Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Commission - Monday, 6th September, 2021 5.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Centre, St Luke's Avenue, Harrogate HG1 2AE. This meeting will be livestreamed here: https://bit.ly/HarrogateYouTube (Copy and paste the link in your browser).. View directions

Contact: Claire Wilson - Scrutiny Officer  Tel: 01423 500600 ext. 58323 Email:  claire.wilson@harrogate.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

38.

Apologies for absence and notification of substitutes:

Minutes:

Notification had been received that Councillor Rebecca Burnett was acting as a substitute for Councillor Norman Waller, Councillor Philip Broadbank was acting as a substitute for Councillor Chris Aldred, Councillor Nick Brown was acting as a substitute for Councillor Michael Harrison and Councillor Paul Haslam was acting as a substitute for Councillor John Mann. Apologies were received from Councillor Bernard Bateman, Councillor Stuart Martin and Councillor Nigel Middlemass.

(5.30 pm)

39.

Declarations of interest:

Members to advise of any declarations of interest

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were made at the meeting.

(5.31 pm)

40.

Minutes: pdf icon PDF 512 KB

Of the meeting of 16 August 2021.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Commission held on 16 August 2021 were approved as a correct record.

 

(There were five votes for and three abstentions.)

(5.32 pm)

41.

Exempt information:

To determine whether to exclude the press and public during the consideration of any exempt items.

Minutes:

There was no exempt information.

(5.33 pm)

42.

Public arrangements- questions:

To consider any questions under Standing Order 27.

Minutes:

There were no public questions submitted.

(5.33 pm)

43.

Medium Term Financial Strategy 2022/23 to 2026/27: pdf icon PDF 289 KB

The Head of Finance to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the item, explaining that consideration of the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) each year was a responsibility held by the Commission. The meeting documents included a cover report from the Scrutiny, Governance and Risk manager and one from the Head of Finance as well as copy of the MTFS for the years 2022/23 to 2026/27. Following consideration at the meeting, the Commission’s comments and recommendations would be submitted to a Cabinet meeting to be held on 13 October 2021. The Chair welcomed the Head of Finance (HoF) to the meeting to present the Council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) for the period 2022/23 to 2026/27.

 

The HoF introduced the strategy explaining that it set out how the Council planned to manage its finances over the next five years and how resources could be aligned to the priorities set out in the Council’s other key strategic documents. It provided an overview of the Council’s current financial position and set out the key considerations in the Council’s financial planning. The MTFS provided information on the key budget pressures facing the Council and assumptions for future funding which would inform the final budget for the Council

 

The Government had announced in July that councils in North Yorkshire would be reorganised to form one unitary council across the whole of the county from April 2023, Harrogate Borough Council would continue to operate until March 2023. The MTFS therefore provided some information about budget preparations of the new unitary council. 

 

In introducing the report the Head of Finance reported that future funding for local government continued to be uncertain due to a delay in the spending review until later in the autumn and also anticipated delays in the fair-funding review. Business rates reform was also expected to be delayed, and would include a re-set of the business rate baseline, which would be significant for Harrogate as growth in business rates since 2013-14 would be lost costing the Council approximately £600k. It was also assumed that the new homes bonus would be phased out by 2023/24 with a reduction in grant of £1.2 million in the first year and £0.5m in the second year.    

 

The key considerations and assumptions were brought together in the table at paragraph 66 which set out projected expenditure against projected funding for each of the years from 2022/23 to 2026/27. The assumptions behind this were listed at paragraph 65. A budget surplus was shown for 2022/23 due to the anticipated delay in the business rates baseline reset. Significant pressure was showing for 2023/24 onwards with a budget deficit for the life of the plan of £1.8 million. £1.1 million of this fell in 2023/24. The Council would address this through use of the Budget Transition Fund, additional fees and charges income and service savings.

 

Commission Members asked questions and sought confirmation from the HoF on a number areas within the MTFS, these included:

 

Business Rate Retention Scheme (BRRS): the strategy assumed that implementation of the Fair  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.

44.

Forward Plan of Key Decisions: pdf icon PDF 151 KB

To consider current Forward Plan items.

Minutes:

Members referred to the following Key Decisions listed on the Forward Plan:

 

Appointment of Suppliers for the provision of Asbestos Testing and Removal Services (Forward Plan Reference 040HP19): the Scrutiny, Governance and Risk Manager confirmed that this item had now been removed from the forward plan. An interim solution was in place and this item would be included as part of a combined report in the future.

 

Procurement of a Digital Platform (Customer Relationship Management System, Forms and Customer Portal) (Forward Plan Reference 42CA21): this was listed as a key decision because it involved expenditure of £150k or more. Following a question about the rationale/longevity of this new system in the context of Local Government Reorganisation, it was agreed that the Commission would be informed when the report was available.

 

Key Decisions about disposal of Council owned Land: it was requested that, if the Council was arranging meetings with local residents or Parish Councils Ward Members should be made aware/invited.

(6.14 pm - 6.18 pm)

45.

Overview and Scrutiny Draft Work Programme 2021/22: pdf icon PDF 451 KB

To provide an update on the draft schedule of meetings for 2021/22.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the report submitted by the Scrutiny, Governance and Risk Manager (SGRM). The main focus of the previous meeting of the Commission concerned the item at Minute 33/21 (Bus: Enhanced Partnerships And Bus Service Improvement Plan). It was confirmed that following consideration of Harrogate Borough Council’s suggested measures and requests for bus service improvements, the Commission’s feedback had been referred to the Cabinet Member for Carbon Reduction and Sustainability.

 

Following a question about whether the local bus provision work item was considered complete, the SGRM confirmed that the Commission had completed a distinct piece of work at the previous meeting. The outcome of this was that all of the Commission’s comments and suggestions about improvements to local bus provision were to be included in the Council’s response to North Yorkshire County Council’s initial consultation. The report anticipated that any future involvement would be as part of any work or consultation that was undertaken by the Council and that Members would be kept informed at the appropriate time. Councillor Pat Marsh and Councillor Tom Watson indicated that further in-depth work could be undertaken particularly around public consultation and looking at best practice in other areas, such as how rural services operated in the east of North Yorkshire. It was agreed that this would be discussed at a future meeting.

 

(6.18 pm - 6.22 pm)

46.

Feedback from other Committees and External Bodies:

The Commission to receive a verbal update from the following:

 

              UCI Task and Finish Group

Minutes:

Councillor Nick Brown was Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny task and finish group that was conducting a review of the hosting of the UCI Road World Championships which was a cycling event that took place in September 2019. Councillor Brown explained that the group had undertaken a public consultation with residents and business that had received around 700 responses, this was considered a good level of engagement. The responses had been analysed and the group had met to receive the feedback. The next steps were further engagement with the business community and the aim was to report back to the Commission before the end of the year. The review aimed to constructively inform the approach to any future, similar events.

 

(6.22 pm - 6.25 pm)