Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Town Hall - Bridge Street, Bideford, EX39 2HS. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  Email: democratic.services@torridge.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

51.

Apologies For Absence

To receive apologies for absence from the meeting

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R Hancock, J Langton-Lockton and C Simmons.

52.

Public Contributions

15 minute period for public contributions

Minutes:

Robert Durrant opened his address by speaking of the harm and distress caused to Bideford starling roosts nesting under Bideford Bridge, by biannual firework displays.  He called on Torridge District Council and Bideford Town Council to accept responsibility and to prevent further cruelty, not only to the starlings but also to pets and wildlife.  Furthermore, he advised that the RSPB was watching for a response to ensure that both councils will do everything within their power to protect the birds.

 

Mr Durrant referred to the petition that Councillor Christie was to present later in the meeting and to his report which had already triggered supportive responses from several Members of TDC.

53.

Declarations of interest

Members with interests to declare should refer to the Agenda item and describe the nature of their interest when the item is being discussed.

Minutes:

Members were reminded that declarations of interest should be made as and when the specific agenda item to which they related was under discussion.

54.

Agreement of Agenda Items Part I and II

Minutes:

There were no Part II items.

55.

To consider correspondence or other business especially brought forward by the direction of the Chair

Minutes:

In light of the public contribution being related to a petition, the Chair moved that agenda item 11 “Petitions” be brought forward.

 

56.

Petitions

To receive petitions (if any)

Minutes:

On behalf of Mr Durrant, Councillor Christie presented a Petition, together with a memory stick containing the signatures.

 

The Chair clarified that if the Petition contained more than 3,000 signatures the matter would be debated at a Full Council meeting within three months.

57.

Budget 2019/20, Medium Term Financial Strategy 2019-20 to 2023-23 pdf icon PDF 499 KB

To receive the report of the Strategic Manager (Resources)

Minutes:

The Strategic Manager (Resources) presented the report, the purpose of which was for Members to consider the recommendations from Community & Resources Committee on the 4 February, as scrutinised by Internal Overview & Scrutiny Committee on the 11 February, in relation to the draft Budget 2019/20 and to approve a Budget and level of Council tax for 2019/20.

 

The Medium Term Financial strategy (MTFS) indicates the possible extent of the budget and funding shortfall that the Council will face in the future.   It is an aid in identifying the extent of service changes that the Council will need to make to achieve a balanced budget in each financial year up to 2023/24.

 

The Strategic Manager (Resources) informed the Committee of the challenging year ahead and the need for the Council to find savings and to make decisions in terms of bridging the gap in the budget.   He explained that the Budget Report incorporated two sub reports, namely Council Tax changes and New Homes Bonus, and these to be presented following the recorded vote on recommendation f) – proposed Council Tax increase.  

 

A slide presentation was delivered by the Strategic Manager (Resources)  which highlighted the salient points in the report.  The main point emphasised to Members was the deficit which is projected to grow significantly over the period under consideration.   The projected deficit had moved adversely due to the LGA pay award which had resulted in an increased salary bill for the Council and a substantive increase in homelessness costs.  Other points highlighted included the impact of increasing the council tax, budget pressures and savings, New Homes Bonus, challenges for the Council in future years and new Capital Project bids.

 

The Strategic Manager (Resources) and Finance Manager also provided reasons and rationale to support the recommendations detailed in the report.

 

When debating this item, Councillor A Inch proposed lobbying the Government in relation to stopping second homes registering as a business and therefore not having to pay council tax.  The Strategic Manager (Resources) reported that Devon County Council, on behalf of all District Council’s, had prepared a response to the consultation, but additional lobbying would add weight to the case.

 

Councillor Christie felt that to allay public perception, information be circulated to the public on the effects the funding cuts, made by Central Government, had had on this area.  The Strategic Manager (Resources) advised that, with Member agreement, a press release can be drafted.  

 

Following further discussion it was proposed by Councillor Watson, seconded by Councillor Hackett –

 

That Torridge’s Band D Council Tax for 2019/20 be increased by £5 (3.15% from £158.86 to £163.68 per year.

 

An amendment was proposed by Councillor Hellyer, seconded by Councillor Brenton that there be a 0% increase in Council Tax.   

