Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Friday, 15 January 2021 2.00 p.m.

Contact: Committee Services 

Link: View Live Stream of the meeting here

No. Item


Chairman's Introduction


Following confirmation that the live stream of the meeting had commenced, the Chairman welcomed everyone to the virtual meeting of South Lakeland District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, in doing so, thanking all officers involved in the process for their work on the project.


The Chairman referred to the new Government legislation allowing councils to conduct remote meetings and explained in detail to all taking part, and for the benefit of members of the public, the procedures for the meeting.  She then invited Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to introduce themselves, to advise whether they were taking part by video or audio and to confirm that they were able to see (where practicable) and hear all Members participating in the meeting.  All Members present, including the Chairman himself, having indicated that this was the case, he referred to officers present at the meeting who would introduce themselves when asked to address the meeting.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 499 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 17 July 2020.


RESOLVED - That the Chairman be authorised to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 17 July 2020.


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 revised Code of Conduct, they are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests or other registrable 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.)


Members may, however, also decide, in the interests of clarity and transparency, to declare at this point in the meeting, any such disclosable pecuniary interests which they have already declared in the Register, as well as any other registrable or other interests.


If a Member requires advice on any item involving a possible declaration of interest which could affect his/her ability to speak and/or vote, he/she is advised to contact the Monitoring Officer at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting.


RESOLVED – That it be noted that no declarations of interest were raised.


Declaration of the Party Whip

In accordance with Rule 17 of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules, any Member who is subject to a party whip on any item must declare the existence and nature of the whip.


RESOLVED - That it be noted that no declarations of the party whip were raised.


Local Government Act 1972 - Excluded Items

To consider whether the items, if any, in Part II of the Agenda should be considered in the presence of the press and public.


RESOLVED – That it be noted that there are no excluded items on the Agenda.


Public Participation

Any member of the public who wishes to ask a question, make representations or present a deputation or petition at this meeting should apply to do so by no later than 0:01am (one minute past midnight) two working days before the meeting.  Information on how to make the application can be obtained by viewing the Council’s Website or by contacting the Committee Services Team on 01539 733333.


(1)        Questions and Representations


To receive any questions or representations which have been received from members of the public.


(2)        Deputations and Petitions


To receive any deputations or petitions which have been received from members of the public.


No questions, representations, deputations or petitions have been received in respect of this meeting.


Council Plan 2021-2026 pdf icon PDF 266 KB

To consider the draft updated Council Plan 2021-2026.

Additional documents:


The Deputy Leader of the Council and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder provided a brief introduction of the Council Plan 2021-2026. The Council Plan sets out the Council’s vision and priorities and how these would be delivered over the period of the Plan. The Strategy Lead Specialist shared a PowerPoint Presentation, which outlined the Council’s action plan against COVID-19, and highlighted the unprecedented impact the pandemic had on the Council’s own finances and services, while also considering the impact of Brexit.


The Lead Strategy Specialist explained the Council’s the Council’s vision was to make South Lakeland the ‘best place to live, work, place and explore’ and the plan set out how the Council would work towards this vision. The presentation addressed some key recent changes including the Pandemic and associated changes in the economy and in working patterns. He also noted that some fundamental issues including the ageing population, remained important. The Council Plan has four strategic priorities.


The first priority working across boundaries to deliver sustainable economic growth seeks to develop the potential of working on a Morecambe Bay wide footprint. The Bay is a functional economic subregion.  Working in partnership would allow give the Bay area critical mass, economically and enable the Districts to grow in a way, which complement each other.


The second priority is the ageing population of the district. Whilst recent projections suggested that the trend was slowing, the working population was continuing to shrink. The Plan sought to grow the economy and generate job opportunities for young people. It also sought to develop services, to create a more balanced locality with a better quality of life for all age groups.


The third priority of a fairer South Lakeland is a Fairer South Lakeland. This means address poverty, deprivation, housing and unemployment. The presentation highlighted to Members that many affluent areas had pockets of poverty. The Council Plan sought to improve standards of housing and provide better advice for those in poverty. The Council would also work within partnerships to address issues such as deprivation, inequality and related issues such as addiction.


Lastly, the fourth priority was the climate emergency. This section of the Council Plan sets out the Council’s targets for reducing its carbon footprint.


The Lead Specialist concluded that all four priorities were inter linked together within the Council Plan and welcomed any questions from Members.




Issues raised in discussion included housing for the elderly, including to re-visit the elderly housing strategy and the findings of the Task and Finish Group they undertook four years ago. Furthermore, Members highlighted the lack of fitting incentives and opportunities for young people to remain within the District. Members felt the Council could encourage more partnership working with Cumbria County Council in order to provide greater opportunities for young people.


In response to a question on housing need numbers for 2025, the Strategy Lead Specialist explained that he was unable to provide a definitive number as this was set through the Local Plan, not the Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item O&S/39


2021/22 to 2025/26 Draft Budget pdf icon PDF 269 KB

To consider the draft budget proposals for the financial years 2021/22 to


Additional documents:


The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented the 2021/22 to 2025/26 Five Year Draft Budget and highlighted the impact of COVID-19 reserves that would need to be re-built. Within leisure, no support had been received and there was a loss of more than £2.5 million in business rates. Although the Government had introduced a number of grants to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 as part of the local government settlement, these were insufficient to cover the full extent of the additional costs and income lost due to the pandemic.


The Portfolio highlighted, amongst other movements, the Council’s very large deficit, the pay freeze on Councils and the new appointed operator for Kendal Market. There was an ongoing consultation on the increase to car parking fees and a projected deficit of over £1 million. He emphasised the great amount of additional work the Council had undergone while still maintaining control of normal tasks. The Portfolio Holder commended the Council for its commitment to investing in communities and thanked officers in the Finance team for their continual hard work during these difficult times.




Members discussed in depth the raising of car parking fees. The Portfolio holder clarified that the last increase took place over 10 years ago. However, despite the appreciation that fees had not been increased for a considerable amount of time, Members highlighted the need to assist in financial recovery. Under this context, this was the wrong time to increase charges, local businesses needed every support they could get to overcome the pandemic and aid recovery. Members raised great concerns on this subject.


The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder understood and expected such comments on this topic. However, subsidised parking was an extremely expensive way to help businesses; money could be injected elsewhere, rather than to reduce car parking fees. He found it preferential to support other projects, such as Kendal Visions, directly, rather than indirectly, through other means. The Portfolio Holder voiced his scepticism on the Ulverston Town Council free parking scheme. The Council wanted to support the community at this time, but also needed to be in a reasonable financial situation. 


The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder clarified from an economic development perspective, that free car parking, in very broad terms, did not necessarily mean shoppers would spend more money. The research on this area was counter intuitive and these principles were well established.


Members discussed the historic situation of New Road in Kendal, an area converted into a green space, but questions were raised if this car parking was replaced elsewhere. Parking was an emotive topic, particularly with businesses, and over many years, Ulverston business owners requested free car parking to generate greater engagement for shoppers. Some Members were sceptical of this success and were in agreement with some of the points raised by the Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder. Further, Members stressed that people had benefited for a long time without an increase in fees, and this was a matter of timing.


The  ...  view the full minutes text for item O&S/40


2021/22 Procurement Schedule pdf icon PDF 145 KB

To consider the Procurement Schedule for 2021/22.

Additional documents:


The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder set out the Procurement Schedule and explained that the wide range of projects included on the Procurement Schedule allowed officers to conduct procurement without further authority on the projects as long as the Budget had also been approved. He also highlighted to Members a mistake whereby the report should refer to ‘2021/22’ not ‘2020/21’. He added that there were 119 projects listed, which were many more than there had been in previous years, and in part, reflected the delays caused by the pandemic. In concluding the report, the Portfolio Holder referenced the impact of Brexit on procurement rules.




The Chairman of the Committee drew concern to the number of items on the Procurement Schedule and asked if all items were necessary. The Chairman highlighted the importance to monitor the list due to the heavy schedule. The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder addressed this point, and elucidated that all the items were essential but noted that this concern would be highlighted to Cabinet.


Members drew attention to the South Lakeland House development, and suggested it may be prudent to hold some of this procurement back until future deals were secured, as there may need to be changes in relation to structures and the network.


The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder explained that this work was already under way. Advice was previously received which stated that even if the building was not to be used for local government, any refurbishments would make the building a lot more saleable. In addition, the Portfolio Holder noted that two floors would be let out to other organisations. The building would be in a position to be suitable for this Council, and any other successor Council.


RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee:-


1)    Considered the Procurement Schedule for 2020/21 attached at Appendix 1 and forward any comments to Cabinet for their consideration; and


2)    note the changes to Procurement in line with Brexit.


Treasury and Capital Strategy 2021/22 to 2025/26 pdf icon PDF 251 KB

To consider the Treasury and Capital Strategy for 2021/22 – 2025/26.

