taking account of Government funding received so far,  and on the Housing Revenue Account it will be £0.573m.

 

Funding had been provided by the Government to support the activities that had been undertaken to date. The Council received £52,216 from the first tranche and £1,054,438 from the second tranche, taking the total funding received to date to just over £1.1m.

 

Based on the most recent projections, the current level of funding allocated to the Council by the Government will not cover the spending pressures identified by the Council and it also makes no regard to the anticipated reductions in income.

 

The Director (Corporate Services) informed Members that there continued to be significant uncertainty around the future of local government funding. Due to the Council’s efforts over the last five years, it had a strong level of reserves which would be sufficient to avoid serious financial difficulty in the short term. However, the Council will need to continue to maintain strong financial governance arrangements and a further report will be brought to the Cabinet in September 2020.

 

The Cabinet paid tribute to local residents for their community-spirited response to the crisis and expressed its condolences to those families that had suffered a loss during the pandemic.

 

The Cabinet also paid tribute to Council staff for providing suitable accommodation to rough sleepers and the homeless, directly supporting the most vulnerable and isolated residents, distributing support grants to eligible businesses as well as maintaining front line services at a time when they too were facing the same challenges and fears as the rest of the population.

 

The Cabinet urged the Government to help make up the shortfall suffered directly as a result of Covid-19 and requested that relevant guidance be released in a timely manner.

 

The Cabinet stated that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

General Fund Provisional Outturn Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 241 KB

Minutes:

Members were presented with the following:-

 

·         the 2019/20 provisional General Fund Outturn Report, including movements in the General Fund working balances and earmarked reserves; and

·         the 2019/20 provisional General Fund Capital Outturn.

 

The Cabinet was informed that the outturns were provisional as the accounts were still subject to audit. The report will also be presented to the Finance and Audit Committee on 21 July 2020.

 

The Principal Accountant (General Fund) highlighted the key areas of financial performance as detailed in the report including those areas that may have an impact on the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy, Medium Term Financial Plan or Financial Statements.

 

The provisional outturn position for the year was an underspend of £1,194,250. This position had largely arisen as a result of the Council’s ongoing proactive action to realise base budget reductions through delivery of Bridging the Gap activity, as well as favourable year-end performance against some budget lines. Action to manage vacancies and other workforce matters also resulted in employee-related costs being lower than originally budgeted.

 

The level of Working Balances at year-end was £10.35m, constituted of the minimum working balances of £1.25m, the General Fund reserve of £4.00m and usable Working Balances of £5.1m.

 

Movements in the year had resulted in a net increase in reserves of £0.67m, with the level of reserves being £11.24m at start of year and £11.91m at year- end.

 

The revised budget of the General Fund Capital Programme for the year was £8.2m, including £1.3m to support furtherance of the Council’s land and commercial property portfolio and £1.7m to fund the initial works to redevelop the St George’s Shopping Centre. Actual spend for the year was £3.3m.

 

The Principal Accountant (General Fund) advised that the significant risks to the General Fund’s financial position continued to come from the lack of clarity regarding the long-term future of local government funding, and more recently, the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The Director (Corporate Services) informed the Cabinet that the priority will now be given to delivery on the residual Bridging the Gap activities and that an update would be provided to the Cabinet in September 2020.

 

The Cabinet noted the report.

 

14.

Housing Revenue Account Provisional Outturn Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 178 KB

Minutes:

Members were presented with the following:-

 

·         the 2019/20 provisional Housing Revenue Account Outturn Report including movements in the Housing Revenue Account working balances and earmarked reserves; and

·         the 2019/20 provisional Housing Revenue Account Capital Outturn.

 

The Cabinet was informed that the outturns were provisional as the accounts were still subject to audit. The report will also be presented to the Finance and Audit Committee on 21 July 2020.

 

The Principal Accountant (Housing & Exchequer) highlighted the key areas of financial performance as detailed in the report including those areas that may have an impact on the HRA Business Plan.

