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Contact: Claire Johnston - 01202 123663 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive any apologies for absence from Members.
Apologies were received from Cllr M Earle,
To receive information on any changes in the membership of the Committee.
Note – When a member of a Committee is unable to attend a meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee, the relevant Political Group Leader (or their nominated representative) may, by notice to the Monitoring Officer (or their nominated representative) prior to the meeting, appoint a substitute member from within the same Political Group. The contact details on the front of this agenda should be used for notifications.
Cllr M Cox substituted for Cllr M Earle.
Declarations of Interests
Councillors are requested to declare any interests on items included in this agenda. Please refer to the workflow on the preceding page for guidance.
Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.
To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution, which is available to view at the following link:
The deadline for the submission of a public question is 4 clear working days before the meeting.
The deadline for the submission of a statement is midday the working day before the meeting.
The deadline for the submission of a petition is 10 working days before the meeting.
There were no public petitions.
There was one public question received from Mr Bantock regarding agenda item 5, Scrutiny of Finance Cabinet Reports, as follows:
The inflation rate increase may lead to more strained household budgets. The combined effects of Brexit, Covid, energy crisis and climate change may result in a similar or worse financial crash to 2008. Pay rises without increased productivity will drive inflation higher leading to higher interest rates. I feel that BCP will have to deal with more unpaid council tax when the energy cap rises and NIC contributions and council tax increases.
I believe that your capital projects increase realisations may be overoptimistic and you may need to increase your capital reserves to cover any losses caused by events.
In view of all these risks, surely your budget increase ought to be increased by a further 1.99%?
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Board advised that a response to the question had been provided by the Leader of the Council as follows:
“Thank you for your considered question. We do strongly note your concerns about current levels of inflation and those very real pressures are one of the many reasons why we are committed to keeping council tax as low as we're able to whilst still providing record investment in our services to vulnerable people. Our low council tax policies in this and our previous budget have collectively saved our Residents over £11m over two years.
We have a significant asset base and believe that there is opportunity to look to utilising those assets more commercially in delivering long term financial sustainability before stretching the council taxpayer further."
The following Public Statement has been received from Mrs Chapman, local resident:
BCP's residents face a 4% council tax increase despite government's maximum of 3%. The harmonisation programme allowed some deferrals.
So the alleged savings of £45.3 million needs to be looked at extremely sceptically as councillors have noted. BCP residents must be told the truth about where their money is going.
Budget Scrutiny 2022/23 - To consider the following budget related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 9 February 2022:
· Budget and Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) 2022/23 (Pages xx – xx)
· Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget Setting 2022/23 (Pages xx – xx)
The Chairs from the Children’s Services and Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committees are invited to attend the Board for consideration of this item.
The Overview and Scrutiny Board will also consider the following report scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 9 February 2022:
· 2021/22 Budget Monitoring at Quarter 3
Cabinet members invited to attend for this item: Councillor Drew Mellor, leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Transformation.
The O&S Board is asked to scrutinise and comment on the reports and if required make recommendations or observations as appropriate.
The Cabinet reports for this item are included with the agenda for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
The Chairman introduced this item and advised that the Budget and Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) 2022/2 and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget Setting 2022/23 would be taken together and asked all parties in the meeting contribute to a constructive discussion of the issues in a respectful way. The Chairman then invited the Leader of the Council to introduce the reports. The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Transformation and Finance presented the reports, copies of which had been circulated to each member and which appears as Appendices ‘A’ and ‘B’ to these minutes in the Minute Book. The Portfolio Holder and Chief Financial Officer responded to comments and questions from the Board, details included:
· A Councillor advised that residents views that they had been made aware of included that the issues outlined in the budget were not what the Council should be focused on, that much of the content went against sensible financial practice, that loans were being used to hold down council tax at the cost of borrowing, which was effectively financial engineering and that Councils should be run service providers rather becoming involved with issues they shouldn’t be. The Leader responded that the Council would be investing £50million and would deliver in the region of £1billion of savings over a 20-year period. They felt that this was good financial planning and the right thing to do at this time. However, it was understood that it was a choice regarding the level of council tax set.
