Hounslow Council


Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Committee Rooms 1 & 2, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions

Contact: Carol Stiles on Tel: 020 8583 2066 or email:  carol.stiles@hounslow.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

104.

Apologies for absence, declarations of interest or any other communications from Members

Minutes:

Mimi Konigsberg, Director of Community Services, stood in for the Chief Executive, Mary Harpley, who had given apologies.

 

The Chair opened the meeting and welcomed all present and those following the webcast.

 

Apologies had been received from Councillor Raj Bath and Councillor John Todd, who normally attended for the Quarterly Performance Pack item as Chair of the Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel. Councillor Barbara Reid attended as a member of the Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel for that item.

 

 

105.

Minutes of the meeting held on 8 February 2011 pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 8 February 2011

Decision:

The minutes of the meeting held on 8 February 2011 were confirmed.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 8 February 2011 were confirmed.

106.

Minutes of the meeting held on 15 February 2011 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 15 February 2011.

 

 

Decision:

The minutes of the meeting held on 15 February 2011 were confirmed, with one amendment – page 21, paragraph 2 – amend ‘most’ to ‘more’.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 15 February 2011 were confirmed, with one amendment – page 21, paragraph 2 – amend ‘most’ to ‘more’.

107.

Quarter 3 (October - December 2010) Quarterly Performance Management Pack 2010/11

Report by Chris Bates, Head of Policy, Performance and Communications Unit.

 

Members and Scrutiny are asked to give advanced notice to CPPCU (by the Thursday before the Tuesday’s meeting) of the Programmes & Projects and / or Performance Indicators that they would like further information on at the meeting; these will be circulated to the Corporate Performance Team in order for them to come prepared with any additional information.

 

Please forward the reference numbers to Harjit Sabarwal in CPPCU (email:harjit.sabarwal@hounslow.gov.uk) by Thursday, 3rd March 2011.

 

This colour pack will be circulated to members as a separate attachment to the main agenda. It has been published electronically as a supplement to the main agenda pack.

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The report was noted.

Minutes:

See the supplementary report pack – the Quarter 3 Performance Pack – Agenda Item 4.

 

Chris Bates, Head of Policy, Performance and Communications Unit, introduced the report, which contained the core performance indicators for the authority to support the Council’s Pledges. The indicators were graded red, amber and green and the commentaries focused on those showing red and amber. The balance of the core Performance Indicators (PIs) were those where no information was available at this quarter.

 

Mr Bates was grateful to Scrutiny for identifying the issues they wished to raise. These areas had been circulated to members of the Corporate Leadership Team and to Corporate Performance Team colleagues for comment.

 

Councillor Curran, as Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Councillor Carey, as a member of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and Councillor Reid, as a member of the Finance and Performance Scrutiny Panel, attended the meeting to ask questions.

 

The Chair welcomed the fact that most PIs were amber or green rather than red.

 

In response to a question from Councillor Carey, it was confirmed that as well as being circulated to appropriate officers, the questions submitted by Scrutiny had been tabled for Executive members to see.

 

Councillor Carey referred to the questions and went through the particular PIs they related to in turn.

 

Pledge 2 – Extra Cash for Local Schools

 

CPI 6 (NI 73), page 4 of the pack – Percentage of children achieving level 4 and above in both English and Maths at Key Stage 2.

CPI 17 (NI 75), page 4 – Percentage of children achieving 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE (or equiv) including English and Maths

 

Councillor Carey congratulated the authority and the department for the roles they had played in improving performance in respect of Key Stage 2 (KS2) and Key Stage 4 (KS4). He asked whether they could summarise the authority’s practical influence over these results.

 

Judith Pettersen, Director of Children’s Services and Lifelong Learning, replied that the results had improved overall at both key stages to be above the national average. Performance was strong compared with both the national and London context. No schools were in an OFSTED category. The Director explained the work of the School Improvement Stream for 2009/10. This had proved a strong system to support those identified as performing less well. It enabled working with advisers, consultants and specific groups via both local authority support and via the London Challenge team, funded by the Department for Education. An Attainment Plan meeting held each term enabled quality assurance of the support in place.

 

Councillor Carey asked about the effect of schools moving to Academy status. He asked what additional support was available and how this would be utilised. He also asked why it had not been possible to meet the challenging stretch targets of 81% for CPI 6 and 60% for CPI 7.

 

Judith Pettersen explained that Academy status did not alter the need to meet National School Standards. What altered was the way in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 107.

