Agenda and minutes

Venue: Herefordshire Council Offices, Plough Lane, Hereford, HR4 0LE

Contact: Matthew Evans, Democratic Services 

Link: Watch this meeting on the Herefordshire Council YouTube Channel

Items
No. Item

37.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Clare Davies, Liz Harvey and Diana Toynbee.

38.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

To receive any declarations of interest by Members in respect of items on the Agenda.

Minutes:

Cllr Phillips declared:

 

i)    An interest in agenda item no. 10 – 2024/25 Budget Setting - as chairman of the Rural Services Network.

 

ii)   An interest in agenda items no. 11 – Pay Policy Statement – as the vice chairman of the National Joint Council (NJC) – local government, Chief Executives and Chief Officers.

 

Cllr David Hitchiner declared an interest in agenda item no. 9, 2024/25 Capital Investment Budget and Capital Strategy Update, as a local resident to the proposed Southern Link Road.

 

39.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To approve and sign the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2023.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2023 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

40.

CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE'S ANNOUNCEMENTS pdf icon PDF 452 KB

To receive the Chairman’s and Chief Executive’s announcements.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council noted the Chairman’s and Chief Executive’s announcements as printed in the agenda papers.

41.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC pdf icon PDF 207 KB

To receive questions from members of the public.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A copy of the public questions and written answers, together with supplementary questions asked at the meeting and their answers,   is attached to the Minutes at Appendix 1.

42.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE COUNCIL pdf icon PDF 224 KB

To receive any written questions from members of the Council.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A copy of the Member questions and written answers, together with supplementary questions asked at the meeting and their answers, is attached to the Minutes at Appendix 2.

43.

COUNCIL TAX PREMIUMS ON SECOND HOMES AND EMPTY PROPERTIES pdf icon PDF 237 KB

To confirm the council’s policy on the levying of empty homes and second homes Council Tax Premiums

Minutes:

Council considered a report by the Cabinet Member Finance and Corporate Services to confirm the council’s policy on the levying of empty homes and second homes Council Tax Premiums.

 

The Cabinet Member Finance and Corporate Services proposed the recommendations and introduced the report.

 

The Leader seconded the recommendations for approval.

 

Council debated the report.

 

A named vote was held to agree the proposed changes to Council Tax liabilities set out in the report. The proposed changes were carried unanimously.

 

FOR (48): Councillors Andrews, Baker, Bartlett, Bartrum, Biggs, Boulter, Bramer, Chowns, Cole, Cornthwaite, Crockett, Dave Davies, Durkin, Dykes, Fagan, Foxton, Gandy, Gennard, Hamblin, Heathfield, Highfield, Hitchiner, Hurcomb, James, Kenyon, Lester, Mason, Matthews, O’Driscoll, Oliver, Owens, Peberdy, Phillips, Dan Powell, Ivan Powell, Price, Proctor, Simmons, Spencer, Stark, Stoddart, Stone, Swinglehurst, Thomas, Tillett, Allan Williams, Robert Williams, and Woodall.

 

Against (0)

 

Abstentions (0)

 

RESOLVED: That

 

a)    That implementation of the following be approved:

              I.        application of the current premium of 100% for all dwellings which are unoccupied but substantially unfurnished (empty dwellings) from a period of 1 year with effect from 1 April 2024;

            II.        application of a premium of 100% for all dwellings which are unoccupied but substantially furnished (second homes) with effect from 1 April 2025; and

           III.        that the S151 Officer has delegated authority to implement the policy in line with the council’s requirements and guidance issued by the Secretary of State or regulation.

 

 

 

 

 

44.

2024/25 COUNCIL TAX REDUCTION SCHEME pdf icon PDF 215 KB

To approve the 2024/25 local Council Tax Reduction (CTR) scheme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report by the Cabinet Member Finance and Corporate Services to agree the council tax reduction scheme for 2024/25.

 

The Cabinet Member Finance and Corporate Services proposed the council tax reduction scheme for 2024/25 and introduced the report.

 

The Leader seconded the council tax reduction scheme for 2024/25 for approval.

 

Council debated the report.

 

A named vote was held to agree the council tax reduction scheme set out in the report. The scheme was carried unanimously.

 

FOR (48): Councillors Andrews, Baker, Bartlett, Bartrum, Biggs, Boulter, Bramer, Chowns, Cole, Cornthwaite, Crockett, Dave Davies, Durkin, Dykes, Fagan, Foxton, Gandy, Gennard, Hamblin, Heathfield, Highfield, Hitchiner, Hurcomb, James, Kenyon, Lester, Mason, Matthews, O’Driscoll, Oliver, Owens, Peberdy, Phillips, Dan Powell, Ivan Powell, Price, Proctor, Simmons, Spencer, Stark, Stoddart, Stone, Swinglehurst, Thomas, Tillett, Allan Williams, Robert Williams, and Woodall.

 

Against (0)

 

Abstentions (0)

 

RESOLVED: That

a)    The Council Tax Reduction Scheme for 2024/25, with the same parameters as the existing scheme, be approved.

 

 

 

 

 

45.

2024/25 CAPITAL INVESTMENT BUDGET AND CAPITAL STRATEGY UPDATE pdf icon PDF 486 KB

To approve the revised capital investment budget and capital strategy for 2024/25 onwards.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report by the Cabinet Member Finance and Corporate Services to approve the 2024/25 capital investment budget and capital strategy update.

 

The Cabinet Member Finance and, Corporate Services moved the report and proposed the recommendations.

 

The Leader seconded the report and the recommendations.

 

Council debated the report.

 

The 2024/25 capital investment budget and capital strategy update was put to the recorded vote and carried by a simple majority.

 

FOR (39): Councillors Andrews, Baker, Bartrum, Biggs, Boulter, Bramer, Cole, Cornthwaite, Crockett, Dave Davies, Durkin, Dykes, Fagan, Foxton, Gandy, Hamblin, Highfield, Hitchiner, Hurcomb, James, Kenyon, Lester, Mason, Matthews, O’Driscoll, Owens, Phillips, Dan Powell, Ivan Powell, Price, Proctor, Stark, Stoddart, Stone, Swinglehurst, Thomas, Tillett, Allan Williams and Robert Williams.

 

Against (5): Bartlett, Chowns, Heathfield, Spencer and Woodall.

 

Abstentions (4): Gennard, Oliver, Peberdy and Simmons.

 

RESOLVED: That

 

Council:

1.        Approve the revised capital programme for 2024/25 attached at appendix C; and

2.        Approve the capital strategy at appendix D.

 

There was an adjournment at 11:12 a.m.; the meeting recommenced at 11:29 a.m.

 

Councillors Carwardine and Engel joined the meeting at 11:29 a.m.

46.

2024/25 BUDGET SETTING pdf icon PDF 382 KB

To approve the 2024/25 budget and associated Medium Term Financial Strategy and Treasury Management Strategy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report from the Leader to set the 2024/25 budget. Council noted the following supplements published following the despatch of the agenda:

 

·         Budget Council meeting procedure 2024 published on 2 February; and

·         Budget amendments 2024/25 published on 8 February.

 

The Cabinet Member Finance and Corporate Services introduced the report and moved the budget.

 

The Leader seconded the report and the budget.

 

Councillor Terry James, as Group Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group spoke on the budget.

 

Councillor Ellie Chowns, as Group Leader of The Green Party Group spoke on the budget.

 

Councillor David Hitchiner, on behalf of the Group Leader of the Independents for Herefordshire Group spoke on the budget.

 

Councillor Bob Matthews, as Group Leader of the True Independents Group spoke on the budget.

 

Council debated the budget recommended by the Cabinet.

 

Amendment – Proposed by Councillor Toni Fagan and seconded by Councillor David Hitchiner

 

To retain proposed SEN Transport savings (£200,000), but to remove savings in Children’s Directorate budget of £2,303,000 in service areas where no targeted savings have yet been delivered:

 

Saving Category

Ref

Name of proposal

Description

Saving

£’000

Reduce

S1

Reduce Children’s High-Cost placements

Current activity to step down higher cost placements and reunite some families

959

Reduce

S2

Reduction in Social Worker establishment

Achieving a reduction of 14 social workers posts by 31 March 2025 based on the assumption of reduced demand

338

Transform

S3

Reduce numbers of agency social workers

Convert 20 posts from agency to permanent by end of June 2024 (Q1) to realise 3/4yr effect

1,006

 

 

The balancing figure to be provided, for one year only, from the funds held in the following earmarked reserves:

 

·         Care Market Costs: £959,000

·         Financial Resilience Reserve:  £1,344,000

Any savings that actually get delivered during 2024-25 by the Directorate be required to be used to repay these reserves – and that these repayments are reported publicly in the Quarterly Performance Reports produced by the administration during the year.

 

This amendment is proposed to give Council and the public greater assurance of the setting of a balanced budget for 2024-25. It follows track record and evidence from two consecutive years of significant overspends in the Children’s Directorate (£6m in 2022-23 and (Q2) £13.8m 2023-24). It also is informed by there being no track record and no evidence of delivery during 2023-24 of the Directorate’s £4.5m of agreed savings in Looked After Children care costs and in reduced agency and staff costs – the exact same service areas proposed to deliver immediate, front-loaded savings in 2024-25.

 

Councillor Fagan proposed the amendment.

 

Councillor Hitchiner seconded the amendment.

 

Council debated the amendment.

 

The Cabinet Member Finance and Corporate Services, as the mover of the original motion, spoke before the vote on the amendment.

 

The amendment was put to the recorded vote and was carried by a simple majority.

 

FOR (26): Councillors Andrews, Bartlett, Bartrum, Boulter, Carwardine, Chowns,, Crockett, Dykes, Engel, Fagan, Foxton, Gennard, Heathfield, Hitchiner, James, O’Driscoll, Oliver, Owens, Peberdy, Dan Powell, Proctor, Simmons, Spencer, Stark, Tillett and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 46.

47.

PAY POLICY STATEMENT pdf icon PDF 221 KB

To approve the pay policy statement 2024-2025 for publication.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered a report by the Chairperson of the Employment Panel to approve the pay policy statement for 2024 – 2025.

 

The report and recommendation was moved by the Leader (as chairperson of the employment panel) and seconded by Councillor Ellie Chowns (as vice-chairperson of the employment panel).

 

The pay policy statement was put to the vote and carried unanimously.

 

RESOLVED – That:

 

(a)  the pay policy statement at appendix A is approved for publication.