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Overview and Scrutiny Minutes - 31st January 2008

TORRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL

OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

Committee Room, Riverbank House, Bideford

31st January 2008

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

ALSO PRESENT: Councillors B M Parsons, Mrs R A Lock, G E Lee, P R Collins, Mrs G G Tabor, J Morrish, Mrs M Brown, Mrs M M Cox and P W Pennington.

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors R Brown, B J Lacey, D C Fulford and

Mr R French and Mr R Rumbold (Independent Members)

30.

2008/2009 BUDGET

The Committee were provided with a recap on the decisions taken the previous day relating to staff bids. It was noted that consideration would be give at the current meeting to non-staff bids and income, and that capital bids and staff bids would be revisited at the end of the meeting.

The List of Bids was presented by Service.

Operational Services

Ricky McCormack explained about the Recycling contract - SMR tender + one other - price over budget significantly. 10 on list originally - 2 withdrew, 6 did not tender - reason given - competition, geographic area, lack of depot. Original price £691K (now £440K) but after further negotiations - £576K max. SMR have reduced management costs.

Tonnage basis - increase recycling rates 6% this year. NDDC taking recycling in-house but TDC don't have current capacity to take in-house. Existing Contract 2002-2009 and 3 year extension. Six months notice clause. £489K 2007/2008 therefore £50K overspent because of increased tonnage. Bid includes this £50K + £90K increase for new tender 08/09.

Organic round - LAA - DeFRa awarded Waste Performance Reward Grant direct to TDC 50/50 Capital/Revenue. Changed to award to DCC and districts apply to DCC for grant. Must be additional and only paid by DCC on production of invoices to evidence additional expenditure incurred. In-vessel compostors - 3 in Devon - 1 at Deepmoor (to be built 2009). DCC awarded £250K to TDC to provide infrastructure for In Vessel Composter (IVC). Vehicle purchased and food caddies etc. using this grant. Equality issues - expand coverage of service to address this.

Bideford - additional staff and vehicle running costs offset by additional recycling credits. Needed to meet recycling targets. Landfill Allowance Trading Scheme - £150 per tonne.

A Member asked whether NDDC could take on our recycling contract too. Head of Operational Services explained that NDDC don't have physical capacity yet. The need to move to a new depot was also discussed.

(Councillor Collins declaration of interest - commercial waste)

Discussion re food waste and alternate week collections.

Depot relocation - Westcombe to be sold for capital receipt. £25k provision to rent alternative accommodation. H & S issues identified - need to move vehicles. Alternative site found at £10K.

Capital Bid for new crane but additional bids of £15.5K + £17.5K = £32.5K for crane repairs and pilot boat overhaul would reduce to £5.5K if a new crane was purchased therefore £27K savings.

New or second hand alternative plus leasing to be investigated.

Pilot Boat - last year £6.5K growth bid - didn't overhaul - used for minor works. Saved £5K, still need to do therefore new bid submitted. Original bid £8.5, now includes gearbox.

Income - forecast reduction due to poor weather, chargeable periods and level of charge.

Car Parking - Questions were asked about on-street parking and the impact. W/Ho! - A scheme was proposed to double number of spaces by removal of flower beds, etc. Capital Programme £17.5K bid - not yet appraised/scored. Also agreed to re-examine staff/member charges.

Development Control

Head of Environmental Health & Public Proection and Development Control Manager presented bids.

£100K Consultants fees, defending appeals. Winkleigh was given as an example of use and cost of consultants.

CAPS Licence - increased this year - bill in 07/08 higher than budget - planning portal module - divided between Building Control and Development Control and also to cover upgrades.

Consultants advice e.g. Biomass - areas or experience that cannot be provided 'in-house'

Hackney Carriage Demand Study - recouped via licences over three years - offset.

Building Control Income - £87K drop, now reduced to £62K. Bideford College £40K 'one off' in this year. This was due to a down turn in the housing market. Effect of RSS. Question asked re no. of staff - 1 less.

Development Control Income - £30K drop - Government set levels. Fees less, same amount of work. Pre-plan enquiry system discussed and whether we could make nominal charges. Charge for pre-apps could deter applicants. Applications re fee increases expected but cannot predict volume easily. 06/07 £526K, 07/08 £521K = forecast

Head of Corporate Services presented her bids.

I.T.

LLPG was an historical problem and there was a backlog for 2 years regarding property reference numbers. There is a need for accurate property reference numbers. Original project finished 1 year ago but still 30,000 items to be resolved, and this bid was to resolve the problem. To out-source would be more expensive. F/T Officer now appointed as Gazetteer Custodian and this bid would clear the backlog. It was also intended to use money from Capital budgets with a total cost of £84K over 2 years.

