Agenda and minutes
Venue: Conference Room, Parkside, Chart Way, Horsham
Contact: Email: CommitteeServices@horsham.gov.uk Direct line: 01403 215465
To approve as correct the minutes of the meeting held on 25th November 2019
(Note: If any Member wishes to propose an amendment to the minutes they should submit this in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org at least 24 hours before the meeting. Where applicable, the audio recording of the meeting will be checked to ensure the accuracy of the proposed amendment.)
The minutes of the meeting held on 25th November 2019 were approved as correct record and signed by the Chairman subject to an amendment changing the first bullet point in SO/39 to read £308 thousand not £308 million.
Declarations of Members' Interests
To receive any declarations of interest from Members of the Committee
There were no declarations of interest.
To receive any announcements from the Chairman of the Committee or the Chief Executive
The Committee welcomed its new member Councillor Wright.
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee stated that he would be standing down as Chairman after the next Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting on 23rd March 2020.
To receive the minutes of the Task and Finish Group on Public Health and the Minutes of the Task and Finish Group on Off Street Parking
The Chairman of the Task and Finish Group on Off Street Parking updated the Committee on the Group’s work. An Area Highways Manager from West Sussex County Council had attended the group’s meeting on 16th December 2019 and two senior officers from West Sussex County Council had attended a meeting on 20th January 2020. These officers were a County Highways (Development Management) Team Manager and a Principal Planner in the Transport Planning & Policy Team. There had been a discussion with these officers about the rationale behind the County Council’s planning matrix which determined the number of off road car parking spaces required for a development. The members of the Task and Finish group felt the numbers allowed by the planning matrix were inadequate and that ward members needed to be more involved in decisions about parking spaces as they knew the area. They proposed to develop their own parking matrix whereby a one bedroom place would be allocated 2 parking spaces, a two bedroom place 2 spaces, a three bedroom place 3 spaces and a 4 bedroom place also 3 spaces. The task and finish group would propose to use County as consultants regarding parking matters so that they were not challenged on appeal against planning decisions. The next meeting of the task and finish group was scheduled for 10th February 2020 and at that meeting the group would put together a recommendation for the Overview and Scrutiny Committee that Horsham District Council should develop its own planning matrix.
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee wanted assurance that the task and finish group had gone into thorough consultation with the West Sussex County Council officers regarding whether they had statutory responsibilities and he was assured that there had been discussions and the situation was open to interpretation. It was stated that having West Sussex County Council Highways as a consultee with a no objection position would protect Horsham District Council legally from planning appeals. Arun District Council and Crawley Borough Council had done this whilst having their own SPD planning matrices.
There was a further discussion around whether the work on the new planning matrix would feed into the Local Plan consultation. The Chairman of the Task and Finish Group said he was happy for it to do so.
The Chairman of the Task and Finish Group on Public Health reported that the last meeting of the group had been on 19th November and the Cabinet Member for Community and Wellbeing had attended. The CCG would not attend any meetings of the group despite repeated invitations to several different individuals. The Chairman of the Task and Finish Group on Public Health felt that Overview and Scrutiny was meant to review and Scrutinise the performance of other public bodies in the area as set out in the Council’s Constitution.
The Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny suggested sending a copy of the minutes of the Task and Finish Group to Horsham’s MP Jeremy Quinn.
The members ... view the full minutes text for item SO/47
Council Budget 2020/21 (to follow)
To receive details of the Council’s budget for 2020 / 21 from the Director of Corporate Resources
Report to follow.
The Director of Corporate Resources presented the Council Budget 2020/21. The net budget requirement for 2020/21 at £11.2m was £0.77m higher than in 2019/20. The budget included £3.5 million to cover additional costs including the loss of £0.87m recycling credits received from West Sussex County Council and increased charges for customers paying by credit card. The Council had made £2.76 million efficiencies to help offset these costs. The Council was able to set a budget which would generate a surplus which would help towards funding future transformation to maximise efficiency and effectiveness.
The proposed 2% Council tax increase remained the lowest in West Sussex and in the lowest quarter nationally.
The proposed capital program for the next financial year would cost £13.3 million and would include improvements to rural car parks, the Highwood development and disability adjustments to homes.
It was reported that it was felt that the Council’s reserve was sufficient to cover the revenue and capital budget at the present time. It was reported that beyond 2021 the situation was more uncertain. The director suggested that at the present time it was not possible to try to produce a balanced budget for two years in the future as there were too many unknowns to determine whether the Council’s estimates were likely to be accurate such as the future of the New Homes Bonus and potential loss of business rates. That would leave the Council approximately £7.5 million worse off.
