Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale
Contact: Democratic Services 6139
You are welcome to use Welsh at the meeting, a minimum notice period of 3 working days is required should you wish to do so. A simultaneous translation will be provided if requested.
It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.
Apologies for absence were received from:-
Councillors G. Collier, J. Collins, M. Cross, W. Hodgins, G. Paulsen, K. Pritchard, G. Thomas, D. Wilkshire, Managing Director and Corporate Director of Education.
Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
To consider any declarations of interest and dispensations made.
Item No. 5 – Fees and Charges Register 2020/2021:
A Member referred to the Licensing fees and charges which had been included within the 2020/2021 Fees and Charges Register and acknowledged that Council would only be able to make a recommendation to the Licensing Committee in respect of these particular charges. However, she expressed her concern that should any Member of the Licensing Committee wish to discuss or ask questions relating to these charges (prior to the Licensing Committee taking place) this would result in pre-determination. The Member concluded by stating that these fees and charges should have been considered by the Licensing Committee prior to submission to Full Council.
The Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance advised that it was a matter for the Licensing Committee to determine these particular fees and charges. However, the officer confirmed that it would be appropriate for Members of the Licensing Committee to discuss and ask pertinent questions in respect of these charges (as long as no Member expressed a particular opinion) as this would not amount to pre-determination. Any comments made could then be reported to the Licensing Committee to consider when determining the fees and charges.
The Member advised that the questions that she had wanted to pose around the Licensing fees and charges would result in pre-determination and felt that Members should not be placed in a predicament where they had to sensor the questions that they wanted to ask for fear of pre-determination. She concluded by stating that going forward the licensing fees and charges should be considered by the Licensing Committee before they were submitted to Council for consideration as part of the Fees and Charges Register.
The Head of Legal and Corporate Compliance confirmed that the ideal scenario would have been for the fees and charges to have been considered by the Licensing Committee in the first instance, however, due to the meeting scheduled this had not been possible. The officer reiterated and concluded by stating that Members of the Licensing Committee were allowed to pose unbiased questions in respect of the Licensing fees and charges but it was the remit of the Licensing Committee to make the decision and not Council i.e. Council would only be able to make a recommendation to the Licensing Committee
The Member advised that she would raise her questions at the Licensing Committee.
The following declaration of interest was, thereupon, reported:
Item No. 5 – Corporate Fees and Charges Register 2020/2021 –
Commercial Trade Waste & Markets Fees and
Councillor P. Edwards
To consider the report of the Chief Officer Resources.
Consideration was given to the report of the Chief Officer Resources.
The Chief Officer Resources spoke to the report which presented the Revenue Budget and Council Tax proposals for Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council for the next financial year 2020/2021 including the precepts approved by other statutory authorities that would impact upon the local level of Council Tax and included the relevant statutory resolutions.
It was noted that the Council Meeting on 6th February, 2020 had considered the provisional Revenue Settlement and since that time details of the final settlement had now been received from Welsh Government. The Chief Officer Resources advised Council that there had been no significant changes to the details between the provisional and final settlement that she needed to specifically draw Members’ attention to as the Revenue Settlement Grant remained at £116m. There had been one slight increase in the level of funding for specific revenue grants however, this information was still only available on all Wales basis and the impact of this specifically on Blaenau Gwent was still unknown.
Options for Recommendation
The Chief Officer Resources continued by outlining the options for recommendation contained in Section 3 of the report and advised that:
ØCouncil at its meeting on 6th February, 2020 had agreed a Council Tax increase of 3.9% for the 2020/2021 financial year.
ØThe term ‘special items’ related to the precepts for Town/Community Councils and £506,143 was the total value of these precepts.
ØDetails of the Full Council Tax including Police and Community Precepts for all areas of Blaenau Gwent could be found in the final table of Section 3 of the report.
Implications Against Each Option
The financial implications for the 2020/2021 budget setting process were summarised below:
ØA Council Tax increase of 3.9% (Blaenau Gwent element). This was a 1% reduction compared to the current financial year.
ØA budget requirement for the Council of £151,732 million (including Community Councils).
ØBridging the Gap efficiencies had been built into the revenue budget of £1,465 million.
ØCost Pressures amounting to £1.16 million and Growth Items amounting to £0.89 million had been built into the revenue budget.
ØTable 1 attached at Appendix 1 of the report provided a summary of the resulting portfolio estimates taking into account the Bridging the Gap proposals, cost pressures and growth items. In addition, £1.7m would be transferred into the Council’s reserves. This resulted in a statutory budget requirement of £151,732,365. Discretionary rate relief of £208,000 needed to be added to the budget requirement to give the total net revenue budget for 2020/2021 of £151,940,365.
ØThe Council had agreed a target level for general reserves, being 4% of the last reported actual net revenue expenditure.
ØAssuming the 2019/2020 quarter 3 forecast remained until the year end, the forecast level of general reserves would be £6.079 million (4.5%). This level of reserves was above the 4% target level specified within the reserves protocol.
Section 25, Local Government ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To consider the report of the Chief Officer Commercial.
Councillor P. Edwards declared an interest in this item (specifically trade waste and markets fees and charges) as he was Chair of the Ebbw Vale Business Forum but remained in the meeting whilst this item was considered.
Members considered the report of the Chief Officer Commercial.
At the invitation of the Chair, the Chief Officer Resources spoke to the report which had been submitted to Members to approve the fees and charges to be applied for the 2020/2021 financial year, including the core fees and charges to be operated by the Aneurin Leisure Trust.
It was noted that the Bridging the Gap Programme had included a Strategic Business Review on Fees and Charges to ensure that the Council was maximising its income by ensuring the fees and charges were set at a level that covered the costs of delivering the goods and services it provided where appropriate.
Fees and charges generate approximately £14m per annum in income and contributed towards funding the cost of delivering Council services, of which £2m related to commercial services. This helped the financial resilience of the Council and the Fees and Charges Register was reviewed on a regular basis in line with the Council’s agreed income policy and Medium Term Financial Strategy.
The following amendment was made to the Fees and Charges relating to School Meals contained on Page 43 of the report. The charges which had been reduced and should read as follows:
Trade Waste Charges
The Chief Officer Resources advised that further work in the form of a business review needed to be undertaken in respect of charges for Trade Waste in the next few weeks. Once this work had been completed a report would be submitted to the March meeting of the Council for consideration.
Members were advised that the current fees and charges had been reviewed to:
ØEnsure all fees and charges included on the register were relevant for 2020/2021.
ØReflect changes in local and national policy and charges.
ØReflect a minimum increase of 2% uplift in line with the Medium Term Financial Strategy.
ØConsider if fees and charges could be increased in line with the principles of the Strategic Business Review, and this included considering an annual uplift of 5.5% where applicable.
Impact on Budget
Ø The Medium Term Financial Strategy and the 2020/2021 budget assumed an inflationary uplift of 2% per annum for fees and charges and the Strategic Business Review assumed an estimated achievement of £200,000 for 2020/2021 of which £95,000 was estimated to be achieved through increasing discretionary fees by 5.5% where there was scope within the market without having a significant impact on demand.
Ø The fees and charges register ... view the full minutes text for item 5.