Contact: Lorraine Bush, Democratic Services Manager Telephone 01205 314224 e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Viven Edge, Martin Howard and Chelcei Trafford.
The Chief Executivereminded Members that, in accordance with the Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, all votes on the council tax and budget setting report would be taken as recorded votes.
QUESTIONS FROM ELECTED MEMBERS
The Chief Executive reported there were questions from Councillors Anne Dorrian and Brian Rush.
Question asked by Councillor Anne Dorrian pursuant to paragraph 10 of the Rules of Procedure as set out in the Constitution.
“You recently reported that you visited the COVID testing stations to say ‘thank you’ to volunteers. Given the current restrictions, isn’t that something which could have been done in writing or by hosting a virtual meeting?”
“Cllr Dorrian,once again you seem confused, I visited the Tollfied Road facility as a customer and thanked them in my brief and via the bulletin.
“I, as Leader of the Council, was invited by the NHS to visit the Vaccination Centre. A number of other Leaders from across the County were also invited to attend their local sites. I took the opportunity to say thank you to those working there on behalf of the Council to show our collective appreciation for their hard work.”
Supplemental question asked by Councillor Dorrian pursuant to paragraph 10.6 of the Rules of Procedure as set out in the Constitution:-
“Thank you for that, Councillor Skinner. I appreciate your answer. Currently we’re under COVID restrictions and, just watching the presentation on TV this evening, we’re still under “Stay At Home, Protect the NHS and Save Lives”. So, my question’s in two parts if you will, Councillor Skinner.
Part A is, local residents have complained to me that people are getting cabin fever and one local resident complained to me that her neighbour leaves home upwards of 12 times a day – what advice would you give that member of our local community?
Part B is that numerous local residents have contacted me, wishing to express their gratitude to Jonathan Van Tam, especially as he seems to have single-handedly painted this town in a very favourable light. Would you commit, Councillor Skinner, to participating in a cross-party working group within our Council so that we could find a way to honour his contribution to the public health of our community and the public health of the UK in general?”
Response by Councillor Paul Skinner
“Thank you, Councillor Dorrian, for your question.
When people are abiding by the restrictions and see other people not complying it’s extremely frustrating and not everybody wants to be the nosy neighbour and dob them in, but obviously you’ve got the opportunity to use 101, or e-mail 101, and that would be the correct route.
As regards JVT, as he’s known in the trade, absolutely fantastic gentleman, an absolute asset to this town and, yes, I would be quite, quite willing to take part in anything to actually honour him because he honours the town every time he stands up.
Thank you very much.”
Question asked by Councillor Brian Rush pursuant to paragraph 10 of the Rules of Procedure as set out in the Constitution.
“Can the residents and ratepayers of Boston Borough Council, be provided with a clear and concise explanation as ... view the full minutes text for item 134.
QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC
The Chief Executive reported there were two questions from members of the public.
Question asked by Mr Darron Abbott pursuant to paragraph 11 of the Rules of Procedure as set out in the Constitution.
“A couple of year ago the Council invested around £20 million pound in property funds. Please could you give the current valuations of these funds and the income received by the council from these funds in the current financial years.”
Response by Councillor Jonathan Noble
“‘Thank you for your question Mr Abbott. I would point out that there is a typographical error in the response provided to Mr. Abbott and the year quoted should be 2020/21 not 2021/22. The current valuation of our Property Funds’ investments is £19,152.000. We budget to receive £977,000 per annum as a return on our Property Funds’ investments and the latest projection for this financial year, 2020-21, is that the return will be £897,000.
The Council has received £2 million in dividends from our property fund investments in the last 4 years.
This information is in the public domain. It is presented to the Audit and Governance Committee. The last meeting of this Committee was on 25th January and details are to be found in the Treasury Management and Capital Strategy.”
Supplemental question asked by Mr. Abbott pursuant to paragraph 11.8 of the Rules of Procedure as set out in the Constitution:-
“I thank Councillor Noble for his answer.
You seem to have misunderstood part of my question. I asked for the investment income for the current financial year which I believe to be 2020/2021 but you have supplied the figure for 2021/22. Please could you let me have this figure as I am sure you will have it at hand considering how easily you answered my supplementary question at cabinet last week .
Now on to my supplementary question. I have concerns about the budget you are laying before the Council this evening you state that for the year 2021/22 you will expect to receive £897,000 but on page 16 of the report does state a return of £977,000 so your budgeted income for next year is already £90,000 short so how can you be confident that next year you can deliver a balanced budget.”
Response by Councilor Noble
“I thank Mr. Abbott for his question. I answered the point in the prequel to the original question, there was a typographical error and the correct date is 2020/21.
I take exception to being accused of lying to Council or to anyone. Looking at appendix 1 financial figures, the projected income for property funds in 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 is the same figure.
Now Mr. Abbott alleges a £90k shortfall, the answer is simple, we have actually exceeded expectations on returns on property funds. The estimate was an under estimate, and performance was better than expected. I have been assured by the Section 151 Officer, who has been in consultation with the Property Fund Managers, that the same will ... view the full minutes text for item 135.
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
No declarations of interest were received.
