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Should you wish to refer any decisions contained in these minutes to Council, please submit a Decision Referral Form, signed by five Councillors, to the Mayor by: 5 February 2018

 
 


MAIDSTONE BOROUGH COUNCIL

 

Policy and Resources Committee

 

Minutes of the meeting held on Wednesday 24 January 2018

 

Present:

Councillors Barned, Mrs Blackmore, Boughton, Brice, D Burton, Cox, English, Fermor, Mrs Gooch, Harper, Harvey, Hastie, McLoughlin, Perry and Mrs Wilson (Chairman)

<AI1>

 

129.     Apologies for Absence

 

It was noted that apologies were received from Councillors Harwood and Garland and apologies for lateness were received from Councillor Blackmore.

</AI1>

<AI2>

 

130.     Notification of Substitute Members

 

It was noted that the following members were present as substitute members:

 

·         Councillor Burton for Councillor Garland; and

·         Councillor English for Councillor Harwood.

</AI2>

<AI3>

 

131.     Urgent Items

 

There were no urgent items.

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132.     Notification of Visiting Members

 

There were no visiting members.

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<AI5>

 

133.     Disclosures by Members and Officers

 

There were no disclosures by Members or Officers.

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<AI6>

 

134.     Disclosures of Lobbying

 

There were no disclosures of lobbying.

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<AI7>

 

135.     Exempt Items

 

RESOLVED: That all items be taken in public, as proposed.

</AI7>

<AI8>

 

136.     Minutes of the Meeting Held on 13 December 2017

 

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2017 be agreed as a correct record of the meeting and signed.

</AI8>

<AI9>

 

137.     Presentation of Petitions (if any)

 

There were no petitions.

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<AI10>

 

138.     Questions and answer session for members of the public (if any)

 

There were no questions from members of the public.

</AI10>

<AI11>

 

139.     Questions from Members of the Council to the Chairman of the Committee

 

Question to the Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee from Councillor Louise Brice

 

Please can you provide an update on the activity of the Business Terrace: both a breakdown of the number of users of the Maidstone Business Terrace for the current year vs. the previous year, as compared with projections; as well as a general update on recent and upcoming events?

 

The Chairman explained to the Committee that Councillor Brice had indicated that a written response was sufficient to answer her question, and that a briefing note had been circulated to the Committee in response to the question.

 

Councillor Brice confirmed that she did not have a supplementary question.

</AI11>

<AI12>

 

140.     Committee Work Programme

 

Mr Mark Green, The Director of Finance and Business Improvement, updated the Committee that the Business Terrace Update and Digital Strategy items had been moved from the February meeting of the Committee to the March meeting.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee Work Programme is noted.

</AI12>

<AI13>

 

141.     Business Rates Retention Pilot 2018/19

 

Mr Mark Green, the Director of Finance and Business Improvement, presented a report to the Committee on the outcome of Maidstone Borough Council’s application to become part of the Kent Business Rates Retention Pilot in 2018/19. The Committee noted that:

 

·         Kent District Councils, Medway Council and Kent County Council had submitted a successful joint bid to Central Government to retain 100% of the growth of the Business Rates pool in Kent for 2018/19.

·         The retained Business Rates growth for each authority would be split into two funding pots. 70% of the funding would be distributed to precepting authorities in the form of a Financial Sustainability Fund (FSF). The remaining 30% would be assigned to a Housing and Commercial Growth Fund.

·         Maidstone Borough Council was projected to receive £640,000 under the FSF for 2018/19 only, with no guarantee of the pilot being extended for future years.

·         The report proposed that as the FSF was a one off sum, the funding be used to support one off projects that would provide longer term benefits. For example investing in capital items as well as revenue projects that had the potential to leverage in funding from other sources.

·         As well as the £640,000 FSF payment, Maidstone Borough Council would have an opportunity to secure local investments from the Housing and Commercial Growth Fund for the North Kent Cluster which was worth a projected £3.2 million.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, Mr Green confirmed the following:

 

·         The general principles of the types of projects under consideration for funding were what was being agreed at this stage, and that a list of specific projects was due to be considered at a future Policy and Resources Committee meeting.

·         The principles around the distribution of the Housing and Commercial Growth Fund had not yet been agreed by the North Kent Cluster as the governance arrangements of this element of the scheme were not part of the bid to Central Government.

·         The funding provided by the 100% Business Rates growth retention pilot bid was intended to be used to mitigate the effect of economic growth in the borough, therefore to use this funding to limit Council Tax increases would be contrary to the bid that had been submitted to Central Government.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.   The Committee notes that Kent and Medway have been selected to carry out a 100% business rates retention pilot in 2018/19.

2.   Preliminary estimates indicating that Maidstone Borough Council may receive an additional £640,000 in Business Rates income in 2018/19 as a consequence is noted.

