Agenda and minutes

Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board - Tuesday, 10th November, 2020 6.30 pm

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Contact: Caroline Britt  Democratic Services Officer

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Items
No. Item

FG1/20

Apologies pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no apologies.  Councillor Mrs Soyke was not present.

FG2/20

Declarations of Interests pdf icon PDF 6 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.

FG3/20

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 Council Meeting Procedure Rule 18, and which items they wish to speak on.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no visiting Members.

FG4/20

Minutes of the meeting dated 18 February 2020 pdf icon PDF 205 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 dated 18 February 2020 be approved as a correct record.

FG5/20

Forward Plan as at 26 October 2020 pdf icon PDF 256 KB

To note forthcoming items as set out in the Forward Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the Forward Plan.  No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the Forward Plan as at 26 October 2020 be noted.

FG6/20

Five Year Plan Update pdf icon PDF 381 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development introduced the report that provided an update to the current Five Year Plan.

 

Councillor Alan McDermott, Leader of the Council supported the presentation and responded to any political issues raised.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The report set out the short and 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 on the next Five Year Plan.  Consultation was expected to take place towards the end of 2021.

-       The events of the year had resulted in high levels of uncertainty which had severely limited the ability to plan for the future.

-       The report also noted that extensive and deep consultation that had been planned this year had not been feasible due to the constrictions of lockdown. 

-       In addition, the Council had had to reprioritise in order to meet the challenges of the Pandemic.

-       Section 2 of the report considered the short term future and immediate recovery of both the Council and the Borough. 

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

-       The Recovery Plan themes covered, businesses, housing, financial inclusion, health, community safety, the voluntary and community sector, Local Councils and Council services.

-       Section 3 of the report considered and provided updates on the remaining projects included in the current Five Year Plan.  It also proposed the inclusion of 2 new projects; options for the Town Hall and options for the Assembly Hall Theatre. 

-       Section 4 of the report set out proposed future priorities that Cabinet had put forward for future consideration.  The future priorities were expressed at high level and were:

o   Sustainable Growth

o   Green Environment

o   Culture and Leisure

-       These priorities would provide a framework that Cabinet could develop over the remainder of this year and next year including through public consultation. 

-       The report had been circulated to Parish Chairmen for comments on 3 November.  It would go to the Town Forum on 19 November and Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 23 November.  In addition, it would go to all 3 Cabinet Advisory Boards.

-       Any comments/actions would then be incorporated into the report that would go to Cabinet on 3 December 2020. 

-       This report was the start of the Five Year Plan and suggestions as to content were very welcome. 

-       This was a political paper.  Councillors were instructing officers on the way forward. 

-       Of paramount importance in the short term was to help residents and to ensure the economy improved in Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas. 

-       There was recognition that the issue of funding would  ...  view the full minutes text for item FG6/20

FG7/20

Budget Update Report 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 541 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

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 and subsequent years.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

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

-       In the absence of Government financial information for the next year, the projections had been made in something of a vacuum against the constantly fluid impact of the Pandemic.

-       The Council was financially self-sufficient and received no revenue support grant from Government. 

-       To function without Government support the Council operated more as a business and generated its own income to fund local services.

-       The most significant impact on the Council’s finances was the reduction in income from sales, fees and charges. 

-       The Council experienced income losses that reached £1m per month in May with a recovery as the economy started to open up but then a reduction in September as health concerns returned. 

-       Current projections were that by March 2021 the monthly loss of income would be £250k per month and this would indicate a total loss of income of £3m over the original budgeted levels for the financial year 2021/22. 

-       The latest current lockdown and with the potential for further restrictions going forward would likely increase the losses of income. As such it was also more likely that Government would extend the compensation scheme to support Councils. 

-       Locally, unemployment had quadrupled.  The collection of Council Tax and Business Rates were already below target.  However, they were nowhere near below target as first feared.

-       The Government furlough scheme had now been extended until the end of this financial year.

-       One way the Council had been generating income was through promoting economic growth and sharing in the process of additional Business Rates.  This scheme was expected to continue for another year so might provide some help with funds that would help fund the Capital Programme.

-       Projections were also on the basis that Council Tax would increase by £5 a year – as expected by Government.

-       To avoid drastic cuts to services at a time when residents were most reliant upon them, it was proposed to temporarily use reserves to balance the budget.  This could be afforded in the short term, but when able to do so, reserves would need to be replenished.

-       Fortunately the Council entered the Pandemic in a healthy financial position with a track record of being able to balance its budget, maintaining healthy levels of cash reserves and with no external debt.

