Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Shelley Room, Parkside and via Teams

Items
No. Item

8.

Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence

9.

Notes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 88 KB

To receive the notes of the previous meeting held on Wednesday 17 April 2024

Minutes:

The notes of the meeting held on Wednesday 17 April were received.

10.

Declaration of Members' interests

To receive any declarations of interest from members of the Task and Finish Group

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

11.

Next Steps

 

·       To receive an update from the Head of Leisure and Culture

 

·       To receive an update from Head of Housing and Communities

 

·       To receive an update from the Head of Property and Facilities

 

·       To hear from the Asset Manager Investment Properties

 

·       To discuss the drafting of an interim report

 

Minutes:

The Group was joined by the Head of Property and Facilities, Head of Housing and Communities, Head of Leisure and Culture and Asset Manager Investment Properties to discuss leases in the Council’s portfolio.

 

The Asset Manager Investment Properties provided an overview of her role.  She confirmed that properties within the portfolio that she managed were held for investment purposes, rather than occupational purposes. 

 

It was confirmed that all commercial leases were let at market value which was determined through comparable evidence to similar properties.  The only exception was renewal through RPI but this was very rare.  Should anything be let for less than the market value a full explanation would be provided to the Head of Property and Facilities.

 

A recent one-year rent reduction, for a leaseholder, was queried by Members. The Asset Manager Investment Properties outlined the details and lengthy timescale for the re-negotiation of this lease which led to the backdated rent reduction.

 

Discussions centred on the need to ensure governance of any discounts. Integrity and transparency were key and, depending on the level of discount, there could be a need for Cabinet, or the leadership team under delegated powers, to make decisions on leases, ensure accurate records are kept and reviews undertaken.

 

The rental value for one property was discussed and concerns raised as to whether a fair rent was being received.  It was understood that leaseholders had funded the installation of services themselves.  It was confirmed by the Asset Manager Investment Property that when assessing rental for investment property improvements made by the leaseholder would be disregarded and the valuation would be based on a building’s original condition. There could also be covenants restricting the usage of the building.

 

The Group also discussed a further property which was leased by a community group whose previous premises had been redeveloped and was no longer available. The Head of Property and Facilities confirmed that the community group had a reduced rent for their current property due to the length of the term of the lease which provided flexibility for the Council to further deal with the property. There was a question as to which portfolio properties such as this might sit. It was recognised that some properties were used for the benefit of the community.

 

Members noted that justification for lower rents on community properties did not appear to be noted anywhere currently which made it difficult for officers to ensure oversight.

 

It was recognised that there could be difficulties in measuring monetary value for community use but there was a need to consider what the building brought to local businesses and people.  Some charities receive grants, receiving a reduced rental could also be construed as a type of grant for a group.  With this should come the prospect of scrutiny and monitoring to ensure services were delivered as expected to benefit the community. Consideration should also be given as to whether any profit made by leaseholders, or organisations which used council space, went back to the community  ...  view the full minutes text for item 11.