Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: The Forum, Moat Lane, Towcester, Northants NN12 6AD

Contact: Emma Faulkner / Lesley Farrell, Democratic and Elections  Email: democracy@cherwellandsouthnorthants.gov.uk/01295 221534

Items
No. Item

43.

Declarations of Interest

Members are asked to declare any interest and the nature of that interest which they may have in any of the items under consideration at this meeting.

 

Minutes:

7. Council Tax and Business Rates Showcase.

Councillor Elaine Wiltshire, Declaration, as a Non-Executive Director of CSN Resources.

 

44.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 74 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 4 December 2019.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 4 December 2019 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

45.

Chairman's Announcements

To receive communications from the Chairman.

Minutes:

The Chairman made the following announcement:

 

1.         Work relating to the Climate Change motion was ongoing, and more discussions would be had at the upcoming Member Seminar.

46.

Draft Budget Investment Growth 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Report of Executive Director Finance.

 

Purpose of report

 

The Draft Budget 2020/21 incorporates £1.86m of investment growth.

 

The Scrutiny Committee is invited to consider, discuss and offer feedback on the proposed draft budget growth for 2020/21, prior to consideration by Cabinet and Full Council in February 2020.

 

 

Recommendations

            

The meeting is recommended:

 

1.1     To note the report.

 

1.2     Identify any areas to be discussed or referred to Cabinet for further consideration.

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the report be noted.

 

(2)      That the Assistant Director Wellbeing be requested to give further consideration and reviews to the proposed Communities Strategy Officer and Town Centre Manager posts prior to consideration of the draft budget by Cabinet.

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report from the Executive Director (Finance) which detailed £1.86m of proposed investment growth for the 2020/21 budget.

 

The Executive Director (Finance) explained that the comments of the Committee would be reported to Cabinet at its meeting in February.

 

In response to questions from the Committee regarding the proposal to use external funding for a number of posts, the Executive Director (Resources) explained that funding for the Town Centre Manager role had been specified in Section 106 Planning agreements. If the post was not created then the funding would need to be returned to the relevant developers, it was not possible to use it for anything else.

 

With regard to the Tenancy Support Officer role the Assistant Director: Wellbeing explained that this was an existing role within the Housing Team and it was being proposed that this would continue via external funding. The Assistant Director: Wellbeing also explained that the Communities Strategy Officer post would be a key resource to understand local need, develop a robust evidence base to articulate this and produce and implement a strategy in relation to the Healthy Communities Team’s area of work.

 

The Committee expressed concerns regarding the proposed new posts in light of the ongoing reorganisation of local government in Northamptonshire, and requested that the Assistant Director: Wellbeing gave further consideration to the proposals before the budget was considered by Cabinet.

 

Resolved

 

(1)      That the report be noted.

 

(2)      That the Assistant Director Wellbeing be requested to give further consideration and reviews to the proposed Healthy Communities Strategy Officer and Town Manager posts prior to consideration of the draft budget by Cabinet.

47.

Sports and Leisure Showcase, including Leisure Contracts

The Assistant Director Wellbeing will present a Showcase on Sports and Leisure in South Northamptonshire.  The Showcase will include information on Leisure Contracts.

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the presentation be noted.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director: Wellbeing gave a presentation which provided an overview of the work carried out by the Sports and Leisure team.

 

The Healthy Communities Manager explained that the team covered Leisure Facilities and Contracts, Sports Development, Community Development, Healthy Communities and Community Resilience.

 

With regards to the Sport and Leisure function of the team, the Healthy Communities Manager explained that they worked in partnership with Legacy Leisure (a partner of Parkwood) who were contracted to operate the leisure centres in South Northamptonshire (Towcester Centre for Leisure and Brackley Leisure Centre). The Team monitored the contract that was in place, as well as leading the delivery of new sports and leisure schemes and working to improve existing facilities.

 

The Team supported local sports clubs to become established, sustainable and financially viable organisations, as well as planning and delivering physical activity programmes for children and young people, adults and other target groups across the district.

 

The Healthy Communities Manager explained that a Sport and Leisure Strategy had been developed and adopted by Cabinet in November 2019, and work was now underway delivering the priorities of the strategy.

