Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 21st November, 2022 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Louise Kellam  Interim Scrutiny and Engagement Officer


No. Item


Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

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Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Britcher-Allan


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 65 KB

To receive any declarations of interest by Members in items on the agenda in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct. For any advice on declarations of interest, please contact the Monitoring Officer before the meeting.

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There were no disclosable pecuniary or other significant interests declared at

the meeting.


Declarations of a Party Whip pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any declarations by members of instruction given by or on behalf of a political group as to how that member should speak or vote on any items on the agenda. For any advice on declarations of a party whip, please contact the Monitoring Officer before the meeting.

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There were no declarations that any member was subject to a party whip.


Notification of Persons Registered to Speak pdf icon PDF 31 KB

To note any Visiting Members or members of the public wishing to speak, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 18 or 19, and which item(s) they wish to speak on.

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Councillors Hall and Everitt were in attendance as the responsible Cabinet

Members on items OSC50/22 and OSC51/22, respectively. There were no

members of the public or Visiting Members registered to speak.


Minutes of the meeting dated 29 September 2022 pdf icon PDF 220 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.

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Councillor Rogers noted that in relation to the Contracts Task and Finish Group, she had thought that Councillor Ms Palmer had not wished to be a part of the Group. It was confirmed that Councillor Ms Palmer would be a part of the Group.


No amendments were proposed to the Minutes.


RESOLVED That the minutes of the meetingdated 29 September 2022 be approved as a correct record.


Items Called- In pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To consider any items ‘Called-In’ under Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 13, details of which will have been circulated to Members under separate cover.

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There were no items which had been called-in.


Review of Draft Budget 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 167 KB

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

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Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development, presented the report as set out in the agenda. He did note that there was an error on the graph on Para 1.6 of the Draft Budget 2023/24, as the deficit was predicted to be £7.4m in 2028/29 rather than the £7.7m shown in the graph.


Answers to questions to Lee Colyer and Councillor Christopher Hall, Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance included:

·         In terms of the effects of high inflation, Appendix C in the report set out some assumptions that were made, but were only able to factor in the next financial year e.g. pay inflation at 5% and contract inflation of 13%. Following that, it was assumed that the Bank of England would get control of the interest rate and be able to bring it down to their target of 2%. TWBC would continue to allow for contract inflation of 4%  because contract inflation did not follow the Consumer Price Index but was related to labour, engineering and diesel costs.

·         TWBC were able to benefit substantially from higher interest rates caused by recent market turbulence and political changes, when banks were predicting interest rates were going to rise to 8%. TWBC were able to lock in these higher rates of interest before rates lowered again between 4-5%. This was noted in Appendix A.

·         TWBC were able to raise Council Tax by £5, which amounted to 2.6%. The change in the Autumn Statement was to be that in the next year the £5 stayed fixed, which was frustrating as the £5 had been fixed since 2013. But TWBC had the option to raise by £5 or 3%, whichever was greater. Raising to 3% was only an extra 0.4%, which was £38,000. In the scheme of things, it was deemed inconsequential given the £1.4m deficit. TWBC would lobby for greater flexibility in raising Council Tax rates, as the percentage increases were not sufficient to cover increasing costs due to high inflation.

·         The Council’s total reserves, which were recorded in a table under Para 2.46 of the report, included the General Fund, which was unallocated money which could be used for any purpose. Other reserves tended to be earmarked for particular purposes, but were open to change by TWBC if it wished. However, there were a several reserves that the Council were not able to use for other purposes as they held the money on behalf of the Government for particular purposes.

·         It was believed that 2023/24 was the last year that TWBC was to be able to fund it’s budget deficit from reserves. After 2025/26 it was not possible to do so without reserves falling under the £4m safety threshold.

·         Assumptions made in Appendix C relating to the 4% increase of costs for service providers Urbaser, Tivoli and Fusion did not need to be reviewed for the next financial year as the indexed costs were known. They would be kept under review in the following years as if the Bank of  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC50/22


Review of Carbon Reduction pdf icon PDF 185 KB

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

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Councillor Luke Everitt, Cabinet Member for Environment, Sustainability and Carbon Reduction introduced the report as set out in the agenda and Cabinet report and Karin Grey, Sustainability Manager, presented the technical data.


Answers to questions to officers and Councillor Everitt included:

·         Even with ongoing technological advancements, it was not possible to reach zero carbon emissions by 2030 – a certain amount of offsetting was still required, but the Council would reduce emissions as much as possible so offsetting was very limited.

·         The first few years had been about understanding what the Council’s emissions were and setting baselines to get projects running for future years to reach those emissions targets. The Pandemic and increased energy costs had not assisted when it came to funding but it was still feasible to reach these targets trajectories. The projects were now there, it was a matter of finding the funding to deliver them.

·         There was a constant review of emissions to understand where the Council were and then where the best focus was in terms of bidding for grants and any other resources which could be put forward to deliver those projects that reduce carbon emissions.

·         There had been several good examples of public engagement within the Big Green Week, and more detail would be within the Borough-wide plan and was in the early stages but the draft Year 2 Action Plan had a timeline about the rollout of the strategy.

·         Looking at precedents set by other local authorities there were several steps which Councils could take to engage with the public, but some methods were not possible or suitable to replicate in Tunbridge Wells.

·         There was no direct control over Borough-wide emissions, only Corporate emissions. The Council did have influence because of Procurement Policy and public engagement. This type of engagement was able to indirectly influence a reduction of emissions of one third or more. This highlighted the importance of a Borough-wide Strategy.

·         In terms of grants available, there was the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme which was TWBC’s main scheme provided by the Government.

·         The Net Zero Strategy that was put forward by the Government was decreed by the High Court not to be up to standard as more detail had been requested about how the country as a whole would achieve decarbonisation. The LGA had also requested more information from the Government about what support was needed/given and about funding opportunities and better consistency. Grant funding needed to be long-term, not short-term. Multi-year funding was needed to be able to make long-term projects and upskill the workforce and fund different companies to deliver green infrastructure and investment needed to get to Net Zero.

·         There were many opportunities which needed to be explored to bring in private sector investment, such as companies who were looking at sustainable development goals and the UK Infrastructure Bank who were looking for investment opportunities.

·         The data collected by the Council used equivalents, as it took in to account factors such as methane being much more damaging to  ...  view the full minutes text for item OSC51/22


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 98 KB

To consider the Committee’s future work programme.

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The Work Programme was presented for information.


Cllr Goodship requested that Licensing of Colebrook Lakes be removed from the list of potential future topics as the issue had been resolved at Licensing Committee.


No further topics were discussed.


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.

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There was no urgent business for consideration.


Date of the next meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To note that the next scheduled meeting is Monday 16 January 2023.

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The next meeting was scheduled for Monday 16th January 2023