Agenda and minutes
Venue: The Shire Hall, St. Peter's Square, Hereford, HR1 2HX
Contact: Sarah Buffrey
APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE
To receive any apologies for absence.
There were no apologies from members of the cabinet.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
To receive declarations of interests in respect of Schedule 1, Schedule 2 or Other Interests from members of the committee in respect of items on the agenda.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 19 December 2019.
Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 19 December 2019 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.
To receive questions from members of the public.
Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 1 to the minutes.
To receive questions from councillors.
Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 2 to the minutes.
The council building maintenance and cleansing services were amalgamated under a single contract, which was procured through an open market tender exercise and this contract is due to terminate on the 31 August 2020. This contract now needs to be procured for a period from 1 September 2020 to 30 June 2023.
The cabinet member commissioning, procurement and assets introduced the report and summarised the background to the decision, stating that she did not believe that outsourcing should be the go-to option. She explained that the proposed new contract would be of sufficient length to allow more options for the future of the service to be explored. A correction to the length of the contract had been published which would push the end of the contract beyond the purdah period for the next Council elections in 2023. The contract would include measures to reduce the use of products containing phosphates.
The strategic property services manager highlighted key points of the report. In particular that:
· The contract would follow the current model with one contract for maintenance and cleaning, this had been found to deliver benefits as there was only one management structure;
· Market testing had established that there was interest in bidding for the contract;
· Lessons learned from the operation of the current contract would be incorporated into the new contract;
· In recognition of the climate emergency declared by the council new key performance measures would be included in the contract to assess such things as use of fuel and use of local labour to reduce travel distances.
In discussion of the report cabinet members noted:
· The council wanted to encourage local companies to bid for contracts and would be working to make the tendering processes as easy as possible for local companies to access;
· In seeking to avoid the use of phosphate chemicals, care should be taken in the substitute products used and all substances used should be evaluated.
Group leaders were invited to give the views of their group. Concerns were expressed about the performance of the current contractor and it was hoped that the new contract would see improvements. In response it was noted that key performance dashboards would be introduced to monitor the delivery of the contract.
It was agreed that:
(a) a property maintenance and cleaning service contract be procured for two years and nine months from 1 September 2020 – 30 June 2023 with provision for a one year extension; and
(b) the director of economy and place be authorised, following consultation with the cabinet member for assets, contracts and procurement, to award a contract to the successful provider for each or both services following tender evaluation, with a contract value of up to £12m per annum.
For Cabinet to approve the amendment of £360k from the financial resilience earmarked reserve to fund costs associated with the review of the Hereford Transport and South Wye Transport Package to be completed by 31 July 2020.
The cabinet member finance and corporate services introduced the report. She explained that the review of the transport packages needed to be properly resourced so that it delivered the evidence required. The financial resilience reserve stood at £10m and it was considered that use of £360k from the reserve was affordable and appropriate.
The cabinet member infrastructure and transport explained the reasons for the review of the strategy that had been inherited from the previous administration and noted that only £91k would be spent on a peer review of the work done to date on the transport packages. The £360k to be funded from the reserve would consider alternative transport options. All three elements of the review would be completed by 31 July 2020 and would include wide ranging consultation. Input from scrutiny would be welcomed.
It was noted that introducing 20mph limits in residential areas would not form part of the options considered under this review but that this could be progressed alongside.
Group leaders were invited to express the views of their group. It was stated that:
· There was anger from some residents and business about the delay and concern that a bypass would not be delivered;
· If there were options to relieve congestion more quickly than constructing new roads then these would be welcomed by most businesses;
· There had already been considerable expenditure on assessing the southern link road project and Hereford transport package to determine that it was the right thing to do;
· The delay had resulted in the grant funding for the southern link road being lost and the prospect of £3.8m being clawed back by the LEP would spend all of the proposed council tax increase for 2020/21;
· The southern link road was an important project which would connect to the Hereford enterprise zone and open up land that was needed for growth;
· The packages put together by the previous administration included active travel measures and it was believed that the review would demonstrate the need for the planned bypass.
In response to points raised cabinet members noted that issues with the governance of the procurement exercise in relation to the south wye transport package meant that the council could not be assured that value for money could be delivered. These problems had been inherited and caused unfortunate delays. In addition, the council had declared a climate emergency in March 2019 and this needed to be taken into account. The cabinet sought to deliver the aims and objectives that had been inherited with alternative schemes.
It was agreed that:
(a) Cabinet approves the amendment of the financial resilience reserve reducing by £360k to fund the costs to complete the review work associated with the Hereford Transport and South Wye Transport Package.
To agree proposals for the Council’s Corporate Plan 2020-24 for recommendation to Council. The council’s constitution requires cabinet to make recommendations to council in respect of budget and policy framework; the Corporate Plan forms part of this framework.
The leader of the council introduced the report and invited the assistant director people and performance to set out the approach that had been taken to producing the new corporate plan. Cabinet members noted that:
· Workshops had been held to understand the ambitions for the new plan and to pull together the various strands;
· Three key areas had been identified – environment, community and economy – along with common themes across these areas of sustainability, connectivity and wellbeing;
· A one page plan had been development and then tested through public and stakeholder events including parish councils, the business sector and specific public groups;
· The plan had been amended to reflect the feedback received and then a second phase of consultation was undertaken which included budget proposals;
· The same five priority areas had been highlighted in the face to face and online consultation, although in a slightly different order;
· All three scrutiny committees had considered the draft plan and all the recommendations had been included in the latest version.
The leader thanked the assistant director and all officers who had worked on the draft plan. He noted that the design work had been done in house and included photographs taken by students from the Herefordshire College of Arts. He also thanked the scrutiny committees for their input which he felt had resulted in an improved plan.
