Agenda and minutes

Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board - Tuesday, 14th November, 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

FG47/23

Apologies pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillors Allen, Ellis and Knight.

FG48/23

Declarations of Interests pdf icon PDF 67 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:

Councillor David Osborne declared an interest in Agenda item 17, 9-10 Calverley Terrace, Disposal.  As a member of the Civic Society,  who had expressed an interest in this site, and following a discussion with the Monitoring Officer, he had agreed to withdraw from the meeting for the duration of this item.

FG49/23

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:

Mr Paul Avis, Chair of the Civic Society and Councillor Nick Pope had registered to speak on agenda item 17, 9-10 Calverley Terrace, Disposal.

FG50/23

Minutes of the meeting dated 10 October 2023 pdf icon PDF 164 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 10 October 2023 be approved as a correct record.

FG51/23

Forward Plan as at 1 November 2023 pdf icon PDF 322 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 1 November 2023 be noted.

FG52/23

Procurement Strategy 2023-26 pdf icon PDF 152 KB

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Dan Hutchins, Procurement Manager introduced the item set out in the agenda.

 

The Report was taken as read.

 

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

FG53/23

9-10 Calverley Terrace - Disposal pdf icon PDF 177 KB

To consider and provide 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.

 

Mr Paul Avis, Chair of the Civic Society had registered to speak, comments included:

 

-       Speaking on behalf of the Civic and the Decimus Murton Societies (The Society). 

-       They presented their Business Plan for a Decimus Burton museum and study centre to the Council in April 2023.  It was to be considered as one of the options for the repurposing of 9-10 Calverley Terrace.

-       Despite considerable local and national support for the project the Council, so far, had not deemed it possible to support the project.

-       The Council had yet to provide detailed reasons why the project could not be supported.

-       The highly qualified team working on the plan would be very capable of addressing any issues and concerns raised by the Council.

-       At the invitation of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Society were preparing additional information they had requested for an Expression of Interest Application (EOI).  Contrary to rumours the project had not been turned down for funding.

-       Criticism from Councillors was due to them having not read the Business Plan in detail.

-       The Society and residents had been treated very badly, only finding out about this ‘flash’ sale through a press release. Disrespectful comments from a Councillor had also been received.

-       The Society was currently working with the Prince’s Foundation, the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute of British Architects on an exhibition to encourage students to join the architectural profession, through an exhibition on Decimus Burton’s work. 

-       The Committee should disassociate themselves with the disrespectful comments made by the few.

-       The proposed sale of the two properties and the car park in front of the buildings should be immediately withdrawn from sale and removed from the asset disposal list.

-       The Society should be allowed to present the museum option to Full Council so that all Councillors were given the option to vote.

 

Councillor Nick Pope had registered to speak, comments included:

 

-       To ask the Committee to defer the decision on 9-10 Calverley Terrace until after the Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Centre Plan had been completed.

-       The timing of the proposed sale was poor. The property market was depressed with insolvencies running at their highest since the financial crisis. 

-       Best value would not be achieved if the sale went through now.

-       Selling the buildings was at odds with what the Council was doing.

-       Over recent years the Council had taken control of the town centre.

-       18 months ago, the Council had completed the work on the Amelia Scott.

-       The Town Hall was now being converted into flexible working spaces.  Utilising the vacant space in the building would bring vitality to the town centre and help with the Council’s running costs.

-       The leasehold for the Royal Victoria Shopping Centre had recently been bought so that the centre was well managed and provided the shops and other  ...  view the full minutes text for item FG53/23

FG54/23

Draft Asset Management Plan 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 176 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:

 

-       A request was noted for further information to be included regarding the assets that had been identified for disposal. 

-       The income received from each individual asset was different.  Further details of the revenue consequences of each asset should they be disposed would be added to the report.

-       The Town Hall Yard car park was an operational car park, used by the Council.  In addition Town and County Housing Group (TCHG) had a lease from the Council with over 500 years still left to run for the use of the car park.

-       The lease entitled TCHG to use the car park and it would be both difficult and very expensive for the Council to move them to another car park (e.g. Crescent Road). 

