Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Tuesday, 3rd March, 2020 5.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Centre, St Luke's Avenue, Harrogate, HG1 2AE. View directions

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

Items
No. Item

104.

Apologies for Absence:

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

 

(5.30 pm)

 

105.

Declarations of Interest:

Members to advise of any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

Members were advised back when the publication draft local plan was considered and were reminded at the meeting, that the County Council’s interest in land (and indeed the District or any Parish Council’s interest) was not a relevant consideration to any decision as to whether the land should be allocated in the local plan. Local authorities own significant areas of land, and it was not unreasonable that some of that land or land in which an authority has an interest would be proposed for development. As a planning authority, it was essential that any choices members make were based on the best interests of the planning of the area and that decisions should not be influenced by any possible gain to the Council nor its neighbouring authorities.

 

In so far as a declaration of interests, then whilst a financial benefit may accrue to the County Council if land at Green Hammerton was developed, that financial benefit did not attach to County Council members personally. Indeed it was unlikely to impact on them significantly more than any other council tax payer in the county. County Councillors are paid an allowance and they are not in office at County Council for profit or gain. As such this interest was very unlikely to constitute a DPI. However, as a pre-caution against the decision in the Councillor Flowers case in East Devon and in order to give those dual hatted County Council members who are also Harrogate Borough Council member’s confidence in their ability to vote, should they wish to do so, then they were invited to request a dispensation

 

Councillor Richard Cooper, Councillor Mike Chambers, Councillor Stan Lumley and Councillor Andy Paraskos who were present at the meeting were also Members of North Yorkshire County Council. The Monitoring Officer granted these Members a dispensation under Section 33 of the Localism Act 2011 which enabled them to remain in the meeting room, participate in the debate and vote on the item.

 

For transparency it is understood that the following land owned by Harrogate Borough Council is allocated in the plan:

 

             Dragon Road car park (site ref H63),

             land at Pannal (PN18 – employment allocation) and

             Harlow nurseries (Site ref H65)

 

This is not considered to be a personal or a DPI.  That’s because this matter does not relate to an external body. Members are aware that interests in land are not a relevant consideration.

 

(5.30 pm – 5.34 pm)

 

106.

Minutes: pdf icon PDF 328 KB

of the meeting of 5 February 2020.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 5 February 2020 were approved unanimously as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

 

(5.35 pm)

 

107.

Exempt Information:

To determine whether to exclude the press and public during the consideration of any exempt information items – 7(part) and 8(part).

Minutes:

The appendices to the reports considered in Minutes 108/19 and 109/19 were considered to be exempt under paragraph 3 of Schedule 12a to the Local Government Act. Discussion on the items took place in open session.

 

(5.36 pm)

 

108.

Adoption of Harrogate District Local Plan: pdf icon PDF 19 KB

The Executive Officer Policy and Place to submit a written report.

Minutes:

The Executive Officer Policy and Place submitted a written report requesting adoption of the Harrogate District Local Plan (HDLP) 2014 – 2035, which was attached at Appendix 3. Appendix 1 contained the Planning Inspector’s report on the examination of the Local Plan and Appendix 2 listed the main and additional modifications recommended by the Inspector.

 

The HDLP set out the broad spatial planning policy framework and vision for Harrogate District as well as the necessary allocations and infrastructure to support this growth, and will be used to make decisions on future planning applications.  The table at paragraph 5.3 detailed the key milestones in the preparation of the Plan.  Preparation had commenced in 2014 with community engagement events, with further consultation taking place on all aspects of the Plan up until submission of the Draft Local Plan in August 2018. This was followed by examination of the Plan by an independent Planning Inspector appointed by the MHCLG to determine whether it was legally compliant and sound. The Inspector had identified a need for a number of Main Modifications to the Plan to ensure soundness, clarity and effectiveness, which had been the subject of a further consultation period. Alongside the Main Modifications were a number of Additional Modifications, which were minor changes and changes to the policies map and which were also available during the consultation. Responses received during the consultation were sent to the Inspector for consideration and the Council subsequently received the Inspector’s report, which concluded that:

 

“..with the recommended main modifications set out in the Appendix, the Harrogate Local Plan satisfies the requirements of Section 20(5) of the 2004 Act and meets the criteria for soundness in the National Planning Policy Framework (2012)

 

In his report the Inspector stated that the plan period housing figure would be 13,377 new dwellings and advised that a number of site allocations considered to be unsound would be deleted. Other alternations were made to the Plan to ensure it was effective and consistent with national policy. The Inspector also concluded that the overall provision of housing of 637 dwellings per annum reflected a soundly based assessment of the district’s housing needs and that the principle and broad location of the New Settlement were found to be sound. The Plan met all of the legal requirements, including sustainability appraisal and duty to cooperate.

 

Section 23 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 stated that where a Planning Inspector found a Local Plan sound a local authority may adopt it and it was therefore recommended that the Council adopt the Plan including the modifications. On adoption the Harrogate District Local Plan would form part of the statutory development plan for the district and would form the basis of decision making on planning applications within the district. Following adoption the Plan would be subject to regular review and monitoring which would provide an opportunity to address issues that emerged as the Plan was implemented.

