(Report SC002 refers)
Councillor Cutler introduced the Report which summarised the Council’s performance and financial position during the final quarter of 2018/19. The report gave updates against major projects, the Council Strategy outcomes and key performance measures. A financial summary set out the detail of the General Fund revenue and capital budgets as well as the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).
Members raised a number of detailed questions and sought clarification in a number of areas which were responded to by the Cabinet Member for Finance and Risk and the Strategic Director: Resources accordingly, these included:
· New Burdens Grants – The Council would bid for additional funding made available from the Government to be distributed across local authorities for spend in the new financial year, wherever possible;
· Commercial activities: Property –The current policy enables the the Council to purchase property within the EM3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) boundary, however, to date, all purchases had taken place within the District.
· Central Winchester Regeneration and Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) Progress – Councillor Learney clarified that next steps for this project were under review, the SPD had been completed and progress going forward would run in in parallel to work by JLL, who had been appointed as Strategic Placemaking Consultants, and a revised timeline would be established.
· Transport Budget – The Strategic Director: Resources clarified that this figure was not spent and was included as a saving as part of the budget setting for 2018/19 which was separate to the Movement Strategy and therefore had now been removed.
· Car Parking Strategy – Discussions were ongoing with Hampshire County Council (HCC) and an update on Car Parking Strategy would be made available in due course. In respect of the report, it was considered that the Car Parking Strategy for the Winchester town centre should differentiate from that in market towns like Alresford to provide clarity in the monitoring process.
· Article 4 Directions – Members expressed concern regarding any further losses of family homes to Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO’s). In response, Councillor Thompson stated that the Article 4 Directions would be further reviewed in due course, particularly in Winchester itself where the rise in HMO’s continued to be an issue.
· Access to Superfast Broadband –Figures of the access percentages achieved in rural locations to be provided.
· Nitrates across the Southern Parishes in respect of festivals, events etc – The Chief Executive provided a brief update to the Committee on the discussions of the recent meetings of Partnership for South Hampshire (PfSH) and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Authorities (HIOWLA) where this matter had been debated at length.
· Homes England Grant – Members congratulated the Housing Team on securing the grant which was testimony to their partnership working practices.
· Performance Indicators - With regard to staff sickness levels and staff turnover, it was reported that levels had reduced since the last quarter and it was noted that levels remained consistent and were not considered to be of particular concern.
In respect of the processing of new Housing Benefit claims, it was reported that fluctuations in this area were as a result of the delays regarding Universal Credit.
· Universal Credit – It was considered that the impact on peoples lives needed to be addressed as a result of the delay to Universal Credit and it was suggested that contact be made with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to assist the Council in supporting local residents with the challenges they faced wherever possible.
That the Leader and other relevant Portfolio Holders notes the comments of the Committee, as set out above,