Venue: Virtual Meeting via Zoom with Public Access via YouTube https://tinyurl.com/TorridgeYouTube
Contact: Mary Richards, tel 01237 428705 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies For Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Boughton (Councillor Harding substituted).
Confirmation of the minutes held on 11 February 2020.
It was proposed by Councillor Manley, seconded by Councillor Newton and –
That the minutes of the meeting held on 11 February be agreed and signed as a correct record. A recorded vote was taken.
(Vote: For 10, Abstention 1)
Minute 69 – no change
Minute 56 – It had previously been agreed that the Committee would look at environmental and social governance (ESG) rather than ethical investment.
There were no public contributions.
Declaration Of Interests
Members with interests should refer to the agenda item and describe the nature of their interest when the item is considered.
Members were reminded that declarations of interest should be made as and when the specific agenda item to which they related was under discussion.
Urgent Matters Brought Forward With The Permission Of The Chair
In light of the updated Covid-19 restrictions, Councillor Inch asked for an indication as to when public meetings might be held in person again.
The Interim Head of Paid Service responded that current legislation does not permit meetings to be held in that format at the moment, albeit Parliament was now sitting but was governed by a different set of legislation. The LGA is lobbying to revert to the holding of meetings in person and information has been circulated to all members about holding hybrid meetings. Consideration had to be given to the possibility of members of the public wishing to attend meetings and to the size of committees.
The opinion was expressed that one of the benefits of continuing to hold remote meetings is that it facilitates those councillors not on a particular committee taking part in meetings.
Agreement of Agenda Items Part I And II
There were no Part II items.
To receive the report of the Interim Head of Paid Service.
The QBR was presented by the Service Improvement Officer and the Finance Manager.
The Service Improvement Officer ran through the performance highlights for each of the Council’s goals and explained that unemployment levels had been used as performance measures and that unemployment levels in Torridge were below the national average. The impact of Covid-19 was not expected to be seen until October 2020. However, it was already clear that the number of Universal Credit applications had doubled in the South West.
· Waste & Recycling had already surpassed the goals set by both TDC and the Government and figures continued to improve.
· The percentage of planning applications determined on time and appeals in favour of TDC continued to rise.
· The number of visits to the customer hub carried on falling whilst e-mail and web contact had increased.
The Finance Manager reported an underspend of £151,000 during 2019/2020 and it was recommended that this sum be transferred to the Transition in Government Funding Reserve to meet the pressures of Covid-19.
An additional £200,000 had been put into the 2019/2020 in anticipation of an expected increase in demand on homelessness services. However, there had been an underspend against budget in this area.
Savings had been made on staffing, the main factors being:
· Changes within waste & recycling which had reduced overtime
· Customer Services now working from one site
· The move towards to Universal Credit had created vacancies which have not been filled
· Other vacancies amount to about 2% of the staffing budget
Savings had been made in other areas:
· Business rate income
· Financial incentives for waste & recycling
· Reduced fuel prices had resulted in lower costs in respect of refuse and cleansing vehicles
· A retender for insurance
· Contingency reserve not utilised
· Income from crematoria, car parking and rent
The Finance Manager gave details on the funding of and spend on capital projects, together with information on interest rates and cash balances.
The figure for the start of the current financial year is £13.4m.
Members had been asked to submit any questions prior to the meeting and a Q&A document was presented. The document had not been published in the public domain due to time constraints, but it will be made public following the meeting. If Zoom meetings continue, future requests for questions on the QBR will be sent out earlier in order that responses can be collated and incorporated in the slide presentation.
The document was reviewed, and supplementary information was provided/ additional questions raised as follows:
Brunswick Wharf - Progress updates will be presented in each of the quarterly business reports.
Torrington Panier Market – The Property & Procurement Manager will prepare a response to the additional questions relating to the size of hoppers, flooding, new lighting and painting the front of the pannier market. To be circulated to Committee Members.
Bridge Buildings - The response provided referred to the budget rather than a £figure. The Finance Manager stated that the costs were residual costs as the building was unoccupied and it was anticipated that ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
To review the Forward Plan.
The Chair asked Members whether they were happy for future Zoom meetings to take place 10.00am. A show of hands indicated that this suited most Committee Members.
The Forward Plan was reviewed and duly updated, with the addition of:
· affordable housing
· peer review
and the removal of :
· External Grants Task & Finish Group as this had now run its course.
A meeting of the Income generation Task & Finish Group to be set up.