 

With regards to the leisure centres in the district, the Leisure Facilities and Contracts Officer explained that usage figures had increased at both leisure centres during 2019.

 

Brackley Leisure Centre had been refurbished with a new 25 metre pool, learner pool, fitness room and changing facilities. Capital funding had been approved by Full Council for the refurbishment and improvement of facilities at Towcester Centre for Leisure at its December 2019 meeting.  In response to questions from the Committee regarding the refurbishment at Towcester Centre for Leisure, the Assistant Director: Wellbeing agreed to follow up on the queries raised.

 

The Committee thanked the officers for the presentation.

 

Resolved

 

(1)      That the presentation be noted.

48.

Council Tax and Business Rates Showcase

The CSN Resources Operations Director will present a Showcase on Council Tax and Business Rates.

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the presentation be noted.

Minutes:

The CSN Resources Operations Director gave a presentation that provided an overview of the Council Tax and Business Rates function of the council.

 

The CSN Resources Operations Director explained that the company had been established in 2017, and currently delivered revenues and recovery, benefits, sundry debtors and debt and money advice services for both Cherwell District Council and South Northamptonshire Council.

 

With regard to collection rates, South Northamptonshire Council achieved 98.5% for council tax and 99.06% for business rates in 2018-2019 and was aiming to maintain this high performance in 2019-2020.

 

The CSN Resources Operations Director explained that a full programme of work was planned for 2020-2021, which would be focussing on the automation of some processes and the full roll-out of a customer portal. There would also be assisted digital support offered by Citizens Advice based at the Forum, which would offer training for residents on the use of technology.

 

In response to questions previously raised by the Committee, the Joint Revenue and Recovery Team Leader explained that there was Small Business Rate Relief available to business with a rateable value of up to £15,000. Businesses with a value of up to £12,000 received a discount on their entire rateable value, and a sliding scale was used for businesses with a value between £12,000 and £15,000. 1,300 qualifying businesses were currently awarded small business rate relief in South Northamptonshire.

 

The Committee was advised that a further 286 businesses had qualified for the Business Rates Retail Relief Scheme. This relief applied to shops, restaurants, cafes and drinking establishments with a rateable value of less than £51,000 each year in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years, and meant a further reduction of one third on the Business Rates bill after mandatory relief and other discretionary reliefs had been applied.

 

The Committee thanked the CSN Resources Operations Director and the Joint Revenue and Recovery Team Leader for the showcase.

 

Resolved

 

(1)      That the presentation be noted.

49.

NIC/Strategic Rail

The Assistant Director Planning and Economy will give a verbal update on NIC/Strategic Rail.

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the verbal update be noted.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director: Planning and Economy gave an update on the Strategic Rail projects across the District.

 

The Northampton Gateway proposal had been given the go-ahead by the Secretary of State for Transport in October 2019. Enabling works had started, and planning applications were being progressed for compounds. Construction was expected to start later this year.

 

The Committee thanked the Assistant Director: Planning and Economy for the update. 

 

Resolved

 

(1)      That the verbal update be noted.

50.

Towcester Relief Road pdf icon PDF 132 KB

The Executive Director- Resources to give an update to Members on the progress of the Towcester Relief Road.

 

Briefing note is attached for information.

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the update be noted.

Minutes:

The Executive Director: Resources gave an update on progress of the Towcester Relief Road.

 

A planning application had been submitted for the road, which would be similar to the recently opened A45 bypass around Flore. It was anticipated that the application would be determined in February.

 

The Executive Director: Resources advised the Committee that the council had become a more active member of the A5 Partnership, which covered the length of the road from Milton Keynes to Tamworth.

 

At the request of the Committee the Executive Director: Resources agreed to invite a representative from Highways England to a future meeting to discuss the situation in Towcester in more detail.

 

Resolved

 

(1)      That the update be noted.

51.

Review of Committee Work Plan pdf icon PDF 71 KB

To review and note the Committee Work Plan and to consider potential next steps with regard to Section 106 Agreements.

