Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Cabinet - Thursday, 3rd December, 2020 10.30 am

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Contact: Caroline Britt  Democratic Services Officer

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Items
No. Item

CAB53/20

Apologies pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no apologies.

CAB54/20

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive any declarations of interest by Members in items on the agenda. For any advice on declarations of interest; please contact the Monitoring Officer before the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no disclosable pecuniary or other significant interests declared at the meeting.

CAB55/20

Notification of Visiting Members wishing to speak pdf icon PDF 6 KB

To note any members of the Council wishing to speak, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Cabinet Procedure Rule 28.4, and which item(s) they wish to speak on.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillors Hamilton and Scott had registered as wishing to speak on Agenda Item 8 – The Five Year Plan Update..

CAB56/20

Minutes of the meeting dated 19 November 2020 pdf icon PDF 201 KB

To approve the minutes of a previous meeting as a correct record. The only issue relating to the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members reviewed the minutes. No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 19 November 2020 be approved as a correct record.

CAB57/20

Questions from Members of the Council pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive any questions from members of the Council, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Cabinet Procedure Rule 28.3, to be submitted and answered.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no questions from members of the Council.

CAB58/20

Questions from Members of the Public pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive any questions from members of the public, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Cabinet Procedure Rule 28.5, to be submitted and answered.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no questions from members of the public.

CAB59/20

Consideration of the Forward Plan as at 24 November 2020 pdf icon PDF 275 KB

To note forthcoming items set out on the Forward Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the plan. No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the Forward Plan as at 24 November 2020 be noted.

CAB60/20

Five Year Plan Update pdf icon PDF 388 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED –

 

1.     That, given the current exceptional social and economic context, a focus on the delivery of an updated set of priority projects and action plans in response to impact assessments associated with Covid-19 be approved;

2.     That the long-term priorities set out in the report be agreed and that further work be undertaken to develop and deepen these themes over the course of 2020 and 2021 as the financial context in which we will be operating becomes clearer and as the environment for external consultation improves; and

3.     That further consultation proposal be prepared to come back to Cabinet on 11 March 2021.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:  This approach would allow the Council to focus it resources on dealing with the immediate and pressing issues of recovery whilst waiting for funding certainty to become clearer.  It would also allow for further proposals and more consultation to take place during 2021.

 

Minutes:

Jane Clarke, Head of Policy and Governance introduced the report that provided an update to the current Five Year Plan which included the following:

 

-       The report set out the short to medium term approach with regards to recovery from the Covid-19 Pandemic.

-       It also proposed some future political priorities that could form a framework for future consultation for the next Five Year Plan which was expected to take place towards the end of 2021.

-       The report had already been discussed by Parish Chairmen, Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum, Cabinet Advisory Boards and Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  All their comments had now been included in the report.

-       The Council’s ability to plan for the future had been hampered by the high level of uncertainty both economically, socially and physically.

-       The deep consultation planned for this year could not take place due to the restrictions imposed by the Pandemic.

-       The Recovery Plans were operational documents which had been reviewed by the Council’s Covid-19 Panel.  They were created by officers and were intended to guide the Council through the next 6-12 months, to focus on recovery and to support the economy and residents through the Pandemic and its after effects.

-       In addition to the existing projects in the current Five Year Plan, there was a proposal for 2 new projects.  The 2 projects were Options for the Town Hall and Options for the Assembly Hall Theatre.

-       The report included future priorities put forward for consideration by Cabinet.  These priorities were expressed at a high level as sustainable growth, green environment and culture and leisure. 

-       They would provide a framework that Cabinet could develop and deepen over the course of 2020 and 2021.  An additional recommendation had been added to the report to bring a report forward to Cabinet in March 2021 to consider options for consultation.

 

Councillor Hamilton had registered to speak which included the following:

 

-       Cabinet were aware of the concerns regarding the location of the Community Centre in Paddock Wood being on valuable green public space, also used for sport.

-       The location was against the wishes of the public as expressed in the Parish Poll.

