Agenda and draft minutes

Joint Meeting of Scrutiny Committees
Wednesday 10th February, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Online meeting - Livestreamed. View directions

Contact: William Troop  Tel: (01279) 502173 Email:

Link: The livestream for this meeting can be viewed here


No. Item


Appointment of Chairman

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It was moved by Councillor Goldspink and seconded by Councillor Hollebon, that Councillor Wyllie be appointed Chairman for the meeting. After being put to the meeting and a vote taken, the motion was declared CARRIED.


RESOLVED – that Councillor Wyllie be appointed Chairman for the meeting.




To receive apologies for absence.

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Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Huggins and Stevenson.



Chairman's Announcements

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The Chairman said that the Local Authorities and Police and Crime Panels (Coronavirus) (Flexibility of Local Authority and Police and Crime Panel Meetings) (England and Wales) Regulations 2020 came into force on Saturday 4 April 2020 to enable councils to hold remote committee meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic period. This was to ensure local authorities could conduct business during this current public health emergency. This Joint Meeting of Scrutiny Committees was being held remotely under these regulations, via the Zoom application and was being recorded and live streamed on YouTube.



Declarations of Interest

To receive any Members’ Declarations of Interest.

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There were no declarations of interest.



Budget 2021/22 and Medium Term Financial Plan 2021-24 pdf icon PDF 382 KB

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The Executive Member for Financial Sustainability briefly introduced the report. He set out a number of difficulties with the budget which had added to existing pressures, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Council’s revenue streams, which had only partly been subsidised by government grants, as well as new rules which prevented borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) for investment in assets ‘primarily for yield’. This meant income from planned additional property acquisitions by Millstream Property Investments Ltd and rents from planned commercial property acquisitions by the Financial Sustainability Committee had to be removed from the budget. As such, additional savings would need to be made elsewhere.


Members were also advised of changes relating to Business Rates. The Council would receive around £2.2m for New Homes Bonus awards next year. The automatic payment of 25% of the grant to town and parish councils would not be made, although they could bid for money subject to conditions, including having spent all of their previous New Homes Bonus awards. The Council would also increase council tax by £5 in 2021/22 and that increase would also be seen in each year of the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).There would also be a 2.5% increase in fees and charges. Whilst this Budget had been challenging, there had been no substantial changes to front line services.


Councillor Goldspink asked when the external auditor would consider the Council’s use of capital receipts. The Head of Strategic Finance and Property said this was likely to happen towards the end of February or the beginning of March, but audit firms were currently under a lot of pressure.


Councillor Brady asked how much the Council borrowed externally each year for the capital projects and whether this had been borrowed from the PWLB. She also asked if this borrowing would continue to be considered legitimate under the new rules.


The Executive Member said that the Council’s external borrowing would amount to just under £22m. The borrowing was to be incurred from 2022/23 onwards and it was envisaged that all of the borrowing would be from the PWLB. These particular capital projects were not considered to be ‘primarily for yield’, so would be unaffected.


Councillor Pope asked when initiatives such as the Fairer Funding Review were likely to take place. He also asked what the provision of bad debts had been increased to for Business Rates, and what impact this would have on the Council’s position. Finally, he asked for clarification in respect of the reference in the report to the sharing system.


The Head of Strategic Finance and Property said the bad debt provision had been increased by just over £1m, and the appeals provision by £3.4m, based on the assumption of a 25% reduction in rateable value due to material change in circumstances appeals for offices, retail, food and beverage and leisure properties. This would result in a forecast deficit of £18m for 2020/21. This loss would be subject to an irrecoverable loss grant  ...  view the full minutes text for item 347.


Urgent Business

To consider such other business as, in the opinion of the Chairman of the meeting, is of sufficient urgency to warrant consideration and is not likely to involve the disclosure of exempt information.

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There was no urgent business.