(Report OS208 refers)
Councillor Brook introduced the report which reviewed the progress with the protocols and the committing of CIL income since the Council approved its CIL spending protocol in June 2016. It was emphasised that, whilst protocols and priorities were considered sound, the Council now had significant CIL reserves and had undertaken a review to simplify the process and proposed additional measures including introducing additional means by which external groups such as Parish Councils could make formal proposals for further investment in their areas.
The Committee considered the financial, legal and procurement, workforce and property and asset implications set out in the report. The proposed appointment of a dedicated CIL Officer to work solely with those applying for a CIL contribution was welcomed. The officer would also help to enable the Council to work closely with relevant groups and organisations to achieve a system where CIL funds are allocated efficiently.
In summary, Councillor Porter, stated that the Regulation 123 list, as set out in Appendix 1 to the report, needed to be inclusive of all projects from her perspective as a County and City Councillor and considered that paragraph 3.4 within the report was not a definitive statement. She raised concern regarding the lack of help available in local areas where work to support community facilities and projects were required (i.e. Post Office in Sutton Scotney) and it was Hampshire County Council’s policy to spend CIL close to where it was generated.
In conclusion, Councillor Porter welcomed the review of the Regulation 123 list, which she suggested should be carried out annually and asked the Committee to consider an extension to or change to the time of year when parishes could apply for funding as this currently coincided with their budget setting process during January to March.
During questions and debate, Members raised a number of questions which were responded to accordingly, as summarised below:
(i) In response to questions regarding a possible increase to the 15% Parish Council contributions (with the exception of Denmead who receive 25% due to their approved neighbourhood plan), it was reported that there was strict guidance in statute to be adhered to which dictated the level of CIL contributions nationally;
(ii) It was suggested that the CIL officer have an appropriate level of authority where they are able to resolve matters autonomously and consult with Ward Members and Parish Councils to address local issues directly and keep all parties informed of developments within their area.
In response, the Corporate Head of Regulatory agreed to review the wording of the pro-forma, set out in Appendix 2 to the report for this to be simplified and made more ‘user friendly’ and clarified that the officers would be seeking to make an appointment of a suitably qualified person to work autonomously following adequate training.
(iii) Councillor Brook confirmed that Parish Council’s were included as part of this CIL review, together with the provision of small amounts of contributions towards projects and improving the regularity of transfers. For major issues such as flood alleviation, Parish Council’s could apply for central CIL funding.
(iv) In response to queries regarding the Regulation 123 list, Councillor Brook clarified that list had been in existence since 2014 and that there would be opportunity to review the Regulation 123 list for a full refresh, with Ward Members to be included on projects.
(v) The Committee suggested that consideration be given to allowing requests outside of the January to March period as this was a demanding time of year when the parishes would be setting their budget precepts.
1. That the Leader and other relevant Portfolio Holder notes the comments of the Committee above and the following matters be drawn to the attention of Cabinet.
(i) That the Committee wishes to ensure that the new applicant to be appointed as CIL Officer is capable of working independently to programme projects;
(ii) That improvements be made to the transparency of reporting in relation to CIL contributions available to Parish Council’s;
(iii) That the pro-forma, set out in Appendix 2 to the report, be simplified and clear for the application of smaller CIL grants; and
(iv) That consultation with Parish Council’s and Ward Members in the evaluation of proposals be improved.