Agenda and minutes

Cabinet
Wednesday, 27th March, 2019 5.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Elizabeth Jackson, Democratic Services Manager  Tel: 01423 500600 Email:  democraticservices@harrogate.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

115.

Apologies for Absence:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Phil Ireland and Andy Paraskos.

(5.35 pm)

 

116.

Declarations of Interest:

Members to advise of any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest made by Members at the meeting.

 

(5.35 pm)

117.

Minutes: pdf icon PDF 209 KB

of the meeting of 27 February 2019.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 27 February 2019 were approved unanimously as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

(5.35 pm)

 

118.

Exempt Information:

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

Minutes:

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That, in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted, the meeting be not open to the public during the discussion of Minutes 127/18, 128/18 and 129/18 below as there will be a disclosure of exempt information as defined in Section 100I of the Act.

 

The exempt information in question relates to the financial or business affairs of any particular person, including the authority holding that information and information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings, as defined in paragraphs 3 and 5 of Schedule 12(A) to the Act, as amended.

 (6.22 pm)

 

119.

Capital Strategy 2019/20: pdf icon PDF 142 KB

The Financial Services Manager to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Financial Services Manager submitted a written report which presented the Capital Strategy for 2019/20, which was attached at Appendix 1.  The document had been produced in order to comply with the CIPFA Prudential Code for Capital Finance in Local Authorities which had been updated recently following the increase in local authorities investing in non-financial assets.  Statutory Guidance on Local Government Investments published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government now required councils to agree an Investment Strategy with regard to both financial and non-financial assets and this was included within the Capital Strategy.

 

The Strategy demonstrated that the Council was taking capital expenditure and investment decisions in line with service objectives and properly took account of stewardship, value for money, prudence, sustainability and affordability.  The long term context in which capital expenditure and investment decisions were made was set out and consideration was given to both risk and reward and impact on the achievement of priority outcomes.

 

RECOMMENDED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That the Capital Strategy for 2019/20 be approved.

(5.36 pm – 5.39 pm)

 

120.

Ultra Low Emission Vehicle Strategy: pdf icon PDF 293 KB

The Strategic Transport Planner to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

120/18 - ULTRA LOW EMISSION VEHICLE STRATEGY:  The Strategic Transport Planner submitted a written report which sought approval for the adoption of an Ultra-low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) Strategy, which was attached at Appendix A.  A ULEV Strategy was required to respond to air quality issues in the district, future restrictions on the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles and a lack of publically accessible electric vehicle charging points.  The aims of the Strategy were to increase provision of electric vehicle charging infrastructure across the district and increase the proportion of ultra-low emission vehicles on the roads across the Harrogate District.  A five year action plan was set out at section 2.4 of the strategy, which consisted of ten proposed actions

 

Public consultation on the draft strategy had taken place between 29 September and 6 November 2018, the response had been overwhelmingly in support and the outcomes and analysis were included at Appendix B.  The draft Strategy had also been considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission on 4 March 2019 and Appendix D detailed questions raised and the responses.   Exempt Appendix C contained a financial appraisal of the costs of implementation of the proposed charging infrastructure.

 

Section 6 of the report outlined the options for funding electric vehicle charging points and in particular highlighted national funding opportunities likely to be forthcoming over the next five years which officers would be seeking to secure.

 

In response to a question from the Leader the Strategic Transport Planner agreed to provide a further report to the Cabinet Member for Sustainable Transport on options for implementing clean air zones for public transport vehicles.

 

RECOMMENDED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That Cabinet approves the adoption of the ULEV Strategy as current Harrogate Borough Council policy; noting in particular that the strategy outlines a demand-responsive approach to implementation of publically available electric vehicle charge points, which carries potential financial implications for infrastructure and ongoing revenue costs.

(5.39 pm – 5.44 pm)

 

121.

