Corporate Services Cabinet Member – Minutes – 1 November 2010

414 (41) BUSINESS RATE RELIEFS OCTOBER 2010 – The Service Director Finance submitted a report considering the level of Business Rate relief to be awarded to ratepayers in North Lincolnshire.

The former Policy Committee agreed the legal position and administrative practices for dealing with rate relief on 22 January 1996.

The Corporate Services Cabinet Member on 20 February 2005 (minute 128 refers) agreed to adopt a scoring system based on set criteria for the awarding of discretionary rate relief. On 7 February 2005 (minute 233 refers) he agreed to amend the criteria. On 21 December 2006 he also agreed to update the criteria and gave approval to the Service Director Finance to authorise relief where the level of relief remained unchanged.

There was no discretion about granting mandatory relief.

Resolved – That the level of rate relief be awarded to each applicant as set out in the schedule attached to the report.

415 (42) VIREMENTS 2010-11 – The Service Director Finance submitted a report seeking approval for changes to the revenue and capital budgets for 2010-11.

On 24 February 2010 Council approved the revenue and capital budgets for the 2010/2011 financial year (minute 1830 refers). The report gave details of virements approved by the Service Director Finance under delegated powers and those that required Cabinet Member approval.

Resolved – (a) That the virements at paragraph 3.1 of the report, approved by the Service Director Finance under delegated powers be noted, and (b) that the permanent virements outlined in paragraph 3.2 of the report be approved.

416 (43) CAR LOAN SCHEME – The Service Director Finance submitted a report seeking approval for the withdrawal of the council’s car loan scheme.

The council had always operated a scheme whereby eligible employees could receive financial assistance (a loan) towards the purchase of a car. Previously, the interest rate charged by the council was favourable when compared with private finance rates, however more competitive interest rates could now be found elsewhere. The interest rate charged by the council was set on 1 April each year and was normally equivalent to the bank of England Base Rate. However, the current rate was 5.25% as no adjustment was made on 1 April 2009 to reflect the current base rate of 0.5%.

The number of loans had reduced, from 42 at April 2007 to currently 22, primarily because of cheaper alternative sources of finance. It was considered that now would be an appropriate time to consider withdrawal of the scheme or, if retained, consider what changes were required to the scheme.

Resolved – That the withdrawal of the Car Loan scheme be approved.

417 (44) CREATION OF A POST OF OBESITY STRATEGY COORDINATOR – The Service Director Neighbourhood and Environment submitted a report seeking approval for the creation of a 2-year fixed term part-time post that would contribute to decreasing the prevalence of obesity.

Funding had been identified by NHS North Lincolnshire for this post which would be based within the health improvement and partnerships team of the council for management purposes. Forecasts for the future estimated that levels of obesity would rise to 60% in men, 50% in women and 25% in children by 2050 if no action was taken to prevent it. Levels of obesity in North Lincolnshire were above the national average.

A Scrutiny Panel report in June 2008 acknowledged that obesity was a major priority for North Lincolnshire and made a series of recommendations which formed the basis of a review of the Obesity Strategy and Action Plan at that time. It was now considered to be timely to further review progress and update the strategy further in light of activity since then. This would comprise a major area of work for the coordinator.

Resolved – That the creation of the post of Obesity Strategy Coordinator be approved.

418 (45) LOCAL GOVERNMENT PENSION SCHEME DISCRETIONARY OPTIONS AND COMPENSATION FOR TERMINATION OF EMPLOYMENT – The Assistant Director Human Resources submitted a report for consideration of the removal of augmentation of pensionable service from 1 January 2011 and to consider further changes to clarify how the pension strain costs were to be met.

The council first introduced augmentation of pensionable service for employees who were made redundant following the change to the pension regulations in April 2006. The award of augmentation was a discretionary award of the council under the pension regulations. As part of the continuing exercise to reduce employment costs in advance of what was expected to be a period of severe funding cuts for the council, one potential area of saving could be made by removal of the award of augmented pensionable service made to employees when they were made redundant.

Resolved – That the withdrawal of Augmentation as detailed within the report be approved and adopted.

419 (46) SCUNTHORPE SPECIAL EXPENSES – PLAYGROUND IMPROVEMENTS – The Service Director Neighbourhood and Environment submitted a report seeking consideration of a request from the Scunthorpe Charter Trustees to utilise unallocated funding from the 2009/10 Scunthorpe Special Expenses levy for the purpose of improving playgrounds.

Scunthorpe Special Expenses were introduced in April 2000. Facilities initially included were playgrounds and community centres, and the costs included repair and maintenance, grounds maintenance and central expenses including public liability insurance. Subsequently playing fields in Scunthorpe were added to the schedule with the exception of those deemed to be of use to all North Lincolnshire residents. Christmas lighting was added to the schedule in April 2006.

Whilst the Year 1 Playbuilder scheme had improved some of the play areas in Scunthorpe, there were many others where the play equipment was in a poor state. This was due to lack of investment coupled with the number of play areas in Scunthorpe resulting in the need for major renovations, replacements of items now obsolete, on-going repairs of many existing and antiquated pieces of equipment, spares becoming less available due to the age of current equipment and increasing incidents of vandalism in children’s play areas and their surroundings.

The Children and Young People Scrutiny Panel had published a report in 2009 reviewing play, playgrounds and open spaces. One of the key recommendations was that the council increased the levels of maintenance in parks and open spaces, investigated the increase of park wardens, concentrating on anti-social behaviour, graffiti, broken glass and damaged equipment.

It was considered that investment in the council’s portfolio of playgrounds and open spaces in Scunthorpe would make a positive contribution to combating the level of anti-social behaviour in North Lincolnshire. It would also contribute to the council’s health improvement priority areas.

Resolved – That the proposal to allow the unallocated funding to be used as set out within the report be approved.

The following item contains exempt information as defined in paragraphs 1, 2 and 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended).

420 (47) PROPERTY TRANSACTION SCHEDULE – The Service Director Asset Management and Culture submitted a report seeking for consideration, and where necessary approval, of a schedule containing the terms of all recently negotiated property transactions.

Resolved– That the schedule appended to the report be approved.

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Where there is no report this is because it is exempt, as it contains information which is considered to be of a confidential nature, as detailed in the Local Government (Access to Information) Act.