Agenda and minutes

Cabinet
Tuesday, 16th January 2018 6.00 p.m.

Venue: Morecambe Town Hall

Contact: Liz Bateson, Democratic Services - telephone (01524) 582047 or email  ebateson@lancaster.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

59.

Minutes

To receive as a correct record the minutes of Cabinet held on Tuesday, 5th December 2017 (previously circulated). 

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 5th December 2017 were approved as a correct record.

 

60.

Items of Urgent Business Authorised by the Leader

To consider any such items authorised by the Leader and to consider where in the agenda the item(s) are to be considered. 

Minutes:

The Chairman advised that there were no items of urgent business.

 

61.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations by Members of interests in respect of items on this Agenda. 

Members are reminded that, in accordance with the Localism Act 2011, they are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests which have not already been declared in the Council’s Register of Interests. (It is a criminal offence not to declare a disclosable pecuniary interest either in the Register or at the meeting). 

Whilst not a legal requirement, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9 and in the interests of clarity and transparency, Members should declare any disclosable pecuniary interests which they have already declared in the Register, at this point in the meeting. 

In accordance with Part B Section 2 of the Code Of Conduct, Members are required to declare the existence and nature of any other interests as defined in paragraphs 8(1) or 9(2) of the Code of Conduct. 

 

Minutes:

Councillor Clifford declared that Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 applied to him, and would not therefore vote on any recommendation, resolution of other decision, which might affect council tax calculations.

 

62.

Public Speaking

To consider any such requests received in accordance with the approved procedure. 

 

Minutes:

Members were advised that there had been no requests to speak at the meeting in accordance with Cabinet’s agreed procedure.

 

 

63.

Reports from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee pdf icon PDF 229 KB

To consider the recommendations of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee following the Committee’s consideration of the VCFS Task Group report on 10th January 2018 – Report to follow

 

Minutes:

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Pattison)

 

Cabinet received a report from the Overview & Scrutiny Committee following the Committee’s consideration of an informal task group report on 10th January 2018 with regard to Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector Commissioning funding.  Councillor Caroline Jackson presented the report in her capacity as a member of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

 

Cabinet agreed that having only just received the referral report prior to the meeting they had not had sufficient time to consider it in detail and requested that the draft task group report be made available to them, and that consideration of the item be deferred to February’s Cabinet meeting.

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

(1)          That consideration of the Voluntary, Community and Faith Sector Commissioning Funding recommendation be deferred to February’s Cabinet meeting and that Cabinet request that the draft task group report be made available to them prior to that meeting.

 

Officers responsible for effecting the decision:

 

Chief Officer (Legal & Governance)

 

Reasons for making the decision:

 

Cabinet did not feel it was appropriate to consider the item at the meeting when they had not had the opportunity to fully consider draft report of the task group.

 

 

64.

Audio Recording of Council Meetings pdf icon PDF 238 KB

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Blamire)

 

Report of Chief Officer (Legal & Governance)

Minutes:

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Blamire)

 

Cabinet received a report from the Chief Officer (Legal & Governance) to consider recommending to Council that an audio-minutes function be added to the current Committee Management software, to enable live audio streaming at Council meetings and audio files to be created and made publicly accessible on the Council’s website.

 

The options, options analysis, including risk assessment and officer preferred option, were set out in the report as follows:

 

 

Option 1: To add an audio-minutes function to the current committee management software system, to enable live audio streaming of meetings, and an audio archive of meetings to be created and made publicly available on the Council’s website.

 

 

Option 2: To keep to the current arrangements.

 

Option 3: To cease audio recording altogether

Advantages

Increased openness and transparency; would allow the public to listen to meetings they may not be able to attend because of other commitments.

Easy to use system, which would ‘tag’ each agenda item, making it easy to search.

Portability; system could be used at both town halls and for all meetings.

No further spend required, unlike option 1.

Allows Members and staff to access sound files of full council meetings (except for exempt items).

No further spend required, unlike option 1.

 

Disadvantages

Costs of purchasing the add-on equipment (see paragraph 3.3)

Would not allow members of the public to access the recordings.

Missed opportunity to increase openness and transparency by restricting the recordings to internal listeners.

It would be too time-consuming to split the audio into agenda items; current system does not automatically ‘tag’ them unlike option 1.

Not portable; can only be used in the Council Chamber at Morecambe Town Hall.

Loss of the facility to review spoken minutes would be a disadvantage when there is any dispute over words said, for example when a complaint has been raised or an allegation made.

Retrograde step in terms of openness and transparency.

 

Risks

Uncertain demand -there is a three-month free trial period for the system and this may help with vfm assessment.

Reputational risk; councils are under increasing pressure to make their meetings more open and accessible to all.

Risk that disputes/complaints could escalate if there is no recording to refer to and resolve an issue.

 

The Officer preferred option is option 1, for the reasons set out above.

 

Councillor Clifford proposed, seconded by Councillor Leyshon:-

 

“That the recommendation, as set out in the report, be approved.”

 

Councillors then voted:-

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

(1)          That Cabinet recommends to Council that an audio-minutes function be added to the current committee management software system, to enable

·         live audio streaming of meetings, and:

·         an audio archive of meetings to be created and made publicly available on the Council’s website

·         that it initially be on a trial basis, with any longer term arrangement being subject to the budget.

·         that subject to the budget being approved, the Democratic Services Manager be authorised to continue with the service after the trial period.

