Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet - Wednesday, 25 November 2020 10.00 a.m.

Venue: District Council Chamber, South Lakeland House, Kendal

Contact: Inge Booth  Senior Committee Services Officer

Link: View the live stream of the meeting here

Items
No. Item

CEX/83

Chairman's Introduction

Minutes:

Following confirmation that the live stream of the meeting had commenced, 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/84

Cabinet Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 558 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign, as a correct record, the Executive Decisions made by Cabinet on 5 November 2020.

Minutes:

No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was

 

RESOLVED – That the Chairman be authorised to sign, as a correct record, the Executive Decisions made by Cabinet on 5 November 2020.

CEX/85

Delegated Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 374 KB

To receive the Delegated Executive Decisions made by Portfolio Holders or Officers on 5 November 2020.

Minutes:

Reference was made to the four decisions and an outstanding response to Councillor David Webster’s recent requests for information regarding the efficacy of the vehicles and their purchase.  The Customer and Commercial Services and People Portfolio Holder, whilst he understood that an officer had been in contact with Councillor Webster, undertook to ensure that this was resolved satisfactorily prior to the next meeting of the Council.

 

No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was

 

RESOLVED – That the Delegated Executive Decisions made by Portfolio Holders or Officers on 5 November 2020 be received.

CEX/86

Lancaster and South Cumbria Joint Committee pdf icon PDF 215 KB

To receive the Executive Decisions made by the Lancaster and South Cumbria Joint Committee on 21 October 2020 and a verbal update, if any.

Minutes:

No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was

 

RESOLVED – That the Executive Decisions made by the Lancaster and South Cumbria Joint Committee on 21 October 2020 be received.

CEX/87

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 Councillor Kevin Lancaster declared an interest in Agenda Item No.10 – Council Tax Discounts and Premia (as detailed within Minute CEX/92 below).

CEX/88

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:

No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was

 

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

CEX/89

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 questions, representations, deputations or petitions had been received in respect of this meeting.

CEX/90

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To note the contents of the Forward Plan published on 9 November 2020.

Minutes:

No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was

 

RESOLVED – That the contents of the Forward Plan published on 9 November 2020 be noted.

CEX/91

Corporate Financial Update Quarter 2, 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 368 KB

To consider the corporate financial update Quarter 2, 2020/21.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented the Corporate Financial Monitoring report for Quarter Two of 2020/21.  The report included a revised Capital Programme at Appendix 3, paragraph 3.2.3 of the report being a summary of the re-profiling required following a review with Portfolio Holders and lead officers, approval for which was required.

 

In presenting the report in detail, the Portfolio Holder referred to a typographical error at paragraph 3.1.1 of the report, advising that the figure of circa £525,000 for the projected outturn for business as usual should instead read £216,000.  He thanked officers in the Finance Team, who were under immense pressure with increased workload relating to the Covid-19 crisis, for their work in continuing to ensure the proper running of the Council’s processes and providing timely information on the financial position of the Council.

 

During discussion, and in response to a specific request from Councillor Mark Wilson, the Portfolio Holder agreed to meet with Members of the Labour Group to discuss aspects around re-profiling, overspend, future income yet to be agreed, etc.  Councillor Tom Harvey suggested that it may be more appropriate for a full Member Budget Briefing to take place and the Portfolio Holder advised that arrangements were already in hand in this regard although pointing out that he would be pleased in his role to meet with any of the political groups.

 

The Leader stressed the importance in these difficult times of ensuring that the Council’s services did not fall below acceptable standards.

 

The Leader asked the meeting if the motion was agreed.  There was no dissent.

 

Decision

 

RESOLVED - That

 

(1)        the contents of the report and Appendices 1-4 be noted; and

 

(2)        the re-profiling of the Capital Programme as shown in paragraph 3.2.3 of the report and at Appendix 3 to the report be approved.

 

Reasons for Decision

 

Regular budget monitoring forms part of the corporate governance arrangements that support all Council priorities.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

CEX/92

Council Tax Discounts and Premia pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To consider proposals regarding reviewing the levels of Council Tax to be charged on empty homes from 1 April 2021 to form the basis of consultation with stakeholders and return to Cabinet and Council for final consideration in February 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Note – Councillor Kevin Lancaster, whilst having no voting rights as a Member of the Shadow Cabinet, declared a personal and prejudicial interest in this item of business by virtue of the fact that he owned property affected by the proposal.  Councillor Lancaster was disconnected from the meeting during the discussion and voting on the item.

 

Summary

 

The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented a report reviewing the levels of Council Tax to be charged on empty homes from 1 April 2021.

 

Subject to approval, the proposals would go out to public consultation prior to being brought before Cabinet and Full Council in February 2021 for approval of the final proposals, taking into account the feedback from the consultation.

 

The Portfolio Holder stressed that the primary aim of the proposals was to bring long term empty homes back into use.  He explained that the figures referred to within the finance section of the report at paragraph 7.1.5 could be regarded as a base case, suggesting a total increase in the tax take of £480,000 in 2020/21 rising to nearly £1m in 2023/24, with the District Council share being £49,000 next year rising to £101,000 in following years.  He thanked officers for their work.

