Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet - Wednesday, 20 May 2020 10.00 a.m.

Contact: Inge Booth  Senior Committee Services Officer

Link: View live stream of meeting here

Items
No. Item

CEX/1

Chairman's Introduction

Minutes:

Following confirmation that the live stream of the meeting had commenced, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder welcomed everyone to the first virtual meeting of South Lakeland District Council’s Cabinet, in doing so, thanking all officers involved in the process for their work on the project.

 

The Leader 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.  He then invited Members of the Cabinet, the Shadow Cabinet and the Leader of the Labour Group 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 Leader 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.

CEX/2

Cabinet Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 391 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign, as correct records, the Executive Decisions made by Cabinet on 18 and 25 March 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the Chairman be authorised to sign, as correct records, the Executive Decisions made by Cabinet on 18 and 25 March 2020.

CEX/3

Delegated Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 253 KB

To receive the Delegated Executive Decisions made by Portfolio Holders or Officers on 12 March 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the Delegated Executive Decisions made by Portfolio Holders or Officers on 12 March 2020 be received.

CEX/4

Emergency Delegated Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 776 KB

To receive Emergency Delegated Executive Decisions taken by the Chief Executive in accordance the Leader’s decision noted by Cabinet at CEX/104 (2019/20).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

An update having been sought in relation to 004 17-04-20 Kendal Leisure Centre Temporary Recovery Centre, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder suggested that this could be addressed by the Chief Executive under Agenda Item No.9 COVID-19 Emergency Update.

 

Attention was drawn 001 20-03-20 Business Rate Relief and to a compliment made by a South Lakeland resident in relation to the excellent manner in which officers had dealt with the process.  The Leader expressed thanks for the comment and commended officers for their work in this regard.

 

RESOLVED – That the Emergency Delegated Executive Decisions made by the Chief Executive on 30 March, 3, 14, 17 and 30 April and 6 May 2020, in accordance with the Leader’s decision noted by Cabinet at CEX/104 (2019/20), be received.

CEX/5

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 Shadow Cabinet Member Councillor John Holmes declared an interest under Minute No.CEX/130 below.

CEX/6

Local Government Act 1972 - Excluded Items

To consider whether the item in Part II of the Agenda should be considered in the presence of the press and public.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the item in Part II of the Agenda be dealt with following the exclusion of the press and public.

CEX/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:

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

CEX/8

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 55 KB

To note the contents of the Forward Plan published on 21 April 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the contents of the Forward Plan published on 21 April 2020 be noted.

CEX/9

COVID-19 Emergency Update

To receive a verbal update from the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder.

Minutes:

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder addressed Members with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic.  He stressed the fact that this was a major crisis demanding a great deal of attention.  He thanked officers for their excellent response to the many new challenges, for example dealing with Government funding, housing the homeless and facilitating virtual meetings.  The Leader asked the Chief Executive to pass on gratitude to the Council’s employees.  He further extended thanks to councillors for their work, for example, within their communities and supporting the vulnerable.  In addition, he thanked the other group leaders for their collaboration, support and collegiality.  The Leader also wished, most importantly to express thanks to the National Health Service (NHS) and care workers for their fantastic work.

 

The Leader highlighted the Council’s role which was to support and implement Government policy, protecting the health of residents and visitors and offering assistance to businesses.  Collaboration was critical, and the Leader referred to the hard work being carried out together with authorities Cumbria-wide and beyond, district leaders, parishes and the third sector.  He drew particular attention to the Shielding Programme and expressed appreciation for the work being carried out in this regard by Cumbria County Council, the Health, Wellbeing and Financial Resilience Portfolio Holder and officers.  The Leader referred to businesses which were suffering and to the Government grant being administered by the Council, stressing the need for those who had not already applied to take up the opportunity.

 

The Leader referred to the Government’s request for town centres to re-open and to the work required before June in order to prepare public spaces to facilitate social distancing.  The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder would be leading on this project, as well as on an initiative to help local businesses rebound.

