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Policy and Rescources Committee

MINUTE of MEETING of the POLICY AND RESOURCES COMMITTEE held in the Town and County Hall, Forfar on Tuesday 24 October 2000 at 4.00 pm.

Present: Councillors BILL MIDDLETON, IAN ANGUS, FRANK ELLIS, ALEX KING, IAN MACKINTOSH, GLENNIS MIDDLETON, ROBERT MYLES, GEORGE NORRIE MBE, DAVID SELFRIDGE, RICHARD SPEIRS, SHEENA WELSH and SANDY WEST.

Apologies Apologies for absence were intimated on behalf of Councillors ROB MURRAY, JACK GIBB and BRIAN MILNE.

Councillor BILL MIDDLETON, Vice-Convener, in the Chair.

1. MINUTES

  1. Previous Meeting

    The minute of meeting of this Committee of 5 September 2000 was approved as a correct record and signed by the Convener.

  2. Economic Development Committee
  3. The minute of meeting of the Economic Development Committee of 5 October 2000 was submitted and noted.

2. CAPITAL MONITORING ­ COMPOSITE CAPITAL PROGRAMME 2000/01

With reference to Article 2 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 5 September 2000, there was submitted Report No 1175/00 by the Director of Finance, advising members of the capital expenditure incurred for the period from 1 April to 31 August 2000 and measuring projected capital expenditure for the year against budgeted provision and available resources for the year.

The Report indicated that actual expenditure for the year totalled £2.339 million, which equated to 26% of the revised budget of £8.926 million for the year.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the position as at 31 August 2000 on the Composite Capital Programme as per the accompanying monitoring statement;
  2. to note that the Capital Budget Sub-Group (CBSG) would meet in due course as part of the budget process for 2001/2002 and would review the position on the Composite Capital Programme and address issues relating to the projected underspend, possible additional slippage on projects and the resources potentially available for 2000/2001; and
  3. to note that the projections of the year end position would be on-going and brought forward, on a regular basis, to future meetings.

3. REVENUE BUDGET OUTTURN 2000/2001

With reference to Article 3 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 5 September 2000, there was submitted Report No 1178/00 by the Director of Finance, updating members on the Council's financial position to the end of the current financial year.

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

4. REVENUE MONITORING STATEMENT

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 5 September 2000, there was submitted Report No 1179/00 by the Director of Finance on the actual revenue expenditure incurred and income received in respect of the Council’s Departments as well as the Police, Fire and Valuation Joint Boards and the DLO’s for the period 1 April 2000 to 31 August 2000.

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

5. TREASURY MANAGEMENT ANNUAL REPORT 1999/2000

With reference to Article 4 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 26 October 1999, there was submitted Report No 1182/00 by the Director of Finance detailing Treasury Management Activities for Angus Council for the financial year 1999/2000. The Report indicated that the Treasury Management Policy Statement, as appended to the Report, had been strictly adhered to and had resulted in the exercise of stringent financial control within the Treasury Management Section of the Finance Department. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Policy Statement and its operation within the Treasury Management Section of the Finance Department had been the subject of ongoing monitoring to take account of changing circumstances in this area of activity. Such a review had revealed the operational adequacy and effectiveness of the Policy Statement with no requirement for amendment at this time.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to approve the Annual Report on Treasury Management Activities for Angus Council for 1999/2000, as appended to the Report;
  2. to note the requirements of the Treasury Management Policy Statement and Section 15 of the Council's Financial Regulations pertaining to Treasury Management; and
  3. to note the availability of the Treasury Management Systems Document, which covered detailed systems and procedures within the Treasury Management Section of the Finance Department.

6. LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCE SETTLEMENT: SPENDING PLAN ANNOUNCEMENTS BY THE SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE

With reference to Article 8 of the minute of meeting of the Finance and Information Technology Committee of 17 October 2000, there was submitted Report No 1181/00 by the Director of Finance apprising members of the announcements made by the Minister for Finance, Jack McConnell MSP, on the outcome of the Scottish Executive's Spending Review 2000 and the resulting three-year spending plans for local government.