Officer responsible for effecting the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 64.

65.

Budget and Policy Framework Update 2018-22 - General Fund Revenue Budget and Capital Programme pdf icon PDF 614 KB

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Whitehead)

 

Report of Chief Officer (Resources) – Report to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Whitehead

 

Cabinet received a report from the Chief Officer (Resources) to provide information on the latest budget position for current and future years, to inform Cabinet’s budget and policy framework proposals and to allow it to make final recommendations to Council regarding council tax levels for 2018/19.

 

The options, options analysis, including risk assessment and officer preferred option, were set out in the report as follows:

 

  Options are dependent very much on Members’ views on spending priorities balanced against council tax levels.  As such, a full options analysis could only be undertaken once any alternative proposals are known and it should be noted that Officers may require more time to do this.  Outline options are highlighted below, however.

 

                       Regarding council tax, the basic options are set out at section 6 of the report.  Other alternative options can be modelled at Cabinet’s request.

 

-                       With regard to including savings and growth options to produce a budget in line with preferred council tax levels, any proposals put forward by Cabinet should be considered affordable, alongside the development of priorities.  Emphasis should be very much on the medium to longer-term position.

 

Under the Constitution, Cabinet is required to put forward budget proposals for Council’s consideration, in time for them to be referred back as appropriate.  This is why recommendations are required to feed into the Council meeting in January, prior to the actual Budget Council in March.

 

Generally Officer preferred options are reflected in the recommendations, with the exception of council tax.

 

In view of the level of savings still needed in future years, the ongoing impact that council tax decisions have, the Council’s current financial strategy, its ambition for the district and the fact that the Council is not yet clear about how and when it will achieve a financially sustainable budget, the Officer preferred option for council tax is to increase year on year increases up to the referendum thresholds (i.e. 2.99% for next year), subject to confirmation of those limits.  Ultimately, however, the setting of council tax is a matter for Members.

 

The Council’s financial challenges continue and in order to protect its future sustainability, as well as balancing next year’s budget, the Council must put in place transformational plans and building blocks to address its forecast medium to longer term deficit, building in flexibility to respond to any major changes in its outlook – there are still some fundamental uncertainties around this, linked to the timing and outcome of Government’s planned finance reforms.

 

 

Councillor Whitehead proposed, seconded by Councillor Clifford:-

 

“That recommendations 1, 4, as set out in the report, be approved with recommendation (3) revised to ‘that Cabinet agrees its’ initial budget proposals for the period from 2018/19 onwards for publication prior to the Budget & Performance Panel meeting on Tuesday 23rdJanuary 2018.”

 

 

Councillors then voted and agreed unanimously to the above recommendations.

 

Councillor Clifford, having disclosed that Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 applied to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 65.

66.

Budget & Policy Framework Update 2018-22 - Housing Revenue Account and Capital Programme pdf icon PDF 583 KB

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Warriner)

 

Joint Report of Chief Officer (Resources) & Chief Officer (Health & Housing) – Report to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Warriner)

 

Cabinet received a joint report from the Chief Officer (Health & Housing) and Chief Officer (Resources) which provided an update on the council housing budgetary position and sought Cabinet’s decisions on council housing rent levels for 2018/19 and targets for future years.  It also sought approval of Cabinet’s supporting revenue budget and capital programme proposals for referral on to Budget Council, in order to complete the HRA budget setting process for 2018/19.

 

The options, options analysis, including risk assessment and officer preferred option, were set out in the report as follows:

 

There is currently no other alternative available in respect of 2018/19 housing rent setting, given legislative requirements.

 

With regard to the revenue budget generally, Cabinet could consider other proposals that may influence spending in current and future years, as long their financing is considered and addressed.

 

The options available in respect of the minimum level of HRA balances are to retain the level at £500,000 in line with the advice of the Section 151 Officer, or adopt a different level. Should Members choose not to accept the advice on the level of balances, then this should be recorded formally in the minutes of the meeting and it could have implications for the Council’s financial standing, as assessed by its external auditor.

 

With regards to the savings and growth proposals as set out in section 7 of the report, Cabinet should consider the costs and benefits of the proposals and whether they are affordable, in particular over the medium to longer term.

 

The options available in respect of the Capital Programme are:

 

i)          To approve the programme in full, with the financing as set out;

ii)         To incorporate other increases or reductions to the programme, with appropriate sources of funding being identified.

 

Any risks attached to the above would depend very much on what measures Members proposed, and their impact on the council housing service and its tenants. As such, a full options analysis could only be undertaken once any alternative proposals are known, and Officers may require more time in order to do this.

 

The relevant Officer preferred options are to:

-                    Sethousingrentlevelsin linewithGovernment legislation.

-                    Approve/ referon theprovisions,reserves and balances position (and their use) assetout.

-                    Approve / referon the revenue budgets and capital programme, allowing for Cabinet’s recommendations regarding specific savings and growth proposals.

 

Councillor Warriner proposed, seconded by Councillor Pattison:-

 

“That the recommendations, as set out in the report, be approved.”

 

Councillors then voted:-

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

(1)        Thatthe HousingRevenueAccountRevisedBudgetfor 2017/18,as setoutat AppendixA to the report,be referred onto Council forapproval, with the net overspending of £387K being met from Balances.

 

(2)        That the minimum level of HRA unallocated balances be retained at £500,000 from 01 April 2018, and that the full Statement on Reserves and Balances as set out at Appendix E to the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.