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Chair and Silent Tribute
In the absence of the Chairman of the Committee (Councillor M E Stephenson), the Chair was occupied by the Vice-Chairman (Councillor Scott).
At the beginning of the meeting, Councillor Scott led the Committee in a minute’s silence for the victims of the war in Ukraine.
Apologies for Absence and Substitutions
The Committee is asked to note any apologies for absence and substitutions received from Members.
An apology for absence was received from Councillor M E Stephenson (with no appointed substitute).
To confirm and sign as a correct record, the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on Monday 7 February 2022.
It was RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on Monday 7 February 2022 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors are invited to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Personal Interest, and the nature of it, in relation to any item on the agenda.
Councillor Barry declared a Personal Interest in the Joint Use Facilities item (minute 65 below refers) and stated that he had been given a dispensation by the Monitoring Officer. In doing so, he read out the following statement:-
“In relation to Item A6 – the Joint Use Sports Facilities Update and in particular any discussion on the provision of funding to the Joint Use Facilities in Brightlingsea, I have a Personal Interest in accordance with Paragraph 5.1(d)(1) and (iii) of the Code of Conduct as a result of being a Town Councillor for Brightlingsea. The Monitoring Officer has, following the principles set out in Section 33 of the Localism Act 2011, agreed to grant a dispensation to allow me to take part in the debate in my role as a District Councillor but only to take part in the debate, and that dispensation does not permit me to vote. This dispensation is granted for the sole purposes of representing the residents living in the Brightlingsea area as Ward Councillor relating to the value of the facility to the community whilst adhering to the duties and responsibilities of the Members’ Code of Conduct”.
Councillor Morrison also declared a Personal Interest in the Joint Use Facilities item insofar as she was both a local Ward Member and a Member of Harwich Town Council.
Questions on Notice pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 38
Subject to providing two working days' notice, a Member of the Committee may ask the Chairman of the Committee a question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the Tendring District and which falls within the terms of reference of the Committee.
Pursuant to the provisions of Council Procedure Rule 38 Councillor Griffiths asked the following question:-
“I read with interest the recent decision regarding the Jaywick Market Site. I note from the officer report that the original cost for the project in October 2021 was £2.1 million, two months later in December 2021, the project cost had risen to £4.4 million . I am concerned that the projected costing mechanism used for the Jaywick Market site does not appear to accurately reflect the cost of the build.
Would it be possible to outline the reasons why the project cost appeared to significantly increase over a two month period. TDC is a key player in the Garden City Community, actively seeking to encourage the creation of a Freeport, and a key player in the development of the much smaller Honeycroft scheme.
All these projects have projected costings associated with the construction and development of the sites, and some elements of financial contributions from TDC to cover aspects of the work.
Given the project cost increases at the Jaywick site, what assurances do we have that mechanisms are in place to keep costs at the Freeport, Garden City Community and Honey croft under control, as there must be concerns that if our current financial model is unable to accurately predict the cost of a small industrial unit in Jaywick over a relatively small period of time, then a similar situation could occur with Honey croft, The Garden City Community and the Freeport, in which the projected costs are significantly lower than the actual cost of the build”.
The Chairman, Councillor Scott, responded as follows:-
“On the Jaywick Sands Workspace and covered market, the costings were developed for the original Get Britain Building bid in the summer of 2020. There was a subsequent review of the building design which increased some costs (in the region of £300,000) in relation to increasing the number of business units. So the cost base work was originally from 2020, and developed by our cost consultants. We reported to Cabinet in October 2021 that cost inflation was a significant risk on the project. We would only see the actual costs once tenders were received in December 2021. The scale of cost increases was unexpected – although all three tenders came in within c.7% of each other, showing that it was the reasonable market price at the time for the scheme.
On capital projects, the Council is aware that until tenders come in, we only have cost estimates for a scheme, not firm prices. We do not expect to see the exceptional increase in costs for the Jaywick Workspace project again and we will continue to monitor the market and work closely with our cost advisors on future projects. In addition, on the Freeport and Garden Communities: these are under development primarily by the private sector, so the main delivery of the schemes is not a cost risk to TDC; and they operate at a different scale to the Jaywick ... view the full minutes text for item 63.
Scrutiny of Proposed Decisions
Pursuant to the provisions of Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 13, the Committee will review any new and/or amended published forthcoming decisions relevant to its terms of reference and decide whether it wishes to enquire into any such decision before it is taken.