The Report indicated, however, that these announcements were at an all Scotland level only at this stage and details of individual Council grant allocations for the year 2001/2002 - 2003/2004 financial years were not expected to be available until December 2000. Although the announcement of additional resources for local government brought a welcome change from the severe financial constraints of the last few years, the announcements needed to be interpreted with caution in terms of their potential impact onto Angus Council. Accordingly, some degree of budgetary difficulties would still face the Council into future years, and the need for financial restraint would therefore continue.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report; and
  2. to note that further Reports would be brought forward as the 2001/2002 budget process progressed.

7. BEST VALUE SERVICE REVIEW OF ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT SERVICES WITHIN THE LAW AND ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT

There was submitted Report No 1196/00 by the Director of Law and Administration presenting the findings of the Best Value Service Review of the Administrative Support Services with the Law and Administration Department. The Review had concluded that the service operated at "an acceptable level". However, issues had been identified where the service could be improved, and these were contained in the Service Improvement Plan as detailed in the Appendix to the Report. A copy of the full Best Value Review Report had been made available in the Members' Lounge.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to approve the findings of the Best Value Service Review that the Administrative Support Service was operating at an acceptable standard; and
  2. to approve the implementation of the recommendations of the Service Improvement Plan, detailed in the Appendix to the Report.

8. SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT LOCAL GOVERNMENT COMMITTEE ­ RESPONSE TO FINDINGS OF THE RENEWING LOCAL DEMOCRACY GROUP ("KERLEY COMMITTEE")

With reference to Article 10 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 December 1999, there was submitted Report No 1199/00 by the Chief Executive setting out a suggested Council response to the recommendations of the Kerley Committee on Renewing Local Democracy, for onward transmission to the Scottish Parliament's Local Government Committee.

The Committee agreed:

  1. to approve the Appendix as the basis for Angus Council's response to the Local Government Committee; and
  2. in relation to Questions 11(a) and 11(b) to fully support the introduction of proportional representation and the single transferable vote.

9. BEST VALUE ­ BEN JOHNSTON-HILL BENCHMARKING PROJECT

With reference to Article 11 of the minute of meeting of Angus Council of 14 September 2000, there was submitted Report No 1200/00 by the Chief Executive providing the Committee with details of the Ben Johnston-Hill Strategic Executive Benchmarking Project which had been undertaken in 1999/2000.

The Report indicated that Angus Council, along with other Councils who were members of the family of authorities group identified by the Accounts Commission, had progressed a strategic executive benchmarking study, with Ben Johnston-Hill Associates Limited engaged for this study. The consultants had, as a consequence of the review, found that Angus Council services were considered to be both effective and efficient, and fared well in terms of quality and delivery. A small number of areas had been highlighted which would be worth further investigation.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the general contents of the Report entitled "Strategic Executive Benchmarking for Angus Council" (June 2000);
  2. that the Chief Executive bring forward a report outlining how the findings would be used, including consideration of benchmarking activity across Angus Council; and
  3. (iii) to refer the matter to the Best Value Member/Officer Group.

10. "BETTER HOMES FOR SCOTLAND'S COMMUNITIES" ­ THE SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE'S PROPOSALS FOR THE HOUSING BILL

With reference to Article 6 of the minute of meeting of the Housing Committee of 7 November 2000, there was submitted Report No 784/00 by the Director of Housing, in consultation with the Chief Executive and other Chief Officers, regarding the comments to be submitted to the Scottish Executive in relation to the Government's consultation paper "Better Homes for Scotland's Communities". The Report advised that details of the consultation document had been circulated to appropriate departments and comments sought. These had been collated and a copy of the proposed response was attached as Appendix II to the Report.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed to approve the recommendations in the Report.

11. LOCAL GOVERNMENT OMBUDSMAN ­ ANNUAL REPORT 1999/2000

With reference to Article 12 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 September 1999, there was submitted Report No 1197/00 by the Director of Law and Administration indicating that the Local Government Ombudsman's Annual Report for 1999/2000 had been received.

For Angus Council, three complaints had been carried forward from the previous year and twelve new complaints had been made against the authority during the year, making a total of fifteen. Of those complaints, five were not accepted (without enquiry of Angus Council), three were not accepted (after enquiry), in four cases there had been an offer of settlement and no cases had been taken to investigation stage. The balance of three cases was carried forward.

