Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet - Tuesday, 7 December 2021 10.00 a.m.

Venue: Town Council Chamber, Kendal Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Inge Booth  Legal, Governance and Democracy Specialist

Items
No. Item

CEX/74

Cabinet Executive Decisions pdf icon PDF 400 KB

To authorise the Chairman to sign, as a correct record, the Executive Decisions made by Cabinet on 10 November 2021.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the Chairman be authorised to sign, as a correct record, the Executive Decisions made by Cabinet on 10 November 2021.

CEX/75

Declarations of Interest and Dispensations

To receive declarations by Members of interests in respect of items on this Agenda and to consider any dispensations.

 

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:

No declarations of interest were raised under this item.

CEX/76

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:

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder referred to an urgent item (Contract Award for Scaling on Street Charging Infrastructure) of business, copies of which had been provided to Members prior to the commencement of the meeting.  He explained that, whilst there were no excluded items on the agenda itself, Appendix 1 to the urgent report was excluded for inspection by members of the public, as stated within the document.

 

RESOLVED – That, should discussion be necessary, Part II Appendix 1 to the urgent report (Contract Award for Scaling on Street Charging Infrastructure) be dealt with following the exclusion of the press and public.

CEX/77

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/78

Local Government Reorganisation

To receive a verbal update, if any.

Minutes:

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder provided Members with a verbal update on Local Government Reorganisation (LGR).

 

Gill Steward, who had been Cumbria County Council Chief Executive Officer and Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for the LGR Programme, had left her role at the end of November.  Moving forward, the SRO role would be by collective leadership, with Allerdale’s Chief Executive, Andrew Seekings, representing the “west” authorities making up Cumberland Council and Barrow’s Chief Executive, Sam Plum, representing the “east” authorities making up Westmorland and Furness Council, with Acting Chief Executive, John Readman, representing Cumbria County Council.

 

In terms of officer structure, the Programme Director role, which would ensure delivery of the Programme, had now been offered to a candidate, with confirmation of the name awaited.  This was a significant step in driving the process forward.

 

The recruitment process for Programme Managers, Project Managers and Programme Support Officers was ongoing.

 

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder referred to the LGR weekly agenda, with items being considered by various committees, including a weekly Leadership Forum looking at workstreams.

 

The Council had received back the redrafted Structural Changes Order (SRO), to which a number of minor amendments had been made.  The draft SCO was now ready to proceed through the Parliamentary process.

 

The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder finally referred to the Judicial Review, which remained ongoing.

 

In response to queries, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder explained that the redistribution of assets and liabilities would form a significant LGR workstream and that detailed work would be carried out in this area in order to bring together the disparate assets of all councils.  Regular updates would be provided to all Members, providing an opportunity for them to be involved and ask questions.  The Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder explained that South Lakeland District Council would run in parallel with the Shadow Authority for one year from April 2022.  He confirmed that recruitment to the posts of Chief Executive Officers for the two new authorities would be would an open and competitive process.  The Chief Executive, in response to a further query, informed Members that the redrafted SCO would be provided to Group Leaders, pointing out that it still had Parliamentary privilege at this stage.  He drew attention to a Member briefing which was due to take place on 9 December, with a Group Leader meeting being held on the following day.

CEX/79

2022/23 to 2026/27 Draft Budget pdf icon PDF 408 KB

To consider the first draft budget proposals for 2022/23.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Note – During consideration of this item, Councillor Janette Jenkinson, although having no voting rights as a Member of the Shadow Cabinet, declared a non-pecuniary interest by virtue of the fact that she was a Director of Ulverston Community Enterprise, indicating that she would leave the room should conversation turn to this aspect.

 

Summary

 

The Council, at its meeting on 27 July 2021, had agreed to the proposed Budget Strategy for the current year’s budget process as part of the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).  The Budget Strategy set out some broad principles which were being used in the preparation of the 2022/23 – 2026/27 Budget.