108.

Local Development Scheme (ENV 050) pdf icon PDF 102 KB

Report by Michael Jordan, Director of Environment.

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The recommendations of the report were agreed.

Minutes:

See the report of the Director of Environment – Agenda Item 5.

 

Michael Jordan, Director of Environment, introduced the report. This made the members aware of the statutory requirement for a Local Development Scheme, the project plan to produce a Scheme as part of a planning framework for the borough. The current scheme dated from 2007 and there had been good progress in many areas, especially the Brentford Action Plan, but not in the core strategy. The intention was to take the core strategy forward and for this to sit in the context of the Community Strategy and inform that. The Scheme presented would be recommended to the Secretary of State. The Mayor of London would also comment on the scheme.

 

The Chair referred members to the recommendations on page 23 of the agenda, paragraph 1.0 of the report. These were agreed.

 

 

Resolved:

 

The Executive agreed the recommendations of the report as follows:

 

  1. The Executive resolved that the Local Development Scheme as amended (and as appended to the report as Appendix 1) be submitted to the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
  2. Members noted that following submission of the Local Development Scheme (LDS) to the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, and subject to any notices and/ or directions issued by the Mayor and / or the Secretary of State, the local planning authority shall be entitled to resolve that the Local Development Scheme shall have effect and the first date of its effect.
  3. The Executive delegated authority to the Deputy Leader of the Council to resolve as to the date of the coming into effect of the Local Development Scheme as soon as practicable following the completion of the consultation process with the Mayor of London and the Secretary of State.
  4. Members noted the requirement to produce a Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedule by April 2014.
  5. The Executive agreed that the Deputy Leader of the Council be given delegated authority to establish a Core Strategy Member Working Group.

 

 

 

 

109.

Monthly Revenue Financial Monitoring - 31 December 2010 pdf icon PDF 79 KB

Report by Stephen Fitzgerald, Director of Finance.  

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The recommendations of the report were agreed.

Minutes:

See the report of the Director of Finance – Agenda Item 6.

 

Stephen Fitzgerald, Director of Finance, introduced the report, which was a standard report up to the end of December 2010. The overall picture was good. There was a small under spend of £300k.

 

The Director reminded members that each time the report focused in more detail on a particular department. This time it was Children’s Services and Lifelong Learning. There had been an initial overspend in Children’s Services but mitigating actions and maximising grant had reduced the figure to zero, which was encouraging.

 

Stephen Fitzgerald commented on the Borough Council meeting, at which the Council Tax had been set and £18m in savings delivered. He advised that there was a need for particular vigour to deliver the initiatives on which members had voted. The Corporate Leadership Team was discussing how to enhance budget monitoring to ensure that the authority was on budget and to enhance individual initiatives.

 

Councillor Dennison referred to the table of projected out turn in the report and the difference for the Finance Department between the original budget of £6.7m and the revised budget of £7.5m. He asked whether the reasons for the difference could be indicated. Mr Fitzgerald believed that this was a technical adjustment related to the baseline, but he proposed to provide Councillor Dennison with a note on the details the following day.

 

Councillor Dennison had some concern about the 0.3m under spend overall. He referred to Paragraphs 3.4 and 3.1 of the report and asked whether these savings had been banked. If not, the report was predicting an over spend. If the description was not saying that the money had been found and banked, then Councillor Dennison felt that this should be seen as a potential source only. So at the moment, he thought this was reporting as a 0.3 over spend.

 

In response, Stephen Fitzgerald advised that it was a matter of judgement. If all else was equal, this was an acceptable level of under spend. The Chair explored what might be done in respect of Councillor Dennison’s point about the presentation in the report, whether the figures should be amended or accepted, or whether there should be further enquiry and then amendment as appropriate for the next meeting. Mr Fitzgerald considered that the point could be addressed in correspondence outside the meeting.

 

Councillor Dennison, as Lead Member for Finance, commended the team and the Directors for doing a marvellous job in delivering the budget in a most strenuous year.

 

Resolved:

 

The recommendations of the report were agreed, namely that:

 

  1. The Executive noted the results of revenue budget monitoring at 31 December 2010.
  2. The Executive agreed action to contain out turn within the Council’s corporate budget for 2010-11. 

110.

Monitoring of Capital Programme 2010/11 - Quarter 3 pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Report by Stephen Fitzgerald, Director of Finance. 

