Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Bromley Civic Centre

Contact: Philippa Gibbs  020 8461 7638

Items
No. Item

106.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND NOTIFICATION OF SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Cllr Cooke and Cllr Onslow.  Cllr Harris attended as substitute for Cllr Cooke.

107.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Minutes:

Councillor Simon Fawthrop declared an interest as an employee of BT.

 

In respect of Minute 114a, Councillor Gareth Allatt declared that his last job has been at the company that became LINK Asset Services.  Councillor Allatt declared that he was no longer associated with the company.

 

108.

QUESTIONS FROM COUNCILLORS AND MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC ATTENDING THE MEETING

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, questions to the Chairman of this Committee must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting and must relate to the work of the scrutiny committee.  Please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on 1st February 2019.

 

Minutes:

No questions had been received.

109.

MINUTES OF THE EXECUTIVE AND RESOURCES PDS COMMITTEE MEETING HELD ON 8th JANUARY 2019 (EXCLUDING EXEMPT ITEMS) pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Minutes:

The minute of the meeting held on 8th January 2019, was agreed and signed as a correct record.

110.

MATTERS ARISING AND WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD19024

 

The Committee considered a report setting out matters arising from previous meetings and the Committee’s Work Plan for 2018/19.

 

In response to a question, the Director of Corporate Services confirmed that there had been a great deal of interest resulting from the marketing of the Ann Springman and Joseph Lancaster blocks.

 

RESOLVED: That:

 

1. Progress on matters arising from previous minutes be noted; and

 

2. The 2018/19 Work Programme be noted.

111.

RISK MANAGEMENT pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD19017

 

The Committee considered a report which provided Members with the most recent Risk Registers for the areas falling under the Committee’s remit.

 

The Director of Finance reported that the main net red rated risk was on the Finance Risk Register and related to failure to deliver a sustainable Financial Strategy.  This would remain red as there was a budget gap and savings to bridge the gap over the next your years had not yet been identified.

 

In response to a question, the Director of Finance confirmed that actions to mitigate the risks identified on the Commissioning Risk Register were progressing and the Interim Chief Executive was currently reviewing wider issues.

 

A Member questioned whether an ACM cladded building should be added to the risk register as a result of the potential reputational risk to the Council.  The Director of Corporate Services agreed to give the matter further consideration and have a wider discussion with colleagues following the meeting in order to identify how best to manage the issue.

 

In response to a question, the Director of Finance confirmed that the Council’s Transformation Programme was currently being developed and any key risks arising from the programme would be fed into the Corporate Risk Register as they arose.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

112.

FORWARD PLAN OF KEY DECISIONS pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Forward Plan of Key Decisions covering the period February 2019 to May 2019.

113.

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 Resources, Commissioning and Contracts Portfolio Holder must be received in writing 4 working days before the date of the meeting and must relate to the work of the Portfolio.  Please ensure questions are received by the Democratic Services Team by 5pm on 1st February 2019.

 

Minutes:

No questions had been received.

114.

RESOURCES, COMMISSIONING AND CONTRACTS PORTFOLIO - PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY

Portfolio Holder decisions for pre-decision scrutiny.

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following report(s) where the Resources, Contracts and Commissioning Portfolio Holder was recommended to take a decision.

114a

TREASURY MANAGEMENT - ANNUAL INVESTMENT STRATEGY 2019/20 AND QUARTER 3 PERFORMANCE 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 392 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD19018

 

The Committee considered a report summarising Treasury Management activity during the third quarter of 2018/19.  The report also presented the Treasury Management Strategy and the Annual Investment Strategy for 2019/20, which were required by the CIPFA Code of Practice for Treasury Management in the Public Services to be approved by the Council.  The report also included prudential indicators and the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Policy statement, both of which required the approval of the Council. 

 

In response to questions from Members, the Director of Finance confirmed that a minimum of investment grade was the main principle governing investments.  The Director of Finance emphasised however that Officers would not simply rely on the fact that an organisation was investment grade, external professional advice would also be sought and consideration given to the current credit rating.

 

In respect of the cost to the Council of advice from LINK Asset Solutions, the Director of Finance confirmed that the Council paid approximately £9,000 per annum (following the meeting the Director confirmed that the precise cost was £9,700 per annum).  LINK Asset Solutions were able to provide up-to-date checks that were not available from credit reference checks undertaken by the Council, they also had access to information that the Council was unable to access locally and the company also undertook analysis and were able to provide a degree of comfort for the Local Authority surrounding its investments.

 

In relation to lending to Local Authorities, the Director of Finance explained that the fact that Local Authorities were considered part of Government made them a more secure investment as in order to maintain the reputation of local government there would be a mechanism to honour any debt in the event of the financial failure of the organisation.  The Director of Finance also explained that a 1 or 2 year view was taken and this provided an element of security.

 

In response to a question concerning whether more should be invested in Housing Associations in light of the high rate of return, the Director of Finance reported that he always advised a gradual approach.  If further investments were to be made Officers would return to Members with proposals.

