Agenda and minutes

Cabinet
Tuesday, 15th January 2019 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

70.

Minutes

To receive as a correct record the minutes of Cabinet held on Tuesday, 18 December2018 (previously circulated).

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday 18 December 2018 were approved as a correct record.

 

71.

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.

72.

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. 

Members are further reminded that Section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 applies to any meeting where consideration is given to matters relating to, or which might affect, the calculation of Council Tax.

Any member of a local authority, who is liable to pay Council Tax, and who has any unpaid Council Tax amount overdue for at least two months, even if there is an arrangement to pay off the arrears, must declare the fact that he/she is in arrears and must not vote on any recommendation or decision which might affect the budget or council tax calculation.  It is a criminal offence to fail to comply with this requirement.

 

 

 

Minutes:

No declarations were made at this point.

 

73.

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.

74.

Budget & Policy Framework Update 2019-23 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Whitehead)

 

Report of the Interim Financial Services Manager  (Report to follow)

Minutes:

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Whitehead)

 

Cabinet received a report from the Interim Head of Financial Services, which provided an update on the Council’s budget strategy for 2019/20, and financial outlook up to 2023/24. Specifically the report considered budget and council tax proposals for 2019/20.

 

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

 

Regarding the budget strategy, Cabinet may approve the proposals as set out in the report, or require changes to be made to the suggested approach.  The overriding aim of any budget setting process is to approve a balanced budget by statutory deadlines, allocating resources to help ensure delivery of the Council’s corporate and service ambitions.  The proposed approach is in line with that broad aim and any changes that Cabinet puts forward should also be framed in that context.

 

In term of the actual budget position, this report puts forward a balanced budget. If Cabinet agrees the budget then it will form their proposal to Budget Scrutiny Panel on 22 January 2019 and to Council on 30 January 2019. These meetings, in turn, will inform the final budget proposal to be considered by Council on 27 February 2019.

 

Councillor Whitehead proposed, seconded by Councillor Burns:-

 

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

 

Councillors then voted:-

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

(1)          That Cabinet recommends to Council a 2.99% increase in the Lancaster City Council element of the Council Tax as set out in paragraph 3.4 (option 1) of the report attached to the agenda.

 

(2)          That the initial budget proposals as set out in paragraph 4.3 and Appendix 1) of the report be recommended to Council.

 

(3)             That the recommendations and proposals in this report be referred to Council on 30 January for initial consideration as well as being presented for scrutiny by Budget and Performance Panel on 22 January, in order that any feedback can be provided to Cabinet at its 12 February meeting.

 

Officer responsible for effecting the decision:

 

Interim Head of Financial Services

 

Reasons for making the decision:

 

The budget represents in financial terms what the Council is seeking to achieve through its Framework. The decision enables Cabinet to make recommendations back to Council in order to complete the budget setting process for 2019/20.

 

 

75.

Proposed Governance Arrangements for Investment Strategy pdf icon PDF 64 KB

(Cabinet Members with Special Responsibility Councillors Blamire & Hanson)

 

Report of Interim Head of Legal & Democratic Services (Report to follow)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Cabinet Members with Special Responsibility Councillors Blamire & Hanson)

 

Cabinet received a report from the Monitoring Officer, which provided a proposal for the governance of investment decisions for Cabinet to consider and refer to full Council, if appropriate.

 

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

 

 

Option 1: Approve

Option 2:  Not Approve

Advantages

 

Creates the opportunity for commercial investment decisions to be made

No change

Disadvantages

 

None

No change

Risks

 

New system of working which may increase risk

No effective commercial investment occurs

 

The officer preferred option is that the paper attached to the report be approved and referred to full Council.

 

Councillor Blamire proposed, seconded by Councillor Hanson:-

 

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

 

Councillors then voted:-

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

(1)          That the draft Council report in Annex A to the report be referred to full Council for approval.

