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Overview and Scrutiny Minutes - 30th January 2008

TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL

OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

Committee Room, Riverbank House, Bideford

30th January 2008

PRESENT: Councillor C J Leather (Chairman)
Councillor Mrs C B Church (Vice Chairman)
Councillors D C Fulford, R Johnson, D M Lausen,
Mrs F M Perkin, S Robinson, A J Symons and
R M M Tisdale

Independent Member: Mr R Rumbold

ALSO PRESENT: Councillors B M Parsons, Mrs R A Lock, G E Lee,
R E Johns, P R Collins, W W Pillman and Mrs G G Tabor.

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R Brown and B J Lacey and

Mr R French (Independent Member)

29.

2008/2009 REVENUE BUDGET

The Strategic Director (Corporate Resources) introduced the purpose of the day, and circulated the BVPI General Residents Survey 2006/2007, together with the Strategic Plan priorities. Members noted the presentation by the Head of Financial Services would include details of the revenue bids, savings and grant funding. With regard to grant funding from the Government the Committee were advised that the Council had lost £300K in respect of the floor/ceiling calculations, but that Torridge had still been given the highest increase in Devon at 3.6%.

Members asked that representation be made to Government in respect of the funding, and asked that an approach be made to the local MP. It was also suggested that the decrease in grant funding should be publicised through a press release at budget time, and that an article on the topic should be included in Torridge News. It was proposed that information should be made available in respect of the overall proportion of Council Tax due to the District Council which was in the region of 10%, and it should also be publicised that Torridge ranked as 4th lowest in Devon in respect of the Council Tax they asked for. A query was raised with regard to whether town/parish precepts affected the Torridge capping limit.

Details were provided of the amount of Council Tax which could be raised given percentage increases, and reference was made to the use of reserves to cushion HRA 'overhang' i.e. costs previously charged to Housing Stock transferred to Tarka.

The process in relation to involving Heads of Service and Managers in both business planning and budgeting was outlined. Details of the bids were presented split between unavoidable costs pressures and Service Development Initiatives. Efficiencies/savings and core activities were included and each bid needed to justify and describe what the outcomes would be if the growth bid succeeded.

Savings

Managers were asked to find savings and £400K plus was identified; some permanent plus some one off/non-recurring.

Bids under £1k - £60K total - staff asked to find compensating savings. £1K - £10K - £366K in total and about 70 individual bids.

Resolved: Provide £100K and ask Managers to justify to CEX/SD(R) - outcomes, other sources of funding.

Training Bids

A total of 20+ bids received totalling £62,260.

Resolved: Allow 60%, ie £37,356. Savings £24,904. A separate Member Development budget was provided on top of the current training budget.

Lunch 12.25 p.m. to 1.00 p.m.

Staff bids

A list of bids was circulated and the background to each explained to Members.

(a) Enforcement - 2 x Environmental Health, 2 Operational Services, 0.5 Licensing. Discussion on dog fouling plus FPN's took place and it was confirmed that no income was included yet.

Resolved: Approve one Environmental Enforcement Post, One Operational Services Enforcement Officer Post plus 0.5 FTE in Licensing.

(Vote: Unanimous)

Resolved: Reduce Housing Benefit Officer to £15K and discuss additional service with TVS and CAB.

(b) ASB Co-ordinator + CSPO - query £35K = one third therefore £105K = total salary + O/C = too high! Posts jointly funded with NDDC. LAA funding now rather than Safer ND.

ASB Co-ordinator +CSPO - 30% of cost of 2 posts. £89,950 cost, TDC £27K (£26,983).

Proposed + seconded approval.

Resolved: Approve funding at £27K.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(c) Trainee Conservation Officer - Current postholder to retire, bid to provide additional cover until retirement.

Resolved: Refuse.

(d) Temp Quality Control (HB) - Problems with BVPI measuring accuracy - suggested that this be built in to assessors work.

Resolved: This bid be rejected.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(e) 1 Full Time Admin Officer - P/T Admin Support in Planning Policy - 50/50 Hsg Enabling/Planning Policy + Cons.

P/T Planning Support - help on enforcement admin + other admin work including complaints.

Members accepted the need but recommended to redeploy at no cost.

Proposed, seconded and;

Resolved: Re-deploy at no cost.

(Vote 6 For, 1 Against)

(f) Scanning post - currently filled but unfunded. Essential to process. Making post more generic + spread scanning between planning admin support.

Proposed, seconded and;

Resolved:: Approve.

(Vote 6 For 1 Abstention)

(g) Tree Preservation Order Officer - Update and review records - move from paper to electronic. Lesser priority within Planning

Proposed, seconded and:

Resolved: Refuse

(Vote - 6 For, 1 Abstention)

(h) Principal Building Control Surveyor - cost to upgrade one of existing surveyors rather than fill Building Control Manager post - Supervision/Management by Head of Environmental Health and Public Protection.

Resolved: Approval, but at reduced amount.

(i) 2 Project Officers - Project Management - Access, LSP, single site. Shared services NDDC + MDDC - to work on developing business case for each service + work towards implementation. Impact of unitary status was discussed and impact on county/districts.

1 Project Officer - Asset Realisation - asset portfolio, accelerate realisation to fund capital programme.

Democratic Services - support for Members including Overview & Scrutiny Committee.

Importance of asset realisation and member support was recognised.

Resolved: Approve.

Project Management - 1 rather than 2 + fix term basis for 12 months.

Asset Management - Fix term basis for 12 months.

1 Democratic Services Officer - Chairman of Overview & Scrutiny would prefer dedicated resource. It was recognised that there was a need to review Democratic Services and additional resource would be required to enhance the service.

Councillor Robinson proposed, Rumbold seconded.

Resolved: Approved.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(j) Caddsdown Reception/Cleaning

No benefits evidenced to support and recommended refusal.

Resolved: Refuse

(Vote 6, 3 Abstentions)

(k) Emergency Planning - O/T not paid to officers on team to cover flooding, major incidents. Staff covered Foot & Mouth on 'goodwill' basis. Support principle of "Out of Hours Policy".

Emergency Planning Training for Members to be investigated.

Resolved: Refusal of funding + fund from Reserves if it happens - Bellwin/Insurance claims

(l) Relief Pilot - + Admin support for Harbour Master.

Councillor Perkins moved to approve Relief Pilot, Councillor Robinson seconded.

Resolved: Approve.

(Vote: Unanimous)

(m) Admin support - defer - cover from existing resources. Cllr Leather proposed and Councillor Lausen seconded.

Resolved: Defer.

(Vote: Unanimous)

Councillor Symons left the meeting at 4.25 p.m.

(n) Slipway Wardens - income generated not sufficient to cover costs.

Volunteers last year - but did not attend every tide as required. Necessary for Health and Safety issues.

Mr R Rumbold proposed deletion subject to Car Park Attendants to cover. Councillor Johnson seconded.

Resolved: Approve deletion of budget bid.

(Vote - 6 For, 1 Against)

(o) EH Student - practical element of training for EH Degree through North Devon College and would increase pool of qualified staff in the area. Comparison with trainee Conservation Officer and precedent to be set and need to be consistent.

Mr R Rumbold proposed and Councillor Johnson seconded.

Resolved: Approve - £5,000.

(Vote 6 For, 2 Abstentions)

The meeting commenced at 10.00 a.m., adjourned for lunch at 1.25 p.m., reconvened at 2.00p.m. and ended at 5.10 p.m.