Venue: Princes Theatre - Town Hall, Station Road, Clacton-on-Sea, CO15 1SE. View directions
Contact: Ian Ford Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Telephone 01255 686584
Apologies for Absence
The Council is asked to note any apologies for absence received from Members.
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Bush, Codling, Fowler, Oxley, Placey and Thompson.
The Council is asked to approve, as a correct record, the minutes of the ordinary meeting of the Council held on 30 January 2024.
It was moved by Councillor M E Stephenson, duly seconded and:-
RESOLVED that the minutes of the ordinary meeting of the Council held on 30 January 2024 be approved as a correct record and be signed by the Chairman.
Declarations of Interest
Councillors are invited to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests, Other Registerable Interests or Non-Registerable Interests, and the nature of it, in relation to any item on the agenda.
The Monitoring Officer reminded Members that she and the Section 151 Officer had circulated, by email on 9 February 2024, their annual joint guidance and advice on a number of matters relating to interests and voting on the annual budget and setting of Council Tax and, especially, the requirements of section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. The Monitoring Officer read out the contents of that email as follows:-
“Tendring District Council has adopted the LGA Model Members’ Code of Conduct which does not include the provisions confirming Members do not have a declarable interest which relates to the function of setting the Council Tax under the Local Government Act 1992. Therefore, to enable you to debate and vote on the budget item to set the Council Tax, this email provides all District Councillors with a dispensation under Section 33(2)(a) to (e) of the Localism Act 2011. Consequently, you will not be required to declare an interest based on the fact you live in the District and therefore have to pay Council Tax.
However, Members are importantly reminded of section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, which provides that any Member, who is in arrears by at least 2 months with their Council Tax payments cannot vote on matters concerning either the level of or administration of Council Tax. It is important to note that this also covers Council Tax liabilities outside of the district and property which may not be your main residence. If present at the meeting, a Member to whom this provision applies must disclose the fact and may speak on the item, but cannot vote. Non-compliance with this section is a criminal offence. Therefore, should this provision apply to any Member, this should be declared at the Declarations of Interest agenda item.
In 2014, the Government passed The Local Authorities (Standing Orders) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2014 making it mandatory for councils to amend their Standing Orders so as to include provisions requiring recorded votes at budget meetings. I can confirm that the Constitution reflects this requirement and the Council’s Procedure Rules state at 19.5:
“A recorded vote is mandatory on any decision relating to the budget or Council Tax. This includes not only on the substantive budget motions agreeing the budget and setting Council taxes, but also on any amendments proposed at the meeting.”
For other types of Interests, which need to be considered, Disclosable Pecuniary Interests (DPIs), Other Registerable Interests (ORIs) or Non-Registerable Interests are defined in the Code of Conduct and for DPIs & ORIs, these have been (or should have been) registered in advance, and with the exception of the Council Tax exemption for residing in the District, you should still consider if any other interests do apply. A blanket exemption/dispensation has not been applied for all.”
Councillor Bray declared a Personal Interest in relation to Agenda Item 9 (Report of the Cabinet – A.2 – Executive’s Proposals: Housing Revenue Account Budget 2024/2025) insofar as ... view the full minutes text for item 115.
Announcements by the Chairman of the Council
The Council is asked to note any announcements made by the Chairman of the Council.
The Chairman of the Council (Councillor Scott) reminded Members that the Pride of Tendring Awards were this Friday (16 February 2024). He looked forward to seeing Members there along with their ‘winners’.
Councillor Harris respectfully asked the Chairman, in the light of the sad diagnosis of cancer for His Majesty The King, if he would write, on behalf of the Council, to wish him well and a speedy recovery. In addition, Councillor Harris asked the Chairman if he could reassure Members that the official portrait of His Majesty The King had been ordered and that it would be installed shortly.
In reply, Councillor Scott stated that he would gladly send such a letter. He also informed Council that the Portrait had been ordered but had not yet been delivered. He further informed Members that he and the Vice-Chairman were in discussions with Officers about relocating the portrait of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II from the Town Hall Foyer to the Chairman’s Parlour.
Announcements by the Chief Executive
The Council is asked to note any announcements made by the Chief Executive.
There were no announcements made by the Chief Executive on this occasion.
Statements by the Leader of the Council
The Council is asked to note any statements made by the Leader of the Council.
Councillors may then ask questions of the Leader on his statements.
The Leader of the Council (Councillor M E Stephenson) informed Members that he had had the privilege of attending the recent Tendring Stars Awards which recognised and acknowledged the excellent work of the Council’s staff. He stated that it had been humbling to hear about their experiences including under the new category of ‘Saving Lives’. Councillor Stephenson also acknowledged the significant number of staff receiving long service awards for 30+ years with the Council.
Statements by Members of the Cabinet
The Council is asked to note any statements made by Members of the Cabinet (Portfolio Holders).
Councillors may then ask questions of the Portfolio Holders on their statements.
There were no statements made by the members of the Cabinet on this occasion.
To present to Council the Cabinet’s General Fund budget proposals for 2024/25.