-       There was a request to investigate how much it would cost the Council to change the leasing arrangements so that the Town Hall Yard car park could be added to the list for potential disposal.

 

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

FG55/23

Draft Budget 2024/25 & Mid Term Financial Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 540 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:

 

-       Details of how much investment interest had been added to Reserves and how much was estimated to be added was included in the Revenue Management Report which would be discussed later in the meeting.

 

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

 

 

FG56/23

Revenue Management Report Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 196 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 set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

 

-       If the Council had a full complement of staff, the additional cost to the budget would be £885k. 

-       The Council still needed to find £194k to balance the services operational budget plus £85k a quarter for the vacancy factor. 

-       If the Council continued to struggle to recruit staff, meeting the budget would not present a problem.

-       However, the Council were working hard to recruit as the staff shortages were unsustainable.

-       There remained a little scope to add things to the budget.

-       The table in appendix F of the report showed staff numbers with an additional 6 staff being employed since the end of the last quarter.

-       The continued problems recruiting staff had a huge knock on effect on the services and activities the Council was able to deliver. 

-       Cabinet were well aware of the staffing issues and the strain that puts on the Council when trying to deliver projects. 

-       The money saved from staff shortages shouldn’t be relied upon when trying to deliver a balanced budget.

 

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

 

 

FG57/23

Capital Management Report Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 182 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 set out in the agenda.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

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

 

 

FG58/23

Treasury and Prudential Indicator Management Report Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 174 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 set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

 

-       The Finance team were congratulated on the excellent work they had done to maximise the Council’s investments.

 

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

 

FG59/23

Fees and Charges Setting 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 222 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 set out in the agenda.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

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

 

FG60/23

Calculation of Council Tax Base pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

-       Legislation dictated that the calculation of the Council Tax Base must be calculated 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 County Council, Kent Police Authority, Kent and Medway Fire and Rescue and the Parishes by the 31 January 2024.

-       A report will be published on 1 December which will be included as part of the Agenda for Cabinet on 7 December 2023.

-       The report would also be circulated to the Members of this Committee.

 

RESOLVED – That the update be noted.

FG61/23

Community Support Fund 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 154 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 set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

 

-       Whilst there were no objections to the offer of help wherever possible, there were some reservations about adding additional items to the budget during the course of the year.

-       Ideally, items such as this should have been included as part of the budget setting process for the year.

-       Cabinet were congratulated for finding the additional funding to be used to help those most in need in the Borough.

-       The money allocated last year was very much appreciated and very well utilised by those in receipt of the additional funding.

 

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

 

FG62/23

Performance Summary Quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 181 KB

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Pamela Grover-Morgan, Performance and Governance Manager introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

The report was taken as read.

 

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

FG63/23

Complaints Summary Quarters 1 & 2 pdf icon PDF 324 KB

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Pamela Grover-Morgan, Performance and Governance Manager introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

 

-       It was noted that complaints were being resolved earlier in the process.

-       The team were congratulated for their efforts in complaint resolutions.

 

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

 

FG64/23

New Lease on asset - Royal Victoria Place Royal Tunbridge Wells pdf icon PDF 115 KB

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Diane Brady, Investment Property Manager introduced the report set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

 

-       At the moment, the Council’s Constitution required that any key decision with a cost of over £250k must be taken to Cabinet.

-       Suggestions had now been submitted to the Constitution Review Working Party on measures to better streamline the process, particularly around tenancies and shorter term licenses. 

-       The Constitution Review Working Party were scheduled to meet on 21 November.  The recommendations would then go forward to Audit and Governance and on to Full Council in December. 

-       The Investment Advisory Panel had been set up to manage the Royal Victoria Place.  However the Council was currently constrained by the Constitution. 

-       If Members agreed the changes to the Constitution, this would allow the Investment Advisory Panel to recommend the decisions that would then be taken by the delegated officers.

-       There were no more leases expected in the short term. 

 

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

 

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

 

FG65/23

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.

FG66/23

Date of the Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To note that the date of the next scheduled meeting is Tuesday 23 January 2024, at 6.30pm. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 23 January 2024 at 6:30pm.