-       It was gratefully noted that the Plan had removed reference to any particular site as the location for the Community Centre.

-       Master planning was taking place for the Paddock Wood area and the Neighbourhood Plan had been relaunched.  The location of the Community Centre should ideally rest with those processes when the public would be better engaged.

-       Protection of open green space was of particular importance and would be very important in the future.

-       It was exciting that the Amelia Scott was progressing and that Tunbridge Wells would have a rich cultural asset that would draw visitors, aide regeneration and promote its economy.

-       It was also worth reminding of the rich cultural heritage in the more rural areas of the Borough.  The documents mentioned Cranbrook and Hawkhurst but there was  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAB60/20

CAB61/20

Draft Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy Update 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 647 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED – That the Draft Budget 2021/22 be agreed for public consultation.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:. To commence a public consultation on the Council’s proposed budget for 2021/22.

 

Minutes:

Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development introduced the report that provided details of the Draft Budget for 2021/22 and Mid Term Financial Strategy.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       This was the third report in the process of setting the 2021/22 budget.

-       There were no surprises in the Government’s Spending Review which was published  on 25 November 2020.  As such the assumptions made in the draft budget did not need to be amended.

-       The Spending Review set out the Governments priorities and funding just for next year. 

-       The technical financial guidance had yet to be published.  Much of the detail required by Local Government would be in the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement which should be released by Parliament during the week commencing 14 December 2020.

-       In the absence of detailed Government financial information for next year, the projections were still being made in somewhat of a vacuum against a constantly fluid impact of the Pandemic.  The Council’s financial strategy, set at the beginning of the Pandemic continued to hold true. 

-       The Council was financially self sufficient and received no Revenue Support Grant from the Government. 

-       To function without Government support had meant the Council operated more as a business  and generated more of its own income with which to fund its own services.

-       Whilst the Pandemic had created some cost pressures, most notably around housing and community support, the most significant impact was the reduction from sales, fees and charges.

-       At the time of writing the report the projected losses were estimated at £250k per month.  However, with West Kent being placed into Tier 3 and the prospect of further restrictions being a feature for some time, income would need to be closely monitored.

-       The Spending Review did confirm an extension of the compensation scheme for lost income but just for the first 3 months of the next financial year.

-       The key changes over the current revenue budget included employment costs increasing by £309k and a small saving in transport costs.

-       Under premises costs, the Council was required to pay £1.5m on Business Rates on its properties to Government and was not entitled to claim any of the national reductions.

-       The Government also increased Business Rates bills nationally and this added a further £85k to the Council’s costs.

-       The Council also spent £1m each year on planned and responsive repairs to its property assets.  Some were increasingly expensive to maintain and a further £90k had been added to the budget.

-       The Grounds Maintenance contract would increase by inflationary pressures, adding a further £120k to the budget.  Similarly the waste contract would increase by £104k.  This was due to both additional properties and inflationary pressures on the contracts main cost drivers. 

-       With staff not using the Town Hall there had been further administrative savings of £24k.

-       The draft budget assumed that Council Tax would increase by £5 a  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAB61/20

CAB62/20

Draft Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2021/22 Part 2 pdf icon PDF 288 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED – That Full Council be recommended:

 

  1. That the results of the public consultation as set out in Appendix A to the report be noted:
  2. That Model 1 of the of the 2021/22 Council Tax Reduction Scheme as set out in Appendix B to the report be approved; and
  3. That the impacts highlighted in the Policy in Practice analysis and EqIA be noted  and authority be delegated to the Head of Revenues and Benefits in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance to consider mitigations to those impacts and make any changes deemed necessary within the Exceptional Hardship Policy. 

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To allow the final scheme to be implemented to take effect from April 2021.

Minutes:

Sheila Coburn, Head of Revenues and Benefits Shared Services introduced the report that dealt with the proposed changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2021/22.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       On 6 August 2020, Cabinet agreed that TWBC would introduce an income banded scheme for 2021/22 and consult on 3 schemes that had been modelled by external consultants.

