To consider the report of the Director (NE) (reference 18/36) attached
The Cabinet considered a report by the Director (NE) (reference 18/36). Introducing the report, the Portfolio Holder, Councillor Mallory noted that 84 people had so far responded to the public consultation on the draft Financial Strategy as outlined in the appendix to the report. She encouraged councillors to come forward if they had further issues they wished to raise in respect of the budget. The Director, Mr Edwards then outlined the principal elements of the Financial Strategy, adding that as in previous years certain matters needed to be finalised before the complete report came before full Council on 2 March. For example, he commented that the Council had only received notification of the final Local Government Finance figures the previous week, resulting in an additional £5k in Rural Services Delivery Grant. Mr Edwards noted that this Financial Strategy was more focused on the medium term with the effects of transformational efficiencies and commercialisation becoming more apparent. The Portfolio Holder, Councillor Cockerill then commented on the report. He suggested that the issue of increasing dog warden capacity be explored before the final report came before full Council on 2 March. He asked officers to look at ways of increasing the Property Repair Budget of £533k in future years, which as it stated in the report did not reflect the maintenance liability of the portfolio. He noted that in paragraph 9.1 of the same document the inference that repairs within the Open Air Theatre were funded directly by the Harbour Service needed to be corrected. He also queried why the fee for a weekend cremation service rose so sharply from a weekday service and could not the two charges be more comparable. The Director, Mrs Dixon replied to the latter point that this fee reflected standard practice within the industry but she would look again at this matter. With the permission of the Chairman, Councillor Siddons then addressed the meeting. He requested further details about how the savings target of £1.65m would be achieved for the Scarborough Museums Trust, Scarborough Spa, Whitby Pavilion and Indoor Leisure Facilities; he asked if contingency plans were in place in the event that the EU funding for the Whitby Piers did not materialise; and he asked that provision be made for social housing in the capital programme for future years to help address the shortage of such housing in the Borough. Further, he noted that the closure this year of public conveniences with the attendant bad publicity for the Council had only generated some £100k of savings. He asked for a rethink of public toilet provision particularly on Scarborough seafront where he felt the dearth of public conveniences was not appropriate for such an important visitor destination. To the latter comment, the Chairman replied that a review of public conveniences on the seafront was in progress. In respect of the provision of social housing, the Portfolio Holder, Councillor Chatt responded that Yorkshire Coast Homes and Coast and Country Housing were seeking to merge to strengthen their base and financial position to deliver more social housing in conjunction with the Borough Council and other partners. Councillor Chatt added that the Borough Council performed well in the delivery of affordable housing, making up 29% of the total across North Yorkshire in recent years, and through Community Led Housing and other initiatives, he believed the Council was in a very strong position to deliver more.
RESOLVED that the Cabinet note:
i. the feedback received to date from the budget consultation;
ii. the updated Treasury Management Strategy and Annual Investment Strategy for 2018/19, with the principal amendments:
· Increased maximum investment limit per individual English and Welsh Local Authority from £7 million to £10 million;
· Increased maximum investment limit for Police and Fire Authorities from £2.0 million to £2.5 million;
· Increased maximum investment limit for Scottish Local Authorities from £2.0 million to £2.5 million;
· Reduction in the minimum sovereign credit rating from AA+ to AA.
And that the Cabinet recommend to Council:
i. The approval of the Financial Strategy, specifically:
· the Revenue Budget for 2018/19;
· a Council Tax increase of £6.62 for a Band D property (2.99%);
· the Capital Budget and proposed new schemes for 2018/19;
· the optimum levels of reserves for 2018/19;
· the Treasury Management Strategy and Prudential Indicators;
· the Council’s Pay Policy Statement contained, as required under Section 38 (1) of the Localism Act 2011;
iii. The fees and charges administered by the Council’s Environment and Regulation service, as itemised in Appendix D, which will come into effect on 1 April 2018.
Full Council must approve the 2018/19 budget and associated Council Tax level and fees and charges, which are incorporated within the Financial Strategy, at its meeting on 2 March 2018.