-       However, the gravity of the situation was such that the Pandemic would result in  fundamental changes to the economy and to the Council’s income streams.  This would require the Council to review which services it could afford to deliver, how it worked and the cost and effectiveness of its large numbers of property assets. 

-       The budget update allowed for the immediate attention  ...  view the full minutes text for item FG7/20

FG8/20

Fees and Charges Setting 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 293 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking introduced the report that proposed the fees and charges for 2021/22.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The report covered all income streams from products and services except property rents and licencing income and  delivered a budgeted income of £6m. 

-       The report also excluded parking fees which were assumed to remain unchanged next year. This was with the exception of a proposed amendment to the discount to the pay by phone services and the setting of the charges for the new Union House car park which was due to open Summer 2021. 

-       The report also provided a complete review of forecast sales volumes and usages for 2021/22 which when multiplied by the prices proposed created the services income budget for the next year.

-       The medium term financial strategy usually assumed an increase of 3% year on year but due to the Covid-19 Pandemic  it assumed an overall income deficit on fees and charges of £3m. 

-       The report showed a shortfall from last year of £253k as sales volumes had fallen and the Council was not anticipating them fully recovering throughout the next financial year. 

-       The report proposed to align the provision of free bulky waste collections and free pest control services with the eligibility bands for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

-       The introduction of Universal Credit had meant that some residents who were not necessarily the most in need, were now eligible for the free services which needed to be addressed.

-       The number of residents who had signed up to the green waste collection service had exceeded last years budget.   Despite Covid-19 the actual number of subscribers was now around 22,000, up 9% from last years 20,152.  The budget for 2021/22 had therefore been increased to reflect this.

-       There was a specific piece of VAT legislation that stated that bulky waste charges should be exempt from VAT.  The Council did not propose to reduce the price instead, the price on the fees and charges would be increased by the VAT rate of 20%. 

-       It was also proposed the reduce the discount given to customers who paid car parking fees by telephone from 20p to 10p. When pay by phone was introduced a discount of 40p was given to recognise there was a 20p admin charge levied by the contractor to use the service and because the Council wanted to incentivise customers to use this method of payment.  The new contractor did not include an admin fee so last year 20p was removed from the discount. 

-       It was proposed the Council should no longer accept cheques.  There were many forms of electronic methods of payment which were cheaper for the Council and much more cost effective to administer.  The option to pay by cash would also be available.

-       The issue of VAT for bulky waste came to light when the Council was investigating VAT for green waste.  The  ...  view the full minutes text for item FG8/20

FG9/20

Draft Budget and Medium Term Financial Strategy Update 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development provided a verbal update which included the following:

 

-       No report was available at this time due to the cancellation by Government of the Autumn Budget and the delay of the Comprehensive Spending Review which had now been downgraded to just a single spending review which wouldn’t take place until 25 November 2020.

-       In addition, no date had been set for the provisional Local Government Settlement which would have set out the important information needed to feed into the Council’s budget.  This would have included any details of Covid-19 financial support, whether the New Homes Bonus would continue and also the levels of Council Tax thresholds that could be changed.

-       The process of putting together detailed estimates would continue and it was hoped that once the figures had been inputted into the Council’s financial management system, the overall numbers that come out would not be too dissimilar to the projections already set out in the  Budget Update Report discussed earlier.

 

RESOLVED – That the verbal update be noted.

FG10/20

*Discretionary Housing Payments Policy pdf icon PDF 171 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sheila Coburn, Head of Revenues and Benefits Shared Services introduced the report that sought approval to adopt the updated Discretionary Housing Payment Policy.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       TWBC was provided with an annual Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) advance by the Department for Work and Pensions in order to provide additional financial support on top of the support that was given as part of the Housing Benefit Scheme.

-       The budget available to TWBC for this year was just under £220k. 

-       Last year TWBC awarded 172 applicants with a DHP award.  The reasons included a short fall in rent, moving to a more affordable property, removal costs and to assist a move from temporary accommodation.

-       TWBC’s current DHP policy was approved by Council in 2017.  This had now been updated to provide clarity with the responsibilities for both the claimant and the Council. 

-       As per the recommendation from Internal Audit the policy would now be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

-       TWBC always ensured that it spent the total amount given by Government as any money outstanding would have to be returned.

-       TWBC were currently looking at the way forms had to be submitted to the Council. It was hoped that in the future, a more digitally friendly form would be available. 

 

RESOLVED – That the commendations to Cabinet as set out in the report be supported. 

FG11/20

Citizen's Advice Bureau (CAB) Council Tax Protocol pdf icon PDF 110 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sheila Coburn, Head of Revenues and Benefits Shared Services introduced the report that sought approval for the adoption of the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) Council Tax Protocol.

