Agenda and draft minutes

Financial Sustainability Committee
Tuesday 4th August, 2020 7.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Virtual Meeting. View directions

Contact: Lorraine Blackburn  Tel: (01279) 502174 Email:  peter.mannings@eastherts.gov.uk

Link: The livestream for this meeting can be viewed here

Items
No. Item

112.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted from Councillors Devonshire and Drake.

 

113.

Chairman's Announcements

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed new Members, Councillors Huggins and (in absentia) Councillor Drake to the Committee.

 

For the benefit of Members, the Chairman referred to the protocols for virtual meetings and reminded Members that the meeting was being live streamed. 

 

114.

Minutes - 16 October 2019 pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2019 were submitted. The Chairman referred to two typographical errors:

 

·       Page 8 paragraph 4 –that the number “173” be inserted and “xxx” be deleted.

 

·       Page 11 paragraph 4 – deletion of the word “Davidson” and insertion of the word “Devonshire”.

 

It was moved by Councillor Goldspink and seconded by Councillor Alder that the Minutes of the meeting, as amended, be agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

(Councillor A Huggins abstained from voting)

 

RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the meeting held on 16 October 2019 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

115.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any Members' declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

116.

Investment Parameters pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Minutes:

The Corporate Property Services Manager submitted a report on the guidance parameters for Officers when looking at investment opportunities.  He said the current parameters for the acquisition of commercial property were set out in the report listed as criteria “a – m” with the exceptions to the criteria listed from “n - p”.  These were established by Members last year and were submitted for Members’ consideration and review and in order to reflect the changing economic environment.

 

Criteria:

 

a.    20 mile radius. 

 

Councillor Huggins expressed his concerns that this radius did not include the development of the Cambridge Corridor which the Council supported.   The Chairman commented that the idea around the 20 mile radius was to keep investments reasonably local.   Councillor Ward-Booth supported Councillor Huggins’ viewpoint suggesting that the radius be removed and replaced with “reasonable distance”. 

 

The Head of Strategic Finance and Property explained that one or two authorities had invested more than was on their balance sheet  on investments located far away and how this had impacted on their borrowing ability with the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB).  He suggested that a 20 mile radius was a sensible approach and could be better argued when borrowing, to invest in the local economic area.  Councillor Huggins suggested that this be increased to a 25 mile radius which included the city of Cambridge or that this might be restricted to a journey time along a trunk road.

 

Councillor Stowe made the point that yields were important but not the only issue.  Councillor Goldspink suggested a radius of 30 miles as a compromise as that would be within reasonable distance of East Herts. 

 

The Chairman added that the approach could be in terms of investing in enterprise areas within a 20 mile radius but that investments within a further five miles would not be excluded for consideration. 

 

Councillor Alder reminded Members that this issue had been given a lot of consideration at the outset and to introduce a number of variables would be too confusing to Officers.  She said that the Council needed to support residents where they could and that a 30 mile radius was too far, adding that leaving things vague was also not a good idea.  Councillor Redfern felt that a 25 mile radius was the best outcome and that this would include places in Cambridge and would not be “limitless”. 

 

The Chairman concluded that Members were in favour of an increase to a 25 mile radius.  This was supported. 

 

b.    Yield. 

 

The Corporate Property Services Manager  summarised the basis of the yield target which had originally been set at 4%. 

 

The Head of Strategic Finance and Property explained that he would be making a presentation to Members regarding the Council’s position in terms of its capital reserves.  He said that the Council had always been in a good position in terms of its capital but that its capital programme had exceeded £122M and the Council would need to borrow in the future.  He said that the Council  ...  view the full minutes text for item 116.

117.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

Minutes:

 

Councillor Alder moved, and Councillor Stowe seconded, a motion that the press and public be excluded from the meeting for Minute xxx – Market Update on the grounds that the matter contained exempt information as defined by paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.  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 xxx on the grounds that it would be likely to involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the said Act (information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person, including the authority holding that information).

 

 

118.

Market Update

A report will be presented by the Corporate Property Services Manager

Minutes:

The Corporate Property Services Manager provided Members with a presentation on the current market investment opportunities to the Council.  The presentation contained commercially sensitive information on a number of local schemes in terms of yields, asset reviews and development appraisals, multipliers and income which could be generated.  Having debated the projects at length, Members agreed that the two projects debated should be explored as a next step.

 

It was moved by Councillor Ward-Booth and seconded by Councillor Alder that the two properties discussed be explored as a next step.   After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion was declared CARRIED.

 

RESOLVED – that the Corporate Property Services Manager be requested to investigate the investment potential of  the two businesses identified and report back to Members.