The Review of the Operation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Scheme including the Internal Review Process - Final Report from the Overview and Scrutiny Commission: pdf icon PDF 171 KB

The Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission attended Cabinet to present the report of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission regarding the operation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Scheme including the internal review process.  A covering report set out the scope of the review at paragraph 3.2 and a summary of the 15 recommendations was included at paragraph 3.3.  Cabinet were requested to consider the report and agree the recommendations.

 

The Chair of the Commission introduced the report and advised that the review had been undertaken following a request from a member of the public and had commenced in early 2018.  Some improvements could be made to the process as set out in the recommendations, although the scheme was operating in line with other councils.  Cabinet were reassured to note that the Council’s internal review process operated appropriately and exceeded ICO guidance.

 

Cabinet then considered the recommendations and it was noted that no costings had been provided for implementation of the recommendations.

 

Recommendation 2 – concern was expressed over the costs of publishing all FOI requests and responses on the website in the context that there was little wider interest in individual requests, it would be time consuming to prepare and upload the documents and the FOI pages were currently amongst the least visited on the website.  Amended wording was suggested as detailed below.

 

Recommendation 12 a) – it was noted that recording the source of FOI requests could lead to potential conflicts as the process was currently applicant blind and therefore this recommendation was not supported.

 

Recommendation 13 a) – concern was expressed over the volume of work for one officer therefore the recommendation was amended as below.

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That    (1) information about the ICO guidance and FOI legislation should be available on the Council’s website and a simple plain English FOI policy should be developed;

 

            (2) a cost-benefit study for publication of FOI responses on the Council’s website be undertaken;

 

            (3) Central FOI Log – a) ensure that the Central FOI log records where requests are received (e.g. via letter/email/web-form);

 

            (4) Code of Practice – a) the Council should review the updated code of practice and implement any required changes to meet the social media requirements as detailed in the section Rights of Access paragraph 1.16;

 

            (5) Website improvements - the FOI/Publication Scheme part of the website should be regularly reviewed and updated in response to feedback from the public. This would ensure that appropriate information is published in accordance with the model publication scheme and kept up to date;

 

            (6) Code of Practice – b) the Council should publish and report compliance statistics in accordance with paragraph 8.5 of the Code of Practice;

 

            (7) the number of FOI requests per department/service and exemptions used should be included in the corporate quarterly performance reports;

 

            (8) FOI Log – b) the use of exemptions and partial refusals is completed in the FOI log at the time response is sent;

                                    c) the use of exemptions should be discussed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 121.

122.

Non-domestic Discretionary Rates Relief Policy 2019: pdf icon PDF 158 KB

The Revenues, Welfare and Customer Services Manager to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Revenues, Welfare and Customer Services Manager submitted a written report which sought approval for changes to the Non-domestic Discretionary Rates Relief policy from April 2019 following changes to national legislation and requested support for local infrastructure.  A copy of the draft Policy was attached at Appendix A.  Discretionary rates relief enabled councils to have some flexibility in areas of relief awarded to businesses to support the local economy.  Paragraph 5.2 of the report listed the different categories of relief which were available and 5.3 outlined the proposal to include retail rate relief and mobile infrastructure rate relief in the policy.  The RWCSM reported that £63k had been provided to support child care providers this year and £1k for town centre improvement.  A total of £291k had been included in the Council’s budget to provide for discretionary reliefs

 

Consultation on the proposed changes to the policy had been undertaken and the responses were included at Appendix B. 

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That    (1) the outcomes from the consultation process be noted; and

 

            (2) the Non-domestic Discretionary Rates Relief policy at Appendix A be implemented from 1 April 2019.

 

Reasons for decision:

 

The policy provided local support for businesses over and above what was available nationally to enhance the local economy.

 

A majority of the consultation responses showed support for the proposals.

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

 

To continue with the current Non-domestic discretionary rate relief policy which would not allow for the proposed additional areas of relief to be rolled out within the district.

 

(6.03 pm – 6.08 pm)

 

(D)

 

123.