(To receive the confirmed minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee held on 9 November 2020)
It was moved by Councillor Tom Ashton, seconded by Councillor George Cornah and
(Report by the Monitoring Officer)
Councillor Tom Ashton, Chairman of the Planning Committee, introduced a report on a proposal to amend the Council’s Remote Meetings Protocol and Procedure Rules to introduce public speaking at remote meetings of the Planning Committee and adopt the revised procedures as the Public Speaking Scheme for physical meetings of the Planning Committee when resumed for the purposes of consistency.
The report stated that in response to the Covid-19 pandemic the Government had introduced legislation that permitted local authority meetings to take place by remote means until 7 May 2021.
At the time of introducing remote meetings, concerns had been raised regarding the effective application of public speaking rules at meetings of the Planning Committee. In response, it had been agreed to suspend the public speaking procedures and replace them with the submission of written representations.
Having gained experience and knowledge of operating remote meetings and having had the opportunity to learn from authorities that operated public speaking, the Council was now in a stronger position to effectively implement public speaking at meetings of the Planning Committee. It was therefore proposed to introduce public speaking from 9 March 2021 based on the protocol attached as an appendix to the report.
To provide consistency with public speaking at both remote and physical meetings of the Planning Committee, it was also recommended that the Public Speaking Protocol for physical meetings of the Planning Committee be revised to adopt the procedures as set out in the protocol for remote meetings. The key revisions were:
· Registration for speaking deadline changed from 12 noon on the day before the day of the meeting to 12 noon 2 clear working days before the day of the meeting.
· Speaking time for all categories, with the exception of Ward Member, to be limited to 3 minutes, currently 5 minutes was allowed.
· Ward Member speaking time to be limited to 5 minutes, currently unlimited time was allowed.
· Only one person to speak in each category of objector, supporter, applicant/agent. Should more than one person wish to speak in any of those categories it would be for those persons to agree between themselves who would speak. If this was not possible, the first registered speaker would be allocated the speaking time. The current protocol allowed speaking time to be shared up to the time limit.
· Committee Members would be given the opportunity to ask questions of speakers for a maximum of 10 minutes. Direct questioning of speakers was not currently permitted.
Should unforeseen issues arise or further best practice be identified it was important that public speaking rules were able to be amended in a timely fashion to facilitate the effective operation of the Committee. In those circumstances it was considered appropriate and was recommended that the Council delegated to the Assistant Director of Planning, in consultation with the Chairman of the Planning Committee and Portfolio Holder for Planning, the power to amend public speaking rules for remote and physical Planning Committee meetings.
It was moved by Councillor Tom Ashton and ... view the full minutes text for item 138.
Council Tax and Budget Setting, Medium Term Financial Strategy(Report by the Chief Finance Officer)
FINAL COUNCIL TAX RESOLUTIONS TO FOLLOW
At the time of publication of this agenda the major preceptorshad not met to agree their budgets.
A copy of the report to be considered by Cabinet on 24 February is attached.
Councillor Jonathan Noble introduced a report by the Chief Finance Officer which outlined the 2021/2022 revenue and capital position for the General Fund and proposals for the setting of discretionary fees and charges.
The Local Government Act 2003 introduced a requirement for the Chief Financial Officer to report on the robustness of the budget. The estimates had been prepared in a prudent manner, although it was highlighted that there were a number of elements outside of the Council’s control. These had been identified within the report and would be mitigated through the budget monitoring and risk management processes of the Council.
The proposed budget showed a balanced position for 2021/22 followed by the need to make approximately £500K of savings in future years in order to maintain a balanced budget position without drawing down on reserves.
The capital programme totalled £4.8m over 5 years which remained affordable and sustainable over that period.
The budget assumed an increase in the Council Tax of £4.95 (2.57%) for 2021/22 and 2% per annum thereafter. This was in line with current known referendum limits of £5 or 2% whichever was the greater. The proposed increase allowed for £36k growth for implementation of the Living Wage Foundation and £60k for Internal Drainage Board Levy increases to be absorbed. There was also a £100k provision for potential sales and fees income shortfalls, following additional risks to income collection levels.
For future years it was expected that the predicted deficit would be approximately £500k per annum. This had been reduced by around £200k per annum following the Council’s decision to enter into a shared arrangement for back office functions with PSPSL. It was expected that the required savings could at least partially be offset by further Strategic Alliance savings, and other service reviews that would be undertaken during the following year.
It was noted that the Council was expected to hold around £13m in reserves at the end of 2021/22.
When introducing the report, the Portfolio Holder referred to the funds received from central government to compensate for losses incurred as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. A prudent approach had been adopted to recognise reductions in funding from government in future years and the proposal under consideration was a balanced recovery budget.
The draft budget had been published on the Council’s website for consultation with all stakeholders, including the local business community and responses were set out in Appendix 9 of the report. In addition Members had been consulted through various forums including the Corporate and Community Committee, and Audit and Governance Committee on the governance aspects of the budget preparation and comments were set out in Appendices 10 and 11 respectively.
Cabinet had considered the report at its meeting on 24 February and recommended the budget and medium term financial strategy 2021/22 to 2025/26 to Council for approval.
It was moved by Councillor Jonathan Noble and seconded by Councillor Paul Skinner