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ANGUS COUNCIL

MINUTE of MEETING of the POLICY AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE held in the Committee Room, Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 22 June 1999 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors ROB MURRAY, BILL MIDDLETON, IAN ANGUS, ALEX KING, IAN MACKINTOSH, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, BRIAN MILNE, ROBERT MYLES, GEORGE NORRIE, DAVID SELFRIDGE, RICHARD SPIERS, and SHEENA WELSH.

Apologies: Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors FRANK ELLIS, JACK GIBB and SANDY WEST.

Councillor MURRAY, Convener, in the Chair.

1. MEMBERSHIP OF COMMITTEE

With reference to Article 5(c) of the minute of meeting of the Council held on 13 May 1999, the Committee agreed to note the members appointed to this Committee.

2. APPOINTMENTS

(a) Membership of Executive Sub-Committee

The Committee agreed to appoint the Convener, Vice Convener and Councillor Norrie to the Policy and Resources Executive Sub-Committee.

(b) Membership of Social Policy Sub-Committee

The Committee agreed to appoint Councillors Glennis Middleton, Milne, Myles, Norrie, Ritchie, Roberton and Welsh to the Social Policy Sub-Committee.

(c) General Purposes Sub-Committee

The Committee agreed that the General Purposes Sub-Committee be not appointed and that matters within its remit be considered at the Policy and Resources Committee.

3. MINUTES

(a) Minute of Previous Meeting

The minute of meeting of the Committee of 27 April 1999 was accepted as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

(b) Executive Sub-Committee of Policy and Resources Committee

The minute of meeting of the Executive Sub-Committee of the Policy and Resources Committee held on 4 May 1999 was submitted and noted. (Appendix)

(c) Economic Development Committee

The minute of meeting of the Economic Development Committee of 1 June 1999 was submitted and noted.

4. SCOTTISH COALITION JUBILEE 2000

The Committee homologated the action taken by the Chief Executive, in consultation with the Convener and Vice Convener, in approving the sum of £500 towards the administration of a nation-wide gathering in Edinburgh on 12 June 1999 by supporters of the Scottish Coalition Jubilee 2000.

5. FAIR PLAY CHARTER FOR THE SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

There was submitted a letter dated 5 May 1999 from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities seeking support for the Charter for the Scottish Parliament that had been produced by the Fair Play Consortium.

The Committee agreed to note the Fair Play Charter.

6. THE BIG ISSUE

There was submitted a letter dated 1 April 1999 received from the Big Issue in Scotland Ltd seeking financial support for the year 1999/2000.

The Committee agreed to renew the corporate subscription of £250.

7. CAPITAL MONITORING - COMPOSITE CAPITAL PROGRAMME TO MARCH 1999

With reference to Article 5 of the minute of meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Committee of 15 June 1999, there was submitted Report No 641/99 by the Director of Finance advising members of the capital expenditure incurred for the period 1 April 1998 to 31 March 1999 and measuring actual capital expenditure for the year against available capital resources for the year.

The Committee, for its interest, approved the terms of the Report.

8. REVENUE BUDGET OUTTURN 1998/99

With reference to Article  6 of the minute of meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Committee of 15 June 1999, there was submitted Report No 643/99 by the Director of Finance setting out the Council’s likely revenue outturn position at the end of financial year 1998/99.

The Committee, for its interest, noted the terms of the Report.

9. CORPORATE GRANT AID TO THE VOLUNTARY/COMMUNITY SECTOR 1999/00

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 May 1996, there was submitted Report No 658/99 by the Chief Executive advising the Committee of decisions taken under delegated authority by the Corporate Officer Grant Aid Working Group on applications of up to £500 and making recommendations on applications for grant aid over £500.

The Committee approved the terms of the Report and agreed:-

(i) to note the grant aid awards up to £500 in value made by the Corporate Officer Grant Aid Group; and

(ii) to approve the grant aid recommendations as set out in the Report in respect of applications for funding of over £500.