3.   The following parameters for the allocation of the additional Business Rates income in the 2018/19 budget are agreed:

 

  Optimising impact of FSF expenditure

 

In order to achieve maximum impact from the FSF, it is proposed that it is focused on a small number of discrete projects, distinct from existing agreed revenue and capital expenditure.  A greater number of projects would risk spreading management input into individual projects too thinly, and would lead to relatively small budgets for each project, thus limiting their potential to make an impact.

 

  Alignment with strategic objectives

 

The projects will respond to the Council’s corporate priorities.  In general, therefore, they will promote social, economic and environmental wellbeing. They are likely to relate to one or more of the three action areas – A Home for Everyone, Town Centre Regeneration and Clean and Safe.  They must also be consistent with relevant Council strategies such as the Economic Development Strategy.  Performance against corporate priorities is evaluated regularly through public engagement, eg through Resident Surveys, so it would be appropriate to consider projects that residents are likely to see as improving their quality of life.

 

  Leveraging benefit of expenditure

 

The FSF provides a relatively limited sum of money, and is only available on a one-off basis.  Accordingly, it is important that any investment of the FSF exploits the opportunities for leveraging additional income, either by creating a future income stream or by attracting a matching contribution in cash or through partnership working, eg with external organisations like central government or Kent County Council.

 

  Identification and sign-off of projects

 

Officers will develop more detailed proposals for investment of the FSF.  Further information will be contained in the budget proposals for consideration by this Committee at its meeting on 14 February.  A process will be set out in this report for project approval.

 

Voting: Unanimous.

</AI13>

<AI14>

 

142.     Medium Term Financial Strategy – Capital Programme

 

Mr Mark Green, the Director of Finance and Business Improvement, gave a presentation to the Committee outlining the Council’s Capital Programme which was part of the Medium Term Financial Strategy.

 

Mr Green outlined the changes to the Capital Programme contained in the report, which were:

 

·         A new project added for essential safety works to the Mote Park Lake Dam.

·         An expansion to the Commercial Investment programme, as the Council had a strong track record in delivering sustainable investments in Commercial property, for example units on the Parkwood Industrial Estate.

·         Funding of the Capital Programme had previously been possible using the Council’s reserves and New Homes Bonus. However as these funding sources would no longer be sufficient to fund the programme, the Capital Programme was now proposed to be partly funded through Prudential Borrowing after 2019/2020.

The Committee considered the report and requested that further detail be provided about the Software/PC replacement item in the programme. The Committee suggested that a sinking fund be set up for future replacement of IT equipment rather than use the Capital Programme for this purpose in the future.

 

Mr William Cornall, the Director of Regeneration and Place, confirmed that a project considering the redevelopment around the Train Station in Staplehurst was in its early stages. Mr Cornall confirmed that if the project was feasible then it was possible that it could be funded through the regeneration fund within the Capital Programme.

 

Note: Councillor Blackmore arrived during consideration of this item.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.   The Capital Strategy Principles outlined below are agreed:

 

The Council has developed some core principles for the inclusion of schemes within the capital programme.  Schemes may be included in the capital programme if they fall within one of the four following categories:

 

(i)      Required for statutory reasons, eg to ensure that Council property meets health and safety requirements;

 

(ii)     Self-funding schemes focused on strategic plan priority outcomes;

 

(iii)    Other schemes focused on strategic plan priority outcomes; and

 

(iv)    Other priority schemes which will attract significant external funding.

 

2.   The Capital Funding Projection set out in Appendix B to this report is agreed.

3.   The Capital Programme 2018/19 onwards as set out in Appendix C to this report is agreed.

4.   A prudential borrowing limit of £44,651,000 over the period of the programme which will be recommended to Council as part of the Treasury Management Strategy 2018/19 is noted.

 

Voting:        For - 14       Against - 0            Abstentions - 1

</AI14>

<AI15>

 

143.     Fees and Charges

 

Mr Mark Green, the Director of Finance and Business Improvement, introduced the Fees and Charges report for the Policy and Resources Committee. Mr Green conveyed to the Committee that this report was the regular annual review of Fees and Charges for services within the Committee’s remit.

 

The Committee noted that the largest area within the Committee’s remit for which Fees and Charges were collected was the Mid Kent Enforcement Service. However as the fees and charges for this service were set by statute the Committee was not able to change the level of fees and charges levied by the service.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, Mr Green confirmed that:

 

·         The electricity supply problems had been resolved in Jubilee Square; and

·         Income for Environmental Enforcement had reduced due to the early termination of the contract for Litter Enforcement. However the Communities, Housing and Environment Committee had agreed to set up an in house enforcement team to carry out a variety of different enforcement activities.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.   That the proposed discretionary fees and charges set out in Appendix 1 to this report are agreed.

2.   That the centrally determined fees and charges set out in Appendix 1 to this report are noted.

3.   That the overall change in fees and charges attached at Appendix 2 are noted.

 

Voting: Unanimous

</AI15>

<AI16>

 

144.     Duration of Meeting

 

6.32 p.m. to 7.46 p.m.

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