Comparison of the performance of the Council with that of other authorities and with the three preceding years was detailed in the Report.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the terms of the Report and the continuing relatively low number of complaints made in respect of services provided by Angus Council; and
  2. to note that complaints dealt with in 1999/2000 were resolved without a formal inquiry by the Ombudsman.

12. VILLAGE HALL DEVELOPMENTS IN ANGUS

With reference to Article 17 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 5 September 2000, there was submitted Report No 1201/00 by the Chief Executive which gave details of the latest proposals submitted for funding to improve Village Halls across Angus. The Report indicated that, to ensure a transparent and objective process for appraising submissions by Village Halls for funding assistance, the Council had established a Village Hall Improvement Group to appraise projects against an approved set of selection criteria and detailed the submissions that had been raised at the last meeting of the Group.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to make grant available to the following Village Halls:-
    1. Menmuir Village Hall ­ £6,468 (50% recoverable from European sources);
    2. Carmyllie Village Hall ­ £6,461;
  2. to homologate the decision taken by the Chief Executive in consultation with the Convener of the Committee, to provide Lethnot Village Hall with grant aid of £7,415 (50% recoverable from European sources); and
  3. to instruct the appropriate officers to bring back reports to this 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 Village Halls in Angus.

13. LARGE SCALE VILLAGE HALL DEVELOPMENTS IN ANGUS

With reference to Article 21 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 7 September 1999, there was submitted Joint Report No 1202/00 by the Chief Executive and the Director of Education advising members that following the closure of bids for the 21st Century Village Hall Fund, three communities in Angus still wished to pursue large scale developments with regard to their village halls.

The Report indicated that these halls were Wellbank, Fowlis and Birkhill/Muirhead and summarised the various funding aspirations. Each element of funding was dependent upon the other and therefore the Council was not in full control of eventual outcomes. However, as the Council was required to submit a prioritised list of bids to the Scottish Executive, it was proposed to establish a special sub-committee to undertake this task. This approach would allow the Council to fulfil its requirements in terms of Scottish Executive funding and at the same time leave the opportunity for decisions to be taken by other funding bodies, with regard to the three applications.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the funding packages submitted by Village Hall Committees in Wellbank, Fowlis and Birkhill/Muihead;
  2. to note that the sums of money sought from Angus Council were in excess of the funding available; and
  3. to establish a special sub-committee, comprising the Convener and Vice-Convener of the Policy and Resources Committee, the two elected members whose wards the three developments lay and Councillor Mackintosh, to give consideration to the three bids made by the Hall Committees, the special sub-committee having powers to approve the prioritised list of these bids, for onward submission to the Scottish Executive for Capital Grants for Community Facilities.

14. "MAKE OUR COMMUNITIES SAFER" CHALLENGE COMPETITION 2001/2002

ANGUS YOUNG DRIVERS PROGRAMME

With reference to Article 17 of the minute of meeting of this Committee of 9 May 2000, there was submitted Report No 1203/00 by the Chief Executive setting out the criteria of the Challenge Bid scheme under the "Make Our Communities Safer" Challenge Competition 2001/2002, detailing the project nominated and the financial implications of the bid.

The Report indicated that the Scottish Executive had made £1.5m available towards the competition for 2001/2002 which was designed to support the establishment of new projects which contributed to the well being and safety of the community. The Report set out the work that had been undertaken on the National Pass Plus Scheme and detailed the proposals for a Pass Plus Extra Scheme, which would include advanced driving tuition, following completion of the Pass Plus and Driver Awareness phases.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to nominate the "Angus Young Drivers Programme" as the Angus entry to the 2001/2002 Challenge Competition; and
  2. to continue to fund the Pass Plus Scheme for the next financial year.

