Venue: Remote meeting
Contact: Sarah Lees Member Services Officer
Link: audio recording
Apologies and Substitute Members (00-02-53)
To receive any apologies for absence and notice of appointment of substitutes.
Apologies were received (retrospectively) from Cllr T G Hughes.
The Group to note the protocol for remote meetings.
The protocol for remote meetings was noted.
Public Question Time (00-03-37)
To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
There were no questions from members of the public present.
Declaration of Interests under the Code of Conduct (00-03-42)
Councillors are reminded of the requirement to declare any interest,
including the type of interest, and reason for that interest, either at this
stage of the meeting or as soon as they become aware of that interest.
No interests were declared under this item.
Members to consider whether to approve the minutes as a correct record of the meeting held on 5 November 2020.
The minutes of the meeting held on 5 November 2020 were confirmed as a true and accurate record.
Chairman's Announcements (00-04-32)
To receive any announcements that the Chairman may wish to make.
The Chairman voiced concern with regard to the grave news of the escalation of the pandemic and the ongoing affect on the economy and the residents of Mid Devon. The main role of the Group would be to continue to monitor the management and administration of the affect of the pandemic on the district as a whole.
To receive a report from the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration providing Members with update information regarding the Growth, Economy & Delivery team’s latest COVID19 emergency economic and community response activities. To also update Members on the Devon-wide economic recovery work and seek Members’ endorsement for the current business support and economic recovery activities.
The Group had before it, and NOTED, a report * from the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration providing it with an update regarding the Growth, Economy and Delivery team’s latest COVID19 emergency economic recovery work and seeking Members’ endorsement for the current business support and economic recovery activities.
The Strategic Manager for Growth Economy and Delivery informed the meeting that since the publication of the report so much had changed as the country was now in another lockdown situation and therefore there was a need to focus on the variances to the published report:
· The relevant figures in relation to the number of positive cases of coronavirus across the country, the increase in the number of deaths and the percentage of new cases in Mid Devon
· The roll out of the vaccination programme
· The impact on the economy of Mid Devon following another lockdown situation and the period of time it would take for the country to recover from the recession
· The different Government support schemes that were now in place and the additional sum of £7.3m of Government funding which was due to be received and the total amount of government funding received to date (£30.6m)
· 3 more officers had been relocated to assist the team with grant payments
· The timing of the Chancellors budget and the impact that this may have on Business Rate relief
· The Covid Support Hub had been reinstated; all clinically vulnerable people would be required to register for assistance, although many people had supports mechanisms in place. The Financial Hardship Fund was seeing a number of repeat applications. Across the district there had been an increase in local stakeholder services.
· A Town Centre Health Check was underway in Cullompton and it was hoped that the health checks would be extended to the other main towns as soon as staff resource allowed. In addition to this, and with the assistance of seconded leisure staff, a business survey had been undertaken of town centre businesses in the three main towns to better understand the effect of the pandemic on their businesses. Brexit preparedness, feedback on safety measures in the town centres etc.. Key findings were outlined which included the need for training for the creation of webpages. Officers had been putting those businesses in contact with the LEP digital training programme which many of the businesses had already benefitted from.
· The Reopening of the High Streets initiative continued and whilst the country was in lockdown, work would be undertaken to review arrangements in the town centre and refresh pavement stencilling and signage as necessary in readiness for future easing of restrictions
· The Cullompton High Street Heritage Action Zone Project continued
· Devon recovery work continued and the detailed work was explained
Consideration was given to:
· The impact of the pandemic/lockdown on independent stores in the main towns
· The Income Compensation Scheme
· The impact of the pandemic on the budget
· The roll out of the grant support schemes
· The need to review the signage in the ... view the full minutes text for item 52.
To receive an update from the Group Manager for Financial Services regarding the income and expenditure position so far in the year.
The Group had before it, and NOTED, a month 8 financial monitoring report * which was presented by the Group Manager for Financial Services.
Key highlights within the report were listed as follows:
· Month 8 reporting showed a forecast improvement of £131k which now indicated a surplus of £109k
· The uncertain times that we were living with and how the figures could fluctuate
· Any surplus monies would be added to reserves to support any future gaps in budget
· The Medium Term Financial Plan and estimates of budget gaps for future years
· November saw a second period of lockdown which from a financial perspective stalled the recovery in service activity and therefore income
· The income compensation scheme was active and the first payment of £530k relating to return period April to July had been received. The second return (August to November) had been accelerated and submission was currently in progress.
· A further £53k had been received in furlough monies for November
· The variances outlined within the report
· Month 8 reporting for the Housing Revenue Account which showed a forecast reduction in the deficit by £34k to £324k
Discussion took place with regard to the Income Compensation Scheme and the recruitment of a Market Manager for Tiverton Pannier Marker.
Note: * Monitoring report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes.
To receive a report previously considered by the Cabinet on 7 January 2021 and to discuss any further changes that the Policy Development Group may require prior to the formal recommendation of the budget proposals to Cabinet and Council in February.
The Group had before it, and NOTED, a report * from the Deputy Chief Executive (S151) reviewing the revised draft budget changes. This had been previously considered by the Cabinet on 7 January 2021 and the Group was asked to discuss any changes that it may require prior to the formal recommendation of the budget proposals to Cabinet and Council in February.
The following was highlighted within the report:
· The current snapshot of where the council was at the current time, the deficit was down to £490k but that there was more work to do.
· Key movements and assumptions shown within the report highlighting the Government Income Protection Scheme, the Autumn Statement, the funding settlement, the New Homes Bonus, the Lower Tier Service Grant and an adjustment to the pay settlement
· The ongoing unknown impact of the pandemic on the budget
Discussion took place with regard to:
· Whether Members had any additional saving suggestions, savings on grass verges maintenance was suggested together with additional income generation
· A possible reduction in services and that difficult decisions would have to be made
· Any increase in Council Tax above the capped level would require a referendum
Note: * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the signed minutes.
Identification of items for the next meeting (1-35-52)
Members are asked to note that the following items are already identified in the work programme for the next meeting:
· Covid 19 Economic Response Update
· Performance and Risk
· Financial Monitoring
Note: This item is limited to 10 minutes. There should be no discussion on the items raised.
The Group requested that COVID19 activities continue to be it’s only consideration at the current time (other than those reports which were statutorily necessary to come to each meeting).