 

The Leader summarised, highlighting the vital role of local government and thanking his Cabinet colleagues for their critical role.  He pointed out that there was still a lot of work to be carried out and decisions to be taken.  This would not be easy but the Leader stressed that together, we would get through.

 

The Leader then invited the Chief Executive to provide an update on the use of Kendal Leisure Centre as a Temporary Recovery Centre.  The Chief Executive explained that the Centre had been identified as a recovery centre for the provision of additional medical capacity in response to the COVID-9 emergency, capable of accommodating between 60 and 70 patients.  At the request of the NHS and Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, the Leisure Centre continued at this time to be a recovery centre.  The Council was, however, in discussion with the NHS on the implications of the recent Government Announcement regarding steps of adjustments to current measures and the potential of re-opening leisure facilities from 4 July.

 

RESOLVED – That the verbal update be noted.

CEX/10

Press and Public

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That, under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12 A of the Act as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006 by virtue of the Paragraphs indicated.

 

Note – For the benefit of the public viewing the virtual meeting, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder explained that the open session would now adjourn and that, once consideration and a decision on Exempt Agenda Item No.10 was complete, Cabinet would move back into Part I, when the live stream would recommence.  Members disconnected from the Part I live session and moved into the Part II private session.  A roll call was taken, all Members confirming that they were present, that they were able to see (where practicable) and hear all Members participating in the meeting and that there was nobody present in the room with them nor any recording devices nearby.

CEX/11

Leisure Partnering Agreement

To consider amendments to the Leisure Partnering Agreement which may be required in response to the Coronavirus emergency.

Minutes:

Summary

 

The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder presented a report seeking consideration of amendments to the Leisure Partnering Agreement in response to the Coronavirus emergency.

 

The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) drew attention and explained the need for an amendment to the recommendation at 2.1 (3) of the report, to read as follows:-

 

“2.1 3) subject to approval of the recommendations 2.1 (2) and 2.1 (4) contained in the public part of this report…” (the public part of the report being Agenda Item No.11 Finance Update – Impact of COVID-19).

 

The Economy, Culture and Leisure Portfolio Holder, the Chief Executive and the Operational Lead Commercial and Delivery Services responded to questions raised by Members.

 

Members expressed strong support for the proposals.

 

A vote was taken on the proposals during which all Cabinet Members confirmed that they had, without interruption, heard the full presentation and discussion on the item.

 

Decision

 

RESOLVED - That

 

(1)        the management fee payment of Quarters 1 and 2 to Greenwich Leisure Limited (Quarter 2 in advance) be approved, subject to the conditions outlined within the report;

 

(2)        the Director Customer and Commercial Services be delegated authority, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder, the Operational Lead for Delivery and Commercial Services, the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist and the Finance Lead Specialist:-

 

(a)        to work with Council’s Leisure Partner with an open book approach, ensuring full transparency on the costs and savings to establish the financial impact on the service and its continued future; and

 

(b)       subject to the conditions outlined within the report, to authorise future payments of the 2020/21 management fee to best ensure the re-establishment of service delivery;

 

(3)        subject to approval of the Recommendations 2.1 (2) and 2.1 (4) contained in the next item on the Agenda (Finance Update – Impact of COVID-19), and subject to the conditions outlined within this exempt report, the Director Customer and Commercial Services be delegated authority, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder, the Operational Lead for Delivery and Commercial Services, the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist and the Finance Lead Specialist, to agree additional payment to the contract above the management fee on an open book basis which is within the revised budget for Leisure Services for 2020/21 up to a value of £120,000, to include any associated contractual amendments or variations; and

 

(4)        updates on the Leisure Partnership arrangements be provided through the financial update reports.

 

Reasons for Decision

 

To assist in the delivery of the Council Plan – delivering a balanced community and reducing health inequality in the District.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

Not to continue to make contract payments to Greenwich Leisure Limited, this is not recommended as this will inevitably lead to failure of the service and the contract to be terminated.  This will have a greater impact on the Council’s financial resource and capability to continue providing a leisure service for the District.