 

Officer responsible for effecting the decision:

 

Interim Head of Legal & Democratic Services

 

Reasons for making the decision:

 

The City Council is proposing considering opportunities for commercial investments.  The commercial timetable for investments is often competitive and fast moving.  The proposals provide for much earlier engagement between Officers, Cabinet Members and Scrutiny and will allow for sufficient flexibility in respect of delegated authority to enable proper evidence led scrutinised decisions to be made in a timely manner. 

76.

Detailed Investment Strategy Proposals pdf icon PDF 75 KB

(Cabinet Members with Special Responsibility Councillors Hanson & Whitehead)

 

Report of the Interim Financial Services Manager (Report to follow)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Cabinet Members with Special Responsibility Councillors Hanson & Whitehead)

 

Cabinet received a report from the Interim Financial Services Manager to consider the Property Investment Strategy and refer to full Council, if appropriate.

 

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

 

 

Option 1: Approve

Option 2:  Not Approve

Advantages

 

The prospect of long term financial resilience to help maintain the provision of good quality council services

None

Disadvantages

 

New ways of working and adapting reasonably quickly to new approaches.

A series of hard and unpalatable decisions will need to be taken on cuts and service reductions.

Risks

 

Commercial property investment brings some risks and these are covered in some detail in this report.

Potential financial instability delivery of services being reduced.

 

 

Option 1 is the officer preferred option as the development of a robust Property Investment Strategy is the next logical step following the agreement by Cabinet to the principles of the Funding the Future Financial Resilience Strategy. Cabinet is asked to consider the paper attached to the report and refer to full Council for approval.

Councillor Whitehead proposed, seconded by Councillor Hanson:-

 

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

 

Councillors then voted:-

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

(1)          That the draft Council report as set out in Appendix 1 to the report be referred to full Council for approval.

 

Officer responsible for effecting the decision:

 

Interim Financial Services Manager

 

Reasons for making the decision:

 

Cabinet approved the principles of the Property Investment Strategy in December 2018.  The Property Investment Strategy has been developed to reflect the aspiration in Funding the Future and Medium Term Financial Strategy to seek a return from commercial property investments in order to contribute to the revenue budget and protect service provision.

 

 

77.

Discretionary Rate Relief Policy Update - Retail Discount (Business Rates) pdf icon PDF 121 KB

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Whitehead)

 

Report of Interim Financial Services Manager

Minutes:

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Whitehead)

 

Cabinet received a report from the Interim Financial Services Manager, which sought approval of a draft Discretionary Retail Discount Scheme, designed in line with MHCLG guidance and financed by Government grant, to provide financial support to occupied ‘retail’ businesses for a two year period from April 2019, in recognition of changing consumer behaviour in the high street.

 

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

 

Option 1 – Agree to the proposal as recommended

 

This policy sets out a formal approach to distributing this new discretionary retail relief, providing guidance for officers and a consistent platform in dealing with applications.  The approach adopted seeks to maximise use of the grant in an open and equitable way, drawing on Government guidance, and therefore risks associated with any challenge are considered small and manageable.

 

Option 2 – Suggest amendments to the proposed policy

 

Any such amendments would need to have regard to statutory requirements, and therefore should this option be chosen, extra time will be needed to consider the full implications prior to the re-consideration of an amended policy.  There is some reputational risk associated with further delay as the Government are keen for billing authorities to have their scheme up and running in time for annual billing.

 

Option 3 – Do nothing and refuse all applications.

 

A blanket policy of refusal leaves the Council vulnerable to an appeal to the Local Government Ombudsman, which could result in a charge of maladministration.

 

The officer preferred option is that Option1 be approved.  The policy enables a formal approach to decision making, with criteria in line with Government guidance, benefiting small to medium retail businesses on the high street.

 

Councillor Whitehead proposed, seconded by Councillor Pattison:-

 

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

 

Councillors then voted:-

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

(1)  That the Discretionary Retail discount Scheme as set out at Appendix A to the report (and as per option 1 in the report) be approved, effective from April 2019.

 

Officer responsible for effecting the decision:

 

Interim Financial Services Manager

 

Reasons for making the decision:

 

The decision is consistent with the Council Plan ambition of a thriving and prosperous economy, creating strong conditions for growth so that businesses thrive and jobs are created.  The proposals are considered to be a fair and reasonable way to distribute available funds, drawing on Government guidance.

