Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 6th December, 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: New Council Chamber - Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services (01737 276182)  Email: Democratic@reigate-banstead.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

37.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 88 KB

To confirm as a correct record the Minutes of the previous meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

In the absence of Cllr B.A. Stead (Chairman), Cllr J.P. King (Vice-Chairman) took for the chair for the meeting.

 

 

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 11 October 2018 be approved as a correct record.

38.

Apologies for absence and substitutions

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of any substitute Members in accordance with the Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Committee Members: Councillors B.A. Stead (Chairman) and D.T. Powell.

 

Others: None.

39.

Declarations of interest

To receive any Declarations of Interest (including the existence and nature of any Party Whip).

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Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made.

40.

Leader's update

To receive an update from Cllr Brunt, Leader of the Council, and to consider any issues that arise.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from Councillor M.A. Brunt, Leader of the Council, on his leadership priorities, Council initiatives and projects undertaken during the year to date, future challenges facing the Council, and future engagement with the Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

 

The Leader identified that his initial leadership priorities included housing delivery, championing residents’ issues, the development of the Council’s new Corporate Plan, increasing engagement and trust with Members, and improved communication.

 

It was noted that the Council was seeking to support the provision of affordable housing for those in need of it within the borough, in addition to its existing commitment to address homelessness. It was identified that there were a number of issues facing residents, such as potential reductions in children’s centre provision following changes by Surrey County Council. It was noted that the Council would not have the capacity to directly resolve all issues such as this, but that it would work and coordinate with partner organisations to seek the best solutions for residents. The development of the new Corporate Plan was noted to be ongoing, with additional consultation with Members and residents to come. The Leader identified that he was working to support effective engagement between Executive and other Members and that he was hopeful that a positive approach to engagement between all Members would be maintained. It was noted that the Council was continuing to improve its communication offer, including expanding its webcasting programme to additional meetings, including those of the Committee.

 

Progress on a number of Organisation initiatives was noted, including updates to organisational structure, a review of Corporate Governance, greater transparent and effective ways of working, service and financial planning for 2019/20, and the Council’s ‘Be A Councillor’ campaign.

 

Progress on a number of People initiatives was noted, including the completion of a temporary accommodation site to address homelessness, the Cromwell Road and Pitwood Park housing schemes to support affordable homes for local people, support for residents around the roll-out of Universal Credit, and a campaign to raise awareness of modern slavery.

 

Progress on a number of Place initiatives was noted, including the Council’s new Development Management Plan, the Marketfield Way development project, roll-out of recycling services to flats within the borough, and the reduction in the use of single-use plastics.

 

It was noted that the Council continued to face a number a challenges, particularly relating to financial pressures due to a reduction in funding received, and increased pressure on services as a result of expected and forthcoming cuts by Surrey County Council, which was itself facing significant financial pressures. It was noted that the Council would continue to seek to provide as much support as possible to the borough and its residents, and would be taking steps to ensure that it remained financially self-sufficient, including the development of a new investment plan and an effective commercial workstream.

 

The Leader noted that he was grateful for the support provided by the Committee as an effective ‘critical friend’, and hoped to expand the level  ...  view the full minutes text for item 40.

41.

Service and Financial Planning/Budget Proposal for 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To consider the report of the Budget Scrutiny Review Panel and make any comments on the Service and Financial Planning (Provisional Budget) for 2019/20, for consideration by the Executive in line with the Council’s budget and policy procedure rules.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Vice-Chairman invited Cllr. N. Harrison, as Chairman of the Budget Scrutiny Review Panel, to introduce the report. Cllr Harrison thanked the Panel members, the supporting officers and other contributing Members for their work to support scrutiny of the proposed budget.

 

The Committee heard that a wide range of advance questions had been asked as part of the budget scrutiny process, and that the Panel had thoroughly explored not only the savings and growth proposals for 2019/20 but the full service and financial context in which the budget had been prepared.

 

Councillor Harrison highlighted:

 

·         That there remained a number of forthcoming financial management items to be considered by Committees and Members, including the Capital Plan and Treasury Management Strategy, and the Council’s new investment strategy.

·         That the Council had substantial reserves, and the Panel was supportive of their use to support the proposed budget, but that this should be a short term measure to address the external financial pressures faced by the Council, and that the Panel supported steps to obtain additional sustainable funding.

·         That the Panel supported the inclusion of ongoing costs previously funded through the Corporate Plan Delivery Fund being transferred into the revenue budget.

·         That the Council continued to face significant future financial pressures due to potential increases in demand and reductions in available funding.

·         That the Panel was pleased to note that the income in the budget from property  rents had been secured and was not speculative.

·         That the Council had not included income from the potential 2019/20 Business Rates Pilot in the budget.

·         That the Panel considered that future budget reporting should make clearer reference to the level of budgetary contingency or headroom included in the budget and how this was allocated, and that it would like to see additional information on how this had been spent in previous years.

·         That the Panel supported the addition of a new post to support future commercial activities.

·         That the Panel agreed that the proposed budget did not propose any significant cuts to services provided by the Council.

·         That the Panel had no significant concerns with the proposed budget, but was mindful of the future challenges faced by the Council.