10. VILLAGE HALL DEVELOPMENTS IN ANGUS

With reference to Article 16 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 24 March 1998, there was submitted Report No 659/99 which detailed the procedures which had been put in place to allow for the transparent and objective appraisal of submissions made for financial assistance to improve village halls across Angus. The Report gave an account of the latest proposals submitted for funding.

It was noted that the Report was an interim statement of the ongoing expenditure related to improvements in two village halls in Angus emerging from submissions for financial support from village halls across Angus, and that the work recommended for approval would enhance the ability of the Council to deliver appropriate services through the improved halls.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to make grant aid available to the following village halls:-

Aberlemno Hall - £825, of which 50% was recoverable from European funding;

Kilry Hall - £1,770, of which 50% was recoverable from European funding;

Westmuir Hall - £7,875, of which 50% was recoverable from European funding;

Stracathro Hall - £7,000; and

(ii) to instruct officers to report back to the Committee on further submissions for financial assistance made to Angus Council and the Angus Federation of Village Halls for financial assistance to effect improvements to the village halls in Angus.

11. ACCESS LINE

There was submitted Joint Report No 660/99 by the Chief Executive and the Directors of Information Technology, Finance and Personnel on the proposed setting up of a pilot Access Line.

The Report advised that the Access Line development was pertinent to both the customer/citizen focus element of Best Value and to the Council’s information strategy. It was proposed that the Access Line would operate on a one off basis from 1 September 1999 for a period of 1 year. The staffing requirements and IT implications were detailed, together with the marketing and publicity required, both internally and externally, to determine the success of the project, and the financial implications.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to approve the proposals set out in the Report to establish an Access Line on a pilot basis for 1 year;

(ii) to establish the following posts on a temporary basis for 1 year:-

Senior Access line operator (AP1) on a secondment basis;

Two Access line operators (GS3) on a secondment basis, to be advertised internally; and

(iii) to instruct appropriate offers to implement the proposals as set out in the Report as soon as practicable.

12. ANGUS 2000 PROJECT "WISHES FOR THE NEW MILLENNIUM"

With reference to Article 21 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 8 September 1998, there was submitted Report No 661/99 by the Chief Executive which advised members of a project for the children of Angus, entitled "Wishes for the New Millennium".

The Report noted that an invitation to the children of Angus to express their thoughts about the future would be offered to all children aged 5-14 as a non competitive, voluntary activity which had been devised by the Chief Executive’s, Education, Roads and Property Departments.

The Committee noted the details of the project and approved the content of the Report.

13. YEAR 2000 - AUDIT REPORTING PROCESS

There was submitted Report No 662/99 by the Chief Executive which outlined the results of a self assessment exercise undertaken by the Council as part of the Scottish Office programme to establish the preparedness of local authorities for the year 2000. The Report also detailed a recent independent assessment of the Council’s position undertaken by the Accounts Commission.

The Report indicated that Central Government had, for some time, been anxious to ensure that all sectors of the UK national infrastructure were taking appropriate steps to avoid any disruption which could arise from the so called "millennium bug". All departments of the Council were trying to ensure no disruption to services. Action plans were proceeding on schedule and attention was now focused on contingency planning and the formulation of a local public reassurance programme. A detailed seminar was planned for elected members in the near future and a presentation was also planned for Community Councils.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report and the continuing progress of the Council in preparing to avoid disruption of services during the millennium period.

14. RESULT OF THE "WORKING FOR COMMUNITIES" BID

There was submitted Report No 663/99 by the Chief Executive on the results of the "Working for the Communities" bid.

The Report advised that a bid which had been made by Angus Council, on behalf of a range of partners, for funding from the Scottish Office with regard to the "Working for Communities" initiative in the Newtyle area, had been turned down.

The Committee agreed to note, with regret, that the bid made by the Council in respect of the Newtyle area had been rejected.

