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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual Meetings - This meeting will be held virtually. Details of how to access the meeting on YouTube are contained in the meeting page, along with the agenda and papers.. View directions

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Note: This meeting may be viewed live from 1.30pm by highlighting and opening the following link: https://youtu.be/a6bEe9HsIJI 

Items
No. Item

114.

Welcome and Introductions

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council and Chairman of the Cabinet, Councillor J A Kite, welcomed the Cabinet and viewers watching the meeting on YouTube.

115.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was submitted on behalf of Councillor Brown.

    

116.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any) by the Audit Board or Strategic Directors.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interests.

117.

Confirmation of the Minutes of the Cabinet meeting held on 28 May 2020 pdf icon PDF 231 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 28 May  2020 as an accurate record.

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered the minutes of the meeting held on 28th May  2020.

 

            RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet held on 28th May 2020 be confirmed as an accurate record.

118.

Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.

119.

Mr Graham Harris

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council reminded Members that this was the first meeting of the Cabinet since the death of the Managing Director, Mr Graham Harris. He expressed his profound sadness at the loss of an extraordinary friend to the Borough who had been totally committed to Dartford. He had provided sure-footed policy advice, guidance and ensured strong governance and probity arrangements were in place during his long career and it was a tribute to his diligence that the Council was as well positioned as possible to deal with the current national emergency. He highlighted the wider work carried out by Mr Harris within the local government and finance community in Kent and the personal warmth and leadership he displayed. He had steered the Council magnificently and left the Council in a strong position due to his efforts. He said that Mr Harris would be missed terribly and offered his deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

 

Cabinet Members paid their own tributes. Councillor Mrs Thurlow spoke of a true gentleman who was extremely knowledgeable and always willing to help and provide advice who she would greatly miss. Councillor Wells described Mr Harris as a man who was well liked and respected and a true friend to Dartford whilst Councillor Allen contrasted the way that the Council’s finances had been left compared to when Mr Harris first joined the Council in 1989 and commented that he was always mindful to the needs of Members.   Councillor Shippam described him as a warm and knowledgeable man who was brilliant at his job.

 

The Cabinet sent its deepest condolences to Mr Harris’s family and friends.

120.

References from Other Committees

There are currently no references from other committees.

Minutes:

There were no references from other committees.

 

121.

COVID-19 Financial Update pdf icon PDF 414 KB

Summary:

 

To inform Cabinet of the potential financial impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on the 2020/21 General Fund, Capital and HRA budgets due to reduced income or increased expenditure.

 

Recommendations:

 

1.      That Members note the report and agree the proposed funding of the initial shortfall identified.

 

2.      That members note the possible implications for the collection fund and the possible impact on next year’s General Fund position.

 

3.      That Members note monitoring and reporting will continue as the year progresses.

Minutes:

 The Cabinet considered a report which outlined the potential financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the 2020/21 General Fund, Capital and Housing Revenue Account budgets due to reduced income or increased expenditure.

 

The Strategic Director (Internal Services) described the financial implications for the Council for 2020/21 arising from the loss of income from services such as parking and building control both during the lockdown period and a slowdown in income whilst public confidence built during the recovery period. The highest impact on income was anticipated to arise from the current closure of the Fairfield Leisure Centre and the likely limitations on its operations once it re-opened which was likely to mean that the Council would receive no management fee income for 2020/21. Unlike in previous years, where the budget for interest from investments had been overachieved, investment interest was likely to be much lower in 2020/21. Lost income from deferred or overdue commercial rents of £420K was also anticipated. In total the projected loss of General Fund income for 2020/21 was £2,094,500 as well as lost income in the Housing Revenue Account of c.£100K arising from rent arrears and late commercial rents. At the same time the Council had been incurring additional expenditure through providing support to contractors/suppliers (£605K), providing additional support to the homeless (£230K) and emergency food support (£40K) as well as additional cleaning costs for the Civic Centre (£65K). The reported estimated cost for the purchase of Personal Protective Equipment of £91K was likely to be much lower, around £50K, as the result of bulk purchasing. The implications for the collection fund were also described with business rate reliefs of £58.5M applied to nearly 700 businesses in the borough, alongside business rate and Council tax deferrals and missed payments. So far the Council had received £1.125M from the Government which would cover the additional costs of direct spending arising from COVID-19 but this would not cover the projected loss of income. It was therefore proposed that the budgeted contribution to General Fund reserves for 2020/21 of £6.2M should be reduced by £2M to cover the gap between the estimated costs/loss of income and the government funding.

