Agenda and minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Keith Pringle  020 8313 4508

Items
No. Item

410.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

There were no apologies.

 

411.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

Cllr Simon Fawthrop highlighted his interest as an employee of B.T. with whom the Council was contracted for IT support.

 

Cllr Keith Onslow also highlighted his interest as an employee of the Royal Borough of Greenwich on insurance related work, Cllr Onslow also declaring that he had previously been employed by Zurich Insurance and was currently a pensioner.

 

As an England athlete, and in relation to the Committee’s pre-decision scrutiny of Executive reports, Councillor Michael Rutherford declared an interest on the Executive item regarding future proposals for Norman Park Athletics Track.

 

412.

QUESTIONS FROM COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Committee must be received in writing four working days before the date of the meeting.  Therefore please ensure that questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on Thursday 26th January 2017.

Minutes:

There were no questions to the Committee.

 

413.

MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE AND RESOURCES PDS COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 4TH JANUARY 2017 pdf icon PDF 257 KB

Minutes:

The minutes were agreed.

 

The Chairman of the Environment PDS Committee provided a brief update on outstanding utility works debt by B.T - the debt being owed as a result of poor highway repair following utility works. Debt recovery was not easy to enforce as there is no contract between a utility company and the Council requiring payment; it was first necessary to agree a sum with a utility company and the Council would then in a better position to enforce recovery. B.T. was aware of the Council’s focus for improved highway repair and the standard was now improving. Most of the outstanding B.T. debt would be recovered.  

 

414.

FORWARD PLAN OF KEY DECISIONS pdf icon PDF 139 KB

Minutes:

Members noted the Forward Plan.

 

415.

CONTRACTS REGISTER HTM 2 KB

Copies of the Contracts Register covering the Chief Executive’s Department (CEX) will be circulated under separate cover.

Minutes:

Members considered the latest position on contracts covered by the Chief Executive’s Department.

 

Further to a second ‘plus one’ extension option being taken and agreed for the Mobile Phone Services contract (CEX 27), reasons for the extension would be circulated to Members.

 

Following concern on how efficiently Amey take forward furniture requests under Total Facilities Management (CEX51), a process map was requested to show how the company deals with service requests. There was also concern on the time taken by Amey to provide a car park permit and the Contracts Sub-Committee would look for an opportunity to consider such matters at a future meeting.

 

The contract for Occupational Health Services (CEX12) was marked amber but issues concerned with a framework contract arrangement had now been resolved.

 

The contract covering Multi-Functional Devices (MFDs), Central Print Unit Devices, and Print Management Software (CEX180) was also marked amber. The provision was originally intended for Amey as part of the TFM contract but better rates could be obtained by the Council undertaking its own tendering. It was also premature to enter a contract/lease arrangement when certain staff accommodation matters at the Civic Centre remained outstanding. The future print/MFD strategy was dependant on such matters, including the decanting of staff, being finalised.

 

It was also confirmed that on-site contactors use the Council’s MFDs but costs are recovered along with a proportion of administration costs.

 

RESOLVED that the Contracts Register be noted.

 

416.

QUESTIONS TO THE PORTFOLIO HOLDER FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC AND COUNCILLORS ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Portfolio Holder must be received in writing four working days before the date of the meeting. Therefore please ensure that questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on Thursday 26th January 2017.

Minutes:

There were no questions to the Portfolio Holder.

 

417.

RESOURCES PORTFOLIO - PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY

The Resources Portfolio Holder to present scheduled reports for pre-decision scrutiny on matters where he is minded to make decisions.

417a

TREASURY MANAGEMENT - QUARTER 3 PERFORMANCE 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 202 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD17018

 

Members noted treasury management activity during the third quarter of 2016/17.

 

Investments at 31st December 2016 totalled £304.5m (excluding the balance of the Heritable investment) and at 23rd January 2017 the balance of investments stood at £331.8m. There was no outstanding external borrowing.