The Government was undertaking a fair funding review for Councils. There had been reports that the income from car parking might be taken into account in future funding allocations although the Director thought this was not going to be the case. The results of the Government’s fair funding review were expected in summer 2020.
Some of the Committee wanted the Cabinet Member for Finance to attend the Overview and Scrutiny Committee when large financial matters were discussed. It was requested that in future the Committee Chairman invite him
The losses of £261 thousand for the museum and of £222 thousand for the Capitol was picked up on by Members. It was noted that the museum was not expected to generate a profit and was greatly appreciated by the community and the Capitol had been adversely affected by the opening of the Everyman Cinema.
The cost and timescales for car park developments were also raised. The Director of Corporate Resources reported that more engineering resources had had to be budgeted for.
It was noted that West Sussex County Council’s decision to move some homelessness responsibilities on to Horsham District Council had cost the Council approximately 1 million pounds.
It was further noted that most new posts were created because of the move towards digital technology.
There was a loss of £871 thousand in recycling credits from West Sussex County Council. It was felt that County Council financial losses were being moved on to the District Council. It was further noted that if Horsham Council was required to collect food waste ... view the full minutes text for item SO/48
Overview and Scrutiny Committee Reporting to Full Council
Committee’s Guidance on Chairman’s Actions to date
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee would like Overview and Scrutiny Committee reports and task and finish reports to be reported to Council meetings as it is of relevance to all Councillors and constituents so reporting would give everyone an indication of what Overview and Scrutiny was doing. The Monitoring Officer has said this could not happen because the Constitution does not allow Committee minutes to go to Council. The Chairman of the Committee felt the Government guidance on Overview and Scrutiny encouraged reporting to Full Council
The Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny would write a letter saying summaries of Overview and Scrutiny Reports should go to Council.
Meeting of the Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny with the Leader of the Council / Senior Management
Endorsement by Committee
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee stressed the importance of transparency. He stated that as Chairman of Overview and Scrutiny he was encouraged to liaise with the Leader of the Council and he would continue to do so as recommended in the Government guidance so that Overview and Scrutiny and the Executive were each aware of the work of the other.
Analysis and Conclusions on Proposed Highwood Community Centre
Report on the Highwood Community Centre to follow.
The Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee stated that major schemes should be brought to the attention of Overview and Scrutiny and that he had repeatedly asked to see the Cabinet report for the Highwood development and the report was now before the final report went to Cabinet but this request was not met. Overview and Scrutiny Committee had very little time to scrutinise the Highwood report before the decisions would be made at Cabinet on 30th January 2020. Local Members also thought there should have been discussion with them and with the Neighbourhood Council regarding the options for the Drill Hall.
The Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture had been invited to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting. He explained that consultation on the proposals for the Highwood Community Centre had begun on 23rd November 2019 but that since that time he had had an operation and there had been Christmas.
The Head of Property and Facilities gave a presentation about the proposed Highwood Community Centre and Drill Hall redevelopment. Key points were as followed:
· The development would have a total population of approximately 2600 so a community centre was needed solely for Highwood.
· The Town Centre had other assets including The Needles Centre, The Drill Hall, the Scout Hut, the ambulance station, the Park Barn, the Capitol Studio. The Cabinet Member also mentioned the Millennium Hall in Roffey and the Methodist Hall on London Road. Local Members disputed the availability of other venues at the times required.
· The Drill Hall had a capacity of roughly 1000m2 with a hall of 375m2. It was mainly used for private hire.
· The Drill Hall’s regular users were dance groups and events about once a month. There were also larger ad hoc events. Regular large events included Sussex Artists for 15 days and a Beer Festival for 6 days.
· The current users of the Drill Hall who might potentially relocate to Highwood were HAODS amateur dramatics and 12th Horsham Scouts
· The Drill Hall received a financial subsidy of approximately £45 thousand per annum.
· The Drill Hall was approximately 90 years old and not purpose built. It had poor thermal performance and the cavernous main area was inflexible, however the sprung floor appealed to dance groups.
· The Highwood site would have daytime parking on site which the Drill Hall did not have.
· The main options for the future of the Drill Hall were to redevelop it to create approximately 20 affordable homes or to refurbish it which would mean decanting the existing users. The building would be closed for 9 months and there would be a capital cost of £1 million. The subsidy would increase to £90 thousand and there was no guarantee that existing users would return.
· The total cost to the Council of the Highwood development would be £38 thousand. There would be an additional cost of £110 thousand if the Highwood Community Centre were to be built and the Drill Hall retained.
· If the Drill Hall ... view the full minutes text for item SO/51
To note the Cabinet Forward Plan
This agenda item was deferred to a later meeting.