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

With reference to Article 17 of the minute of meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Committee of 15 June 1999, there was submitted and noted Joint Report No 652/99 by the Chief Executive and Director of Finance which summarised the activities in relation to Value for Money (VFM) studies undertaken during 1998/99.

16. FUNDING EXTERNAL BODIES AND FOLLOWING THE PUBLIC POUND

There was submitted Joint Report No 664/99 by the Chief Executive and the Directors of Finance and Law and Administration which outlined the main issues reflected in the Code of Guidance on Funding External Bodies and Following the Public Pound, and the Operational Guidance recommended jointly by COSLA and the Accounts Commission.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to adopt the principles contained in the Code of Guidance on Funding External Bodies and Following the Public Pound;

(ii) to note the contents of the Operational Guidance produced by COSLA in conjunction with the Accounts Commission; and

(iii) to note that all relevant funding arrangements between the Council and outside bodies would be amended to comply with the Operational Guidance produced by COSLA in conjunction with the Accounts Commission.

17. BEST VALUE

(a) Amended Service Review Programme - Department of Law and Administration

There was submitted Report No 665/99 by the Director of Law and Administration advising of the need to make some amendments to the Department’s Service Review Programme as part of the Best Value regime. In particular, the Report recommended that the review of Committee Services Section be postponed to commence in June 2000 and that the review of internal departmental support services be advanced to commence in 1999.

The Committee agreed to note and approve the contents of the amended Service Review Programme as attached to the Report.

(b) Service Review - Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages

There was submitted Report No 666/99 by the Director of Law and Administration formally presenting the findings of the Best Value Service Review Team on the Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages Service.

The Report set out the findings of the Review and advised that a survey of customers of the service had indicated a very high level of satisfaction with the accommodation, the length of time taken, explanation of procedures and attitude of staff. Work had been done on comparing the costs per registration at each of the offices in Angus and a number of recommendations were made by the Service Review Team for improvement of the service.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the content of the Report of the Best Value Service Review Team on Registration of Births, Deaths and Marriages; and

(ii) to approve implementation of the recommendations as detailed in the Report.

(c) Best Value Review - Corporate Communications with Community Councils

There was submitted Report No 667/99 by the Chief Executive containing the recommendations arising from a Best Value Review of Communications with Community Councils and proposing a number of improvements which could be made to the service.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the Report;

(ii) to approve the Best Value Review of Corporate Communications with Community Councils; and

(iii) to approve the proposals outlined in Section 4 of the Report to improve the service provided to Community Councils.

(d) Chief Executive’s Department Review Plans

There was submitted Report No 668/99 by the Chief Executive noting the problems which had been experienced in carrying forward the programme of Best Value Reviews within the responsibility of the Chief Executive and proposing amendments to the programme with a view to ensuring a more evenly distributed workload for future years.

The Report pointed out that experience had shown that there was a considerable workload involved in any one review and that it was therefore appropriate to ensure a better spread of the workload and to give adequate time to carry out the reviews. It was considered that the reviews could still be achieved within the 5 year timetable originally set for the overall carrying out of reviews.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the problems which had been experienced in carrying through the review programme and to agree the proposed amended review programme in the schedule; and

(ii) to instruct officials to inform the Scottish Office with regard to amendments to the Best Value Implementation Plan.

(e) Feedback from the Scottish Office

There was submitted Report No 669/99 by the Chief Executive outlining the feedback from the Scottish Office on the Council’s Best Value performance during the 1998/99 appraisal round.

The Scottish Office appraisal concluded that Angus Council had made "significant progress" and delivered a range of activities to implement Best Value. Points were made with regard to member involvement and the robustness of the Council’s performance management and monitoring system which would require further consideration. The Report concluded that the Scottish Office appraisal was welcomed and the points raised which required action would be taken into account in the pursuit of the Council’s efforts to carry through the Best Value programme.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the Report;

(ii) to note in particular the points made by the Scottish Office with regard to Councillor involvement and the robustness of the Council’s performance management and monitoring system; and

(iii) to instruct officials to report in early course with regard to action to address these points.

