Agenda and minutes

Cabinet
Thursday, 29th July, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, Cecil Street, Margate, Kent. View directions

Contact: Charles Hungwe 

Link: This meeting will be live streamed

Media

Items
No. Item

739.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Kup.

740.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 113 KB

To receive any declarations of interest. Members are advised to consider the advice contained within the Declaration of Interest advice attached to this Agenda. If a Member declares an interest, they should complete the Declaration of Interest Form

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

741.

Minutes of Extraordinary Meeting pdf icon PDF 122 KB

    To approve the summary of recommendations and decisions of the Extraordinary Cabinet meeting held on 08 June 2021, copy attached.

    Minutes:

    Councillor Ashbee proposed, Councillor Bob Bayford seconded and Members agreed the minutes as a correct record of the extraordinary meeting held on 8 June 2021.

742.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 129 KB

To approve the summary of recommendations and decisions of the Cabinet meeting held on 17 June 2021, copy attached.

Minutes:

Councillor Ashbee proposed, Councillor Bob Bayford seconded and Members agreed the minutes as a correct record of the meeting held on 17 June 2021.

743.

Asset management- Granville Cinema pdf icon PDF 108 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Members were asked to decide on approving the recommendation to dispose of the Granville Cinema to a qualifying community group via the Council’s Community Asset Transfer Policy as set out in the cabinet report. The Policy defines a viable community group as:

     

    ·  An established community organisation;

    ·  Already able to demonstrate good custodianship of assets;

    ·  Already able to demonstrate financial ability to invest in the property;

    ·  Enable the asset to advance its social aims for the benefit of the community.

     

    Members were advised that the community asset transfers were not transfers at nil value. The disposal would be required to generate best consideration possible, taking into account that it was listed as an asset of community value. The Community Asset Transfer Policy is distinct from the Community Right to Bid process.

     

    Community Right to Bid is set out in the Localism Act 2011. It allows community groups both to nominate any public or private owned assets to be listed as an Asset of Community Value, which then gives community groups greater opportunity to register to bid to purchase the asset.

     

    Cabinet noted that the Granville Cinema was already listed as an Asset of Community Value, but the Community Right to Bid process might be initiated if any relevant groups come forward once the Council advertises the Notice of Intention to Dispose. This would create a 6 month moratorium period, during which the Council could not sell except to the relevant group making the bid.

     

    The following Members spoke under council Procedure Rule 20.1.

     

    Councillor Albon;

    Councillor Wing;

    Councillor Austin;

    Councillor Ara.

     

    Cabinet agreed the following:

     

    1. To dispose of the Granville Cinema in accordance with the Council’s Community Asset Transfer Policy as listed in Option 1;
    2. To dispose of the Granville Cinema on the open market under Option 2, if the proposal to dispose under Option 1 does not bring forward a viable purchaser;
    3. To give delegated authority to the Director of Property, in consultation with the Disposal Surveyor to agree Heads of Terms and enter into the relevant negotiations;
    4. To give delegated authority to the Director of Law and Democracy to sign all documents necessary to give effect to the disposal.

744.

Quarter 4 Tenant and Leaseholder Services Update pdf icon PDF 108 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Members discussed the 2020/21 quarter four performance of the Housing Services. Since transition in October 2020 of East Kent Housing services in-house, the new Tenant and Leaseholder Services (TLS) team had shown improved performance in a number of areas.

     

    During the period under review, staff training was provided which led to an empowered and motivated team. There was also a focus on improving communication with stakeholders and on improving the contract management and relationships with contractors. Good progress was reported in the areas of customer service and rent collection.

     

    There were some areas where further improvement was required, such as the delivery of the housing capital programme and day to day repairs. During the quarter an improvement plan for the service was developed. This followed consultation with tenants and leaseholders which highlighted priorities around the appearance of the estate areas, communication, opportunities for involvement in the service and digital service access.

     

    Since the transition, health and safety compliance had been a high priority and the council had been working closely with the Regulator for Social Housing. There had been steady progress towards full compliance in the main areas of tenant health and safety and aim to be ready for the Regulator for Social Housing to remove the regulatory notice served on the council during 2021.

     

    There had also good progress in the performance of the digital systems. The council now had its own independent cloud-based database, with TDC data separated from the other three councils that used to be part of the housing services partnership (EK Housing). TDC had also recently invested in new software for the management of health and safety compliance.