-       There was a need to replace the current scheme as it was outdated and completely reactive to changes.  The number of cases that had moved to Universal Credit and the multiple changes that occurred resulted in Council Tax bills being issued each time.  This brought challenges to the administration of Council Tax Reduction, the collection of Council Tax and was confusing for customers.

-       The five objectives that were considered when looking at an income banded scheme were to maintain the maximum basis of award of 80% of Council Tax liability, protect disabled households, simplify assessments and reassessments, maintain the amount of awards to claimants in line with the current scheme (had it been carried forward into next year) and understand the impact of specific groups based on gender, disability and age.

-       TWBC consulted on 3 models (between 20 August and 2 October 2020), details of which were included in the report.

-       Model 1 – this was an income banded model which only took into account employment earnings.

-       Model 2 – this was the same as Model 1 but with an additional uplift of 5% for those claimants in receipt of a disability or sickness benefit in bands 2-5 for either themselves or someone else in the household.

-       Model 3 – this would reduce the maximum award to 70%.

-       Although Model 2 came out as the preferred model this was because disabled respondents accounted for 57% of those that responded to the consultation.  Model 1 scored close behind model 2 and was the preferred model by non disabled respondents (35%).

-       The report recommended Model 1.  The reasons for this choice was that it met all the objectives set when looking at a new income banded scheme.

-       In addition to Model 1 meeting all the objectives, the continuing uncertainty around Covid-19 meant that it was likely the number of claimants would increase.

-       The Council needed to be fair to all tax payers as they in effect funded the scheme.

 

RESOLVED – That Full Council be recommended:

 

  1. That the results of the public consultation as set out in Appendix A to the report be noted:
  2. That Model 1 of the of the 2021/22 Council Tax Reduction Scheme as set out in Appendix B to the report be approved; and
  3. That the impacts highlighted in the Policy in Practice analysis and EqIA be noted  and authority be delegated to the Head of Revenues and Benefits in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance to consider mitigations to those impacts and make any changes deemed necessary within the Exceptional  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAB62/20

CAB63/20

Calculation of Council Tax Base pdf icon PDF 246 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED – That the Tunbridge Wells Tax Base, as set out at in Appendix B to the report be approved.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:  To comply with the provisions of Statutory Instruments 2012 No 2914 – The Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) (England) Regulations. 

 

Minutes:

Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking introduced the report that calculated the Tax Base for the period 1 December to 31 January.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The Tax Base was the number of properties in the Borough eligible to pay Council Tax.

-       The Tax Base must be notified to Kent CC, Kent Policy Authority, Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue Authority and the Parishes by 31 January 2021.

-       There was little the Council could influence when calculating the Tax Base except for the impact of its own local pre determined Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

-       Usually the Tax Base would grow year on year as more houses were built in the Borough (546 new properties were completed this year).  However, Covid-19 was expected to have a significant impact which would more than offset the housing growth.

-       The Council Tax collection rate was expected to fall by 1.3% and the number of claimants for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme was forecast to increase by 20%.  Both of these estimates were based on the actual fluctuations the Council was experiencing at present. 

-       The overall Tax Base was therefore calculated to fall by 1.96% to 45,371 Band D equivalent properties.

 

RESOLVED – That the Tunbridge Wells Tax Base, as set out at in Appendix B to the report be approved.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:  To comply with the provisions of Statutory Instruments 2012 No 2914 – The Local Authorities (Calculation of Council Tax Base) (England) Regulations. 

 

CAB64/20

Draft Asset Management Plan 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 131 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED – That the Draft Asset Management Plan 2021/22 be agreed for public consultation

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To commence a public consultation on how the Council manages its assets.

 

Minutes:

John Antoniades, Estates Manager introduced the report that presented the Draft Asset Management Report for 2021/22 for consideration and public consultation.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The Asset Management Plan for 2021/22 provided a management strategy for the Council’s property assets.

