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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the FINANCE AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 15 June 1999 at 4.35 pm.

Present: Councillors ALEX KING, ALISTAIR GRAY, STEPHEN LESLIE, IAN MACKINTOSH, BILL MIDDLETON, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, BRIAN MILNE, PETER MURPHY, ROB MURRAY, ROBERT MYLES, PETER NIELD, BILL ROBERTON and DAVID SELFRIDGE.

Councillor KING, Convener, in the Chair.

1. COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP

With reference to Article 5(c) of the minute of meeting of the Council of 13 May 1999 the Committee agreed to note the membership of this Committee.

2. APPOINTMENTS

(a) Executive Sub-Committee

The Committee agreed to appoint Councillors Alex King, Alistair Gray and Ian Mackintosh to the Finance and Information Technology Executive Sub-Committee.

(b) Council Tax Benefit Review Board

The Committee agreed to appoint Councillors Alex King, Alistair Gray, Rob Murray, Glennis Middleton and Ian Mackintosh to the Council Tax Benefit Review Board.

3. MINUTES

(a) Previous Meeting

The minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 April 1999 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

(b) Special Meeting

The minute of special meeting of this Committee of 25 May 1999 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

4. HOUSING CAPITAL PROGRAMME HRA BLOCK 1998/99 AND 1999/2000

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 April 1999, there was submitted Report No 517/99 by the Director of Finance setting out the near-actual position on the HRA Housing Capital Programme for 1998/99 and outlining the 1999/2000 Capital Programme. The Report indicated that the near actual spend reported for 1998/99 was close to the approved total for the year.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the figures presented in respect of 1998/99;

(ii) to approve the 1999/2000 Capital Programme totals; and

(iii) to note that the Programme would be carefully monitored throughout 1999/2000.

5. CAPITAL MONITORING ­ COMPOSITE CAPITAL PROGRAMME 1998/99

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 16 March 1999, there was submitted Report No 641/99 by the Director of Finance advising members of the capital expenditure incurred for the period from 1 April 1998 to 31 March 1999 and measuring actual capital expenditure for the year against available capital resources for the year. The Report indicated that the Capital Programme for 1998/99 had benefited from an increased level of funding but had suffered a degree of slippage, which would result in the carry forward of expenditure and associated funding from 1998/99 to 1999/2000.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the position as at 31 March 1999, on the Composite Capital Programme, as per the accompanying Monitoring Statement;

(ii) to authorise the Director of Finance to bring about the most advantageous position to the Council for the 1998/99 Capital Expenditure year end position; and

(iii) to note that a review of the 1998/99 Capital Expenditure year end position was to be carried out with a view to assessing the nature and levels of underspends/overspends and to determine their effect on the 1999/2000 Composite Capital Programme.

6. REVENUE BUDGET PROJECTED OUTTURN

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 April 1999, there was submitted Report No 643/99 by the Director of Finance updating members on the Council’s financial position to the end of the current financial year.

The Report noted that the actual financial position for 1998/99 had progressed for all departments and it was expected that the overall final outturn position would be well within the Council’s overall budget for 1998/99. In due course, the position would be put in context of the overall surplus on the General Fund as reported in the Annual Accounts. It was also noted that, generally, the discipline of working within cash-limited budgets had been maintained.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report for its interest.

7. PREPARATION OF THE 2000/01 REVENUE BUDGET

There was submitted Report No 644/99 by the Director of Finance advising members of the current position in relation to the 2000/01 Revenue Budget preparation process and identifying the main stages of the budget cycle. The Report also highlighted the key stages of the budget preparation timetable, which would ultimately lead to the setting of the Council Tax in March 2000. A copy of the indicative timetable for the 2000/01 Revenue Budget was attached to the Report, for information.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the Report; and

(ii) to approve the approach to the budget preparation process, as set out in the Report.

