Agenda and minutes

Strategic Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 4th January 2018 6.00 pm

Venue: Gipping Room, Grafton House

Contact: Trisha Sutton  01473 432512

Items
No. Item

44.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Aplologies for absence were received from Councillor S Darwin.

45.

Unconfirmed Minutes of the Meeting held on 23 November 2017 pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Minutes:

45.1    In relation to Minute 40.10 – OS/17/14 S106 Developer Contributions, Councillor Gage said that herself and Cllr C Jones had a very informative meeting with Mr McManus from Suffolk County Council and the Chair said that she was not aware that any detailed ward information had been disseminated through the Area Committees.           

 

Resolved:

 

that the minutes of the meeting held on 23 November 2017, be signed as a true record.

46.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor J Riley declared an interest in Item 6. Budget Proposals Presentation as a Director of Ipswich Borough Assets.

47.

To Confirm or Vary the Order of Business

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

that the Order of Business be as printed on the agenda.

48.

Annual Report on Crime & Police Matters in Ipswich

Minutes:

48.1  Due to Superintendent Kerry Cutler (the Area Commander for the Southern Area) being unable to attend to present the item it would be deferred until the next meeting.

49.

Budget Proposals Presentation

Minutes:

49.1    The Chief Executive gave this presentation about the budget proposals for 2018/19.  The Leader of the Council, Councillor D Ellesmere and the Portfolio Holder for Finance, Councillor M Cook attended for this item.

 

49.2    The Budget proposals were in line with the Council’s Corporate Plan ‘Building a Better Ipswich’ which had been adopted by Council in March 2017, which set out the direction of travel with the 3 continuing core aims; to protect front line Council services, build quality and affordable homes and bring new jobs and investment to Ipswich.

 

49.3    Reference was made to the original deficits of the Medium Term Financial Plan for the next 3 years which had been set out in the 4 year plan during 2017.  The base gap and the usable reserves as at February 2017 were detailed and it was planned to use £7.0m of the ‘useable reserves’ (over all 4 years) and to retain £2.0m.    

 

49.4    2018/19 would be the 3rd year of the 4 year settlement, which the Government had announced on 19 December 2017 and the starting gap for 2018/19 (after savings and before the use of reserves would be £1.964m) with the 4 year total up to 2021/22 being £5.226m.  No Revenue Support Grant would be received, the Council Tax cap (not requiring a referendum) would be up to 3% and it had been agreed that Suffolk would be part of a one year pilot for Business Rate Collection.

 

49.5    Possible negative variations to the General Fund ‘gap’ position could likely be; costs associated with the Homelessness Reduction Act, implications of the National Pay offer and non-pay inflation rises and the expected need for additional hostel provision.  With these likely variations the estimated General Fund ‘gap’ position up until 2021/22 could be up to £15.0m.

 

49.6    The Chief Executive then gave several proposals to ‘meet the gap’ which included an in depth review of vacancy rates and transitional vacancies, loans to Ipswich Borough Assets for commercial property investments, ‘Big Ticket’ items, the use of reserves and the option to increase Council Tax to the 3% increase level.

 

49.7   The timetable of submission of the budget proposals was detailed which culminated with the budget report being submitted to Council on 21 February 2018.

 

49.8    Councillor Harsant asked when the proposals had gone out to consultation and the Chief Executive said that it would be available for consultation from 29 January 2018 onwards. 

 

49.9    Councillor Holmes asked whether there was a risk on being reliant of income streams from IB Assets?  Councillor M Cook said that the figures in the draft budget were based on transactions which had been completed to date.  Information on any future deals had not been included but any risk would be to the arms-length company and not to the Council.  Councillor Ellesmere said that the Treasury had raised concerns about any investments in commercial development being outside the Borough boundary and to date no investment had been made to any property outside of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 49.

50.

OS/17/18 Annual Portfolio Holder Update - Resources pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

50.1       Councillor M Cook, Portfolio Holder for Resources presented this report and made reference to the Performance Dashboard – Quarter 2 – for Resources and the Key Issues over the recent months. 

 

50.2       Preparations were being made to implement a new HR system.  This would run alongside the current Agresso finance system which would also be investigated to ensure the system was used to its maximum capability.

 

50.3       Within the Finance and Procurement Services a large part of the current work was the preparation of the budget and a restructure of the procurement system had been undertaken under a ‘Big Ticket’ item.  Key vacancies were to be filled and improvements to the management of procurement would occur over the next year.

 

50.4       The EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) were due to come into force from 25 May 2018 and this would put a burden on the IT service and any Council or company that controlled any personal data. 

 

50.5       The implementation of agile working, with more portable and mobile devices would allow homeworking and the space occupied in the building to be reduced.

 

50.6       Councillor Pope asked how at LI023 – Number of working days lost due to sickness absence per FTE (cumulative), had been achieved as the target was 3.5 but the actual number of days was 1.93?  Councillor M Cook said that the Council endeavoured to have a healthy workplace and an employee assistance programme were available to deal with personal issues that might impact on attendance.  An employee survey had been circulated which enabled feedback of issues causing stress to be focussed on and health and safety issues were also important.  The Chief Executive said that management information had increased and the Bradford Factor was routinely used to identify patterns of sickness and return to work interviews were in place.  It was a fine balance as if people felt ill they should not be working.

 

50.7       Councillor Pope also asked why, in relation to LI 384 - % of Apprenticeship posts that were currently occupied, were 18% unfilled.  Councillor M Cook said that apprenticeships were used to actively promote the Council as a good employer, especially at a recent job fair.  The Chief Executive said that more background data could be produced about the take up of apprenticeships and the well-attended job fair had established the Council as a good provider of employment.  

 

50.8       Councillor Debman said that there was a risk of loss of local specialist knowledge particularly in IT and expertise in industry and the Chief Executive said that some specialist bespoke systems would need to remain to effectively manage some services e.g. the elections software.

 

50.9       Councillor Chisholm asked how staff would be ergonomically protected efficiently and safely when using smaller devices or hot desking?  Councillor M Cook said that all devices and agile working would be required to be 100% compliant with the DSE regulations.  The Chair said that this should be a question for the next staff survey and Councillor M  ...  view the full minutes text for item 50.

51.

OS/17/19 Work Programme 2018/19 - No Proposals Forms Received pdf icon PDF 56 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

51.1  Following the referral of the Annual Report on Crime & Police Matters in Ipswich it was agreed that the Work Programme would be updated to include that Supt K Cutler would be invited to speak at the meeting to be held on 1 February 2018.

 

51.2  In light of the criticism received from businesses and residents about the recent closure of the Orwell Bridge, Highways England would be invited to update the Overview & Scrutiny Committee on 1 March 2018 and Councillor Gage offered to formulate some questions to be responded to. 

 

51.3  It was agreed by the Committee that Councillors Debman and Harsant would submit a Task & Finish Proposal Form about taxi services, the conditions on taxi licences in Ipswich, with regard to the code of conduct and how taxis operated at the station forecourt.

 

51.4  The Chair made reference to past recommendations which had been agreed at previous Task & Finish Group meetings and requested that these be followed up in a future report. 

 

Resolved:

 

that the Strategic Overview & Scrutiny Committee Work Programme, with the amendments above, attached at report Ref No: OS/17/19, be agreed.