Agenda and minutes

Executive - Tuesday 14th July 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Ainsley Gilbert  01473 432510

Items
No. Item

12.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were no Apologies for Absence.

13.

Unconfirmed Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 393 KB

To consider the Minutes of the meeting held on 16 June 2020.

Minutes:

It was RESOLVED:

 

that the minutes of the meeting held on 16 June 2020 be signed as a true record.

14.

To Confirm or Vary the Order of Business

Minutes:

It was RESOLVED:

 

that the Order of Business be confirmed as printed on the Agenda.

15.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest.

16.

E/20/06 Discretionary Grants and Hardship Fund pdf icon PDF 347 KB

Portfolio Holders – Councillor David Ellesmere and Councillor Sophie Meudec

 

The Council has received Government funding as part of the national response to Coronavirus to give out to businesses in the form of Discretionary Grants and to households via a Hardship Fund.

 

‘Phase 1’ of each scheme was introduced via officer delegations and followed the Government advice / guidance for each scheme. In both cases there is still a significant amount of funding left and this report makes recommendations to enable this money to be allocated to businesses (via an application process) and to households.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

16.1.    Councillor Ellesmere introduced the report and advised that £1.25m had been provided by the Government to the Council to help support businesses which were ineligible for relief under the other Government schemes and that £1.5m had been given to provide support to households via a Hardship Fund. Phase one of the scheme had launched in June and it was anticipated that phase two would soon commence, with expanded criteria so that businesses which had been unable to apply during the first phase would be able to this time round. It was also confirmed that those organisations which were eligible for phase one but had not applied would still be able to do so under the second phase.

 

16.2.    Councillor Meudec advised that so far, nearly 8,000 households in Ipswich had received grants from the Hardship Fund. Councillor Meudec explained that some residents would have missed out on a grant from the Hardship Fund due to the way the Council Tax Reduction Scheme was allocated. It was proposed to make funding available through the Discretionary Financial Assistance Scheme, and by providing increased funding through Discretionary Housing Payments. These measures, as well as increasing the maximum grant available would help support those households which were financially vulnerable and help prevent rent arrears occurring for some residents.

 

16.3.    Councillor Fisher asked how it was decided whether businesses would receive the discretionary grant fund in one full amount or in tranches. Russell Williams, Chief Executive, confirmed that the way funds were allocated was in accordance with the policy attached in Appendix 1.

 

16.4.    Councillor Fisher asked if working families whose income had been affected by COVID-19 could be considered for Hardship Fund. Councillor Ellesmere advised that the Government had stated that this money should be provided to people who were eligible for the Council Tax Reduction Scheme or were in significant need of support, rather than higher earners who had lost some of their incomes.

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

i.             that the Chief Executive be authorised to amend the Discretionary Grant Scheme policy, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, to enable a Phase 2 application process to start in accordance with Section 2 of the report, and that the Chief Executive to be authorised to administer and determine the grants to the four categories of business set out in the table at paragraph 2.5 of the report.

 

Reason: To set an appropriate policy framework for Phase 2 of the Discretionary Grant scheme and to administer / determine the grants.

 

ii.            that the Head of Finance and Revenues be authorised to administer £650,000 of Hardship Fund monies in accordance with the proposals within Section 3 of the report.

 

Reason: To enable arrangements to be made for the administration of the Hardship Funds monies.

17.

E/20/07 Draft Reptile Strategy Supplementary Planning Document for Public Consultation pdf icon PDF 359 KB

Portfolio Holder – Councillor Carole Jones

 

Under the Biodiversity Duty (Section 40, Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006), the Council has a legal duty to have regard to conserving biodiversity in all aspects of policy or decision making.  The adopted Ipswich Local Plan sets out policies to protect and enhance biodiversity (policies CS4, DM31) and allocates sites for development.  Some sites earmarked for development provide habitat for reptiles, which are also protected species. Where harm to reptiles cannot be avoided during the development of a site, translocation of these reptiles to an appropriate and safe receptor site is necessary.  Currently this is done on an ad hoc basis.

 

The purpose of the Reptile Strategy SPD is to provide a planned approach to translocation by identifying potential receptor sites in advance and developing a clear delivery strategy including ongoing monitoring and site management. This is essential to support needed housing delivery in the Borough. An implementation plan will follow to include the next steps required for the preparation of identified receptor sites for translocation, the sequence of sites coming forward and the costs involved in this process.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

17.1.    Councillor Jones introduced the report and confirmed that this had been brought to the Executive for approval to begin a public consultation on the draft Reptile Strategy SPD. The Council had a legal duty to consider the conservation of wildlife and currently this was undertaken on an application by application basis. The draft SPD provided a process and strategy to help support developers by outlining a procedure which they could follow to identify whether reptiles were on their site, and what actions they could take. Also included was a list of suitable receptor sites within the Council’s ownership which developers could choose to use to translocate any reptiles.