 

 

78.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

Whilst the following report is public, it contains an exempt appendix.  This is to give further notice in accordance with Part 2, paragraph 5 (4) and 5 (5) of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Meetings and Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2012 of the intention to take the following item in private if it is necessary to refer to the exempt appendix.

 

Cabinet is recommended to pass the following recommendation in relation to the following item:- 

 

“That, in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act, 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business, on the grounds that it could involve the possible disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of that Act.” 

 

Members are reminded that, whilst the appendix has been marked as exempt, it is for Cabinet itself to decide whether or not to consider it in private or in public.  In making the decision, Members should consider the relevant paragraph of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, and also whether the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.  In considering their discretion Members should also be mindful of the advice of Council Officers. 

Minutes:

In order to enable Cabinet to refer to the exempt appendix if necessary, it was moved by Councillor Clifford and seconded by Councillor Pattison and resolved unanimously:-

 

Resolved unanimously:

 

(1)        That, in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business, on the grounds that it could involve the possible disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Schedule 12A of that Act. 

 

79.

Lancaster Caton Road (Phase 3) Flood Risk Management Scheme pdf icon PDF 173 KB

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Hanson)

 

Report of Assistant Chief Executive

Additional documents:

Minutes:

(Cabinet Member with Special Responsibility Councillor Hanson)

 

Cabinet received a report from the Assistant Chief Executive to update Members on the design phase of the proposed River Lune flood defence scheme and to consider the current scheme costs and status of all secured and potential match-funding contributions from external sources. The report considers the council's funding position on the basis that there are currently insufficient external resources available to fund the estimated construction cost. On the information presented on scheme costs and funding, Members are asked whether to fund the projected balance of scheme costs and whether to proceed towards a construction contract and project implementation. 

 

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

 

 

Option 1:

 

Members accept there is insufficient funding to enable the project to proceed.

 

Option 2:

 

Members agree: 

 

a)  a contribution of £847K towards the capital costs of the scheme;

b)  to accept an offer of ERDF funding and for officers to formally secure the anticipated business contributions;

c)  Officers complete the design/target cost package and agree a contract for Stage 2 capital works with VBA Joint Venture Limited (subject to the approval of enough funding to meet scheme costs).  

 

Option 3:

 

Members agree:

 

a)   A lower council contribution and ask officers to secure additional private contributions and/or cost savings to meet the balance of scheme costs.  

b)   Officers report to February Cabinet on the cost / funding position.

 

 

Advantages

No further direct capital cost / project delivery risk to the council.

 

Gives certainty on the council’s position.

 

Scheme design completed to take advantage of any future funding opportunities.

 

Provides a comprehensive

solution to fluvial / pluvial flood risk on the Caton Road industrial estates.

 

Provides a range of economic, investment and environmental benefits.  

 

Sets out a clear council

commitment to businesses/asset holders in the area and incentive for private contributions to eb secured.

 

Demonstrates delivery to

Government and EA boosting chances for future scheme funding.

 

Potential indirect future benefit to Council’s “bottom line” budget in increased rate retention.

Potential to deliver same advantages as Option 2.

 

Sets out a level of financial commitment the council is willing to make to businesses / asset holders in the area.

 

Ensures a focussed negotiation.

 

Lower additional growth to be absorbed by the council’s budget.

 

Disadvantages

Business, investment, economic and environmental benefits may not be realised for some time, if at all. 

 

Area continues to be vulnerable to severe flooding impacts with implications for commercial interests and the public.

 

Loss of current funding opportunities. 

 

Involves the council taking the delivery/funding risks on a major project.

 

Additional cost to the General Fund revenue budget of £17K per annum for 50 years.

 

Completion of construction contract details and funding package must be undertaken to meet ERDF and Government deadlines as well as meeting practical “tree felling” window. (refer to para 3.7)

 

Maintenance of the proposed flood defence will be with the council as Risk Management Authority (Refer  ...  view the full minutes text for item 79.