 

The report, introduced by the Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder, presented a draft position.  Work would continue to incorporate further changes into subsequent budget reports, particularly further impacts of Local Government Reorganisation (LGR), Covid-19 and the central government grant position which was not yet clear.  The position set out in the report would form the basis of consultation.  The Overview and Scrutiny Committee would consider the report at its meeting on 4 February 2022.  The final Draft Budget Report would incorporate the consideration of the internal and external consultation received at that time and be presented to the 9 February 2022 Cabinet meeting.  Any further amendments would be delegated to the Leader and Portfolio Holder in consultation with the Section 151 officer prior to the report’s consideration at the Council meeting on 22 February 2022.  The Council would be requested to approve the final Budget at its meeting on 22 February 2022.  The budget timetable was presented for information at Appendix 2 to the report.

 

Although the Council’s services, income, expenditure, assets and liabilities would transfer to the new Westmorland and Furness Council on 1 April 2023 as part of LGR, the draft budgets still included projections for a full 5-years based on the current structure and arrangements.  This reflected good practice and the requirement to consider the long term sustainability of local services through long term financial planning regardless of the provider of those services and the statutory responsibility to set balanced budgets.

 

The Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder highlighted a number of areas within the report.  He referred to the Revenue Budget and the current projected deficit of £173,000 for the next financial year.  He reminded Members, however, that the budget was an iterative process and that work would take place over the coming months to close this gap.  Officers were though, he said, projecting very significant deficits from April 2023 onwards which would need to be reviewed in the context of the new unitary council.

 

The Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder turned to capital expenditure, informing Members that the forecast and plan had been reviewed and was reflected in Appendix 8 to the report.  This showed expected spend this year falling from nearly £27m to just over £14.5m.  He highlighted a number of capital projects, pointing out that nearly £16m of capital investment was envisaged next year.  He stressed that even  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/79

CEX/80

Local Government Reorganisation - Implementation Costs pdf icon PDF 264 KB

To request funding to create the new Westmorland and Furness Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

The Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder presented a detailed report requesting resources to fund the implementation costs of Local Government Reorganisation (LGR) within Cumbria by creating two new unitary authorities from 1 April 2023.

 

The Cumbria Chief Finance Officer’s Group, attended by all Section 151 Officers of the seven Cumbrian authorities, had undertaken a high-level assessment of the financial impact of LGR and provided some indicative figures for implementation which had also been sense checked against other authorities which have been through the LGR process.  The report, therefore, provided an update on the indicative cost of implementation. It also covered the establishment of a County Wide LGR Implementation Reserve including governance arrangements, funding proposals and the required scheme of delegation for relevant officers.

 

The report did not deal with the costs of transformation nor how these would be shared and funded, nor the level of savings that these could generate, as these would be decisions for the new shadow authorities, once established, and would be dealt with at a later date.  Some of these costs would be incurred prior to vesting date and so the timing, value and share of any of these costs relating to 2022/23 to be funded by this Council would need to be determined for provision to be included in 2022/23 spending plans.

 

The Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder referred to the indicative, high level budget for what was necessary to get the new authorities to be “safe and legal” on vesting day - £18.92m.  Table 1 provided a breakdown of the costs.  He referred to the creation of a County Wide Implementation Reserve to cover this indicative cost which would be 50% funded by the County Council, with 50% split equally among the districts.  The contribution from South Lakeland District Council would, therefore, be up to £1.6m.

 

The Finance Portfolio Holder was content that the approach outlined within the report was the most appropriate one, and that it had the full support of the Council’s Section 151 Officer.  He felt reassured that proper governance arrangements were being put in place, which was of importance given that the deliverables of the reorganisation could not be precisely defined until the shadow authorities were in place.

 

In response to a query as to whether residents could look forward to a reduction in Council Tax as a result of Cumbria moving to two unitary authorities, the Finance Portfolio Holder explained that the proposals for both one and two Cumbrian authorities had shown savings.  He referred to the budget gap of £2m to £3m forecast for South Lakeland District Council in five years’ time and suggested that there were likely to be similar gaps for the other districts and a larger one for the County.  He stressed the need to try to close these gaps and make savings and suggested that those made as a result of LGR would assist in doing this.