(f) Public Performance Reporting Framework - Scottish Office Advice

There was submitted Report No 672/99 by the Chief Executive detailing draft advice from the Scottish Office in relation to the development of a Public Performance Reporting Framework (PPR).

The Scottish Office circular amended the date for the return of updating information on key performance indicators, which was now put back to 30 September, and detailed information which was required from all authorities by that date. The draft framework PPR was due to be returned to the Scottish Office by 30 June and the Report set out certain comments as to how this could be progressed by the Council.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the contents of the Report;

(ii) to note the change in the timetable for the submission of additional key performance indicator information to be submitted to the Scottish Office;

(iii) to approve the amendments outlined in Section 4 of the Report to meet the requirements of the further advice from the Scottish Office on the development of a PPR framework; and

(iv) to approve the comments contained in Section 4 of the Report as a response to the Scottish Office.

18. COMPLAINTS TO THE OMBUDSMAN

There was submitted Report No 670/99 by the Chief Executive outlining the procedure by which the Ombudsman dealt with complaints of maladministration by local authorities, and detailing complaints which had been made to the Ombudsman during 1998/99, or made previously but only resolved during 1998/99.

In 1998 there had been 11 complaints dealt with, three of which had been carried forward from the previous year and three complaints which had not been resolved by the year end. None of the complaints which had been resolved during the course of the year had required the Ombudsman’s office to carry out a formal enquiry. It was concluded that the relatively low level of complaints and the fact that none had resulted in a formal investigation suggested a generally satisfactory level of administrative procedure in the authority.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the terms of the Report and the continuing relatively low number of complaints made in respect of services provided by Angus Council;

(ii) to note that complaints made had been resolved without the need for a formal enquiry; and

(iii) to note the procedures in respect of Ombudsman reports.

19. COMMUNITY COUNCIL SCHEME - REVIEW

With reference to Article 15 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 23 March 1999, there was submitted Report No 671/99 by the Chief Executive suggesting the appointment of replacement members to the working group which had been set up by the Council to carry out a review of the Community Council administrative scheme in the light of changes at the recent elections.

It was reported that the review of the administrative scheme had been somewhat delayed because of a delay in the finalisation of ward boundaries by the Boundaries Commission. It was, however, hoped that the review could be completed early in the life of the new Council, enabling advertisement of the revised scheme to take place.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the content of the Report;

(ii) to appoint Councillors Henderson and Mowatt to the Working Group and to request the Carnoustie Community Council to nominate a replacement Community Councillor; and

(iii) to note that the review of boundaries would be discussed at the bi-annual meeting with Community Councillors to be held on Thursday 24 June.

21. ANGUS AHEAD

With reference to Article 18 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 23 March 1999, there was submitted Report No 673/99 by the Chief Executive summarising the progress being made in the various promotional activities which were taking place under the Angus Ahead initiative. It was noted that the initiative was developing into a range of separate promotional activities, co-ordinated under the Angus Ahead brand, and an appendix to the Report listed the key initiatives which were being progressed.

The Committee agreed to note the contents of the Report.

22. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee agreed, in terms of Standing Order No 27(2), that the public and press be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items so as to avoid the possible disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Paragraphs 1, 4, 6 and 8 of Part 1 of Schedule 7A to the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.

23. ANNUAL REPORT AND ACCOUNTS - CONTRACT

There was submitted Joint Report No 674/99 by the Chief Executive and Director of Finance outlining the submissions for the design and printing of the Council’s Annual Report and Accounts for 1998/99 and advising that Woods Group, Perth, had been appointed as the preferred contractor.