Ripon Customer Centre Delivery: pdf icon PDF 186 KB

The Revenues, Welfare and Customer Services Manager to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Customer Centre Manager submitted a written report recommending options for the future of Ripon Customer Centre.  The report provided details of the service which was currently provided at the Customer Centre in Ripon Town Hall and described the pressures on Council resources.  In addition face to face contacts were decreasing and from 1 April 2019 all Council Tax and Housing payments, which accounted for the majority of contacts, will be able to be made at a PayPoint or Post Office.

 

Following consideration of a number of possible options, paragraph 5.3 of the report set out the preferred option which was to relocate Ripon Customer Centre to Ripon Community House.  The model would be for a partnership arrangement such as had been successfully implemented at Nidderdale plus, Mashamshire Community Office, and Boroughbridge Town Council and Appendix A outlined the funding model currently in place.

 

A public consultation had taken place on the preferred option, 74% of respondents were in favour.  The results were included at Appendix B and were summarised in paragraph 5.3.3 of the report.  An equality impact assessment had been completed and was included at Appendix C. 

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That     (1) the responses to the consultation in Appendix B be noted; 

 

            (2) the equalities impact assessment at Appendix C be noted; and

 

            (3) the proposed relocation of services from Ripon Customer Centre to Ripon

Community House and supporting service delivery arrangements is agreed for implementation from 1 June 2019.

 

Reasons for decision:

 

The preferred option provided the opportunity to use resources more efficiently, maintain service levels for our residents within the town and surrounding villages, and help support a local community group.

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

 

To reject the preferred option and ask for other potential solutions to be investigated.

 

To continue with the current service delivery model

 

(6.08 pm – 6.11 pm)

 

(D)

 

124.

Appointment of Supplier for the Provision of Building Materials: pdf icon PDF 234 KB

The Operations Manager to submit a written report.

Minutes:

The Operations Manager (Contractor) submitted a written report which sought approval for the appointment of Travis Perkins for the supply of general building, plumbing and kitchen materials and City Electrical Factors Ltd for the supply of electrical materials.  These suppliers would be the principal merchants for the provision of construction materials to the In House Maintenance Team and In House Development Team.  A procurement exercise had identified these two suppliers, they were both ranked first on their respective frameworks and scored well when assessed against a number of specified service requirements.  As the potential value of the contracts to be offered was over £500,000 Cabinet approval was required to appoint the suppliers.

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That    (1) the appointment of the recommended suppliers, namely

(1)  Travis Perkins Plc, and

(2)  City Electrical Factors Ltd 

under call off contracts from the respective framework agreements for the terms set out in paragraph 5.6 below be approved; and

 

            (2) authority be delegated to the Head of Housing and Property to negotiate and enter into these contracts.

 

Reasons for decision:

 

Financial provision for necessary support was available within budget.

 

The current contractual arrangements were coming to an end and there was an ongoing requirement for a cost effective and efficient supplies service. The procurement exercise carried out was compliant with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

 

Not to award the contracts. This would leave the Council without the ability to deliver a timely and cost effective repairs service to its customers and meet agreed repairs and upgrade turnaround times and also impact on the delivery of the Council’s development projects.

 

(6.11 pm – 6.12 pm)

 

(D)

 

125.

Key Decisions: Financial Thresholds: pdf icon PDF 207 KB

The Democratic Services Manager to submit a written report.

Minutes:

The Democratic Services Manager submitted a written report in relation to the annual review of the financial thresholds for key decisions.  The current thresholds were listed in paragraph 5.2 of the report and Cabinet was asked to decide on financial thresholds for key decisions for the year to 31 March 2020.

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That the current financial thresholds for key decisions as detailed in paragraph 5.2 of the report, remain unchanged for the year to 31 March 2020. 

 

Reason for making decision:

 

To comply with the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2000 as amended. 

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

 

None

(6.13 pm)

 

(D)

 

126.