 

Discussion and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       The Local Government Association and the CAB had devised this Protocol which promoted working together, early intervention and best practice in debt collection.

-       The recovery processes for Council Tax collection were defined in legislation and a set process must be followed.

-       The approach in the Protocol would allow the Council to go beyond the statutory minimum standards, promote early intervention and to work together with the CAB and debt advice agencies.

-       The Protocol provided good practice guidance to Local Authorities, enforcement and debt advice agencies when working with customers in debt.

-       The aim of the Protocol was to ensure that residents received help and to access debt advice when needed.

-       It also offered practical steps aimed at preventing people from getting into debt and to ensure that when Local Authorities use Enforcement agents that they acted within the law and were reasonable.

 

RESOLVED – that the recommendations to Cabinet as set out in the report be supported.

 

FG12/20

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

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

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 next year and consult on 3 income banded schemes that had been modelled by external consultants.

-       There was a need to replace the current Council Tax Reduction Scheme as it was outdated and was 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 very confusing for customers.

-       The 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 and understand the impact on specific groups based on gender, disability and age.

-       TWBC consulted on 3 models that were detailed in the report.

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

o   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.

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

-       The survey was issued to 5,500 residents by post and email.  492 responses were received.

-       Responders were asked to rank their preference, however only 56% of those who responded answered this question.  Model 2 was ranked the highest at 2.37, followed by Model 1 at 2.16, Model 3 was the lowest at 1.59.

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

o   To maintain the maximum basis of award of 80% of Council Tax liability.

o   80% of the Council Tax support case load would fall within Band 1, leaving only 20% in Bands 2-5.

o   The disabled and sickness benefits that were received made up a high share of household income each month.  These were not taken into account when calculating Council Tax Reduction because only employment earnings were taken into account.

o   When a person was not earning they would fall into Band 1 with maximum support.

o   Off the 244 disabled cases currently in receipt of Council Tax Reduction, 68% fall into Band 1 with maximum support. 

o   Changes would only need to be made should employment earnings go into another Band.

o   Model 1 was modelled with the monthly net earnings and percentage award  ...  view the full minutes text for item FG12/20

FG13/20

Revenue Management Report - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 254 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

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 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 increased by £145k in quarter 2 to £6.945m. This was mainly due to the under achievement of £289k for the Fusion Leisure Centre management fee income, a reduction in Court income, £80k from revenues and benefits and a further reduction in planning income of £25k.  This was offset by additional income of £249k for the Assembly Hall Theatre. 

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

-       The Council had estimated that the level of compensation would be around £3.725m and this had been provided for in the forecast. 

-       This was an increase of £177k from quarter 1 from the loss of income for 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 as it had now reopened.

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

-       A lower collection of £825k for Council Tax and Housing Rents had also been estimated.

-       It was anticipated that the level of bad debt would increase and the eligibility for Council Tax support would also increase.

-       It was also projected that 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 in Monson Road would not be collected.

-       The Government had allocated some Covid-19 Support Grants through 3 tranches of funding so far.  This funding, along with a new Burdens Grant of £170k to meet delivery costs associated with grant funding schemes had all been included in the forecast. 

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

-       The Council had £21.2m of usable reserves as at 31 March 2020.  This included £4.09m in the General Fund and £11.26m in ear-marked reserves.

-       The reserves  ...  view the full minutes text for item FG13/20

FG14/20

Capital Management Report - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 239 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

Discussion and responses to Members question included the following:

 

-       Cabinet originally approved capital expenditure of £19.479m for 2021.

-       Since then a net £1.517m of projects had been rescheduled from 2019/20 to 2021/22 or completely removed from the programme.

-       This brought the revised forecast outturn 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 £0.146m for spending rescheduled to or from 2021/22 and a net increase in the forecast of projected spend of £1.836m. 

-       The net rescheduling of £406k consisted of £180k for the Assembly Hall essential works brought forward from 2021/22, £236k for the ICT Strategy which had been rescheduled from 2021 into next year and £90k for street lighting columns rescheduled from 2020/2021 to 2021/22. 

-       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 from external contributions. 

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

-       There had been no additional Capital Receipts in this quarter.

-       The housing team were working with the property team and the planning team to find suitable projects to use s106 money. 

-       The s106 money currently held by the Council were contributions from 6 specific developments which would all have their own specifications for spend. 

 

RESOLVED – That the recommendations to Cabinet as set out in the report be supported.

 

FG15/20

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

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

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 however 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 as at the 31 March 2020 of £2.5m, a number of large s106 amounts being held on the balance sheet and £842k surplus transferred to the General Fund for 2019/20.