 

Discussion took place during which the need for lenience for younger people taking longer to refurbish properties in a potentially phased system for financial reasons was raised.  The problem in relation to tied houses was also raised and it was questioned as to whether the Council had a policy in this regard.  Also raised was where landlords wished to achieve the highest level of EPC (Energy Performance Certificates) through significant refurbishment of older properties in order to bring them up to the required standard and the potential to waiver Council Tax while the enhancements were carried out.

 

In response to a query, the Portfolio Holder explained that he believed that the District Council had the ability to take enforcement action regarding derelict properties outside of the national parks and, furthermore, that the Council could also undertake work and put a charge on a property in the same way as for dangerous structures.  He encouraged any Member with concerns relating to empty properties within their areas to contact the Council’s Empty Homes Officer.  Both he and the Leader undertook to ensure that the points raised were considered within the consultation moving forward and they thanked Members for their input.

 

The Leader asked the meeting if the motion was agreed.  There was no dissent.

 

Decision

 

RESOLVED – That approval be given for the proposals in the report to form the basis of consultation with stakeholders prior to being brought back to Cabinet and on to Council for a final consideration in February 2021.

 

Reasons for Decision

 

To assist in encouraging owners of empty properties to make them available for housing, either by putting them up for sale or rent, thereby increasing housing across the district.

 

Additional income will be generated from changes to discounts on empty properties and the  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/92

CEX/93

Safeguarding Children and Modern Slavery Policies pdf icon PDF 288 KB

To consider adoption of a Safeguarding Children Policy and Modern Slavery Statement.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

The Health, Wellbeing and Financial Resilience Portfolio Holder presented a Safeguarding Children Policy which would facilitate robust and effective procedures and training to help officers and Members ensure young people were safeguarded and that their needs were understood and the Council’s responsibilities for safeguarding were addressed effectively.  In addition, she presented a Modern Slavery Statement which constituted the Council’s actions to ensure there was no slavery or human trafficking in its business and supply chains.

 

The Portfolio Holder highlighted the section within the Policy on how to report a safeguarding concern and also useful links within the Members’ SharePoint area.  In addition, attention was drawn to the availability of training sessions and to a District Council Member Briefing Session on the subject due to take place on 3 December 2020.

 

Members expressed strong cross party support and the importance of district councillors remaining vigilant and passing on intelligence was acknowledged.

 

The Leader asked the meeting if the motion was agreed.  There was no dissent.

 

Decision

 

RESOLVED – That

 

(1)        the Safeguarding Children Policy and Modern Slavery Statement appended to the report be adopted;

 

(2)        it be noted that an online training programme is to be delivered highlighting safeguarding best practice and local information; and

 

(3)        endorsement be given for the inclusion in both the Policy and training programme of awareness raising of the corporate parenting role and the role South Lakeland District Council and, in particular, elected Members, can play.

 

Reasons for Decision

 

To assist in the delivery of the Council Plan priority theme “Reducing income and health inequalities” in which reference is made to “protecting the vulnerable and mitigating the effects of poverty” and “working with partners to reduce domestic violence, alcohol related crime, substance misuse, child sexual exploitation and antisocial behaviour”.  Additionally, to assist in the delivery of the Plan priority “supporting young people to have a greater voice”.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

Without safeguarding procedures in place, the Council will not be able to meet the requirements of the Children Act 2004 and to address the issues identified in the Section 11 Audit or to meet the requirements of Section 54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

CEX/94

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 it involves 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 Paragraph 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 of the meeting would now close and the live stream cease.

 

The meeting producer confirmed that the live stream had ended.

 

Members disconnected from the Part I session and moved into the Part II private session.  A roll call was taken, all Members from the Part I session, with the exception of Councillor Helen Irving 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.  Councillor Tom Harvey agreed for the meeting to proceed in Councillor Irving’s absence.

CEX/95

In House Repairs and Property Maintenance Service

To consider the delivery of the Repairs and Property Maintenance Service for the next three years.

Minutes:

Summary

 

The Customer and Commercial Services Portfolio Holder presented a report proposing bringing the Council’s repairs and property maintenance services, currently outsourced, back in house.

 

Note - At this point in the proceedings, Councillor John Holmes, whilst having no voting rights as a Member of the Shadow Cabinet, declared an interest by virtue of the fact that he was a Director on the Board of South Lakes Housing, before raising a number of queries and comments.

 

Councillor Holmes drew attention to the existence of South Lakes Housing’s Direct Works Department and raised a number of queries and comments.  The Operational Lead for Delivery and Commercial Services provided responses and further undertook to provide clarification regarding the soft marketing exercise which had been carried out.

 

The Leader asked the meeting if the motion was agreed.  There was no dissent.

 

Decision

 

RESOLVED – That the following be approved:-

 

(1)        an in house property maintenance service for the next three years; and

 

(2)        a reduction in the Planned Maintenance Programme by approximately £69,000 per annum over the next three years.

 

Reasons for Decision

 

To assist in the delivery of the Council Plan priority – economy – we will, when opportunities present themselves, make best use of our property portfolio to support economic growth, through the use of our current and future asset base.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

To re-tender the measured term contract.  Based on the returns received during the soft market testing, it is believed that only one contractor who expressed an interest has the experience in running a measured term contract.  This company was previously more expensive than the current provider in the last tender in 2016 and, therefore, may not offer the Council value for money when compared to the proposal as set out within the report.