Agenda and minutes
Venue: Online meeting
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.
Councillor Hardwick for item 6 – declared an interest as a resident of Fownhope although the matter under consideration did not affect him to any greater extent than others in that ward.
To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 25 June 2020.
Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 June 2020 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.
To approve the allocation of funding to enable priority flood damage repairs and as able works to enhance the resilience of the county’s infrastructure.
The cabinet member infrastructure and transport introduced the report. He explained the impact of the flooding experienced in the county and the scale of repairs needed. The council needed to identify how the remaining high priority flood repair schemes totalling approximately £4m were to be funded. An allocation of £7.674m had been made to Herefordshire from the Pothole and Challenge Fund. The government had confirmed that the council could use this funding to address the flood damage. Efforts to secure additional funding from the government had so far been unsuccessful.
The cabinet member felt that as the Pothole and Challenge Fund monies were originally intended to address other improvements to the road network it was unfair that the council should now be expected to use some of this money to undertake repairs from the extraordinary flooding that had occurred. The cabinet member proposed that the £7.674m be added to the capital programme and allocated for the original purpose and that the council be asked to agree adjustments to the capital programme to find the funds needed to address the priority flood repairs.
In discussing the options for allocating funding cabinet members noted the following points:
· It was very disappointing that additional funding had not been made available by the government and both Herefordshire MPs had been asked to pursue this as a matter of urgency;
· The Pothole and Challenge Fund allocation should be spent as intended on the road network for the whole county;
· Lack of investment in the wider road network would deter visitors, impact on economic recovery and there may be further flooding to deal with in the autumn / winter 2020;
· When presenting the budget in February it had been highlighted that the council had not exhausted its capacity to borrow so that it had capacity to deliver on additional projects in the county plan;
· The current capital programme had been approved by council less than six months ago and the projects currently on the programme were intended to deliver on the adopted county plan;
· There were no easy options to reallocate funding from other projects on the capital programme;
· The cabinet should make a recommendation to council on how to fund the repair works, it was then open to council to debate this and agree a way forward;
· Borrowing the additional funds required was proposed as the least worst option as it would not prevent the council making the capital investments it wanted to.
Group leaders were invited to put comments and queries from their respective groups, it was noted that:
· Full discussion would take place at the council meeting;
· The logic of the proposals was understood;
· There was reluctance to see monies taken away from other projects;
· The allocation of funds from the Pothole and Challenge Fund had been communicated to the council before the flood damage occurred, but the details had only been announced after the flooding took place and with the caveat that it could be used for flood repair;
· There might yet ... view the full minutes text for item 163.
To review and recommend further delivery of the “better ways of working” (BWOW) initiative that enables employees to work flexibly and to consolidate use of premises. This decision reflects on the impact and implications of Covid-19 on the plans that were set out and agreed by Cabinet on 27 February 2020.
The cabinet member commissioning, procurement and assets introduced the item. She highlighted that the proposed changes had resulted from the council’s response to the coronavirus epidemic. The staff survey carried out had a high response rate and showed positive feedback from staff regarding the new working arrangements that had been adopted. Increased remote working allowed the council to look at its property portfolio to see what savings could be made at a time when it would be facing financial pressures. The cabinet member noted an addition to recommendation (f) in the report whereby Ross-on-Wye town council would also be consulted regarding the reconfiguration and improvement works at the Ryefield Centre.
The assistant director corporate support explained that a decision on the future occupation of Elgar House needed to be taken now if the break clause was to be exercised. She set out the arrangement that would be in place for those staff members who needed access to an office and the options if social distancing measures were reduced. There would continue to be some services, particularly around social care, that would need to work from an office base and this had been taken into consideration. The capacity of the multi-agency offices in Leominster and Ross-on-Wye would be increased which would benefit the market towns and help reduce staff travel.
In discussing the report cabinet members noted that:
· Staff had responded positively and with flexibility to the changes in working practices;
· There might be unexpected and unintended consequences which the council should try to anticipate and be ready to respond to;
· Staff had reported better work-life balance as a result of increased home working;
· The council would need to make sure that staff working from home were given appropriate support to do so in a healthy way e.g. making sure appropriate equipment was used and regular screen breaks taken.
Group leaders were asked for the views and queries of their respective groups. It was noted that:
· The council workforce was very flexible and it was appropriate to consider the future of buildings that might not be needed any more;
· There was some concern that the response to the virus and expiring of leases was driving the changes and that the benefits of having staff under the same roof would be lost;
· Spaces such as the canteen in Plough Lane had been useful for making informal connections and it was hoped that these opportunities would not be lost;
· Moving to more remote and home working could have a positive impact for those with limited access to transport, disabilities or care responsibilities;
· Only 52% had responded to the staff survey, although this was a good rate compared with previous surveys it still meant that only just over half of staff had responded.
In response to queries raised it was explained that the decisions taken by cabinet in February had already set a lot in train and that the council had already taken steps to facilitate remote working such as replacing desk tops with ... view the full minutes text for item 164.
To approve expenditure and deliver activities as detailed in the Leominster Heritage Action Zone Delivery Plan.
The cabinet member environment, economy and skills introduced the report and welcomed the collaboration between the council, Leominster town council and the local community. It was hoped that this model would be built on going forward. It was noted that this was the first report to be brought to cabinet with an explicit section on climate and ecological impact.
