Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 4th July, 2019 6.00 pm

Venue: Cross Room, Civic Centre, West Paddock, Leyland, PR25 1DH

Contact: Charlotte Lynch  Email: clynch@southibble.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor Matthew Trafford.

2.

Minutes of the Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Held on Thursday, 7 March 2019 to be signed as a correct record by the Chair.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: (Unanimously)

 

That the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday, 7 March 2019 be signed as a correct record by the Chair.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Members are reminded at this stage in the proceedings any items on the agenda in which they intend to declare an interest. Members are reminded that if the interest is a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct) they must leave the room for the whole of that item. If the interest is not a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, but is such that a member of the public could reasonably regard it as being so significant that it is likely that it would prejudice their judgement of the public interest (as explained in the Code of Conduct) then they may make representations, but then must leave the room for the remainder of the item.

Minutes:

Councillor Michael Green declared a personal interest in Item 4 – Corporate Performance Report Quarter 4 (31 March 2019).

4.

Corporate Performance Report Quarter 4 (31 March 2019) pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Report of the Chief Executive attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council (Councillor Paul Foster) and Interim Chief Executive (Gary Hall) addressed the Committee and responded to members’ comments and enquiries relating to the corporate performance report at the end of Quarter 4.

 

The Leader emphasised the importance of the Scrutiny Committee receiving future reports prior to Cabinet and the Committee welcomed the offer. 

 

During the discussion, the Committee’s comments and enquiries focused around many performance-related topics highlighted in the report. 

 

Reassurances were sought on the capacity of the senior Leadership Team following the departure of two Deputy Chief Executives and the timescale for their replacement. Mention was given to the appointment of the Council’s Interim Chief Executive which led to a discussion on the progress of Shared Services arrangements with Chorley Council. Both councils have reaffirmed their commitment to the partnership and a report will be provided at the full Council meeting in September 2019 for endorsement.

 

The Committee also discussed financial issues outlined in the report and commended those involved in reducing the amount of debt written-off. An explanation of lettable assets and their scale was requested. It was reported that these are commercial assets with an annual revenue of £1 million.

 

Additionally, members queried the funding options being considered for the Ribble Crossing and were informed that talks are ongoing with the City Deal team. Emphasis was also placed on the involvement of central government for funding. Concern was also expressed over rumours that the opening of the Cross Borough Link Road had been delayed until autumn 2019. Confirmation of this was unavailable but assurances were given that officers would work to find out. 

 

The report highlighted that progress on the City Deal project was ‘off-track’. Members requested an update on the status of the project and were advised that a decision on how to progress development would be made by October 2019 and that members would be kept updated of progress. The committee also enquired as to how the town centre masterplans were being developed and expressed concern that relevant My Neighbourhood Forums had little involvement with the process.

 

An update on the delivery of the Cuerden Strategic Site was requested and the committee received assurances that meetings would take place with Lancashire County Council to re-engage with the process.

 

The commercialisation of both the Civic Centre and Worden Hall was a key topic for discussion. Members expressed confusion at the Civic Centre Commercialisation project being marked as complete despite phase 3 still being in progress. The status should reflect that phase 1 is complete and alternative methods of reporting were suggested.

 

Members queried the progress of the Worden Hall commercialisation project and the methods of public consultation used. It was reported that submitted bids which had not previously been considered were now being reviewed and that consultation would take place through My Neighbourhood Forums, the website and with local councillors and businesses.

 

The report highlighted that South Ribble continues to be recognised as a Dementia Friendly Community due to the work of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Annual 2018/19 Corporate Plan Performance Report pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Report of the Chief Executive attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee identified many similarities between this item and item 6 – Corporate Performance Report Quarter 4 (31 March 2019) – and felt that the recommendations made from that report also covered this item.

6.

South Ribble Borough Council Budget Outturn Report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 222 KB

Report of the Deputy Section 151 Officer attached.

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council (Councillor Paul Foster) and Deputy Section 151 Officer (Jane Blundell) addressed the Committee and responded to members’ comments and enquiries relating to the Budget Outturn Report 2018/19.

 

The Leader of the Council informed the Committee that the Council’s Statement of Accounts would be delayed as the External Auditors could not sign them off by the statutory deadline. In response to this, the committee expressed concern and requested that they be kept updated on the situation.

 

The report detailed the Budget Outturn position for 2018-19 in relation to revenue and capital expenditure and informed the committee of variations in terms of underspends and overspends between service areas. The report also included information on business rates retention, investment interest and reserve amounts.

 

In response to underspend of £93,000 highlighted in the report, the effectiveness of the Council’s budgeting process was questioned. The committee was assured that budget variations would be reassessed over the year.

 

The committee was informed that South Ribble Borough Council is part of the Lancashire Business Rate Pooling arrangement and what this specifically means. The assessment of risk surrounding business rate pooling was queried and assurances were provided that pooling was based on a 2019/20 rate and money was being set aside to mitigate risk.

 

Income sources were outlined to detail the revenue generated from fees and charges. In response to a query regarding the methodology used to project these income streams, it was acknowledged that some, such as planning applications, were difficult to assess.

 

The report highlighted that the Borough Investment Account had been increased by £770,000 in 2018-19 and was being used to facilitate income generation schemes and help the council to bridge the funding gap. The specific objectives of the Borough Investment account were queried and it was reported that no income targets had been specified but an emphasis would be placed on community investment.

 

The committee thanked the Leader and Deputy Section 151 Officer for their attendance.

 

RESOLVED: (Unanimously)

 

That:

 

1.    the Committee be kept updated on the status of the Council’s accounts for 2018

 

2.    line-by-line budget information be provided to the Committee

7.

Scrutiny Matters

7a

Lancashire County Council Health Scrutiny Committee Update

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor David Howarth, provided the Committee with an update from the last meeting of Lancashire County Council’s Health Scrutiny Committee.

7b

Meetings and training attended by Scrutiny Committee members

Minutes:

The Chair thanked those members of the Committee that attended training the week before and informed the Committee that he would be attending a Strategic Scrutiny in Practice training event later in the month.

7c

Scrutiny Committee Forward Plan

A verbal update will be given at the meeting.   

Minutes:

The Committee discussed topics and issues that they would like to consider.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That

 

1.    A standing Scrutiny Budget and Performance Panel be established to consider future quarterly budget and performance monitoring reports on behalf of the committee to feed directly into Cabinet. Councillors David Howarth, Will Adams, Colin Coulton, Colin Sharples and Karen Walton will sit on this panel.

7d

Cabinet Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Forward Plan attached.

Minutes:

The Cabinet Forward Plan was noted.