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Apologies for Absence
Apologies were received from the following Members:
Councillor Dexter, substituted by Councillor Taylor-Smith.
Declaration of Interests
To receive any declarations of interest. Members are advised to consider the advice contained within the Declaration of Interest form attached at the back of this agenda. If a Member declares an interest, they should complete that form and hand it to the officer clerking the meeting and then take the prescribed course of action.
There were no declarations made at the meeting.
To approve the Minutes of the Finance, Budget & Performance Scrutiny Panel meeting held on 17 July 2018, copy attached.
Councillor Campbell proposed, Councillor Connor seconded and Members agreed the minutes as a correct record of the meeting that was held on 17 July 2018.
Hannah Thorpe, Head of Communications introduced the report and advised Members that the presentation style had been changed to make the report more transparent and easier to understand. The general overview was that the performance had been positive and improving whilst acknowledging that there were some areas where the performance was below target.
The Council like most other councils across the country was experiencing unprecedented levels of demand for housing. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government indicated through a letter to the Council that they were impressed by how Thanet District Council was managing this demand. The Council had also experienced a large increase in Freedom of Information requests (FOIs) and was working on new approaches for managing the case load which was expected to improve the performance levels of responding to FOIs
Members made comments and raised questions as follows:
? In the period under review, the HRA capital spend was at 2.41% of 100%. Was this not a low performance?
? It was good to note that the statistics for homelessness had gone down significantly;
? Had officers done any work to establish the reasons for the surge in homelessness?
? Did the Capital Programme include housing?
? If the implementation of the Capital Programme led to completed homes, there would not be an increase in homelessness;
? The demolition of old garages could provide additional space to build new houses;
? The average meterage of boats/boat houses moored at the Ramsgate Port & harbour had been exceeded, but the profit had gone down. Why was that the case?
? Was there a difference in charges for the meterage?
? Were there different rates for motorhomes?
? Members thanked officers for the new presentational style of the performance information and hoped that where possible more information narrative could be added;
? Where there sanctions that could be imposed on the Council for failing to meet the deadlines for responding to FOI requests?
? The sections in the report highlighted in ‘Grey’ did not have statistical information like targets. Members queried why this was the case?
? Enforcement report: The report showed that the enforcement figures had gone down. Why was it the case? Was this because there was not enough staff to enforce or was it because there was improved behaviour by residents?
? Could performance information regarding the enterprise counts across Kent be used rather than the SE as this could be more meaningful because the performance of the council in collecting business rates would be measured against other councils in the county? This would determine how much of the proportion of collection the council would retain (under the business retention scheme for the county);
Ms Thorpe gave the following responses:
? With regards to the HRA performance, the 100% target is an end of year target (rather than target for the quarter under review) and there was still time to complete the work before end of the year;
? FOIs – There had been an increased demand for information and the council was working a new approach that would help improve ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
Ms Claire Hawken, Electoral Services Manager introduced the item for debate and reported that the canvass response rate for 2017/18 was 88.01%. Whilst this was a good response, there was room for improvement. Voter registration forms were delivered mostly by hand delivery and in some cases sent out by Royal Mail.
Getting residents to respond was a challenge. This year’s canvass response rate was currently at 70.34% and this was looking promising for a good response rate by end of 2018/19. Managing this exercise required resources and additional budget allocation could assist in improving the results.
Members made comments and asked questions as follows:
Responding to the questions Ms Hawken made the following comments:
Ms Hawken also agreed to investigate further the Panel suggestion that some wording be added as a footnote to the council tax letters reminding residents of the requirement to register to vote.
Members thanked Ms Hawken for the informative report and noted the report.
Members noted the report.