 

Please note that a deposit copy of Appendix C and Appendix D of the report, a detailed spreadsheet setting out all the individual items of the Capital programme, is available for reference information for members in Members’ Services. Appendixes C and D are for background information only and are not included in the agenda pack.

 

This report also cross references with the report in the confidential Part II of the agenda, following the exclusion of press and public – Item 11 – Budget Review of Capital Improvement Works to Leisure Buildings.

 

 

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The recommendations of the report were agreed.

Minutes:

See the report of the Director of Finance – Agenda Item 7.

 

Stephen Fitzgerald, Director of Finance, introduced the report which looked at capital spend for development and maintenance. The report sought to summarise the present position. An under spend of £16m was shown, reflecting a common issue of slippage in projects. There was also a problem with over spend in Leisure Services. Suggestions on how to address this were the subject of a separate report later in the agenda.

 

Councillor Dennison, Lead Executive Member for Finance and Performance, commented that in contrast to the previous report, this report gave rise to every concern rather than reassurance. He was aware that work was in progress. However, a primary concern was that the profiling for the Leisure programme was yet to occur.

 

Councillor Dennison referred to Paragraph 3.2 of the report, which identified the amount of the capital budgets remaining to be profiled. He was concerned that budgets which were not profiled should not be slipped forward. If they were not profiled, they were not going forward for the 2011-2012 financial year. This had a knock on effect on other capital projects.

 

Councillor Dennison’s other concern was about under spends in the programme. He spoke particularly of the ICT under spend. He accepted the circumstances but also was discussing provision with ICT. If there was this degree of under spend, Councillor Dennison felt that this led to questions as to why contingency for ICT spend had been put aside. So he had asked that this be looked at to determine whether it needed to continue to go forward.

 

There were also concerns about capital management, a position aggravated by small parcels of capital spend being held in individual departments. Councillor Dennison believed that this problem could only be solved by bringing the budgets together.

 

Stephen Fitzgerald, Director of Finance, suggested that dispersion of the management of capital funding was not a matter for Capital monitoring but rather for the Medium Term Capital Strategy, which it was hoped would be brought to the Executive in May. Councillor Dennison agreed with this approach.

 

Resolved:

 

The recommendations of the report were agreed as follows:

 

  1. The Executive noted the report.
  2. The Executive agreed that Children’s Services and Lifelong Learning (CS&LL) (£1.7m) and Environment (£1.5m) were to profile all budgets for active projects as proposed in paragraph 3.2 of the report. 

111.

Treasury Management Monitoring - Quarter 3 pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Report by Stephen Fitzgerald, Director of Finance. 

 

Please note that there is a confidential appendix to this report shown in Part II of the agenda at Item 12, following the exclusion of press and public.

 

 

 

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The recommendations of the report were agreed.

Minutes:

See the report of the Director of Finance – Agenda Item 8.

 

Stephen Fitzgerald, Director of Finance, introduced the report, which was for members to note. Table 1 at paragraph 4.5 of the report summarised where money had been placed. For the last quarter, £144m had been invested in money markets. However, the Director of Finance stressed that it was important to understand that this was cash flow not liquidity. Cash was invested at minimum risk until it was paid in salary.  

 

Table 2 at paragraph 6.2 of the report showed the prudential indicators for debt. She showed action on debt so that debt was within the limits set. Stephen Fitzgerald commented that this report told a good story.

 

Councillor Dennison thanked Finance for an excellent report and performance. Paragraph 4.5 of the report showed investment income of £783k. Councillor Dennison asked about the projected outturn and asked where the money was put, if the return was positive.

 

Mr Fitzgerald explained that the out turn for the overall year was in excess of £1m. This was fed into the revenue budget. So without investment the revenue budget would be £1m less, which would have resulted in seeking £19m rather than £18m of cuts. So the surplus was fed into the baseline of the revenue budget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resolved:

 

The Executive noted the report. 

112.

Urgent Business

Any business which the Chair agrees to accept on grounds of urgency.

Decision:

There was no urgent business.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

113.

Exclusion of Press and Public

To resolve that the public and press be asked to leave the meeting during discussion of the remaining items of business because exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 is likely to be made known.

 

Please note that members of the public and press must leave the meeting at this point.

Decision:

The Executive resolved to exclude the press and public.

Minutes:

Councillor Cadbury moved the exclusion of press and public and this was seconded.

