Governance & Transformation Cabinet Member – 12 December 2016

34      (34)    NATIONAL NON-DOMESTIC RATE RELIEF APPLICATIONS AND MONITORING – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which sought consideration of the level of National Non-Domestic Rate (NNDR) relief to be awarded to ratepayers in North Lincolnshire.  The report also presented the current level of reliefs granted, mandatory and discretionary, compared to the budget.

NNDR legislation made provision for granting relief to a range of non domestic properties.  That included, for example, small business relief, charitable relief and empty property relief.  Some relief was mandated and must be granted; other relief was discretionary.

Under the current regime of part localisation of NNDR the council funded a proportion of both mandatory and discretionary reliefs.  For the level of collection assumed in the budget the council would fund 37% of all reliefs.

This meant that the level of NNDR reliefs had a larger impact on the council’s finances than before.  The levels of all mandatory and discretionary reliefs were now reported periodically to inform the cabinet member of the forecast impact on the budget.

Mandatory reliefs comprised around 97% of all reliefs by value.  The forecast was that more relief would be granted than was assumed in the budget.  The level of discretionary relief would be higher than originally estimated if the proposals in the report were approved.  The details were shown at Appendix A.

There had been an increase in mandatory empty property relief.  This was because of the closure of Killingholme A Power Station and several other sites with large rateable values qualifying for relief.

The criteria for assessing applications for discretionary relief were reviewed in May 2012.

The ratepayers in receipt of rate relief in 2015/16 have had their applications reviewed.  New and existing applicants continue to return forms fully completed.

The council also had a Hardship Relief scheme for cases of exceptional hardship.  Cases were rare, but two applications had been received which were detailed at Appendix B.

Resolved – (a) That the level of rate relief to each applicant as set out in the attached schedule to the report be awarded, and (b) that the latest position for 2016/17 on business rate reliefs be noted.

35      (35)    PROFESSIONAL SERVICES USAGE – QUARTER 2 2016/17 – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report to advise on the consultancy usage for Quarter 2 of 2016/17.  The report highlighted the consultancy usage to support major projects within North Lincolnshire and to advise on the overall effectiveness.

The protocol for managing consultancy was introduced as part of a package of cost management measures in 2011.  The protocol required services to report their use of consultants on a quarterly basis.  This reporting requirement was formally adopted as part of the council’s updated contract procedure rules in May 2012.

It was widely recognised that the provision of specialist expert advice was essential for the successful delivery of major projects and effective management of potentially high cost risk exposure.  Examples of major council projects requiring specialist advice included:

–                  Building Schools for the Future

–                  University Technical College (UTC)

–                  Waste Treatment

–                  Capital Programme

–                  Lincolnshire Lakes

For the purpose of the report the term “professional services” was used to describe the procurement of highly specialised subject matter expertise which the council did not possess in-house or where an independent opinion was required.  Examples included specialist environmental surveys, technical analysis and advice on essential legal requirements such as Construction Design and Management (CDM) regulation compliance.

Resolved – That the findings set out in the report for Quarter 2 in 2016/17 be noted.

36      (36)    DETAILED ASSESSMENT OF THE SCUNTHORPE TOWN AND LOW SANTON PM10 AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT AREAS REPORT 2016 – The Director of Places submitted a report that informed the Cabinet Member on the conclusions contained in the detailed assessment of the two air quality management areas of Scunthorpe Town and Low Santon.

It was a requirement that the council must review air pollution.  Since December 1997 each local authority in the UK had undertaken a review and assessment of air quality in their area.  To help local authorities, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) had produced a manual – “Local Air Quality Management Technical Guidance LAQM.TG(09)”.  This document was designed to guide local authorities through the Review and Assessment process, as well as containing information to declare, revoke or amend an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA). The aim of the review and assessment regime was to ensure the achievement of national air quality objectives across the UK by the relevant deadlines.

These objectives aim to protect people’s health and the environment.  Industrial, domestic and traffic sources were compared with limits for major pollutants.
The council had previously declared two air quality management areas (AQMAs) for breaches of Particulate Matter objectives, which were summarised in the table below –

AQMA Name Pollutants and Air Quality Objectives Town Description
Scunthorpe Town AQMA PM10 daily mean Scunthorpe The integrated steelworks site and a number of properties to the east of Scunthorpe
Low Santon AQMA PM10 annual mean Low Santon Three residential properties

The latest assessment indicated that particulate levels within some areas of the Scunthorpe Town AQMA do not breach the objective. In addition, those particulate levels within the Low Santon AQMA do not breach the objective.

The detailed assessment report concluded that i) the Low Santon AQMA should be revoked, and ii) the Scunthorpe Town AQMA should be reduced in size.  In order to fulfil the council’s obligations, it was required to submit the detailed assessment report to DEFRA in 2016.

The council continued to work with Industry, Health Professionals and the Environment Agency to reduce levels of pollution.

Resolved – That the detailed assessment of the Scunthorpe Town and Low Santon PM10 Air Quality Management Areas 2016 report be submitted to DEFRA.