Matters may only be raised on those forthcoming decisions at Committee meetings where the Member has notified the Committee Services Manager in writing (or by personal email) of the question they wish to ask, no later than Midday, two working days before the day of the meeting.
There were none on this occasion.
Pursuant to the provisions of Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rule 13, the Committee reviewed the new and/or amended published forthcoming decisions relevant to its terms of reference and considered whether it wished to enquire into any such decision before it was taken.
The Committee was aware that matters could only be raised on those forthcoming decisions at Committee meetings where the Member had notified the Committee Services Manager in writing (or by personal email) of the question they wished to ask, no later than Midday, two working days before the day of the meeting.
There were no decisions that the Committee wished to enquire into on this occasion.
To update the committee on progress with the Joint Use Sports Centre transition process at Brightlingsea and Harwich, following the end of joint use agreements with the Sigma Trust on 31 December 2021.
The Committee recalled that, at its meeting held on Monday 7 February 2022 (minute 57 referred), Councillor Chapman BEM had requested that this Committee include in the work programme a revisit of its enquiry into the Joint Use Agreements for sports centres in Harwich and Brightlingsea.
The Committee had before it a report of the Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Tourism, as well as an addendum to that report, in relation to this matter. Those reports outlined the following:-
· “at their meeting on 17 December 2021, Cabinet determined the following in relation to the Joint Use Agreements for and Brightlingsea Sports Centre (BSC) and Harwich Sport Centre (HSC):
(a) “notes that the Joint Use Agreements between the Council and the Sigma Trust for the Harwich and Brightlingsea Sports Centres end on 31 December 2021;
(b) agrees to the provision of transitional support from existing resources, for up to three months, to extend the community use of the facilities where possible;
(c) invites representatives from the relevant Town Councils and the Sigma Trust to join an engagement group to meet during the transition period to work through the operations of providing community use from the facilities;”
· the Cabinet report highlighted that: ‘the Joint Use Facilities also require investment and Cabinet would need to consider the viability of investing in facilities which the Council does not own.’ The Council would have needed to invest significantly in the facilities to ensure they were fit for purpose and financially viable and stem the decline in attendances set out in the report.
· Following on from the Cabinet report, Sigma Trust have agreed to keep their facilities open to the community and are working with Council Officers to accommodate as many of the existing customer base as possible. Updates are being provided to the respective Town Councils via the engagement group which has met regularly since the start of 2022.
· The Council has arranged for a single point of contact at both sites, who are available to support existing users/hirers. These Officers have and will continue to support hirers who may have challenges in making the transition.
· To date over 90% of current hirers (50 out of 55) at Brightlingsea and Harwich Sports Centres have either agreed and signed new booking forms with Sigma Trust, or agreed in principal to the new conditions and Sigma are awaiting forms to be returned.
· There has been a trend at Brightlingsea towards block bookings and at Harwich towards more casual use. As the Sigma Trust cannot accommodate casual use, an action plan was devised of how casual use could be converted to hirers. The plan which is being worked through by the single point of contact at each site is set out in Section 2 of this report.
· In addition to the work above, local people have been asked if they are interested in establishing a new club or clubs, which would allow racket sports to continue under the management of the Sigma Trust. The deadline ... view the full minutes text for item 65.
To examine the Council’s Communications Strategy – using different media, utilising technology efficiently, and assessing the impact of communication.
Further to the decision of Council taken at its meeting held on 13 July 2021 (Minute 53 referred), the Committee undertook an enquiry into Tendring District Council’s Communications Strategy.
The Committee had before it a report that outlined how Tendring District Council’s Communications Strategy had been adopted in April 2021 and which set out the strategic framework and principles which guided all of the Council’s communications activity. It built upon the development of communications already carried out following on from the Local Government Association’s Corporate Peer Challenge of Tendring District Council in 2018, which had included: “improve how you tell the story of your ambition, plans, successes and positive impact” as one of its key recommendations.
Members heard that, whilst the Communications Team was responsible for overseeing the function, and would carry out many of the operational communications the Committee might recognise, as an organisation there were many Officers who carried out communications – whether explicitly, such as posting to social media for their service, or implicitly in conversations they had with residents, businesses and visitors. Therefore a key role of the Communications Team – and the Strategy – was to advise, guide and promote best practice in communications across the Council.
Communications, like the rest of the Council, had a digital-first approach; but recognised that some residents were digitally excluded, and therefore would need to be reached using other methods.