 

Decision

 

RESOLVED - That

 

(1)        the proposal for a county wide LGR Implementation Reserve be noted;  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/80

CEX/81

Community Grants and Support for Voluntary Organisations pdf icon PDF 285 KB

To consider a proposal to allocate the Council’s community grants funding.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

In the absence of the Health, Wellbeing and Poverty Alleviation Portfolio Holder, the Climate Action and Biodiversity Portfolio Holder presented a detailed report outlining a proposal to allocate the Council’s community grants funding to maximise impact and effectively deliver Council priorities in the period leading up to the creation and first year of the new unitary authority’s operation.  Attention was drawn to the fact that the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty funding was not included in the proposal due to it being subject to a separate contract which would be finalised at a later date.

 

The report pointed out that Eden District Council, Cumbria County Council and Barrow Borough Council had been consulted on their funding arrangements with 3rd sector organisations.  Each Council was tied into funding arrangements for varying periods (up to 2025).  Once established, the new unitary authority would assume responsibility for support for voluntary organisations currently delivered by the three districts and the County Council and would need to develop its own strategy and approach.

 

The recommendations contained within the report would mean that South Lakeland District Council funding for Gateway would cease.  This would end the annual grants funding round for smaller 3rd sector organisations.  However there were alternative external funding streams available and the report’s recommendations aimed to directly align South Lakeland District Council funding allocation with its strategic priorities.

 

The proposals would see a commitment to two year funding agreements which would extend a year beyond the vesting day of the successor Council to South Lakeland District Council.  Though this would require a novation of the funding agreement to the successor council, it would avoid a short term funding situation which may exacerbate funding uncertainty for these organisations as local government reorganisation proceeded.  It would enable the successor Council to review its support to the 3rd sector during its first year of operation.

 

The Climate Action and Biodiversity Portfolio Holder welcomed Karen Evans from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau who was observing the meeting.  She thanked the Strategy Specialist for a comprehensive report and commended the work carried out in this area during the Covid-19 pandemic and at the same time as Local Government Reorganisation.  Both the Climate Action and Biodiversity Portfolio Holder, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder and Members further referred to the benefits of partnership working and praised the work being carried out by 3rd sector organisations which provided invaluable support and advice to the community.

 

In response to queries raised, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder indicated that Members’ Locality Budgets were to continue.  With regards to funding for Locally Important Projects (LIPs), the Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) explained that there was still LIPs reserve and some money within the Capital Programme.  Discussion had not yet taken place on how that LIPs money would be spent.  Concern was raised with regard to the report’s Health and Sustainability Impact Assessment Form and the section on Biodiversity to which the response was  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/81

CEX/82

Affordable Housing Delivery Options pdf icon PDF 278 KB

Further to CEX/69 (2021/22), to consider proposals to increase the delivery of affordable housing in the District.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

In the absence of the Housing Portfolio Holder, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder presented the report.

 

The South Lakeland District Council Housing Strategy 2016 to 2025 contained an action to consider alternative methods of delivery of affordable housing to meet the Council’s affordable housing targets for affordable rent and affordable sale homes.  Action A3 of the Strategy Action Plan was “to consider options to establish a mechanism to help with land identification, acquisition and assembly; coupled with on-lending for new affordable housing delivery”.  Attention was drawn to a decision made by Cabinet 28 November 2018 to approve the commencement of an affordable housing loan facility for the sum of up to £6m previously agreed by Cabinet in December 2017.  This had been to allow South Lakes Housing and other Registered Providers to draw down monies supporting the development of new affordable homes.  Subsequent to this and despite extensive work being carried out to agree terms, there had been a number of issues that rendered the proposed loans scheme unworkable.

 

An alternative approach was now required to ensure funds in the Right to Buy Replacement Fund were applied to the delivery of affordable housing.  While there were strict guidelines in respect of councils using Right to Buy receipts on replacement stock or pooling the receipts to Government, these guidelines did not apply to preserved Right to Buy receipts following transfer of properties to a Registered Provider.

 

Cabinet had given in principle approval subject to Council approval at the meeting on 10 November 2021 to use the Right to Buy replacement receipts for the provision of grants to Registered Providers and land acquisition subject to further investigations.  Further investigations had been undertaken following the receipt of legal advice to ensure that proposals met the new criteria that had been introduced in July 2021.  Further clarification had, therefore, been sought from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) to determine the potential uses of these funds.  This followed major changes to the Right to Buy pooling system that had taken effect from 1 April 2021 and further investigation was needed to determine whether the new requirements applied to receipts received prior to 1 April 2021 or to receipts from preserved Right to Buy.  Cabinet had agreed for a further report to be presented to the December Cabinet outlining the outcomes of these further investigations and impact on the following proposals for use of this funding.

