Agenda item

Investment and Change Board and the New Commercial Ideas Panel



The Chair introduced Shaer Halewood, Director of Finance and Investment, who gave a presentation on the Investment and Change Board and the New Commercial Ideas Panel.


The Board had been established to:


·  provide strategic and corporate oversight of all major projects

·  ensure projects were coordinated and all stakeholders cited

·  discuss ideas for investment and change projects at their inception to determine whether to progress further

·  agree requests for investment

·  ensure effective decision making

·  ensure reports and business cases were of the right content for Members to make an informed decision

·  take an overall view on the Council’s exposure to risk


Previous items discussed by the Board included:


·  Birkenhead Commercial District

·  Wirral Waters programme

·  Significant strategic acquisitions e.g. Cinema in Birkenhead and New Ferry

·  Investment for new cultural activities


In response to Members’ comments Shaer Halewood stated that no additional staff had been employed to sit on the Board. What had been in place before had been fit for purpose but now the Council was involved in many more significantly large projects it was felt the need for more oversight and good governance should be put in place with the Board. Business cases had always been completed in their own areas but she had found the need for consistency in the production of business cases, particularly in relation to large projects, such as Wirral Waters, would be best practice and the introduction of this Board had enabled this.


Philip McCourt, Director of Governance and Assurance concurred that this was best practice and the introduction of the Board enabled advice on projects to be given in one place providing greater understanding across the authority and a gateway for officers to seek advice in one place.


Responding to further comments Shaer Halewood stated that as the Section 151 Officer she had a responsibility to ensure the Council’s budget was balanced and accurate and that it was. The Council had to go through a difficult and painful process to balance its budget with reduced Government funding and did not have any money to spare. She also explained the difference between capital and revenue funding and that capital funding could be used to buy assets but not to run services. With the very low interest rates currently the Council could borrow money very cheaply and assets could be bought to provide an income stream, which could then be used to fund the day-to-day running of services.


Another Member suggested the need for the wider public to be given the opportunity to put forward ideas through such a Board for generating and retaining wealth within the community.


Responding to more comments, Shaer Halewood stated that the Board would be looking at proposals for a potential golf resort in the borough. She also outlined the internal reporting mechanisms for any projects which would be taken forward. Some of the projects being taken forward would then appear on the Forward Plan and there was always the opportunity for pre-decision scrutiny. Projects could be considered for their social value also as the proposals brought forward did not have to be solely about commercial value.


A Member queried the use of acronyms in the Terms of Reference for the Investment and Change Board, which had been circulated to the Committee and suggested a key be attached listing the acronyms and their meaning. He also suggested that the document be placed in the public domain.


Shaer Halewood agreed to provide a list of acronyms with the Terms of Reference, which would be published with the minutes.


Resolved – That the presentation and comments of Members be noted.