Scrutiny Co-ordinating Panel (Special Meeting) – 16 February 2010

PRESENT:  Councillor Davison in the chair.

Councillors Barker, Barkworth, Cawsey, Glover, C Sherwood, Waltham, Wells and Wilson.

Councillors Clark, England, L Foster, T Foster, Grant, Kirk, Poole and Redfern attended the meeting in accordance with Procedure Rule 1.37 (b)

The panel met at Pittwood House, Scunthorpe.

97  DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS – There were no declarations of personal or personal and prejudicial interests.

No Whip was declared.

98  (9)  ITEM REQUESTED FOR CALL-IN IN ACCORDANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 22 OF PART D RULE 5 (OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY PROCEDURE RULES) OF THE COUNCIL’S CONSTITUTION – Minute 350 of the Corporate Services Cabinet Member meeting held on 2 February 2010 – Council Smallholdings  – The chair invited a nominee of the members who had requested the call-in to speak on the above decision and question the Corporate Services Cabinet Member, Peter Williams, Service Director Asset Management & Culture and Chris Ellerby, Assistant Corporate Property Officer – Asset Management.  Members outlined areas of concern as reasons for seeking a review of the above decision.  These included:

(i)  Whilst the rental returns from smallholdings was relatively low, coupled with the widely predicted increases in arable land values, it resulted in a strong argument for the retention of these assets as a solid investment.

(ii)  That the alternative use for the monies raised would be to support the shortfall in the proposed capital budget created by the Baths Hall scheme which would provide neither the realisation of the optimum revenue returns or the investment appreciation returns.

(iii)  That the taking of this decision was in breach of the Council’s policy framework as Procedure rule D2-13 was not followed with the key decision not being included in the Forward Plan or taken as an urgent decision.

Following a discussion on the above issues, the Corporate Services Cabinet Member was invited to respond to the concerns and reasons for the decision being called in, and be held to account for the decision taken.  The Service Director Asset Management & Culture and Assistant Corporate Property Officer – Asset Management were also invited to comment.

Moved by Councillor Waltham and seconded by Councillor C Sherwood –

That the decision be referred back to the decision makers to re-consider within five working days to either (a) confirm the original decision, or (b) agree to change the decision having considered the representations made by some members of the Scrutiny Co-ordinating Panel.

Moved by Councillor Davison as an amendment and seconded by Councillor Barkworth –

That no further action be taken and the decision become effective immediately.

Amendment carried
Substantive Motion carried

The meeting was adjourned and then reconvened in half an hour.

99  (10)  OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY AND THE COUNCIL’S BUDGET – To discuss the budget papers, to be considered by Full Council at its meeting on 24 February 2010, with the Service Director Finance – The Chair welcomed Mike Wedgewood, Service Director Finance and Peter Fijalkowski, Corporate Finance Manager to the meeting and invited them to present the Financial Strategy for 2010/13.

The Service Director Finance confirmed that the paper set out the context for financial decisions the Council takes before the start of each financial year starting in April.  He explained that the strategy was supported by three further papers, which included the Revenue Budget which covered the day to day running costs of council services, the Capital Programme for the investment in buildings and infrastructure, and the Treasury Management and Investment Strategy which outlined how the council would invest, borrow and manage its debt.

The panel was advised that the budget was part of a long-term financial strategy, to ensure that council spending on services was sustainable.  The paper considered some key issues and implications such as:

  • The current economic situation and the state of public finances
  • The Council priorities and performance
  • The outcome of consultation with the public and other stakeholders on service and spending priorities
  • The implications for the council’s financial planning.

Members engaged in discussion and the Service Director responded to their questions.

Resolved –  (a) That the Service Director Finance and Corporate Finance Manager be thanked for their attendance at the meeting and for their valuable work, (b) that the position be noted, and (c) that the Financial Strategy 2010/13 having been considered by all members of the Scrutiny Coordinating Panel be noted.