 

The report provided details on the outcome of investigation into use of Right to Buy replacement receipts.  The report further provided details on Affordable Housing Grants to Registered Providers and on Purchase of Land.

 

In response to a query, the Principal Specialist People explained the criteria regarding Local Occupancy.  She undertook to contact Councillor Roger Bingham with regard to a specific ward matter following the meeting.  In relation to acquisition of land by South Lakeland District Council and the move to a unitary authority with the potential for that authority to sell  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/82

CEX/83

Changes to Delegated Decision making Property Services and updates to the Council's Constitution pdf icon PDF 217 KB

To consider amendments to the Constitution.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Summary

 

In the absence of the Customer and Locality Services Portfolio Holder, the Finance and Assets Portfolio Holder introduced the report, which outlined proposed changes to the Council’s Constitution.

 

Whilst Council would be asked to consider clarifications required as a result of a review of the Financial Procedure Rules, he explained that Cabinet was being asked to consider Delegated Decision–making in relation to the delivery of Property Services (Appendix 1 to the report) following the insourcing of this area of work earlier in the year.

 

Members welcomed the proposal in uncertain times when a lot of decisions would need to be made.

 

Decision

 

RESOLVED – That the delegation of Executive matters in relation to the delivery of Property Services, as set out at Appendix 1 to the report, be approved.

 

Reasons for Decision

 

The Constitution underpins the Council’s decision making processes in achieving the aims and objectives of the Councils priorities.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

Members could choose not to approve the changes as proposed, or to make amendments to the proposals.  However, it is considered that the proposed amendments are required as part of the good governance of the Council and to ensure that appropriate controls are in place.

CEX/84

Urgent Item - Contract Award for Scaling on Street Charging Infrastructure

Minutes:

Note – This matter was being included as an urgent item of business under Section 100B (4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972, as the Leader was of the opinion that it required consideration without delay.  A decision was required because the Council would be at risk of losing funding if the preparatory ground works were not complete by the imposed funding deadline and to not cause further delay to the wider SOSCI project.  To delay a decision until the next scheduled meeting of the Cabinet would mean that the Council would potentially be unable to take action which would protect its interests due to strict time constraints imposed upon it.  Furthermore, the Leader and Promoting South Lakeland Portfolio Holder further indicated that, in accordance with paragraph 16(j) of the Council’s Constitution, Part 4, Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules, the Chairman of the Council had been consulted and had agreed for the decision to be treated as a matter of urgency and that the call-in process should be waived.

 

Summary

 

Attention was drawn to Minute No.CEX/43 of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 1 September 2021 regarding approval for the award of the contract for the preparatory groundworks to enable EV charging points to be sited on Council land at a number of car parks following a tender exercise.  The Operational Lead Delivery and Commercial Services explained that the original contractor had, since then, withdrawn from the award, having stated that their cost would need to increase by 25% and that they would no longer be in a position to complete the works by the proposed deadlines, which would impact on the delivery of the wider SOSCI project and subsequent works.  The Council was unable to accept a revised tender sum and the tender evaluation of the original contact was, therefore, invalid.

 

By following the Council’s procurement exercise, the tender had been re-run and it was now proposed to award the contract to the new lowest bidder, an alternative contractor from the original exercise.  For the purpose of transparency, Cabinet was now being requested to consider the award of the contract to the lowest bidder as detailed in the Part II Appendix.

 

The report clarified that the decision was urgent and could not reasonably be deferred, as the ground works need to be completed by 31 January 2022 due to funding deadlines.

 

Note – A Part II tender analysis report was included as Appendix 1 to the report which was excluded from inspection by members of the public in accordance with Section 100 (B) of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended by the Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006, and, in all the circumstances of the case, it was considered that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing it.  Copies of the document were excluded, as it contained information as described in Schedule 12A of the Act as follows:-

 

- Information relating to the financial or business affairs of  ...  view the full minutes text for item CEX/84