Agenda and draft minutes

Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 6th February, 2020 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Blackdown House, Honiton

Contact: Chris Lane, Democratic Services Officer  01395 517544; email  clane@eastdevon.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

50.

Election Of Chairman

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Cllr Maddy Chapman be elected Chairman for the meeting.

51.

Appointment of Vice Chairman

Minutes:

RESOLVED that Cllr Bruce De Saram be nominated as Vice Chairman for the meeting.

52.

Public Speaking

Minutes:

There were no members of the public who wished to speak.

53.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 33 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 November 2019 were agreed and signed as a true record.

 

Cllr Jack Rowland wished to raise the issue of the lack of a progress report at the meeting on the public portal into the Exacom system to permit public access to the data held on the collection and spend of Section 106 and CIL monies. However, it was noted that a report would be made by Ed Freeman, Service Lead – Planning Strategy and Development Management to the next meeting of the Committee on 5 March.

54.

Declarations of interest

Guidance is available online to Councillors and co-opted members on making declarations of interest

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

55.

Matters of urgency

Information on matters of urgency is available online

 

Minutes:

There were no matters of urgency.

56.

Confidential/exempt item(s)

To agree any items to be dealt with after the public (including the press) have been excluded. Thereare no itemswhich officersrecommendshould be dealtwithin thisway.

 

Minutes:

There were no confidential/exempt items.

57.

Decisions made by Cabinet called in by Members for scrutiny in accordance with the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules

There are no items identified

Minutes:

There were no decisions called in.

58.

Process for assessing Commercial Investment opportunities pdf icon PDF 158 KB

Minutes:

Consideration was given to the report and presentation of Tim Child, Service Lead – Place, Assets & Commercialisation which advised members of the history, criteria and purpose of the Council’s adopted Commercial Investment Framework and informed discussions and recommendations.

 

Members noted that the Commercial Investment Framework provided the mechanism to help deliver £450,000 net income per annum set out within the Council’s Transformation Strategy and on which the Capital Strategy and Treasury Management Strategy have been developed. Being more commercial generally and generating this £450,000 net income per annum is key to the pathway to financial self-sufficiency and to address the Council’s budget shortfall along with the benefits of contributing to the wider growth and prosperity and place making aspirations benefitting not only the council but the residents and visitors to East Devon. There was a £20M fund to generate the £450,000 net income required.

 

At the joint Overview & Scrutiny Committee of 15th January discussions took place around the adopted Commercial Investment Framework. Councillors were interested in the degree of engagement with them in the consideration of individual transactions, the importance of commercial sensitivity and its impact in terms of confidentiality and the ability to share information.

 

During discussions the following points were noted:

·        There was a clear preference expressed to invest within the district.

·        It was a cautious and proportionate approach being taken, due to EDDC’s financial position being relatively comfortable.

·        Applying a clear and costed risk managed and studied programme of investment using rigorous criteria and with appropriate decision making capabilities to respond to market opportunities in an agile but safe manner.

·        Need to ensure agility in terms of the allocation of resources but also in decision making to take advantage of commercial opportunities when they arise but doing so in a safe, accountable and democratic way.

·        Investment opportunities under £5M are delegated to the Deputy Chief Executive and those over £5M for Cabinet decision. The delegation will escalate to the Chief Executive following the departure of the Deputy chief Executive.

·        The greatest challenge had been around availability of a good quality of investments within East Devon. It had been a difficult market in the last 6 months.

·        There were a number of opportunities that were being progressed and a number that had been rejected.

·        A concern that the requirement to invest in East Devon could drive up the cost of investment opportunities. There was no evidence of this happening and no investment would be pursued unless it stacked up financially.

·        In terms of ethical considerations around the investment policy members were interested in how these might be addressed. Officers advised of one recent example with regard to a petrol filling station which was able to be considered in the context both of commercial case and the Council plan and emerging Climate Change concerns.  The acquisition was not pursued.

·        There had been a recent increase in Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) rate to consider in terms of the viability of investments. The Council would only borrow on a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 12 KB

Minutes:

Noted that the next meeting would include discussion on staffing review, an update on Section 106 and CIL process and the quarterly monitoring report. It was also requested that discussion on Council Housing Policy be added to a future meeting. There were number of items on the Overview Committee Forward Plan that has been suggested could be discussed by scrutiny Committee.