·         That the proposed budget was considered to be achievable, realistic and based on sound financial practices and reasonable assumptions.

 

Councillor Harrison proposed that the Overview and Scrutiny make a third recommendation to the Executive, in addition to those proposed by the Budget Scrutiny Review Panel. The proposed recommendation was as follows:

 

‘That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee recommend that an internal audit of how budgets are developed and reported be conducted in advance of the 2020/21 budget process.’

 

The additional proposed recommendation was supported by the Committee.

 

There were a number of questions and comments relating to the following topics:

 

·         Business Rates. It was noted that the business rates pilot funds received to date would be used to support economic prosperity and businesses in the borough. Members supported ensuring that these funds were used effectively.

·         The National Waste  ...  view the full minutes text for item 41.

42.

Quarterly Performance Report (Q2 2018/19) pdf icon PDF 828 KB

To consider the performance in the second quarter of 2018/19 of the Council’s Service Indicators, Revenue Budget Monitoring, Capital Budget Monitoring, Risk Management and Internal Audit.

 

To consider any Advance Questions submitted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report that detailed the major variances on performance in relation to the Council’s Key Performance Indicators, Risk Management and Internal Audit. One advance question had been received in relation to the report and this was tabled at the meeting.

 

The Committee considered and discussed the report. There were a number of a questions and comments on the report, relating to the following topics:

 

·         Risk Criteria. It was requested that an explanation of the risk criteria against which the risks referenced in the performance report are evaluated be included in future quarterly performance reports.

·         Seasonal variation in targets. It was suggested that where seasonal variation was expected in monitored performance areas, this be allowed for in the associated targets.

·         Corporate Plan Delivery Fund. It was identified that the Corporate Plan Delivery Fund was not expected to receive additional funding in the current year, but that this would be considered in future years in line with the requirements of the Corporate Plan.

·         Mitigating Actions. It was identified that the identified red risk relating to OR4, Ageing RBBC fleet, was being addressed by planned replacement of the fleet, as considered by the Executive at its meeting of 29 November 2018. It was identified that the identified red risk relating to SR7, Partner decisions, was reflective of potential reductions in funding from other organisations, particularly Surrey County Council, increasing demand on the Council, but that these had not materialised in the year to date, and that the risk was therefore diminishing for the current year.

·         Property Development, SR4. It was confirmed that investments outside of the borough could be considered where appropriately justified with reference to the Council’s economic area.

·         Disabled Facilities Grant. It was requested that additional details of the capital variance relating to the disabled facilities grant be provided, and it was confirmed that a written response with this information would be provided following the meeting.

·         Place Delivery. It was confirmed that the Place Delivery revenue variance underspend had not adversely affected service delivery.

·         Warwick Quadrant Hotel. It was identified that the total cost of Warwick Quadrant Hotel project was approximately £4.5m, and that additional detail would be provided in a written report following the meeting.

·         Brexit risks. A query was raised regarding the identification and evaluation of risks relating to the Brexit process. It was identified that, in addition to the references to Brexit in the risks referenced in the report, there were considered to be potential risk implications relating to: a possible general election or referendum, recruitment, supply of goods and services, general economic context, increased service pressures, and income received. It was however identified that the Council was considered to be positioned to be able to manage these risks either within the year, or to address them within the budget process for future years, and that the Council was confident that service delivery would not be adversely impacted.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)         The quarterly performance report be noted;

(ii)        The comments of the Committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 42.

43.

Schedule of meetings 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 244 KB

To consider the proposed schedule of meetings and make any comments for consideration by the Executive.

To consider any Advance Questions submitted.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the proposed schedule of meetings for the 2019/20 municipal year.

 

Questions were raised regarding the following topics:

 

·         The Planning Committee meeting between the May 2019 elections and the Annual Council meeting. It was identified that there was a requirement for a meeting of the Committee to take place during this period to ensure that planning applications were not unduly delayed. It was identified that due to the large membership of the committee, there was not considered to be a significant risk of the Committee not being quorate for the meeting.

·         Committee meetings over the Christmas period. It was identified that unfortunately some meetings in the run-up to the Christmas break might unfortunately clash with ward activities for some Councillors, but that these meetings were required to process Council business in a timely fashion.

·         Relative timings of meetings of the Overview & Scrutiny, Executive and Council. It was confirmed that these meetings had been scheduled to allow for pre-scrutiny of forthcoming items to be conducted in advance of finalisation of reports to the Executive.

 

No additional comments were made on the proposed schedule and the Committee therefore referred the proposed schedule to the Executive for consideration.

 

RESOLVED that:

(i)         The proposed schedule of meetings be noted;

(ii)        No observations be made to the Executive.

44.

Executive

To consider any items arising from the Executive which might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules set out in the Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was reported that there were no items arising from the Executive that might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules.

45.

Any other urgent business

To consider any item(s) which, in the opinion of the Chairman, should be considered as a matter of urgency - Local Government Act 1972, Section 100B(4)(b).

 

(NOTE: Under the Committee and Sub-Committee Procedure Rules set out in the Constitution, items of urgent business must be submitted in writing but may be supplemented by an oral report.)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.