 

At the end of the financial year, income and expenditure was balanced, with a net total positive variance of £462k against the original budget. In the 2019/20 original budget, a contribution of £337k was needed from the HRA General Reserve to balance the budget and a further £3.173m was being taken from the HRA General Reserve to support the HRA capital programme. However despite an additional £21k being taken from the HRA General Reserve to finance the capital programme, as a result of the outturn position, no monies were needed from the General Reserve to support the revenue position, and a contribution of £146k to the HRA General Reserve was instead being made.

 

The position was generated in the main due to increased costs set against Supervision and Management and Capital Financing which was offset by savings against the Repairs and Maintenance budget and additional rental income.

 

The level of Working Balances at the end of the year remained at £3.0m, the minimum level of Working Balances for the HRA.

 

The final outturn of the Housing Capital Programme for the year was £15.8m, against budgeted expenditure of £18.6m. Capital budgets totalling £1.187m had been carried forward to 2020/21 (beyond those approved by Full Council in February), relating to the maintenance of the Council’s housing stock, the New Build programme and the provision of Disabled Facilities Grants.

 

The Principal Accountant (Housing & Exchequer) advised that the significant risk to the HRA’s financial position continued to be the lack of clarity regarding funding, regulatory reform, and more recently, the financial consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

The Cabinet paid tribute to the efficiencies and savings that were being delivered by the Responsive Repairs Team whilst still providing an equitable service that meets the Council’s objectives as a landlord as well as managing tenants’ expectations.

 

The Cabinet noted the report.

 

15.

Corporate Debt Strategy pdf icon PDF 96 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

  1. That Cabinet endorse the principles of the Corporate Debt Strategy across the Council as set out in appendix 2 to the report.
  2. That Cabinet note the supplementary information on Vulnerable Persons as set out in appendices 3 & 4 to the report that accompanies the Corporate Debt Strategy.

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet was presented with the Corporate Debt Strategy for adoption across the Council.

 

The Principal Accountant (General Fund) advised that, as at 31 March 2020, the amount of outstanding debt owed to the Council across the various services and functions totalled £15,529,897. This was an increase from the previous year.

 

Members were informed that it was important for there to be a consistent approach to debt recovery across the Council to ensure officers act fairly and equally with all Council customers to maximise collection rates and reduce bad debts where possible. The Corporate Debt Strategy provided structure and expected behaviour through its principles and guidelines to ensure the Council achieves that outcome.

 

Given the unique circumstances arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, it was likely that there will be an adverse impact on debt recovery and thus the Council’s wider finances, as both businesses and individuals find themselves in greater financial difficulty. In light of this, investigation work was currently underway to establish the most effective way forward to commence active debt recovery and put in place a fair and consistent approach across all services. Departments will work together to approach the recovery action at the same pace. Information will be sought from other local authorities for comparison purposes, together with compliance to the Council’s own internal policies ensuring a consistent approach.

 

The Cabinet stated that it was important for the Council to help customers minimise and prevent the accumulation of debt and requested that a range of payment methods and dates be available to customers.

 

Resolved that:-

 

1.    Cabinet endorse the principles of the Corporate Debt Strategy across the Council as set out in appendix 2 to the report; and

2.    Cabinet note the supplementary information on Vulnerable Persons as set out in appendices 3 & 4 to the report that accompanies the Corporate Debt Strategy.

 

16.

Development Plan Update pdf icon PDF 559 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

  1. That delegated authority be provided to the Director (Planning and Development) in consultation with the Leader, to amend the Local Development Scheme as and when there is more certainty regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the plan-making process.
  2. Cabinet note the responses received on the draft Windows and Doors consultation and agree for the final document Maintenance / Replacement Windows and Doors Guidance in Conservation Areas to be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document.
  3. That the draft Residential Extensions and Alterations Supplementary Planning Document be consulted upon in line with the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement.
  4. That the Local Green Space consultation be progressed in line with the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement.

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet was provided with:-

 

·         an update on the emerging Local Plan and the implications of Covid-19, which had affected the delivery of the emerging Local Plan;

·         the Maintenance / Replacement Windows and Doors Guidance for adoption as a Supplementary Planning Document; and

·         the draft Residential Extensions and Alterations Supplementary Planning Document and the Local Green Space consultation.