 

A recorded vote was taken on this motion –

 

COUNCILLOR

FOR

  AGAINST

ABSTAIN

BOUGHTON, R

 

X

 

BOYLE,  A J

 

X

 

BRENTON, D G

X

 

 

BROWN, M

X

 

 

CHRISTIE, P S

X

 

 

COTTLE-HUNKIN, C

 

X

 

DART, A L

X

 

 

DAVIS, K

 

X

 

DEZART, G A

 

X

 

EASTMAN,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

57a

Proposed Changes to Council Tax Legislation - Long Term Empty Properties and Review Current Council Tax Local Discount Policy pdf icon PDF 128 KB

To receive the report of the Customer Support Manager

Minutes:

This item had been presented under Agenda item 6.

 

57b

New Homes Bonus - Community Grants pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To receive the report of the Strategic Manager (Resources)

Minutes:

This item had been presented under Agenda item 6.

 

58.

Recommendations from C&R pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Minutes:

This item had been included under Agenda item 6.

 

 

59.

Recommendations from Internal O&S pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Minutes:

This item had been included under Agenda item 6.

 

60.

Council Tax Resolution 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 117 KB

To receive the report of the Strategic Manager (Resources)

Minutes:

The Strategic Manager (Resources) presented the report, the purpose of which was to enable the Council to calculate and approve the Council Tax requirement for 2019/20.

 

Members were informed of the following amendment to the report:

 

An updated Resolution was tabled by the Strategic Manager (Resources)

 

Devon & Somerset Fire Authority – 2019/20 figure to be £86.52.  Total average Band D to be amended to £1,909.56.

 

When debating this item, concerns were raised with regard to the precept increase by the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner of 12%.   Councillor Hackett, Lead Member for Health & Wellbeing and Community safety, addressed the meeting and reiterated the update he had given at External Overview & Scrutiny Committee meeting.  This included his concerns in relation to the reduction in number of PCSO’s, a large percentage of police time being spent dealing with non police matters and the statistics detailed in the Police and Crime Commissioners letter.

 

The Strategic Manager (Resources) agreed to ascertain whether the Authority are still funding street marshals.  This was a matter funded jointly by the Community Safety Partnership.

 

It was proposed by Councillor S Inch, seconded by Councillor A Inch and –

 

Resolved:

 

That the formal Council Tax Resolution for 2019/20 as set out in the revised document tabled be approved.

 

(Vote:  for 31, abstentions 1)

 

61.

Capital Programme 2019-20 to 2025-26 pdf icon PDF 247 KB

To receive the report of the Strategic Manager (Resources)

Minutes:

The purpose of the report, presented by the Strategic Manager (Resources), was for Members to update the Capital Programme, for new PIDs and inflationary pressures, consider the recommendations from Community & Resources Committee on 4 February 2019 and the Member event held on 29 November 2018.

 

The Strategic Manager (Resources) updated Members on an additional recommendation from Community & Resources Committee – that £60k is identified for replacing pay and display machines.  Although £156,000 had been set aside for changing the machines, the cost by going with a new supplier would be £60k.  

 

The following matters were raised by Members:

 

Gypsy & Traveller sites – the money set aside can this be allocated elsewhere?  The Strategic Manager (Resources) reminded Members of the recommendation made at the Workshop in November that, as no site had been found, the money to be included in the Programme and to be reviewed at a later date.

 

Northam Burrows works – this money had been set aside to cover any urgent works that may arise.   This had been included in the Programme, with Member approval, approximately three years ago.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Hackett, seconded by Councillor Lock and –

 

Resolved:

 

a)     That the Capital Programme updated for inflation, listed at 3.1 in the report be approved.

 

b)     That the inclusion of the Capital Projects (PiDs), listed at 4.3 in the report, into the Capital Programme 2019/20 to 2025/26 be approved.

 

c)     That the recommendations from the Member event to close the gap listed in 5.3 in the report be approved

 

d)     That borrowing up to £600K from the PWLB to create a revolving loan facility for CLTs to support affordable housing, listed in 7 in the report, be approved.

