Agenda, decisions and minutes

Cabinet - Tuesday 8 December 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting via MS TeamsLive Meeting Platform

Contact: Claire Skoyles: Democratic Services Officer  Email: claire.skoyles@westsuffolk.gov.uk

Note: The link to view the live stream of the meeting is shown in 'Media' below together with a supporting guidance document // Public speakers are directed to the procedure rules for registering to speak under Agenda Item 5 

Media

Items
No. Item

195.

Welcome and meeting facilitation

Minutes:

The Chair formally opened the meeting and welcomed all persons present, including those that were viewing the meeting externally via the live broadcast.

 

Leah Mickleborough, Service Manager (Democratic Services), was acting as facilitator for the meeting where support was felt necessary and upon being invited to do so, assisted the Chair in detailing the housekeeping matters and guidance as to how the meeting would operate within the virtual setting.

196.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

No apologies for absence were received.

197.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 182 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 10 November 2020 (copy attached).

 

An exempt version of minute 192. contained in the minutes of 10 November 2020 is also attached at agenda item 14. below.

Minutes:

The public and exempt minutes of the meeting held on 10 November 2020 were confirmed as a correct record.

198.

Declarations of interest

Members are reminded of their responsibility to declare any pecuniary or local non pecuniary interest which they have in any item of business on the agenda, no later than when that item is reached and, when appropriate, to leave the meeting prior to discussion and voting on the item.

Minutes:

Members’ declarations of interest are recorded under the item to which the declaration relates.

199.

Open forum

At each Cabinet meeting, up to 15 minutes shall be allocated for questions or statements from and discussion with, non-Cabinet members. As this meeting is being held virtually, members wishing to speak during this session must notify Democratic Services by 9am on the day of the meeting that they wish to attend. Who speaks and for how long will be at the complete discretion of the person presiding.

Minutes:

No non-Cabinet members in attendance wished to speak under this item.

200.

Public participation

Members of the public who live or work in the district are invited to put one question or statement of not more than three minutes duration relating to items to be discussed in Part 1 of the agenda only. If a question is asked and answered within three minutes, the person who asked the question may ask a supplementary question that arises from the reply.

 

As the meeting is taking place virtually, a person who wishes to speak must register by 9am on Monday 7 December 2020 to ensure that there is time to brief them on how they can speak at the meeting. This can be done by sending the request to democratic.services@westsuffolk.gov.uk

or by telephoning one of the numbers provided on the Public Information Sheet at the start of this agenda. Members of the public will either be set up as a ‘Guest Speaker’ or be provided with a telephone number they can call when prompted to do so during the meeting to enable them to participate.

 

If a member of the public cannot attend the meeting remotely, they may submit a written question or statement to Democratic Services by midday at the very latest on the day of the meeting and this will be read out on their behalf during the meeting.

 

There is an overall time limit of 15 minutes for public speaking, which may be extended at the Chair’s discretion.

Minutes:

No members of the public viewing the live broadcast had registered to speak.

201.

Report of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee: 12 November 2020 (Report number: CAB/WS/20/074) pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Report number:     CAB/WS/20/074

Chair of the Committee: Councillor Ian Shipp

Lead officer: Christine Brain

Minutes:

The Cabinet received and noted this report, which informed members of the following substantive items discussed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting held on 12 November 2020:

 

1.       Major Council capital projects and the impact of Covid-19 (presentation);

2.       Suffolk County Council: Health Scrutiny Committee (14 October 2020); and

3.       Work programme update 2021 and suggestions for scrutiny.

 

Councillor Ian Shipp, Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee drew relevant issues to the attention of Cabinet.

 

202.

Report of the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee: 19 November 2020 (Report number: CAB/WS/20/075) pdf icon PDF 173 KB

Report number:     CAB/WS/20/075

Chair of the Committee: Councillor Ian Houlder

Portfolio holder: Councillor Sarah Broughton

Lead officer: Christine Brain

Minutes:

The Cabinet received and noted this report, which informed members of the following substantive items discussed by the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee at its meeting held on 19 November 2020:

 

1.       Ernst and Young – 2019 to 2020 Annual Results Report to those Charged with Governance;

2.       West Suffolk Annual Governance Statement 2019 to 2020;

3.       2019 to 2020 Statement of Accounts;

4.       2020 to 2021 Performance Report (Quarter 2);

5.       Internal Audit Mid-Year Progress Report 2020 to 2021;

6.       Delivering a Sustainable Medium Term Budget;

7.       Financial Resilience (September 2020);

8.       Local Government Ombudsman Annual Report; and

9.       Work Programme Update 2021.

 

Cabinet noted that separate reports were contained on the agenda for items 6. and 7. above.