 

In response to a question from the Vice-Chairman it was confirmed that the current balance of the Parallel Fund, (set up in 2014/15 to mitigate the potential revenue impact of future actuarial Pension Fund valuations) stood at £2.88k although a balance of £2.824k was expected for the Fund at year end.

 

RESOLVED that the Resources Portfolio Holder be requested to note the Treasury Management performance for the third quarter, 2016/17.

 

417b

TREASURY MANAGEMENT - ANNUAL INVESTMENT STRATEGY 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD17019

 

Prior to submission to the Portfolio Holder and full Council, Members received the Treasury Management Strategy Statement and Annual Investment Strategy for 2017/18, required by the CIPFA Code of Practice for Treasury Management in Public Services (revised in 2009 and updated in 2011).

 

The report also included prudential indicators and the MRP (Minimum Revenue Provision) Policy Statement, both needing full Council approval. Statute required the prudential indicators to be agreed and published, primarily to confirm the Council’s capital expenditure plans as affordable and sustainable. As L B Bromley does not borrow to finance its capital expenditure, many of the indicators do not have particular relevance for the Council.  Prior to the meeting it had been necessary to update the indicators to reflect changes to the Capital Programme made as part of the third quarter monitoring 2016/17. Relevant updated tables included in the Treasury Management Strategy Statement 2017/18 were circulated to Members prior to the meeting and also tabled at the meeting.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

(1)  the report be noted; and

 

(2)  the Resources Portfolio Holder be asked to recommend to Council that the Treasury Management Statement and the Annual Investment Strategy for 2017/18 be adopted (Appendix 1 to Report FSD17019), including the prudential indicators (as tabled) and the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) policy statement.

 

The Chairman to move that the attached report, not included in the published agenda, be considered as a matter of urgency on the following grounds:

The decision type is urgent as the Council’s consent as Landlord is required as soon as possible for Biggin Hill Airport Limited to charge the head lease so that the Airport might raise funds for estate improvements (substantially a proposed hotel and a new terminal hangar). The consent must not be unreasonably delayed or withheld and without consent a proposed loan facility cannot be provided to the airport. The lease would form part of the security.

 

418.

BIGGIN HILL AIRPORT LIMITED (BHAL)- CONSENT TO CHARGING OF LEASE BY BHAL TO HSBC BANK PLC pdf icon PDF 195 KB

Minutes:

Report DRR17/014

 

The Council as Landlord had been asked by BHAL Ltd to give consent to a charge being placed on the lease with the airport for the benefit of HSBC Bank Plc.

 

The decision was marked urgent as consent is required as soon as possible for the airport to charge the head lease in order to raise funds for estate improvements (substantially a proposed hotel and a new terminal hangar). The consent should not be unreasonably delayed or withheld. Without consent it was not possible for a proposed loan facility to be provided to the airport. The lease would form part of the security and it was necessary for the lender to enter into a direct covenant with the Council in relation to operation of the airport should the Council notify it of any intention to take action for a breach of the lease.

 

The charge would not affect the Council’s Freehold reversion, and officers considered that there were no grounds on which the Council could reasonably refuse to allow BHAL to charge its lease.

 

Members sought further clarification on the implications of the charge. This included clarification on implications should BHAL default on their loan repayments. Information on the financial amount represented by the charge was also sought. However, the matter was a commercial one between BHAL and HSBC and any amount was not known to the Council. Were the airport to cease trading and/or default on their payments it was thought that the lease would revert back to the freeholder with the Council’s position not jeopardised.

 

A Member suggested that the lease would effectively be used as collateral and should BHAL cease trading was concerned that a new leaseholder could be appointed to the airport site. A further Member sought clarification on what the security would be for HSBC should BHAL default on the lease and why the bank needed a charge. Before a decision is taken Members felt that further information/clarification was necessary on placing a charge against the lease and any implications for the Council. As such, Members agreed to note the report and to recommend that additional information outlined above be provided to the Portfolio Holder. Nevertheless, the Portfolio Holder was confident that the arrangement was in order but would confirm with Council lawyers prior to taking his decision.      

