Full Cabinet – 10 December 2008

PRESENT: Councillor Kirk in the chair.

Councillors Carlile, Gosling, O’Sullivan, and Swift.

Councillors Davison, Smith, Whiteley and Wilson also attended the meeting.

Simon Driver, Richard Stiff, Nolan Bennett, Mike Briggs, Stacey Dickins, Denise Hyde, Neil Laminman, David Lea, Jayne McGregor, Geoff Popple, Jeff Tattersall, Mike Wedgewood, Peter Williams, Sarah Williamson, Mike Wood and Mel Holmes also attended the meeting.

772 DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – Councillors Gosling and O’Sullivan declared a personal interest as trustees of the Grimsby/Scunthorpe Board of Rape Crisis. Councillor M Kirk declared a personal interest as a member of the Yorkshire Forward board.

773 MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the meeting of cabinet held on 22 October 2008, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and be signed by the chair.

774 (83) OUTSTANDING ACTION FROM PREVIOUS MEETINGS OF CABINET – The Service Director Legal and Democratic submitted a report which contained a schedule of outstanding issues on which cabinet had requested reports to future meetings.

Resolved – That the report be noted

775 (84) BUDGET REVIEW – DECEMBER 2008 – The Service Director Finance submitted a report on the December Budget Review. The report set out the current position on revenue and capital spending in 2008/2009 and considered the resources available for the next 3 years together with the impact of a range of issues including the recession on council plans.

Council had set revenue budgets and a capital programme for the period 2008/2011 at its meeting in February 2008. Following best practice spend against budget in the current financial year had been tracked by service directors and cabinet members through monthly monitoring. In addition, cabinet had received a budget review at roughly quarterly intervals during the year. The purpose is to ensure spending is controlled and within approved cash limits and to take any necessary corrective action.

In relation to the revenue budget for 2008/2009, the latest forecasts for spending were in line with the approved cash limited budget and this was consistent with the cabinet resolution in October 2008 which asked that tight expenditure controls be maintained. The figures set out in appendix 1 were after the allocation of the pay contingency and a transfer to contingency of £322k to reflect a reclassification of BSF set up costs from revenue to capital. In relation to the capital programme for 2008/2012 cabinet asked at its October meeting for a full review of the programme for this meeting. This review considered the costs including phasing of all schemes and the impact of the worsening economic situation on the council’s ability to fund the programme. Much detailed work had been carried out and any changes were shown at appendices 2A and 2B to the report. In addition there were some schemes with cost savings, some with additional costs and others with a new spending profile. These were summarised at appendix 2C.

The report then considered the financial prospects for 2009/2012 in the light of the changing economic situation both nationally and internationally and how this would impact on the council’s financial plan for 2009/2012. In relation to revenue a review of the current financial plan had started with services being asked to confirm their spending requirements and efficiency savings identified in the plan. In relation to treasury management, the projected fall in interest rates to 1% and the instability in financial markets mean that the returns made through investment of cash would fall by approximately £1m in 2009/2010 and would stay low in 2010/2011 and possibly beyond. This needed to be factored into planning. Cash balances available for investment were currently reduced by £5.5m. This was the sum deposited with Icelandic Banks which were in receivership or administration. It was still uncertain whether all or a lesser proportion of this sum would be recovered and the Local Government Association had facilitated the creation of creditor committees to represent the interests of over 100 councils with the administrators/receivers of Heritable Bank, Landsbanki and the other failed banks. The council would need to take a view on the estimated loss and provide for this in its accounts. However, a proposed regulation made by the Minister for Local Government under Section 21(1) of the Local Government Act 2003 would allow councils with Icelandic Investments to postpone the impact until the 2010/2011 accounts when the scale of any loss would be more certain.

The report also referred to the capital resources being affected by the economic situation which would also have to be considered. The revised prudential indicators for the current programme at appendices 3A and 3B showed existing funding and fully funding the shortfall in receipts by borrowing respectively. These both showed that the charge to revenue to finance debt would exceed the 6% benchmark by 2010/2011, although this is partly due to the reduction in interest receipts. The excess over 6% is greater in the second option which also incurs a considerable additional long term cost as measured by the effect on the council tax.

The Leader of the Council referred to a letter received from the Economic Development and Corporate Issues Scrutiny Panel which had considered the report on 8 December, 2008. This contained a number of comments. The Service Director Finance dealt with the points made.

Resolved – (a) That cabinet confirm the revenue budget for 2008/2009 as detailed in appendix 1; (b) that cabinet confirm the capital programme for 2008/2009, note the indicative spending for 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 and the prudential PIs as detailed in appendices 2 and 3; (c) that cabinet notes the proposal to defer borrowing to support the capital programme while it is financially advantageous to do so; (d) that cabinet approve an efficiency target of £3.25m in 2008/2009 for national indicator 179, and (e) that cabinet notes the parameters for the financial planning exercise.

776 (85) ANNUAL PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT OF ADULT SOCIAL SERVICES – The Service Director Adult Social Care submitted a report which indicated that the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) had undertaken its regular annual review on the performance of the service within North Lincolnshire and in relation to other local authorities. The CSCI makes its judgement each year on a range of performance indicators, inspections and visits relating to activity during the previous financial year (in this case April 2007 to March 2008). The full report was on the Commission’s website and on the council’s website.