     

    Councillor Jill Bayford proposed, Councillor Bob Bayford seconded and Cabinet agreed to note the report.

745.

Statement of Community Involvement Review - Results of public consultation and adoption pdf icon PDF 117 KB

746.

Annual Treasury Management Review pdf icon PDF 525 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Cabinet discussed a summarised backward look on the council’s treasury management activity for 2020-21. The figures that were provided at the meeting were provisional because the council’s 2020-21 accounts had not yet been audited, and these figures were therefore subject to change until the audit is completed.

     

    The meeting was advised that the regulatory environment placed responsibility on Members to review and scrutinise the treasury management policy and activities of the council. For that reason, the report was therefore considered important as it provided details of the 2020-21 year-end position for treasury activities.

     

    Cabinet were pleased to note that the reported council activities operated within the limits agreed by Members, and particularly noted the key messages summarised as follows:

     

    1.  That the council’s capital expenditure was significantly under budget, as detailed in the following budget outturn report;

    2.  That the council repaid £631,000 of debt during the year and undertook no new borrowing;

    3.  That the council’s average debt position was £25million and the council did not borrow more money than was needed to finance the capital programme;

    4.  As such, the council stayed well within its authorised limit of £109million.

     

    Councillor Saunders proposed, Councillor Bob Bayford seconded and Cabinet agreed the following:

     

    1.  To note the actual 2020-21 prudential and treasury indicators in the Cabinet report;

     

    2.  To make comments on and note as appropriate the Annual Treasury Management Report for 2020-21;

     

    3.  To recommend the report to council for approval.

747.

General Fund & HRA Provisional Outturn 2020-21 pdf icon PDF 209 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Cabinet considered the General Fund and HRA Provisional Outturn report for 2020/21 and Members were advised that these were likely to be the final accounts for the year, subject to any last-minute amendments, or changes as a result of the external audit. On the General Fund revenue position, there was a £3.6million overspend. This compared favourably with the last monitoring report, in January. Some of the overspend was due to the impact of Covid, as a range of additional expenditure was incurred, and income had fallen. Almost all income had been affected, especially off-street car parking, Council Tax and Business Rates.

     

    However there were also non-Covid factors that gave rise to the overspend. The two largest were the actual and potential legal costs associated with matters being considered by the Investigations and Disciplinary Committee, estimated at £733,000; and the revenue costs of the replacement of berth 4/5, estimated at £445,000. Additionally, the council had some pre-existing budget problems that would not have gone away. These were referred to in the 2021-22 budget monitoring report, which was also considered at this meeting. These would also be a factor to consider in the 2022-23 budget.

     

    The accounting arrangements for Council Tax and Business Rates were exceptionally complex for 2020-21. For example, Business Rate Relief was subject to a Government grant that had to be included in the 2020-21 accounts, but the council would have to apply the entire grant in subsequent years. These technicalities meant that about £10million of the council’s reserves at 31 March 2021 were already committed, to be used to fund income losses. All districts would have a similarly inflated reserves position at 31 March 2021, which should not be considered to be available to spend on anything other than Council Tax and Business Rates.

     

    The meeting were further advised that the overall position of the Housing Revenue Account was better than previously forecast. This was mostly due to rent income not being so adversely impacted by Covid than planned. On the capital programmes for both the General Fund and HRA, they were roughly 50% underspent. This was largely due to Covid, although there were some projects that would have underspent, not as a result of the pandemic.

     

    Councillor Saunders proposed, Councillor Bob Bayford seconded and Cabinet agreed the following:

     

    1. To note the following:

     

    a.  The provisional outturn position for the General Fund;

     

    b.  The provisional outturn position for General Fund Capital;

     

    c.  The provisional outturn position for the Housing Revenue Account;

     

    d.  The provisional outturn position for Housing Revenue Account Capital;

     

    2. Cabinet further agreed the following:

     

    a.  The reserve movements as identified at section 5 table 3 to the Cabinet report;

     

    b.  The slippage in the General Fund Capital Programme as identified in section 6 to the Cabinet report;

     

    c.  The slippage in HRA budgets as identified in section 6/7 to the report.

748.