Ripon Leisure Centre – Harry’s Place Childcare: pdf icon PDF 408 KB

The Change Manager to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Culture, Tourism and Sport and the Change Manager submitted a joint written report which sought approval for closure of Harry’s Place Childcare at Ripon Leisure Centre.  The nursery operated one, two hour session each week day and until 1 September 2018 users had to remain on-site at the leisure centre.  Attendance data in the report showed there had been a significant fall in use over the last three years and a public consultation was undertaken in June and July 2018 regarding the future of the service.  The consultation results were attached as Appendix A to the report and an equality impact assessment was attached at Appendix B.

 

The consultation feedback identified some changes which had the potential to reduce the cost of the operation including increased promotion of the service, allowing parents and carers to leave the centre during the sessions and increasing fees from £4.20 to £6.30 per session.  Whilst average daily attendances had increased during the trial to approximately 3 per day, fewer parents and carers remained on site to use the facilities, full attendance figures were included at Appendix D. 

 

Closure of the nursery would achieve ongoing savings of £20k pa and details of the cost breakdown were set out in exempt Appendix C.  Legal advice in relation to staffing matters was also contained in Appendix C and the questions and management responses arising from consultation with staff and Unions were included at exempt Appendix E.

 

Councillor Mike Chambers expressed concern that it would be premature to close the crèche facility before the new Ripon Pool was built.  In response the Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Sport advised that it was hoped to be able to provide a ‘pop-up’ crèche facility at the new pool for certain sessions.  If closure were to be agreed by Cabinet a closure date would subsequently be agreed by the Cabinet Member for Culture Tourism and Sport.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That      (1) the proposed closure of the Harry’s Place Childcare facility at Ripon Leisure Centre be approved;

 

              (2) the outcome of the public consultation at Appendix A be noted; and

 

              (3) the equality impact assessment at Appendix B be noted.

 

(Four Members voted for the motion and one voted against)

 

Reasons for making decision:

 

There had been a steady decline in HPC attendances over the last 4 years.  In the financial year 2017/18 HPC operated at a net cost to the Council of £18,000.

 

Following a six week public consultation in summer 2018, a five month trial of measures designed to increase usage and income had produced an improvement in performance. However (even assuming the improvement could be sustained) the projected net cost of operation still remains above £20,000 pa.

 

Only 27% of HPC users during the trial have stayed on site to use the leisure centre facilities. The projected net operating cost of £20,692pa for 2019/20 equated to a subsidy of £103 per visit for those users.

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

 

Retain the facility with its current format:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 126.

127.

Acquisition of Empty Properties:

The Executive Officer (Strategic Property and Major Projects) to submit a written report.

Minutes:

The Executive Officer Strategic Property and Major Projects submitted a written report setting out the background, reasons and costs relating to the Council’s proposed acquisition and refurbishment of empty buildings and recommending a preferred option.  The properties were shown on the plan attached at Appendix 1.

 

The Council was authorised in accordance with section 120(1) of the Local Government act 1972 to acquire any land by agreement for the purposes of any of its statutory functions or for the development, benefit or improvement of its area.  Officers had commissioned an independent valuation and other work which had informed an options appraisal which was attached at Appendix 2.  Paragraph 5.4 set out an acquisition strategy should Cabinet agree to proceed with the acquisition.

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That     (1) the freehold acquisition and refurbishment of the properties shown in Appendix 1, in line with the recommended option outlined in Section 5.0 of the report be approved;

 

            (2) authority be delegated to the Director of Economy and Culture to approve the final terms of the acquisition in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Resources, Enterprise and Economic Development; and

 

            (3) the Head of Legal and Governance be given authority to enter into and complete all necessary documentation required to finalise the acquisition of these properties and all matters related thereto.

 

Reasons for decision:

 

These properties have been vacant and run down for a number of years, detracting from the overall appearance and vitality of the area. Council investment in these properties will improve the amenity of the area and support the Councils Place Shaping and Economic Growth objectives.

 

This approach reflects the priorities set out in the Conservative Local Election Manifesto for 2018.

