Agenda and minutes

Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 6.30 pm

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Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Team 

Media

Items
No. Item

FG37/23

Apologies pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors Francis, Knight and Osborne.

FG38/23

Declarations of Interests pdf icon PDF 66 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 or other significant interests declared at the meeting.

FG39/23

Notification of Persons Wishing to Speak pdf icon PDF 29 KB

To note any visiting Members and members of the public wishing to speak, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Council Meeting Procedure Rule 18 and 19 and which items they wish to speak on.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no visiting persons registered to speak.

FG40/23

Minutes of the meeting dated 5 September 2023 pdf icon PDF 166 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:

No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 5 September 2023 be approved as a correct record.

FG41/23

Forward Plan as at 27 September 2023 pdf icon PDF 333 KB

To note forthcoming items as set out in the Forward Plan

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the Forward Plan as at 27 September 2023 be noted.

FG42/23

Budget Update Report 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 678 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 set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

 

-       There was frustration that as long ago as autumn 2021, the Council were talking about Co-Working, it was subsequently agreed at Full Council in December 2021 with an expectation that it would progress in early 2022.

-       It was disappointing that it was still listed as a savings item for the autumn of 2023.

-       It was noted that the delays in progressing Co-Working rested with the contractor rather than the Council.

-       It was further noted that whilst recent delays could be attributed to issues with the contractor, back in 2021/22, Town Square were very keen to get started and were constrained due to staff turnover problems within the Council. 

 

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

FG43/23

*Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 131 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Zoe Kent, Interim Head of Mid Kent Revenues and Benefits Partnership introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

 

-       The scheme provided a maximum of 80% reduction in Council Tax.  There were some authorities in East Kent that offered a higher reduction (up to 90%), no authorities in Kent offered 100%.

-       The Council received an administration grant from KCC and the major preceptors (Police, Fire etc.) of £150k towards the cost of managing the scheme.

-       If TWBC decided to award an amount higher than 80%, it was likely the administration grant would be removed.

-       If the Council increased the amount offered to 85% reduction in Council Tax, the additional cost would be £180k across all preceptors, with the Council’s share being £18k (10%).

-       It should be noted, the Council could also face the possible loss of the administration grant, and the possibility of an additional cost from Maidstone Borough Council for running the service. 

-       For TWBC to offer an amount above 80%, e.g. 85% reduction, it would cost TWBC £18k plus an agreement from KCC and the other preceptors.

-       Because TWBC collected Council Tax on behalf of the other agencies, it was not possible to look at the scheme in isolation.

-       The Council could not decide to award an additional 5% and bear the costs without consultation with the other agencies because it was a reduction in everyone’s tax base. 

-       The total cost if TWBC were to fund the scheme would be £180k.

-       A breakdown of the costs for providing reductions in Council Tax from 85% to 100% would be sent to Members after the meeting.

-       Less than 10% of the Council Tax received came to the Council. The remaining 90% went to KCC and the other preceptors. 

-       The scheme was a fair scheme.  To provide more funding would require extensive discussions with the other preceptors and the other Districts and Boroughs in Kent.

-       It was unfortunate that not all the data was available as without it, it was difficult to make a decision.

-       Tunbridge Wells was considered an affluent area, so for those less well off, even paying 20% could prove difficult. 

-       It was suggested and agreed that an additional recommendation be put forward to Cabinet as follows:

“That Cabinet fully costs out the financial impacts to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council of a full range of Council Tax Reduction Schemes”.

 

RESOLVED – That the recommendations to Cabinet set out in the report be supported, with the additional recommendation that Cabinet fully costs out the financial impacts to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council of a full range of Council Tax Reduction Schemes.

 

 

FG44/23

Disposal of Surplus Land at Mount Pleasant Car Park pdf icon PDF 195 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Peter Benfield, Senior Estates Officer introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

 

-       The asset was listed with one agent, Lambert, Smith, Hampton.

-       Lambert, Smith, Hampton were the retained agents for AXA, for the disposal of their site.  As the two sites were linked, it made sense for the Council to use the same agent.

-       To date there was one firm offer, along with several expressions of interest.

-       The advert would continue to run until the end of October.

-       There was no compulsion to sell the asset, retaining it was still an option.  

-       If the offers didn’t meet the requirements of the Council in terms of value for money, then the Council would have to consider next steps, and this could include not selling the asset, but waiting until a later date subject to market conditions.

-       In order to establish what market conditions existed, it was necessary to ‘test the water’ and attract bids. It would be for the Portfolio Holder, in consultation with officers to then to decide whether any of those bids were appropriate.

-       Recommendation 2 included in the report provided delegated authority for the Portfolio Holder, in consultation with the Director of Finance, Policy and Development and the Monitoring Officer to negotiate and agree terms for the disposal of the land.

-       The Property Asset Oversight Panel (PAOP), a Working Group of Cabinet, had already discussed the possible disposal of this asset.  PAOP was the first stage in the process.  

-       Full Council had already approved the car park being surplus to requirements. 

-       Officers then considered the market, bearing in mind that the car park was located immediately next to a large development site.

-       PAOP were consulted, and were satisfied that the asset could come forward for possible disposal.  The report therefore sought approval for full delegation for the disposal of the site.

-       Sealed bids would be assessed by Officers.  A recommendation would then be made to the Portfolio Holder as to whether or not to accept a particular offer submitted.

-       If the offer was deemed suitable, full delegation existed to complete the formalities of sale.

-       Having both sites on the market at the same time, offered better opportunities for sale, rather than marketing them separately and at different times.

-       There was concern that there was no advisor that could assess the asset independently from the selling agent and Officers to ensure that best value had been achieved.

-       Before the Council could dispose of any land or asset, it must seek a Red Book Valuation Section 123 (details of which were included in the Exempt Appendix).

-       This had established the potential ranges and value of this asset.  This must be signed off by a professionally qualified valuer, who were duty bound to act independently and give true and fair advice. 

-       A view was expressed that the Council should not be disposing of  ...  view the full minutes text for item FG44/23

FG45/23

Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 28 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.

FG46/23

Date of the Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To note that the date of the next scheduled meeting is Tuesday 14 November 2023, at 6.30pm. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 14 November 2023 at 6:30pm.