-       It detailed the principles, procedures and mechanisms to be adopted that effectively and efficiently manage the property asset portfolio.

-       It further summarised the value and composition of the current portfolio and evaluated specific actions from the previous financial year related to the Council’s property estate and identified the main portfolio ambitions fro 2021/22.

-       The draft Plan was produced in November 2020, part way through the financial year and therefore the figures and details would change as the year progressed.

-       The portfolio was valued at £104.69m as at 31 March 2020. 

-       So far this financial year the Council had negotiated lease renewals, new lettings and rent reviews to an increased value of  approximately £46,600 annually.

-       In addition all property rentals that were subject to annual rental increases resulted in a net annual increase of £3,900.

-       Vacant space in the portfolio had been reduced by letting or licencing space to reduce occupation liabilities and achieve rental income.

-       Property and estates continued with the disposal of surplus land held by the Council.  It would continue to identify and dispose of specific sites for development of affordable housing, private residential development or for regenerative purposes.

-       The planned maintenance programme for 2020/21would have completed works to the value of £600k. 

-       Capital projects to the value of £2.35m would have been progressed or completed during 2020/21.

-       Capital receipts to the value of £3.126m were expected by the year end.

-       No property assets had been acquired during this period.

-       The draft Asset Management Plan outlined the forward projection and management strategy for the property asset portfolio for 2021/22.

-       Following the declaration of global climate and biodiversity emergencies by the Council in July 2019, the Climate Emergency Advisory Panel contracted Laser to produce a Carbon Audit and Carbon Reduction Plan.  The initial results of this work in respect of the Council’s estate were set out under Sustainability in the Cross-Cutting section of the report.

 

RESOLVED – That the Draft Asset Management Plan 2021/22 be agreed for public consultation

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To commence a public consultation on how the Council manages its assets.

 

CAB65/20

Revenue Management Report - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 253 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED –

 

1.     That at Quarter 2 net expenditure on services year to date was £11,685,000, £2,608,000 more than budget be noted;

2.     That by year end the Council anticipated net expenditure of £18,760,000 on services, £6,343,000 over budget and a further £537,000 since Quarter 1, be noted;

3.     That by year end the Council anticipated receiving an increase in funding of £4,127,000, a further £177,000 since Quarter 1 reducing the deficit to £2,216,000 over budget, be noted; and

4.     That write offs as set out in Paragraph 2.27 of the report and detailed in Appendix J to the report be approved.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To show the actual expenditure on services compared to the revised budget for the period ending 30 September 2020, and the forecast outturn position, highlighting significant variances from the revised annual budget. 

 

Minutes:

Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking introduced the report that showed actual expenditure on services compared to the revised budget for the period ending 30 September 2020.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       Actual expenditure to the end of September 2020 was £11.685m, £2.6m over budget.

-       This consisted of a shortfall in income of £4m less a saving in cost of £1.4m.

-       The forecast outturn for the year was £2.2m over budget. An increase since quarter 1 of £360k.

-       At quarter 1, the income from sales, fees and charges was forecast to be £6.8m under achieved for the year due to the impact of Covid-19.  This had increased by £145k in quarter 2 to £6.9m. This was mainly due to the underachievement of £289k from the Fusion Leisure Centre management fee, a reduction  in Court income of £80k and a further reduction in planning income of £25k. 

-       This was offset by additional income of £249k for the Assembly Hall Theatre. However, as the Theatre had now closed again, this would be taken account of in quarter 3.

-       Government had offered some compensation to help with income losses.  The Council must bear the cost of the first 5% of the lost budgeted income, but Government would then compensate for 0.75p in every £1 thereafter.

-       The Council had estimated that this compensation would be around £3.725m.

-       This was an increase of £177k from quarter 1 from the loss of income from the sports centres.

-       Forecast cost savings were anticipated to be £602k for the year.  A decrease of £392k this quarter. The main contributor was £420k for additional financial support for the sports centres. 

-       Also, costs of £233k had been forecast back into the budget for the Assembly Hall Theatre.