203.

Recommendation of the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee: 19 November 2020: Delivering a Sustainable Medium-Term Budget (Report number: CAB/WS/20/076) pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Report number:     CAB/WS/20/076

Portfolio holder: Councillor Sarah Broughton

Lead officer: Christine Brain

Decision:

Recommended to Council

(15 December 2020):

 

That the proposals as detailed in Section 2 and Table 1 of Report number PAS/WS/20/019, be included in the medium-term financial plans.

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered this report, which was recommending to Council, the approval of proposals for inclusion in the medium-term financial plans.

 

In July 2020, Cabinet had agreed proposed next steps and principles for future financial planning across the medium term (Report number: CAB/WS/20/043).  The approach was designed to enable the Council to respond effectively to changing circumstances while maintaining a medium-term focus on the Council’s financial sustainability.

 

The Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee (PASC) on 19 November 2020, received an update on the development of that flexible and responsive recovery plan, a plan that would continue to follow the Council’s agreed financial strategy and six key medium-term financial strategy themes, and the proposed key budget assumptions were set out in Section 2 of the PASC report (PAS/WS/20/019) (and reproduced in Cabinet report number: CAB/WS/20/076).

 

The recommendations considered and for subsequent approval by Council on 15 December 2020, together with any further recommendations emanating from PASC and Cabinet in the coming weeks, would be incorporated into the budget setting process, the composite report for which would be considered by Cabinet and Council in February 2021.  

 

Councillor Sarah Broughton, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance, drew relevant issues to the attention of Cabinet.

 

Cabinet demonstrated its support for the approach to the Council’s future financial planning previously agreed in July 2020 and considered the proposals outlined in the report pragmatically underpinned this approach and would contribute to the delivery of a sustainable medium-term budget.

 

 

Recommended to Council (15 December 2020):

 

That the proposals as detailed in Section 2 and Table 1 of Report number PAS/WS/20/019, be included in the medium-term financial plans.

204.

Recommendation of the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee: 19 November 2020: Financial Resilience (September 2020) (Report number: CAB/WS/20/077) pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Report number:     CAB/WS/20/077

Portfolio holder: Councillor Sarah Broughton

Lead officer: Christine Brain

Decision:

Recommended to Council (15 December 2020):

 

That the Financial Resilience Report (September 2020), as contained in Report number: FRS/WS/20/003, be approved.

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered this report, which was recommending to Council, the approval of the Financial Resilience Report for the first half of the 2020 financial year.

 

Councillor Sarah Broughton, Portfolio Holder for Resources and Performance, drew relevant issues to the attention of Cabinet, including that the total amount invested at 1 April 2020 was £29,900,000 and at 30 September 2020 £27,900,000.

 

The 2020 to 2021 Annual Treasury Management and Investment Strategy set out the Council’s projections for the current financial year.  The budget for investment income in 2020 to 2021 was £142,141 which was based on a 0.65 per cent target interest rate of return on investments.

 

As at the end of September 2020, interest earned during the second quarter of the financial year amounted to £54,297.81 against a profiled budget for the period of £71,070; a budgetary deficit of £16,772.69.  The budgetary deficit related to continued low interest rates as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic which started in mid-March 2020. 

 

Members also noted from the report, a summary of the capital borrowing budget 2020 to 2021; borrowing and income – proportionality; borrowing and asset yields; borrowing and temporary loans and other market considerations.

 

As at the end of September 2020, the Council had not had any additional external borrowing or temporary loans over the long-term £4 million loan.

 

 

Recommended to Council (15 December 2020):

 

That the Financial Resilience Report (September 2020), as contained in Report number: FRS/WS/20/003, be approved.

 

(Councillor Ian Houlder, Chair of the Performance and Audit Scrutiny Committee joined the meeting during the consideration of this item.)

 

205.

Decisions Plan: 1 December 2020 to 31 May 2021 pdf icon PDF 231 KB

To consider the most recently published version of the Cabinet’s Decisions Plan

 

Report number:     CAB/WS/20/078

Portfolio holder: Councillor John Griffiths

Lead officer: Ian Gallin

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered this report which was the Cabinet Decisions Plan covering the period 1 December 2020 to 31 May 2021.

 

Members took the opportunity to review the intended forthcoming decisions of the Cabinet; however, no further information or amendments were requested on this occasion.

206.