8. RENEWAL AND REPAIR FUNDS ­ POSITION AT 31 MARCH 1999

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 April 1999, there was submitted Report No 645/99 by the Director of Finance detailing the financial position of the Renewal and Repair Funds for Property, Roads, Print and Information Technology. The Report indicated that all agreed commitments for 1998/99 had been included.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

9. PROPERTY RENEWAL AND REPAIR FUND

(a) Update of Funding Arrangements and Planned Programme of Urgent Repairs

With reference to Article 25 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 15 June 1999, there was submitted Report No 624/99 by the Director of Property Services advising the Committee of the next phase of programmes of urgent repairs to be undertaken, utilising the Renewal and Repair Fund. In addition, the Report provided an update to the programme of additional repairs carried out in 1998/99.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

(i) to note the changes in the estimated cost of projects previously reported;

(ii) to homologate the action taken by the Director of Property Services in consultation with the Director of Finance to provide £30,000 from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund in financial year 1998/99, for the execution of additional urgent property repairs;

(iii) to approve the next phase of planned programme work, at an estimated cost of £583,400 from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund for the execution of urgent property repairs; and

(iv) to note that additional Priority 1 work to the value of £236,000 had been identified and was the subject of future reports.

(b) Aberlemno Primary School ­ Replacement of Temporary Accommodation

With reference to Article 9(a) above, there was submitted Joint Report No 625/99 by the Director of Education and the Director of Property Services outlining a proposal to replace temporary accommodation at Aberlemno Primary School, with a permanent extension and to undertake complementary works at an estimated cost of £176,000 provided from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

(i) to approve the project and the provision of £176,000 from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund; and

(ii) to authorise the Director of Property Services to progress these urgent works.

(c) Funding to Provide Accommodation at Arbroath Business Centre for Relocated Personnel Department Training Staff

With reference to Article 9(a) above, there was submitted Report No 630/99 by the Director of Property Services advising the Committee of the estimated cost of alterations to provide office accommodation in the Arbroath Business Centre for the relocation of Angus Council training staff based in Ferryden, Montrose. The Report indicated that funding had been identified from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund to carry out the alteration works.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

(i) to approve the project and the provision of £36,000 from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund for alteration works to Arbroath Business Centre; and

(ii) to authorise the Director of Property Services to progress these urgent works.

(d) Supplementary Funding for the Provision of Staff and Disabled Toilets at Ravenswood Offices, Forfar

With reference to Article 9(a) above, there was submitted Report No 623/99 by the Director of Property Services seeking approval for additional works to be undertaken for the provision of staff and disabled toilets at Ravenswood Offices, Forfar. The additional works would allow the ground floor of the office to be brought up to a good standard of accommodation which would be in line with recent improvements made to other offices, and would include the provision of facilities for the disabled.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

(i) to note the requirement for additional improvements to the offices, as detailed in the Report; and

(ii) to approve the bid for supplementary funding in the sum of £36,000 from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund.

10. PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT AND SAFETY SURFACING CONTRACT

With reference to Article 13 of the minute of meeting of the Recreation and Cultural Services Committee of 3 June 1999, there was submitted Joint Report No 527/99 by the Director of Recreation Services and the Director of Property Services outlining proposals for the expenditure of 1999/2000 finance allocated for the provision of play equipment and impact absorbing surfaces.

The Report indicated that the Department had been in discussion with communities with regard to the redevelopment of play areas and had identified a number of playgrounds which required improvement in the current financial year. It was also the Director’s intention to discuss with local members and relevant community groups proposals for the individual play areas, prior to completion of the tender documents.

The Committee for its interest, agreed:-

(i) to approve the programme of replacement and refurbishment of playground equipment and safety surfaces within the financial resources available in 1999/2000 at the following locations:-

Friockheim Public Park

Edzell Village Muir Road

Lochside, Forfar ­ Vandalism Replacement

Carnoustie Seafront Replacement Installation

Inch Park, Brechin

Gallowshade, Forfar

Knowehead, Kirriemuir Redevelopment; and

(ii) to approve a bid for £67,000 from the Property Renewal and Repair Fund.