· The Chairman commented on the cost of transformation and the mechanism being used to fund it. The cost had increased significantly with savings being realised at the end of the time-period. It was noted that there were risks and that this was not what people were used to which had raised a number of concerns about this approach. A Councillor commented on the Section 151 financial warning flags across the report. The Leader responded that it was fair to say that this was a step change in financial strategy. The Council, now the tenth largest unitary authority in the country, was a very different organisation to the preceding authorities. The Council was not selling off assts in order to ensure that they would be retained for future generations. The Leader acknowledged that comments made around transformation were valid, but the programme was fundamental in achieving 5-year and ongoing financial sustainability. The Council was now in a position of looking towards a solid, balanced 5-year Medium Term Financial Plan, which was not a position the Council had always been in. It was noted that the level of debt for the Council was much smaller than other councils of a similar size.
· The Leader advised that the Council would be delivering investment and retaining assets with utilising what was available to invest in future savings.
· A Councillor commented that the lower council tax increase was only positive if services were fully and regularly delivered. It was noted that savings had not been achieved previously and there ... view the full minutes text for item 160.
To consider the Corporate Strategy report scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 9 February 2021:
The O&S Board is asked to scrutinise and comment on the report and if required make recommendations or observations as appropriate.
Cabinet member invited to attend for this item: Councillor Drew Mellor, Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Finance and Transformation.
The Cabinet report for this item is included with the agenda for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
The Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder for Transformation and Finance introduced the report, a copy of which had been circulated to each member of the Board and which appears as Appendix ‘D’ to these minutes in the Minute Book. The Portfolio Holder and Chief Financial Officer responded to comments and questions from the Board, details included:
· A Board member commented that it was understood that Christchurch Street Lighting was not currently with a renewable provider as opposed to it being indicated within the report that all electricity would be with a renewable provider. It was suggested that an officer would need to respond to the detail on this issue.
· The report stated that food waste provision would be unified across the Council by April 2023, it was understood that there was an intention that environment act would bring everything forward by 2023 but there was no funding for this until 2025. The Leader confirmed that it was the ambition to level up and was now a commitment in the strategy. However the confirmation on funding was still awaited by the government.
· A Councillor asked about the section on dynamic economy which indicated that the future of Winter Gardens would be determined in the future and the impact on the partnership with Morgan Sindel and the associated risks for this. There was an ambition around dynamic places which was now being fully resourced. The funding indicated was the full cost of the winter gardens spent to date. There was a future places scheme in place to look at this and all other sites as well.
· The report indicated the adoption of Local Plan would be finalised by April 2023 – but the timeline indicated April 2024, the Leader thought it was probably a typo and this would be amended.
· The report indicated that the Youth Strategy would be finalised by March 2022 but this was not coming to Overview and Scrutiny until April. The Leader noted this and confirmed that April was correct.
· A Councillor commented that the report indicated that Brighter Futures for the high needs block would be balanced by March 2023 but this hadn’t been indicated previously. The High Needs Block did need to be addressed. There was more capital investment into schools along with the service-based transformation.
· The Accountable Council section refered to digital tools but at the moment there was a lot of disappointment from residents that there was a lack of traditional engagement and pushing people towards digital tools when this was not a viable option for everyone. There was san ambition to be an entirely digitally enabled authority but there was also significant investment going back into telephony and improving the customer offer on this. A Councillor responded that there was a feeling of mistrust amongst some residents that the digital response to things like the local plan had been made extremely hard for a normal resident to complete, even for someone good with digital communication. The Leader suggested that hubs in ... view the full minutes text for item 161.
To consider and amend the Board’s Forward Plan as appropriate, to consider the published Cabinet Forward Plan and to consider whether the issue outlined in the attached scoping report should be added to the Board’s Forward Plan.
Future Meeting Dates 2021/22 and 2022/23
To note the following proposed meeting dates for the 2021/22 municipal year:
· 28 February 2022
· 4 April 2022
And 2022/23 municipal year:
· 16 May 2022
· 13 June 2022
· 18 July 2022
· 22 August 2022
· 19 September 2022
· 17 October 2022
· 14 November 2022
· 5 December 2022
· 9 January 2023
· 6 February 2023
· 6 March 2023
· 3 April 2023
All meetings will be held via video conferencing until further notice.
The dates for future meetings were noted.