The CSCI had judged Adult Social Services in North Lincolnshire to be delivering good outcomes for the people of North Lincolnshire with a promising capacity for improvement. They rated the service as two star out of a range from zero to three stars and this was the same high level performance as achieved in the previous year. Paragraph 2.2 of the report set out the judgement levels and North Lincolnshire’s position. The report also indicated that the CSCI had changed some of their criteria, making direct comparison with last year’s report difficult in some areas. Indeed, the assessment was a harder test this year. The inspectors listed the key strengths and areas for improvement within their reports and a flavour of these was set out in the report submitted.

Resolved – (a) That cabinet endorses the report from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, and (b) that cabinet notes the achievements of Adult Social Services and thanks the staff for their continued dedication to service users.

777 (86) YOUTH JUSTICE CAPACITY AND CAPABILITY PLAN (2008/2009) FOR THE YOUTH OFFENDING SERVICE (YOS) – The Service Director Learning, Schools and Communities submitted a report seeking approval of the Youth Justice Capacity and Capability Plan for 2008/2009.

Each year the Youth Justice Board (YJB) requires each Youth Offending Service (YOS) to produce an annual Youth Justice Capacity and Capability Plan under Section 40 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The plan contains an overview of delivery plans and sets the basis for performance review and improvement. It sets out how the YOS will deliver against the YJB’s performance measures and national indicators and maintain standards of performance and quality of practice.

The current plan had been submitted to the Youth Justice Board in September and had been approved. That board had conducted a site visit at the end of September to validate the content of the plan with the YOS manager and the chair of the YOS Management Board. The validation visit also included inspection of case files. The plan details clear links with all relevant partners’ strategies and delivery plans. It is an extensive document, covering areas such as workforce planning, financial planning and partnership working agreements. There are examples of best practice throughout and, where improvements are proposed, there are clear and achievable action plans to deliver. A copy of the full plan was attached as an appendix to the report.

Resolved – That cabinet endorses the Youth Justice Capacity and Capability Plan for 2008/2009.

778 (87) ACTION PLAN FOR THE REVIEW OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – SERVICE PROVISION AND AREAS OF VULNERABILITY – The Service Director Community Planning and Resources submitted a report and action plan to address the recommendations of the Safer and Stronger Community Scrutiny Panel in a review of domestic violence.

At its meeting held on 24 September 2008, council had approved a report of the Safer and Stronger Community Scrutiny Panel entitled “Review of Domestic Violence – Service Provision and Areas of Vulnerability”. On 22 October, cabinet had adopted the report and requested that an action plan be prepared in response to the recommendations. That scrutiny review had been carried out on a multi agency basis involving research and interviews with a wide range of individuals from partner organisations such as the Police, Fire and Rescue, the Probation Service, National Health Service Trusts and North Lincolnshire Homes. An equivalent approach had been taken in relation to the action plan to deal with the 51 detailed recommendations arising from the scrutiny review.

Resolved – (a) That cabinet approves the action plan attached as an appendix to the report; (b) that cabinet welcomes the role of the Safer Neighbourhoods Partnership in taking forward the recommendations arising from the scrutiny review, and (c) that further consideration be given to the action plan by both cabinet and the Safer and Stronger Communities Scrutiny Panel after the Safer Neighbourhoods Strategy Board has had its new resource budget allocation approved and has formulated a response to the outstanding action within the action plan.

779 EXCLUSION OF THE PUBLIC – Resolved – That the public be excluded from the meeting for consideration of the following item (minute 780 refers) on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

780 (88) OPERATIONAL MANAGEMENT OPTIONS FOR THE NEW ENTERTAINMENT VENUE, DONCASTER ROAD, SCUNTHORPE – The Deputy Chief Executive Individuals, the Service Director Asset Management and Culture and the Service Director Finance submitted a joint report which considered the options for the future management of the new entertainment venue at Doncaster Road, Scunthorpe.

Council had previously approved a project to develop a new entertainment venue on the combined site of the former Baths Hall and Scunthorpe Youth Centre. Work had now progressed on the design/construction of a building. Demolition work had recently been completed to programme and work was underway to deal with contamination of the site arising from it formerly housing public gas works. Public consultation indicated high levels of support for the project and capital funding was in place to take it forward. Discussions were ongoing with potential external funders, including Yorkshire Forward. As a significant construction project it offered a much needed boost locally to a sector adversely affected by the current economic climate. The report indicated that a decision was now required on the future management of the venue.

The report detailed three viable management options. These were –

  • Council (in house) management
  • A form of “not for profit” organisation/trust, or
  • An external management company.

Business planning work to date had assumed council management of the venue. Copies of the business plan had been deposited in political group offices and this document remained confidential on the grounds of commercial sensitivity. However, the key elements of the plan were summarised at appendix 1 to the report.

The report contained details of each of the three options referred to above and set out in appendix 2 was a detailed analysis of each of these. It suggested that the external management option was best as it presented a number of opportunities to –

  • Ensure the effective operation of the venue as a result of the experience and the established specialist industry connections of the operator
  • Minimise the requirement for a revenue subsidy
  • Provide the council with cost certainty in respect of any revenue subsidy
  • Minimise operational risk to the council
  • Provide the potential for the council to benefit from a revenue share, in the event that the venue operates at a surplus.

All the options set out in the report involved some risk to the council as detailed in the appendices, but the recommended option was the only one that offered the advantages set out above.

Resolved – (a) That the council seek an external management company to operate the new entertainment venue to ensure higher profile acts are attracted and that the financial risk to the council is minimised, and (b) that approval be given to start an appropriate procurement process to select an operator for the venue and to secure any external legal support needed in taking these matters forward.