 

The Planning Policy Manager advised that the current Local Development Scheme envisaged the Council undertaking a Stage 2 Regulation 18 consultation in January-February 2020 however this was not possible at that time due to the supporting evidence base not being finalised and the emergence of COVID-19.

 

The emergence of Covid-19 had resulted in a number of changes to working practices for the Planning Policy Team, other areas of the Council and external organisations with whom the Council engage with in order to progress the Development Plan.

 

Whilst there continued to be lots of uncertainty regarding the implications of Covid-19, there is a clear consensus that the world will be different post-lockdown. In terms of the Local Plan, this uncertainty will have an impact on the economy, jobs, housing demand, land supply etc. The impact needs to be understood in more detail to ensure that the emerging Local Plan is ‘sound’ moving forward.

 

The Cabinet was informed that officers would accelerate work where practicable however it was likely that the Stage 2 consultation would not take place until late 2020 at the earliest.

 

At present, whilst the Government was seeking progress to be made on Local Plans,  changes to guidance were not being supported by changes to relevant legislation or regulations.

 

The Cabinet was informed that a number of other local authorities were also in the same position.

 

In relation to the Maintenance / Replacement Windows and Doors Guidance, Members requested that the simplified document available at Appendix 4, be shared with residents that live in a Conservation Area.

 

Resolved that:-

 

1.    delegated authority be provided to the Director (Planning and Development) in consultation with the Leader, to amend the Local Development Scheme as and when there is more certainty regarding the impact of Covid-19 on the plan-making process;

2.    Cabinet note the responses received on the draft Windows and Doors consultation and agree for the final document Maintenance / Replacement Windows and Doors Guidance in Conservation Areas to be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document;

3.    the draft Residential Extensions and Alterations Supplementary Planning Document be consulted upon in line with the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement; and

4.    the Local Green Space consultation be progressed in line with the Council’s Statement of Community Involvement.

 

17.

Duty to co-operate pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Decision:

That delegated authority be given to the Assistant Director (Planning) and other senior officers in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Strategic Environment and Leader of the Council, to explore the establishment of formal duty to co-operate mechanisms with neighbouring authorities utilising the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership.

 

Minutes:

The report sought the Cabinet’s approval to undertake strategic duty to co-operate discussions at the North Kent level and to utilise existing forums such as the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership (TGKP) to facilitate that approach.

 

The Cabinet was informed that the duty to co-operate was a legal duty imposed on Local Planning Authorities, County Councils in England and other prescribed public bodies as set out under the regulations. It required the Council to engage constructively, actively and on an ongoing basis to maximise the effectiveness of plan making, having regard to strategic cross boundary issues.

 

In the absence of robust evidence, that the duty to co-operate had been complied with, a Planning Inspector can refuse a Local Plan from proceeding to examination. This was therefore a risk that needed to be addressed, as any failure would require a Local Plan to be withdrawn from examination and work on a new Local Plan commenced. Such an eventuality would have significant resource implications and could result in ‘planning by appeal’.

 

Resolved that delegated authority be given to the Assistant Director (Planning) and other senior officers in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Strategic Environment and Leader of the Council, to explore the establishment of formal duty to co-operate mechanisms with neighbouring authorities utilising the Thames Gateway Kent Partnership.

 

18.

Bird Wise Charging Schedule for Non-C3 Residential Classes pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the charging schedule for applying the mitigation tariff for non-C3 residential classes (as set out in Table 3.1 of the report) be adopted, as additional guidance for the Development Management function in the determination of planning applications within 6 km of the Thames Estuary and North Kent Marshes Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site.

 

Minutes:

The report sought the Cabinet’s approval to adopt the North Kent SAMMS (Strategic Access, Management and Monitoring Strategy) /Bird Wise Charging Schedule for non-C3 residential classes.

 

At the North Kent SAMMS Board and Bird Wise Steering Group meetings last year, several discussions took place concerning how the SAMMS tariff (currently set at £250.39 for every new dwelling) was applied to residential planning applications that fall outside of the C3 residential use class. At present, they were dealt with on a case by case basis in consultation with Natural England, but this had led to inconsistency between authorities which increased the risk of challenge.

 

Examples of how other mitigation schemes apply similar tariffs to these classes were examined and subsequently it was agreed by the North Kent SAMMS Board to provide guidance to Local Planning Authorities in North Kent with a view to ensuring a consistent approach for the North Kent Bird Wise scheme.

 

The Planning Policy Manager drew Members’ attention to table 3.1 within the report which presented the proposed mitigation tariff for non-C3 residential classes as additional guidance for the Development Management function in the determination of planning applications within 6 km of the Thames Estuary and Marshes SPA and Ramsar site.

 

Resolved that the charging schedule for applying the mitigation tariff for non-C3 residential classes (as set out in Table 3.1 of the report) be adopted, as additional guidance for the Development Management function in the determination of planning applications within 6 km of the Thames Estuary and North Kent Marshes Special Protection Area (SPA) and Ramsar site.

 

19.

Youth Concordat 2020 pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

That the Council commits to the renewal of the Youth Concordat pledge and that the other representatives identified in the report are approached to commit to the updated Concordat. 

Minutes:

The Cabinet was informed that theGravesham Youth Council will celebrate its 20th anniversary of its formation this July. While the organisation had gone through a number of name changes over the years (Gravesham Youth Forum and Vox Box), the role of the Youth Council’s purpose remained the same – to represent the views of all young people who reside or go to school in the Borough of Gravesham. This had been achieved by enabling young people to voice their concerns and to participate in local government, empowering young people to be involved in decision making and actions to improve their local community.

 

It was therefore proposed that the Concordat be updated and re-committed in marking Gravesham Youth Council’s 20th year and renewing partners’ willingness to receive and act upon the views of young people in the Borough. The following agencies will be asked to sign Gravesham Borough Council, Kent County Council, North West Kent Racial Equality Council, Kent Police, The Gr@nd CIC and MP for Gravesham, Adam Holloway.

 

Resolved that the Council commits to the renewal of the Youth Concordat pledge and that the other representatives identified in the report be approached to commit to the updated Concordat.

 

20.

Minutes of the meeting of the Crime & Disorder Scrutiny Committee held on Tuesday, 21 January 2020 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the minutes of the Crime & Disorder Scrutiny Committee held on Tuesday 21 January 2020.

 

21.

Exclusion

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.

Minutes:

Resolved that pursuant to Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 that the public be excluded during the following item of business because it was likely in view of the nature of business to be transacted that, if members of the public were present during the item, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

 

All Members and officers in remote attendance declared that there were no other persons present who were not entitled to be (either hearing or seeing) and/or recording the proceedings.

 

22.

Proposed Working Budget for Rosherville Limited

Decision:

Members approve the draft three-year working budget as presented to the Cabinet and to delegate authority to the Director (Corporate Services) to arrange release of the funding to Rosherville Limited on an annual basis, subject to Cabinet consideration  of the annual business plan from the company.

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet was informed that a request that had been made by Rosherville Limited for a proposed three-year working budget.

 

The Director (Corporate Services) advised that the proposed budget covered the three year period 2020-21 to 2022-23 and was within the remaining balance of funding provided through the Council’s Capital Programme.

 

Officers had reviewed the proposed budget and confirmed that it had been prepared on the basis of reasonable estimates of cost. It was also confirmed that the proposed areas of expenditure support the operation of Rosherville Limited and, in particular, the bringing forward of The Charter development by Rosherville Property Services Limited which was included in the business case for the company, as considered by Cabinet on 23 March 2020.

 

Resolved that Members approve the draft three-year working budget as presented to the Cabinet and to delegate authority to the Director (Corporate Services) to arrange release of the funding to Rosherville Limited on an annual basis, subject to Cabinet consideration of the annual business plan from the company.

 

Note: Cllr Lenny Rolles, Melanie Norris, Nick Brown, Kevin Burbidge and Alex Jarvis left the meeting during consideration of this item.