11. REMISSION OF RATES

With reference to Article 7 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 22 April 1999, there was submitted Report No 646/99 by the Director of Finance advising the Committee of applications for remission of rates and indicating that the granting of the applications, as detailed in the Report, would be consistent with the Council’s policy.

The Committee agreed to approve the applications for remission of rates, as detailed in the Report.

12. COLLECTION OF COUNCIL TAX AND COMMUNITY CHARGE ­ UPDATE

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 20 October 1998, there was submitted Report No 647/99 by the Director of Finance updating the Committee on the collection position of the Council Tax and Community Charge, to the end of March 1999. The Report indicated that significant sums of money had been collected (£225.125m) as at 31 March 1999 in respect of Council Tax and Community Charge, with some debts (£3.131m) having been written off. Arrears of £6.478m were being pursued by the Council, Sheriff Officers, Debt Collection Agents and Employment Search Agents to achieve the best possible collection rate.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

13. COUNCIL TAX COLLECTION ­ REVIEW OF SERVICE IMPROVEMENTS

There was submitted Report No 648/99 by the Director of Finance presenting the findings of the Review of Council Tax Collection Service Improvements within the Finance Department. The overall conclusion drawn from the review was that although there were a few areas to be addressed both immediately and within the full scale service review, the present service compared well with Performance Indicators, benchmarks and other comparative statistics.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Council Tax Collection Implementation of Service Improvements ­ Review Exercise.

14. AUTHORITY TO WRITE OFF BAD DEBTS

With reference to Article 12 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 5 May 1998, there was submitted Report No 649/99 by the Director of Finance seeking authority to write off the amounts detailed in the Report, as bad debts in respect of non-domestic rates, Community Charge and Council Tax, in order that the appropriate entries could be made in the accounts of the Council for the year to 31 March 1999.

The Committee agreed that the sums detailed in the Report, be written off as bad debts.

15. MISCELLANEOUS ACCOUNTS ­ DEBT WRITE-OFF

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 2 February 1999, there was submitted Report No 650/99 by the Director of Finance seeking authority to write off the amounts detailed in the Report which were viewed as irrecoverable. The Report indicated that the unpaid accounts had been the subject of a recovery process and legal action or debt collection agency attention, where considered appropriate.

The Committee agreed that the accounts detailed in Appendix I to the Report amounting to £11,786.58 be written off as irrecoverable.

16. ANNUAL REPORT 1998/99 ­ INSURANCE AND RISK MANAGEMENT

With reference to Article 9 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 5 May 1998, there was submitted Report No 651/99 by the Director of Finance summarising the main activities in relation to insurance and risk management during 1998/99. The Report detailed the activities of the Risk Management Group and the Finance Risk Management Team during 1998/99 and made comment on the overall insurance position of the Council.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

17. ANNUAL REPORT 1998/99 ­ VALUE FOR MONEY (VFM) ACTIVITIES

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 16 June 1998, there was submitted Joint Report No 652/99 by the Chief Executive and the Director of Finance summarising the activities in relation to Value for Money (VFM) studies undertaken during 1998/99. The Report indicated that five corporate studies had been undertaken during the year, namely charging for services, fleet vehicle management, CCT variations and fluctuations, provisional of residential school services and Angus Council Training Services (ACTS).

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report and that value for money was now being co-ordinated under the umbrella of the Best Value Steering Group.

18. FINANCE DEPARTMENT SERVICE PLAN 1999/2000

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 1 September 1998, there was submitted Report No 653/99 by the Director of Finance advising the Committee of the production of the latest Finance Department Service Plan for the period 1999/2000. In addition, the Report detailed longer term considerations which would impact on the future agenda for the Department. Significant achievements had been delivered from a financial perspective over the first three years of the Council. The latest Service Plan identified the activities and success criteria which each priority service area intended to achieve over the period 1999/2000.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the terms of the Report;

(ii) to approve the Finance Department’s Service Plan 1999/2000, as presented; and

(iii) to note that ongoing strategic and tactical plans would be further developed as the impact of the Scottish Parliament emerged.