Additional documents:


The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented a report setting out the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy for 2021/22 to 2025/26 and the Capital Strategy for 2021/22 to 2033/34, which were expected to be approved by Council on 23 February 2021. The report had been updated to reflect the 2021/22 Budget and Capital Programme. The Portfolio Holder referred to the substantial changes to the economic situation, which included the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the UK economy and GDP levels, the current Bank of England interest rate of 0.1%, significant increases in public borrowing and the uncertainty and risk surrounding Brexit. The Portfolio Holder discussed two temporary modifications to the Council’s investment strategy. Namely, the first allowed very large sums received from Government for the COVID-19 grants to be lodged with the Council’s principle banker. The second, the counter party limit for Money Market funds were increased from £5m to £10m and proposed that both of the changes were made permanent. The Portfolio Holder stated the Council had just today received £30 million on the day of this Committee meeting into its bank account. This cash sitting in the bank account could be injected into capital investment.


Section 5 of the report outlined the Council’s commercial strategy and highlighted various commercial investments. The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder added that it was proposed that a new local prudential indicator for internal borrowing be introduced. He noted that the capital strategy remained relatively unchanged from last year with the long-term view of possible capital expenditure being taken which had helped the Council improve the quality of decision-making and prioritisation of certain expenditures.


The Chairman thanked the Finance and Resources Portfolio for another valuable report.




One Member questioned the increase in the Capital Financing Requirement (CFR) figures; they queried if these figures would be reduced after 4 or 5 years and suggested if this was something to assuage any potential fears for residents, and indeed, Members of the committee. The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder explained that over time there would be significant levels of investment by the Council. This required funding, and there were risks around this. Overall, he was happy with the shape and investments made by the Council, but noted the this should be closely monitored at all times.

The Finance Lead Specialist and Section 151 Officer provided further clarification on this point. The CFR was very much related to how much the Council spends, and what resources were left to fund that spending, and whether or not the Council needed to borrow. The Council would still need to do more borrowing, but for an organisation of this size, the Council had a very low amount of borrowing due to its circumstances. Yet, the Section 151 emphasised that she would not like to guarantee that the total amount would go up or down over time. The other element was that the Council would consider affordability very carefully and were very prudent to set aside money to repay  ...  view the full minutes text for item O&S/42


COVID-19 Recovery Report pdf icon PDF 242 KB

To consider the recommendations of the Overview and Scrutiny Workshop held on 23 October 2020 to explore the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic within the district of South Lakeland.

Additional documents:


The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources presented the COVID-19 recovery report and explained the scale of financial challenges faced by the Council. The Director highlighted to Members the key areas discussed at the Workshop held on 23 October 2020.


Key Areas where areas are felt, reasonable understanding. Depth of that impact and range. Far more apparent where Members felt certain impact within communities. Workshop and discussions. Take this from the workshop. Have a more strategic recovery. Appendix 1, refresh of the Council Plan. Encouraging to see these themes on draft Council Plan.


All Members commended the COVID-19 recovery report and the efforts of the Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources for his contributions. Members’ voiced that it was a great workshop and very thought provoking, the work tied in with the Local Plan and Members were eager for this piece of work to be the main focus of the Committee’s future Work Programme for 2021-22.


RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee:-


1)    Received and noted the summary of issues identified in the workshop on the 23rd October 2020 – attached as Appendix 2; and


2)    Considered the draft recommendations arising from the workshop as described in Appendix 1 and:


a.    Approved that the recommendations identified in column 1 are made to Cabinet for address in the Council’s strategies;


b.    Approved that the recommendations identified in column 2 are made to Cabinet for address in the Council’s services and initiatives;


c.    Approved that the Committee communicates the recommendations identified in column 3 to the respective organisations; and


d.    Approved that recommendations in column 4 are taken forward in the Committee’s Work Programme.  


Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee Update

To receive a verbal update, if any, on the work of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee from the Council’s representative or substitute.


The Vice Chairman, Councillor Helen Chaffey, provided a verbal update on the work of the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee to Members. The Vice Chairman highlighted problems with delayed transfer of care from hospital to home in some areas. Some more positive news was in relation to the COVID-19 vaccine rollout that was under way and going well at present.


RESOLVED – That the update be noted.  


Chairman's Update


The Chairman of the Committee and Monitoring Officer provided an update to Members. The Chairman suggested that the next Committee meeting due to be held on 05 February 2021 be cancelled, as the Quarter 3 Finance Update Report was the only item of business on the agenda. As an alternative option, the Lead Finance Specialist and Section 151 Officer offered to provide a briefing session to Members prior to the item being heard at Cabinet on 03 February 2021, and debated at full Council on 23 February 2021. All Members were content with this suggestion. Any significant feedback from the briefing would then be passed on as appropriate.


RESOLVED – That the Overview and Scrutiny Committee:-


1)    Receive a briefing by the Lead Finance Specialist and Section 151 Officer prior to the next Council meeting for Members to review the Quarter 3 Finance Update Report; and


2)    The next Committee meeting due to be held on 05 February 2021 should be cancelled.