Agenda, decisions and draft minutes

Cabinet - Thursday, 4th February, 2021 10.30 am

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Contact: Caroline Britt  Democratic Services Officer

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Items
No. Item

CAB84/20

Apologies pdf icon PDF 9 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no apologies.

CAB85/20

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 9 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.

CAB86/20

Notification of Visiting Members wishing to speak pdf icon PDF 9 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:

There were no Visiting Members who had registered as wishing to speak.

CAB87/20

Questions from Members of the Council pdf icon PDF 9 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.

CAB88/20

Questions from Members of the Public pdf icon PDF 9 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.

CAB89/20

Consideration of the Forward Plan as at 22 December 2020 pdf icon PDF 241 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 22 December 2020 be noted.

CAB90/20

*Budget 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 504 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 changes to the base budget along with the assumptions and approach set out throughout the report be approved.

2.     That the responses to the budget consultation set out at Appendix C to the report be approved;

3.     That the rolling forward of the capital programme including additional gross funding of £2,834,600 for new schemes list within the report be approved; and

4.     That an increase in the Base Amount of Council Tax of £5 per annum for a Band D property be approved.

 

REASON FOR DECISION: To deliver a sustainable budget to deliver the Council’s key objectives.

Minutes:

Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development introduced the report that provided an update to the budget projections for the 2021/22 budget.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The budget had been developed over a 9 month period with 3 reports going Cabinet via the Cabinet Advisory Boards and Overview and Scrutiny.

-       Since approval of the draft budget, Government had set out the provisional Local Government Finance Settlement which confirmed the Council Tax threshold for this Council of £5 over the rate for the current year.

-       The Government expected the Council to increase Council Tax by £5 in their assessment of the spending power and resources this Council would have available to deliver Local Services. 

-       The final settlement would be confirmed by Parliament and a debate was currently scheduled for 10 February 2021.

-       A final allocation of New Homes Bonus of £454k would be received which would help to reduce the use of reserves in balancing the Revenue Budget.

-       The Government had stated the replacement for New Homes Bonus would move towards a new scheme that would be ‘a new more targeted approach that rewards Local Authorities where they are ambitious in delivering the homes we need’.

-       In terms of Business Rates, the system that rewarded Local Authorities that attracted investment into their area and delivered growth would continue for a further year.  TWBC would continue to be part of the Kent Business Rates Pool.

-       The latest financial impact from the pandemic on the Council’s income streams was included in the report and with further national lockdowns and disruption the picture was unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future.

-       Unemployment and collection rates were holding up better than anticipated. 

-       £1.935m would still be required from Reserves to fund the provision of local services for next year.  This was an improvement on the £3m identified in the draft budget.

-       The Council’s asset still required substantial investment with additional gross project funding of £2.8m.  This was in addition to rolling forward the existing Capital Programme.

-       The report included a table (A List) of schemes which for health and safety reasons or where external funding was in place, would require funding. 

-       The report also included a B list of £2m worth of works that would be required to keep the Town Hall, Assembly Hall, Car Parks and Leisure Centres operational.

-       This was all in addition to the £1m the Council spent on planned and responsive repairs to its assets.

-       The temporary use of Reserves and the additional Capital Schemes would reduce the level of Reserves held by the Council. 

-       Fortunately the Council entered the pandemic from a sound financial position with a track record of balancing the Revenue Budget.  However, Reserves could only be used once and the legacy of the pandemic would be the cost of providing existing services would be greater than the level of income raised each year by this  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAB90/20

CAB91/20

*Capital Strategy 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 147 KB

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

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED – That Full Council be recommended that the Capital Strategy 2021/22, as set out at Appendix A to the report be adopted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

To provide guidance on the Council’s capital programme and the use of its capital resources as required by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy and Prudential Code and Treasury Management Codes.

 

Minutes:

Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development presented the report that formed part of the Council’s policy and strategy documents that provided guidance on the Council’s Capital Programme and the use of its capital resources.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The Capital Strategy had been updated to reflect the emerging Five-Year Plan, also the local Climate Emergency and the national emergency around Covid-19.

 

 

RESOLVED – That Full Council be recommended that the Capital Strategy 2021/22, as set out at Appendix A to the report be adopted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

To provide guidance on the Council’s capital programme and the use of its capital resources as required by the Chartered Institute for Public Finance and Accountancy and Prudential Code and Treasury Management Codes.