Barley Homes Business Plan 2020 (Report number: CAB/WS/20/079) pdf icon PDF 162 KB

Report number:     CAB/WS/20/079

Portfolio holder: Councillor Sara Mildmay-White

Lead officer: Julie Baird

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved: That

 

1.       taking into account the financial and risk implications set out in Report number: CAB/WS/20/079 and Exempt Appendix A attached, the Barley Homes Business Plan 2020, be approved.

 

2.       in order to bring the Barley Homes Business Plan 2020 into effect:

 

a.       A further £60,000 be allocated to support the costs of progressing the Great Barton and Rougham sites and the development of future pipeline sites, funded from the Investing in our Growth Fund.

 

b.       The existing investment fund available to Barley Homes be increased by £1.75 million to a total of £14.25 million to facilitate the developments within the Business Plan, funded from the Investing in our Growth Fund.

 

c.       It be noted that in order to facilitate the developments within the Business Plan, the Council will be required to acquire sites from One Public Estate partners and the market, funded from the £14.25 million investment fund and subsequently dispose of these to Barley Homes at market value at the time of sale.

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered this report, which sought approval for a revised business plan for Barley Homes, and associated funding requests.

 

In December 2019, Council approved an annual business plan for Barley Homes and a capital budget of £5 million, funded from the Investing in our Growth Fund, to support the issuing of equity and loan financing to facilitate the development of two additional sites. This was in addition to an existing facility of £7.5 million, taking the total investment fund available to Barley Homes to £12.5 million.

 

Since then, the company had made good progress in achieving its aims and progressing the sites agreed in its business plan at Castle Hill (now Stonemill Park) and Westfield (now Westmill Place), Haverhill, for the delivery of 63 homes, of which 19 were affordable.  The two sites, combined, could generate a one-off return to the Council on its investment of up to £1.2 million (on top of repayment of a loan balances).  Construction was now underway on both sites.

 

Councillor Sara Mildmay-White, Portfolio Holder for Housing, drew relevant issues to the attention of Cabinet, including that in addition to the construction works outlined above, progress had also been made with the two further sites agreed at College Heath Road, Mildenhall, and School Lane, Great Barton.

 

Work was also continuing to explore future sites for development, and as a result, several opportunities and future sites had been identified, including a site in Rougham. These were being explored in line with the principles set out in 2.1.2 and 2.1.3 of the report.

 

The Cabinet acknowledged the good progress made by Barley Homes in achieving its aims and progressing the sites agreed in its business plan approved in December 2019. Members expressed their thanks to the team involved for reaching this point and had confidence that the company would continue to grow and thrive, while providing much needed homes, including affordable homes, for residents of West Suffolk.

 

Cabinet supported the proposals and associated funding requests set out in the report, which would enable Barley Homes to progress both existing and new opportunities set out in the Business Plan 2020. The primary function of Barley Homes was to generate capital and revenue income through the sale of council owned land and the development of new housing for sale in the West Suffolk area. This investment facility would provide a means for the Council to obtain income from Barley Homes, through interest (from its loan facility) and dividends (from the Council’s equity investment).

 

 

Resolved:

 

That:

1.       Taking into account the financial and risk implications set out in Report number: CAB/WS/20/079 and Exempt Appendix A attached, the Barley Homes Business Plan 2020, be approved.

 

2.       In order to bring the Barley Homes Business Plan 2020 into effect:

 

a.       A further £60,000 be allocated to support the costs of progressing the Great Barton and Rougham sites and the development of future pipeline sites, funded from the Investing in our Growth Fund.

 

b.       The existing investment fund available to Barley  ...  view the full minutes text for item 206.

207.

Exclusion of press and public

To consider whether the press and public should be excluded during the consideration of the following items because it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during the items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt categories of information as prescribed in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972, and indicated against each item and, in all circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

Minutes:

See minutes 208. and 209. below.

208.

Exempt Appendix: Barley Homes Business Plan 2020 (paragraph 3)

Exempt Appendix A to Report number: CAB/WS/20/079

Portfolio holder: Councillor Sara Mildmay-White

Lead officer: Julie Baird

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the exempt appendix to this report.  However, no reference was made to specific detail and, therefore, this item was not held in private session.

209.

Exempt minutes (paragraph 3)

To confirm the exempt minutes of the meeting held on 10 November 2020 (copy attached).

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the exempt minutes of 10 November 2020. However, no reference was made to specific detail and, therefore, this item was not held in private session.

210.

Conclusion

Minutes:

On conclusion of the meeting, the Chair thanked all present for their attendance at this virtual meeting. The live broadcast subsequently ended at this point.