Agenda and minutes
Venue: Committee Room 3 - Wallasey Town Hall. View directions
Members' Code of Conduct - Declarations of Interest
Members of the Cabinet are asked to consider whether they have any disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests in connection with any item(s) on this agenda and, if so, to declare them and state the nature of the interest.
No declarations of absence were received.
The minutes of the last meeting have been printed and published. Any matters called in will be reported at the meeting.
RECOMMENDATION: That the minutes be approved and adopted.
That the Minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 14 March 2013 be confirmed as a correct record.
A report by the Chief Executive set out proposals for amending the Council’s Constitution to ensure it remained both lawful and fit for purpose.
Councillor Phil Davies introduced the report informing that the review of the Council’s Constitution had been a key issue for the Improvement Board and a key action in the Council’s Improvement Plan. The review was an area that had required urgent attention.
Councillor Phil Davies referred to the five Member events which had been held over the last six months around the different elements of the Council’s improvement agenda. Each event had been very well attended. Councillor Davies also stressed at the outset, that the Administration of the Council intended to continue to operate a Strong Leader and Cabinet model of governance. He informed that he had not been persuaded to return to a Committee System. Councillor Davies considered that the Strong Leader and Cabinet model was the best option and would allow the Council to work well and make effective decisions.
Councillor Phil Davies reported that it was important to have more clarity on the roles of Members and Officers. It was also important to enhance the Council’s scrutiny function so that it could influence policy formation. He informed that the new model of neighbourhood working would allow the Council to deliver its vision and Members would be able to become effective community champions. Councillor Davies hoped that these new arrangements would lead to greater engagement with the public.
Councillor Phil Davies told the Cabinet that the new procedures around full Council meetings were designed to focus on what it was actually responsible for. They would provide a means of debating key issues and holding the executive to account. It was intended that the three new Policy and Performance Committees and the Co-ordinating Committee, responsible for overseeing arrangements and allocating cross cutting activities, would be much more involved in influencing policy-making than the present Overview and Scrutiny Committees. The Cabinet intended to engage proactively with the four Committee Chairs over the Council’s Forward Plan of Key Decisions.
Councillor Phil Davies told the Cabinet that the four Constituency Committees would be more cost effective than the present eleven Area Forums. They would have strategic key oversight. The Council had committed £50,000 to each Constituency Committee’s budget and was keen to encourage partners to also provide funding as well as their expertise. Input would be welcomed from all key public agencies in each constituency.
Councillor Phil Davies then turned his attention to Council meetings themselves. He was keen to move away from the “Punch and Judy” aspects of debating issues in the Council Chamber. Under the new Constitution there would be a whole new format for the way the Council carried out its business. The Council would receive written reports to debate and would take questions. Its attention would focus on the core services it was responsible for delivering and making Cabinet and Cabinet Members more accountable. The onus would be on the Cabinet Members to answer ... view the full minutes text for item 241.
A report by the Interim Director of Finance set out the revenue position for 2012/13 as at Month 11 (February 2013). It identified the latest financial projections and ongoing management actions to ensure any year end overspend was minimised.
Councillor Phil Davies told the Cabinet that he was pleased that the Council’s revenue spending was now on a more substantial footing and he congratulated Peter Timmins, Interim Director of Finance, and his team on this achievement. Councillor Davies then asked the Interim Director of Finance to expand on the interesting work on budget monitoring carried out with budget holders.
The Interim Director of Finance informed that Council Officers with an involvement in financial management were attending financial update and training events. They had been timed to coincide with the commencement of the new Financial Year. The Council, like others, faced significant financial challenges. A great deal had been achieved in recent months taking the Council forward and producing a budget with a sound footing. There had also been a number of revisions to financial procedures and processes with further changes to be implemented.
It was important that Officers who had financial responsibilities were aware of these changes and two, two hour, events had been held to provide them with the essential financial rules to bring them up to date with the financial position and financial procedure rules. A further session was planned for those Officers who had been unable to attend the two events already held.