 

17.2.    In accordance with Standing Orders Part 3, Section 3, Paragraph 3.5, the following question was asked:

 

Question 1 – Councillor Holmes

In light of the Prime Minister’s recent statement that “Newt-counting delays are a massive drag on the prosperity of this country”, does the Portfolio Holder have any evidence that this SPD or previous policy on amphibians will or has caused a “massive drag” on any development in Ipswich or on the general prosperity of the town.

 

17.3.    Councillor Jones responded that there was no evidence that “newt counting” would add to delays in any development in Ipswich and noted the importance of appropriate regulation. The National Planning Policy framework required that planning policies “take opportunities to achieve net environmental gains” and IBC continued to do this alongside supporting sustainable growth without delays. In the last financial year there had been 957 approvals of all types of applications, of which nearly 99% of those were determined within the time frame set by the Government.

 

17.4.    Councillor Cook asked for further clarity regarding the list of habitats and their capacities and asked why Landseer Park had been omitted from the list. Carlos Hone, Operations Manager Planning & Development, confirmed that some parks already had significant reptile populations within them, whereas other habitats listed were less populated and therefore had greater capacity. Landseer Park had not been included due to the large population of reptiles already there.

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

i.             that Executive approve the draft Reptile Strategy Supplementary Planning Document for eight weeks’ public consultation as recommended at Option 1 (paragraph 4.1).

 

Reason: To support the implementation of adopted Local Plan policies on airquality and biodiversity and provide an opportunity for the public to commenton the draft document.

 

ii.            that, up to the start of the consultation period, the Planning and Development Operations Manager be authorised to make minor
changes to the wording or layout of the draft supplementary
planning documents, provided that the changes do not materially
change the meaning of the consultation documents.

 

Reason: Prior to the start of the consultation period, officers may identify areaswhere the document could be improved in wording and layout terms withoutimpacting on meaning. This recommendation will provide the Planning andDevelopment Operations Manager with the ability to undertake any suchchanges.

18.

E/20/08 Revised Medium Term Financial Plan pdf icon PDF 586 KB

Portfolio Holders – Councillor David Ellesmere and Councillor Martin Cook

 

This report considers the financial impact of Coronavirus on the Council and recommends that the General Fund part of the Council’s Medium-Term Financial Plan (MTFP) be updated to ensure the long-term viability of the Council’s financial position.

 

The report advocates that Executive recommends to Full Council on the 29th July 2020 a number of changes to the MTFP, and specifically to:

 

(i)             The Capital Programme;

(ii)            Big Ticket Savings Targets;

(iii)          Operational Areas budgets for 2020/21; and

(iv)          Use of Reserves.

 

In addition, the report recommends that Executive decide to make a number of changes to services that would result in the Council saving money.

 

The changes proposed should, when combined with further anticipated funding from Government, result in the Council’s finances being viable throughout the 4 years of the MTFP (to March 2024).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

18.1.    Councillor Ellesmere introduced the report and explained that as a result of the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic the Council faced significant budgetary challenges. Councillor Ellesmere confirmed that a £10m deficit had been predicted at the end of the financial year due to £4m of additional expenditure and £6m of lost income. So far, £1.4m had been received from the Government and although it was anticipated that some further financial support would be provided, full details were not currently known. The Medium Term Financial Plan had been revised to cover the majority of the deficit across the 4 year plan period and assumed that at least £2.4m would be received from Government. Changes which had been made to the plan included reprofiling capital spend, reducing the size of the opportunity purchase fund, assuming external contributions to public realm work, increasing the big ticket savings programme, achieving one-off savings in 2020-21 and making a small number of service reductions. There was the potential for further revisions to the Medium Term Financial Plan in the Autumn if less money was received from Government than predicted or if the financial impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic was greater than currently anticipated.

