To consider the allocation of financial resources to enable the delivery of projects and services to deliver the Council Plan.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented a report which provided the Corporate Financial Update (March 2021). He informed Members that all four of the items mentioned in the report had been approved by Cabinet, at the 17 March meeting and highlighted two additional recommendations relating to this item, which had been circulated to all Members before the meeting which were:-
(5) To accept a grant of £139,000 from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund for self-isolation discretionary grants and to create an income and expenditure budget of £139,000 for the receipt of the grant and the making of payments under this scheme; and
(6) To accept a grant of £100,000 from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund for compliance work and to create an income and expenditure budget of £100,000 for the receipt of the grant and the use of the funding to deliver the requirements of the funding.
The purpose of these recommendations was to support those who would lose money as a result of self-isolating in response to being a Covid-19 case, or in contact with someone who had tested positive. In these circumstances there is a legal obligation to self-isolate for up to 10 days, but for many people this would create economic hardship, exacerbating existing inequalities and putting pressure on people not to follow the self-isolation direction. The Portfolio Holder highlighted the importance of targeting the resource at those who faced the greatest level of hardship from self-isolating and not to duplicate other available support payments.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder went on to detail the 4 complex projects set out in the report which included:-
Financial Support for the Leisure Services Contract – The Portfolio Holder highlighted that the government had announced support for the leisure industry through a grant scheme that had been administered by Sport England which had allocated approximately £175,000, which was less than had been applied for by the Council and its leisure provider. The proposal sought approval to receive money on behalf of the leisure provider and then to make payment of the money to the leisure provider as outlined in the report to Cabinet on 17 March 2021.
Refurbishment works to Abbot Hall – Members were informed that the Council holds the freehold for the site but leased it to Lakeland Arts and that a largescale refurbishment project had been expected for the site, however due to the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Arts Council England and Lakeland Arts decided to re-open the site without continuing with the refurbishment. The Portfolio Holder highlighted that some minor capital refurbishments works were required to allow for the re-opening of the site and that funds had been secured to complete the works and that the Council had been asked to deliver the scheme on behalf of Lakeland Arts.
Contract Award for Grange Lido and Promenade – The Portfolio Holder set out a brief history of the site, highlighting the Lido’s closure in 1993 and is subsequent listing as a Grade II listed building. He informed Members that the Council owned the site and that both the Lido and the Promenade had fallen into a poor state of repair, with both needing substantial work to restore and repair the sites. The results of the tendering process were set out in the report and it was highlighted that option 2b had been selected as the best option to move the project forward. The Portfolio Holder explained a gap in the funding for the project and highlighted the option that had been carefully considered to ensure that the project could move forwards. He highlighted a number of reserves which had, for the most part, been created from accumulated grants over several years and added that this would limit the flexibility within the capital programme over the next two years.
Changes to the Capital Programme – The Portfolio Holder highlighted changes including the adjustments made as part of the Councils Budget for 2021/22, rephrasing of activities outlined as part of the Quarter 3 financial update presented to Council in February as well as the additional costs relating to Grange Lido and Abbot Hall. He made reference to the two additional recommendations aimed at supporting the legal obligation to self-isolate and highlighted the verbal update on Cross-a-Moor that was mentioned in the report, informing Members that additional Cabinet and Council meetings would be scheduled for the next week to address this matter.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder praised the Council’s commitment to the important projects mentioned in the report and thanked officers for their hard work to ensure progress on these projects.
Following guidance from the Legal Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer) it was noted that all members present who were also members of the Planning Committee reserved their position in relation to the consideration of any planning applications.
During discussion, Members commented on the impact of flooding on the whole Abbot Hall site and the flood retention scheme, the cultural and economic importance of the conservation of Grange Lido and Promenade, funds for Ulverston Leisure Centre, the importance of Abbot Hall to Kendal and the Council’s commitment to key flagship projects in such challenging times. Members thanked the Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder for the hard work and skill shown in progressing the Grange Lido and Promenade project.
No Member having raised concern when asked by the Chairman, it was
RESOLVED – That:-
(1) the receipt of monies from the National Leisure Recovery Fund to a value £174,237 be approved, and payment of this money be made to the Council’s leisure delivery partner for support from 1st December to 31st March 2021, as noted in the report to Cabinet on 17th March 2021;
(2) the amendment of the Capital Programme to include £615,000 for capital works be approved and associated professional fees relating to refurbishment works to Abbot Hall, be offset by grants due of the same value;
(3) amendment of the Capital Programme to include an additional £867,000 for capital works relating to construction works to Grange Lido and Grange Promenade be approved and the use of New Homes Bonus, the Local Project Reserve, the NNDR Business Rate Pool and Locally Important Projects funding as set on in paragraph 3.10 below, be approved;
(4) the Capital Programme set out in Appendix 1 be approved;
(5) a grant of £139,000 from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund for self-isolation discretionary grants be accepted and an income and expenditure budget of £139,000 for the receipt of the grant and the making of payments under this scheme be created; and
(6) a grant of £100,000 from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund for compliance work be accepted and an income and expenditure budget of £100,000 for the receipt of the grant and the use of the funding to deliver the requirements of the funding, be created.