Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 5th July 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: Civic Suite, North Warehouse, The Docks, Gloucester, GL1 2EP

Contact: Democratic and Electoral Services 

Items
No. Item

9.

Declarations of Interest

To receive from Members, declarations of the existence of any disclosable pecuniary, or non-pecuniary, interests and the nature of those interests in relation to any agenda item. Please see Agenda Notes.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

10.

Declaration of Party Whipping

To declare if any issues to be covered in the Agenda are under party whip.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of party whipping.

11.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 340 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 7th June 2021.

Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting held on Monday 7th June 2021 were approved and signed as a correct record by the Chair.

12.

Public Question Time (15 minutes)

To receive any questions from members of the public provided that a question does not relate to:

 

·         Matters which are the subject of current or pending legal proceedings, or

·         Matters relating to employees or former employees of the Council or comments in respect of individual Council Officers

Minutes:

There were no public questions.

13.

Petitions and Deputations (15 minutes)

To receive any petitions and deputations provided that no such petition or deputation is in relation to:

 

·         Matters relating to individual Council Officers, or

·         Matters relating to current or pending legal proceedings

Minutes:

There were no petitions and deputations.

14.

Overview and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme and Council Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 363 KB

To receive the latest version of the Committee’s Work Programme and the Council’s Forward Plan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

14.1    The Chair introduced the latest version of the City Council’s Forward Plan. He informed Members that they could intervene at any point during the meeting and were also welcome to contact him outside of Committee sessions with their suggestions of items they would like to see on the Work Programme.

 

14.2    Councillor Lewis requested that the Overview and Scrutiny Committee examine the Green Travel Plan and Black Friars Priory Update, both of which were included on the Council Forward Plan. Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, Councillor Norman, noted that the Forward Plan was likely to become more heavily populated over the next few months and further clarity on dates would be available in due course. It was agreed that both items would be added to the Committee Work Programme with dates to be confirmed.

 

14.3    Councillor Lewis referred to the Armed Forces Community Covenant and requested that this also be added to the Work Programme as he had become aware of concerns relating to housing provision for some former members of the armed forces. The Committee agreed to add this item to the agenda for the meeting on Monday 4th October 2021.

 

14.4    The Chair noted his interest in examining how the Council was progressing in terms of the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Councillor Norman mentioned that various recovery cells had been aligned to different Cabinet Members and asked whether there was a specific area the Committee wanted to scrutinise. The Head of Policy and Resources noted that if the Committee wanted an overarching view of how the Council was progressing more broadly, the Leader of the Council could provide this alongside input from the Head of Place. It was agreed that the Committee would request a general overview of the Covid-19 pandemic recovery progress in the city and that this item would be added to the agenda for the meeting on Monday 1st November 2021.

 

14.5    In response to a request from Councillor Hilton for the Committee to receive an update on the latest position on the City Council’s commercial income, the Head of Policy and Resources explained that a report was being brought forward on the Council’s Property Investment Strategy in due course and one of the recommendations from recent Internal Audit activity was for such a report to be considered by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee. It was agreed that the Property Investment Strategy Update would be added to the Committee Work Programme and a date would be confirmed in due course.

 

14.6    Councillor Hilton asked whether the Overview and Scrutiny Committee could receive an update on the financial position of Gloucestershire Airport. He noted that the airport was jointly owned between Gloucester City Council and Cheltenham Borough Council, with each local authority having 50% ownership. Councillor Lewis confirmed his agreement with this suggestion.

 

14.7    It was suggested that the Committee may wish to consider conducting a joint scrutiny session with Cheltenham Borough Council. It was agreed that contact  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

2020-21 Financial Outturn Report pdf icon PDF 641 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources presenting the Council’s final general fund revenue, capital outturn positions against agreed budgets for the 2020/21 financial year, and report on the performance against certain key financial performance indicators.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

15.1    Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Performance and Resources, Councillor Norman, introduced the report and explained that the year-end position of the general fund balance for the financial year had decreased to £122k against a budgeted decrease of £48k. She noted that a positive improvement of £100k had been made at the year end against a reported position of £222k back at Quarter 3. Councillor Norman confirmed that the level of earmarked reserves had increased by £9.738m to £13.771m which included the creation of a Section 31 Grant Repayment Reserve of £8.929m.

