Agenda and minutes

Joint Meeting of Scrutiny Committees
Tuesday 20th January, 2015 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Wallfields, Hertford. View directions

Contact: Peter Mannings  Tel: (01279) 502174 Email:

No. Item


Appointment of Chairman


It was proposed by Councillor J Ranger and seconded by Councillor Mrs D Hollebon that Councillor G Jones be appointed Chairman for the meeting.


RESOLVED – that Councillor G Jones be appointed Chairman for the meeting.



To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies were submitted on behalf of Councillors D Abbott, W Ashley, P Ballam, E Buckmaster, N Symonds and
B Wrangles. 
It was noted that Councillor R Beeching was substituting for Councillor Ballam.


Minutes – 11 February 2014

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on Tuesday 11 February 2014 (Previously circulated as part of the Council Minute book for 19 February 2014).


RESOLVED – that the Minutes of the joint meeting held on 11 February 2014 be confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.


Chairman's Announcements


The Chairman stated that this month, the Local Government Information Unit had sent out a Policy Briefing about the Local Government Finance System and commented on the complexity of it.


Budget Report and Medium Term Financial Plan 2014/15 – 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 789 KB

Additional documents:


The Executive Member for Finance submitted a report which set out proposals in respect of the following:


·                        2014/15 Revised Revenue Estimates

·                        2015/16 Revenue Budget

·                        2015/16 Schedule of charges

·                        2014/15 (Revised) to 2017/18 Capital Programme

·                        the refreshed Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP)

·                        the Council’s Reserves


The joint meeting of Scrutiny Committees was advised that the new format budget report had replaced four separate reports which, in previous years, had discussed the revenue and capital budget proposals.  At a recent training workshop, Members had identified certain changes they wished to see in the budget report, such as clearer and expanded explanations of the figures, identification of the key budget changes, the use of plain English and more use of graphs.  The Director of Finance and Support Services advised that the new format and content was Officers’ response to those requests which, it was hoped, would make the budget proposals easier to understand.


The Director explained that Sections 1 and 2 provided an overview of five “building blocks” forming the Council’s revenue budget and referred to the Medium Term Financial Plan for a summary of the Revenue Budget.  It was noted that there had been earlier reports to both Corporate Business Scrutiny and Audit Committees regarding the council tax base and business rates would go to Council in January and the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy would be going to Audit and Council this month.


The Director stated that Section 3 provided a summary of the key budget proposals and how these supported the Council’s priorities.  A reprint of Chart 2 was tabled for clarity at the meeting.  Section 4 set out the Revised Revenue estimates for 2014/15. 


The Chairman referred to additional staffing changes and concerns which had been expressed about the workload around Building Control and Enforcement, and the temporary arrangements currently in place.  Councillor J Wing referred to Members’ concerns raised at a recent meeting of Corporate Business Scrutiny Committee in relation to adverse performance targets not being met, adding that performance should be at 100%;  instead of the 63% currently being achieved.  Councillor Wing referred to the impact on the environment if Officers were not making timely site visits.  He referred to the income generated by Planning and Building Control and felt that it was crucial that this area be given more resources.  Councillor C Woodward supported a suggestion to increase the level of resources.  Councillor J Ranger agreed that there was a huge amount of work in those areas with additional and increasing numbers of planning applications coming in and the need for more staff.


In response to a query from Councillor R Beeching regarding the New Homes Bonus (NHB) and its apportionment, the Director of Finance and Support Services clarified the funding process and referred Members to the MTFP for more detailed information.  It was noted that 25% was allocated to Towns and Parishes for disbursement on projects.  The Director reminded Members that when the policy had been established, no “strings” had been attached  ...  view the full minutes text for item 479.