-       As a result of the Pandemic on 27 March 2020, Government paid the Business Rate Reliefs related to 2021.  £2.2m would have normally been spread over the whole of 2021.

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

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

-       Overall, the amount the Council had to invest this year was higher than forecast.  This was despite the negative effect of Covid-19 on income 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 and forecasting incoming and outgoing cash was far more difficult than usual. 

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

-       The value of the £9m investment with the Property Fund as at 30 September 2020 was £10.05m.

-       The £92m included in the Report that related to the Calverley Square project related to the Council’s external debt management limit.  That limit was set by Full Council every year as part of the Treasury Policy and Strategy.  The Council would have the opportunity in February 2021 to amend the figure.  As such the figure remained until Full Council wished to make an amendment to that figure.

-       Negative interest rates were not something the Council had considered.  The Councils funds were held in a Lloyds Bank account that had no provision in the contract for them to charge any more than they were currently charging.  As such for the term of the existing contract the Council could not go into negative interest.  There was also the option for the Council to extend the existing contract should that be beneficial to the Council.

-       A calculation of whether the  ...  view the full minutes text for item FG15/20

FG16/20

Calculation of Council Tax Base pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the verbal update.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking provided a verbal update which included the following:

 

-       As part of the Council Tax setting process the Council was required to calculate the Tax Base in the period between 1 December and 31 January.

-       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 Police Authority, Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue and the Parishes by 31 January 2021.

-       Details of how the calculation must be done was laid out in legislation and there was very little room for influence except for the impact of the Council’s own determined Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

-       Usually the Tax Base would grow year on year as more houses were built.  This year however, Covid-19 was likely to have a significant impact and unfortunately was expected to more than offset any housing growth. 

-       The Council Tax collection rate was falling and the number of claimants for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme was increasing so it was likely that the Council would see an overall fall in the Tax Base this year.

-       A Report would be taken to Cabinet in December.

 

RESOLVED – That the update be noted.

 

 

FG17/20

Performance Summary - Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 230 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development introduced the report that summarised the performance of the Council’s projects and services for quarter 2.

 

Discussions and responses to Members questions included the following:

 

-       Quarter 2 covered the period 1 July to 30 September 2020.

-       For this year only, where indicators were under performing 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 no decisions arising as a direct result of this report and it was just for information and noting.

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

FG18/20

Complaints Summary Quarters 1 and 2 pdf icon PDF 269 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development 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 in responding to them. 

-       It also considered any Ombudsmen complaints that had been decided.

-       Aside from the Waste and Street Scene that had seen the highest number of complaints in the first half of the year, the number of housing complaints had also increased. 

 

RESOLVED – That the report be noted.

 

FG19/20

Draft Asset Management Plan 2021/22 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To consider and provide a recommendation to Cabinet on the proposals set out in the attached report.

Additional documents:

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 provided details of the principles, procedures and mechanisms to be adopted that effectively and efficiently manage the property 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 for 2021/22.

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

-       The planned maintenance programme was subject to adjustment as capital applications progressed and as condition surveys unfolded.

-       The total planned spend was likely to be around 4.5% higher than currently shown.  Any necessary adjustments would be made prior to the report being submitted to Cabinet.

-       The portfolio was currently valued at £104.69m.

-       The Council this year 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 growth.

-       Property and Estates continued with the disposal of surplus land held by the Council. 

-       The planned maintenance programme for 2020/21 would have completed works to the value of £600k.  Capital Projects to the value of £2.35m and Capital Receipts to the value of £3.126m (expected by year end). 

-       No property assets had been acquired during this period. 

-       Following the declaration 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.

-       In a very difficult market the Council had nevertheless achieved the letting of 69 St John’s Road to an Estate Agent, albeit with a 12 month rent free period.  As previously mentioned the property on Monson Road (ASK Restaurant) was being actively marketed. 

-       The Council’s aim was to try and retain tenants and keep income flowing in what was a very challenging market.  However, the Council would still look for rental growth where appropriate.

-       Estates were always proactively looking for investment opportunities and  worked closely with other departments within the Council to keep a close eye on what was happening in the market.

-       When considering the disposal or development of any piece of land the net benefit would always form part of the consideration. 

-       British Land held the long leasehold for the  ...  view the full minutes text for item FG19/20

FG20/20

Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 6 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.

FG21/20

Date of the Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 5 KB

To note that the date of the next scheduled meeting is Tuesday 12 January 2021, at 6.30pm. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The date of the next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday 12 January 2021 at 6:30pm.