15. NATIONAL CULTURAL STRATEGY

With reference to Article 14 of the minute of meeting of the Recreation and Cultural Services Committee of 5 October 2000, there was submitted Report No 1009/00 by the Acting Director of Cultural Services advising the Committee of the publication of the Scottish Executive’s National Cultural Strategy entitled "Creating Our Future, Minding Our Past". The publication identified four strategic objectives, each of which had three key priorities and were outlined in the Report.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report;
  2. to note that a copy of the National Cultural Strategy had been placed in the Members’ Lounge; and
  3. to note that the Chief Executive had asked the Acting Director of Cultural Services to lead a Working Group to produce an Angus Council Cultural Strategy.

16. DISTRICT COURTS ASSOCIATION AGM ­ 20 OCTOBER 2000

The Committee agreed to homologate the decision taken by the Convener and Vice-Convener of the Committee to approve the costs of providing a lunch to Justices of the Peace when they attended the Annual General Meeting of the District Courts Association which was held in Forfar on 20 October 2000, with the estimated costs in the region of £650.

17. ABOLITION OF FEUDAL TENURE ETC (SCOTLAND) ACT 2000

With reference to Article 16 of the minute of meeting of the Personnel and Property Services Committee of 17 October 2000, there was submitted Report No 1195/00 by the Director of Law and Administration advising members of the legislative changes brought about by the Abolition of Feudal Tenure etc. (Scotland) Act 2000 which had received Royal Assent on 9 June 2000.

The Report indicated that this legislation would completely change the way in which property was owned in Scotland. The changes in the Act would also require the Council to look at the way in which property was disposed of and there would be a period of approximately two-three years from the date of Royal Assent until the main provisions of the Act came into force, to allow time to implement the required changes.

The Committee, for its interest, agreed:-

  1. to note the contents of the Report and the implications of the new legislation; and
  2. to note that Reports on the individual transactions affected by the Act would be submitted in due course.

18. WOODLAND MANAGEMENT PROPOSALS, GUTHRIE PARK, FORFAR

There was submitted Report No 1206/00 by the Director of Recreation Services seeking approval for a Woodland Management Scheme for Guthrie Park, Forfar. The Report indicated that the management of the woodland involved the thinning of the surrounding woodland at Guthrie Park, in accordance with good forestry practice and the replanting with broad-leaved native species, with the proposed cost of the work estimated at £5,484.

The Committee agreed to approve the Woodland Management proposals for Guthrie Park, Forfar and that it be funded from the Forfar Common Good Fund.

19. BENEFITS SCHEMES FOR WATER SERVICES CHARGES

The Committee were advised that a letter had been received from Stirling Council advising that at a recent meeting of their Policy and Resources Committee, it had been agreed:-

  1. to support calls from other local authorities and the Scottish Local Government Forum Against Poverty for the introduction of a benefits scheme for water services charges, on the basis that local authorities should not be required to bear any costs connected to the granting of these benefits or the administration of the scheme; and
  2. to lobby the Scottish Executive and the UK Government on the introduction of such a benefits scheme.
  3. The Committee agreed to support the above recommendations in accordance with the previous decision and to forward a copy of the motion approved by Angus Council on 17 February 2000 on Water Charges to other local authorities and to the Scottish Executive.

20. EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS

The Committee resolved, in terms of Standing Order 27(2) that the public and press be excluded during consideration of item 21 below, so as to avoid the disclosure of information which was exempt in terms of Part 1 of Schedule 7A to the Local Governmant (Scotland) Act 1973, paragraphs 6, 8, 9 and 10.

21. TOWNSCAPE HERITAGE INITIATIVE BID FOR ARBROATH NO 1 CONSERVATION AREA

With reference to Article 14 of the minute of meeting of the Planning and Transport Policy Committee of 23 November 1999, there was submitted Report No 1012/00 by the Director of Planning and Transport outlining the outcome of the Townscape Heritage Initiative Stage 1 Bid for Arbroath No 1 Conservation Area and proposing the Council proceed to Stage 2.

The Committee agreed:-

  1. to note the successful outcome of the Stage 1 Townscape Heritage Initiative Bid;
  2. to authorise the Director of Planning and Transport, in terms of Financial Regulation 16.1.3d to commission the Stage 1 consultancy team for the Stage 2 bid, on the terms and conditions detailed in the Report; and
  3. to authorise the Director of Planning and Transport to submit the Stage 2 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund.
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