19. BEST VALUE SERVICE REVIEW ­ PAYROLL

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 16 June 1998, there was submitted Report No 654/99 by the Director of Finance presenting the findings of a Service Review on the provision of Payroll Services within the Finance Service. Considerable time and effort had been spent in reviewing the service and in considering the actions which were recommended in the Improvement Plan. The overall conclusion drawn from the Review was that, although there were a number of areas which could be improved, the present service provided by the Finance function, in relation to payroll, was above average when compared with other similar Councils.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the content of the Best Value Service Review of the Payroll Service; and

(ii) to approve the implementation of the Improvement Plan, as set out in the Appendix to the Report.

20. MEMBERS’ ALLOWANCE ­ SPECIAL RESPONSIBILITY ALLOWANCES

With reference to Article 1 of the minute of the special meeting of this Committee of 25 May 1999, there was submitted Report No 655/99 by the Director of Finance setting out proposals for a change to the Scale Allowance for the Contract Services Convener’s special responsibility payment.

The Report indicated that, at present, the Convener of the Contract Services Committee was being paid a Scale 4 allowance. However, as other equivalent Committee Conveners were paid a Scale 3 allowance, it was now suggested that the scheme be amended to allow the Contract Services Convener to be paid a Scale 3 allowance.

The Committee agreed to approve the amendment of the scale allowance applied to the Contract Services Committee Convener from Scale 4 to Scale 3 with effect from 13 May 1999, which would result in the annual payment being amended from £5,544 to £7,392.

21. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT FOR SCHOOLS 1999/2000

With reference to Article 13(b) of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 8 June 1999, there was submitted Joint Report No 569/99 by the Director of Education and the Director of Information Technology outlining the present position in respect of Information and Communication Technology hardware in Angus schools. The Report outlined proposals to utilise available resources to purchase additional computer hardware for secondary schools, to expand whole school networks in secondary schools and to introduce whole school networking to primary schools. Funding for investment in ICT equipment had been augmented through the Excellence Fund and the Council’s submission had set out how the available funding would be utilised over a three year period, commencing 1999/2000.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

(i) to approve the contents of the Report; and

(ii) to authorise the issue of tender documentation for the purchase of computers for secondary schools.

22. INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT): DEVELOPMENTS WITHIN THE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT ­ NGFL

With reference to Article 13(a) of the minute of meeting of the Education Committee of 8 June 1999, there was submitted Joint Report No 568/99 by the Director of Education, the Director of Information Technology and the Director of Personnel outlining proposals to create a dedicated Education ICT Team. The aim of providing ICT equipment would be to enhance the learning experiences of learners throughout the curriculum, thereby improving standards and providing opportunities for personal development. By creating an Education ICT Team, it was intended to develop provision in a systematic and co-ordinated manner while ensuring schools were properly supported.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to note the contents of the Report.

23. YEAR 2000 ­ DEPARTMENTAL PROGRESS REPORT

With reference to Article 19 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 2 February 1999, there was submitted Report No 631/99 by the Director of Information Technology detailing progress that had been made to date in preparing for Year 2000. While the Department’s programme for year 2000 had been proceeding according to plan, the resource requirements in the coming months would have significant effects on other corporate priorities and as such, it was considered prudent to consider some further independent assessment of the work.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the progress being made by the Department in preparing for the Year 2000;

(ii) to authorise the Director of Information Technology to conclude negotiations with suitable suppliers to provide infrastructure testing services and independent assessment of in-house software testing and contingency planning, at an estimated total cost of £41,000; and

(iii) in view of the timescale involved, to authorise the Director of Information Technology, in conjunction with the Convener and Vice Convener, to appoint contractors, where appropriate, and report any such appointment to the next meeting of the Committee.