 

In moving the report the Cabinet Member for Planning  ...  view the full minutes text for item 108.

109.

Capital Strategy 2020/21: pdf icon PDF 142 KB

The Financial Service Manager to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Financial Services Manager submitted a written report which presented the Capital Strategy for 2020/21, 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 following a sharp upturn in local authorities investing in non-financial assets. Statutory Guidance on Local Government Investments published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government 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 2020/21 be approved.

 

(5.43 pm – 5.44 pm)

 

110.

Vehicle Procurement - Forward Plan Ref: 039PES19: pdf icon PDF 233 KB

The Direct Services Manager to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Direct Services Manager submitted a written report which sought approval to purchase five new vehicles for the waste and recycling service. The authority to award the contract for the purchase of the vehicles was to be delegated from Cabinet to the Director of Community Services. It was also proposed to extend the delegation to include the future procurement of vehicles as part of the agreed vehicle replacement programme which sat within the Capital and Investment Programme. Following the Parks and Environmental Services Operational Review there had been a rationalisation of the number of vehicle types in operation as well as a reduction in the size of the fleet. It was therefore vital that the Council proactively managed the vehicle replacement programme to maintain the vital service of waste and recycling services across the district. The cost of the vehicles was outlined in Appendix 1 to the report.

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That     (1) Cabinet delegate authority to the Director of Community Services to award a contract for the purchase of five Dennis Eagle refuse collection vehicles in 2020/21 via one of the frameworks detailed in the report within the agreed budget; and

 

            (2) Cabinet delegate authority to the Director of Community Services to award future vehicle procurements, which were part of the agreed vehicle replacement programme (which sits within the Capital and Investment Programme) to Dennis Eagle or any other manufacturer of waste and recycling refuse vehicle manufacturer. This delegation would cover vehicles purchased through a relevant existing or specialist vehicle procurement framework (e.g. ESPO, Procurement Lincolnshire Framework Agreement for the supply of Refuse Collection Vehicles) within the agreed capital and investment budget.

 

Reason for decision:

 

The purchase of (i) the five new waste and recycling collection vehicles for 2020/21 and (ii) waste and recycling collection vehicles in future years will provide the waste and recycling service with the ability to complete waste collections across the district and will replace vehicles that were approaching the end of their serviceable life. It was possible to purchase vehicles at competitive prices through frameworks available to local government.

 

Alternative option considered and rejected:

 

Not to approve the purchase of (i) the five new vehicles and (ii) waste and recycling collection vehicles in line with the agreed vehicle replacement programme in future years, as this could have jeopardised the safe and effective delivery of the waste collection service and lead to potential service failure for residents.

 

(5.44 pm – 5.47 pm)

 

(D)

 

111.

Support Contract for iWorld Application Software - Forward Plan Ref: 038CA19: pdf icon PDF 143 KB

The Programme and Compliance Manager to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Programme and Compliance Manager submitted a written report which sought approval to enter into a five year contract with Northgate Public Services (UK) Ltd for the support of the iWorld Revenues and Benefits and Housing Application Software, with a total contract sum of £570,376.50. The Council currently used the iWorld software and the support contract was due to end on 31 March 2020. It was considered business critical software that was vital to essential council services. A cost saving was anticipated as the price would be fixed for the duration of the five year contract. The systems were working effectively, were fit for purpose and had extensive integration with other systems, such as Firmstep, that were used by the Council.

 

Exempt Appendix 1 to the report contained the relevant cost breakdown for the Revenues and Benefits team and the Housing service respectively.

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That approval is given to enter into a contract with Northgate Public Services (UK) Ltd for the support of iWorld Revenues and Benefits software and iWorld Housing software as set out in paragraph 5.1 of the report.

 

Reason for decision:

 

It was anticipated that by entering into a five year contract there would be a saving as the price was fixed and would not be subject to inflationary increases within the term of the contract. The software was fit for purpose, had been integrated to Firmstep and officers were happy to continue using the software for five years, when it would be reviewed. It therefore needed to be supported by the supplier during this period.

 

Alternative option considered and rejected:

 

That the Council do not purchase support. This was rejected as it was business critical software and support was essential for its continued use.

 

(5.47 pm – 5.49 pm)

 

(D)

 

112.

North and West Yorkshire Business Rates Pool 2020/21: pdf icon PDF 165 KB

The Financial Service Manager to submit a written report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Financial Services Manager submitted a written report which sought approval for the governance agreement and terms of reference associated with the North and West Yorkshire (N&WY) Business Rates pool of which Harrogate will be a member authority in 2020/21.

 

The Council had been a member of the N&WY Business Rates pool pilot for 2019/20 which was due to cease on 31st March 2020. As the membership of the pool was to be slightly different for 2020/21, the existing pool was to be revoked on 31st March 2020 and the current N&WY pool Joint Committee would be disbanded. In its place would be a single-purpose joint committee comprised of representatives from 10 of the 13 member authorities. As such, a new memorandum of understanding, which set out the governance arrangements, and terms of reference were required. The proposed memorandum of understanding was set out at Appendix 1 and the new terms of reference were set out at Appendix 2.