Budget Monitoring 2021-22: Report No.1 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Members received the first budget monitoring report for 2021/22. The General Fund revenue forecast to have a £2.1million overspend. Some of this would be directly related to Covid; for example, the need to hold Council meetings at Ramsgate Sports Centre, rather than the Council Chamber. Other overspends were not related to Covid; for example, income losses in property, building control and clinical waste. These areas had under-achieved against budget before Covid, and would need to be addressed in the 2022-23 budget. Finally, some overspends would be due to a mix of Covid and non-Covid factors, such as Homelessness.

     

    This report was an early forecast for the year, and it was hoped that the picture would improve as the year progressed. If there was no improvement the council could fall back on the just enough Covid grants that could cover the overspend. On General Fund capital, there was some slippage, or underspend, that was being forecast. Two areas Members noted were in respect of toilets and office accommodation. Both of these projects were dependent on capital receipts from the sale of toilets and the council’s main offices. Until a plan had been developed which would generates enough income from sales to cover the cost of any capital expenditure, these projects would not go ahead.

     

    With regards to the Housing Revenue Account, Cabinet noted that the main overspend was to fund the waking watch service in tower blocks, as recommended by the Fire Service. On the HRA capital programme, the substantial slippage on last year’s programme had been comprehensively re-profiled over the next few years, to create more realistic phasing of projects. The re-profiling prioritised the essential health and safety works to the tower blocks.

     

    Councillor Saunders proposed, Councillor Bob Bayford seconded and Cabinet agreed the following:

     

    1.  To note the following:

     

    a.  The General Fund revenue budget 2021-22 forecast position;

     

    b.  The General Fund Capital Programme 2021-22 forecast position;

     

    c.  The Housing Revenue Account position;

     

    2.  To fund the budget gap as at para 5.2 to the Cabinet report;

     

    3.  To the change in HRA funding as set out in para 7.2 of the Cabinet report;

     

    4.  To the updated General Fund capital programme as set out in Section 6 and Annex 1 to the Cabinet report.

749.

Insurance Tender pdf icon PDF 91 KB

750.

Berth 4/5 - Port of Ramsgate - Additional Funding pdf icon PDF 124 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Cabinet discussed the request for additional funding for works on Berth 4/5 at the Ramsgate of Port. Members were advised that in order for the council to fulfil its contractual obligations to Bretts, the council had to provide a berth for them at all times for use in connection with their permitted activities. A detailed background to the decision was shared at the meeting in order to provide a context for this cabinet decision. For several years the berths provided were becoming problematic in terms of the need for constant maintenance and repair and ultimately came to the end of their useful life.

     

    Initial feasibility and design work for the project to replace the existing Berth 4/5 was focused on a fixed quay, however following an approach by BAM Nuttal the use of a floating pontoon became an option. Following a technical assessment by our consultants, the option of a floating pontoon was more cost effective and would fall within the capital cost allocated to the project.

     

    It was also reported that on the 28th June 2019 the council gained external planning advice, that reliance could still be placed on part 18 of the General Purpose Development Order. On this basis, a prior approval application could therefore be made without the need to undertake an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) or to make a full planning application. The meeting was further advised that based on this advice, officers proceeded on that basis.

     

    The two options of a fixed quay or floating berth were presented to a cross party Ramsgate Port Working Party who then decided unanimously that the floating berth (pontoon) should be developed as this represented best value. Legal advice was also sought to confirm that the pontoons could be purchased in accordance with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. The advice received was that a compliant tender pack and performance specification should be produced for the purpose of competitive tendering.

     

    The documents provided additional information which allowed a better understanding of the scale of the project that the council’s lawyers had not had prior to the initial advice. Subsequently their advice was amended to say that a direct award could be progressed and would be lawful. Record of decision for the realignment of the capital programme was signed by the Port Portfolio Holder. The Chair of the Overview & Scrutiny Panel subsequently called in this decision and the legal advice was shared with the members of the Panel.

     

    There was then a change in administration and the new Cabinet requested a report outlining all the options available to procure a replacement berth. At the Cabinet meeting held on the 16th December 2019, Option 4 was approved which was a competitive tender for a single replacement berth. This was a change in procurement approach from the previous decision to do a direct award. Following the competitive tender process Bam Nuttal where the preferred supplier for the replacement berth, now only utilising just one of the two pontoons.

     

    On the 17th June 2020,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 750.