 

To continue with contract payments in line with contract requirements.  This is  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/11

CEX/12

Re-admission of Press and Public

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the press and public be re-admitted to the meeting.

 

Members disconnected from the Part II session and re-joined the Part I live session.  A roll call was taken, however, not all Members having confirmed that they were present, the meeting adjourned at 11.05 a.m.  The meeting reconvened at 11.25 a.m., when the same Members were present, all confirming that they were able to see (where practicable) and hear all Members participating in the meeting, with the exception of Shadow Cabinet Member Councillor Helen Irving who had been unable to re-join the Part I live session due to technical difficulties.  The Shadow Leader, however, consented to the meeting continuing in her absence.

CEX/13

Finance Update - Impact of COVID-19 pdf icon PDF 397 KB

To consider the latest forecast of the impact of Covid-19 on the budget forecast for 2020/21 and other emerging pressures.

Minutes:

Note – Shadow Cabinet Member Councillor John Holmes declared a disclosable pecuniary interest in part of this item of business by virtue of the fact that he was one of South Lakeland District Council’s nominated Directors on the Board of South Lakes Housing.  He remained in the meeting during the introduction to the report and was then disconnected from the meeting whilst Cabinet firstly reached a decision on Recommendation No.(3) in relation to receiving of Right to Buy receipts.  Councillor Holmes was then re-connected to the meeting for the remainder of the item and the meeting.

 

Summary

 

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented the report, stating that, even before the announcement of lockdown on 23 March 2020, the Council had started incurring additional expenditure and seeing reductions in income.  The report presented the latest forecast of the impact of Covid-19 on the budget forecast for 2020/21 and other emerging pressures, such as the pay award or any potential reductions in approved expenditure through delays to projects and possible reduced activity.  The situation was summarised as at the start of May 2020, but it had to be noted that the situation was moving very quickly, with new Government announcements daily.  The report recognised the exceptional seriousness of the financial issues arising from the Covid19 and informed of the monitoring and management of the situation.

 

The Council’s finances remained strong in the short term.  The report attempted to take a prudent view of what the impact was likely to be, however, the full picture would only emerge in the next few months, and the position would change.  It was clear that, over the period of the current Medium Term Financial Strategy, the Council would need to take action to bring the longer term forecast back into line and South Lakeland retained the ability to manage its financial response in a controlled way over the medium term.

 

The first quarter monitoring report would be key in setting out a more complete picture of the impact of Covid-19 and, more importantly, a strategy for bringing the budget back in line over the medium term through the updated Medium Term Financial Plan.

 

The report provided details in relation to Covid-19 Expenditure, Income (excluding Council Tax and National Non-Domestic Rates), the Capital Programme, Council Tax and Non-Domestic Rates, Government Funding, Reserves, Treasury Management, a summary of budget amendments required, 2019/20 Year-End, the longer-term outlook and next steps.

 

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder drew particular attention to the Council’s statutory duty to deliver a balanced budget, including the use of reserves.  He referred to Section 3.7 of the report which highlighted that, due to the prudent way that the Council had managed its finances, the level of non-earmarked reserves was around £6.1m.  Consequently, the Council was currently in a position where it could bear the current impact of around £2m from the Covid crisis.  The Section 151 Officer had stated that it was unlikely that the Council would need to issue a Section  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/13

CEX/14

Interim Council Tax Discretionary Relief Policy and Temporary Council Tax: Covid-19 Hardship Fund 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To consider a scheme to provide relief to Council Tax payers in need of help due to exceptional circumstances.

 

Please note:-

 

The Chairman of the Council has agreed that, due to the urgency of this decision, the matter is exempt from call-in, and this will be reported to the next meeting of the Council.  This is under paragraph 16(j) of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee Rules within Part 4 of the Council’s Constitution.