 

Following queries raised at the last meeting of the Committee regarding Section 106 Agreements, details regarding current agreements in place are attached at appendices 3 and 4

 

Members may wish to consider these appendices in the scoping of a Section 106 specific Scrutiny Review.

 

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the list of topics and work programme be noted.

 

(2)      That an informal working group consisting of Councillors Sandra Barnes, Adil Sadygov and Hywel Davies be appointed to consider transport provision from Section 106 Agreement funding.

 

(3)      That an informal working group consisting of Councillors Sandra Barnes, David Harries and Stephen Clarke (Cabinet member observer) be appointed to consider health provision from Section 106 Agreement funding.

Minutes:

The Democratic and Elections Officers gave an update on the status of topics suggested for scrutiny, and the indicative Committee work programme.

 

In response to questions regarding next steps for the potential review topic Superfast Northants Broadband, the Committee expressed a wish to conduct a feasibility study into the cost of providing superfast broadband to the 2% of properties in the district that had been identified as unable to be reached by the existing project, such as Upper Heyford.

 

The Executive Director: Resources thanked the Committee for clarifying the scope, and advised that more regional broadband schemes may have already undertaken the investigation work required to cost the connection for the final 2%. The Executive Director: Resources agreed to look into inviting a guest to a future meeting who may be able to help with the Committee’s queries.

 

With regard to the proposed review of Section 106 Agreements, the Committee agreed that information needed to be gathered relating to transport and health, which would help with the scoping process.

 

The Executive Director: Resources suggested that two informal groups be established with one meeting focussing on each of the areas. The Assistant Director: Wellbeing agreed to contact the Clinical Commissioning Group to request that an appropriate officer speak to the health group regarding the health aspects of S106 agreements. The Assistant Director: Planning and Economy was requested to contact the transport authority to request attendance of an officer to discuss the transport element of S106 agreements.

 

The Committee agreed to form two working groups to deal with the respective queries, and to liaise with relevant officers regarding next steps.  

 

Resolved

 

(1)      That the list of topics and work programme be noted.

 

(2)      That an informal working group consisting of Councillors Sandra Barnes, Adil Sadygov and Hywel Davies be appointed to consider transport provision from Section 106 Agreement funding.

 

(3)      That an informal working group consisting of Councillors Sandra Barnes, David Harries and Stephen Clarke (Cabinet member observer) be appointed to consider health provision from Section 106 Agreement funding.

52.

Urgent Business

The Chairman to advise whether they have agreed to any items of urgent business being admitted to the agenda.

 

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.

53.

Exclusion of Press and Public

The following report contains exempt information as defined in the following paragraph(s) of Part 1, Schedule 12A of Local Government Act 1972.

 

3– Information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information).

 

Members are reminded that whilst the following item has been marked as exempt, it is for the meeting to decide whether or not to consider each of them in private or in public. In making the decision, members should balance the interests of individuals or the Council itself in having access to the information. In considering their discretion members should also be mindful of the advice of Council Officers.

 

Should Members decide not to make a decision in public, they are recommended to resolve as follows:

 

“That under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item(s) of business on the grounds that, if the public and press were present, it would be likely that exempt information falling under the provisions of Schedule 12A, Part I, Paragraph 3 would be disclosed to them, and that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.”

 

 

 

Minutes:

Resolved

 

(1)      That under Section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that, if the public and press were present it would be likely that exempt information falling under the provisions of Schedule 12A, Part I, Paragraph 3 would be disclosed to them, and that in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.

54.

Silverstone Experience Loan

Exempt report of Executive Director (Finance).

Decision:

Resolved

 

(1)      That the exempt update be noted.

 

(2)      That a further update be added to the July meeting and the Silverstone Heritage Chief Executive be invited to attend this meeting.

Minutes:

The Committee considered an exempt report from the Executive Director: Finance which provided an update on the South Northamptonshire Council loan to the Silverstone Experience.

 

The Committee asked detailed questions which were duly answered.

 

The Committee requested that the Chief Executive of Silverstone Heritage be invited to attend a future meeting to give a further update. 

 

Resolved

 

(1)      That the exempt update be noted.

 

(2)      That a further update be added to the July meeting and the Silverstone Heritage Chief Executive be invited to attend this meeting.