 

The Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Finance congratulated the Finance team and paid tribute to the robust budgetary measures put in place by Mr Harris which had been maintained over a long period of time which meant that the Council’s finances had been in a healthy position so that the Council could do everything that it needed to deal with the current crisis. However he highlighted the big financial risks moving forward and the fact that the shape of the recovery process would have an impact on economic activity and Council income.

 

The Leader of the Council warned of the danger of succumbing to the concept of things getting back to normal as lockdown measures were progressively relaxed and national support schemes came to an end. It was important to remember that some people would still require help and support beyond  ...  view the full minutes text for item 121.

122.

Equality 2020

Minutes:

The Leader of the Council advised Members of a new initiative, Equality 2020, that had been under development for some time but had been galvinised by recent global concerns around racism in the community. This had also been raised in a letter from the Labour Group who had requested that a report be presented to Cabinet on these issues but which had unfortunately been received after the agenda for the meeting had been published. There was a clear need to address racism wherever it occurred and in whatever form and it was vital to create an open and fully inclusive society where people could achieve their aspirations and be able to contribute without barriers. He referred to the overt racism that had been visible in neighbouring areas when the current administration took control of Dartford in the guise of the BNP and the fact that BNP candidates had even sought to get elected to the Council. The administration had from the outset committed itself to a range of policies and initiatives to deliver a united community. He noted the change in demography of Dartford in the intervening years which had become more diverse, cosmopolitan and global. Despite these efforts it was important to avoid complacency and to be wary of hidden barriers; if a single person was held back this was unacceptable.

 

This commitment to equality was reflected by the fact that the council had appointed a Lead Member for Equalities, Councillor McLean, and that there was already a large bedrock of work in place. He noted however that demographics had changed greatly since the last census and that there was a need to fill in the gaps to ensure that the Council knew how the community was growing, where communities were, why they had come to Dartford and what they needed to thrive and develop. He spoke about work that had been underway for some time which was providing a much better insight into this changed demography and that he had asked Councillor McLean to take this work and build on it, reporting back by the end of the year with a blueprint for an inclusive and welcoming community that was safe, secure and would enable all people to realise their talents. He pledged to resource this to ensure that the project engaged with authentic local voices from all parts of the Borough, businesses, charities, groups and individuals and to produce a blueprint which could become a living document to guide future actions. This work needed to be honest, authentic and unafraid – to be willing to listen and prepared to hear difficult messages where change was needed. Ultimately it would need to deliver action that was evidence based. The need for this work had been apparent and underway but the Leader said that recent events and the global protests against racism had brought an added urgency to do the right thing.  

 

123.

Annual Treasury Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 480 KB

Summary:

 

To inform the Cabinet of the outturn position (subject to audit) of the

Council’s investments and borrowing for the 2019/20 financial year

and of  the outturn position of  the Council’s treasury indicators.

 

Recommendations:

 

1. That the Cabinet notes the outturn for the Council’s treasury

management operations for 2019/20; and

 

2. That the Cabinet notes the outturn for the Council’s treasury

indicators.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Director (Internal Services) presented a report which provided details of the outturn position (subject to audit) of the Council’s investments and borrowing for the 2019/20 financial year and which detailed the outturn position of the Council’s treasury indicators. It was confirmed that all of the Council’s treasury management functions had been carried out in line with the Council’s policies and arrangements for risk management. The economic background for 2019/20 had been challenging due to uncertainties caused by Brexit and then latterly by the impact of the coronavirus epidemic which was also likely to make 2020/21 another difficult financial year. On 31st March 2020 the Council had investments (net of internal borrowing) of £126.34M arising from its net cash flow position and total borrowing of £51.41M, mainly due to historic debt on the Housing Revenue Account. The Council had achieved interest on investments of £3M in 2019/20 but this was expected to be significantly lower in 2020/21 due to the impact of coronavirus on the global economy.

