To consider a report of the Chief Executive In accordance with recent cabinet decisions to request a quarterly update from 3RDL, to provide Cabinet an update on current project performance and any key risks. In addition, the covering report provides a quick overview on the progress of the Action Plan worked up resulting from previous Cabinet decisions.
The Cabinet had before it and NOTED a *report of the Chief Executive produced in accordance with recent Cabinet decisions to request a quarterly update from 3RDL, to provide Cabinet with an update on current project performance and any key risks. In addition, the report provided a quick overview on the progress of the Action Plan worked up resulting from previous Cabinet decisions.
The Leader answered the question posed in Public Question Time:
With regard to Mr Quinn’s question about affordable housing, he stated that he knew that along with Mr Quinn, many others had been following the company’s progress and he welcomed the recognition that changes had been made to ensure greater oversight on these important issues. The company had already delivered a number of homes for social rent as well as market housing and there was nothing to prevent the company doing more of this in the future.
The Cabinet had the opportunity to approve the company’s business plan each year and this could include market, affordable and social housing. To do more of this would align with the Council’s ambitions to deliver high quality and deliverable social housing for local people and it was hoped to bring forward some exciting proposals shortly to meet those objectives.
With regard to Cllr Wilce’s question; he was aware that Cllr Wilce had spoken with the Monitoring Officer about this issue and he knew that she had expressed her concern that the council were being subsequently forced to publish information that its members had voted to treat as restricted and not in the public domain. When Part II restrictions were breached, whether in error or otherwise, the minutes should not have to compound that error by publishing it as a report after the event. The Monitoring Officer was considering bringing a revised protocol on the recording of meetings forward for Council to discuss, so that all members could be clear on this in future.
The second question from Cllr Wilce referred to the amount of the current loans to 3 Rivers which was at £9,401,000, currently there was no form of security held against any of those assets or developments and Members were aware that ACS have been instructed to provide more detailed loan agreements and all the necessary securities required. EBC, the main contractors on the St Georges site had returned to site that week.
With regard to questions from the Liberal Democrat Group: with regard to the return of the main contractor to the St Georges site and what was the revised date of completion for the building works there. The contractors had returned to site and the agreed completion date as agreed in August 2019 remained December 2020, although it was expected that the Covid shutdown would have some impact on that once construction was underway and that we would be working to understand the completed work schedule once they returned to site. The company was not in contractual dispute with the contractor, discussions were continuing about the cost of unplanned works and site dormancy throughout Covid and whether those costs were client side or contractors side costs. Such negotiations were normal within standard construction contracts even if the pandemic had delivered an entirely abnormal set of circumstances.
The current revised forecast for the losses being incurred on the St Georges site, this information was contained within the confidential section of the report along with a range of other detailed information on the commercially sensitive aspect of the company’s business.
Plans for the Leader to control those losses - his first priority was to strengthen the issue of Governance, following the completion of 2 external reviews, which made a number of recommendations to make improvements, the then Cabinet made sure that those recommendations went before the Council’s Scrutiny and Audit Committees to ensure that the whole council was content with the new governance arrangements. The action plan referred to in the report provided details of the progress made with implementing those, and as a recent member of the Cabinet Cllr Barnell would know that some had already been completed whilst others had required the drafting of new documentation and were in the process of being finalised prior to implementation.
Plans of the Leader for the 3Rivers company - he referred Cllr Barnell to the decisions made by the Cabinet which included the Liberal Democrats in June and July. The Council’s Forward Plan identified an item on the SPV due at the end of September. He looked forward to discussing this with the new Cabinet in a productive way.
He continued by informing the meeting that the Cabinet would be having discussions in the following week to review the outstanding issues.
Consideration was given to:
· Whether the work of the 3 Rivers company was purely commercial or whether there were a good procurement opportunities to reflect on climate change issues
· The need to revisit the objectives of the company
· The planning process for the Bampton site.
· A request for a more detailed forecast for losses and how those losses were being addressed
· The difference between impairment and write off
· The construction issues at the St Georges site
· Design specifications and planning applications
Note: *Report previously circulated, copy attached to minutes.