Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: Birch Suite, 5th Floor, Aquila House, Breeds Place, Hastings, East Sussex, TN34 3UY
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Items No. Item
Appointment of Chair
The Continuous Improvement and Democratic Services Manager invited nominations for the appointment of Chair for the duration of the meeting.
Councillor Fitzgerald proposed that Councillor Westley should take the Chair, which was seconded by Councillor Webb and supported by the remaining members of the committee.
RESOLVED that Councillor Westley be appointed as Chair for the duration of the meeting
- Draft Hastings Borough Council Corporate Plan and Service Priorities 2016-17 to 2017-18 , item 23. PDF 329 KB
The Director of Corporate Services and Governance presented the draft corporate plan 2016/17 to 2018/19. The corporate plan set out the council’s strategic direction and priorities, together with the service activities that would be undertaken to achieve them.
The Continuous Improvement and Democratic Services Manager explained that the layout of the draft corporate plan had been revised, to show how the key activities that would be undertaken in 2016/17 related to the council’s corporate priorities. The plan also described how the success of these activities would be measured. He explained that draft work plans and performance indicators for the key activities would be submitted to overview and scrutiny members, to assist them with their performance monitoring role.
The committee welcomed the updated layout of the corporate plan, commenting that it improved the accessibility of the document for members and the public.
Consideration was given to the key activities and indicators of success set out in the plan. Further information on the Hastings Flood Plan was requested, which the lead member agreed to circulate by email.
Discussion took place regarding plans to mark the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings. Councillor Chowney explained that a programme of events had been agreed, and further details would be released throughout the year. An independent ROOT 1066 website had also been launched, providing details on a range of events taking place in 2016.
Members asked for the timescale to agree a list of local Heritage Assets. Councillor Chowney explained that this area of work had initially been dependent on the adoption of the local plan. Now that the plan was in place, a process had been agreed by which a local group of interested parties would make suggestions on assets which could be included on the list, members of the public could also put forward suggestions independently.
The committee acknowledged that a number of aspects of the plan included work with partners to support improvements to key services which the council was not directly responsible for, such as education, highways and securing a high speed rail service. Councillor Chowney commented that it was important that the corporate plan reflected the council’s broader ambitions for the town, and that the council would continue to work with its partner agencies to support improvements to key services.
Members noted that it was intended for the council-run leasing scheme for privately rented accommodation to become cost neutral by 2019, subject to the results of a pilot scheme in 2015/16. The Director of Corporate Services and Governance commented that members would continue to receive updates on this service as part of their quarterly performance monitoring report. Councillor Chowney added that interest in this scheme had increased over recent months.
The committee recommended that section 10 of the draft Corporate Plan, leisure, health and wellbeing, should reference the development of the Combe Valley Countryside Park. A new discovery centre at the countryside park was due to be opened in March 2016, and a range of other activities were ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
The Assistant Director for Financial Services and Revenues presented a report to consult members of the committee on the revenue budget and capital programme. Comments made by the committee would be reported to Budget Cabinet at its meeting on 15 February 2016.
Members were advised of amendments to the draft report, the new capital project for an industrial unit in Brunel Road, as the potential occupant of the unit no longer wished to proceed with the project.
The council had also received a significant claim for mandatory rate relief from business rates from the National Health Service, in respect of the Conquest Hospital. The Assistant Director for Financial Services and Revenues commented that the claim impacted on all authorities in East Sussex, who were part of a rating pool for business rates. A number of other authorities had received similar claims, and the Local Government Association intended to raise this matter with the Department for Communities and Local Government.
Consideration was given to options to help mitigate the continued uncertainty in respect of business rate appeals. The Assistant Director for Financial Services and Revenues advised that additional funds had been set aside in the stability reserves, however, this approach could not continue into the long term. Members requested a breakdown of the allocation of the council’s reserves as well as significant payments for business rates appeals made by the council.
The Assistant Director of Financial Services and Revenues acknowledged the continued areas of uncertainty affecting the council’s budget. This included essential repairs and maintenance to the cliff face at Rock-A-Nore, which was owned by the council. It would not be possible to estimate the full cost of the project until initial works to remove vegetation had been carried out.
A compensation claim was also still outstanding in respect of Hastings Pier. The Assistant Director for Financial Services and Revenues explained that the legal fees incurred during this process would need to be met in 2016/17, and the allocation in the draft budget had been amended to reflect this.
Members were mindful that these areas of uncertainty were in the context of very significant reductions to the council’s funding settlement until 2020.
Given the ongoing uncertainty facing the authority, Councillor Chowney explained that it was important for the council to explore options for income generation. He outlined a number of possible opportunities in terms of housing and energy generation which would be investigated. An additional suggestion was made about developing catering facilities, as part of the events package offered at Hastings Museum.
RESOLVED that members comments will be reported back to the Budget Cabinet on 15 February 2016
The reason for this decision was:
Members views are sought as part of the consultation process.