Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Samantha Walmsley, Democratic Services Officer 

Link: Watch this meeting live on the Herefordshire Council Youtube Channel

No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies were received from Councillor Carole Gandy, Nick Mason, Louis Stark and Pauline Crockett.



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.


None declared.  Subsequently confirmed that Cllr Hurcomb had none (he was absent from the room during this item). 



MINUTES pdf icon PDF 592 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 5 and 26 October 2023. 


The minutes are to follow.

Additional documents:


Resolved:      That the minutes of the meeting held on 5 and 26 October were approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairperson.





Questions from members of the public pdf icon PDF 271 KB

To receive questions from members of the public.


Additional documents:


Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 1 to the minutes.


Questions from councillors pdf icon PDF 167 KB

To receive questions from councillors.


Additional documents:


Questions received and responses given are attached as appendix 2 to the minutes.


Reports from Scrutiny Committees pdf icon PDF 219 KB

To receive reports from the Council’s scrutiny committees on any recommendations to the Cabinet arising from recent scrutiny committee meetings.


Reports from Connected Communities Scrutiny Committee:

a)     Local Transport Plan

b)     Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan



Additional documents:



The chairperson of the Connected Communities Scrutiny Committee (CCSC) summarised the recommendations that took place on 8 November 2023 regarding the Local Transport Plan and Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan.  The committee noted background papers were required for scrutiny to be achieved.  Also that public consultations should take place with members of the public and key stakeholders. 


The Leader thanked the committee for their work in forming the recommendations. 


It was unanimously agreed that the recommendations on the Local Transport Plan report and Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan report made by the Connected Communities Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 8 November 2023 be noted, and that an Executive Response to the scrutiny recommendations be prepared for consideration by Cabinet in 2 months. 


Noted the Scrutiny Management Board met on 22 November 2023 regarding the Delivery Plan and its recommendations would be considered under that item on the agenda.  



Report to identify options to deliver registered residential children home provision in county for children and young people aged 11-18 pdf icon PDF 285 KB

To agree the option to commission a single Supplier, through a competitive tender exercise, to deliver two, two bedded children’s residential homes within Herefordshire to increase local sufficiency in line with Herefordshire Council’s Placement Sufficiency Strategy for Children and Young people.


Additional documents:


The Cabinet member for Children and Young People introduced the report and highlighted that the sufficiency strategy 2023-2028 sets out the current challenge in delivering sufficiency of placement types within the County.  As part of this work the Council are building relationships with providers to facilitate greater availability in a local capacity, developing the fostering service and reducing the number of children in care.  Noted that in due course Cabinet will consider whether Herefordshire Council will re-enter the residential market. 


The report acknowledged that residential care will be required for a number of children at any point in time and will look to procure four beds across two sites for children aged 11 to 18 years old.  The report recognises that occupancy rates and matching is complex, which is why two by two bedroom units was considered the most viable option. 


Cabinet Members discussed the report and it was noted that:


Unassisted asylum seeking children go straight into Herefordshire Council’s care.

The time line for Herefordshire Council to prepare a report in respect of developing its own in house residential care facility is estimated at around 6 months.


With regards to increasing the scale of the provision proposed it was confirmed that this can be increased if the 80% capacity is being exceeded.   


It was confirmed that it is down to each Local Authority area and what sufficiency placement strategies are in place in respect of re-entering the residential care market.  Whilst there has been a Government report commissioned to review children’s social care, conducted by Josh McAllister published in May 2022, there has been no detail around the Government’s response to the recommendations.  However, a revised working together document is due to be published. 


Group leaders generally welcomed the report. It was noted that whilst it is an expensive provision it is a necessary one for young people in the County. Queried why the Council are not using existing placement locations.  It was raised whether the Council will be commissioning private providers and requested that consideration is given to the location in respect of providing stability of placements.


In response to the queries it was confirmed that the Council will be commissioning private providers. 


It was unanimously resolved that:


a)     Approve the commissioning of two, two bedroomed children`s residential homes within Herefordshire, through a procurement exercise up the maximum projected value of £1.3 million annually and £6.3million over a maximum of five years (3yrs with potential extension of 1 year + 1 year) which will provide local placements to four children aged 11-18);


b)     Delegate authority to the Corporate Director - Children and Young People to approve all tender documentation;


c)     Delegate authority to the Corporate Director – Children and Young People, in consultation with the Cabinet Member Children and Young People, to enter into a contract with the preferred Supplier following the tender exercise;


d)     Following Political Group Consultation, approve officers to undertake work to also consider the option to develop an in house provision to further increase  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.


Q2 Budget Report pdf icon PDF 335 KB

To report the forecast position for 2023/24, including explanation and analysis of the drivers for the material budget variances, and outline current and planned recovery activity to reduce the forecast overspend.


To provide assurance that progress has been made towards delivery of the agreed revenue budget and service delivery targets, and that the reasons for major variances are understood and are being addressed to the cabinet’s satisfaction.


Additional documents:


The Cabinet member for finance and corporate services introduced the report, the principal points were raised.


The Q2 report forecasts an overspend of £13.8m, which is an increase of £0.3m from the £13.5m forecast at Q1. The overspend represents a variance of 7% with the most significant forecasted overspend being in Children and Young People of £11.8m.  


As part of the proactive measures to address the current year overspend, each Directorate will implement additional expenditure controls to support existing recovery activity in 2023/24 and these controls will continue, as required in 2024/35. These measures are expected to reduce the forecast overspend down to £10.5m. 


Council previously approved a total of £14.1 million Directorate Savings for 2023/24.  A review of the 2023/24 approved savings has been undertaken  and confirmed that £7.3m of savings forecast will be delivered this year and £6.8m of the total target is at risk of delivery at Quarter 2.


The key variances in excess of £250k at Q2 are £1.6m within Community and Wellbeing in regards to Physical Support due to both cost and demand pressures in residential care, cost pressures in nursing care and demand pressures in homecare. In respect to Children and Young People there is a £4.5m overspend, £3m overspend in respect to Agency staff and £2m overspend representing additional demand in SEN transport. Within Economy and Environment a £1.3m reduced income for Development Planning and Building Control. Lastly, within Corporate Services a £1.2m overspend in the PMO arising due to staffing cost pressures.


The 2023/24 approved Capital Budget of £140.3m has been revised down to £89.7m. 


Confirmed that despite these significant challenges Herefordshire Council’s financial position remains very stable. 


Cabinet members discussed the report and it was clarified that that the key variance of £1.3m for Development Planning and Building Control, was partly due to deferment of fee uplift by the Government, which is now coming to an end and the national downturn in development and housing. Clarified that this is reduced income, not overspend.  Also, there is the issue of phosphates and the River Lugg which is impacting on delivery of houses. 


Group leaders gave the views of their groups.  Concerns were expressed regarding figures and if these were achievably.  Clarification for Children’s and Young people was requested in respect of the projected underspend in improvement. Further detail was requested regarding the savings at risk and the effect of those savings on delivery of services and how those savings have been made.  The involvement of the Scrutiny Management Board was welcomed but noted there have been timing difficulties.  In respect of Corporate Services, notably Thrive, concern was expressed regarding the £1m overspend and clarification sought regarding the original budget. Further detail was requested regarding the £1.2m overspend in the Project Management Office.  It was expressed that the Council needs to become a more efficient value for money authority without impacting members of the public too severely. 


In response to queries it was noted that;

The Planned savings in Children’s were at risk  ...  view the full minutes text for item 55.


Delivery Plan 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 238 KB

To approve the proposals for the Delivery Plan for 2023/24.  Each year Cabinet is required to produce a delivery plan which sets out how the strategic ambitions for the year will be achieved.


Additional documents:


The Cabinet member for finance and corporate services introduced the report, the principal points were raised.


The Delivery Plan for 2023/24 identifies the key programmes of work that the administration will progress during 2023-24 under the three ambitions of the current County Plan: Economy, Community and Environment. This delivery plan includes the continuation of some key deliverables of note which include:

·        Improvement of Children’s Services

·        River Quality – securing a partnership approach to achieve river restoration

·        Waste Strategy – moving further up the waste hierarchy

·        Development of a new library and museum

·        Deliver the Hereford Transport Strategy and City Centre Masterplan

·        Employment land – develop put first phase of employment sites

·        Investment in Infrastructure.


This Delivery Plan will form the basis of performance reporting into the Corporate Leadership Team on a monthly basis and to the Cabinet quarterly, alongside financial and risk reporting.


The new County Plan for the next four year period is in development and will reflect the aims and ambitions of the Council. It will focus on improving the county’s infrastructure, protecting the environment and putting the needs of residents first.


Scrutiny Management Board has recommended that:

The format the Delivery Plan is amended so that it is easier to identify specific items.

That a closure report for the County Plan and this year’s Delivery Plan is includes what has been achieved be produced.

That the timeline for the County Plan 2024-28 and the Delivery Plan for 2024/25 is realigned to full council on 8 March 2024.


Cabinet members discussed the report and it was noted that:

Following Scrutiny Management Board it highlighted that further detail was needed.  It was clarified that a closure report will be produced on the County Plan with specifics addressed in the Delivery Plan.  


Feedback from the Scrutiny Management Board on the Delivery Plan was presented by the Chairperson;

Noted that the improvement comments would be taken on board for the County Plan alongside the metrics and key performance indicators for the first year. 


Noting that Cabinet are accepting there is a working group to work in parallel with the development of the County Plan.


Acknowledged that a closure report for the four year County Plan will be produced and this will make it clearer as to what has been achieved and what isn’t being pursed. 


Group leaders gave the views of their groups.  The closure report was welcomed to feed into the County Plan but highlighted the need to show the connections between the previous County Plan and the Delivery Plan.   Queried when the performance report for Quarter 2 (appendix E) will be available.  Concerns were raised regarding the ongoing issues in Children’s and Young People and how this will ever be resolved.  Concerns were also raised regarding the structure of the Council and suggested the management structure should be reviewed. 


In response to queries it was noted that:

The performance report will be coming to Cabinet as a separate report.  


In respect of delivering outcomes for Children’s and Young People,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.


Capital Programme Review and Update pdf icon PDF 223 KB

To recommend to Council for approval the revised cabinet proposals for the proposed capital investment budget for 2023/24 onwards.


Additional documents:


The Cabinet member for finance and corporate services introduced the report, the principal points were raised.


The report is to revise proposals for in year changes to the approved Capital programme.  Which include £2m for a community grants scheme to support investment in Talk Community hubs.  This will be funded by reducing the £12.3m previously proposed for the Southern Link Road by £2m to £10.3m.  Noted that Appendix A had been updated to reflect the revised changes and Appendix C included the amendments to be recommended to Council.  Confirmed that outline Strategic business cases for each of these items will be provided prior to Council on 8 December 2023.


There were no comments from Cabinet members. 


Group leaders gave the views of their groups. The allocation of funds for community groups to bid for capital funding was welcomed and similar approach was requested for the Retrofit Hub.  Concerns were raised regarding the lack of business case in support of the figures in the Capital Programme and more detail was required.  Clarification was sought regarding why projects were removed from the Capital Programme in the first place and whether the Eastern route was still being considered.


In response to queries it was noted that:

The consultant’s report regarding Eastern River Crossing has shown it is more expensive than anticipated. It will be progressed, along with the Southern Link Road, to establish if there is a business case for it. 


In respect of the community grants it was important that the initiative was reviewed, and the funding for the scheme was withdrawn from the Capital Programme because the review hadn’t been carried out.  However, it became clear that there was a requirement for communities to be supported with capital initiatives and this provided greater clarity for how community groups could bid for funding.  


In response to business cases it was confirmed that the strategic outline business case will have meaningful information to enable Council members to vote. 


It was unanimously resolved that;


a)     To approve the revised capital programme for 2023/24 attached at appendix C