 

The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has been informed that the matter, having only just arisen, and the matter not having been included in the Forward Plan at least 28 days before the decision is due to be made, is treated as an urgent decision, the general exception applying under Part 4 of the Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

The Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) explained the reasons for the matter being treated as a general exception exempt from call-in.

 

The proposal met the definition of a key decision in the Council’s Constitution as it affected two or more wards and would potentially incur expenditure above £100,000.  Due to the matter having just arisen, it had not been possible for the proposal to be included in a Forward Plan at least 28 clear days before the decision was to be made.  In accordance with paragraph 15 of the Access to Information Procedure Rules in Part 4 of the Constitution, the Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s had been informed that the taking of the decision was urgent and could not reasonably be deferred because of the need for a policy to follow the latest Government advice and some specific requests from residents as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which required addressing.

 

In addition, the Constitution stated that the call-in procedure should not apply where a decision being taken by the Cabinet was urgent and any delay likely to be caused by the call-in process would, for example, seriously prejudice the Council’s or the public’s interests.  In accordance with paragraph 16(j) of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules within Part 4 of the Constitution, the Chairman of the Council had been consulted and had agreed that the decision proposed was reasonable in all the circumstances and for it to be treated as a matter of urgency and that the call-in process should be waived.

 

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented the report.  As part of the measures of assistance in relation to Covid-19, the Government had announced additional support to all those in receipt of Council Tax support.  In order to speed up the changes to Council Tax bills, the Government would provide s.31 grant to be distributed through Council’s existing hardship funds.  As in a number of other districts, South Lakeland District Council did not have an existing hardship policy so, in order to apply the additional discount, there was a need to agree a new policy.

 

South Lakeland District Council’s share of the Council Tax hardship fund was £487,092 based on 2,255 working age caseloads at Quarter 3 2019/20.  The Government expected that the majority of this fund would be used to provide Council Tax relief alongside existing local Council Tax support schemes.  In addition, it was expected that the Council might also want to use some of this funding to deliver increased financial assistance having considered local circumstances.

 

The Government’s strong expectation was that billing authorities would provide all recipients of working age local Council Tax support (LCTS) during the financial year 2020/21 with a further reduction in their annual Council Tax bill of at least £150, using their discretionary powers to reduce the liability of Council Tax payers outside of their formal LCTS scheme design.  South Lakeland District Council’s Emergency Non-Executive Decision 007 Council Tax Covid-19 Hardship Fund had  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/14

CEX/15

2019/20 Final Accounts - Carry Forwards and Re-Profiling Requests pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To consider requests to transfer unspent budgets between financial years in order to enable the services identified to be delivered in 2020/21.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented a report detailing revenue carry forward requests totalling £0.6m into 2020/21.  These were made up of a number of requests as detailed in Appendix 1 to the report and, as some of them were above £100,000, they would need to be approved by Council on 30 June 2020 as part of the outturn report.  The largest areas related to:-

 

           £293,000 on the Customer Connect Programme

           £81,000 on Economic Development projects; and

           £85,000 on feasibility and design work on Ulverston Leisure Centre.

 

The approval of the carry forwards would enable the work that had been planned in 2019/20 to be delivered in 2020/21.  Carry forward amounts had been reviewed against the draft service expenditure to ensure that at corporate, directorate and service levels there was sufficient budget to support the requests.  This position could change as the Statement of Accounts and year end position were finalised.  Any corrections required would be reported back to Cabinet and Council within the outturn report in June 2020.

 

Although the carry forward of budgets was an important flexibility within the financial procedure rules, the services identified needed to be delivered as part of meeting the Council Plan.  To support this, spend of the carry forward amounts would be reported on as part of the quarterly budget monitoring, throughout 2020/21.

 

The underlying reasons for carrying budget forward would be reviewed with managers.  Where improvements could be made to the method of profiling budgets, these would be fed in to the 202/22 budget process.