-       The remaining savings of £261k mainly consisted of savings from staff vacancies.

-       The Council had also estimated a lower collection of Council Tax and Housing Rents of £825K.

-       Council Tax recovery had fallen which meant the level of bad debt was likely to increase.  In addition the eligibility for the Council Tax Support System was increasing, which meant the Council would recover less.

-       It was also projected there would be a decrease in investment and bank interest of £187k this year due to the drop in interest rates to 0/1%.

-       It was also forecast that the £85k rent for the property on Monson Road would not be collected.

-       To date, 3 tranches of Government Support Grants had been received by the Council.  The money received, along with a new Burdens Grant of £170k had all been included in the forecast.

-       Cabinet approved the use of Council ear-marked reserves to fund the balance of £1.856m forecast in quarter 1 and would now be asked to fund the additional £360k.

-       The Council had £21.2m of usable reserves as at 31 March 2020 which included £4.09m in the General Fund and £11.26m  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAB65/20

CAB66/20

Capital Management Report - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED – 

 

1.     That the actual gross and net expenditure for the year and the sources of finance, as shown in Appendices B to D to the report, be noted;

2.     That the proposed variations to the Capital programme, set out in paragraph 4.3 to 4.7 of the report be approved; and

3.     That the proposed movement between years set out in paragraph  4.8 of the report be approved.

REASON FOR DECISION: Managing and forecasting capital expenditure effectively was vital in order to support all of the services provided by the Council

Minutes:

Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking introduced the report that summarised the actual and forecast outturn expenditure on capital schemes as at 30 September 2020.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       Cabinet originally approved capital expenditure for £19.479m for 2020/21.  Since then a net of £1.5m of projects had been rescheduled from 2019/20 to 2021/22 or completely removed from the programme.  This brought the revised forecast to £17.962m

-       Approvals requested in this report brought the total spend to 2021 to £19.652m which was a net increase of £1.69m.

-       This consisted of a net decrease of £146k for spending rescheduled to or from 2021/22 and a net increase in the forecast of projected spend of £1.836m.

-       The net rescheduling included £180k for essential works on the Assembly Hall Theatre, £236k for the ICT Strategy and £90k for street lighting columns.

-       The net increase in spend mainly consisted of £2.274m for the Amelia Scott with a further £0.9m of additional expenditure included in 2021/22.  £2m of this total would be funded from borrowing with the rest coming from external contributions.

-       There was a reduction of £400k as Paddock Wood Town Council no longer needed the contribution for the Paddock Wood Hub.

 

RESOLVED – 

 

1.    That the actual gross and net expenditure for the year and the sources of finance, as shown in Appendices B to D to the report, be noted;

2.    That the proposed variations to the Capital programme, set out in paragraph 4.3 to 4.7 of the report be approved; and

3.    That the proposed movement between years set out in paragraph  4.8 of the report be approved.

REASON FOR DECISION: Managing and forecasting capital expenditure effectively was vital in order to support all of the services provided by the Council.

CAB67/20

Treasury and Prudential Indicator Management Report - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 192 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED –

  1. That the Treasury Management and Prudential Indicator position as at 30 September 2020 be noted; and
  2. That the forecast for investment and bank interest is £466k, a decrease of £187k from the approved budget of £633k (the same as for Quarter 1) be noted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: Ensuring effective cash flow management was vital in order to support all the services provided by the Council. The interest received from investments was an important source of income in helping to set a balanced budget.

Minutes:

Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking introduced the report that updated Members on investments held by the Council and the interest received from those investments for the period 1 April to 30 September 2020.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The projected interest from investments and bank interests for 2021 was £446k, a reduction on the budget of £187k.  This was unchanged from quarter 1.

-       Overall, the expected interest projected was 1.04% compared to the budget of 1.81%.

-       The Council’s opening investment position was stronger than forecast due to a number of cash flows unrelated to Covid-19.  These included Capital Projects being delayed or removed from the Capital Programme during 2019/20, a surplus held on the Collection Fund of £2.5m (as at 31 March 2020), a number of s106 amounts being held on the balance sheet and £842k surplus transferred to the General Fund for 2019/20.

-       On 27 March 2020 and as a result of the Pandemic, the Government paid the Business Rates related to 2021.  The £2.2m would have normally been spread over the whole of 2021.

-       The Government had also deferred monthly instalments of a total of £4.5m of Business Rates for the first 3 months of the year.

-       To alleviate some of the pressure on reserves, a number of schemes had been delayed until at least April 2021.  This would increase cash flow available for this year.

-       The amount the Council had to invest this year was higher than forecast. This was despite the negative effect of Covid-19 on incomes levels and cash flow.

-       The Bank of England interest rate remained at 0.1% and another rise was not expected in the next 2 years.

-       The Council was keeping its investments short term or holding them in its current account as there was little incentive to invest longer. Forecasting incoming and outgoing cash was far more difficult than usual.

-       In July 2020 the Council repaid the final  £1m of the PWLB loan.

-       The current value of the £9m investment with the Property Fund was £10.05m.

-       It was noted that the Council had just received an unqualified annual audit report for the 11th year in succession.

 

RESOLVED –

  1. That the Treasury Management and Prudential Indicator position as at 30 September 2020 be noted; and
  2. That the forecast for investment and bank interest is £466k, a decrease of £187k from the approved budget of £633k (the same as for Quarter 1) be noted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: Ensuring effective cash flow management was vital in order to support all the services provided by the Council. The interest received from investments was an important source of income in helping to set a balanced budget.

CAB68/20

Performance Summary - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 230 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED –

  1. That the summary of project performance over quarter two 2020/21 as at Appendix A be noted;
  2. That the summary of service performance over quarter two 2020/21  as at Appendix B be noted; and
  3. That the Recovery Plans for quarter two  as at Appendix C-F be noted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To monitor the effectiveness of the council’s actions and plans to meet all of the objectives within the Five Year Plan, highlight underperforming areas, and propose actions to remedy any underperformance to ensure the key objectives are met.

Minutes:

Jane Clarke, Head of Policy and Governance introduced the report that summarised the performance of the Council’s projects and services for quarter 2 (1 July to 30 September 2020).

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The report covered historic performance only.  The position on all projects and services may have changed since the time of reporting. 

-       For this year, where indicators were underperforming as a result of the Pandemic  the Council had agreed that service managers did not have to complete under performing indicator recovery plans.

-       There were now only 4 projects remaining in the Five Year Plan (counted as 6 to separate the Community Hubs).  Of these projects, 2 were at amber status and 4 were at green status. 

-       Of the 32 indicators collected on Council Services, 23 have targets.  Of the 23 that have targets, 13 were performing, 7 were not performing and 3 were unavailable at the time of reporting. 

-       Of the 7 that were underperforming, 2 (Council Tax and NNDR collection) were as a direct result of the Pandemic and did not need a recovery plan.  Recovery plans had been completed for the other 5 underperforming indicators.

 

 

RESOLVED –

  1. That the summary of project performance over quarter two 2020/21 as at Appendix A be noted;
  2. That the summary of service performance over quarter two 2020/21  as at Appendix B be noted; and
  3. That the Recovery Plans for quarter two  as at Appendix C-F be noted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To monitor the effectiveness of the council’s actions and plans to meet all of the objectives within the Five Year Plan, highlight underperforming areas, and propose actions to remedy any underperformance to ensure the key objectives are met.

CAB69/20

Complaints Summary Quarters 1 and 2 pdf icon PDF 269 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED – That the Council’s position on complaints performance at the end of Period 1 be noted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To enable Cabinet to understand the Council’s current performance in relation to complaints handling.

 

Minutes:

Jane Clarke, Head of Policy and Governance introduced the report that provided an overview of complaints received during quarters 1 and 2 (1 April to 30 September 2020).