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted and further information be provided to the Portfolio Holder as necessary before a decision is granted to grant Landlord’s consent to allow BHAL to charge the Lease.

 

419.

SCRUTINY OF THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Minutes:

The Chief Executive addressed Members and received questions.

 

The position on Children’s Services was now stabilising and Ofsted were due to visit again on 22nd and 23rd February 2017. Compared to Ofsted’s visit last May, governance considerations were now in place although improved service and practice was taking a little longer. Caseloads were nevertheless reducing with good calibre staff being recruited. Tools for improved performance were in place and 150 laptops had been issued to social care staff. The Commissioner monitoring Children’s Services in Bromley had been with the authority two to three days per month and would report to the Minister on 27th May 2017. There would also be a further Ofsted visit at that point. Ofsted was looking to see improvements delivered and the Commissioner was taking a wider review of the authority’s ability to provide Children’s Services. Staff skills were important as was a need for staff and partners to own children’s services. 

 

Following Ofsted’s first monitoring visit of Children’s Services, Ofsted considered there had been limited progress and the Council was demonstrating commitment. Improvements had been made too recently for outcomes to be properly assessed and more progress was needed (e.g. around partnerships and bringing the focus back to children); the pace was still slow with required changes needing to be considerably accelerated. Officers were driving for a positive outcome at the final inspection. The Council’s leadership, management and governance would provide a platform to achieve the level of improvement needed. The Chief Executive was confident the Council would see a positive direction of travel; progress was being made at the front line and case levels were now reducing. Improvement was taking time but the Executive Director had a track record of achievement. The Executive Director was establishing his team and the focus was on improving outcomes for children.

 

On the Council’s four year financial outlook, a budget gap remained for years three and four. Priorities for Building a Better Bromley had been signed-off with partners last November and collaborative working was important; in this regard measures were being taken forward to boost economic regeneration in areas such as Biggin Hill. The Council was also making good use of its assets and the partnership with Cushman and Wakefield would bear fruit in maximising property income. Further improvements were also being made to contract management across the Council.

 

The Chief Executive referred to progress on integrating health and social care and the challenges towards this. Reference was also made to the Transfer of Care Bureau, established to enable better co-operation between agencies for complex discharges from the Princess Royal University Hospital (PRUH). Supporting a successful transfer of patients from the PRUH to the community each month, the arrangement provided a seamless approach enabling discharges and release of hospital beds. The Council’s Social Services was recognised by the PRUH and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) as having a key input to the timely discharge of patients from hospital beds.

 

On public protection, the Metropolitan Police was looking  ...  view the full minutes text for item 419.

420.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXECUTIVE REPORTS pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Members of the Committee are requested to bring their copy of the agenda for the Executive meeting on 8th February 2017.

Minutes:

The Committee looked at the following reports on the Part 1 agenda for the Executive’s meeting on 8th February 2017.

 

(1) 2017/18 Council Tax

Report FSD17016

 

Final issues affecting the 2017/18 revenue budget were outlined in Report FSD17016 with recommendations sought to full Council on the level of the Bromley element of the 2017/18 Council Tax and Adult Social Care precept. The final GLA precept would be confirmed to the full Council meeting on

20th February 2017. Final approval of the “schools budget” was also sought.

 

The approach reflected in the report was for the Council to not only achieve a legal and financially balanced budget in 2017/18 but to have measures in place to deal with the medium term financial position (2018/19 to 2020/21).

 

Introducing the report, the Director of Finance referred inter-alia to the level of funding in the latest local government finance settlement. The Council continued to lobby Government on its low level of funding even though it maintained a low cost position. The Leader of the Council had recently discussed the matter with Gavin Barwell MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning and Minister for London.

 

The Draft 2017/18 and future years financial forecast assumes a Bromley element council tax increase of 1.99% per annum and an increase for the adult social care precept of 2% (total of 3.99%). Subject to any further inflationary pressures being addressed and key costs pressures such as, for example, social care being contained, a balanced budget was expected for the next two years. 

 

With a total allowable increase of 6% over the three year period 2017/18 to 2019/20, a 2% increase per annum was assumed in the forecast. The Government have not specified, at this stage, the additional conditions relating to the option of a front loaded 3% increase in 2017/18. The Chairman supported the approach assumed in the draft 2017/18 Budget on grounds of consistency and being able to plan ahead. 

 

The recent announcement by Surrey County Council to hold a referendum on a 15% Council Tax rise reflected concern for a reduced level of grant against significant social care cost pressures. However, such a course was not considered appropriate for L B Bromley. Referendum costs were high and the amount could be used to fund services. Within the public sector local government appeared to be a lower funding priority, although revenue from the New Homes Bonus had particularly benefitted District Councils (without Social Care and Education costs). There was a view across local government that current pressures needed to be recognised. 

 

A Member explored the significance and definition of earmarked reserves seeking clarification on their levels and the level of total reserves. Legislation identifies the reporting and treatment of general and earmarked reserves and they are measures used by central government and the National Audit Office in considering the revenue reserves available to a Council. It was not possible to use capital reserves for revenue purposes and some of the revenue reserves are not within the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 420.

421.

HR INFORMATION pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Report to follow

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report CEO1628

 

At the Chairman’s request, summary details were provided of officer sickness levels and the Council’s HR staffing capacity during the past five years.

 

On supplementary information circulated prior to the meeting and tabled (long term sickness by Council Department/ Division with working days lost, average FTE per division, and average working days lost per FTE) further information would be provided on the number of officers represented by the data. To help reduce long term sickness, the Council had a duty of care with measures taken to try and prevent staff sickness in the first instance. Should a trigger point of sick leave be reached, Members were advised of procedures taken (by management and HR) to assist a return to work as soon as possible. Should there be no return to work, ill health retirement or dismissal on capability grounds would be options; L B Bromley had yet to lose a sickness related dismissal at tribunal. 

 

The range of average working days lost per FTE by division (from 0.6 to 6.1) could be attributed to the type of job undertaken. Age profile in a service area could also be relevant and recorded sickness could be a function of how robustly a manager dealt with sick absence. 

 

As a family friendly authority, it was possible for compassionate leave to be granted in appropriate circumstances, with paid leave provided in a limited number of cases. Taking sick leave in such circumstances was unnecessary and a Member suggested highlighting this for staff. The Portfolio Holder for Resources also referred to a presentation on health at work at a Departmental Representatives meeting. The Departmental Representatives Forum complemented work of the Trade Union side in representing staff interests and included attendance by the Leader of the Council, the Resources Portfolio Holder, the Chief Executive and Director of HR.

 

It was also necessary to distinguish between staff taking genuine sick leave and sick leave for other reasons. If staff were found to be abusing the system disciplinary action could follow. A Member praised work by the Director of HR, having led on transformational changes including locally negotiated terms and conditions, Single Status, and a fundamental review of staff representatives.

 

RESOLVED that the report be noted.

 

422.

WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 133 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD17001

 

Members noted the Committee’s remaining Working Programme for 2016/17.

 

RESOLVED that the Committee’s Work Programme be noted.

 

423.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT 1972 AS AMENDED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT (ACCESS TO INFORMATION) (VARIATION) ORDER 2006, AND THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000

The Chairman to move that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business listed below as it is likely in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings that if members of the Press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information.

424.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXEMPT RESOURCES PORTFOLIO HOLDER REPORTS

424a

FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT: CROWN COMMERCIAL SERVICES (CCS) AND ROYAL MAIL SCHEDULE 4 - AS AGREED BY ROYAL MAIL AND LONDON BOROUGHS POSTAL BOARD

Minutes:

Members considered a proposed decision related to the future delivery of mail services.

 

425.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXEMPT EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Minutes:

Members considered certain reports on the Part 2 agenda for the Executive’s meeting on 8th February 2017.

 

 

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