 

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder turned to re-profiling of the Capital Programme, advising that variations on spending on the Capital Programme usually reflected changes in the progress of individual schemes.  As these schemes spanned a number of years, any variation needed to be reflected in an update to the profiled spending in the Capital Programme.

 

Appendix 2 to the report showed those Capital Schemes in the 2019/20 Capital Programme where expenditure varied to the approved Capital Programme.  To enable these schemes to continue and be completed, it was necessary to vary the Capital Programme in 2020/21 to reflect the variations in phasing of expenditure.  The total for re-profiling was £3.2m.  The Cabinet had delegated powers to approve these changes in accordance with Para 8.2 of the Financial Procedure Rules.

 

Although some of the underspend related to third parties, it was pointed out that there was still a significant amount directly in the control of the Council.  Processes would continue to be reviewed to minimise any future yearly underspends.

 

Thanks were expressed to officers and to the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder for their work and for the informative report.

 

A vote was taken on the proposals during which all Cabinet Members confirmed that they had, without interruption, heard the full presentation and discussion on the item.

 

Decision

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        Council be recommended to approve the revenue carry forwards as set out at Appendix 1 to the report; and

 

(2)  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/15

CEX/16

Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report Quarter 4 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 337 KB

To monitor progress against the measures of success as detailed within the Council Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder presented the fourth quarter Council Plan Performance Monitoring Report 2019/20 which set out the Council Plan Priorities and Measures of Success.  The measures listed, details of which were set out within the report, were showing very good performance and demonstrated that South Lakeland was a very desirable place to live, work and explore.  However, in line with the national trend and the influence of Covid-10, the number of homeless households living in temporary accommodation was increasing.  South Lakeland District Council’s vision and strategy was to improve prosperity, ensuring a positive benefit for the community.  Detailed information for each measure was provided within the report.

 

The Leader felt that the report demonstrated a successful trajectory overall, and thanked both councillors and officers for their work in the delivery of the Council Plan.  He, however, raised the need to re-boost the measures, drawing attention to those areas which were not moving in the right direction, for example food banks, alcohol addiction and homelessness.

 

The report also included the latest Strategic Risk Register.  Out of a total number of 17 risks, two of which were new, 11 were currently above the Council’s tolerance but were, however, being managed effectively.  The Leader stressed the fact that some of the risks had increased significantly as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.  He suggested that the risks should be the subject of a discussion involving all Members of the Council, open for the public to hear, so that all could be aware of what the Council was facing.  He informed Members that he would, therefore, bring this matter up with Group Leaders later in the afternoon.

 

The Deputy Leader and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder took the opportunity to refer to the summary of performance on homelessness and the detrimental impact of COVID-19 on this target.  He wished to point out that, although the numbers were in excess of the target, officers were doing an excellent job in ensuring that those who were homeless in the current conditions were receiving support and also that the Council had additional capacity to deliver on this target in the short term.

 

Members supported the need for a discussion by all councillors on risks.  A suggestion was raised for the need to highlight the successes in relation to housing, for example the number of empty homes brought back into use.  Further raised was the need now to publish details in relation to the Local Development Plan.  The Deputy Leader and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder pointed out that people’s attention had been elsewhere, however, agreed to take the suggestions on board; ensuring the future for delivery of housing was crucial.  The Health, Wellbeing and Financial Resilience Portfolio Holder responded to a request for information on food banks, saying that there had been an increase in demand, over and above the norm, but that the food banks were coping, with plenty of volunteers and donations from the public who had responded wonderfully.  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/16

CEX/17

Chairman's Announcement

Minutes:

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder, prior to closing the meeting, expressed thanks to all who had participated and officers for their efforts for facilitating the meeting.  He acknowledged the technical difficulties in re-joining Shadow Cabinet Member Councillor Helen Irving to the meeting, apologising for this and thanking the Shadow Leader, Councillor Tom Harvey, for agreeing for the meeting to proceed.  The Leader was proud of the achievement in making the decision-making process accessible to all through virtual meetings and further expressed pride in the Council for the way in which it performed during these difficult times.