It was also best practice that Officers with budget responsibilities received recent and relevant training The events had also included the distribution and sign off of the 2013/14 budgets and had provided an opportunity to meet and speak with Finance staff, who would assist them during the coming year, and raise any financial issues with them. Budget Holders had been asked to rate themselves (red, amber or green) and appropriate support would now be put in place to assist them and further training would be provided if the need for it was identified.
The feedback from these events was that they had been greatly appreciated by the staff. The Interim Director of Finance informed that it was intended to produce a monthly newsletter and create a community of people who would work together to monitor spending.
At the request of Councillor Phil Davies for advice on the Council’s spending freeze, the Interim Director advised that it would be appropriate for the Council to keep the spending freeze in place for a further three months whilst evidence was collected that it had been the right course to take such action, work on the close down of the 2012/13 accounts was carried out and major change was being implemented. The financial situation should then be re-evaluated in three months time at the end of June 2013.
That the Cabinet notes:
(1) at Month 11 (February 2013), the full year forecast projected a potential General Fund overspend of £7.4m;
(2) there were no rejected freeze items ... view the full minutes text for item 242.
A report by the Interim Director of Finance informed Members of the current position in relation to the Council’s 2012/13 to 2014/15 Capital Programme and reflected the position as at 28 February 2013. It also took account of the 2013/16 Programme as approved by Cabinet on 18 February 2013 (Minute No. 204 refers), together with any subsequent growth or slippage items. The report, therefore, reflected:
That the Cabinet:
(1) agrees the revised Capital Programme of £40.539 million;
(2) agrees additional slippage in the programme of £3.152 million from 2012/13 to 2013/14;
(3) agrees the increase in the programme for 2012/13 of £0.697 million;
(4) notes the reduction in funding of £0.121 million required for Think Big Investment Fund;
(5) notes the spend to date at Month 11 of £27.939 million, which represents 75% of the revised capital budget, with 92% of the financial year having elapsed; and
(6) notes the work of the Capital Steering Group to detail the schedule of sites to validate the estimate of capital receipts.
A report by the Interim Director of Finance proposed a budget process for 2013-14 to deliver a revenue and capital budget for 2014-15. Such a process required the agreement of the Council in early March 2014. The report also set out forecast budgets for the following two years 2015-17, and refreshed the Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS), taking into account the Chancellor’s Budget of 20 March 2013.
The Interim Director of Finance informed that it was important to ensure that most of the decisions required were taken by the end of the year so that there would be more time available to implement them, in readiness for the new Financial Year.
Councillor Phil Davies informed that he was fully in support of the proposal to bring forward the budgetary decision-making process. He was pleased with the way the ‘What Really Matters’ consultation had been handled. He also informed that it was important that the excellent work around budget consultation was continued and that an evaluation of the exercise was carried out. There remained a lot of uncertainty around Government funding so a degree of flexibility must be built into the process.
Councillor Ann McLachlan referred to the Local Government Information Unit’s work in bringing together local authorities and stakeholders to highlight the good works councils were doing in driving forward innovation, exploring new models of service delivery and considering how they could move forward with the challenges ahead.
The Chief Executive drew the Cabinet’s attention to Annex 1 to the Interim Director’s report which set out the draft timetable. He informed that he would like to obtain the Cabinet’s agreement to five or six projects in May 2013 and begin to work on them. He also informed that each of the three Strategic Directors would contact the Cabinet Members shortly to discuss major changes.
That Cabinet agrees:
(1) the strategy of taking decisions earlier than in the last budget round, so that timely intervention will reduce risk and increase savings and therefore reduce the level of spending reductions needed.
(2) that decisions will be taken in two phases, the first prior to Christmas and the second in January;
(3) that from April to mid-August, based upon the current Corporate Plan, the Corporate priorities, major projects and options for improvement are identified, primarily in the light of the new significant changes planned by the Government; and
(4) a revised Corporate Plan be discussed and agreed at a Policy Council in November to provide the basis for the 2013/14 budget.