 

The Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Finance thanked Councillor Hammock for his work as Chairman of the Treasury Management Panel and the Finance Team, and in particular Catherine Bailey, Tim Sams and the Strategic Director (Internal Services), for their dedication in managing the Council’s treasury management operations. He also paid tribute to the strong financial leadership and expertise of Graham Harris over many years which had delivered robust treasury management practices.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.    That the Cabinet notes the outturn for the Council’s treasury management operations for 2019/20; and

 

2.    That the Cabinet notes the outturn for the Council’s treasury indicators.

 

124.

Capital Programme including Prudential Indicators - Outturn 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 247 KB

Summary:

 

To inform Cabinet of the final pre-audit figures for the 2019/20 Capital Programme, the capital resources that were used to fund it andthose

that remain available to fund future investment.


 

Recommendations:

 

1.      That Cabinet note the draft outturn for the Capital Programme for2019/20.

 

2.      That Cabinet note the draft outturn position for 2019/20 on Capital resources, and the balance available to be carried forward into2020/21.

 

3.      That the Cabinet recommend the total capital budget carried forward into 2020/21, as set out in Appendix C to the General Assembly of theCouncil.

 

4.      That Cabinet note the outturn position on the Capital Prudential Indicators as shown in AppendixD.

 

5.      That the General Assembly of the Council be asked to agree the capital budget carried forward into 2020/21 as per Appendix C, thereby increasing the total capital budgetto

£31.036M.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report which provided details of the final pre-audit figures for the 2019/20 Capital Programme, the capital resources that were used to fund it and those resources that remain available to fund future investment.

 

The Leader of the Council explained that Dartford believed in investing in communities and providing a legacy of capital assets. The current administration had a strong record of investing in projects which delivered benefits for the borough many of which were self-evident, such as improvements to Central Park, Dartford Cricket Club, Dartford Rugby Club, and playgrounds across the borough. The Council intended to continue to invest in the future and to build more social housing, make further improvements to the town centre and measures to ameliorate congestion arising from the M25 and the Dartford Crossing.    

 

            RESOLVED:

 

1.    That Cabinet note the draft outturn for the Capital Programme for 2019/20;

 

2.    That Cabinet note the draft outturn position for 2019/20 on Capital resources, and the balance available to be carried forward into 2020/21;

 

3.    That the Cabinet recommend the total capital budget carried forward into 2020/21, as set out in Appendix C to the report, to the General Assembly of the Council;

 

4.    That Cabinet note the outturn position on the Capital Prudential Indicators as shown in Appendix D to the report; and

 

5.    That the General Assembly of the Council be asked to agree the capital budget carried forward into 2020/21, as per Appendix C to the report, thereby increasing the total capital budget to £31.036m.

 

125.

Revenue Outturn 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 213 KB

Summary:

 

To inform Members of the detailed final pre-audit 2019/20 figures for the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account, including reasons for significant variances compared to the probable outturn.

 

Recommendation:

 

That the 2019/20 outturn for the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account, together with the reasons for significant variances compared to probable outturn, be noted

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a report which provided details of the final pre-audit 2019/20 figures for the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account, including reasons for significant variances compared to the probable outturn. The Cabinet noted that due to underspends on some service budgets an additional £1.9M had been transferred to reserves which would assist the Council to meet the expected economic challenges in 2020/21.   

 

          RESOLVED:

 

That the 2019/20 outturn for the General Fund and Housing Revenue Account, together with the reasons for significant variances compared to probable outturn, be noted.

 

126.

Dartford Open for Business

Minutes:

In closing the meeting the Leader of the Council reminded the public that Dartford was open for business. The market was back up and running with more traders returning and many retailers were also re-opening. Whilst not back to normal the Council was ensuring that the town was opening in a safe and secure manner and would continue to support local traders and businesses.