Agenda and draft minutes

Cabinet - Wednesday, 5th February, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Ashurst Main Hall - The Charis Centre. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  Email: democratic.services@crawley.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Disclosures of Interest

In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, Councillors of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to declare interests where appropriate.

 

Minutes:

No disclosures of interests were made.

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Cabinet held on 15 January 2020.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 15 January 2020 were approved as a correct record and signed by the Leader.

 

3.

Public Question Time

To answer any questions asked by the public which are relevant to the functions of the Cabinet.

 

Public Question Time will be concluded by the Chair when all questions have been answered or on the expiry of a period of 15 minutes, whichever is the earlier.

Minutes:

The Cabinet received a question from Mr Symonds from Ifield asking: ‘were Bovis in breach of planning rules by building the Maples development within the landscape character edge of Ifield Brook Meadows, local green space? My question has been prompted by Councillor Duncan Peck who wrote in the Crawley Observer today (Wednesday) under the headline ‘Planning rules need to be taken seriously’ – unfortunately, we have seen some examples in Crawley of companies building without planning permission.’

 

In response Councillor P. Smith responded, commenting that the development application was 100% in the Horsham District Council area, and as an Ifield Councillor, he personally objected to it and believed the Council did so also, but would confirm this. Horsham DC refused the planning permission for the site, but it was granted on appeal by the Planning Inspectorate.

 

As a Council, we take planning enforcement seriously and the Local Plan and associated planning policies were strong and well-written and as such allows us the ability to challenge those that build without planning permission or at odds with our policies.  People do seek retrospective planning permission and we ensure that those retrospective applications were aligned with our policies, otherwise they would be enforced. Recently the Council lost a well-publicised retrospective planning permission case at appeal, but it was fought as it was believed that the building was at odds with planning policies.

 

4.

Matters referred to the Cabinet and Report from the Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission pdf icon PDF 202 KB

To consider any matters referred to the Cabinet (whether by a scrutiny committee or by the Council) and those for reconsideration in accordance with the provisions contained in the Scrutiny Procedure Rules, the Budget Procedure Rules and the Policy Framework Procedure Rules set out in Part 4 of the Council’s Constitution.

 

Minutes:

It was confirmed that no matters had been referred to the Cabinet for further consideration.

 

5.

2020/2021 Budget and Council Tax pdf icon PDF 933 KB

The Leader’s Portfolio

 

To consider report FIN/491 of the Head of Corporate Finance, which was referred to the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 3 February 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented report FIN/491 of the Head of Corporate Finance which set out the Budget and level of Council Tax for the year 2020/21. It was noted that the report detailed each of the Revenue, Capital and Housing Revenue Accounts that combine together to formulate ‘The Budget’. In proposing the level of Council Tax for the Financial Year 2020/21, each of those accounts identified had been considered. The proposed Council Tax for 2020/21 was to be increased by 2.43%.

 

It was emphasised that the Council has a statutory responsibility to set Council Tax and its Budget in advance of the commencement of the new financial year (1 April to 31 March). The Council Tax had to be set by 11 March, each year.

 

The Cabinet was informed that the proposed Budget had been produced based on the principles set in the Budget Strategy which was approved by Full Council on 16 December 2019. That included achieving a balanced Budget over a three year period, including putting back into reserves when the Budget is in surplus.

 

The Leader emphasised that the Budget had been set against the background of general uncertainty over local government finance. It was noted that there had been two consultation papers relating to local government finance, namely the Fair Funding Review and the Business Rates retention reform. It had been expected to present their findings in advance of the Budget setting period, but both reviews had been deferred because of factors such as the General Election. The outcome of these consultations will change the way the Council is funded in the future, and as a result it will be difficult to project forwards.

 

It was noted that a supplementary agenda had been published that included a replacement to the table within paragraph 5.5.1 of the original report.

 

Councillor Rana presented the Overview and Scrutiny Commission’s comments on the report to the Cabinet following consideration of the matter at its meeting on 3 February 2020. The Commission Chair stated that the Budget report was generally well received at the Commission, where a lengthy and in-depth discussion was held with the Leader over the contents of the Budget report. It was conveyed that five Members of the Commission expressed their support for the report, with the other four Members preferring to abstain and reserve comments for the Full Council meeting being held on 26 February 2020.

 

Councillors P Smith, Irvine and Jhans all spoke in support during the discussion on the proposed Budget and Council report.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

That Full Council be recommended to approve the following items regarding the 2020/21 Budget:

 

a)         to approve the proposed 2020/21 General Fund Budget including savings and growth as set out in section 6 and Appendix 1 and Appendix 2 of the report FIN/491,

 

b)         to approve the proposed 2020/21 Housing Revenue Account Budget as set out in section 10 and Appendix 3 of the report FIN/491,

 

c)         to approve the 2019/20 to 2022/23 Capital  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Treasury Management Strategy 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 685 KB

The Leader’s Portfolio

 

To consider report FIN/493 of the Head of Corporate Finance, which was referred to the meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission held on 3 February 2020.

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented report FIN/493 of the Head of Corporate Finance which set out that the strategy covered two main areas: treasury management issues and capital related matters. It was noted that the Council was required under statute to produce a Treasury Management Strategy.

 

It was confirmed that the treasury management element, as referred to, ensures that the Council’s cash flow was adequately planned, with cash being available when it was needed to operate a balanced Budget. Whilst surplus monies were invested in low risk counterparties or instruments commensurate with the Council’s low risk appetite, providing adequate liquidity initially before considering investment return.

 

Whilst the capital element provides a guide to the borrowing need of the Council, essentially the longer term cash flow planning ensures that the Council can meet its capital spending obligations. That management of longer term cash may involve arranging long or short term loans, or using longer term cash flow surpluses. On occasion any debt previously drawn may be restructured to meet Council risk or cost objectives.

 

The Cabinet was informed that the Council’s investment priorities were security first, portfolio liquidity second and then yield (return). The Council’s ethical investment policy was also considered when investments were sought.

 

Councillor Rana presented the Overview and Scrutiny Commission’s comments on the report to the Cabinet following consideration of the matter at its meeting on 3 February 2020.

 

Councillor B Smith spoke as part of the discussion on the report, noting that the reason that there was no capital expenditure for her portfolio was due to the nature of the areas covered by her remit, which were more revenue based functions.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

That Full Council be recommended to approve:

 

a)         the Treasury Prudential Indicators and the Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) Statement contained within Section 5 of report FIN/493;

 

b)         the Treasury Management Strategy contained within Section 6 of report FIN/493;

 

c)         the Investment Strategy contained within Section 7, and the detailed criteria included in Appendix 3 of report FIN/493.

 

Reasons for the Recommendations

 

The Council’s financial regulations, in accordance with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) Code of Practice for Treasury Management, requires a Treasury Management Strategy to be approved for the forthcoming financial year.  The Local Government Act 2003 and supporting regulations requires Council to have regard to the Prudential Code and to set prudential indicators to ensure that the Council’s capital investment plans are affordable, prudent and sustainable.  Report FIN/493complies with these requirements.

 

7.

2019/2020 Budget Monitoring - Quarter 3 pdf icon PDF 693 KB

The Leader’s Portfolio

 

To consider report FIN/492 of the Head of Corporate Finance.

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented report FIN/492of the Head of Corporate Finance to the Cabinet which provided a summary of the Council’s actual revenue and capital spending up to the third quarter ending December 2019. It identified the main variations from the approved spending levels and any potential impact on future budgets.

 

Councillor P Smith also spoke on the item, commenting that pleasingly the projected revenue shortfall relating to planning applications had reduced by £46,000 with the projected £59,000 shortfall. It was hoped that a number of major planning applications, which had been on hold due to a number of national factors, would be coming through soon and should equate for the missing revenue.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

That Cabinet notes the projected outturn for the year 2019/2020 as summarised in report FIN/492.

 

Reasons for the Recommendations

 

To report to Councillors on the projected outturn for the year (2019/2020) compared to the approved budget.

 

8.

Irrecoverable Debts 2019/2020 pdf icon PDF 155 KB

The Leader’s Portfolio

 

To consider report FIN/490 of the Head of Corporate Finance.

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented report FIN/490 of the Head of Corporate Finance, which sought approval to write-off debts to the Council that were considered to be irrecoverable and exceed the delegated limit of £50,000 per write-off. The proposed write-off in excess of £50,000 totalled £301,982.60.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Cabinet approves the write-off of the Business Rates debt as set out below

 

Name and Address

Reason

Total

£

Genus UK Ltd      

15 County Mall

In Administration

57,529.67

Monsoon Ltd                             

10 & 11 County Mall

Entered into Company Voluntary Arrangements

82,320.00

Premier Parking Gatwick Ltd

Land Peeks Brook Lane

In Liquidation

162,132.93

Total

 

301,982.60

 

Reasons for the Recommendations

 

The Council’s Constitution necessitates amounts exceeding £50,000 requiring write-off to be approved by the Cabinet.

 

9.

Social Value Charter pdf icon PDF 195 KB

The Leader’s Portfolio

 

To consider report FIN/488 of the Head of Corporate Finance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council presented report FIN/488 of the Head of Corporate Finance. It was explained that currently Crawley Borough Council has several policies and charters that request the supply chain, through the procurement process, to support economic, environmental and social improvements in the community. The number of different Charters and policies had been found to be confusing for suppliers and officers trying to ensure that policy requirements were incorporated in relevant tenders. The Social Value Charter therefore seeks to combine these charters and policy commitments into one easy to read document.

 

Councillors Jhans, P Smith and Irvine all spoke in support of the proposal as part of the discussion on the report.

 

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Cabinet:

 

a)         approves the Social Value Charter for implementation (as detailed in Appendix A of report FIN/488) and its associated policy commitments.

           

b)         delegates authority to the Head of Corporate Finance in consultation with the Head of Legal and Democracy and HR and Head of Economy and Planning to finalise the Charter and arrangements for supplier sign-up, monitoring and make minor amendments to the Social Value Charter when required due to changes in policy or legislation, this will be in consultation with the Leader of the Council (Generic delegation 7 will be used to enact this recommendation).

 

c)         requests that a progress report be presented to Cabinet following the implementation and take up of the Social Value Charter in 12 months’ time

 

Reasons for the Recommendations

 

Having one Social Value Charter ensures that all of the Council’s policy commitments are in one easy to use document.  This benefits our suppliers by making our tender processes simpler to follow, clearly stating what our expectations are and enables us to more easily monitor their implementation.