The cabinet member summarised how the project would progress and highlighted a correction to paragraphs 48 and 49 which should both start with ‘we will’.
The cabinet member children and families commented that as a resident, town councillors and ward member in Leominster she was pleased to see this project coming forward.
In discussion of the report cabinet members noted that:
· The match funding was proportionate from each grant that businesses made so the figure set out in the report was a conservative estimate, while there was some concern whether businesses in the area would invest in the current economic climate other funds had shown sustained level of interest;
· The programme would have to be condensed to meet the March 2024 deadline for expenditure, officers were confident that the projects in year 1 could be delivered and then the remaining grant schemes could be re-profiled into years 2 and 3;
· The council would look at including conditions on the use of local labour.
Group leaders were invited to set out the views and queries of their group. It was noted that:
· Ward members reported that businesses in Leominster were looking to invest;
· The outcome of the project should be reviewed with a view to learning lessons that could be applied to other market towns.
It was agreed that:
(a) The council enters into a funding agreement with The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England (HBMCE) to deliver the Heritage Action Zone Programme in Leominster as per the Delivery Plan with an anticipated total budget of £3.6m from the capital programme (£1.8 of which is match funded) and £1.8m from HBMCE;
(b) The Director of Economy and Place, in consultation with Section 151 Officer, be authorised to take all operational decisions necessary to secure the funding agreement between the Herefordshire Council and The Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England;
(c) The Director of Economy and Place be authorised to sign all sub grant agreements (for the building grants) to grant recipients and take day to day operational decisions, including any variations to any sub grant agreements;
(d) The Director for Economy and Place, in consultation with Section 151 Officer, and approved by Cabinet Member for Economy, Environment and skills and Cabinet Member for Infrastructure and Transport, be authorised to sign any programme changes which may include identifying new projects in light of Covid19;
(e) Section 151 Officer agrees that the Council provide forward funding grant payments to grant recipients up to a cumulative maximum of £500k over any quarterly period, pending drawn down of funds from the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England.
To agree the revised content of the Herefordshire Multi - Agency Protocol for Children and Young People with Disabilities and Complex Needs - Preparing for Adulthood on behalf of Herefordshire Council services.
The cabinet member children and families introduced the report and explained that the council wanted to ensure that young people with disabilities and complex needs had the maximum choice over their futures.
In discussing the report cabinet members raised the following key points:
· The protocol was an important document and this approach was a step forward in dealing with families differently;
· A smooth transition to adulthood was important;
· The equality and diversity statement was commended;
· The protocol would be kept under review;
· The children and adult teams worked closely together to produce this protocol and work was continuing to align processes beneath this protocol.
Group leaders were invited to express the views and queries of their group. The following points were noted:
· The importance of the protocol was recognised;
· Typographical corrections were needed for the final version of the protocol;
· It was suggested that the first paragraph under decision-making on page 9 of the policy could be better worded;
· It was suggested that the sections on resource panels and quality and monitoring on page 11 should better set out what was going to happen;
· The employment rate was very low and support to improve this was welcomed.
The chair of the children and young people scrutiny committee stated that employment, training and further education was always a challenge for this group of young people and would be made more so with the impact of Covid-19. It was particularly important for this group to have access to leisure and social activities with their peer groups although that might be difficult to deliver for the foreseeable future.
It was agreed to:
(a) Approve the Herefordshire Multi - Agency Protocol for Children and Young People with Disabilities and Complex Needs - Preparing for Adulthood;
(b) Delegate the responsibility for reviewing and technical updating of the Protocol to the Head of Additional Needs.
To approve a new permanent building at John Kyrle High School & Sixth Form Centre to accommodate additional pupils admitted from September 2021 in response to rising numbers in Ross-on-Wye and to meet parental preference, and to agree the procurement approach to deliver the required works.
The cabinet member commissioning, procurement and assets introduced the report. The assistant director education development and skills summarised the key points:
· The extension would be funded by grant monies from the Department for Education;
· There was a predicted growth in demand for secondary school places in Ross-on-Wye, as the only secondary school in the town John Kyrle High School was the logical choice to provide additional places;
· The extension would allow the school to provide an additional 30 places per year group starting in September 2021;
· It was proposed that the school would manage the build and manage the risk of any overspend, the council would pay grant monies on receipt of invoices to ensure appropriate expenditure;
· The grant was subject to the project obtaining planning permission.
In discussing the report cabinet members highlighted the importance of aiming for the highest environmental standards in buildings supported by the council and hoped that future projects would learn from this extension.
Group leaders expressed support for the proposal in light of housing growth in the area and the high standards at the school. The high environmental specification was welcomed as it was noted schools represented a large part of the councils carbon emissions.
It was agreed that:
(a) Subject to securing planning consent, a grant of £2,300,900 be awarded to John Kyrle High School and Sixth Form to fund an extension to the John Kyrle High School & Sixth Form Centre to enable its permanent expansion from seven forms of entry (210 pupils per year group) to eight forms of entry (240 pupils per year group); and
(b) The grant being made subject to a requirement that the build be designed and completed with the objective of obtaining a BREEAM excellent or Passivhaus certification. £260k of the grant being allocated is specifically for this purpose.