In commending the draft plan to cabinet, the leader stated that this was a county plan designed to deliver for the people of the county not for the council itself. He believed in community and that the council must work with communities to understand their needs and involve them in its work. He believed in the prosperity of socially responsible businesses and improved connectivity between the council and business. It was for the cabinet to behave in the ways set out in the plan by working in partnership, using resources wisely, respecting each other and listening to each other.
While it was recognised that many strands of the plan were interwoven, cabinet members were invited to highlight key activities and projects within their portfolio areas. These included:
Finance and Corporate Services
· Improving connectivity, sustainability and wellbeing of the county;
· Responding to climate change;
· Delivering more affordable housing;
· More balanced investment in sustainable development
Housing, regulatory services and community safety
· Delivering housing for Herefordshire that recognised the challenges for residents in finding a suitable and genuinely affordable home;
· Roll out of the talk community programme;
Commissioning, Procurement and Assets
· Developing the way in which the council deals with waste collection and disposal taking account of changing legislation, the needs of residents and the environment;
· Supporting cultural services in adding social value, for example through contact with vulnerable members of society and developing tourism opportunities;
· Developing community wealth building, keeping money in the local economy as far as possible and making it easy for local businesses to enter supply chains;
· Working with communities to see where they can take on council assets if they can run them ... view the full minutes text for item 124.
To recommend to Council the continuation of the 2019/20 local council tax reduction scheme (CTR) for 2020/21.
The leader of the council introduced the report and it was confirmed that no significant changes to the scheme were proposed.
Cabinet members noted the importance of the scheme and the links to challenges identified in the corporate plan such as low wages and levels of fuel poverty. The chief finance officer explained that the council worked with a number of agencies to support households in distress. Discussions had taken place with the citizens’ advice bureau and it had been established that the council met the standards for and would look to sign up to the CAB protocol on council tax.
Group leaders expressed support for the scheme. The potential impact of the roll out of Universal Credit was raised. It was felt that the current scheme had worked reasonably well but the risk of people falling through the cracks was noted.
It was agreed that:
(a) The council tax reduction scheme for 2020/21, with the same parameters as the existing scheme, be recommended to Council for approval.
To recommend to Council for approval the capital investment budget and capital strategy for 2020/21 onwards.
The cabinet member finance and corporate services introduced the report. She stated that a number of new items were proposed to be added to the programme that had been inherited and that the programme would be kept under review. New items included:
· Rolling out of super hubs;
· Investment in schools, care home and extra care services;
· Delivery of employment land and incubation space in the market towns;
· Match funding toward the heritage action zone in Leominster;
· Investment in the passenger transport fleet and commercial fleet.
During the four years of the county plan a total of £415m investment was planned, of which around 25% might be funded from prudential borrowing. The council would seek to create new income streams. The proposed programme was prudent and affordable, with headroom for further projects to be brought forward if needed.
Group leaders were invited to express the views of their group. Changes to the Section 106 agreement regime were welcomed as they would release funds into communities. Additional funding for road maintenance was welcomed as the road network was something that everyone used.
It was agreed that:
the following be recommended to Council:
(a) the proposed capital programme from 2020/21 attached at appendix 3; and
(b) the capital strategy document at appendix 4.
To agree the draft 2020/21 budget and associated medium term financial strategy and treasury management strategy for recommendation to Council on 14 February.
The cabinet member finance and corporate services introduced the report. Key highlights were noted as:
· The proposed budget took into account the local government financial settlement, revenue support grant funding of £0.6m and hew homes bonus grant of £2.2m;
· It was proposed that the new homes bonus one off funding be used to assist in the delivery of housing, including addressing the phosphate issues that were holding back housing development;
· Herefordshire had risen to the challenge of reducing central grants in recent years coupled with rising demands and costs in adult and children’s social care, which now comprised around 80% of the council’s total budget;
· A balanced budget had been achieved with a proposed 2% council tax increase ring fenced for adult social care and a further 1.9% for other services;
· The total council tax increase of 3.9% was reluctantly recommended in order to maintain the councils statutory services and continue non-statutory services which were valued, the increase would equate to £1.14 per week on a band D property;
· The council tax reduction scheme would support those households who were struggling and some residents such as care leavers would pay no council tax at all.
Cabinet members thanked officers for their work in preparing the budget documents. In discussion of the report it was noted that a more detailed breakdown of the budget by directorate at appendix 3 would be included in the report to council so that it could be more readily matched to the till receipt presentation.
The following amendments were proposed:
Allocation of £200k from the public health ring fenced grant as the council’s contribution towards the Hereford Cycling Circuit. Councillor Kenyon was commended for championing this project which would increase participation for cycle users including use of adaptive cycles and have benefits for both physical and mental health. With the addition of this funding, the project had only a small gap left to close to achieve full funding. The chief finance officer confirmed that he had discussed the allocation with the director of public health and the director for adults and wellbeing and that he was content with the proposed amendment. (Proposed by cabinet member health and adult wellbeing, seconded by cabinet member commissioning, procurement and assets.)
To create a new earmarked reserve for climate change action. It was noted that the action plan had not yet been published but was close to coming forward. It was recognised that having a reserve in place would allow the council to fund initiatives to take forward actions identified in the plan. The chief finance officer confirmed that he was content with this proposal. (Proposed by cabinet member finance and corporate services, seconded by cabinet member environment, economy and skills.)
Group leaders were invited to express the views of their group. Points noted included:
· Additional funding for children’s services and for vulnerable adults was welcomed;
· Concern that the additional income from the council tax increase would be used up in paying for the review of the transport packages and ... view the full minutes text for item 127.