Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 22 June 2020 10.30 a.m.

Contact: Committee Services 

Link: View live stream of meeting here

Items
No. Item

O&S/1

Chairman's Announcement

Minutes:

Following confirmation that the live stream of the meeting had commenced, the Chairman welcomed everyone to the first virtual meeting of South Lakeland District Council’s Overview and Scrutiny, 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 herself, indicated that this was the case. The Chairman then referred to Members of the Council’s Cabinet who were also present at the meeting, to participate and answer questions, although without voting rights. The Chairman invited Cabinet Members to introduce themselves and 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. The Chairman then referred to officers present at the meeting who would introduce themselves when asked to address the meeting.

O&S/2

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Anne Hutton.

O&S/3

Minutes pdf icon PDF 535 KB

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

Minutes:

RESOLVED - That the Chairman be authorised to sign, as a correct record, the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 26 April 2019.

O&S/4

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.

Minutes:

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

O&S/5

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.

Minutes:

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

O&S/6

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.

Minutes:

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

O&S/7

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 www.southlakeland.gov.uk 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.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That it be noted that no questions, representations, deputations or petitions have been received in respect of this meeting.

O&S/8

Overview and Scrutiny Update

To receive a verbal update on all matters relating to Overview and Scrutiny.

Minutes:

The Chairman provided an update on the work of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, she explained the Committee sought to support the Council in reviewing policies and matters which relate to the Budget and Policy Framework. She stated the Committee will have a further meeting on 17 July 2020 where the Committee will be receiving an update on COVID-19 from the Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources, David Sykes. The Chairman explained she had been involved in a number of Emergency Decisions that had taken place during the pandemic and so was comfortable that as the Chairman of the Committee, she had been fully aware of all Emergency Executive and Non- Executive Decisions.

 

The Chairman proposed that the work programme of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and training for Committee members would be delegated to herself as Chairman, the Vice Chairman, Councillor Mark Wilson and Councillor Janette Jenkinson, working together with the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) and Rachel Ireland, Case Management Officer. This work would then be brought back to the July meeting with proposals for the year ahead. The Chairman ended the update by conveying to Members the Council was not in business as usual times, and the Committee must achieve the correct balance between effective scrutiny and appreciating that the Council was working in unprecedented times.

 

The Chairman thanked and praised Officers for their ardent work during these times.

 

RESOLVED - That

(1)   the Overview and Scrutiny update be noted; and

(2)   the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s work programme and Member training be delegated to a select group of Members for review, and fed back to the Committee at the 17 July 2020 meeting, with the assistance from Officers.

O&S/9

Revenue and Capital Outturn 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 250 KB

To consider the Council’s financial performance for 2019/20, movements to and from reserves and the carry forward of budgets to 2020/21.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented the Revenue and Capital Outturn 2019/20 report which set out the Councils financial performance for 2019-20 and the impact on reserves. The Portfolio Holder communicated to Members that the Council was operating in unparalleled times and if it was not for the COVID-19 pandemic, the budget would have been balanced. He highlighted a shortfall in income of parking and caravan sites in particular, and brought to Members’ attention certain variances as outlined in the report. He concluded his report by thanking officers for their hard work during the current situation and hoped Members had found the report useful.

In response to Members questions the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder explained the issue of Kerbside recycling and went into further detail about Employment costs as the Council’s largest single element of expenditure. He also clarified why the write off of debts continued to cause an overspend.

The Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) further explained that some debts were becoming quite elderly which could lead to an overview of all debts. However, she explained that we, as a Council, were in an interesting situation, peoples’ finances were uncertain and that debt recovery had currently been suspended due to COVID-19. She stated the Council were looking at reconsidering this while taking into consideration peoples’ circumstances.

In responding to a question on the current debt of Town View Fields at Kendal the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder explained that he would need to clarify this area as there were no weekly rent reviews available to show this and he did not have this information at this time.

RESOLVED - That

(1) the outturn figures be noted; and

(2) the comments made by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee be taken forward as appropriate for consideration by Cabinet.

O&S/10

2019/20 Annual Treasury Management Report pdf icon PDF 129 KB

To consider the Treasury Management Annual Report 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Treasury Management Annual Report 2019/20 was presented by the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder. He informed the Committee that the Council’s amount of borrowing was less than 50%, lower than the CIPFA Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities recommends and that borrowing remained low. He explained that the level of actual external debt has remained at £12.8 million which is below the Capital Financing Requirement of £18.5 million.

The Portfolio Holder stated the generated income for the Council was similar to that of last year. Nevertheless, there was considerable uncertainty for the future. He explained income rates may increase but Officers would keep the situation under constant review and would work with other authorities on this.