 

15.2    Councillor Norman confirmed that the Covid-19 pandemic had had a significant impact on variances between Council portfolios, with a net difference for Performance and Resources. She referred to an increased cost of providing housing subsidies, confirming that the Council had managed £36m in housing subsidy and benefit payments. Councillor Norman explained that the final quarter saw an adverse movement which resulted in a final overspend of £931k in this area, however she highlighted that this was out of the control of the Council. Councillor Norman confirmed that the Outturn figures included unrestricted Government support grants of £4.5m, as well as a final claim which was submitted in May 2021 for the period from December 2020 to March 2021. She also confirmed that the table included at 6.1 of the report showed the movement in the Council’s earmarked reserves.

 

15.3    Councillor Wilson thanked Councillor Norman for the report and referred to the significant items of lost income included in the narrative at 5.1. He noted that the Government had supplied the Council with £4.5m in specific Covid-19 related funding but noted that the lost income figures appear to total £6.2m. Councillor Wilson asked for clarification as to how the Council had managed to fund the shortfall.

 

15.4    The Head of Policy and Resources confirmed that the Council had managed to cover some of the additional costs through unbudgeted commercial income, such as the purchase of St Oswalds and cost savings as part of the ongoing disposal of the HKP warehouses.

 

15.5    In response to a further question from Councillor Wilson about the Property Sinking Fund Reserve and the current earmarked balance of £300k, the Head of Policy and Resources confirmed that the Council previously aimed for the fund to reach £1m, however this was unlikely whilst the City was recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic. The Head of Policy and Resources noted that the Council may be in a different position in a few years.

 

15.6    The Chair invited the Cabinet Member and Head of Policy and Resources to comment on the lost income in Cultural and Leisure Services amounting to £0.901m, and the additional costs in Cultural and Related activities amounting to £0.936m.The Head of Policy and Resources confirmed that he would provide Members with a detailed breakdown of these figures.

 

15.7    In response to a further  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

16.

Gloucester Culture Trust Update Report pdf icon PDF 339 KB

To consider the report of the Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure providing an update on progress made against the Cultural Strategy for the period January 2021 to June 2021 and informing Members of the intention to submit expressions of interest to the Cultural Development Fund and UK City of Culture 2025.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

16.1    The Chair noted that the purpose of the report was to provide an update on the City Council’s Cultural Strategy and to confirm the intention to submit expressions of interest to the Cultural Development Fund and the UK City of Culture 2025. The Chair noted that a press release had been issued which confirmed that the expressions of interest were going ahead.

 

16.2    Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Morgan, introduced the report and clarified that the submission of expressions of interest for UK City of Culture was being led by the Gloucester Culture Trust with input from Gloucester City Council. Councillor Morgan expressed the view that even if the Trust proved unsuccessful in reaching the final 6 longlisted cities, there would be significant value in making expressions of interest for the UK City of Culture bid. Councillor Morgan clarified that the Government had introduced a new expressions of interest stage which he felt had made the process simpler and less expensive. Councillor Morgan paid tribute to the hard work of officers who had dealt with significant challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. He also acknowledged the hard work undertaken by Councillor Organ who assisted with the organisation of the Retro Festival.

 

16.3    In relation to the Kings Square redevelopment, Councillor Morgan confirmed that the project was on track, however he noted that the pandemic had affected progress. In relation to the update on the City Council’s Cultural Strategy, Councillor Morgan confirmed that the details were set out in Appendix A.

 

16.4    The Chair thanked Councillor Morgan for the report. Referring to the narrative in the report at 3.2 concerning the new Cultural Investment Funds, the Chair asked for an update on discussions between the City and County Councils regarding a potential application for a Libraries Improvement Fund Grant.

 

16.5    The Head of Culture confirmed that he was in contact with the Head of Library Services at Gloucestershire County Council and assistance had been offered to Gloucester Library to submit a bid for an Improvement Grant. The Head of Cultural Services understood that there may have been capacity issues preventing the Library from submitting a bid despite the offer of help from the local authorities. The Head of Culture confirmed that the deadline for the Libraries Improvement Fund was 5th July, and this was the same deadline for the Museum Estate and Development Fund (MEND). He noted that priorities for investment in Gloucester Museum and the Brunswick building had been identified and that an application had been submitted for a £375k grant. The Head of Culture expressed his view that the City Council had done well to submit this application, but £18m had been made available nationally so this was a competitive fund.

 

16.6    In response to a further question from the Chair relating to the latest position of the Guildhall, Councillor Morgan confirmed that the Council was looking to put together a bid to help improve the facility. He noted that engagement work with residents  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

Date of Next Meeting

Monday 6 September 2021 at 6.30pm in Civic Suite, North Warehouse.

Minutes:

Monday 6th September 2021.