Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Remote Meeting using Microsoft Teams

Contact: Democratic Services  01530 454512

Media

Items
No. Item

The Chairman opened the meeting by extending his warm wishes to Councillor E Allman on the recent new addition to his family.

45.

Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 352 KB

Minutes:

No apologies for absence were received.

 

46.

Declaration of Interests

Under the Code of Conduct members are reminded that in declaring disclosable interests you should make clear the nature of that interest and whether it is pecuniary or non-pecuniary.

Minutes:

Non-pecuniary interests were declared in relation to Item 5 – Covid 19 – Recovery, by Councillors M Wyatt in view of him having two local businesses in the district; and Councillor N Smith in view of his wife having a business in the district. They both remained in the meeting for the debate and vote on this item.

 

47.

Public Question and Answer Session

To receive questions from members of the public under rule no.10 of the Council Procedure Rules. The procedure rule provides that members of the public may ask any question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the District, provided that three clear days’ notice in writing has been given to the Head of Legal and Support Services.

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

48.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 211 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2020

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2020.

 

It was moved, seconded and by affirmation of the meeting it was

 

RESOLVED THAT:

 

The minutes of the meeting held on 11 March 2020 be approved as a correct record subject to an amendment to the times noted that Councillors Richichi and Wyatt left the meeting.

49.

COVID-19 Recovery pdf icon PDF 270 KB

Report of the Chief Executive

Minutes:

The Chief Executive presented the report to the Committee on the plans for recovery following the COVID 19 pandemic.

 

Members were given a detailed update on the national emergency response, which provided information on the numerous links to other agencies which the Chief Executive was involved in. She referred to the fact that there were currently 128 staff in the clinically vulnerable category with 60 of these working from home and 68 unable to. 11 staff were shielded and 20 were living with shielded individuals. This represented a challenge for the Authority in the way it delivered some of its services. The Chief Executive went on to talk about the response phase which included reference to the community hub, the number of volunteers, the changes to working practices and the Government grants which had been paid out to local businesses.

 

The Committee was updated on the numerous methods of communication which had been utilised in order to keep members, staff, local businesses and residents updated throughout the crisis. Reference was also made to the emotional and financial impact that the crisis was having on individuals together with the impact it was having on local businesses and the community.

 

The Chief Executive updated members on the recovery plans which would follow a parallel structure across Leicestershire and Rutland, and referred to the phased re-opening of schools, retail and night time economy. There were a number of recovery cells in operation within the Authority which helped to provide robust analysis of the impact of the Government guidance as it changes, and detailed risk assessments into every service before they resume.

 

The Committee was updated on the local authority discretionary grants fund scheme and the level of funding which had been allocated to local businesses in the district.

 

The Chairman thanked the Chief Executive for her comprehensive report and invited questions and comments from Members.

 

Councillor S Sheahan asked what impact the change in Government plans on the re-opening of schools would have on staffing levels, what was the current situation with regard to the leisure contract and how far behind was the work on the major redevelopment projects such as Marlborough Square, Newmarket and the Leisure Centre?

 

The Chief Executive advised him that it was too early to say what impact would be had on staffing levels; with the added difficulty around those who had more than one child who may be in different school years. Within North West Leicestershire, there was a phased approach to reopening, so as an Authority there would not be a level of change early on. The Chief Executive advised that the Authority had details of every member of staff and their individual circumstances regarding childcare, shielding, vulnerability etc and there were ongoing conversations around what they were able or unable to do; but the Authority does offer a very flexible working environment to help manage this situation.

 

In relation to the leisure contact, the officers had been in regular contact with the contractor. Some of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

COVID-19 Financial Impact pdf icon PDF 287 KB

Report of the Head of Finance  

Minutes:

The Head of Finance presented the report to the Committee setting out how the COVID 19 pandemic had impacted on the Council’s finances.

 

The Committee was advised that the council’s own financial implications arising from Covid-19 were still emerging and expected to continue to emerge over the medium-term.  The report set out the financial impact currently understood in the last week of April and was intended to provide members with an opportunity to understand the detail regarding the early financial assessment.  Forecasts assumed a lockdown period lasting until 30 June, unless specific service variations were known, with economic recovery taking longer.

 

The revenue impact across the Council to date was estimated to be in the region of £2.129m gross and £1.043m net of the £1.086m Emergency Funding for Local Government. The majority of this impact was within the General Fund which would bear £1.870m gross impact, with the HRA impacted by £259k, notwithstanding the actual impact on housing rents which was not yet fully understood.

 

As Section 151 Officer, the Head of Finance advised that she had no concerns regarding the resilience of this Council but she was mindful of the future funding position; she would also be monitoring the borrowing forecasts very closely and would have the relevant delegations in place in terms of undertaking short-term borrowing.

 

The Head of Finance drew member’s attention to the impact on local taxation, in particular council tax and business rates. Any loss in income would not be felt until 2021/22 at the earliest because of the collection fund accounting method. 

 

The Chairman invited Councillor N Rushton to speak as the Portfolio holder.

 

Councillor Rushton reiterated the Head of Finance’s comments about being in a sound financial position and the Government’s suggestion that the Council had received sufficient funding to deal with Covid-19 when, as the report clearly demonstrated, it had actually only received half as there was currently a £1m shortfall. He also reiterated the point about the impact on the 2021/22 financial year and forewarned that a reduction in council tax and business rates sitting alongside a policy of no increase in council tax puts the council in a difficult position. If extenuating circumstances were applied and, for example a 3% increase was applied, because the base has eroded over the years, it would only equate to £100k-£150k which was worrying for a small district and even more worrying for those who were not responsible for their own incomes such as police, fire etc.

 

Councillor Rushton advised that he was receiving regular briefings on what was a moveable feast and he congratulated the Head of Finance and her team for all their hard work and excellent performance in achieving a rate of 92% of all grant monies being allocated; and who were now working hard to identify those business who did not qualify for the large scheme to see if they qualify for the discretionary grant scheme.

 

The Chairman thanked the Head of Finance for her detailed report and took questions  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.

51.

Items for Inclusion in the Future Work Programme pdf icon PDF 344 KB

To consider any items to be included in the work programme. The plan of forthcoming Cabinet decisions and the current work programme are attached for information.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman referred Members to the Committee’s Work Programme and the Cabinet’s Executive Decision Notice together with the item action log which enabled Members to see the progress of any items put forward prior to being placed on the work programme.

 

Members were invited to make requests for additional items to be included.

 

Councillor Wyatt asked for an item on environmental enforcement and he was advised that this would sit with the Community Scrutiny Committee and would be added to its work programme accordingly.

 

No other requests were made.

 

It was moved, seconded and by affirmation of the meeting it was

 

RESOLVED THAT:

 

The committee’s future work programme be noted.