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The report looked at the number and type of complaints and the Council’s performance at responding to them and considered any Ombudsmen complaints that had been decided.

-       The Council had received 378 complaints during this period, which was a significant increase compared to recent previous quarters.

-       The increase was a direct result of the number of complaints the Council had received following the introduction of the recycling and waste contract in 2019.

-       Due to the high level of complaints, the Council’s response time had fallen significantly particularly for stage 1.

-       The majority of complaints were received through on line channels with telephone complaints as second choice.

-       For this period, ‘service not delivered to an acceptable standard’ was the primary reason for the complaint – this was due to the introduction of the new waste and recycling contract.

-       For this reporting period, the Council agreed with a far higher proportion of complaints than was normally expected – again as a result of the waste and recycling contract.

-       Housing had also received a higher number of complaints than for previous periods. 

-       The level of compensation for complaints remained low at £150 and was comparable with previous periods.

-       One Ombudsmen decision had been received in the period.  This was related to planning.  The Ombudsman decided not to investigate the complaint as there was no evidence of fault by the Council.

 

RESOLVED – That the Council’s position on complaints performance at the end of Period 1 be noted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To enable Cabinet to understand the Council’s current performance in relation to complaints handling.

 

CAB70/20

Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy pdf icon PDF 221 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED –

 

  1. That the Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy 2020-2025, as set out at Appendix A to the report be adopted; and
  2. That following the annual review authority be delegated to the Head of Housing, Health and Environment to amend the policy to incorporate any changes in legislation or government guidance.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To adopt the updated Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy.

Minutes:

 

Sue Oliver, Environmental Health Officer introduced the report that recommended the adoption of an updated Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The aim was to ensure that housing conditions continued to be maintained and improved in all property tenures but particularly in the private rented sector.

-       The Council worked with businesses to advise and assist with compliance which meant that enforcement action was very rare.

-       The Regulators Code issued by Government required Councils to have an enforcement policy.  The policy must explain how the Council responded to any non compliance with housing legislation.

-       The new policy explained what businesses could expect from the Council and set out the enforcement action that could be taken and when it might be taken.

-       The policy applied to anyone with responsibility for property in all tenures. 

-       As well as complying with legislation, the Council’s enforcement action would always be targeted, proportionate, fair and objective, consistent and accountable.  The types of action that could be taken were detailed in the report.

-       The additional powers the Council now had were all based around financial and monetary penalties usually as an alternative to prosecution. This included the Civil Penalty Notice which could only be used in certain circumstances with a penalty of up to £30k.  Monetary penalties of up to £5k could be used if a managing or letting agent hadn’t joined a Redress Scheme or for non compliance with the requirement to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in private or rented properties.

-       A financial penalty could also be imposed, again for specific reasons particularly related to the inspection and testing of electrical installations. 

-       The Council had built very good relationships with businesses in the town and rarely had cause to take enforcement action. 

-       Over the last 2 years the Council had issued 1 Emergency Prohibition Order and 1 Prohibition Order.  5 Hazard Awareness Notices and 2 Improvement Notices had been issued to remedy health and safety issues.  The Civil Penalty Notice had been issued on one occasion where a landlord had failed to licence an HMO.

 

RESOLVED –

 

  1. That the Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy 2020-2025, as set out at Appendix A to the report be adopted; and
  2. That following the annual review authority be delegated to the Head of Housing, Health and Environment to amend the policy to incorporate any changes in legislation or government guidance.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To adopt the updated Private Sector Housing Enforcement Policy.

