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The Mayor welcomed all those present to the meeting.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillors Pattie Hill, Gemma Monaco, Gareth Prosser, Yvonne Smith and Craig Warhurst.
Declarations of Interest
To invite Councillors to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Disclosable Interests they may have in items on the agenda, and to confirm the nature of those interests.
Councillor Joanne Beecham declared a pecuniary interest in Minute Item No. 69, in respect of the Fees and Charges 2020/21 report, due to holding a license as an owner of a cattery. She advised that she would leave the room during consideration of that item.
the minutes of the meeting of Council held on Monday 18th November 2019 be approved as a true and correct record and signed by the Mayor.
To consider Announcements under Procedure Rule 10:
a) Mayor’s Announcements
b) The Leader’s Announcements
c) Chief Executive’s Announcements.
The following announcements were made:
a) The Mayor’s Announcements
A list of civic engagements detailing the appointments that had been attended by the Mayor in December 2019 was circulated at the meeting.
The Mayor advised Members that he was due to attend the Special Olympics on Friday 24th January 2020. He had also arranged to hold a charity dinner on Saturday 4th April 2020 at Redditch Town Hall. Tickets would cost approximately £30 per person and all Members were welcome to attend.
b) The Leader’s Announcements
The Leader informed Members that a submission had been made to the Government in the review of the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). A response was awaited to this submission.
c) The Chief Executive’s Announcements
The Chief Executive confirmed that he had no announcements to make on this occasion.
The Leader responded to a question that had been submitted by Ms L. Williams in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 9.2.
Ms Williams asked the following question of the Leader:
“Can the Leader confirm that as part of any support to the VCS agreed tonight that:
The properties currently let at a concessionary rent will be properly assessed for the actual commercial rentable value?
In light of the recently recommended decision:
(Executive Committee 19th December 2019) for the closure of all Council One Stop shops, where it is clearly stated that the Winyates OSS could be let for between £5,000 and £6,000 per annum. This is less than the 3 properties in Winyates Centre currently let to VCS organisations.”
The Leader responded as follows:
“I can confirm that all properties let by the Council are assessed in order to establish their appropriate commercial rent level.
Firstly the author of the report on the one stop shops was advised that the rental value for units at Winyates would be circa £7,000 to £7,500, but that the Council can look at a reduced rent or rent free period if we or the prospective tenant did work or fitting out to a unit before letting the property.
In this context the author recorded this in his report as an initial figure of £5,000 per annum rising to £7-7.5K per annum in subsequent years to show the predicted rental figures in different scenarios.
To be clear the full rent on the three Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) occupied units at Winyates which the question refers to are:
Unit 4 (Elim Trust) £5,800 agreed in 2014
Unit 9 (Reach) £6,500 agreed in 2015
Unit 12 (Reach) £6,000 agreed in 2015
All units at Winyates are of a similar size, except for Unit 5 (Convenience store) and Unit 10 (newsagent) which are larger and command higher rents accordingly and the most recent agreement was for Unit 2 at £7,500 per annum.
The reality is that for the shops at Winyates Centre, including any which become vacant, we would look for a rent of between £7,000 and £7,500 per annum as a minimum and it is likely that if these were to be assessed independently that this would result in the figures coming out as this or even higher.
It isn’t possible to comment on any negotiated reductions as these are dependent on the works being undertaken.”
Ms Williams subsequently asked a supplementary question which asked the Leader whether he was certain that the Council would secure the rents quoted, given that the unit used by Reach CIC flooded each week.
The Leader responded by explained that Officers would respond to Ms Williams’s supplementary question in due course with a written response.
Motions on Notice (Procedure Rule 11)
There were no Motions on Notice for consideration at this meeting.
The following items, arising from meetings of the Executive Committee held on 19th December 2019 and 14th January 2020, were discussed in detail at the meeting:
Review of the One Stop Shops
Members noted that the One Stop Shops had been the subject of a thorough review over a six month period. There were a limited number of customers who utilised the services available from the One Stop Shops and all of those customers who did access the service had been informed about the proposed closure and alternative service options.
During consideration of this item concerns were raised that the closure of the One Stop Shops could have a disproportionate impact on elderly and vulnerable residents. The One Stop Shops also attracted people to the district centres and concerns were raised that their closure could impact on the long-term viability of those district centres. However, it was suggested that support would be made available to effected customers to help limit the impact in the local community.
Finance Monitoring Report Quarter 2
Members discussed the Council’s Medium Term Financial Plan for 2020/21 to 2023/24 and the budget challenges facing the Council moving forward. Following the external auditor’s decision to issue the Section 24 Notice to the Council Officers had reviewed action that could be taken to increase income whilst reducing expenditure. During the 2019/20 financial year to date Officers had already identified £571,000 of savings and it was anticipated that further savings would be identified for subsequent years. Officers had also undertaken a review of the Council’s Capital Programme for 2019/20 to 2022/23 and this reprofiling work would result in savings on borrowing costs for the Council.
Housing Revenue Account Rent Setting 2020/21
The report in respect of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Rent Setting for 2020/21 was discussed and Members noted that this was the first year in five years in which the Council had had an opportunity to increase rents for Council tenants. For the previous four years the Council had been required by the Government to reduce rents by 1% per annum, which had had a detrimental impact on the Council’s HRA.
Support to the Voluntary and Community Sector 2020/21
Members discussed the report in respect of support for the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) 2020/21 in some detail and in doing so noted the following:
· The proposals detailed in the report and minutes of the Executive Committee meeting held on 14th January 2020, which would result in the introduction of a single budget to support VCS organisations.
· The total value of this budget at £175,000 each year over a three year period, which would encompass both grant funding and concessionary rent support to some VCS organisations.
· The proposed changes to the concessionary rents scheme over the three years, which would result in a phased reduction in the concessionary rent from 70% support in the first year, to 50% support in the second year and 20% support from the Council in the third year.
· The ... view the full minutes text for item 69.
To note the following decision taken in accordance with Paragraph 5 of Part 9 of the constitution since the last ordinary meeting of Council.
Pitcheroak Golf Course Kitchen Refurbishment and Property Works
To approve the funding for the refurbishment and property works of the Pitcheroak Golf Club catering service. Further information in respect of this decision has been attached for information.
up to £103,000 be included in the capital programme for 2019/20 to be funded by borrowing to provide a full refurbishment of the Pitcheroak Golf Club building and purchase of kitchen equipment.
The Leader explained that there had been one urgent decision taken since the previous meeting of Council. This decision had been taken in respect of funding for the refurbishment and property works of the Pitcheroak Golf Club Catering Service. The funding requested had been £103,000 for inclusion in the capital programme for 2019/20. The decision had had to be taken urgently to enable the site to be opened as soon as possible.
Urgent Business - general (if any)
To consider any additional items exceptionally agreed by the Mayor as Urgent Business in accordance with the powers vested in him by virtue of Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.
(This power should be exercised only in cases where there are genuinely special circumstances which require consideration of an item which has not previously been published on the Order of Business for the meeting.)
There was no general urgent business for consideration on this occasion.