 

CAB92/20

*Treasury Management Policy and Strategy pdf icon PDF 147 KB

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

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED – That Full Council be recommended that the Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2021/22, as set out in Appendix A to the report, be adopted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

The security of the Council’s cash and effective cash flow management is vital in order to support all the services provided by the Council.  The interest received from the Council’s investments is an important source of income in helping the Council set a balanced budget.

 

 

Minutes:

Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development introduced the report that formed part of the Council’s financial management arrangements that ensured a framework for decisions was in place.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       There were two main changes from the previous strategy:

o   The authorised limit for external debt had been reduced back to £20m.  This reflected the lack of  progress by the Civic Complex Cross Party Working Group in agreeing how to address the major issues related to the Civic buildings.

o   The report also reflected the further reduction in interest rates that were available from the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB) which were now below previous record lows and were expected to remain at these levels for the foreseeable future.

-       Initially the Council extended the amount of debt it was able to hold to enable funds to come forward subject to suggestions made by the Cross Party Working Group regarding the Civic complex.  It would be for the Cross Party Working Group to come up with a proposal and give a mandate to officers as to how to address these issues.

 

RESOLVED – That Full Council be recommended that the Treasury Management Policy and Strategy 2021/22, as set out in Appendix A to the report, be adopted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

The security of the Council’s cash and effective cash flow management is vital in order to support all the services provided by the Council.  The interest received from the Council’s investments is an important source of income in helping the Council set a balanced budget.

 

 

CAB93/20

Grant of Lease to Enable Funding - Bayham Sports Pitches pdf icon PDF 115 KB

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

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED:

 

1.     That the letting of the land at Bayham Road be approved and that the leasing of the land be dealt with under delegated authority to the Head of Economic Development and Property in consultation with the Director of Finance, Policy and Development and the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance; and

 

2.     That the Head of Economic Development and Property in consultation with the Director of Finance, Policy and Development, the Monitoring Officer and the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance be given authority to complete all necessary negotiations, legal processes and legal documentation to complete the lease be approved.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

To allow the Grant of Lease for 25 years to Tunbridge Wells Foresters Football Club that would support a well-borough by providing provision for football to promote and enhance the well being of residents.

       

Minutes:

Max Horgan, Estates Surveyor introduced the report that sought approval for the letting of the land at Bayham Road.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       Tunbridge Wells Foresters Football Club had approached TWBC with a request for a 25 year lease for the Bayham Sport Pitches Site.

-       The football club currently hired the football pitches on an ad hoc basis via a hire agreement.

-       In March 2020, the Football Foundation in Association with the Kent FA prepared a report on formal and informal grass routes football in the Tunbridge Wells Borough.  The report stated that the Bayham sports pitches site was in need of an upgrade as the current facilities were no longer fit for purpose.

-       TWBC had no plans to use this land.

-       35 teams (522 children) currently used this facility making it very worthy of the Council’s support.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.    That the letting of the land at Bayham Road be approved and that the leasing of the land be dealt with under delegated authority to the Head of Economic Development and Property in consultation with the Director of Finance, Policy and Development and the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance; and

 

2.    That the Head of Economic Development and Property in consultation with the Director of Finance, Policy and Development, the Monitoring Officer and the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance be given authority to complete all necessary negotiations, legal processes and legal documentation to complete the lease be approved.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

To allow the Grant of Lease for 25 years to Tunbridge Wells Foresters Football Club that would support a well-borough by providing provision for football to promote and enhance the well being of residents.

       

CAB94/20

Grant of Lease from TWBC to TWPH Ltd - Packs in the Wood pdf icon PDF 96 KB

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

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED:

1.     That the list of residential properties from the Council’s portfolio leased to and managed by Tunbridge Wells Property Holdings Ltd be extended be approved;

 

2.     That the leasing of Packs in the Wood to Tunbridge Wells Property Holdings Ltd for intensive property management be approved;

 

3.     That authority be given to the Director of Finance, Policy and Development in consultation with the Monitoring Officer, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance to complete all necessary negotiations, legal processes and legal documentation to complete the granting of the lease be approved.