Further to Minute 78 of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 26 January 2024, the Council considered the Executive’s General Fund budget and Council Tax proposals for 2024/25.
Members were made aware that, as highlighted in the budget report to Cabinet on 26 January 2024, the following adjustments had been outstanding at that time, which had now been reviewed / finalised for inclusion within the final budget proposals:
1. The final employee cost estimates for the year
2. Recharges between the GF and HRA
3. Income from Business Rates
4. Any changes emerging from the Final Local Government Finance Settlement and / or other grants / funding
5. Any impact from proposed fees and charges
Council was informed that the updated forecast for 2024/25, including the changes above, was set out in Appendix A to the report of the Cabinet (A.1). The forecast deficit for 2024/25 had reduced from the £1.715m, reported to Cabinet on 26 January, to £0.449m. That reduction had been largely due to the final figures associated with income from business rates. This had reduced the use of the Forecast Risk Fund by a corresponding amount.
Members were advised that it was important however to highlight that in taking a cautionary approach, the above favourable outcome relating to business rates should be treated on a one-off basis given the uncertainty around that complex area of the budget in future years.
It was reported that Appendices B and C to report A.1 set out the Net Savings and Cost Pressures respectively. Those had remained unchanged from the same appendices considered by Cabinet on 26 January 2024.
As recommended by Cabinet on 26 January 2024, the Executive’s budget proposals set out a Band D Council Tax of £193.73 in 2024/25, which was an increase of 2.99% (£5.62), with a Council Tax requirement of£10.048m. Therefore, taking into account the changes to the budget required since Cabinet had met on 26 January 2024, the total net General Fund revenue budget for 2024/25 was £15.123m, along with a General Fund capital programme totalling £0.827m.
Council was made aware that the original savings targets of £1.000m and £1.500m in 2025/26 and 2026/27 respectively remained the same at this time. Even after including the above savings targets, a structural annual deficit of over £2.000m was still expected to remain at the end of 2026/27.
Members were informed that the forecast would remain ‘live’ and be responsive to changing circumstances and it would be revised on an on-going basis. Council was told that it was essential that the Council continued to work towards delivering in-year balanced budgets as soon as possible over the forecast period rather than continued to rely on reserves, which was not sustainable in the longer term.
However, the reduced call on the forecast risk fund in 2024/25 as highlighted above did provide some additional flexibility and within this context it was acknowledged that the Council needed to maximise the time that the Forecast Risk Fund allowed, in order to ... view the full minutes text for item 120.
To present to Council the Executive’s Housing Revenue Account budget proposals for 2024/25.
Earlier on in the meeting, as detailed under Minute 115 above, Councillor Bray had declared a Personal Interest in relation to this item insofar as he was a housing tenant of Tendring District Council. He thereupon withdrew from the meeting whilst Council considered this item and reached its decision thereon.
Further to Minute 81 of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 26 January 2024, the Council considered the Executive’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) budget proposals for 2024/25.
Council was made aware that there had been only a very limited number of changes made since Cabinet had met on 26 January 2024, which had been reflected in Appendices A to E as necessary. The outcome of the changes required had been an increased estimated surplus of £0.493m in 2024/25 compared with the figure of £0.300m reported to Cabinet in January. It was proposed to contribute that net surplus to general balances, which would partly offset the proposed use of the same reserve in 2023/24.
It was reported that for 2024/25, the Executive’s budget proposals set out an increase in dwelling rents of 7.7% along with a total HRA expenditure budget of £16.227m (net of indirect income / expenditure) and a capital programme totalling £3.928m. That 7.7% increase in dwelling rents would result in an average weekly rent of £100.89 in 2024/25. (£93.68 in 2023/24).
Council was advised that the proposed budget reflected the continued repayment of debt, with the total level of existing debt falling from £33.949m to £32.535m at the end of 2024/25. The HRA general balance was forecast to total £3.843m at the end of 2024/25, which retained a strong financial position against which the associated HRA 30 year Business Plan could continue to be delivered / developed. The HRA balances, together with the proposed rent increase for 2024/25 were important elements of delivering a financially sustainable HRA in the longer term.
Members were reminded that the HRA Business Plan and proposed budget would play a significant role in the delivery of affordable and decent housing in the District and the Council’s responsibilities as a landlord had direct implications for the Council's ability to deliver on its objectives and wider priorities. This recognised the socio-demographics of the area and the increased focus on housing standards by the Government.
The Leader of the Council (Councillor M E Stephenson) made the following budget statement:-
“It probably goes without saying but my Administration has also inherited a financially robust Housing Revenue Account.
Historically we have made sure that as much of the rents we collect from out tenants is invested into maintaining their homes and this remains our focus going forward. This is the fundamental premise of what a good social landlord should do, regardless of any social housing regulations that might require it.
We have looked to capture this hugely important issue in our vision and corporate priorities that we agreed on 28 November 2023. We are committed to providing decent housing that everyone deserves and I am sure we ... view the full minutes text for item 121.
Urgent Matters for Debate
The Council will consider any urgent matters submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rules 3(xv), 11.3(b) and/or 13(p).
No urgent matters had been submitted in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 2(viii) for this meeting.