 

Before continuing to the confidential items, Councillor Dennison questioned what in these reports was confidential. He asked for clarification as to what was commercially sensitive.

 

In respect of Item 12 on the agenda, the confidential Appendix A to the Treasury Management report, Stephen Fitzgerald, Director of Finance, explained that Appendix A was marked confidential on the basis of commercially sensitive information confidential to those with whom the authority was dealing on the money markets in respect of borrowing or lending. Such information in the public domain could give a competitive advantage so caution was applied and the information was restricted as a preventative action.

 

Michael Jordan, Director of Environment, commented on the report at Item 11. This contained within it a description of potential litigation.

 

Councillor Dennison was happy with the explanations. However, he recalled a time when the actual reason for exclusion was given on the agenda and considered that this was good practice. He accepted that there were appropriate reasons for exclusion in some cases but believed that information should be available to the public so that they knew why the item had been excluded.  

 

Resolved:

 

That the public and press be asked to leave the meeting during discussion of the remaining items of business because exempt information as defined in Paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 is likely to be made known.

 

 

114.

Budget Review of Capital Improvement Works to Leisure Buildings

Report by Michael Jordan, Director of Environment.

 

Please note that this relates to the Capital Monitoring report in the public part of the agenda at Item 7.

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The recommendations of the confidential report were agreed.

 

It was also agreed that Executive members should receive detailed information on the impact of the proposals in paragraph 7.2 of the report.

Minutes:

Reference the confidential report by the Director of Environment – Agenda Item 11.

 

Michael Jordan, Director of Environment, introduced the report and referred to its link with the Capital Monitoring report, which had been considered in the public part of the agenda. He explained that in respect of profiling of projects, the report reflected the position at the point when the report had been written. He was able to reassure members that now the position was that all the Environment Department Capital programme had been profiled.

 

The report informed members of the capital improvement works on local buildings, set out the history and described the causes behind over spend. One such cause was the growth in the scope of works in some areas. For example, works had been agreed to extend the lifespan of the Brentford Fountain Leisure Centre and asbestos was discovered during other works elsewhere, together with other failings.

 

Section 4 of the report related to the interplay between the contractors and the project manager and was a matter for negotiation. The range of potential over spend was described within the report. Some factors were not yet known. The report also considered how the over spend might be dealt with. The Board responsible for overseeing the projects met the following day and the Leader and Lead Executive Member, Councillor Pritam Grewal, would address these issues at that meeting.

 

The Chair invited questions.

 

Councillor Dennison commented that the report explained an understandable but unacceptable position, whereby the new Administration was faced with having to bail out previous faults. He referred to specific areas of concern identified within the report, in particular the lack of explanation as to why works had been signed off without provision to fund.

 

Councillor Dennison stressed the need for a precautionary approach with rules applied to ensure that additional expenditure was not accepted without money to fund being allocated. Such a rule would avoid future problems arising years after the mistake had been made. He was concerned about the implications of tri-partite arrangements with insufficient oversight to ensure that the corporate position was protected. He wished to see robust procedures in place for the future to ensure that once a capital programme was agreed it was rigidly enforced. Any adjustments needed could then only be made if there was real cash allotted to support the additional cost.

 

Councillor Dennison also noted the reference to the impacts on the Community Halls and asked that members should be advised of the details of these impacts at the appropriate time.

 

Councillor Cadbury explored the issue of asbestos, how this had not been known from surveys in advance of the works and what allowance had been made to insure against such a problem.

 

Councillor Cadbury also suggested exploring the current opportunities for renewable energy generation through Feed in Tariffs whilst these were available.  

 

 

The Chair supported Councillor Dennison’s proposal to ensure that current policy would only permit expenditure when funding was allocated.

 

 

Resolved:

 

1. The recommendations of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 114.

115.

Confidential Appendix A to Item 8- Treasury Management Mid Year Report 2010/11

Please note that this is a confidential appendix to the report at Item 8 shown in the public part of the agenda.

 

Decision:

This was noted.

Minutes:

The confidential Appendix was noted and had been covered in respect of Item 8 – Treasury Management monitoring – on the public part of the agenda.

 

Councillor Dennison noted that Councillor Chatt had wanted information on data long term. The Director of Finance confirmed that this had been supplied and he was happy to share the same documents with Councillor Dennison.

116.

Any Other Items which the Chair considers urgent and are exempt from publication

Decision:

There was no urgent confidential business.

Minutes:

There was no urgent confidential business.