 

     REASON FOR DECISION:

 

To optimise the use of Council-owned property, whilst maximising economic returns

 

Minutes:

John Antoniades, Estates Manager, introduced the report that recommended the grant of a lease for Packs in the Wood to Tunbridge Wells Property Holdings Ltd from TWBC.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

 

-       To date 19 residential units were currently leased to Tunbridge Wells Property Holdings Ltd (TWPH Ltd).

-       The report recommended that Packs in the Wood be added to the list.

 

 

RESOLVED:

1.    That the list of residential properties from the Council’s portfolio leased to and managed by Tunbridge Wells Property Holdings Ltd be extended be approved;

 

2.    That the leasing of Packs in the Wood to Tunbridge Wells Property Holdings Ltd for intensive property management be approved;

 

3.    That authority be given to the Director of Finance, Policy and Development in consultation with the Monitoring Officer, the Portfolio Holder for Finance and Governance to complete all necessary negotiations, legal processes and legal documentation to complete the granting of the lease be approved.

 

     REASON FOR DECISION:

 

To optimise the use of Council-owned property, whilst maximising economic returns

 

CAB95/20

*Asset Management Plan 2021/2022 pdf icon PDF 149 KB

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

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED –  That Full Council be recommended that the Asset Management Plan 2021/22 be adopted

           

REASON FOR DECISION:

The Plan supports the Council’s Corporate Priorities in the Five Year Plan.

 

Minutes:

Katie Exon, Corporate Property Manager and John Antoniades, Estates Manager, introduced the report that provided a management strategy for the Council’s property assets for 2021/22.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       Since the report had been written, the Council had now let 33 Monson Road.

-       The public consultation had now been completed.

-       The comments received mainly focused on the Town Hall and the Assembly Hall Theatre and could be broken down into 3 main areas:

o   The public’s belief that a decision had already been taken to dispose of both buildings;

o   A request for further public consultation prior to any building disposal; and

o   The public being opposed to the disposal of the buildings.

-       The Asset Management Plan wasn’t site specific and not intended to be a development brief.  Given this, it should be noted that a number of consultation responses received fell outside the plans remit.

-       Any consideration for asset disposal would follow due process including internal and external consultation.

-       Concern had been raised previously of the £9m spend on Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre included in the report.  To clarify and provide assurance, the £9m was over a 10 year period and no spend was forecast for either this year or next year.  The money not only covered the fabric of the building, but also covered plant and equipment renewals e.g. swimming pools and sports hall flooring. 

 

 

RESOLVED –  That Full Council be recommended that the Asset Management Plan 2021/22 be adopted

           

REASON FOR DECISION:

The Plan supports the Council’s Corporate Priorities in the Five Year Plan.

 

CAB96/20

Property Transaction Report July to December 2020 pdf icon PDF 111 KB

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

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

To comply with the Constitution.

Minutes:

John Antoniades, Estates Manager introduced the report that informed of the property transactions completed under delegated authority for the period 1 July to 31 December 2020.

 

Discussion and responses to Members question included the following:

 

-       During the second 6 months of the calendar year the Council had disposed of no property assets.

-       11 new leases and licences were granted creating a net revenue increase of £29,207.45.

-       5 rent reviews were completed securing a net annual rental increase of £2,870.67.

-       A clawback payment of £45,798.66 was secured for Red Oak, Hawkhurst, a site previously sold by TWBC at auction.

-       5 new Assured Shorthold Tenancies (AST) were granted.

-       Due to the pandemic, a number of TWPH Ltd AST renewals had been placed on hold, but these were now being renewed.

 

To note, the matter was decided in taking the exempt information set out in the Agenda as read.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

To comply with the Constitution.

CAB97/20

Private Sector Housing Assistance Policy (2021-2026) pdf icon PDF 249 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 Assistance Policy 2021-2026, to take effect on 1 April 2021 and last for 5 years be adopted.

2.     That the existing policy be extended until 31 March 2021 be approved

3.     That authority be given to the Head of Housing, Health and Environment in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Wellbeing to make any changes to the policy, including changes in legislation and budgetary pressures (provided it remained substantially within the agreed budget framework) be approved.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

An updated policy would enable the Council to maximise the financial assistance it could provide to the disabled, vulnerable and those who required assistance.

 

Minutes:

James Cox, Private Sector Housing Manager introduced a report that recommended the adoption of an updated Private Sector Housing Assistance Policy.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The present policy needed updating as it had now run its allocated 4 years.

