Agenda and draft minutes

Strategic Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 29th October 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting

Contact: Ainsley Gilbert  01473 432510

Media

Items
No. Item

23.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

There were no apologies for absence.

24.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Minutes:

It was RESOLVED:

 

that the Minutes of the meeting held on 3 September 2020 be signed as a true record.

 

25.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

26.

To Confirm or Vary the Order of Business

Minutes:

It was RESOLVED:

 

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

 

27.

Medium Term Financial Plan Update

(See Executive Agenda Pack to be published on Monday 26 October)

 

Executive will consider a report on the Medium Term Financial Plan Update at its meeting on 3 November 2020, before being considered by Full Council on 18 November 2020. This item will allow Councillors on the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee to make comments on the Medium Term Financial Plan Update before it is considered by Executive.

Minutes:

27.1    Councillor Martin Cook, Portfolio Holder for Resources, provided an update regarding the proposed Medium-Term Financial Plan Update (MTFP). In July 2020 the MTFP had forecasted a gross impact on the Council of £10.2 million for the current financial year and that there would be a return to business as normal from April 2021. Recent developments had shown that it was unlikely that the Council could return to business as normal from April 2021 and therefore action was needed to ensure that Ipswich Borough Council could continue to balance its budget.

 

27.2    Councillor Cook detailed some of the areas where the Council’s income had been dropped significantly, which included car parking, particularly long stay car parking, sports centres, theatres, and business and commercial interest in respect of IP-City Centre. The drop in income was forecast to continue and could be down by £5 million in the next financial year.

 

27.3    Councillor Cook advised that there were four ways in which the budget gap was proposed to be met. If Councils income continued to be hit financially into the next financial year, then it would be likely that Central Government would provide further financial support worth about £500,000. Saving proposals had been set out with a value of £750,000 for the 2021-22 financial year and £790,000 in the 2022-23 financial year. There were also £350,000 of unidentified savings anticipated in future years. Finally, the Council had long maintained an earmarked reserve to cover reduced business rates receipts and that currently contained £3.9m; £1.5m would be drawn from the earmarked reserve to cover predicted lost business rates.

 

27.4    Councillor Cook noted that despite these mitigations the MTFP anticipated that all of the Council’s unallocated reserves would be used over the next four years.

 

27.5    Councillor Cook commented that as Ipswich Borough Council relied on the income it generated that action needed to be taken now to ensure that the Council’s budget could be balanced in the future. Councillor Cook invited members of the committee to give feedback on the administration’s proposals and suggest alternative savings.

 

27.6    Council Harsant asked whether Ipswich Borough Council had received an Arts Council Grant for the Regent Theatre. Councillor Cook confirmed that Ipswich Borough Council had received an Arts Council Grant, however, he noted that the Government scheme which partially reimbursed councils for lost income would take account of this grant and therefore, the grant had not made a significant impact on Ipswich Borough Council’s financial position.

 

27.7    Councillor Harsant asked whether there was a long-term proposal for the IP-City Centre. Councillor Cook advised that there were no proposals for changes at IP-City Centre and that it was hoped that when the economy returned to normal revenues would return back to budgeted levels. The Medium-Term Financial Plan now predicted that revenues across all service areas would be back to normal levels from April 2022.

 

27.8    Councillor Harsant asked whether the moving of Electoral Services would save money and would there be any redundancies. Mr Williams, Chief Executive,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.

28.

OS/20/08 Highways England Update on the Orwell Bridge pdf icon PDF 239 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

28.1    Councillor Harsant reported that Highways England had sent a written update and that a representative from Highways England planned to attend the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee in November 2020. Councillor Harsant noted that from a conversation with Tom Hunt MP a meeting of the Ipswich Transport Task Force was to be held on 9 November 2020 and that the Orwell Bridge was an item on the agenda.

 

28.2    Councillor Gage noted the Committee’s disappointment the delays which were now reported had not been suggested as being likely by Highways England when they had attended in July 2020. Councillor Gage was concerned that Ipswich would have another winter facing the risk of disruptive closures on the Orwell Bridge.

 

28.3    Councillor T Lockington commented on the pressure put on diversion routes such as Valley Road when the Orwell Bridge closed noted the recent introduction of wands which meant that there would be need to be additional work with Suffolk County Council to identify whether alternative diversion routes should be considered.

29.

OS/20/09 Annual Portfolio Holder Update - Environment and Climate Change pdf icon PDF 311 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

29.1    Councillor P Smart introduced the Annual Update on the Environment and Climate Change portfolio. Key points made were:

o   Three Green Flags had been awarded to Bourne, Christchurch and Holywells Parks;

o   The number of allotments rented had increased;

o   The Council’s income stream for Cemeteries and Crematoria had sadly increased due to the pandemic;

o   Dumbarton Road play area had opened and Maple Park had received a Civic Trust Award. Christchurch Park play area had been renewed and Alexandra Park would be renewed later this year;

o   The Climate Change Working Group had been established and had developed a work programme. A report was due to be considered by Executive on the audit of single use plastics;

o   The free brown bin service had been maintained;

o   Journeys on bus services 4, 5E, 12, 13, 15 and 15A, continued to be subsidised by Ipswich Borough Council.

 

29.2    Councillor Allen asked Councillor Smart to pass on thanks to staff at Bourne Park for their management during the pandemic.

 

29.3    Councillor Pope asked whether suitable locations had been identified for wild flower planting. Councillor Smart confirmed that he had not received an update on this issue and would seek information from officers at his next Portfolio Holder meeting with them.

 

29.4    Councillor Pope asked whether a report could be drafted on the feasibility of kerbside glass collection. Councillor Smart advised that Ipswich Borough Council was part of the Suffolk Waste Partnership agreement which meant that it was unable to change the service provision unilaterally. The Government’s position on kerbside collection was expected to be contained within the Resources and Waste (RAW) Strategy which was in the process of being produced.

 

29.5    Councillor Lockington asked whether the Council would promote collapsible and reusable cups. Councillor Smart explained that the audit had been carried out to draw attention to the unnecessary use of plastics. Educational programmes were planned for staff and collapsible and reusable cups could be encouraged as part of this.

 

29.6    Councillor Grant asked whether any of the performance indicators or targets would be related to climate change. Councillor Smart confirmed that the climate change action plan, which was on the next Executive agenda, provided a breakdown of the Council’s carbon reduction plan. Air Quality would be a joint responsibility across different portfolios, as well as Suffolk County Council.

29.7    Councillor Allen asked whether Suffolk County Council’s road closures which had been made to promote walking and cycling had also caused traffic tailbacks which were linked to poor air quality. Councillor Smart explained that concerns had been raised about the Bridge Street closure and that Suffolk County Council would be monitoring the success of the scheme.

 

29.8    Councillor Pope asked whether a figure had been given for new tree and hedgerow planting in the next financial year budget. Councillor Smart agreed to find out from officers and report back to Councillor Pope.

 

29.9    Councillor Pope asked how, in relation to performance indicator NI 191, if waste had increased to 563kg  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.

30.

OS/20/10 Strategic Overview & Scrutiny Annual Report 2019-20 pdf icon PDF 296 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

30.1      The Chair explained that the Scrutiny Steering Group had discussed bringing an item on Bus Services in Ipswich to the Committee and invited comments on that suggestion, the Work Programme, and the Annual Report.

 

It was RESOLVED:

 

a)    that the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee Annual Report 2019-2020 be submitted to Full Council.

 

b)   that the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme was approved.