 

e)     That it be noted that even after approval of the above recommendations, there is still a shortfall in 2025/26 of £1.3m

 

f)      That in light of the projected deficit on the Capital program of £1.3m, that the Capital Program be reviewed by Members in conjunction with officers in order to determine options to address the capital funding gap. The deadline for the review being the 30th September 2019.

 

g)     That the £60k identified for replacing pay and display machines be included in the Capital Programme and funded from the reserve set up specifically for this.

 

 

(Vote:  For – Unanimous)

 

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62.

Recommendations from C&R pdf icon PDF 47 KB

Minutes:

This item had been included under Agenda item 8.

 

63.

Treasury Management Report & Capital Strategy pdf icon PDF 64 KB

To receive the report of the Strategic Manager (Resources)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

This item was introduced by the Strategic Manager (Resources) who explained that the purpose of the report was for Members to consider the Treasury Management Strategy, Prudential Indicators and Minimum Revenue Provision Policy for 2019/20.

 

The Strategic Manager (Resources) reported that a new requirement for 2019/20 required by the Code of Practice on Treasury Management, necessitates that the Capital Strategy is approved by Full Council.  He referred to the additional recommendation.

 

It was proposed by Councillor Langmead, seconded by Councillor Watson and –

 

Resolved:

 

  • That the Treasury Management and Investment Strategy and Counterparty List, Prudential Indicators and Minimum Revenue Provision Policy be approved.

 

  • That the Capital Strategy be approved.

 

  • That £600k of borrowing from the PWLB to support CLT’s be approved, subject to approval from Community & Resources Committee.

 

(Vote:  For 31, Abstentions 1)

 

64.

To answer questions submitted under Procedural Rule A9

Minutes:

There were no questions submitted under Procedural Rule A9.

 

65.

Notices of Motion

Minutes:

There were no notices of motion.

 

66.

Briefing from Head of Paid Service

Minutes:

Part II Information

 

The Head of Paid Service referred to the confidential briefings given at the last Full Council meeting which had been made in Part II because of the serious implications for the council and the possible detriment to council tax payers if the information were to be leaked. 

 

Regrettably, information on all 3 items had been leaked.  The Head of Paid Service had been shocked and very disappointed.  She stated that officers were aware that disclosure of confidential information by an individual would jeopardise their employment and she reminded Members of their responsibility, as Councillors elected by the public, to protect the council tax payer.  The consequence of this irresponsible behaviour was that the Senior Solicitor had spent 2 weeks trying to put things right. 

 

In order to promote transparency by the sharing of Part II information, officers needed to be confident that such information would not be discussed outside of the meeting.

 

Brexit

 

Local authorities have been seeking guidance from Central Government on preparation for Brexit.  £35,000, split over 2 years, had been made available to each district for preparations to leave the EU.  The Environmental Health & Community Safety Manager had started to look at the additional requirements to issue licences for food manufacture and food export to EU post Brexit.

 

There are 9 regional Chief Executives who report into the Minister for Housing, Communities & Local Government and disseminate information to all of the local, authorities.  The local lead is Phil Norrey of DCC.

 

The Head of Paid Service referred to a checklist which had been provided to help local authorities assure themselves that all the necessary impact assessments had been carried out and mitigation plans had been put in place.  The feedback on the areas highlighted in the checklist were as follows:

 

·         EU workers – TDC did not have any workers who might be affected.

·         Insurance and financial contracts – Officers were working their way through existing contracts

·         The effects on the supply chain with European companies and the data held by European companies were being checked

·         A local resilience forum was looking at what might happen if there were a problem with fuel supply, although the Government had measures in place to ensure it would not happen.

 

Questions had been raised with the MHCLG and answers were awaited.

 

The Government had announced a sum of money for ports, a flat rate of £136,000 for each such Authority.

Information had been sought regarding European elections, which are scheduled for the end of May.

 

The impact of Brexit on agriculture was discussed and the Leader confirmed that she would be contacting the NFU as this had also been raised at recent Leadership and Scrutiny meetings.

 

The Leader reinforced the Head of Paid Service’s disappointment at the disclosure of Part II information. 

 

It was noted that the latest telephone directory did not include a telephone number for TDC. The IT department had looked into and advised that it is normally an action decision to remove, therefore, not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.