Communications also included how the Council shared information internally, with staff and Members, as well as externally to the wider public; and consideration of cascading information to all stakeholders in a timely manner formed a key principle when planning communications.
The Committee was informed that the Strategy adopted in 2021 set out a narrative of Council communications; the journey it had undertaken and the vision for the next three years, with the Strategy aligned to the Corporate Plan. The Corporate Plan, as throughout the Council, guided the priorities and objectives of communications.
Within that context, the Strategy set out five broad areas for improvement over its lifespan namely:-
· Video content
· Project work
· Social media
· Email and SMS communications
· Internal communications
From those flowed some SMART targets, as listed below along with the progress achieved to date:-
· By 2024 increase the number of videos created each year by 50% from the 2020 figure (50 – target of 75).
· Ensure every initiative which goes through the Council’s Projects Boards has a communications plan.
To present to the Committee the updated Recommendations Monitoring Report, outlining any recommendations the Committee have sent to Cabinet. The Committee is requested to consider the report and determine whether any further action is required on the recommendations submitted.
The Committee considered the updated Recommendations Monitoring Report, outlining any recommendations the Committee had sent to Cabinet, together with Cabinet’s response thereto.
Having determined that no further action was required on the recommendations submitted, the Committee RESOLVED to NOTE the contents of the report.
To present to the Committee a draft detailed Work Programme 2021/22, to consider the detail and ordering of the Work Programme.
The Committee reviewed its work programme.
The Chairman asked the Committee to start to consider, in readiness for a future meeting, what it might wish to be added to the upcoming 2022/23 Work Programme.
The Committee RESOLVED to NOTE the contents of the work programme.
To enable the Committee to review the Annual Capital and Treasury Strategy for 2022/23 (including the Prudential and Treasury indicators).
The Committee reviewed the Annual Capital and Treasury Strategy for 2022/23 (including the Prudential and Treasury indicators).
Members were informed that, at its meeting held on 25 February 2022, Cabinet had considered the Annual Capital and Treasury Strategy for 2022/23 (including the Prudential and Treasury Indicators) for consultation with the Resources and Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
At that meeting, Cabinet had resolved that:
“(a) the Annual Capital and Treasury Strategy for 2022/23 (including Prudential and Treasury Indicators) be submitted to Full Council for its approval, subject to consultation with the Resources and Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee; and
(b) the Portfolio Holder for Corporate Finance and Governance be authorised to explore potential borrowing options associated with the redevelopment of the Honeycroft site for inclusion within the Annual Capital and Treasury Strategy that would be presented to Full Council on 29 March 2022.”
A copy of the Portfolio Holder’s report to Cabinet together with the Capital and Treasury Strategy 2022/23 was attached as appendices to the Report of the Assistant Director (Finance & IT).
Having considered the Strategy, it was:-
RESOLVED that the Committee notes the Annual Capital and Treasury Strategy for 2022/23 (including Prudential and Treasury Indicators) and confirms that it has no comments to make to Council on the Strategy.
Report of Assistant Director Finance & IT - A.5 - Financial Performance Report - In-year Performance Against the Budget at the end of the Third Quarter 2021/22 and Long Term Financial Forecast Update. PDF 190 KB
To provide an overview of the Council’s financial position against the budget as at the end of December 2021 and to present an updated long term forecast.
The Committee had before it a report of the Assistant Director (Finance & IT) which provided it with an overview of the Council’s financial position against the budget as at the end of December 2021 and which also presented it with an updated long term forecast.
Members were made aware that, at its meeting held on 25 February 2022, Cabinet had considered the same report and had resolved:-
“(1) That, in respect of the financial performance against the budget at the end of December 2021, Cabinet agrees:
(a) that the position as at December 2021 be noted; and
(b) that the proposed in-year adjustments to the budget, as set out in Appendix H to item A.9 of the Report of the Corporate Finance & Governance Portfolio Holder, be made.
(2) That, in respect of the Updated Long Term Forecast, Cabinet agrees that the latest position be noted and that the Resources and Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee be consulted on the most up-to-date position.”
Having duly considered the latest financial position and updated long term financial forecast it was:-
RESOLVED that the Committee notes the in-year financial position, as at the end of December 2021, together with the long term financial forecast update, and confirms that it has no comments or recommendations it wishes to make or put forward to the relevant Portfolio Holder or Cabinet on this occasion.