 

The Director of Finance confirmed that corporate bonds were an options that was available to the Council.  The advice from LINK Asset Services would be considered as this would highlights any risks of which the Council should be aware.  A Member highlighted that it was possible to lose capital value on corporate bonds.

 

The Committee noted that the Council was expecting to recover the full capital sum (£5,087k) from the Heritable Bank investment although it was taking time to recover the funds.

 

RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to:

 

1.  Note the Treasury Management performance for the third quarter of 2018/19;

 

2.  Recommend that Council approves an increase in the limit to £50 million for investments with Housing Associations;

 

3.  Recommend that Council agrees that the Treasury Management Strategy be amended to clarify that only the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 114a

114b

MODERN.GOV SYSTEM: ANNUAL SUPPORT CONTRACT pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Minutes:

Report CSD19022

 

The Committee considered a report seeking the renewal of the annual support contract for the Modern.gov committee document management system.  The Modern.gov system enabled the Council to publish meeting details, committee agendas, reports and minutes, and information about councillors.  The system was purchased in 2009, becoming operational in 2010, and was supported via an annual maintenance contract with the ERS Group.  The contract had been in place for 10 years and was due to be reviewed.

 

RESOLVED: That the Portfolio Holder be recommended to approve the renewal of the annual support contract for the Modern.gov system for a further five years, at an estimated cost of £50k.

115.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXECUTIVE REPORTS

Members of the Committee are requested to bring their copy of the agenda for the Executive meeting on

Minutes:

The Committee considered the following reports on the Part 1 agenda for the meeting of the Executive on Wednesday 13th February 2019.

 

(5)  2019/20 COUNCIL TAX

  Report FSD190

 

The Committee considered a report identifying the final issues affecting the 2019/20 revenue budget and seeking recommendations to the Council on the level of the Bromley element of the 2019/20 Council Tax and Adult Social Care precept.  Confirmation of the final GLA precept would be reported to the Council meeting on 25th February 2019. The report also sought final approval of the ‘schools budget’. The approach reflected in the report was for the Council to not only achieve a legal and financially balanced budget in 2019/20

but to have measures in place to deal with the medium term financial position (2020/21 to 2022/23).

 

In response to a question, the Director of Finance confirmed that earlier in the day he had received notice that the disapplication request made to the DfE for the transfer of £1m from the Schools’ Block to the High Needs Block of the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) had been refused.  The Committee noted that as a result of this the recommendations to the Executive would require modification and these would be reported to the Executive on 13th February along with some other minor changes.

 

A Member raised some concerns around the process for scrutiny of the Schools’ budget, and the £788k that had been received from the DfE in 2018/19 and 2019/20 to support high needs provision.  In response to a question the Director of Finance confirmed that the funding shortfall of £212k (the difference between the £1m disapplication request and the £788k received from the DfE) would need to be addressed.

 

The Director of Finance explained that prior to 2014 the Government had funded high needs placements through the Schools’ Budget.  The latest guidance from the DfE was that high needs placements should continue to be funded through the Schools Budget and not through Council Tax.  The implication of this was that there needed to be a plan in place to ensure that any deficit in high needs funding was addressed via the Schools’ budget, not general Council tax.  The disapplication request that was made to the DfE highlighted the Council’s position that there was insufficient high needs funding.  As a result of this the Council had agreed to make a contribution to high needs in recognition that any deficit could not be recovered from schools over three years.  This council contribution had been agreed in spite of the DfE guidance and the disapplication request was to mitigate some of the additional costs the Council was incurring.  For the purposes of clarity, the Director of Finance confirmed that the Council had given a commitment to fund £2m for high needs placements from the General Fund.  The Committee requested a note be circulated following the meeting outlining for 2019/20 the amount of the High Needs Block and the Councils contribution for high needs which would equate to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 115.

116.

SCRUTINY OF THE RESOURCES, COMMISSIONING AND CONTRACT MANAGEMENT EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT

Minutes:

The Executive Assistant for Resources, Contracts and Commissioning, Cllr Gary Stevens, addressed the Committee providing an overview of what he had been doing since taking up the post in May 2018, and highlighting the following areas:

 

·  Prior on embarking on the role of Executive Assistant, Cllr Stevens had looked at areas where he could best add value.

·  Using existing professional knowledge, Cllr Stevens had been involved the IT Transformation project, working with the Head of ICT to deliver the revised IT Strategy.

·  Attention had now turned to the wider organisational transformation project which had commenced.

 

In response to questions from Members, the Executive Assistant made the following points:

 

·  Cllr Stevens was willing to lend his IT expertise to the wider organisational transformation project, although time pressure may be a limitation on involvement.

·  On taking on the role there had been no established work programme or key performance indicators; instead there had been a lose framework setting out general areas of involvement.  A Member suggested that establishing a work programme and key performance indicators might be something that the Constitutional Improvement Working Group may wish to review in order to provide a more structured framework against which value for money for the Executive Assistant allowance could be measured.