-       Funding for the majority of the proposed assistance came from the Council’s annual Better Care fund allocation. 

-       A small number of applications were funded from the Council’s Housing Capital Reserve.

-       The policy was a working document that clearly stated the assistance the Council was proposing to offer.  In addition it described the eligibility criteria and additions attached to each specific form of assistance.

-       As part of the process for formulating the document a consultation exercise was undertaken.  No significant comments were received.

-       It was noted that this policy would bring significant benefits for those who were vulnerable and/or disabled. 

 

RESOLVED – 

 

1.    That the Private Sector Housing Assistance Policy 2021-2026, to take effect on 1 April 2021 and last for 5 years be adopted.

2.    That the existing policy be extended until 31 March 2021 be approved

3.    That authority be given to the Head of Housing, Health and Environment in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Wellbeing to make any changes to the policy, including changes in legislation and budgetary pressures (provided it remained substantially within the agreed budget framework) be approved.

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

An updated policy would enable the Council to maximise the financial assistance it could provide to the disabled, vulnerable and those who required assistance.

 

CAB98/20

Award of Contract for the Kent and Medway Air Quality Monitoring Network pdf icon PDF 197 KB

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

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED – That the appointment of Ricardo Energy & Environment, a trading name of Ricardo-AEA Ltd as the Contractor to manage the Kent and Medway Air Quality Network and Website for an initial period of 3 years with the option of 2 annual extensions be approved..

 

REASON FOR DECISION:

 

To comply with DEFRA requirements for the analysis, quality control and verification of air quality data provided by the monitoring stations located within the respective local authority areas.

Minutes:

Karin Grey, Sustainability Manager introduced the report that recommended approval of Ricardo-AEA Ltd as the Contractor to manage the Kent and Medway Air Quality Monitoring Network and website from April 2021, subject to meeting all the procurement requirements as set out in the body of the report, for an initial period of 3 years with the option of 2 annual extensions (3+1+1).

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The report detailed the procurement taken for the Network Management contract of the Kent and Medway Air Quality Monitoring Network.

-       The work would ensure data taken from the air quality station was correctly managed and was accurate.  It would then be uploaded onto the Kent and Medway ‘Kent Air’ website.

-       The information collected from the air quality stations would be conveyed in a suitable format on the website for viewing by a variety of audiences.

-       The procurement was undertaken for a 3 year contract with the opportunity to extend the contract on a +1, +1 year basis.

-       The current contract was due to expire on 31 March 2021.

-       TWBC were the lead Authority for the procurement of this service.  TWBC had in place a Service Level Agreement, drawn up by Mid Kent Legal Services and signed by all participating Kent Local Authorities and Medway Unitary.

-       The Service Level Agreement ensured that all participants agreed to meet their cost contributions for the length of the contract.

-       The support TWBC in this work the partners would also pay a yearly administration fee.

-       Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells procurement partnership, along with Mid Kent Legal Services were involved in the entire procurement process.

-       Following the tender process, 2 submissions were received. One from Air Quality Data Managers (AQDM), the other from Ricardo Energy and Environment.

-       An assessment process was undertaken in line with the Public Contracts Regulations and an evaluation was carried out in accordance with the expectations that would be placed on any reasonable authority.

-       AQDM, the current contractor, failed to meet the mandatory requirements for the new contract and therefore did not progress through the tender process.

-       Ricardo Energy and Environment met all the mandatory requirements and all elements of the specification.

-       AQDM expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome and raised an initial challenge on 8 December and again on 11 December 2020.  The challenges were considered in full and determined that AQDM had not clearly demonstrated compliance with the tender specification requirements and that the evaluation had been undertaken in accordance with the Council’s procurement procedures and in line with the Public Contracts Regulations (2015).

-       AQDM were advised of their legal right of challenge with the deadline to submit a legal challenge to the High Court by 6 January 2021.  This had now expired.

-       Air quality was an important issue for the Council.  Work was being undertaken to improve awareness especially around schools, signage etc.  In addition, the Council was considering the idea of introducing  ...  view the full minutes text for item CAB98/20

CAB99/20

Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 9 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.

CAB100/20

Date of Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 9 KB

To note that the date of the next scheduled meeting is Thursday 11 March 2021 at 10:30am.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting would be held on Thursday 11 March 2021 commencing at 10:30am.