 

The Council has powers under section 120(1) Local Government Act 1972 to try and acquire land or properties for the benefit, improvement or development of its area.

 

The acquisition and refurbishment by HBC will ensure that these properties are brought back into use in a sustainable way.

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

 

To seek to use the Council’s enforcement and/or compulsory purchase powers; Advice from the council’s legal services team is that it may be difficult to justify the use of enforcement and/or compulsory purchase powers at the present time. However if acquisition by negotiation is unsuccessful it may be possible to re-visit one or more of these options.

 

To do nothing; the current owner has exhibited little intention, in recent years, of trying to improve these properties in order to bring them back into beneficial use. If the Council does nothing it is likely that the properties would continue to remain vacant and make no contribution to the economic and social performance of the area.

 

(Minute dealt with in exempt session.  There is also an unpublished minute.)

 

(6.23 pm – 6.24 pm)

 

(D)

 

128.

Procurement and Construction of Temporary Accommodation for Single Homeless Persons Spa Lane:

The Head of Housing and Property to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Housing and property submitted a written report seeking approval for the procurement and method of building the temporary accommodation for homeless people at Spa Lane, Harrogate.  On 12 December 2018 Cabinet had approved the transfer of the site from the General Fund to the Housing Revenue Account and for procurement of the construction through a framework contract.  A Homes England grant of £720k had been secured on the understanding that the construction contract would be awarded and work commence before the end of March 2019.  A preferred contractor had been identified through a procurement partnership.  However, in late February the Council was informed by the preferred contractor that it may not be possible to achieve the anticipated timescales and this placed the Homes England grant at risk.  Despite continued negotiations with the contractor significant uncertainties remained in terms of costs and delivery timescales therefore work to determine whether the Council’s In House Development Team had the capacity to undertake the work in the available time was undertaken.  By realigning the current work programme the team would be able to undertake the programme in house, acting as the main contractor and sub-contracting elements of the work to specialist firms.  Appendix 1 outlined the programme of work through direct delivery and contractor appointments.  The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property had approved the appointment of GSS to undertake cost management work and there were concerns that costs might rise from the amount reported to Cabinet in December.  It was noted that any increases in costs above those estimated would be met from the HRA working balance.  Appendices 2 and 3 detailed costs developed by a Quantity Surveyor and by the In House team respectively.

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That    (1) the construction of Spa Lane be undertaken by the In House Development Team of Housing and Property acting as the main contractor and sub-contracting elements of the build for which internal capacity is not available;

 

(2) the build elements are procured as outlined in Appendix 1; and

 

(3) Cabinet note that as per the 12 December 2018 Cabinet report the total development costs may be as much as £2m and will be funded from the Homes England grant of £720k with the balance being met from the HRA working balance.

 

Reasons for decision:

 

To secure Homes England grant aid it was necessary to start on site before the end of March 2019. Undertaking the construction by the in-house method provides the lowest risk method of achieving this in terms of both complying with grant conditions and achieving cost certainty.

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

 

Not to accept the Homes England grant and continue with the appointment of the preferred contactor through the Efficiency North Framework. By the time cost certainty could be achieved and a contract entered into the Homes England grant deadline for start on site would have expired.  This was not recommended due to both the loss of finance and the reputational and relationship damage with Homes England which  ...  view the full minutes text for item 128.

129.

Civic Centre Final Account Position:

The Head of Legal and Governance to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Legal and Governance and the Improvement and Development Manager submitted a joint written report which provided an update to Cabinet on the position in relation to the final account for the new office accommodation.

 

To date the Council’s response to requests for details of the cost of the new office accommodation have identified the contract price and explained that the Council is not able to confirm the final sum pending final account negotiations.  . 

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That the Council's position in respect of the Final Account be noted;

 

(see exempt minutes for further resolutions)

 

 

(Matter dealt with in exempt session.  There is also an exempt minute on this item.)

 

(6.27 pm – 6.32 pm)

 

(D)