 

The Committee thanked the Executive Assistant for his update.

 

 

117.

SECTION 106 AGREEMENTS: UPDATE pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD19004

 

The Committee considered a report providing an update on Section 106 Agreements.  The detail of every s.106 agreement was reflected in the appendices to the report with the appendices covering the period from March 2003 to date with details of over 356 sealed legal agreements.

 

In opening the discussion the Chairman noted that much of the Part 2 (exempt) report was a repetition of the information included in the Part 1 report.  Noting that in the interests of transparency the aim was to have as much information in Part 1 as possible, the Chief Planner agreed to look at reducing the amount of information that was provided in future Part 2 reports.

 

In response to a question concerning utilising the funds that had been received in lieu of housing, the Chief Planner confirmed that £3.2m was available to the Housing Team.  The Committee emphasised the need for more affordable housing in the Borough and Members stressed that any s.106 money received in lieu of housing needed to fund the provision of much needed affordable housing.

 

The Committee noted that the Council’s Regeneration Team were developing a project at Norman Park running track that would utilise the £300k contribution towards sport that had been received as part of the Kent County Cricket Ground Application.

 

In respect of the Healthcare contributions, a Member noted that there had been delays in building a health centre in Bromley.  Once built, this would be a valuable community resource and the Member stressed the need to ensure that the funding for such community resources was protected.  The Director of Finance confirmed that there were mechanisms in place to ensure that the s.106 funds were utilised for health facilities.

 

In response to questions from Members, the Chief Planner confirmed that when s.106 obligations were agreed the relevant service area was immediately made aware of the obligation.  There was a further notification when the money was received.  In relation to s.106 funding for educational purposes, the Local Authority tied to ensure that there was flexibility with the use of the funding.  However, sometimes there were geographical limitations written into agreements.  The Committee noted that the use of s.106 funding was agreed using the same decision making process as other forms of Council spending.

 

Turing to the issue of the use of s.106 funding for health facilities, the Committee noted that when the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) came into operation there would not be as many limitations place on the use of funding and as a result of this there would be more open competition for funds.  The Director of Finance highlighted that going forward this would be monitored.  As a result of the changes currently being made to the structure of local Health Services, and the merger of Clinical Commissioning Groups into a larger regional organisation, would require close monitoring to ensure that resources received for facilities in Bromley remained in Bromley.

 

In response to a question concerning how s.106 funds could be spent, the Director  ...  view the full minutes text for item 117.

118.

EXPENDITURE ON CONSULTANTS 2017/18 AND 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report FSD19026

 

The Committee considered a report setting out the total expenditure on consultants in 2017/18 and expenditure to date for 2018/19 for both Revenue and Capital Budgets.  The Council’s Contract Procedure Rules set out the procurement process to be followed when appointing a consultant and there was guidance available to staff about what needed to be included in the formal agreement when engaging a consultant.

 

A Member noted that the tender procedure for contracts up to £5,000 stated “one oral quotation (confirmed in writing where the estimated cost or value exceeds £1,000)”, it was suggested that all quotations should be confirmed in writing irrespective of value.

 

The Committee noted that there appeared to be a number of occasions where consultants had been engaged to undertake HR investigations where it had not been appropriate to conduct the investigation in-house.  The Committee asked that details of the investigations be circulated to Members of the Committee following the meeting.

 

Action Point 26: That details of HR investigations conducted  by external consultants be provided to Members of the Committee following the meeting.

 

The Committee noted that the cost of the St Olaves investigation conducted by Whatford Education Ltd had been met through the DSG.

 

In response to a question, the Director of Corporate Services confirmed that the Council had done all it could to protect itself against long-term income tax or national insurance liabilities.

 

Noting that the Eclipse Project had been terminated, Members asked the Assistant Director for Strategy, Performance and Engagement (ECHS) to confirm why costs of in excess of £63k had been incurred for a consultant as the costs seemed excessive for a system that was not being pursued.

 

The Committee also requested that following the meeting the Chief Planner confirm what planning appeal had incurred consultancy costs of £21k and £26k.

 

RESOLVED: That:

 

1.  The report be noted; and

 

2.  The report be referred onto individual PDS Committee for further consideration.

119.

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.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Press and public be excluded during consideration of the items of business referred to 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.

 

The following summaries

refer to matters involving exempt information

 

 

120.

EXEMPT MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 8th JANUARY 2019

Minutes:

The Part 2 (exempt) minutes of the meeting held on 8th January 2019, were agreed, and signed as a correct record.

121.

PRE-DECISION SCRUTINY OF EXEMPT EXECUTIVE REPORTS

122.

SECTION 106 AGREEMENTS: UPDATE

Minutes:

FSD19004

 

The Committee considered an addendum to the  Section 106 Agreements: Update containing Part 2 (Exempt) information.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

 

Original Text: