Venue: Council Chamber, Wallfields, Hertford. View directions
Appointment of Chairman
To appoint a Chairman for the meeting.
It was moved by Councillor K Crofton and seconded by Councillor B Deering that Councillor M Pope be appointed Chairman for the meeting. After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion was declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED – that Councillor M Pope be appointed Chairman of the meeting.
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors M Allen, P Boylan, S Cousins, Mrs D Hollebon, P Moore and M Stevenson.
To approve as a correct record, the Minutes of the Joint meeting of Scrutiny Committees held on 14 February 2017
It was moved by Councillor J Wyllie and seconded by Councillor B Deering, that the Minutes of the joint meeting held on 14 February 2017 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman. After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion was declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the joint meeting held on 14 February 2017 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
The Chairman drew Members’ attention to general housekeeping requirements in respect of the fire alarm, unisex toilet and the need to silence all mobile devices for the duration of the meeting. The Chairman also reminded Members of the need to move and second recommendations, other than those for noting.
Declarations of Interest
To receive any Members’ Declarations of Interest and Party Whip arrangements
Although not a pecuniary interest, Councillor J Wyllie declared an interest in Minute 279 - Old River Lane by virtue of the fact that he was a Member of Bishop’s Stortford Town Council, the Rhodes Trust and the Old River Lane Theatre Steering Group. Councillors D Abbott, N Symonds, T Page, G Cutting and H Drake also declared non-pecuniary interests in Minute 279 - Old River Lane by virtue of the fact that they were Members of Bishop’s Stortford Town Council and the Rhodes Trust.
The Head of Strategic Finance and Property submitted a report on the Medium Term Financial Plan, Budget Report and Service Plans 2019/20. The Head provided a summary of the report which aimed to ensure that the budget was robust and able to deliver and sustain the Medium Term Financial Plan and changes in resource allocation.
Members were provided with clarification from Officers on a number of issues, including in summary:
· the pension fund – and the fact that the Council continued to make contributions until further actuarial advice was provided;
· Council tax increase – that the increase of 3.1% in Council Tax would provide additional income of approximately £80k;
· the Budget Gap – and the approach to be taken covering the period up to 2022/23 including additional salary pressures caused by NJC changes and spinal point alignments;
· capping the cost of services for 2019/20 at £14.3M and how this would impact on services;
· how the New Homes Bonus could be used to support projects such as the Old River Lane project;
· the robustness of projected savings detailed (at Table 8). Assurances were provided that these were very solid;
· the increase in Fees and Charges (Table10) and its impact on surplus cash;
· budget components and the measures taken to mitigate costs;
· the level of earmarked reserves contributions and whether any additional funding was being added other than 25% from the New Homes Bonus monies. Assurances were provided that the Council’s level of reserves were at a comfortable level and would not be used inappropriately;
· the rolling programme used on ICT projects was queried and assurances were provided that £450K was an appropriate level in terms of investing in a state of the art ICT System. The new IT Shared Service Manager would review systems and report back to Members;
· how the new “Clarity Planning” system provided better monitoring of budgets and targets;
· support for the ongoing expansion of Launch Pad into Ware and Hertford;
· the exclusion of Fanshawe Pool from the capital leisure strategy investment. The Head of Strategic Finance and Property agreed to respond to Members with further information;
· confirmation that the income was predicated on investment in capital schemes;
· clarification of the £50K capital investment in The Wash, Hertford. The Head of Strategic Finance and Property agreed to respond to Members with further information;
· the Walkern Windfall and how this would be spent. This was included in the Capital Receipt Reserves. The Head of Strategic Finance and Property agreed to respond to Members with further information;
· the Chairman queried whether the 10 day target to process housing benefit new claims and was advised that 10 days to process was a reasonable target (depending on the level of activity) but that efforts would always be made to exceed this;
· incentives in relation to E-Taxis and aims to lower emissions;
· the Masterplanning process and the need to encourage developers to build more affordable housing. Members noted that the adoption of the District Plan would provide a range of policies to address ... view the full minutes text for item 277.
Exclusion of the press and public
To move that under Section 100 (A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting during the discussion of item 8 on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Par 1 of Schedule 12A of the Said Act of the following description.
Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information)
Councillor J Wyllie moved and Councillor M Casey seconded a motion that, under section 100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during the discussion of Minute 279 – Old River Lane, Bishop’s Stortford on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act. After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion was declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED – that under Section 100 (A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting during the discussion of Minute 279 (Old River Lane, Bishop’s Stortford) on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act.
Note – Essential Reference Papers, C and D are enclosed for Members only as they contain exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972. In considering these matters, the meeting may exclude the press and public as detailed at item 7.
The Chief Executive provided Members with a summary timeline of decisions taken regarding the Old River Lane development site and an update on the progress made so far. The Chief Executive explained that Essential Reference Paper “B” referred to an increase in the level of capital investment needed of £28M (from an initial estimate of £20-£25M) which could go up or down depending on the final scheme.
Members debated the report at length and raised a number of queries in relation to:
· capital funding and revenue costs, loan requirements, financing costs, potential funding partners and the impact on the Medium Term Financial Plan (future years); and
· land assembly requirements.
The Old River Lane Draft Heads of Terms (HoT) was debated at length when a number of Members expressed a range of concerns in terms of its content, legal standing and enforceability. Mr Hewines (Montagu Evans) explained that the HoTs would eventually be novated into the final Development Agreement. He provided assurances on a number of points therein and explained that the Development Agreement (DA) was the key document and that this document would be legally binding.
The Chief Executive explained that a final report would be presented to the Executive and then to Council for decision on 5 March 2019. The Chief Executive undertook to provide Members with an email confirming that the Heads of Terms were not legally binding but that the content was important as this would form the basis of the Development Agreement.
Councillor J Jones sought and was provided with an update in terms of the current Judicial Review and its impact on the Old River Lane proposals.
The ORL Project Manager explained the use of Building Information Management technology to explore and control costs.
In response to a suggestion that Members be given sight of the contract before it was signed, the Chief Executive undertook to provide Members with a formal briefing early next year which would review the content of the Heads of Terms and the Development Agreement. This was supported.
Members supported the recommendations now detailed and that their comments detailed above, be referred to the Executive. It was moved by Councillor B Deering and seconded by Councillor I Devonshire that the recommendations, as detailed, be approved. After being put the meeting and a vote taken, the recommendations were declared CARRIED.
RESOLVED – that the Executive be advised that (A) Members noted the update on the competitive dialogue procurement current underway for a development partner at Old River Lane;
(B) the latest brief for the Arts and Entertainment Centre, Section 3, (Essential Reference Paper “B”), the estimated budget for the centre and the likely funding partners be noted;
(C) the draft Heads of Terms for the Development Agreement on the ORL main Site (Exempt Essential Reference Paper “C”) be noted and Members concerns be forwarded to the Executive;
(D) the final Business Case for the Multi-Storey Car Park and adjoining residential/commercial units at Northgate End (Exempt Essential Reference Paper “D”) known as “Northgate ... view the full minutes text for item 279.