Support Room - needed for back up in case of floods etc. Disaster Recovery Pan in place to cover data loss and servers. Infrastructure in place at Caddsdown.

Partnership costs - currently funded from ICT Manager budget. Arrangement with MDDC - member of staff. Additional travel costs etc.

Communications

Place Shape Survey - new BVPS requirements for a shared survey to bring in other partners through LSP etc.

Previously just a satisfaction survey for local government. Replaces three existing surveys. Devon Authorities looking to harmonise. Presently every 3 years but now every 2 years.

Contract price - photocopying/printing contract with Danwood. Mistakes re. Specification of equipment and volumes. Annual review of contract. Effect of Housing Transfer should see a decrease in volume.

Adjourned for lunch 12.55 p.m. and reconvened at 1.35 p.m.

Housing

The Housing Manager presented her bids.

Anite software costs missed from budgets, but unavoidable as it is contractual.

Public Sector Housing Stock Condition Survey - 1000 sample survey done last year, this is to continue the programme.

Decent Homes funding £476K Capital fund this year. Reduced 60% next year and thereafter bid based on evidence.

Agreed Licence to use modelling data. Liaising with Maria Bailey re needs based survey. Devon Consortium = possibility. 3 LA's signed up at present and further discount if 5+/7 LA's using.

Choice Based Letting - new way of allocating properties involving a bidding process and allocated on merits. Government requirement to implement bid for purchase of software via Devon Consortium. Staff time to convert, plus annual running/licence costs, consultation, training, publicity. CLG funding available.

Tarka Housing, one Housing Options Officer TUPE'd to Tarka, seconded back to help with CBL until December 2008, now slipped to April 2009 in line with project. Question re. HRA overhanging support costs and whether there is spare capacity to undertake this work within existing resources.

Homeless Hostels at Barton Tors and Cromlech House retained following housing transfer and costs previously charged to HRA. Running costs -06/07 Budget £30K. 07/08 £22K. ADVA - partnership working - training and support (based at County Hall). Subscription to overall costs.

Corporate Property

Corporate Property Manager presented his bids.

Energy Performance Directives comes into force 1.10.08. Public bodies and commercial landlords must display certificates for corporate buildings for public to see, giving rating and performance data annually. Main public buildings over 1000 sq. mtrs must be accredited - either expensive training or buy-in. £5K per Chartered Surveyor. Properties that are let - energy performance certificate for all sold/let properties, but we could recoup this through rent reviews. Larger expenditure in Year 1.

A Member asked about the implications if we don't comply and was uncertain as to who enforces - TDC or Trading Standards.

Cyclical Maintenance - budget pressures therefore cyclical maintenance has been cut in previous budgets. 5 year backlog of preventive maintenance exists and regular planned maintenance is better than responsive.

Contract Inflation

General repairs existing sites - Landscape SW - Grounds Maintenance contract and Tarka Homes for corporate property repairs plus Servicing contracts.

Energy Price increases.

Energy Consultants employed - green energy. A Member suggested a solar panel as an alternative.

Car Parks - required backlog maintenance £465K - some capital - major part = revenue repairs, white lining etc. Emergency or Health and Safety repairs only being dealt with.

Councillor Lee commented that car parks must be made safe - pot holes, drainage, broken walls and clear marking to be undertaken.

W/Ho! -work to remove the flower beds to be done this year.

Legal

The Solicitor presented his bids.

Reserve for prosecution - contingency for ongoing specific cases. Pleading 'not guilty' therefore costs will be incurred and may not be able to recover costs - depends on outcome.

External Legal Fees - 2 vacancies therefore need to put work to external Solicitors. Trying to recruit - Assistant Solicitor and Senior Legal Assistant.

Community Planning and Development

Expenditure previously funded by Planning Delivery Grant needed to be funded now from General Fund.

Wildlife surveys - gap in evidence.

Use of Local Plan Enquiry Reserve and £90K for reports in addition now required.

Improved LDF monitoring - see how policies are working and need to review. PDG to be replaced by Housing and PDG system. Ad hoc and paper system at present. Software (CAPs monitoring module).

BRI - BTC, DCC, TDC AND RDA - funding package per year for 3 years. Project Director and 2 Project Managers. Includes NDDC and Ilfracombe TC.

Community Grant Fund = Officers new fund. Reviewed use of TDC properties by voluntary/other organisations and the support TDC provides to these bodies. Rents reviewed. £100K Capital bid also made.