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That     (1) it is noted that the existing N&WY Business Rates pool is to be revoked on 31st March 2020 and the current N&WY Business Rates pool Joint Committee will therefore be disbanded on the same date;

 

            (2) the memorandum of understanding (Appendix 1) and terms of reference (Appendix 2) for the new N&WY Business Rates pool for 2020/21 be approved; and

 

            (3) the Leader be appointed to the Joint Committee for the N&WY Business Rates pool for the 2020/21 financial year.

 

Reasons for decisions:

 

The Council was a member of the N&WY Business Rates pool that had been approved by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to operate for 2020/21. The pool will operate under 50% rather than 75% retention in 2020/21 and will not include Selby. In order for the 2020/21 pool to operate, the existing N&WY pool must be revoked. Each member authority must approve the memorandum of understanding and terms of reference for the new N&WY pool.

 

As part of the governance arrangements, Harrogate was stated as being one of the members of the Joint Committee that will oversee the N&WY pool in

2020/21.

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

 

Not to approve the memorandum of understanding and terms of reference. This was rejected as the documents are in line with the original application to MHCLG as report to Cabinet on 8 January 2020. Arrangements must be in place for the commencement of the new pool on 1 April 2020.

 

Not to approve that the Leader sit on the Joint Committee for the pool. This was rejected as it would contradict the memorandum of understanding and would diminish the Council’s influence on the pool.

 

(5.49 pm – 5.51 pm)

 

(D)

 

113.

Council Tax Reduction Scheme: pdf icon PDF 173 KB

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

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Revenues, Welfare and Customer Services Manager submitted a written report which detailed the annual review of the Local Council Tax Reduction (CTR) Scheme, which was attached at Appendix A to the report. CTR provided support for low-income households and was currently based on a means test. The scheme was split between those of pension age and those of working age; the rules for pension age claimants were set by the government, however the rules for working age households were set by the billing authority. The HBC local scheme was aligned with Housing Benefit processes. Attached at Appendix A to the report was the consultation summary.

 

The introduction of Universal Credit in 2016 had added an additional level of complexity to CTR claims. The national Move to Universal Credit pilot was running in Harrogate and was expected to be completed in September 2024. A full review and consultation of the Universal Credit and local CTR Scheme had been proposed for 2020/21 to allow roll out of a new scheme for the 2021/22 financial year. The aim of the new scheme would be to ensure the system was as straightforward as possible for customers and the administrative processers.

 

The proposed amendments to the Local CTR Scheme for 2020/21 included the uprating of personal allowances and premiums; uprating of non-dependant deductions and uprating of income disregards. These changes were legislative and ensured the scheme remained aligned to national welfare changes. Further changes to the scheme were made following consultation; this included the introduction of a de-Minimus level of changes of plus or minus £2 in the monthly council tax liability to allow for fluctuation in income levels and a change in approach to the use of information from the Department of Work and Pensions where error was suspected. Harrogate Borough Council would continue to offer reductions up to 100% for those most in need. Currently the scheme awarded just over £7 million in council tax reduction to nearly 7,500 households in the district.

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That Harrogate Borough Council maintains the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme in its current format for 2020/21 with the inclusion of two proposed administration changes to the scheme and the reflection of legislative changes that have come into effect since the 2019/20 scheme review.

 

 

Reason for decision:

 

The current scheme provided financial assistance for low-income households in the district and support the Council’s aims under the Welfare Strategy.

 

The proposed administrative changes to the scheme were accepted as part of the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2020/21 to reflect the Council’s commitment to reduce fraud and error in the scheme and provide greater clarity and assurance for those customers faced with fluctuations in income.

 

Legislation required the Council Tax Reduction policy to be approved on an annual basis by 11 March preceding the start of the financial year the policy applies to.

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

 

To make no changes to the scheme. This was not a viable option as the Council had to reflect national  ...  view the full minutes text for item 113.

114.

Non-Domestic Rates Relief Policy 2020: pdf icon PDF 157 KB

The Revenues, Welfare and Customer Service 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 2020 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 support 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 additional business rates measures announced by the Government. These included extending rate relief to cinemas and music venues; the extension of the office based local newspaper discount of £1500 until 31 March 2025 and the introduction of an additional £1000 relief to eligible pubs.

 

RESOLVED (UNANIMOUSLY):

 

That the Non-domestic Discretionary Rates Relief policy is implemented from 1 April 2020.

 

Reason for decision:

 

The policy included the changes necessary to implement the national additional business rates measures and continued to provide local support for business over and above what was available nationally to enhance the local economy.

 

Alternative option considered and rejected:

 

To continue with the current Non-domestic Discretionary Rate Relief policy which would not have allowed for the proposed additional areas of relief to be rolled out within the district.

 

(5.54 pm – 5.59 pm)

 

(D)

 

115.

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 2021.

 

Reason for making decision:

 

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

 

Alternative options considered and rejected:

 

None.

 

(6.00 pm)

 

(D)