CAB71/20

Renovation of three properties in Crescent Road for affordable housing pdf icon PDF 315 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED –

 

  1. That the renovation of three empty properties owned by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to provide six self contained flats for people recovering from rough sleeping be approved.
  2. That a Capital Budget of £515k funded through Homes England Grant funding of £205k and £310k of s106 commuted sums be approved.
  3. That the release £310k of s106 commuted sums that were received by the Council from the Homeopathic Hospital Site be approved.
  4. That the Head of Housing, Health and Environment and the Head of Economic Development and Property in consultation with the Director of Change and Communities,  the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Wellbeing and the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance be authorised to submit a full planning application and any other associated planning/ building applications required, invite competitive tenders for the refurbishment works, accept a tender and oversee the works to completion and to enter into such deeds and agreements arising from or ancillary to the legal formalities referred to in this recommendation be approved.
  5. That the surrender of the lease from Tunbridge Wells Property Holdings Limited to the Council for 32 Crescent Road be approved.  That the Head of Economic Development and Property  in consultation with the s151 officer , the Monitoring Officer and the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance be delegated to carry out all the necessary negotiations, legal processes and legal documentation to complete these refurbishment works and subsequent leasing of the refurbished units..
  6. That the Head of Mid Kent Legal Services be authorised to negotiate and complete all necessary deeds and agreements arising from or ancillary to the funding agreement with Homes England, application for planning permission, tenders, refurbishment and other legal formalities referred to in these recommendations and the occupation of the six units on terms agreed by the Head of Housing, Health and Environment and the Head of Economic Development and Property.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To provide six long term homes that can be used for former rough sleepers which would help TWBC meet its commitment to end rough sleeping in the Borough.

 

CALL-IN AND URGENCY

In accordance with the provisions Of Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 14 in Part 4 of the Constitution, the Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny gave prior agreement that this decision was urgent and would not be subject to call-in as delay would seriously prejudice the Council’s or the public’s interest.

 

Minutes:

Jane Lang, Housing Services Manager introduced the report that recommended approval for the renovation of three empty properties in order to provide six self contained flats for people recovering from rough sleeping.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       Homelessness was on the increase across the country and the Borough was no exception.

-       Housing services had seen a 20% increase in homeless approaches during the last financial year compared with 2018/19.

-       Last year the Council was contacted by over 1300 households including families with children who were facing homelessness.

-       Under the ‘Everyone In’ initiative the Council had provided accommodation on a nightly paid basis for over 80 people.  These were people that the Council would have not previously had a duty to provide accommodation.  The Council had now found homes for over 50 but still had around 25 people currently in nightly paid accommodation.

-       The Council  had specialist workers who provided more in-depth help for those people who required more support. 

-       The Council had a Housing First scheme which provided accommodation for those who required a high level of support and need.

-       The Council also had funding to help those who needed rent deposits.

-       The Council had a lack of longer term housing for those in need.

-       The properties in Crescent Road would provide the Council with an opportunity to create a long term supply of housing for residents in housing need.

-       This was a joint project with Government - Homes England who fund affordable housing projects.

-       The project would also use s106 funding which had been previously collected with the purpose of providing affordable housing.

-       The initial conditions of the Grant was for the works to be completed by the end of March 2021.  However giving the timing of the decision notice from Homes England and having looked further at the works required, the Council’s timescales were to the middle of June 2021.  The Council were now in the process of agreeing this change with Homes England.  The contract with Homes England was due to be signed in the next few weeks. 

-       The homes would include a number of energy efficiency measures which included:

o   Air source heat pumps for heating hot water;

o   Thermostat controlled radiators;

o   Low energy lighting;

o   Secondary glazing for windows at the front of the properties and double glazing at the rear;

o   Changes to some of the doors so they were energy efficient;

o   Showers would be installed rather than baths;

o   All floors, external walls  and loft space would be insulated.

RESOLVED –

 

  1. That the renovation of three empty properties owned by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to provide six self contained flats for people recovering from rough sleeping be approved.
  2. That a Capital Budget of £515k funded through Homes England Grant funding of £205k and £310k of s106 commuted sums be approved.
  3. That the release of £310k of s106 commuted sums that were received by the  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAB71/20

CAB72/20

Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To consider any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent, for the reasons to be stated, in accordance with Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

CAB73/20

Date of Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To note that the date of the next scheduled meeting is Thursday 21 January 2021 at 12:00pm.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting would be held on 21 January 2021 commencing at 12:00pm.