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder again thanked Officers for their hard work on producing this systematic report.

In response to a Member’s suggestion to increase borrowing during the COVID-19 pandemic due to lower interest rates, the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder agreed this could be considered by the Council. Yet, he explained borrowing would be under close review and at present, borrowing had stopped for commercial investments.

RESOLVED – That Council be recommended to approve the 2019/20 Treasury Management Annual Report.

Note – at this point in the proceedings Members proposed a short adjournment which was agreed and announced by the Chairman. The meeting adjourned at 11.22 a.m. The meeting reconvened at 11.27 a.m. and the Legal, Governance and Democratic Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) took a further roll call to confirm that the same Members were in attendance at the reconvened meeting and to confirm that they were able to see (where practicable) and hear all Members participating in the meeting.

 

O&S/11

Carbon Reduction Target and Green Team Update pdf icon PDF 251 KB

To consider the Council’s Climate Change Policy Action Plan and related matters.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Sustainability Coordinator, Hannah Girvan, presented the Carbon Reduction Target and Green Team Update to Members by means of a presentation. She stated in February 2019 the Council declared a Climate Change emergency. She explained there were District wide targets set and in order to meet those targets, the Council should have knowledge of the District’s carbon footprint to which she noted was 2611 tons. She drew Members’ attention to the Pie Chart in her presentation which showed all the District’s emissions based on consumption data. She explained this equated to a Cumbria wide total of 12 mega tons.

The Sustainability Coordinator went on to list examples of the Council working with partners, highlighting Cumbria Action for Sustainability (CAfS) as an important partner and discussed the Ambleside to Zero project. She explained to Members there was an increase within the Action Plan to reduce the amount of waste and to develop a green travel protocol. She stated there will be the introduction of a Climate Change Community Fund whereby groups can apply for funding.

The Sustainability Coordinator then handed over to the Climate Emergency and Localism Portfolio Holder to further discuss the report.

The Climate Emergency and Localism Portfolio Holder emphasised that the Council clearly takes the business of Climate Change seriously and recognised the emergency. She explained the Team had met with Parishes, businesses and the internal Green Team has developed the Green Board which would be operational from July 2020. She described there had been regular meetings under the direction of the Leader, Councillor Giles Archibald. The Portfolio Holder stated the Board had influenced and held discussions with other leaders. She went on to explain the dates and targets within the Action Plan stating that they set ambition to deliver what the Council can, whenever, and where it can. She highlighted to Members that due to changes in technology some extra resources may become available to further develop the Action Plan.

The Climate Emergency and Localism Portfolio Holder provided Members with the reasons behind the creation of the Climate Change Community Fund. She stated there were clear links with Council priorities and this would be clear on the ground action where responsibilities and decisions could be shared. The Environment Portfolio Holder thanked the Sustainability Coordinator for her work and passion for subject.

In response to the report, some Members expressed that the Action Plan did not appear to be urgent, but yet a long term target with a disconnect to the idea of an emergency. Dan Hudson, Strategy Lead Specialist explained the Action Plan should be taken as a trial run which would expand in the future, in terms of the urgency. He stated on the subject of Planning Policy, the Council is quite constrained due to government policy being very restrictive.

One Member proposed additional funding should be made available for the project, commenting that the ambition of the Action Plan does not reflect the available resources. The Chairman noted  ...  view the full minutes text for item O&S/11

O&S/12

Cumbria Choice Based Lettings Allocations Policy Review

To receive a verbal update.

Minutes:

The Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder provided a brief update on the Cumbria Choice Based Lettings Allocation Policy Review which would be formally brought in to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for comment at their next meeting on 17 July 2020. The lead officer of the review, Julie Jackson, Principal Housing Specialist, provided more detail on the review of the policy and explained the ongoing local consultation process which would end on 6 July 2020.

The Chairman asked Members to receive this verbal update and sought volunteers to form a group to meet with the Lead Officer. The Chairman explained the group’s intention would be to review all documents and bring forward points for consideration at the next meeting, with all points raised first being circulated to all Members of the Committee prior.

 

RESOLVED - That

(1)    the Cumbria Choice Based Lettings Allocation Policy Review update be noted; and

(2)    a separate group of Members were to review all documents and bring points forward to Members at the next Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting.

O&S/13

Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee Update

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

Minutes:

Councillor Mark Wilson, who sat on the Cumbria Health Scrutiny Committee as a County Councillor, provided Members with an update. He stated despite the Committee not recently having met, the Committee continued to carry out extensive work. He explained the Committee was becoming a more integrated system, especially through their work with Morecambe Bay and Lancaster Care.

RESOLVED - That the update be noted.