Agenda item

2020-21 EVENTS PROGRAMME UPDATE

(An item presented by the Chairman, Councillor Paul Goodale)

Minutes:

[The Members who were also Cabinet Members made declarations as follows.  Councillor Martin Griggs declared that he had attended the Cabinet meeting of 23rd October, but had taken no part in discussion of BTAC’s recommendation on the Events Programme.  Councillor Yvonne Stevens declared that, as she had not attended the BTAC meeting at which the recommendation had been agreed, she had taken part in Cabinet’s consideration of it and, therefore, she would abstain in this matter.]

 

The Chairman presented a report which provided an update on the outcomes of BTAC’s recommendation to the 23rd October Cabinet Meeting, when it considered the planning programme of events for the 2020/21 financial year, with an increased budget of £27,000 to support the delivery.

 

The Chairman advised BTAC that he had attended the meeting to address Cabinet when it was decided that the request for approval of an additional £27,000 expenditure for the 2020/21 events programme be deferred until the next meeting of the Cabinet, for a detailed report on the proposed events and associated expenditure to be considered. 

 

The Chairman commented that he had no more detail than BTAC had and did not know what information was wanted; therefore, as he was unable to report to Cabinet, he asked officers to draft an alternative proposal that did not require Cabinet’s approval as an alternative option and this was attached to the report. 

 

The proposal was based on Option Two, which would have cost an additional £12,000.  Where Option One aimed to keep all the free community events and add/combine some of the existing larger scale events, Option Two focused on larger scale events within the BTAC funded events programme with a more limited programme of smaller scale community events delivered principally through the Boston Big Local funding stream.  The revised Option re-profiled some events to reduce the Option Two additional cost by £2,000 to keep within the £10,000 BTAC delegated authority. 

 

The Chairman stressed the report had not been submitted in order to avoid scrutiny.  Officers had been asked to provide detailed costings, which they had done, though this was a budget and the amounts might not all be spent.  He had tried to include as many events as possible within his proposal; in particular, Party in the Park, which the Committee had been in favour of.  The Committee had already committed to holding the Through the Ages event, though Members could discontinue the event after 2020 if they wished. 

 

The recommendation was for the Committee to determine the way forward and the Chairman welcomed debate, adding that he had previously supported Option Two, for an additional amount of £12,000 and that the former Portfolio Holder had supported the option for an additional £27,000.  A decision needed to be made as delaying the matter until January would leave too short a timescale for arranging events. 

 

The Chairman proposed that the proposal set out in the appendix to the report for £9,999.99 for the 2020/21 Events Programme be approved and this was seconded.

 

During debate, a Member queried the need for £27,000 and referred to events that ran at a loss.  It was suggested the Committee look at increasing income by scaling-up events and increasing publicity, and that Members needed to wait until a new Portfolio Holder was in place. 

 

The Chairman pointed out that most events were aimed at local people and that the Portfolio Holder was a Council role, separate from BTAC. 

 

Another Member asserted that, although the Committee had to have regard to costs, its role was strategic, not operational.  It was for officers to know the operational details, for which they were accountable, and the system of checks and balances was already in place.  It was agreed that advertising should be increased, but it was pointed out that although some events made a loss, they were not held to make a profit; they were held for the people of the town area, who were already paying for events by way of the precept, and particularly for those who could not otherwise afford to attend.   

 

An amendment was then proposed and seconded to refer the Committee’s original recommendation for an additional £27,000 back to Cabinet, as Cabinet might have approved this had a Portfolio Holder been in place, in the hope that the new Portfolio Holder would have a full understanding of the matter and be able to answer Members’ questions; then, if Cabinet did not approve the recommendation, that the Chairman’s proposal for £9,999.99 be approved so that the events programme was not held up.

 

This was seconded with the assertion that officers could be trusted and relied upon to carry out their operational role, that £27,000 was not a significant sum compared to other costs and that Cabinet had to trust BTAC to spend money wisely. 

 

Members all commended the quality of the events, which were lifting the town, and were not put on for profit, but to enhance the town and serve its population.  They were satisfied with their evaluation of the option for £27,000 to be added to the budget and frustration with Cabinet’s decision to defer the matter in order to receive more information, when Cabinet had been supplied with the same information as BTAC had received and could have requested whatever they needed before the meeting. 

 

It was remarked that care would have to be taken in choosing events would not go ahead, if that was necessary, and to continue to examine what had worked well.  The Christmas Market, Illuminate and Christmas Lights had improved significantly; it was regrettable that the Controlling Migration Funding was ceasing and an evaluation should be arranged as soon as possible to ensure the event was of the same high standard next year.  Other smaller events, such as the 1940s Event, would be improve in the same way and the returning Party in the Park event would not be large-scale to begin with.  

 

In response to a question, the Chief Executive explained that Cabinet had delegated executive decision-making to BTAC for the functions and activity funded by the BTAC precept. 

 

A Member commended the quality and volume of the work of the Head of Place and Space, Town Centre Services Manager and the Chairman. 

 

The Chairman then confirmed that he was happy with the amendment and withdrew his original proposal and his seconder agreed.

 

Invited to address the Committee, another Cabinet Member explained that Cabinet was fully behind everything the Committee was doing and commended what it had achieved.  At the Cabinet meeting there had been insufficient details of the proposed expenditure and he had made a subsequent request for this. 

 

The Chairman reiterated that Cabinet had received the same information as BTAC prior to its meeting. 

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.    The Committee’s previous recommendation, that an additional £27,000 expenditure be approved in order to go ahead with Option One for the 2020/21 Events Programme, be referred back to Cabinet in the expectation that the new Portfolio Holder will be able to answer any questions from Cabinet Members.

 

2.    If the previous recommendation is not approved, the Chairman’s proposal for £9,999.99 for the 2020/21 Events Programme be approved in order that the programme is not delayed.

 

 

Supporting documents: