Agenda and draft minutes

Finance and Governance Cabinet Advisory Board - Tuesday, 12th July, 2022 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

FG14/22

Apologies pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Knight.  Councillor Holden was not present. 

FG15/22

Declarations of Interests pdf icon PDF 65 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. 

FG16/22

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 Richard Barsley, member of the public had registered to speak on Agenda Item 7.

 

Councillors Atkins, Bailey, Moon and Wakeman had registered to speak on Agenda item 7.

 

 

FG17/22

Minutes of the meeting dated 8 June 2022 pdf icon PDF 161 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:

It was requested and agreed that the last sentence of bullet point 8, FG8/22 (Revenue Management Report Quarter 4) be corrected as follows:

 

“The minimum level of reserves are set by the Council at £4m”.

 

RESOLVED – That subject to the above correction, the minutes of the meeting dated 8 June 2022 be approved as a correct record.

FG18/22

Forward Plan as at 28 June 2022 pdf icon PDF 255 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 28 June 2022 be noted. 

FG19/22

In-Year Budget Review 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 390 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:

 

-       Income from potential co-working had not been factored in when forecasting for 2022/23.  Negotiations were ongoing regarding the work to the Town Hall.  More confidence in deciding a timeframe for an income stream from any letting would be known once these negotiations had been finalised. 

-       Forecasting for car parking income included within the budget gap graph was on the existing base budget.  As such, no assumptions had been made related to increase (or declining) usage.

-       Retained business rate growth was also not included in the assumptions as it was not prudent to do so.  Business rate growth was only truly known at the end of the financial year when the collection fund was reconciled and the Council knew the number of appeals that were either settled on running through the system.  Once this exercise had been completed, the Council would be able to declare how much growth it had received from business rates, and the money put back into reserves. 

-       It was suggested that these items should be included in the forecast as they all had the potential to help deliver a revenue surplus for the Council by the end of the financial year. 

-       The first quarter of the financial year had only just been completed.  The data was therefore not yet available to make any changes to forecast levels.  However, reports were brought to Cabinet on a quarterly basis with the opportunity to revise the budget and the level of forecasting. 

-       It was suggested the figures for car parking revenue were increasing and were now approaching pre pandemic levels.  If the figures for the first two months of this financial year were to continue for the whole year, the increase in revenue would be in the region of around £300k.  A change in the level of fees at this stage would be premature.

-       Measures that might affect the level of footfall within the town could have a detrimental effect on the town’s recovery. 

-       The report sought agreement for officers to market test surplus Council assets (as referred to in section 2.13).  Once this information had been obtained, a further report would be brought to Members so that a decision could be taken as to whether to dispose, redevelop or retain any or all of them. 

-       The assets listed had all previously been declared surplus.

 

A recorded vote was requested:

 

Cllr Brice – For                                          Cllr Pound - For

Cllr Dawlings – Against                             Cllr Rogers - For

Cllr Goodship Against                               Cllr Hayward - For

Cllr Hall – For                                            Cllr Hickey - For

Cllr Morton - For

 

For – 7

Against – 2

Abstain – 0

 

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

 

 

FG20/22

Sales, Fees and Charges (including Car Parking) 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 168 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 as set out in the agenda.

 

Registered Speakers:

 

Mr Richard Barsley – Member of the Public

Cllr Rodney Atkins (statement read)

Cllr Raymond Moon

Cllr Matthew Bailey

Cllr Suzanne Wakeman

 

Prior to this item being opened for discussion and questions, Councillor Hickey stated that he had set the agenda to fix the budget deficit this year.  The budgeting process, due to start soon, would go through a full bottom up consultation process. 

 

Discussion and questions from Members including the following:

 

-       Parking enforcement in Paddock Wood during the pandemic had been difficult.  Normally, two Civic Enforcements Officers (CEO’s) would have been deployed in Paddock Wood and the surrounding areas.  During the pandemic, the sharing of vehicles was prohibited and it was impractical to send two CEO’s in separate cars.  However, since June normal practice had resumed, with one CEO concentrating on the car park, the other on Commercial Road.

-       If requested, additional enforcement was available.

-       Footway parking adjacent to double yellow lines was something the Council could also enforce.  Where no double yellow lines existed was currently a matter for the police.  However, the Council were exploring with the police possible measures to help tackle this.  Also discussions with Kent County Council were suggested about possible physical measures e.g. bollards, that would prevent footway parking. 

-       The current cashless system for car parking payments was leading edge but it was recognised, that due to the number of options available this could be confusing for customers.  However, the method customers used tended to be an even split between the various options, so to remove one would be difficult to justify. 

-       To help simplify the procedure the Council were looking at different signing options. 

-       Car park use in Paddock Wood in relation to the number of hours stayed was broken down as follows (2021 figures):

o   up to 1 hour = over 80,000

o   up to 2 hours – 15,000

o   up to 3 hours = 2,400

o   up to 4 hours = 1,700

o   up to 6 hours = 1,800

-       Given the level of 1 hour users, this would be the best source of income for the Council.  Increasing the charges for the longer stays would not generate sufficient income to cover the associated maintenance and enforcement costs.

-       It was commented that Paddock Wood did not have any vacant shops, the only empty premises was currently under offer.

-       Car parking charges either using Ringo or the machines were the same. 

-       Some Members could not support the increase in charges, especially given the earlier comments about not including the increased use of car parking in the forecasting.  It was understood there were reasons for prudence due to the pandemic, but given the level of public opposition it would be better to wait until later in the year before introducing any price increases.

-       An internet campaign against Dunorlan charges had been going for  ...  view the full minutes text for item FG20/22

FG21/22

Draft Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 149 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 as set out in the agenda.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

 

-       Figures for those in Band 1 who had defaulted on the 20% payment for last year were not available but details would be provided after the meeting. 

-       As at the end of June collection rates for benefit claimants was 26% and 28.95% for all residents.

-       The collection rates for 2021/22 was 77.98%, for 2020/21 it was 88.92% and for 2019/20 it was 85.13%.

-       A reduction from 20% to 15% in the total amount paid by benefit claimants would cost the tax payer a total of £652,000.  TWBC would be liable for 10% of these costs i.e. £65k.  The remainder of the cost would be passed on to the police, fire brigade and Kent County Council.

-       Revenues and Benefits already worked with organisations including the Citizens’ Advice Bureau in order to try and help those most in need.

-       The Director of Finance had previously been asked to model what the cost would be to the Council if it were to pay 100% of the costs. It was agreed to provide Members with details.  These were subsequently provided after the meeting as follows:

 

Authority

100% Scheme – Additional Year 1 cost

KCC

£816,531

Police

£124,748

Fire

£45,363

Parishes

£34,022

TWBC

£113,407

Kent Taxpayers

£1,134,071

 

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

FG22/22

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. 

FG23/22

Date of the Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To note that the date of the next scheduled meeting is Tuesday 6 September 2022, at 6.30pm.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 6 September 2022 at 6:30pm.