Holsworthy Livestock Market - feasibility study - relocation, key business issues. GOSW, RDA already involved in preliminary discussions. Scope of project - expanding - agricultural training facilities, market - hub of tourism. Resale value of site to be utilised for any new project.

Culture and Leisure Services

Culture and Leisure Services Manager presented her bids.

Car parking charges not introduced, budgets removed last year therefore cost needs to be re-instated.

NNDR - Cultural trust from 1.10.07 - not achieved therefore didn't get rate relief.

TIC - relocation. ND+ only taking Tourism Development Officers. £40K cost for TIC using SWW building and SWW increasing from £500 pa rent - £3,500 pa. It was proposed to incorporate TIC into BAG - more cost effective - staff efficiencies.

Phase I - £5K, this would release us from SWW renegotiated lease. Phase II in summer. Savings not calculated yet. Running and staff costs to be achieved. £30K would be needed for both phases.

Leisure Contract - option appraisal for when the present contract finishes at the end of 2009. Existing contract is expensive at £370K per annum and essential to draft new contract and look at all options to try to make savings.

Financial Services

Head of Financial Services presented his bids.

Cedar Upgrade - will not support current version after September/October and need to move to latest version. Quote received and cost is unavoidable.

Members asked about previous problems with Cedar. It was anticipated that the upgrade should ensure fit for purpose and working well. NDDC use Radius. MDDC - own system.

Human Resources

Head of Human Resources presented his bids.

Staff benefits/support package - Occupational Health service £5K pa. We could do more and be pro-active to provide earlier support in cases of ill health absence.

Issues outside of work also need support.

Head of Human Resources stated that we need to address CMT salary levels now that staff have been evaluated under single status.

Chief Executive

New Community Fund to enable Councillors to engage/support their community. Grants to be made to match fund projects. £3K per Councillor proposed and suggested that we co-ordinate with DCC Members who also have grant 'pot' available.

Member expressed the opinion that care must be taken - this must not be seen to be 'buying' votes.

It was recognised that evaluation criteria would need to be developed with support from officers.

Summary

The bids could be categorised into:-

Non recurring 'one offs'

Contingencies

Repairs/renewals

Inclusions for base budget i.e. recurring.

It was agreed that on Income - challenge HoS to achieve income or reduce expenditure. £66K. (BC, DC, CP and Land Charges)

Resolved: That the following to be recommended to Policy, Performance and Resources Committee:

Recycling - £136,771, £88,000, £22,385 approved.

Depot Costs - Remove (Contingency)

Car Park Enhancement £25,000 Renewal Fund - Target to most profitable/cost effective - Try to find £17.5K for Westward Ho!

Crane Maintenance and Pilot Boat - Delete - Ring fence say £120K for repairs and renewals from HRA.

DL - £30,000 - Contingency Fund

CAPS - £11,640

Consultants - £5,000 - Contingency Fund

CAPS - £11,400

Hackney Carriages - £12,000 - 'one off' existing SDI

LLPG - Use of existing staff - plus use GIS pot and phase work

Support Room - £15,000 - link with MDDC?

ICT Partnership - Delete

Place Survey - £6,000 (-£6500) - unknown

Photocopying contract - £10,300 - more info/options

Anite - £10,101

P Sector HSCS - £21,000 (-5K) Non recurring

CBL - £15,200 - Annual/non recurring

Hostels - £12,500

ADVA sub - £10,000

Relocate TIC - £15,000 - Invest to save. Non recurring/to be funded from BAG Reserve

Leisure Contract Option Appraisal - £15,000 - Non recurring

Leisure Contract - £14,498

NDDR budget - £12,693

PDG - cover from PDG reserve

Wildlife survey - £15,000 - Planning Enquiry Reserve

LDF Monitoring - £10,000 - Offset PDG

BRI - £40,000 - LABGI

Prosecution Reserve - £40,000 - Contingency

Legal Fees - £13,000 -

Staff Benefits - Bids £1-£10K

JE - £3,000

Comm.Dev.Init. - £30,000 - Grants to community

Holsworthy Livestock Feasibility - £5,000 - In-house capacity

EPD - £10,000

Cyclical Maintenance - £20,000

RPI price inc. - £15,224

Energy costs - £10,000

Comm. Initiative - £72,000 - £2K per member

Cedar - £27,250 - Non recurring

The meeting commenced at 10.00 a.m., adjourned for lunch at 12.55 p.m., reconvened at 1.35 p.m. and ended at 6.30 p.m.