 

18.2.    Councillor M Cook thanked officers for their work in putting together the revised Medium Term Financial Plan in a short period of time. Councillor Cook noted that the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Ipswich Borough Council was approximately £1.5m per month and that with £6m reserves it was clear that action needed to be taken swiftly to ensure the Council’s continued financial viability. Councillor Cook noted that in February an underspend had been predicted on the Council’s General Fund and that it was the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic which had caused this swift action to be necessary. Councillor Cook also noted that the Government’s distribution of funds had been based principally on population size which adversely affected those Councils, including Ipswich, where the need for services, such as the distribution of food parcels, was greater. Councillor Cook also noted that it was also too early to know what the long term impact of the pandemic on the Council’s income would be. Councillor Cook reported that he had attended the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee to present the revised Medium Term Financial Plan and had invited Councillors to suggest ideas for savings but that none had been made.

 

18.3.    In accordance with Standing Orders Part 3, Section 3, Paragraph 3.5, the following questions were asked:

 

Question 2 – Councillor Holmes

Given that promotion of tourism is a Strategic Priority within the Economic Development Strategy and the Corporate Plan; that 1 in 7 employees in the town are employed in this sector; and that Ipswich has just been named as the UK’s top emerging destination for tourism, why is the Executive proposing to close the Tourism Information Centre?

 

18.4.    Councillor Barber, Portfolio Holder for the Town Centre, responded that good information influenced visitors in their choice of destination and helped lengthen  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

E/20/09 Annual Review of Area Committees pdf icon PDF 275 KB

Portfolio Holder – Councillor Sophie Meudec

 

This report reviews and updates Executive on the operation and impact of the Area Committees in Ipswich for 2019/20 as per the Constitution Part 3 Section 2 paragraph 6.4.4.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

19.1.    Councillor Meudec introduced the report and confirmed that applicants applying for Area Committee funding were encouraged to seek match funding for their projects. The Area Committees brought democracy closer to residents and continued to be successful. Councillor Meudec thanked the Community Engagement and Democratic Services teams for their hard work.

 

19.2.    Councillor Fisher asked if it would be more appropriate in some circumstances that groups applying for large amounts of funding across a number of Area Committees be directed to apply for community grants instead. Councillor Meudec advised that if a project was adapted to each specific area and would be positive for the community, then this would be suitable for Area Committee funding. It was noted that the community grants process was only opened once a year whereas Area Committee funding had more opportunity for funding requests to be approved.

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

that the report on the review and impact of the Area Committees in 2019/20 be noted.

 

Reason: To keep Executive updated on the progress of the Area Committees.

 

20.

E/20/10 Property Acquisition Fund Update pdf icon PDF 338 KB

Portfolio Holder – Councillor David Ellesmere

 

This report updates Executive on a recent acquisition through the Property Acquisition Fund, namely The Orwell Centre, 114 Fore Hamlet.

 

This acquisition was undertaken using delegated powers as set out in the Executive Report “Establishment of the Property Acquisition Fund and Associated Procedures for its Use” (E/12/11 refers) approved by the Executive 3rd July 2012 and subsequently extended in September 2013 and June 2016.

 

The report also seeks approval for revisions to the Land & Property Acquisition Policy, primarily to reflect changes in staff structure.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

20.1.    Councillor Ellesmere introduced the report and confirmed that the freehold for the Orwell Centre on Fore Hamlet had been leased to Hope Church where it was agreed that they would occupy the building for capital rent up until the end of 20/21. During this time, plans to develop the site into housing, which had been allocated in the Local Plan, would be completed.

 

20.2.    Councillor Fisher congratulated the Officers for their work in securing the building.

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

i.             that the acquisition of the property in IP3, in accordance with procedures set out in the Establishment of the Property Acquisition Fund and Associated Procedures for its Use (and as subsequently extended), be noted;

 

Reason: So that Executive records the use of the Property Acquisition Fund as being compliant with its procedures.

 

ii.            that the updated Land and Property Acquisition Policy, as set out in Appendix 3 to the report, be approved and adopted.

 

Reason: To ensure that an appropriate and up to date policy is in place for the Council to acquire land and property.

21.

Exclusion of Public

To consider excluding the public (including the Press) from the meeting during consideration of the following items under Regulation 21 of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2000 as it is likely that if members of the public were present during these items there would be disclosure to them of exempt information falling within paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

Minutes:

It was RESOLVED:

 

that the public (including the Press) be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items under Regulation 21 of the Local Authorities (Executive Arrangements) (Access to Information) (England) Regulations 2000 as it was likely that if members of the public were present during these items there would be disclosure to them of exempt information falling within paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

 

22.

Unconfirmed Exempt Minutes of Previous Meeting

Minutes:

It was RESOLVED:

 

that the exempt minutes of the meeting held on 16 June 2020 be signed as a true record.