Venue: Bourges/Viersen Room - Town Hall
Contact: Gemma George, Senior Govenance Officer, 01733 452268 Email: email@example.com
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Seaton, Councillor Walsh and Councillor Dalton.
Declarations of Interest
The Legal Officer provided clarification to Members around appointments to school bodies and play centres and it was confirmed that these were non-disclosable pecuniary interests, as none of the appointments were undertaken for profit or gain.
The Legal Officer further advised that the Chairman had a nursery declared within his register of interests. This was confirmed as a non-disclosable pecuniary interest as the nursery would not be directly affected by any decision made at the meeting.
Further advice was provided with regards to predetermination and bias.
There were no declarations of interest made by Members.
The minutes of the meeting held on 20 January 2014 were agreed as a true and accurate record.
Cabinet received a report which outlined a revised set of proposals on how children’s centre services could be run in the future.
On the 18 November 2013, Cabinet had agreed to a public consultation on a proposal to change the way early years services were offered in Peterborough, including children’s centres. The proposal was to create four super hub children’s centres with a wider reach, three outreach centres and to re-designate the remaining eight children’s centres for other uses. The consultation ran from the 2 November 2013 to 8 January 2014.
The report informed Cabinet of the outcomes of the consultation and brought a revised set of proposals, for Cabinet’s approval, on how children’s centre services could be run in future.
The Chairman advised that there had been recommendations made by both the Creating Opportunities and Tackling Inequalities Scrutiny Committee and Full Council in response to the issue. It was usual practice for Cabinet to take recommendations from Scrutiny and Council as a separate item of business, however as the recommendations related directly to the ‘Vision for Early Years Services Including Children’s Centres’ report, they would be considered as part of the report.
The Chairman further advised that there were two members of the public present who had been permitted time to speak in objection to the proposals.
Mrs Angela Brennan addressed Cabinet and in summary, highlighted key points of concern as follows:
· Lack of financial clarity as to where money was being spent at the current time;
· Lack of clarity around such areas as repayments of grants and the cessation of staff contracts;
· The need for the right infrastructure to be in place, due to an increase in population and the baby boom;
· The Local Authority’s duty of care to the people and the projects that could wait if they were to be at the cost of such vital services;
· Sufficient children centre provision being a statutory duty on Local Authorities under Section 5 of the Childcare Act 2006 and amended by Section 198 of the Apprenticeships Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009;
· The scope to better utilise existing centres and to bring more money in;
· Closure not being considered unless all other options had been exhausted;
· Exploration of all other angles by the Council, ensuring work was undertaken with those people best equipped to provide alternatives;
· The long terms costs, which would outweigh the savings being made in shutting the centres;
· The impact on society, leading to a drop in school readiness, further demands on the NHS, stigma and further class divide;
· The positive contributions that the children’s centres had had on improving outcomes for children; and
· The positive support offered by staff who were well trained in watching for signs, mentoring and supporting any issues.
Mrs Faustina Yang addressed Cabinet and in summary, highlighted key points of concern as follows:
· Hampton was a big community with lots of young people and lots of new and young parents;
· More houses were due to be built, with more new ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Cabinet received a report as part of the Council’s agreed process for integrated finance and business planning.
The purpose of the report was to present budget proposals for 2014/15 through to 2023/24, in line with the provisional local government finance settlement for 2014/15 and in advance of some Department for Education specific grants being announced.
The report contained three key sections:
i) The Cabinet report and summary of council funding implications, including proposals on council tax;
ii) The draft MTFS, including capital strategy, asset management plan and Treasury Strategy. This will allow consultation to take place on these elements; and
iii) The budget consultation document to enable scrutiny and discussed with staff, business leaders, the voluntary sector, partner organisations, trade unions, local MPs, parish councils, the Youth MP and Youth Council and other interested parties.
The report set out the proposals for consultation to enable Cabinet at its meeting on 24 February to make recommendations to be made to the meeting of Full Council on 5 March 2014.
In addition, the report also had regard to the revised budget timetable approved by Full Council at the meeting of 4 December under the council constitution Part 4, Section 6 – Budget and Policy Framework Rules.
The Chairman introduced the report highlighting that it was clear that the Council was facing another extremely challenging budget round and by the end of 2015/16, the grant would be reduced by nearly £44m. This reduction, coupled with financial pressures faced, would mean that savings of over £19m would have be found next year and further significant financial challenge would be faced in the following financial year 2015/16.
The challenges faced meant that difficult financial decisions had to be made, however the commitment to the creation of a vibrant city remained and the budget proposals outlined where investment in services would continue. The proposals further outlined a proposed council tax freeze for the next two years.
The consultation would be wide ranging and all feedback would be considered at the Cabinet meeting on 24 February 2014, and again when making final budget decision at Full Council on March 5.
Cabinet considered the report and RESOLVED to agree:
1. The following as the basis for the budget consultation and in light of the announcement of the local government provisional settlement for 2014/15:
a) That the MTFS is set in the context of the council priorities;
b) The Budget monitoring report as the latest probable outturn position for 2013/14;
c) The draft revenue budget for 2014/15 and proposed cash limits for 2015/16 to 2023/24 (including the capacity bids and saving proposals);
d) The draft capital programme for 2014/15 and proposed cash limits to 2023/24 and associated capital strategy, treasury strategy and asset management plan;
e) The proposed council tax freeze in 2014/15 and 2015/16 with indicative increases for planning purposes of 2% for 2016/17 to 2023/24;
f) To spend at the level of the Dedicated Schools Grant for 2014/15 to 2023/24;
g) The proposals for reserves ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Cabinet received a report following a referral from the Council’s External Auditor PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Cabinet was asked to consider and respond to the Annual Audit Letter for 2012/13, prepared by the external auditors.
The Chairman presented the report and thanked the external auditors for the work undertaken in relation to the detailed examination of the Council’s finances. The auditors had given the Council a clean bill of health, including an unqualified value for money opinion.
Mr Julian Rickett, PwC, addressed Cabinet highlighting the key aspects of the letter and it was advised that the report was extremely positive.
During debate, it was requested that thanks be noted to John Harrison, Executive Director of Resources, Steven Pilsworth, Head of Strategic Finance, the finance team and the Audit Committee for the work undertaken and the achievement of a good report once again. It was a good news story for the Council.
Cabinet considered the report and RESOLVED to:
Approve the Annual Audit Letter 2012/13.
REASONS FOR THE DECISION
The Council was required to consider the statutory Annual Audit Letter and make appropriate arrangements in response to recommendations.
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS CONSIDERED
The External Auditor may take on board responses received prior to its formal publication, though he has a duty to produce and arrange for the publication of the Annual Audit Letter as soon as reasonably practical. No specific alternative options were submitted to Cabinet for consideration.