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Apologies for absence and notification of substitute members
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Liz Hogger and Ian Symes (parish member).
Local code of conduct - disclosure of interests
In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda. Any councillor with a DPI must notparticipate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must also withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.
If that DPI has not been registered, you must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.
Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.
There were no disclosures of interest.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Corporate Governance and Standards Committee held on 19 September 2019.
The Committee confirmed as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 19 September 2019. The Chairman signed the minutes.
The Committee considered a report that set out the financial monitoring position for six-month period April to September 2019.
The report summarised the projected outturn position for the Council’s general fund revenue account, based on actual and accrued data for this period. Officers were projecting an increase in net expenditure on the general fund revenue account of £568,637, which included a £171,280 reduction in the statutory Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) charge to the General Fund to make provision for the repayment of past capital debt reflecting a re-profiling of capital schemes and a reduction in the anticipated income received from investments of £336,865.
Appendix 2 to the report showed detailed information for each service split between direct expenditure and income and indirect costs. Officers monitored the projected outturn against the revised (or latest) budget as this took into account any virement or supplementary estimates approved since the original budget was set in February 2019.
At service level, the projected outturn was £403,052 higher than the latest estimate once adjusted for items either funded from reserve or transferred to reserve.
The reported position at month 4 had forecasted an underspend at total service level of £513,802. It had since been discovered that this figure included an underspend against central overheads which was in respect of a year-end accrual that had not been reversed. The restated position at month 4 was therefore an overspend of £461,677.
A surplus on the Housing Revenue Account would enable a projected transfer of £10.929 million to the new build reserve and the reserve for future capital at year-end. This had been £4,000 lower than budgeted and reflected modest variations in rental income and repair and maintenance expenditure.
Officers were making progress against a number of major capital projects on the approved programme as outlined in section 7 of the report. The Council was expected to spend £68.95 million on its capital schemes by the end of the financial year.
The Council’s underlying need to borrow to finance the capital programme was expected to be £43.82 million by 31 March 2020, against an estimated position of £53.35 million, which was due to slippage on both the approved and provisional capital programme, as detailed in the report.
The Council held £114 million of investments and £206 million of external borrowing as at 30 September 2019, which included £192.9 million of HRA loans. Officers confirmed that the Council had complied with its Prudential indicators in the period, which had been set in February 2019 as part of the Council’s Capital Strategy.
Comments from the Committee included the following points:
· Whilst there was some concern over the number of void industrial properties, it was noted that many of these had been planned whilst redevelopment took place, for example at Midleton industrial Estate. In other cases, the Council had bought into investment properties on Slyfield that were going to be void for a period of time for refurbishment works in order to get them to a lettable state.
· In response ... view the full minutes text for item CGS33
Arising from a number of concerns raised by councillors in relation to ethical standards and transparency, the Committee considered a report setting out a proposal to establish a cross-party task group with a wide remit to consider, review and make recommendations on these matters.
At its meeting on 28 March 2019, the Committee received the Monitoring Officer’s Annual Report on allegations of misconduct against borough and parish councillors for 2018. Part of that report included reference to recommendations contained in a report published by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (CSPL) on Local Government Ethical Standards. Although some of the recommendations required primary legislation to implement the changes sought, the CSPL had also put forward a number of best practice recommendations for local authorities to consider which did not require changes in the law. The Committee noted that the Council already complied, or partially complied, with some of the best practice recommendations and authorised the Monitoring Officer to take the necessary steps to ensure compliance with them and submit reports as appropriate to this Committee in due course.
It was suggested that the task group proposed in the report could look at these best practice recommendations and report back to the Committee on whether the Council should adopt those with which it did not currently comply.
The Committee was also informed that, in early 2019, a task group established by this Committee had reviewed the Protocol on Councillor/Officer Relations but did not report back on its findings as it was felt that the new Council should have the opportunity of providing input into that review. It was suggested that the task group proposed in the report should review the work undertaken by the previous task group.
It is also suggested that the proposed task group should undertake the work agreed by the Council at its meeting on 8 October 2019, following the adoption of a motion which, amongst other matters, requested the establishment of a task group to examine the effectiveness of internal communications and promote transparency.
Having considered the report, the Committee
(1) That a task group be established to examine, review, and report back initially to this Committee on the following matters:
(a) the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, including the policy on acceptance of gifts and hospitality by councillors;
(b) the best practice recommendations of the Committee on Standards in Public Life contained within its Report on Local Government Ethical Standards
(c) the Council’s guidance on the use of social media by councillors;
(d) the revised draft Protocol on Councillor/Officer Relations
(e) the effectiveness of internal communications, between officers and councillors; and
(f) proposals to promote transparency, and effective communications and reporting, including the Council’s Communications Protocol.
(2) That the task group shall comprise the following persons:
· Councillor Tim Anderson
· Councillor Liz Hogger
· Councillor Nigel Manning
· Councillor Ramsey Nagaty
· Councillor James Walsh
· Murray Litvak (independent member)
and appropriate officers.
To facilitate proper consideration of a number of important corporate governance related matters.
The Committee considered its updated 12 month rolling work programme and noted that the meeting scheduled for 18 May 2020 was an error and should have been scheduled for 18 June 2020. Taking into account the suggestion made in the previous item, the Committee
(1) That the updated 12 month rolling work programme, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report submitted to the Committee, be approved, subject to the addition of periodic reports back to the Committee in 2020 from the task group appointed to consider and review various corporate governance related matters.
(2) That the meeting scheduled for 18 May 2020 be put back to Thursday 18 June 2020.
To allow the Committee to maintain and update its work programme.