It was reported that an invitation to tender for production of the document had been put out to six external companies and submissions had been received from four. The quality of the submission in terms of design concept and layout was taken into account in determining the award of the contract and it was considered that the submission by Woods Group most closely matched the specification and delivered the highest quality in terms of concept and design.

The Committee agreed to note the terms of the Report and the award of the contract to Woods Group, Perth, as detailed in the Report.

24. OMBUDSMAN COMPLAINTS

(a) Carnoustie Footpath

With reference to Article 27 of the minute of meeting of the Policy and Resources Committee of 23 March 1999, there was submitted Report No 675/99 by the Chief Executive updating the Committee with regard to a complaint to the Ombudsman by the owner of a former Council house in Carnoustie regarding a planning condition concerning the maintenance of a hedge. The hedge had now become a potential traffic hazard and, following correspondence with solicitors, an amendment of the remit to officials was suggested.

The Committee agreed:-

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

(ii) to agree the general terms of a further remit to officials to negotiate with the owner to ensure removal of the hedge and restitution of the footway, in consultation with the Leader of the Administration and the local member

(b) Forfar Council House Sale

There was submitted Report No 679/99 by the Chief Executive outlining the details of a complaint to the Ombudsman by a former Forfar Council house tenant following delays in the sale of his house. The Report recommended that an ex gratia payment of £587.50 be made to the former tenant, which would reimburse legal expenses which he had incurred.

The Committee agreed:-

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

(ii) that payment of £587.50 be made to the former tenant to recompense him for legal fees incurred in an abortive purchase of a former Council house.

25. TENDERING FOR EDUCATION SCHOOL CONVEYANCE REQUIREMENTS 1999/2002

There was submitted Joint Report No 677/99 by the Director of Education and Director of Planning and Transport detailing the results of the school conveyance tendering exercises undertaken in May 1999 in the Brechin and Montrose areas, and for transport to special educational establishments within Angus.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to approve the award of contracts as detailed in the Report;

(ii) to authorise the Director of Education to accept the recommended tenders for contracts ABN/25, ASP/12, ASP/13, ASP/14, ASP/19, ASP/25 and ASP/30 for which no tenders had been received in the initial tendering exercise, and for ASP/11 which was being retendered due to a substantial change in the transport requirements since the contract had been originally tendered; and

(iii) to note the budgetary difficulties which now appeared likely and instruct the Directors of Education and Finance to bring forward a Joint Report in early course proposing ways in which these difficulties could be overcome.

26. PROPOSED RELOCATION OF PROPERTY MAINTENANCE SECTION

It was agreed that this matter be continued for further consideration.

27. ARBROATH HARBOUR DREDGING OF APPROACH CHANNEL

With reference to Article 15    of the minute of meeting of the Roads Committee of 11 March 1999, there was submitted Joint Report No 676/99 by the Director of Roads and the Director of Finance describing the options available to the Council in seeking to undertake dredging of the approach channel to Arbroath Harbour. The Report sought the agreement of the Committee to delegate a final decision on the award of the work over the summer recess period to the Executive Sub-Committee of the Policy and Resources Committee.

The Committee agreed:-

(i) to note the current position in respect of the potential dredging of the approach channel as set out in the Report;

(ii) to delegate the finalisation of a cost ceiling for the dredging of the harbour approach channel to the Director of Roads, in conjunction with the Director of Finance, in accordance with Financial Regulation 14.1.3(c);

(iii) to note that the Director of Roads, in conjunction with the Director of Finance, was seeking to secure agreement to a funding package for undertaking the work set out in the Report;

(vi) to note that it was only practicable to finalise a competitive cost for the works when the contractor had been able to ascertain the rate of productivity which could be achieved, through appropriate trials, once he had suitable plant in the location; and

(v) to delegate a decision on any award for the dredging works to the contractor to the Executive Sub-Committee of the Policy and Resources Committee, subject to satisfactory resolution of the issues described in Paragraphs (i) to (iv) above.